Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVIII (Carter + Boyd + Platonov + Anthology with Sturgeon, Bradbury, Budrys, et al.)

1) Can’t resist a beautiful Richard Powers cover even on a rather standard 60s anthology of short stories—includes Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Theodore Sturgeon, Wyman Guin, Algis Budrys, etc.

Relevant reviews: Algis Budrys’ collection Budrys’ Inferno (1963) and Wyman Guin’s superb collection Living Way Out (variant title: Beyond Bedlam) (1967).

2) A SF novel by Angela Carter — enough said…

3) One of the great (and lesser read) Soviet dystopias! Can’t wait!

4) Another bargain bin find by John Boyd… with some incredibly hyperbolic cover blurbs on the back about his earlier (and lackluster) novel The Last Starship from Earth (1968).

As always, thoughts/comments are welcome!

1. Beyond, ed. Thomas A. Dardis (1963)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)

From the back cover: “A few of the high spots in…

‘The Watchful Poker Chip’–Ray Bradbury tells the story of a man who had one of his eyes replaced with the most beautiful poker chip in the world

‘The Real People’–A startling story which shows that most of us are only puppets–and Algis Budrys proves it

‘The Ghost Maker’—Frederik Pohl demonstrates that if you track real magic to its lair, you may be very, very sorry…”

Contains: Ray Bradbury’s”The Watchful Poker Chip” (variant title: “The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse”) (1954), Frederik Pohl’s “The Ghost Maker” (1954), Jerome Bixby’s Can Such Beauty Be?” (1953), Algis Budrys’ “The Real People” (1953), James E. Gunn’s “The Beautiful Brew” (1954), Winston K. Marks’ “I’d Give a Dollar” (1954), Wyman Guin’s “The Root and the Ring” (1954), Frederic Brown’s “Double Whammy” (1954), Theodore Sturgeon’s “Talent” (1953).

2. The Passion of New Eve, Angela Carter (1977)

(Irene von Treskow’s cover for the 1992 edition)

From the back cover: “New York has become the City of Dreadful Night where dissolute Leila performs a dance of chaos for Evelyn. But this young Englishman’s fate lies in the arid desert where a many-breasted fertility goddess will wield her scalpel to transform him into the new Eve. This is the story of how Evelyn learn to be a woman–first in the hands of Zero, the one-eyed, one-legged monomaniac poet then through the gentle touch of the ancient Triestessa, the beautiful ghost of Hollywood past; and, finally in a deserted California cave by the sea.

The Passion of New Eve is an extraordinary journey into the dazzling imagination and apocalyptical vision of one of Britain’s most brilliant writers.”

3. The Foundation Pit, Andrei Platanov (1930)

(Ginger Giles’ cover for the 1975 edition)

From inside flap: “Much as Herman Melville’s greatness was discovered long after his death, Andrey Platonov’s reputation has been growing since the posthumous publication of a great collection of his stories in 1958. Despite the Soviet authorities’ refusal to publish his more experimental and critical works, the extensive underground circulation of his manuscripts has established is right to be considered one of the foremost writers in Russian of this century. The Foundation Pit is one of these ‘underground’ manuscripts.

Set in a small town in early post-Revolutionary Russia, it describes a group of workmen and low-level bureaucrats engaged in digging the foundation pit for what is to become a grand, central structure to house all the town’s inhabitants. But, asks Voshev, the dreamer, ‘Don’t people decrease in their sense of life when buildings increase? Man will make a building and unmake himself. Who will life in them?’

Mirra Ginsburg writes in the Introduction: ‘(He) creates a surrealist landscape–a landscape of myth or nightmare… Every man becomes Everyman… and the novel assumes a larger than life, almost legendary quality.’ And Professor Victor Erlick of Yale comments: ‘Platonov is an important and remarkable writer. His brand of humanism is unique and moving. His prose is deliberately and effectively incongruous. It takes a translator of Mirra Ginsburg’s skill to render this quality into equally effective English.’

Andrey Platonov was born in Russia in 1899 and died in 1951. His writings were barred from publication for long periods, and while he escaped the purges of the 1930’s, in 1938 his only son, a boy of fiteen, was sent to a concentration camp and died years later. In 1970 Dutton published a collection of his short stories, The Fierce and Beautiful World.’

Mirra Ginsburg is noted for her translations of twentieth-century Russian literature. She has translated several books by Yevegny Zamyatin and Mikhail Bulgakov, including The Master and Margarita. She has also edited several anthologies of contemporary Soviet Writing.”

4. The Rakehells of Heaven, John Boyd (1969)

(Peter Cross’ cover for the 1978 edition)

From the back cover: “John Adams and Kevin O’Hara are graduates of North Dakota’s great Mandan Space Academy. Both trained to be conquistadors of space, explorers in an age of interstellar imperialism, Adams and O’Hara are as different as any two space scouts could possibly be. Now, together, they are sent to explore a distant world called Harlech. The Harlechians are unclassified aliens; relations with their women are strictly forbidden by the Interplanetary Colonial Authority. Adams is willing to play by the rules–but whoever made those rules hadn’t counted on the lusty Red O’hara, rakehell of heaven… From the Adams-O’Hara probe, only John Adams returns.

Of John Boyd’s earlier science-fiction novel The Last Starship from Earth, Robert A. Heinlein said, ‘It belongs on the same shelf with 1984 and Brave New World,” and the Los Angeles Times noted, ‘In the literate tradition of Huxley, Orwell, and Bradbury, it is a work of extraordinary impact.'”

19 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVIII (Carter + Boyd + Platonov + Anthology with Sturgeon, Bradbury, Budrys, et al.)”

  1. One power I’ve developed from reading your blog and twitter feed is the Richard Powers ‘eye’: the ability to immediately detect his artwork. I tweeted about finding the two The Library of America 50’s Science Fiction volumes on my local library’s new book shelf:

    But the funny thing is I knew the cover of Vol I was Powers from about 10 feet away. Who knows what otherworldy abilities I’ll develop if I continue to follow your great blog.

    1. My wife has also developed the “Richard Powers eye.” She’ll call me from the used book stores if she travels to see her parents etc and say “So this one has a great Powers cover!”

      He holds a special place in my enjoyment of SF art — I first stopped to actually pay attention to the artist behind a cover for a Powers one. I can’t remember the exact book but it was one of his gorgeous/surreal faces….

      à la….

      or one of his landscapes…

  2. That Richard Powers’ cover for ‘Beyond’ is brilliant! Also the Ginger Giles cover for ‘The Foundation Pit’. Great work, Joachim. How many sci-fi books do you currently own?

    1. That’s a dangerous question. Around 1,000? I owned more at one point but I gave away all my newer SF other than my few favorites. I also purged my collection of 30s/40s/50s pulp around two years ago. I will never read it (or read it again) and it takes up space…. In addition I mail really awful SF books to people like Thomas over at Schlock Value (https://schlock-value.com/) as he has some perverse joy reading them…

      It’s only half my book collection as I’m a historian by training/trade. And my wife has a similar number of works of contemporary and classic fiction + literary theory…

      1. Ah, that’s quite a lot! Cool!

        Read any other must acquire Soviet dystopias? (I’ve read Zamyatin’s We and Nabokov’s Bend Sinister — one of his earlier works in English if I remember correctly).

  3. I agree the Richard Powers covers are distinct and have a recognition radius of about twenty feet. I’d have to say my favorites are the covers for Edmondson’s The Aluminum Man, and Clarke’s Reach for Tomorrow and Expedition to Earth. Powers covers always give me a sense that he put a special effort into them, even the ones that were seemingly hastily slapped onto the canvas for whatever reasons.
    Another book you might be interested in because the author is a woman, is Swastika Night by Katharine Burdekin, writing under the pseudonym Murray Constantine, first published in 1937?

      1. I just ordered Swastika Night. A couple others I ordered that might interest you are, Doris Lessing’s The Memoirs of a Survivor, and Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins?

  4. I note the Andrey Platonov book was translated by Mirra Ginsburg. She did a great job on the copy of Zamyatin’s We I recently read. Her introduction was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

    1. Yeah, I included the information about her underneath the book from the inside flap. I certainly thought Zamyatin’s We read very smoothly…. that said I know little about Russian.

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