Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCI (Bob Shaw + James Morrow + Richard E. Peck + Anthology of French SF)

1. An anthology of (primarily) 70s French SF? Yes! New authors (at least to me). New adventures. New perspectives.

2. I’ve never read James Morrow… I might as well start with his first SF novel.

3. Bob Shaw’s “Light of Other Days” (1966) is a brilliant piece of short fiction. And I finally have the novel version. After the relentlessly average Shaw novels I’ve read, I look forward to his acknowledged best.

My other Bob Shaw reviews:

Ground Zero Man (variant title: The Peace Machine) (1971)

One Million Tomorrows (variant title:1 Million Tomorrows) (1971)

The Two-Timers (1968)

4. I bought this virtually unknown Doubleday edition due to the art. First class art. Check out my  exploration of her work: Collage and Mechanism: Anita Siegel’s Art for Doubleday Science Fiction.

Wait, there’s one other reason–I’m slowly collating titles for an “academia in SF” list and I might as well read a few of them.

Thoughts and comments are always welcome!

Note: Hi-res scans are of my personal copies.


1. Travelling Towards Epsilon, ed. Maxim Jakubowksi (1977)

(Christos Kondeatis’ cover for the 1977 edition)

From the inside flap: “Travelling towards Epsilon is an absorbing collection of the best science fiction of recent years from France an is the first such compilation ever published in hardcover in this country. Many leaning science fiction writers are introduced to the English reading public for the first time through the remarkable, unobtrusive translations of Maxim Jakobuwski and Beth Blish.”

Authors: Daniel Walther, Suzanne Malaval, Jacques Sternberk, Gérard Klein, Bernard Mathon, Michel Jeury, Philippe Curval, Mazim Jackubowski, Dominique Douay, Christine Renard, Claude F. Cheinisse, Julia Verlanger, Jean-Pierre Andrevon, Tony Cartano, Nathalie Henneberg.

2. The Wine of Violence, James Morrow (1981)

(Les Edwards’ cover for the 1981 edition)

From the inside flap: “‘There was a time, believe it or not, when human beings did each other harm. In the chaotic ages preceding the Stromboli Solution, torture, rape, war, and murder happened almost daily. Violence reigned like a soulless despot. Self-defense was a growth industry.

Scholars today agree that, of all the pre-Stromboli schemes for conquering aggression, only one merits preservation in our collective memory.

This is the story of Quetzalia.’

….And it is a brilliant and provocative a story as anything modern-day science fiction has given us. For Quetzalia is no ordinary or simple utopia. On one side of its split society, behind the most curious of fortress walls, lives a culture free of machine technology, with its moral and religious precepts based upon the mystical and more pacifistic practices of ancient tribal Mexico. On the other side, over the planet’s wasteland plains, roams another more subevolutionary species, a people of abysmal savagery known as Neurovores (“brain-eaters”). Between them runs a wide river of liquified hate–a remarkably caustic substance called “noctus.”

The disruption of Quetzalia begins with the arrival of a galactic expedition from their return to Nearth (from “New Earth,” the future center of the human diaspora). After its crew of four scientists is almost immediately halved by Neurovore attack, the two survivors–an easily upset entomologist named Francis Lostwax, and an aggressive physicist named Burne Newman–are taken in by the peaceful Quetzalian Army to rid the planet of the Neurovore plague, form the two main strands of this marvelously antic saga, with plots within plots played out against a wickedly funny and wholly ingenious portrait of an aberrational paradise.”

3. Other Days, Other Eyes, Bob Shaw (1972)

(Uncredited cover for the 1978 edition)

From the back cover: “Alban Garrod, scientist and amateur detective, creates a new type of glass which records and stores the events seen through it, only to reveal them months or years later. Slow glass brings Alban fame, wealth, problems with his love life and danger when the Government, like a super Big Brother, wants to use micro-spy bugs for its own purposes…”

4. Final Solution, Richard E. Peck (1973)

(Anita Siegel’s cover for the 1973 edition)

From the inside flap: “What was the Kiley Proposal? And why was its author reluctant to take credit for it?

For years universities have been restive sounding boards for those who talk of revolution, or a new system, of freedom for every man. This chilling tale begins the same way–a university and a riot–only this time it’s a successful riot and a new epoch in the American Way of Life begins. Robert Kiley, a member of the faculty, views the change as a giant step forward in the educational process and even lends his name to the program to carry it out. But his effort bring him far more than he bargained for when it becomes necessary for a colleague to place him in a state of suspended animation to save his life. Awakening a considerable time in the future, Kiley fins that he is still on the university campus where, through some strange metamorphosis, he has become the spiritual leader of the people. The only problem is that he can’t understand where he fits, in that distant time when everyone speaks in a distorted version of today’s jargon, everyone has a Ph.D., the university has become the world, and old world a barren wastland [sic] where no one dares venture. But the money still comes from Washington and as the “leader” it seems to be Kiley’s task to obtain it, a job launches him on a journey across America which shows him just how alien a being he has become.

Often hilarious, this devastating first novel could fulfill your worst nightmare.”

12 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCI (Bob Shaw + James Morrow + Richard E. Peck + Anthology of French SF)

  1. I read the Jakubowski anthology way back when and recently dug it out again—I’ll be interested to see what you think of it.
    The Shaw is a fix up novel and a bit uneven—I wouldn’t say it is his best, but it’s a lot better than the others you’ve read—which are probably his worst!

  2. I can’t remember much about the Jakubowski collection other than the tantalising hints of other works as yet translated (there was a short novel by Walther that was mentioned among others). Jakubowski did another international anthology a year or so later.
    The Shaw comprises three short stories and an over-arching novella/short novel (detailing the discovery of slow glass IIRC). The first two of the three stories (‘Light of Other Days’ and ‘Burden of Proof’) are very good; the novella–originally serialised in Amazing as ‘Other Days. Other Eyes’–is either good or okay, can’t remember. The stories are stand alone chapters throughout the ‘novel’. Even given its unevenness, it is much better than what you’ve read by him so far, or at least I hope you will think so (no pressure!)

  3. I love the cover for the Morrow book. It reminds me why, as a young reader, I would become so curious when I’d see a creative sci-fi or fantasy book. Images weren’t omnipresent back then, and these kinds of vivid covers prompt us to ask so many questions.

    • Yeah, it has a vivid “fantasy” feel that would have appealed in my youth — although I doubt Morrow’s vision is straight-laced in the slightest.

      I’m thinking about putting together a “SF nostalgic cover” post — mostly early 80s space art (something I dislike now but remember being enchanted by as a kid).

  4. Joachim,
    I read the Traveling Towards Epsilon last year. I thought the best overall story by content was Delta, but I also liked The Gunboat Dread because it reminded me strongly of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Some of the others were too much fantasy for me and others plain forgettable. I’m not sure what was lost in translation, but I thought Jakubowski’s effort was the worst of the bunch. I look forward to your review!

  5. Maxim Jakubowksi, I think, is a prolific anthologist, having done many sf, erotica, and mystery/suspense for Robinson Publishing. I remember reading Morrow, who was a regular contributor to F&SF, back when I was much, much younger. If I remember correctly, and I may not, he was also an academic. Peck wrote sf, and mainstream novels, but I’m mostly familiar with his juveniles.

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