Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXIX (Dick + Goulart + Wolf + New Worlds Anthology)

I’ve read only one Ron Goulart story in Universe 1 (1971), ed. Terry Carr. It was marginally funny but slight. I assume his novels are similar. This is supposedly one of his best… It has an intriguing Diane and Leo Dillon cover.

New Worlds Anthologies? Answer: always yes!

Gary K. Wolf, not Gene Wolfe or the SF scholar Gary K. Wolfe in case anyone is confused… Gary K. Wolf remains best known for the Roger Rabbit sequence of novels (Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (1981) and 1991’s Who P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit?). He started his writing career with three SF novels for Doubleday—Killerbowl (1975), A Generation Removed (1977), and The Resurrectionist (1979). I look forward to exploring his work.

And one of the few PKD novels I do not own (I might be missing four or five others). Not supposedly one of his best books, but his brand of surrealism is always fun. It’s for my collection rather than to read anytime soon. I’m more in a PKD’s early short stories mood!

All images are scans from my own collection (click image to zoom).

As always, thoughts/comments are welcome.


1. After Things Fell Apart, Ron Goulart (1970)


(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1970 edition)

From the inside flap: “The time is a few decades from now; the place is what used to be the United States, now disrupted by internal factionalism as well as a short-lived foreign invasion.

Out of this chaotic background Ron Goulart has produced a swift-moving, witty and constantly delightful novel, a story of a future odyssey through:

  • the Nixon Institute, where aging former rock stars reminisce about the days when they still had hair;
  • the wife-open sin-town of San Rafael , run by the Amateur Mafia (no Italians allowed);
  • Vienna West, a detailed replica of Sigmund Freud’s 19th  Century city where psychiatric patients live and abreact together;
  • the Monterey Mechanical Jazz Festival, featuring the music of pinball machines, jack hammers, and laundromat washers…

All this plus a dozen or two of the oddest characters you’re ever likely to meet. AFTER THINGS FELL APART is a very funny book.”

2. New Worlds Quarterly, 3, ed. Michael Moorcock (1972)


(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1972 edition)

From the back cover: “NEW WORLDS QUARTERLY #3. This, the third issue, in quarterly form, of the world-famous British SF magazine New Worlds maintains the exactly—and enormously satisfying—standards of that publication and of the two previous issues.

Edited and introduced by MICHAEL MOORCOCK, this edition contains stories and articles by: Joyce Churchill, Jack M. Dann, Alistair Bevan, Charles Platt, Brian W. Aldiss, John Sladek,  Pamela Sargent, Christopher Priest, Thomas M. Disch, George Zebrowski, Laurence James, Hilary Bailey, Keith Roberts, M. John Harrison.”

3. The Resurrectionist, Gary K. Wolf (1979) (MY REVIEW)


(Margo Herr’s cover for the 1979 edition)

From the inside flap: “In the near future, travelers whisk around the world instantly by bridge, a method of transportation similar to the Star Trek transporter system. In bridge travel, people are electronically disassembled, transmitted through wires, and reassembled at their destinations. It’s convenient, quick, and totally save—or so the Bridge Authorities assures us.  Then a famous Russian ballerina disappears in transit somewhere in the wires. The Bridge Authority puts in a frantic call to its highly paid troubleshooter, Saul Lukas. His task—find her and get her out. Soon. Before the powerful energy coursing through the wires disrupts her so badly she can never come out, at least not in normal human form. Aided by a special maintenance crew able to travel the wires without losing physical abilities, Saul combs the line.

He finds no trace of the missing girl. To improve the odds of locating her, Saul asks the Bridge Authority to temporarily suspend service. The Bridge Authority’s president, Michele Warren, flatly refuses. Why? What possible reason could the Bridge Authority have for deciding to condemn this innocent firl to death? As the ballerina’s life slowly ticks away inside the wires, and Saul races to unravel the mustery of her disappearance, the answer gradually comes to light. Bring this girl out, and the whole nature of civilization could change drastically for the better… or the worse. Is one life worth such a risk? The final decision rests ultimately on Saul’s unwilling shoulders.”

4. The Zap Gun, Philip K. Dick (1965)new-books_page_1

(Peter Jones’ cover for the 1978 edition)

From the back cover: “THE ULTIMATE WEAPON. The terrifying arms race roared on. Daily, East and West produced more dreadful weaponry. And, daily, yesterday’s weapons were turned into toys, souvenirs, egg beaters, furniture… and never, never used as weapons. Which was just as well, since they wouldn’t have worked.

It may have looked crazy, but it kept the 21st Century world peaceful and its population securely under the domination of the monstrous, ubiquitous security agencies.

But then the Sirius Slavers arrived from outer space. Whole cities began to disappear. The world was defenceless—and the race for an Ultimate Weapon for survival was on, for real this time. The outcome meant life or death for Earth. and it lay in the hands of two misfit weapons ‘fashion designers’, a demented comic book artist and a highly unlikely toymaker from the wrong side of time…”

17 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXIX (Dick + Goulart + Wolf + New Worlds Anthology)

  1. I’ve only read one Ron Goulart piece,but I wasn’t impressed.I wasn’t surprised he was considered just a minor science fiction author.This one does sound funny and imaginative though,even if it’s not anywhere near the standard of a “Robert Sheckley”.I’ll wait for your views before I make any more statements though.

    Yes,it’s always worth getting your hands on the “New Worlds” stuff.You’ll never know what gems you might find.

    I first read “The Zap Gun” in 1982,which I thought was quite funny at the time,but a much better comedic novel of his,is “Galactic Pot-Healer” I think,a much stronger work.I think you might be right to stay with his shorter stuff at present.

    • I am slowly accumulating the Ace Science Fiction Special novels with their Dillon covers — one reason I grabbed the book (it was $1, hard to resist!)

      I plan on reading it soon actually as I like exploring authors who are mostly new to me.

      I enjoyed Galactic Pot-Healer as kid — especially the playing “telephone” with language translation bit in the beginning.

      • I liked the Dillions cover,but it seems I usually do like most of them.I hope you like his novel,even though I feel skeptical,despite having read only one short piece.

        “Galactic Pot-Healer” is one of his best novels,which has I think been unfairly neglected by critics.Despite the number of his books that were chosen for the VGClassics,this one was left outside in the cold.It’s poignant,significant and funny.

  2. Martin Amis was the sf reviewer at The Observer for about 5 years in the mid-70s. Reading through old microfilms I was surprised to discover that Amis’s favourite sf writer turned out to be Ron Goulart. Other sf writers of different generations and origin got pans and praises where appropriate, criticisms for work that was badly-written or too try-hard-hip in the wake of the New Wave, but Ron Goulart was always met with Amisian ecstasies: “superb poise”, “blessed with an angelic style”, “ he can never write a bad sentence”, “vision as genuinely comic as his style”, “a satiric ear for America, refined and intensified in the free-fall of SF”. Of course, these were written before Amis became M*A*R*T*I*N*A*M*I*S otherwise these plaudits would have been plastered all over any subsequent Goulart paperbacks in the UK.

    Incidentally, if you want to read more stuff by new wavers – though not actual fiction – then fanac has scanned the late 60s/early 70s UK fanzine Zenith from the recently deceased Peter Weston. It’s largely a talking shop about the New Wave by major New Wave writers, stuffed full of letters and essays wrestling over the nature of sf and the New Wave from Aldiss, Moorcock, Priest, Harrison, Spinrad, besides reviews and contemporary reports on Merril, Delany, Ellison, the practicalities of publishing New Worlds, etc:


    • Thank you for the comment. I am slightly confused — you’re referring to Martin or Kingsley Amis writing in The Observer? (I know both engaged with SF in various ways. And that the father championed it).

      I read Kingsley Amis’ The Alteration (1976) a while back. I’ve not read any of his son’s work.

      I find that quite bizarre — I guess a relentless producer of light yet witty humor in an era of SF that grew quite dark and brutal felt like a breath of fresh air.

      I took a peek at Speculation/Zenith. It will be great fun working through it! I’ve already found some goodies. For example, John Brunner calling out Tim Hildebrand for his sexism in the Sept. 1968 issue: “And what in the world does Judy Merril’s personal appearance have to do with the views she was expressing?”

      • Martin Amis, not Kingsley. Martin Amis has less of a reputation in the US, but there was a period of maybe 15 years from the mid-80s on when Martin was arguably the most eminent young writer in England, most talked about, most notorious. Imagine if Brett Easton Ellis happened to be Saul Bellow’s son. If you read seriously then you HAD to have on opinion on Martin Amis, pro or con. He was a big noise, but nowadays, who cares. Sic transit. Martin Amis was also famous for laying down the literary law as to what constituted good writing, which American writers were worthwhile, etc. So suddenly finding him extolling Goulart was a touch unexpected.

  3. Hi

    I like the cover for the New Worlds but then I almost always like Powers.
    I will probably track down a number of the short stores from the New Worlds in other collections so I will give the isfdb.org database a try. The synopsis for the Zap Gun was intriguing enough that I rooted around for my copy but it sounds like I might want to try Galactic Pot-Healer first.


  4. If you like the new wave stuff, track down Judith Merrill’s anthology “England Swings SF”, and I believe Harry Harrison’s “Nova” anthologies had their fair share of tales.

    As far as Ron Goulart goes, he was a favorite growing up, although I have since outgrown him somewhat. once he got his farces down pat, he just repeated the formula. Still, “When Things Fell Apart” won a Hugo, if that means anything. I believe his best stuff can be found in his collection “What’s Become of Screwloose? and Other Inquiries” which contain some of his best stuff like “Into The Shop”, “Prez”, and “What’s Become Of Janey”. I always thought “Into The Shop” a killer story.

    • Mark, thanks for the comment. I already own a copy of England Swings SF and have read many of the stories (in other places) collected.

      From the collection I’ve read George Collyn’s “The Singular Quest of Martin Borg” (1965), J. G. Ballard’s “You and Me and the Continuum” (1966), Thomas M. Disch’s “The Squirrel Cage” (1966), Charles Platt’s “The Total Experience Kick” (1966), Langdon Jones’ “The Hall of Machines” (1968), Christopher Preist’s “The Run” (1966), Hilary Bailey’s “Dr. Gelabius” (1968), Pamela Zoline’s “The Heat Death of the Universe” (1967), Michael Moorcock’s “The Mountain” (1965), and J. G. Ballard’s “The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race” (1966) and “Plan for the Assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy” (1966).

      In short, I have a handful more to read in the collection but have read almost half already (mostly in various New Worlds anthologies and my Ballard omnibus collection of short fiction).

      I am curious about Harrison’s Nova anthology series — I’ll tackle it when I find them in stores and/or finish my exploration of the Orbit series.

      Which Goulart won a Hugo? Do you mean After Things Fell Apart (1970) above? That wasn’t nominated for the Hugo or Nebula…. http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?2467

  5. Honestly…since nothing I want to ever read ever gets nominated for any awards, and since awards seem to be nothing more than popularity contests anyway, I couldn’t tell you who won what award in the last forty years because I just don’t care. However, maybe After Things Fell Apart was just nominated for something and I conflated the two. Sorry, my bad.

    As far as the Nova anthologies are concerned, maybe Harrison as an editor will more to your liking than Harrison as an author. I know people who liked Pohl more as an editor than an author. Again, I haven’t read one in thirty years. I was born…ahem…in the same year Kuttner and Kornbluth died, and I read them when I was much younger.

    • I disagree regarding awards. Peers and voters often, at least in the 60s/70s, nominated SF that really did push boundaries, challenge readers, and say something about genre (at least the Nebulas and Hugo short story categories). Kate Wilhelm is a prime example, and Michael Bishop. If you’re talking about today’s awards, well, I don’t pay enough attention to have much of an opinion.

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