Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVII (Alan Dean Foster, F. M. Busby, Michael G. Coney, John Christopher)

1. Michael G. Coney is a firm blog favorite–from his deeply lyrical paean Hello Summer, Goodbye (variant title: Rax) (1975) to his off-the-wall bizarre short fictions in Friends Come in Boxes (1973). I eagerly snatched up a copy of his “ecological puzzle story” with  alien shapeshifters–Syzygy (1973) (Coney’s entry in SF Encyclopedia).

2. Always love a SF water world! hah. This one via Alan Dean Foster….

3. MPorcius over at MPorcius Fiction Log speaks highly of F. M. Busby’s Cage a Man (1973). I’ve only previously read Busby’s terrible shock story “Tell Me All About Yourself” (1973).

4. More British apocalypse tales join the ranks—this one a lesser known work by John Christopher. Pendulum (1968) is a tale of apocalypse from within rather than his normal external causes of societal devastation–see my recent review of A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge) (1966).. The inside flap reads as alarmist drivel—we shall see.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?


1. Syzygy, Michael G. Coney (1973)

(David Bergen’s cover for the 1975 edition)

From the back cover: “Once every fifty-two years Arcadia’s six erratic moons come together in a constellation that plays havoc with the ecological balance of the planet.

As a marine biologist at Riverside Research Centre, Mark Swindon is chiefly concerned about the effect of catastrophic tides on his precious fish pens.

Then, without warning, a wave of motiveless violence sweeps through the normal sleepy colony—and Mark too feels himself drawn against his will into a mysterious cycle of death and rebirth.”

2. Cachalot, Alan Dean Foster (1980)

(Esteban Maroto’s cover for the 1980 edition

From the inside flap: “A world of ocean…

As the approaching storm stirred the sea, the gray polymer dock began to bob gently. The elderly fisherman could have moved to one of the more stable streets of the gloating town, but when dealing with the creatures of the ocean, he preferred the feel of their environment.

There was a tug on his line, and he reeled in a small yellow fish with four blue eyes. It would serve him better as bait for larger game, the old man decided, and dropped it back into the water.

Suddenly, there was another tug, much stronger. The fishing pole curved down toward the sea in a wide arc, drawing more and more line. A shape was just barely visible in the dark water beyond… a shape that moved very quickly, and grew to enormous proportions as it neared the dock. The old man’s eyes widened in terror. Crying out, he flung away his fishing pole and ran toward the town. He did not make it beyond the end of the pier.

Two days later, when the first of Roqual Towne’s wandering fishing fleet returned to the spot, they found no trace of what had been their home, not any sign of the town’s 800 inhabitants.

A world of ocean…

To a marine biologist it was the chance of a lifetime, the fulfillment of a dream. And Cora Zamantina needed a dream fulfilled just now.

As the shuttle entered Cachalot’s atmosphere, Cora tried to remember all the things she’d read about the water world. There was virtually no dry land anywhere; the few permanent human installations, such as Commonwealth headquarters, were located on reefs built by creatures very much like the corals of Earth. The rest of the population lived on floating towns—a wonderfully efficient adaptation and yet, Cora was certain, not nearly as efficient or wonderful as the changes that must have occurred beneath the surface of the sea.

Long before her birth, a guilt-ridden human race had tried to atone for centuries of slaughter by transporting Earth’s surviving cetaceans to Cachalot. A covenant had been made between whales and men—a noninterference pact that neither side dared violate. Cora could not help but wonder at the progress the huge sea mammals had made.

Within hours after her arrival, she would have reason to suspect that cetacean progress had taken a devastating, deadly turn.

A world of ocean… Alan Dead Foster’s CACHALOT will take you there.”

3. Cage a Man, F. M. Busby (1973) (MY REVIEW)

(Gary Viskupic’s cover for the 1st edition)

From the inside flap: “Burton couldn’t believe it, even while it was happening. One moment he was alive and well on Earth, then in a flash he found himself hurtling through millions of miles of uncharted space—prisoner of an advanced alien race whose ‘humanitarian’ plan involves the surgical transformation of all mankind into misshapen parodies of themselves.

At first it was all very fascinating, a chance to meet and talk with beings from beyond the stars. But after seeing his captors, a race of grotesque lobster-like creatures called Demu, Barton’s amazement was quickly replaced by fear; for the Demu regarded him as nothing more than an animal—and the gray seamless walls surrounding him bore witness to the fact he was just a beast in a cage.

And what a cage! To the Demu, Barton’s cell was merely part of their extensive experimental facilities. But to Barton himself, it was a torture chamber. To break his will, the monsters drugged him, they abused him, they treated him like a rat in a maze. But the Demu made one big mistake—they didn’t finish the job and Barton escaped!

From then on the Earthman’s only hope for survival depended on how much space he could put between himself and the Demu cages. His plan: hijack an alien spaceship for a free trip back to Earth. His need: a suitable hostage to carry off his scheme. And when Barton managed to kidnap the alien leader’s child, he was determined to let nothing and no one stand in his way.

After that it’s winner take all as Barton becomes a one-man army of unrelenting violence in the face of a swift and terrifying alien pursuit to find and destroy him. For glory, for pleasure, for revenge… Barton doesn’t care why he kills or how. The name of the game is just stay free and alive.

Excitingly original in both theme and content, CAGE A MAN by F.M. Busby is a thrilling science fiction adventure tale of a world as yet unknown, ruled by passions as yet unimagined.”

(Gary Viskupic’s back cover for the 1st edition)

4. Pendulum, John Christopher (1968)

(Paul Bacon’s cover for the 1st edition)

From the inside flap: “The place is England today, its traditions crumbling under the assault of The new Hedonism–pop singers, student rebellions, teenage motorcycle gangs, permissive morality….

When a devastating financial crisis overwhelms the country, the thin veneer of civilization is stripped off—power passes into the hands of the young, and England becomes a country ruled by feudal gangs of teenagers imposing their own lynch laws and terrorizing the adult population.

Against this backdrop of national collapse, the characters of Pendulum seek to rebuilt their shattered lives, to go on living. Their predicament is terrifying but entirely believable, and its resolution–as the inevitable revolt of age and order against youth and anarchy takes shape–is a masterpiece of convincing horror.

Readers who are familiar with John Christopher’s novels will know what to expect in the way of drama and excitement; those who have not yet had the pleasure are in for a new dimension in realistic suspense.”

For book reviews consult the INDEX

For cover art posts consult the INDEX

13 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVII (Alan Dean Foster, F. M. Busby, Michael G. Coney, John Christopher)

  1. ‘Pendulum’ is definitely the least of Christopher’s 4-book run of catastrophe novels. It’s all a bit “grumpy old man rails at the youth of today”. A shame, because Grass, Winter and Wrinkle are all excellent.

  2. Hi

    I like the cover for Cage a Man best although the Coney cover is interesting. The plot of Alan Dead Foster’s CACHALOT really intrigues me I have not read anything by him but I probably should.

    Happy Reading

    • Hello Guy! I hope all is well — and the reading fascinates….

      Cage a Man is as creepy as that cover — as for the story, its offhanded brutality is squeamish for sure. Not sure what I think.

      Yeah, Cachalot looks like a fun read. Some of the earliest maps and societies I created as a kid were based on water planets!

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