Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIV (Kornbluth + Goldin + Charnock + Harrison edited Anthology)

1) A 1970s SF short story anthology. How could I resist? Could you? As with Judith Merril’s anthology I posted recently, Harry Harrison applies a very wide-ranging lens (publication venue, non-English language authors, etc) to the notion of “SF.”

2) Occasionally I procure (but more often than not, fail to review) a handful of newer SF novels by authors who haven’t yet received the spotlight they deserve. I listened to Anne Charnock’s A Calculated Life (2013) as an audible audiobook and found it rather brilliant. In a recent trip to Edinburgh, Scotland I went out for beers with Mike at Transreal Fiction and snagged a copy of Charnock’s newest novel from his store. I apologize in advance if no review appears—I must have a mental block when comes to reviewing books published in the last three decades. hah.

3) Today (July 23rd) is C.M. Kornbluth’s birthday! He’s long been one of my favorite 50s short fiction authors—I’ve reviewed The Marching Morons and Other Famous Short Stories (1959)The Explorers (1954), and Gladiator-At-Law (magazine publication 1954) with Frederik Pohl.

Another one of his short fiction collections — edited after his death by James Blish.

4) I’ve never read anything by Stephen Goldin. MPorcius over at MPorcius’ Fiction Log spoke highly of Goldin’s Assault on the Gods (1977). I don’t know what to expect.

As on any and all posts, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. Best SF: 1970 (variant title: The Year’s Best Science Fiction No. 4), ed. Harry Harrison (1971)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition)

From the back cover: “Selected from sources all over the world, some of as familiar to the SF field as Galaxy and Fantasy and Science Fiction, others as unexpected as New American Review, some the very best SF stories published in 1970–in any language. For here are stories from Russia, from Poland, and from Czechoslovakia, as well as from Britain and the United States.

Contents: Robin Scott Wilson’s “Gone Fishin'” (1970), Slawomir Mrozek’s “The Ugupu Bird” (1959), Robert Silverberg’s “Black is Beautiful” (1970), Josef Nesvadba’s “The Lost Face” (1964), Naomi Mitchison’s “Mary and Joe” (1962), Jerry Farber’s “Gorman” (1969), Hayden Howard’s “Oil-Mad Bug-Eyed Monsters” (1970), Robert Coover’s “A Pedestrian Accident” (1969), William Earls’ “Traffic Problem” (1970), Thomas M. Disch’s “The Asian Shore” (1970), Gleb Anfilov’s “Erem” (1963), Gene Wolfe’s “Car Sinister” (1970), Alvin Greenberg’s “‘Franz Kafka’ by Jorge Luís Borges” (1970), Barry N. Malzberg and Kris Neville’s “Pacem Est” (1970), and Brian W. Aldiss’ “The Day Equality Broke Out” (1971).

2. Dreams Before the Start of Time, Anne Charnock (2017)

(Uncredited cover for the 2017 edition)

From the back cover: “In a near-future London, Millie Daack places her hand on her belly to feel her baby kick, resolute in her decision to be a single parent. Across town, her closest friend—a hungover Toni Munroe—steps into the shower and places her hand on a medical console. The diagnosis is devastating.

In this stunning, bittersweet family saga, millie and Toni experience the aftershocks of human progress as their children and grandchildren embrace new ways of making babies. When infertility is a thing of the past, a man can create a child without a woman, a woman can create a child without a man, and artificial wombs eliminate the struggles of pregnancy. But what does it mean to be a parent? A child? A family?

Though a series of interconnected vignettes that spans five generations and three continents, this emotionally taut stroy explores the anxieties that arise when the science of fertility claims to deliver all the answers.”

3. Thirteen O’Clock and Other Zero House, C. M. Kornbluth, ed. James Blish (1970)

(Uncredited cover for the 1970 edition)

From the back cover: “PUT THEM ALL TOGETHER… A clock whose hands point to 13 o’clocl… a land of witches and demons where sorcery is the key to success, until American know-how takes over… a bewildered soldier-of-fortune in a future where heroes are unknown… a gorgeous female robot, programmed to arouse human desire, and wreak inhuman revenge… a sofa filled with deadly invaders of Earth… a space ship designed to destroy itself… and eerie desert where life and death are one….

….and you have C.M. Kornbluth’s special brand of SF magic in a must-read gathering of unforgettable triumph.”

Contents: “Thirteen O’Clock” (1941), “The Rocket of 1955” (1939), “What Sorghum Says” (1941), “Crisis!” (1942), “The Reversible Revolutions” (1941), “The City in the Sofa” (1941), “The Golden Road” (1942), “MS. Found in a Chinese Fortune Cookie” (1957).

4. And Not Make Dreams Your Master, Stephen Goldin (1981)

(John Berkey’s cover for the 1981 edition)

From the back cover: “Wayne Corrigan and Janet Meyers are professional Dreams at the Dramatic Dreams Studio, bringing spectacular entertainment to the masses as they sleep. They transmit exotic, titillating, action-packed adventures to thousands of subscribers who become heroes and heroines of these carefully scripted stories without ever leaving their beds.

But the unquestioned star at Dramatic Dreams is Masterdreamer Vince Rondel, whose talent for detailed plots and settings makes his dreams almost as real as life itself.

Until the night Vince’s Dream becomes a nightmare and Wayne Corrigan is forced to enter this man’s complex mind to discover what has gone wrong. What he finds is a scenario for certain death…. not only for Vince but also for Janet Meyers, himself, and an unsuspecting audience of thousands whose minds are being controlled by a madman…”

8 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIV (Kornbluth + Goldin + Charnock + Harrison edited Anthology)

  1. Be prepared for the Kornbluth collection, most of the stories are from his days when he was writing for the lower tier pulps like Astonishing Tales. I read this book way back when I was in high school and I remember liking some of the stories but details after all of this time have been forgotten. Dumb cover.

    You can always tell a Berkley cover when you see one.

    Always liked the Harrison/Aldiss anthologies better than the Merril ones. You might be interested in this discussion http://www.isfdb.org/wiki/index.php?title=ISFDB:Community_Portal&action=edit&section=134 on the isfdb about what speculative fiction is.

    • I’ve already read three of the stories in the Kornbluth collection — in the content section under the book I’ve linked the respective stories to their reviews. I remember liking them (especially “MS. Found in a Chinese Fortune Cookie”) and of course his later stories in The Marching Morons. You’re definitely right, the cover is forgettable.

      Thanks for the link. I might peek at the conversation…. But as I’ve indicated before, generally uninterested in debates about genre or what “speculative fiction” is. I’ll read widely and broadly and what gives me joy — regardless of any particular definition.

      • I’m with you on the Sheckley. Kornbluth for certain has moments, but he’s just not as consistent. Then again, I’ve not read near as much Kornbluth as I have Sheckley. Perhaps I’ve blindsided myself?

        I understand why you don’t review newer material here. It would distract from the blog’s main aim. And speaking as someone who puts some degree of pressure on themselves to review (almost) every book they read, knowing that a certain portion of my reading wouldn’t have to be denoted, dissected, analyzed, and spat out in a review would be something of a relief, not to mention a time saver for (perhaps?) more important things in life. So, enjoy the Charnock offline (though, I daresay her previous title Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind is a hair better, should you get the chance)..

        • I think the main aim of my site is whatever I make it — it is mine and mine alone! 🙂 It’s a forum for my reading (and sometimes film watching) habits, whatever they might be, and a place for great discussion. If you think about it that way, you shouldn’t feel any pressure to review anything (unless you’re taking ARCs—which I generally avoid as I’m not interested in feeling any pressure related to my hobby or possibility of obligation to an author or publisher).

  2. “Best SF: 1970” has some provocative titles in there – “Oil-Mad Bug-Eyed Monsters”; “The Day Equality Broke Out” – I’ll look out for the collection or individual stories…

    Just registered that I have the Harrison/Aldiss edited anthology from the year before – “Best SF: 1969.” Only briefly dipped into that one, but long enough to read and ENJOY Anthony Burgess’s “The Muse”: excellent time-travel story! (I see this collection in one of your older “Acquisitions” posts, from 2015.)

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