M. John Harrison’s collection The Machine in Shaft Tent (1975) contains one of the more humorous inside flap advertisements I have encountered:
Don’t worry, I certainly intend to “see tomorrow today!” I’ll be disappointed if I can’t!
The others are a strange blend… From Edmund Cooper’s apparently anti-Free Love/60s culture Kronk (1970) to a delightful collection of another one of my favorite years of SF.
Also, I seldom accept advanced reader copies due to my limited time/limited interest in newer SF/and incredible mental block when it comes to, how shall I say it, outside forces guiding my central hobby which tends to take me in a variety of directions solely on whim. But, Gollancz was nice enough to send me their new omnibus collection of 1970s Michael G. Coney novels (amazon link: US, UK). Not only did I enjoy Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975) but I recently reviewed and loved Coney’s bizarre and original Friends Come in Boxes (1973). With two out of two successes it’s hardly like I wouldn’t buy his work on sight anyway (another one of my requirements when accepting AVCs)…. I will review two or three of the novels in the omnibus one at a time over the next few months.
1. The Machine in Shaft Ten, M. John Harrison (1975)
(Chris Foss’ cover for the 1975 edition)
From the back cover: “MY LORDS, LADIES, ALIENS…
Panther boks in association with M. John Harrison proudly present for your entertainment one of the most amazing science fiction extravaganza’s of the year—THE MACHINE IN SHAFT TEN.
Starring:- Doctor Grishkin—galactic pimp extraordinary.
Lord tEGEUS-CROMIS—sometime soldiers and sophisticate of Viriconium, the Pastel City, cocaine connoisseur, poet and swordsman…
LYRALL—one-man Disaster Area…
ROTGOB THE DWARF ASSASSIN—whose unique blade is as famous as his name and his unlovable profession…
and many more…
2. Best SF: 1969, ed. Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss (1970)
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition)
From the back cover: “The very best from the outstanding SF magazines, and from unexpected sources, including Ramparts, The Hudson Review, Playboy and Punch, by authors such as:
Frederik Pohl: is the the future of man in the electronic age?
Anthony Burgess: the most chilling time travel story every written—and a visit with the real Shakespeare.
Philip K. Dick: lifts the curtain of reality and lets us look behind it.
Dr. Paul Ehrlich: the future as nightmare… Is this just a science fiction story?
Plus twelve more—some firmly established writers in the field, others brilliant newcomers.”
3. Mirror Image (1972), Charisma (1975), Brontomek! (1976), Michael G. Coney
(Cover for the 2014 edition)
From the back cover: “From the vaults of The SF Gateway, the most comprehensive digital library of classic SFF titles ever assembled, some an ideal introduction to one of the major voices of 1970s British SF, the BSFA Award-winning Michael G. Coney. Michael Greater Coney was a British-born author who spent the last three decades of his life in Canada—including sixteen years in the British Colombia Forest Service. His early work carried a sense of Cold War-inspired paranoia, but his repertoire was wide and perhaps his best novel, Hello Summer, Goodbye, is a wistful story of adolescent love on a far-distant planet. The titles collected in this omnibus come from the fertile beginning of his career and include his debut novel Mirror Image, Charisma and the BSFA Award-winning Brontomek.”
Here are the three 1970s covers:
(Angus McKie’s cover for the 1977 edition)
(Uncredited cover for the 1977 edition)
(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1972 edition)
4. Kronk (variant title: Son of Kronk), Edmund Cooper (1970)
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition)
From the back cover: “HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD THROUGH SEX AND SIN! It seemed that Gabriel Crome and his elegantly hippy girlfriend had the answer—a new, highly communicable disease with the property of inhibiting aggression. And oh boy! was it fun to communicate! But Gabriel had reckoned without the finely honey irony of whatever Prankster it is who governs human affairs.
As the Raven quoth, ‘KRONK.'”
11 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. CXXV (M. John Harrison + Coney 3x + Anthology + Cooper)”
Machine in shaft ten … characters reminds me a bit of Discworld … in a good way..
I would not doubt that Prachett read M. John Harrison’s early work.
Remind us, why is 1969 one of the best years of SF? Looking at my collection, I’ve got some weird stuff from that year: Farmer’s pornographic satire, A Feast Unknown; Sexmax (which I bought only for the Foster cover); John Boyd’s The Rakehells from Heaven… then there’s also Ubik and Slaughterhouse Five.
John Brunner won the Hugo for Stand on Zanzibar in 1969 — the novel was published the year before. Delany’s Nova was also up for the Hugo — it’s the best period for Brunner, Silverberg (into the early 70s), PKD etc.
(Stand on Zanzibar is my single favorite SF novel)
But, I guess it’s theoretically from the year before — although the awards are given in the following year.
Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron…. Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness… (both published in ’69) A brilliant year!
That’s a good case for 1969. Is it worth considering a series of guest posts on specific years? Make it a challenge – guest reviewers can’t review anything you’ve already done from that year.
Bit late commenting, but never mind… I’m a big MJH fan and got that Panther edition of The Machine in Shaft Ten roughly when it came out. Good short story collection. I said some stuff about it here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/17270214@N05/4777680580
I read a lot of Cooper but I never did read Kronk or it’s sequel. Not sure why. It sounds like it would bear some comparison with Scudder’s Game by D G.Compton.
I’m also eyeing up that big Coney omnibus but I’m not sure when I’d find the time to read it right now. (The only one in it I’ve read is Charisma, which I picked up maybe a decade ago)
I had to buy my copy of The Machine in Shaft Ten from the UK — but, someone clearly wanted to ditch their collection quickly as it only cost me $4 WITH SHIPPING to the US.
…very suspicious of Cooper’s Kronk. Not sure I want some anti-fee love polemic with his frequent (and notorious) sexism (even more pronounced in his later works).
Yes; I read a lot of Cooper’s books back in the 70s but haven’t been tempted to reread any in the Gateway Omnibus (Cloud Walker, All Fools’ day and A Far Sunset) That came out last year. Might consider Transit or Seahorse in the Sky as I remember they were my favourites of his back then. Both were hijacked aeroplane/tube train passengers wake up on a desert island that may not be on Earth…