Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLVI (Budrys + New Writings in SF Anthologies)

Another batch of volumes from the mysterious person with the initials KWG who ditched their entire collection at the local Half Price Books.

I have rarely seen the New Writings in SF series edited by John Carnell on used bookstore shelves.  But, as I am a fan of discovering new authors who might not have collected volumes of short stories, it pretty easy to justify snatching them up….  A while back I featured the covers of David Mccall Johnson, and now I have my first physical copy with his art!

More Algis Budrys…  Is it my need to read the major “classics” so I can “rewrite” the canon?  Certainly not out of any love for his SF (or criticism for that matter) —> see my review of The Falling Torch (1959) and my short review of Michaelmas (1976).  I will probably read his short story collection I recently acquired before another one of his novels.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome/appreciated.


1. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys (1960)


(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1960 edition)

From the back cover: “THAT OLD DEVIL MOON.  During all recorded history she has hovered near the earth, a timeless symbol for the lover’s ecstasy, a vast frontier for the adventurer’s curiosity.  Goddesses and Gibson girls have tripped the light fantastic of her surface while sonneteers and scientists have scanned her changing phases.

Now man had actually reached the moon—and on it the explorers found a structure, a formation so terrible and incomprehensible it couldn’t even be described in human terms.  It was a thing that devoured men—that killed them again and again in torturous, unfathomable ways.

Earthbound were the only two men who could probe the thing—Al Barker, a suicidal maniac, whose loving mistress was Death, and Dr. Edward Hawks, a scientific murderer, whose greatest mission was rebirth.

2. New Writings in SF 4, ed. John Carnell (1965) (MY REVIEW)


(Robert Foster’s cover for the 1968 edition)

From the inside flap: “SUB-LIM—Keith Roberts.  A film director discovers a terrifyingly effective technique for making movies better than ever!

PARKING PROBLEM—Dan Morgan.  The ultimate answer to the automobile question creates a perplexing problem of its own.

BERNIE THE FAUST—William Tenn.  A smart New York wheeler-dealer runs into a super-hustler with an uncommon angle!

HIGH EIGHT—David Stringer.  A wave of bizarre suicides heralds the arrival of a nameless terror at a lonely power station.”

3. New Writings in SF 7, ed. John Carnell (1971)


(David McCall Johnston’s cover for the 1971 edition)

Note: according to The Internet Speculative Fiction Database entry this is not the same as the the UK publication New Writing in SF 7 (1966).  Rather, this volume contains stories from volumes UK editions 7-9 .

From the back cover: “FUTURE SHOCK. New Writings in Science Fiction is a close look at the far-out—a continuing selection of the best thinking by the most exciting writers of our time. SF7 includes two short novels: Colin Kapp’s “The Pen and the Dark”; a sinister, inexplicable construction on an alien planet… Vincent King’s “Defense Mechanism,” a dark vision of the way megacity can die.  And stories about the impossibly probably future by five major new writers.”

4. New Writings in SF 9, ed. John Carnell (1971)


(Gene Szafran’s cover for the 1971 edition)

Note: according to The Internet Speculative Fiction Database entry this is not the same as the the UK publication New Writings in SF 9 (1966).  Rather, this volume contains stories from later volumes.

From the inside flap: “STRANGE ENCOUNTERS

Enter the pages of this book and you will discover…

A planet of living clouds and the man who is in love with one.

A stumbling moron who is wiser than the great scientist he works for.

A world where the dead don’t die and where the perfect killer finds his inevitable victim.

A time when man cannot survive without the monkey on his back.

A monstrous, dying city and the strange, new life growing within it.

A love that outwits time itself.

The surprising results of dumping garbage carelessly.”

From the back cover: “SF opens a door to new worlds, worlds that spin far out in space, other worlds that circle within your mind.

SF can amuse you, terrify you, startle you; it can break your heart.

SF can do anything but bore you.”

37 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLVI (Budrys + New Writings in SF Anthologies)

  1. I remember always being excited at the prospect of reading whatever edition of NWISF I’d happen across – a reliable hit!
    Not so sure about Algis, I remember thinking about the Iron Thorn that there were an awful lot of words seemingly going nowhere and not much plot action for most of it – it had a great cover though, nice title

    • It seems like a lot of the later NWISF volumes were not published in the US unfortunately from No. 7 on. Rather, the N. 7 and 9 US editions I posted were stories gathered (sort of a best of collections) from numerous volumes. Here is the publication listing for the series. http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pe.cgi?8484

      Not to defend Algis or anything, but I am pretty sure that The Iron Thorn is considered his single worst novel. Perhaps others can say something more substantive as I have not read it.

    • But yes, some of the graphic design of the NWISF volumes is out of this world gorgeous, no wonder you were excited about getting them! For example, the first volume in the series (1964), Bantam 1966 edition

  2. Yes, very imaginative covers – the stories lived up to the art for sure. Looks like stumbled upon Algis on a bad day 😉

    • Haha, I won’t defend him until read something of his worth reading. Michaelmas is an ok thriller that devolves into a really ridiculous media man saves the world with his corny sentient computer…

      But, I should read Who? and Rogue Moon in order to get a better sense of some the historical context of SF at the time…

  3. The NWISF anthologies contained old school pre-Moorcock New Worlds-ish stories mostly, although there was the odd good effort. That said, Carnell did make a bit of an effort to keep up.
    ‘High Eight’ is a Keith Roberts story and one of his best early ones, or so I thought when I read it yonks ago. I will be interested to see what you think of it.

  4. “Rogue Moon” was one of the first of a modern sort of science fiction novel appearing at the start of the 1960s.Better books would soon be appearing though long before the end of the decade though,which was probably why I found it be thin and wispy.

    It was an important book though.It was full of strange and cerebral ideas.It still deserves it’s place in the genre’s history.

  5. Rogue Moon I thought was actually pretty good, some interesting if a bit cliche commentary on social norms, space exploration, stuff like that. Interested to see what you think about it.

    Those NWISF volumes… that’s another series I’d love to collect. Sounds right up your alley.

  6. I’ve read “A Cantcle for Leibowitz”,which was published just before the onset of the 1960s.I suppose it was exponential.A number of authors such as Alfred Bester,Philip K.Dick,Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Sheckley,were writing novels and shorter pieces in the 1950s,which anticipated the radical stuff that would appear in the next decade.The early short stories of J.G.Ballard,were also already starting to take the shape we would recognise in the 1960s.

    By “modern”,I mean the “new” books that were replacing most of the old 1950s stuff,such as “Rogue Moon” as an example,that were appearing with greater regularity since the start of the 1960s.”The Jewels of Aptor”,”The Man in the High in the High Castle” and “The Drowned World”,had already appeared by 1962.

  7. I looked at your link for C.L.Moore.I would like to read it,as I would other books you recommend.Ths time two years ago,I still hadn’t read Barry Malzberg,Michael Bishop or Anna Kavan,which I have now because of your reviews,so I never know.

    We’ve both read good,exciting science fiction that one of us hasn’t read,and given each other recommendations.

    Thanks for a good post.

  8. Hi Joachim

    Great additions, I buy any New Writings I see like you, I like to read new short stories and authors who might not appear in a lot anthologies today. Also I see them as time capsules for the period in which the stores are selected. I don’t have any of these so I am envious. The cover for Number 4 I love with the striking black background. I think I preferred Rogue Moon as a novella, but I like the Powers cover. Then I read Diamond Dogs by Alastair Reynolds about which wikipedia says “the characters in Diamond Dogs share dreams which reference the novel Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys among others. It was an interesting read.

    Happy Reading

    • Hello Guy, Unfortunately New Writings in SF 4 is proving to be something of a bust — I’ve read the first four stories and am very unimpressed… But, have yet to get to the Keith Roberts story under his own name, Sub-Lim. We shall see.

      Happy reading as well!

  9. I read NWISF 9 last summer and found it solid. M. John Harrison’s “The MacBeth Expiation” was my favorite, in the tradition of the psychological crackups featured in Ballard and Malzberg. The Vincent King and Michael Coney stories are also pretty good.

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