1. Body modification + new definitions of humanity + a mystery! What is there not to like? I’ve not read any of Charles Sheffield’s SF. I look forward to exploring his oeuvre.
2. A proto-cyberpunk novel? I wonder if Ford’s novel, Web of Angels (1980), doesn’t receive the readership it should due to the lack of noir imagery and Asian culture that forms the “cyberpunk” archetype…. thoughts?
3. I need to complete Doris Lessing’s sequence! When I might get around to reading it is another matter…
4. I always see Ernest Callenbach’s environmental utopia novel on the shelves of my local Half Price Books. While wandering around Mexico City I saw this one for a few pesos… and grabbed it.
Note: I am currently in Mexico City, far away from my scanner, and will be for almost another week. In two instances I own different editions of the books than the cover might indicate. I have noted in the back cover blurb which I own.
Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Enjoyed? Hated?
1. Sight of Proteus, Charles Sheffield (1978)
(Clyde Caldwell’s cover for the 1978 edition)
From the back cover: “In the 22nd century a combination of computer-augmented bio-feedback and chemo-therapy techniques has given man the ability not only to heal himself, but to change himself–to alter his very shape at will. But Form Change has its darker aspects, ranging from unauthorized experimentation on human subjects to a threat to the very essence of humanity—a SIGHT OF PROTEUS.
Charles Sheffield has written a thrilling novel of pursuit and unveiling in a world where the forms of humanity are practically boundless–until one man breaks an unbreakable law; until an alien force losses itself upon the world—and a planet that exploded sixteen million years ago delivers its final legacy…”
2. Web of Angels, John M. Ford (1980)
(Terrance Lindall’s cover for the 1980 edition)
From the back cover: “THE WEB WAS GOD, JUSTICE AND INFALLIBILITY–FOR EVERYONE. EXCEPT…
In this extragalactic society many people had Websets, for the Web was literally the mind of the universe. Grailer was a Webspinner, one of the handful of extraordinary people who could manipulate the Web, and thus he was a space outlaw, forever hunted by the black knights of CIRCE.
But an even crueler penalty for the Webspinners was the Geisthounds, inhuman nightmares lurking within the system, ready to pounce at one unlucky spin of the Web.
Grailer saw the Geisthounds murder his lover, Sharon Rose. Now he would never stop seeking until he found the answers he needed… until he discovered the knowledge that would be both agony and exhilaration.”
3. The Sirian Experiments: The Report by Ambien II, of the Five, Doris Lessing (1981)
(Paul Gamarello’s cover for the 1981 edition)
From the back cover of the 1982 Vintage Books edition: “This is the third visionay novel in the Doris Lessing series Canopus in Argos: Archives that began with Shikasta and continued with The Marriages of Zones Three, Four, and Five.
Ambien II, one of the five rulers of the Sirian Empire, visits Shikasta, a planet where both Sirius and its rival, Canopus, are conducting experiments. Through a slow and painful education Ambien learns to love and honor the Caopian way, and becomes the herald of Caopian wisdom to her own people.
Once again, Doris Lessing uses Shikasta–clearly the planet Earth–to articulate her view of mankind and its history, and to illustrate her conviction that to survive we must learn to open our minds to new ways of thinking, feeling, and being.”
4. Ecotopia: the Notebooks and Reports of William Weston, Ernest Callenbach (1975)
(Uncredited cover for the 1977 edition)
From the back cover of the 1990 edition: “Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the Union to create a “stable-state” ecosystem: the perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty years later, the isolated, mysterious Ecotopoia welcomes its first officially sanctioned American visitor: New York Times-Post reported Will Weston.
Like a modern Gulliver, the skeptical Weston is by turns impressed, horrified, and overwhelmed by Ecotpoia’s strange practices: employee ownership of farms and businesses, the twenty-hour work week, the fanatical elimination of pollution, “mini-cities” that defeat overcrowding, devotion to trees bordering on worship, a woman-dominated environment, and bloody, ritual war games. Bombarded by innovative, unsettling ideas, set afire by a relationship with a sexually forthright Ecotopian woman, Weston’s conflict of values intensifies–and leads to a startling climax.”
For book reviews consult the INDEX