Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIV (Haldeman + Lee + Jeter + Kilworth)

1. There are a handful of famous SF authors whose work I haven’t read since my late teens/very early twenties–Joe Haldeman is one of them. Mindbridge (1976) looks intriguing–and I always enjoy finding a UK edition replete with a fun Josh Kirby cover….

2. I finished Tanith Lee’s Don’t Bite the Sun (1976) over my vacation in Mexico City–I’ll have a review up soon. Here’s the second of her SF novels I’ve acquired. If there’s a theme to this post (2 of the 4 novels) it’s portrayals of physical disbility in SF.

3. I’ve never read anything by Garry Kilworth. This late 80s work would normally not be in my sights but I have a fascination with sculpted worlds. See my recent review of Colin Greenland’s Daybreak on a Different Mountain (1984) and John Crowley’s The Deep (1975).

4. The second of K. W. Jeter’s novels with Laser BooksThe Dreamfields (1976) looks like an exercise in extreme paranoia! Count me in.

Note: scans are from my person copies (other than Tanith Lee’s Electric Forest as my copy is in tatters). Click to enlarge.

Let me know your thoughts on the novels and covers + SF tangents in the comments!


1. Mindbridge, Joe Haldeman (1976)

(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1977 edition)

From the back cover: “A dazzling epic of the far future from the author of the Forever War. 

When sensors detect the presence of alien intelligence in the region of the star Achernar, a team of “Tamers” is sent to investigate. They are never seen again.

Another small team, the elite of the Tamer Agency, is ordered out, primed with every defensive and offensive weapon the technology of Earth can devise.

What they find looks harmless enough at first, but develops into the most hideous confrontation mankind will ever have to endure.”

2. Electric Forest, Tanith Lee (1979)

(Jack Woolhiser’s cover for the 1st edition)

From the inside flap: “Children were the most overtly cruel. They would chase after her, gleefully screaming taunts… pulling at her hair, jabbing her with small, sharp obkects, pinching or tripping her, so that she would have to scramble awkwardly and painfully to her feet again. But the childen weren’t her only tormenters. Strangers on the street would stop and stare, or lok away until she had passed, or change their course to avoid brushing against her.

For Magdala Cled was horribly disfigured–a human monstrostiy forced to live in a society of regular features and well-formed bodies. On Indigo, her home world, as on all the planets of the Earth Conclave, foetal conception was supposed to be the constrolled result of selective artificial impregnation. It was an excellent way to ensure that all children were born healthy and at least resonably attractive. Magdala, however, had been conceived biologically… an error in contraception which her mother, a licensed prostitute intent on trade, had been too busy to correct with an abortion.

Dumped on the State at birth, Magdala had grown up surrounded by people who hated and feared her, or at best ignored her. Yet she survived, hiding her pain and fury from those who caused it and, when possible, even hiding it from herself.”

3. Cloudrock, Garry Kilworth (1988)

(Tony Roberts’ cover for the 1988 edition)

From the back cover: “On Cloudrock the penalty for imperfection is death: death by the long fall into the void, through the poisonous mists and gases that rise from the deadlands far, far below.

The two tribes who survive the Rock, the tribes of Day and Night, keep their families tight, their bloodlines pure and true, by incest, by cannibalism and by murder. Parcelling out their tiny world in measures of light and time, they wrap themselves in ritual and taboo, each family denying the presence of the other.

THEN CAME THE SHADOW: born to the matriarch Catrunner, the Shadow is deformed–a neuter dwarf–a natural candidate for instant death. But for this mutate, fate intervenes. The Shadow may live–on the condition that none acknowledge its presence: one word, one glance, and the Shadow will join his luckless kin in the long death-flight.

Surviving on the outskirts of the family, the Shadow’s very existence creates an unspoken question that challenes the ties that bind.

This is the Shadow’s tale…”

4. The Dreamfields, K. W. Jeter (1976)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1st edition)

From the back cover: “What is Operation Dreamwatch? Why is a group of severely disturbed teenagers kept in a comatose state in a heavily guarded and isolated military base? The official explanation given to Ralk Metric and his fellow dream watchers is that these children are undergoing psychotherapy through the control and observation of their dreams. But Ralk begins to suspect a more sinister purpose. Gradually, he discovers the horrifying truth and understands the deadly purpose for his own nightly vigil in The Dreamfields. 

For book reviews consult the INDEX

10 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIV (Haldeman + Lee + Jeter + Kilworth)

    • Which Jeter did you enjoy?

      You have to admit, the premise is pretty terrific — it’s like PKD ran into a drenched jungle of terror.

      I might read it soon. Looks fun. I also snagged Haldeman’s later Worlds (1981) — have you read that one? (I’ll put it in a later post)

      • I know I’ve read Mantis, and at least one of his Steampunk before Steampunk was cool books (“Lord Kelvin’s Machine”, maybe?) and I’m pretty sure he did at least one project with Tim Powers, but I can’t seem to find it now. I think I picked up “Farewell Horizontal”, but I don’t remember much about it. Funny, I can remember liking his style, but I can’t seem to remember much about the novels themselves.

        • Yeah, I only own Seeklight, The Dreamfields, and Dr. Adder.

          I opened up Mindbridge — there are charts, computer printouts, dialogues — > I never knew Haldeman tried his hand at New Wave SF writing styles…. Excited!

  1. Hi

    The Jeter sounds interesting and I have to admit the somewhat campy Laser Book covers are starting to grow on me. That said, I like the Kirby cover for Mindbridge. I have not read a lot of Joe Haldeman, but I recently read his short story “For White Hill” and it is obvious I need to read more of his work. And “A dazzling epic of the far future, complete with “Tamers” sounds too good to be true.

    All the best

    • Hello Guy,

      I opened Haldeman’s novel to take a peek — it’s filled with charts, weird dialogue columns, and other fun New Wave touches. I’ve only read The Forever War, Forever Peace, and Forever Free… and maybe a short story here or there. I had no idea he had more experimental works.

      Do people argue The Forever War is “New Wave”? It’s been so long since I read it — I only remember the basic plot points.

      But yes, it sounds very interesting.

      Have you read anything by Lee?


  2. •For a college literature course, I had to do a dissertation in which I had to compare the military, and the portrayal of women in “The Forever War” and H. G. Wells “War of the Worlds”. I thought that Wells did a better job in his portrayal of women. On the other hand, I read all of the stories that made up the first book when they were printed in “Analog”. I haven’t read the subsequent sequels though, but I remember liking his short fiction.

    •If I remember correctly, and don’t quote me, “The Dreamfields” grew out of Jeter’s stint as a medical professional. I read this novel over thirty years ago, so don’t ask details, but I remember liking it. It would be interesting to compare its themes, despite how they are portrayed, with his later published novels. The synapsis sounds suspiciously like the movie “Dreamscape” although eight years earlier.

    •I think my favorite cover is Jack Woolhiser’s Science Fiction Book Club edition wrap-around artwork.

    • Ah literature analysis papers, I do not miss them….

      As I read The Forever War when I was a teen I do not remember his depiction of women characters. Haldeman’s Mindbridge, finished yesterday, is simultaneously progressive and sexist in its depiction — I will explain more in my review. At least his futures have a major place for women in exploration, etc. In addition, there are numerous instances in the book where volunteers are sought for the most dangerous missions regardless of their gender…. But…

      I just posted a review of Jeter’s Seeklight. I sort of enjoyed it! Check it out.

  3. “simultaneously progressive and sexist” Yeah, that’s how I would describe the depiction of the women in The Forever War. They are constantly put in positions of authority, but its them that constitute the majority of military screw-ups.

    • In Mindbridge, they are in positions of authority and don’t created screw-ups — rather, they are instrumental in all the discoveries made in the story. The problem is Haldeman’s instance that the volunteers for the Tamers, in addition to all the incredible training they need for the missions, have to promise to have a certain number of children in order to populate colonized worlds.

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