Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXII (Moorcock + Tennant + Sladek + White)

1) I made a “resolution” to read more John Sladek — miserable covers aside. Now what is that spaceman doing standing next the elephant? Although Sladek is rather on the surreal/comical end of things, Peter Goodfellow took the surreal title literally. Not his finest artistic moment. Now if only I could convince myself to put together my disperate thoughts on The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970) into something cohesive.

2) Although New Worlds editor supreme” Michael Moorcock’s novels haven’t not received the warmest reception on my site, I am determined to get a better sense of his fiction by exploring his short work. And this collection seems fantastic! It’s illustrated, there’s a comic strip (image below), and the Savoy Books publication includes tons of fascinating blurbs about other books both speculative and non-genre.

See my reviews of An Alien Heat (1972) and The Ice Schooner (1969).

The title page of the Jerry Cornelius comic.


3) A lesser known James White novel… Only printed in the UK.

James White is one of THE finds of the last few years. Best known for simple but earnest (and pacifistic) 50s stories about doctors solving alien medical problems, his novels demonstrate surprising power. A reader and frequent commentator (see I listen!) suggested I procure one of his late 70s novels unknown to me. I cannot wait to read it.

See my reviews of The Dream Millennium (1973), All Judgement Fled (1968), and The Watch Below (1966).

4) I recently discussed Emma Tennant’s work and how she was influenced by the UK SF scene (Ballard et al) here. Yes, I showed my inner academic by citing a few articles — many fans don’t realize that there’s serious and fascinating academic study of the genre. And, as literary historians are wont to do, they provide (often) relevant and erudite analysis of development of genre etc. I would pull more in if time allowed.  I am currently reading Tennant’s novel and it’s intriguing so far!

Scans are from my own collection (in order to zoom in on the zany madness, click on the image).

I look forward to your comments/thoughts!

1. Keep the Giraffe Burning, John Sladek (1977)


(Peter Goodfellow’s cover for the 1977 edition)

From the back cover: “IT’S A MAD, MAD, WORLD… Take the case of Drew Blenheim–he’d been spending half a million dollars a year developing glass pancakes before the government forced him to take leave. Or Joe Feeney, who interrupted his work (on the use of holograms) to announce that he was a filing cabinet. And Edna Bessler who believed that she was being pursued by a philosophical proposition. Not to mention Hank LaFarge, the sanest scientist of them all—and he’s convinced that cockroaches are bidding for world domination… Just a bizarre taste of the extraordinary events that take place when pandemonium breaks loose in America’s top priority think tank.”

2. My Experiences in the Third World War, Michael Moorcock (1980)


(Michael Heslop’s cover for the 1980 edition)

No back cover blurb.

Contents: “Going to Canada” (1980), “Leaving Pasadena” (1980), “Crossing into Cambodia” (1979), “The Dodgem Division” (1969), “The Adventures of Jerry Cornelius: The English Assassin” (1980) (with M. John Harrison, art by Mal Dean, Richard Glyn Jones), “Peace on Earth” (1959), “The Lovebeast” (1966), and “The Real Like of Mr. Newman (Adventures of the Dead Astronaut)” (1966).

3. Underkill, James White (1979)


(Colin Hay’s cover for the 1979 edition)

From the back cover: “It began in a hospital — the incredible trail of clues which lead to the discovery of the invasion of Earth…


Normally the socio-political problems of the outside world did not concern Mr. Malcolm and his wife, safely cocooned in their hospital work. But it was their misfortune to be on duty the night the three patients were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit… a small boy, a beautiful girl, and an old man — all close to death, all victims of a diseased society.


Malcolm’s investigations revealed a further link between the three — one which involved the medics with an all-powerful police force and took them to the sub-surface city of Plessat… the centre of an extra-terrestrial conspiracy of super-elite beings dedicated to curing the terminal illness of the planet earth…”

4. The Crack (variant of The Time of the Crack) (1973), Emma Tennant


(Candy Amsden’s cover for the 1978 edition)

From the back cover:LOOK! LOOK WHAT’S HAPPENED! HAMPSTEAD UPLIFTED HIGH IN THE SKY! Watch the turmoil spread. See the loony psychoanalysts lead their demented flock around the cracked and broken streets. A religious maniac’s at large, she’s promising her female believers a new and Manless life on the ‘other Side’.

And through it all goes Baba; dear sweet, kind, unliberated Baba, leaving a trail of love and destruction in her wake.”

22 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXII (Moorcock + Tennant + Sladek + White)

    • It was a one and done collection — never republished. The reality is I’ve enjoyed the handful of Moorcock short stories I’ve encountered under his pseudonyms in various collections. And as a proponent of reading collections cover to cover (it’s fun to discover new authors), I was never going to quit reading his stuff.

  1. Hi

    The Goodfellow cover is interesting. I have not read this Sladek title so I am not sure in this case, but while I realize that the cover artist is not always depicting the events of the novel some of Goodfellow’s covers just seem really out of step with the books. I am thinking of Vance’s Tschai series, I have been collecting them and will try to put something together shortly. Having said that I often like his covers regardless, I guess that is why you should not judge a book by it’s cover.

    Happy Reading

    • I tend to enjoy Goodfellow’s work. Something about this one rubbed me the wrong way! The reality is, if purchased book solely on covers I’d by a lot of crap as Powers graced everything! Also, I’d avoid most UK publishers (other than the few Ian Miller art pieces, some Penguin Books, etc) completely as there are only so many Tony Roberts, Colin Hay, and Foss covers I can tolerate.

  2. I have this version of Sladek’s Keep the Giraffe Burning, which is excellent and by far the best cover for it, so far (scroll down – not sure how to add a photo in comments, here? Hence this link.) https://unsubscribedblog.wordpress.com/tag/john-sladek/

    Sladek is brilliant, in the main; very satirical, absurdist, philosophical, experimental/avant garde, witty, inventive. So far I have read Keep the Giraffe Burning, The Steam-Driven Boy (another collection of short stories), as well as The Reproductive System, and I recently started The Muller-Fokker Effect (which is fabulous, so far). I am 90% sure that you will love, or like, most of the stories in …Giraffe…, Joachim!

    And, I can’t remember if you have read Moorcock’s Behold the Man, yet? I have only read a few Moorcocks, myself, so far, but I can safely say that it is probably one of his best, most original novels – highly recommended….

  3. Moorcock seems to be better known for his fantasy. His Elric stories are classics of the genre. Other than those, the only sf story of his is Behold the Man, which I liked a great deal, although from what I’ve heard, is that the novella is much better than the novel. He also seems very mercurial as his style can switch from one form to another depending on what he’s writing.

  4. The omnibus edition of the Jerry Cornelius series has been gathering dust in my basement for years. It runs 974 pages, One of these days or weeks or months I’ll get around to it.
    Always liked James White. His aliens are truly alien.

      • They are part of my basement collection. For the past several months I’ve been catching up on work post 2000. I will probably get back to the older books later this year.

      • The reason I ask is that a lot of readers seem to know his Sector General stories best — and I’ve tried to emphasize in my reviews of his later novels that he matured immensely as a writer. ’tis why I want more people to read them!

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