Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIX (Ballard + Tennant + Guin + Anthology)

The move into my first house—with my ridiculous quantity of books—is nearly complete….

1. ….and so is my collection of 60s and 70s J. G. Ballard!

2. Currently reading this peculiar Emma Tennant vision… My third of her books — I never got around to reviewing Hotel de Dream (1976) as I grew disenchanted with the second half but thoroughly enjoyed The Crack (variant title: The Time of the Crack) (1973).

3. Not personally a huge fans of sports but enjoy when SF authors (for example Robert Sheckley, Barry N. Malzberg, and George Elec Effinger) take on future sport… A perfect topic for satirical commentary and sinister undercurrents….

4. I while ago I read and thoroughly enjoyed Wyman Guin’s short story collection Living Way Out (variant title: Beyond Bedlam) (1967). I found this in a thrift story for less than a 1$ so it ended up on my shelf.


1. Concrete Island, J. G. Ballard (1974)

(Richard Clifton-Dey’s cover for the 1976 edition)

From the back cover: “ROBINSON CRUSOE 197? A.D.

Near the intersection of three giant motorways a speeding Jaguar has a tyre blow-out. As a result Maitland, the driver, finds himself completely marooned on a patch of wasteland, an island in a sea of hostile tarmac and high-speed metal. Here he must learn to survive with minimal resources, fighting for them with the island’s other human denizens–most dangerous of whom is Jane, a very predatory prostitute…”

2. Wild Nights, Emma Tennant (1979)

(Mark Edwards’ cover for the 1981 edition)

From the back cover: “To the family in the house crouched in the northern valley between the fills, Aunt Zita’s annual visits, like the north wind that accompanies her, bring chaos, terror and enchantment. To the young narrator, Aunt Zita’s visits herald every wild night of the imagination: here fabulous feasts precede fantastic flights on the wind’s back over the sleeping village to all the glittering balls and exotic colours of an unknown world. Only the advent of Aunt Thelma and the winter wind can quench Zita’s fire; that and the people from the village who cannot bear her magic…”

3. Arena: Sports SF, ed. Ed Ferman and Barry N. Malzberg (1976)

(Uncredited cover for the 1976 edition)

From the inside flap: “Here, in eleven brilliantly conceived science fiction stories by the finest writers in the field, is the future of sport. Here are tales of chess games played on an interplanetary scale, of marriage-becomes sport, of a baseball fan on Mars….

In Irwin Shaw’s long “Whispers in Bedlam” a mediocre football player has an ear operation and suddenly acquires ESP which allows him to read the mind of his opponent; but when he takes his new powers to the poker table he runs into trouble. In Frederik Brown’s classic “Arena” a human is plucked from his space fighter and pitted against an Outsider in a hand-to-hand combat in a contest to decide the survival of a whole race. In Bruce Jay Friedman’s “The Night Boxing Ended”, a small gem of black humor, an over-enthusiastic heavy-weight takes literally the instructions of a loud-mouthed heckled, with dismaying results. Gary Wright’s “Mirror of Ice” is a taught tale of a vicious kind of bobsled racing where speeds reach 110 mph and death rides in every race. The other contributors are Will Stanton, Barry N. Malzberg, Algis Budrys, James E. Gunn, John Anthony West, Vance Aandahl and Bill Pronzini.

Fanciful, darkly prophetic, or just for fun: ARENA is a collection of science fiction at its best–distinguished stories of man’s magnificent and timeless need to structure his like through sport.”

4. The Standing Joy, Wyman Guin (1969)

(Uncredited cover for the 1969 edition)

From the back cover: “COLIN STANDS TALL. Colin Collins only looks like a boy. His mind, however, could only be matched by the greatest thinkers in history.

Using strange forces, he is creating an entirely new world from the scarred landscape of the American depression. His major finding are in the brave new world of California, and his greatest accomplishment in a place which may or may not exist.

Colin launches his life-consuming inquiry with a bizarre and engaging band of friends: A pioneering pilot, Marty McCord; the lust Madam Bovary; his passionate companion Jesus Rappaport y Casafuerte; the beautiful by very different girls Judith Oliphant and Pretty Quinlan; his confused parents; and especially with the giant Boris, his cerebral twin who would one day share his destiny.

8 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIX (Ballard + Tennant + Guin + Anthology)

    • What else of his have you read?

      I’ve read a lot of his short fiction in various collections over the years — including Billenium (1962), The Voices of Time and Other Stories (1962), and The Terminal Beach (1964).

      As for novels –> The Drowned World, The Drought, and High-Rise.

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