Over the last few months I’ve been reading more of Philip José Farmer’s 50s/60s SF — including the novelization of Night of Light (1966) [unreviewed], his deservedly famous 1968 Hugo-winning novella “Riders of the Purple Wage” (1967) [unreviewed], and the short story collection The Alley God (1962). I still hold that Strange Relations (1960) contains his most sustained and well-formed short fiction. For extensive discussion of his work, see the reviews (and their comments) I linked and for my views on his later SF more broadly — i.e. such as the 1973 novel Traitor to the Living. I rather not recap here. But, I have another one of his novels, I appear to be returning to his 70s work…
A novel with Chicago as a character over the millennia? Might as well give it a go, right?
I might snark occasionally at Bob Shaw, but, yet another one of his early novels enters my collection. Maybe the Diane and Leo Dillon cover sealed the deal rather than the probably dull contents.
And, I return to Sydney J. Van Scyoc… Her novel Assignment Nor’Dyren (1973) was one of my earliest reviews—written before the site even started—and I have no idea what I would say about it now.
1. The Stone God Awakens, Philip José Farmer (1970)
(J.H. Breslow’s cover for the 1973 edition)
From the back cover: “He was only a twentieth-century scientists whose experiments with atomic stasis had “petrified” him. But when he was accidentally “unpretrified” millions of years later on a radically changed Earth, Ulysses Singing Bear was worshipped as a god by people no longer human…
To enable his species to survive, he had to find a human mate. To do so, and to fulfill the single condition set by his worshippers, he had to confront a far greater spirit—the Tree, a vegetative devourer who reached from continent to continent to continent, from the heavens to hell.
It would have been an easy task for a god, but he was only a man—and perhaps the only man at that.”
2. Starmother, Sydney J. Van Scyoc (1976)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition)
From the back cover of the 1976 paperback edition with same art: “GODDESS FROM THE VOID. Centuries had passed since the first Earth colonies were founded. Evolution had played cruel tricks. The backplanet of Nelding was an especially tragic case. There, an eruption of grotesque mutations had divided the colony into two hostile races.
Peace Cadet Jahna came to Nelding to care for mutant infants, and soon found herself the center of a strange sacred rite, the object of both deep veneration and fearful, murderous hatred. Hailed as the bearer of new, healing life by some, vilified as a force of devastation by others—was she the long-awaited deity from the skies, the awesome and legendary StarMother?”
3. The Two-Timers, Bob Shaw (1968)
(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1968 edition)
Short summary blurb from inside page: “THE TWO-TIMERS is an unpredictable and fascinating novel of a man literally fighting himself… while the universe fell apart…”
4. The Time-Swept City, Thomas F. Monteleone (1977)
(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1977 edition)
From the back cover: “ETERNAL CHICAGO built to serve man and now seeking mystery of man.
ETERNAL CHICAGO evolving like a live organism over the millenniums toward the zenith of monstrous perfection.
ETERNAL CHICAGO flourishing behind its force fields as disaster ravishes the globe—and voyagers into space vanish among the stars.
ETERNAL CHICAGO the ultimate battleground between human and extra-human—where the future of earth and the universe will be decided.”