1) Early Elric stories from Michael Moorcock’s pen. Confession: I bought it in Scotland due to the disquieting cover rather than any love of heroic fantasy—albeit M. John Harrison’s The Pastel City (1971) was pretty darn good.
The fantastic cover is uncredited: thoughts regarding the artist?
2) I adored Dino Buzzati’s magical realist novel The Tartar Steppe (1940). And the movie adaptation The Desert of the Tartars, dir. Valerio Zurlini (1976) inspired by the aesthetics of Giorgio de Chirico —I even wrote a half-baked and cursory review of the movie many years ago. While browsing I discovered that Buzzati wrote what is considered the first serious Italian SF novel—Larger than Life (1960). I can’t wait to read it!
3) More Theodore Sturgeon short stories….
4) A while back I watched, and struggled to enjoy, the 1975 film adaptation of William Harrison’s short story “Roller Ball Murder” (1973). Time to read the source material. Copy snagged in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts.
1. The Stealer of Souls, Michael Moorcock (1963)
(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition)
From the back cover: “Mighty Elric… Mightier Sword!
Elric – the most unusual hero in the great tradition of heroic fantasy.
Elric – the albino sorcerer and battle-thirsty prince.
Elric – doomed beyond hope to wander a world of barbarism and treachery.
Elric – seeker of impossible goals, fighter of remorseless battles, embittered poet.
Elric – held in the grip of his own sword, the enchanted STORMBRINGER.
Moorcock’s mightiest creation!
2. Larger Than Life, Dino Buzzati, trans. Henry Reed (1960)
(Lena Fong Long’s cover for the 1967 edition)
From the inside flap: “Of such vital national importance is the assignment offered Professor Ismani that its exact nature cannot be disclosed until he and his wife, Elisa, have actually arrived at the government research station in a remote mountain region. Though Ismani accepts the secrecy as being necessary for security reasons, something about the driver sent to fetch him alarms his fears. And then suddenly the desolate barren countryside through which they are driving gives way to a landscape as lush and promising as the world’s first spring.
Even the guards at the last security outpost sealing off the research area have no clue to the mystery beyond, though all are certain that it has nothing to do with atomic plants or missile stations. On questioning them, Ismani discovers that in spite of their loneliness they are reluctant to apply for transfer elsewhere. But what a pity that their dogs keep whining and straining toward the research center until they have to be sent down the mountain—or destroyed.
A fantastic tale by one of Italy’s leading writers, the author of the classic The Tartar Steppe.”
3. Caviar, Theodore Sturgeon (1955)
(Darrell K. Sweet’s cover for the 1977 edition)
From the back cover: “GHOST OF A CHANCE: When Gus fell in love with a total stranger, he had no idea that their becoming familiar could turn a trip to the altar into a journey to the grave…
SHADOW, SHADOW ON THE WALL. Bobby wasn’t a really a bad little boy. In fact, he got to be rather good at certain games of imagination. Unfortunately for some people, his imagination had a way of getting the better of them…
MICROCOSMIC GOD. Mr. Kidder had as much power as any man could want. He had already invented just about everything anyone could dream of, and he had even created life. But that turned out to be a greater responsibility than even Mr. Kidder could have imaginaed, because suddenly playing God wasn’t just a simple game anymore…
BRIGHT SEGMENT. The nicest thing that ever happened to the old handyman had been an accident. Only it wasn’t really a nice thing at all—and soon it wouldn’t even be an accident….
—Plus 4 more from Sturgeon’s Row.”
4. Rollerball, William Harrison (1975)
(Cover for the 1975 edition a still from the 1975 film adaptation, dir. Norman Jewison)
From the back cover: “Rollerball Murder—the deadly game of the twenty-first century. At a signal forty players run, skae and bike for their lives around a high banked, hardwood track, dodging the careening 25-pound oval balls which scatter and maim at over 300 miles an hour. No rules, no rest periods, no substitutes. It’s play up or die. Just two ours of brute speed and crowd-pleasing carnage viewed simultaneously the world over on multivision…
ROLLERBALL MURDER is one of the thirteen tightly written, provocative and, ultimately, unforgettable stories of the past, the present and the horrifying future.”