Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. CXIII (Dangerous Visions + Holdstock + Stewart + Joseph)

Recent travels yield wonderful SF hauls—including one of the most famous post-apocalyptical novels of all time, George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949).  Thankfully my edition is graced with a gorgeous Lehr landscape—strange forms in the distances, crushed cars in the foreground.

The most famous SF anthology of all times—Ellison’s Dangerous Visions (1967).  As a proponent of the New Wave movement it’s about time that I snagged a copy (disclaimer before the cries of derision: I have already read numerous stories contained in the anthology).

An early Holdstock novel (I might get to that one soon)….

And a shot in the dark—M. K. Joseph’s The Hole in the Zero (1967).  John Clute (the noted SF critic) describes it such on SF Encyclopedia: it “begins as an apparently typical Space-Opera adventure into further dimensions at the edge of the Universe, but quickly reveals itself as a linguistically brilliant, complex exploration of the nature of the four personalities involved as they begin out of their own resources to shape the low-probability regions into which they have tumbled. Ultimately the novel takes on allegorical overtones. As an examination of the metaphorical potentials of sf language and subject matter, it is a significant contribution to the field.”  Sounds intriguing to me…

Thoughts?

1. Earth Abides, George R. Stewart (1949)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1974 edition)

From the back cover: “A novel about a tomorrow that could happen today.  In this unforgettable story about the aftermath of a catastrophe that has wiped out almost the entire population of America, George R. Stewart brings into chilling focus the terrors, the challenges, and the triumphs of human survival.”

2. The Hole in the Zero, M. K. Joseph (1967) (MY REVIEW)

(Ed Soyka‘s cover for the 1967 edition)

From the back cover: “BEYOND THE BARRIER OF REALITY lies an entirely random condition of existence where mathematiics [sic] and probability have no force.  Trapped in this pocket of unspace, four very different travelers experience all the alternative potentialities of their interwoven lives, live through the possibilities of racial myth, memory and fantasy—all the while battling their way back toward orderly existence.”

3. Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison (1967)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1972)

See back cover above.

4. Eye Among the Blind, Robert P. Holdstock (1976)

(Dave Griffiths’ cover for the 1976 edition)

From the back cover of a later edition: “THE FEAR—mysterious, unstoppable, this deadly plague is slowly wiping out humanity.  And only one world seems to offer hope of sanctuary–Ree’hdworld, home of the only other intelligent beings in the universe.  But Ree’hdworld is not as safe as it seems.  For something has been happening to the natives—both the friendly Ree’hd and their more primitive kinsmen, the Rundii.  And only three people stand any chance of discovering and surviving the danger that the humans of Ree-hdworld will soon face: Kristina, an Earthwoman who is slowly “going Ree’hd”; Maguire, a blind man who should have died centuries ago and who, living, has seen all the secrets of the universe; and Zeitman, a brilliant scientist who holds the key to salvation on Ree’hdworld in his mind—if only he can discover it in time…”

14 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. CXIII (Dangerous Visions + Holdstock + Stewart + Joseph)”

  1. Yes, they are all excellent and relatively unusual covers this time. The Holdstock one is amazing. Never heard of the M.K.Joseph one, but it sounds wonderful, so thanks for the tip on that.

    I read Earth Abides earlier this year over a period of about a month. A fabulously poignant, lyrical and moving evocation of a future apocalypse-society, from a kind of rustic, ‘ambient’ viewpoint. There isn’t really a ‘plot’ to speak of (which is absolutely fine with me) and in fact the best thing about it are the philosophical observations and asides of the main protagonist, which are more about humanity as a whole, education/knowledge, aging and entropy, the nature/technology/city interface, social evolution and sheer survival methodology, as opposed to what one may consider the usual concerns for an ‘apocalyptic’ novel, in the contemporary sense.

    I thoroughly enjoyed it, and found it original, tragic and beautiful, with quite a lot of thoughtful nuggets to contemplate, though I do have a few caveats; it does seem to drag in the middle somewhat (until it gets more gripping, and fascinating, again, later on) and it could have, perhaps, been a bit ‘darker’ in aspect, though I suspect that wasn’t the point he was trying to get across – the apocalypse is really just a framework and catalytic jumping-off point for discursive ideations, relative to the liminal catastrophe (and hence the quite ‘free’ narrative structure) within which the characters find themselves.

    So, all in all, a true classic and of course one of the main bedrocks upon which countless others have built their crumbling catastrophic vistas, since. However, I have to say that I much preferred Richard Matheson’s superb and incandescently gripping I Am Legend, which is – in some ways – a natural continuation of some of the concerns and themes of Stewart’s novel, albeit in an ostensibly darker vein.

    I think you will enjoy Earth Abides, Joachim! I look forward to your review of it, at some point (I hope I haven’t given away any ‘spoilers’ there – I tried my best to describe it as generally as I could)

    1. I found the Stewart rather dull. Great premise, but lackluster execution, and as a result the underlying idea remains valid, but the story told feels very dated. But, as always, you will discover your own opinion reading it. 🙂

    2. I’m generally not bothered by spoilers… Because I’ve read so much SF I can sort of figure out where the narrative is going before it happens. I look forward to reading it! And the nice Lehr cover makes me even more excited…

      I read I Am Legend a while back. I remember very little.

  2. Joachim, EARTH ABIDES is one of my favorite novels, and that cover is one of the best of the several ones I have. (There’s another goodie with a car and an empty sign on it, and one of the earliest has a very 50’s illustration of a dead city.) I hope you enjoy it. DANGEROUS VISIONS introduced me to science fiction, I was too precocious for my parents to care what was in it, as long as I was reading; I think I was in 4th grade when I read it, but maybe as late as 7th. I prefer AGAIN, DANGEROUS VISIONS in some ways, but the PJ Farmer story is terrific fun, and stories like the Miriam Allen DeFord have stuck with me for nearly 40 years.

    1. I have a soft sport for Miriam Allen DeFord…. I think she is sorely underrated and under appreciated (even by people who know the genre well).

      Unfortunately I thought I had the complete Again, Dangerous Visions but then discovered that the paperback edition I acquired was published in two volumes. I need the first volume…

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