Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXII (George R.R. Martin + Sheri S. Tepper + Charles Logan + Anthology of European SF)

1. I’ve scoured my online sources and finally found an affordable copy of George R. R. Martin’s Songs of Stars and Shadows (1977). It includes the first Martin short story I’ve read—“This Tower of Ashes” (1976) (I haven’t reviewed it).

2. More SF in translation! As it’s an 80s anthology it hadn’t been on my radar until recently… Terra SF (1981), the first in the series, remains prohibitively expensive. Rarely do I encounter an anthology where ALL the authors are unknown to me.

3. Another early Sheri S. Tepper novel…

4. And finally, what appears to be a radical departure from the standard Robinson Crusoe survival on an alien world novel (I’ve read a few reviews and fans of SF where man’s ingenuity wins the day might not be pleased). I adore Bergen’s cover art.

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


1. Songs of Stars and Shadow, George R.R. Martin (1977)

(Uncredited cover for the 1st edition)

From the back cover: “A FEAST OF LEGENDS TO SAVOR—SOME WITH A SHUDDER, SOME WITH A SMILE—Deadly spiders big as pumpkins consume victims who scream with joy…

The saga of a man who lives alone of his own planet…

Adrian Colmer, Master Probe, takes on a client who claims to be the subject of telepathic torment…

An all-too-possible revolution in the Untied States, post-1984…

How Jupiter got its thirteenth moon…

And other astonishing tales, including ‘And Seven Times Never Kill Man,’ nominates for the Hugo Award.”

Contents: “This Tower of Ashes” (1976), “Patrick Henry, Jupiter, and the Little Red Brick Spaceships” (1976), “Men of Greywater Station” (1976), “The Lonely Sons of Laren Door” (1976), “Night of the Vampyres,” (1975), “The Runners” (1975), “Night Shift” (1973), “…For a Single Yesterday” (1975), “And Seven Times Never Kill Man” (1975).

2. Terra SF II: The Year’s Best European SF, ed. Richard D. Nolane (1983)

(Oliviero Berni’s cover for the 1st edition)

From the back cover: “‘The most contemporary selection to date of European science fiction, with outstanding stories…’ Such was the comment of Fantasy & Science Fiction on the first volume of TERRA SF. ‘This book should start a trend,’ was the opinion of The Twilight Zone magazine, while the Library Journal simply stated, ‘Excellent.’

Now again Richard D. Nolane, himself an [sic] SF writer and science fiction authority, brings you the latest selection of the best of Western European science fiction writing. Here in this volume is represented surprisingly imaginative concepts from France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Italy, Spain and even Finland. The names of the authors may be unfamiliar to the English-speaking world but they are the SF greats of the Old World.

TERRA SF II rounds out the DAW anthologies of the best.”

Contents: Karl Michael Armer’s “Shoobeedoowah Across the Universe” (1986), Daniel Walther’s “The Hospital, a Cynical Fable” (1982), Bob van Laerhoven’s “El Pape” (1983), Øyvind Myhre’s “John Henry” (1983), Weikko Rekunen’s “The Biological Truth” (1982), Tais Teng’s “Disslish the Aquamancer,” Francis Carsac’s “The Last Atlantean,” Merete Kruuse’s “Mikey Turns Three” (1983), Carlos Saiz Cidoncha’s “The Emerald-Studded Scepter” (1983), Gianluigi Zuddas’ “In Search of Aurade” (1981), Richard D. Nolane’s “The Ogre’s Head” (1983), Wolfgang Jeschke’s “Haike the Heretic’s Writings” (1983).

3. After Long Silence, Sheri S. Tepper (1987)

(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1988 edition)

From the back cover: “When humans first laid claim to the planet Jubal, they found it to be a world of huge mountains and vast oceans, of scattered deserts and safe areas of deepsoil—and of peculiar, seemingly natural formations previously unknown to man: mysterious, crystalline Presences…

Unique, almost hypnotic in their magnificence, the Presences were potentially deadly. In order to more freely across Jubal’s surface, Explorers had been forced to find and chart pathways around the majestic mineral growths. Through lethal trial and error, they had discovered musical sequences that would enable Tripsingers to serenade traders and travelers past the strange, often mountain-sized growths of crystal. But any Explorer or Tripsinger who hit a wrong note—a note of discord to a particular Presence—would set off an avalanche of knife-sharp crystal shards—an explosion that would destroy all life within the danger zone.

Despite the risks, humans had managed to not only carve out their cities and towns, but also to find and cultivate the brou-pods—a commodity which they shipped off-planet for processing into both medicine and that finest of drinks, broudy.

But there wer some who, motivated by greed, chafed at the limitations of Jubal’s “protected world” status. Powerful forces on- and off- world were moving to alter the official designation to one that would leave the planet open for total exploitation—beginning with the indiscriminate destruction of the Presences.

Yet it was not just the possible loss of their livelihood that prompted Tripsingers like Tasmin Ferrence and his acolytes, Jamieson and Clarin, to take action. The Presences belonged… for all the colonists knew, they were alive. Neither the offworlders nor the ruthless opportunists at the hear to Jubal’s own government had the right to rape this world—and Tasmin intended to marshal whatever forces he could to save his planet.

Explorer Donatella Furz was willing to help, but for another more personal reason. She had stumbled upon the key to the secret behind Jubal’s Presences—a key which, if turned in the proper lock, would prove the planet’s true importance. Pursued by unidentified enemies, unable to trust even those comrades she had work with for years, Donatella’s one hope was that, allied with the Tripsingers, she could find the truth about the Presences in time to prevent the destruction of the world’s delicate ecological balance.

As self-serving government officials raced to seize Jubal’s wealth, Tasmin, Donatella and their small band of allies began to mobilize their fellow Tripsingers and Explorers, as well as the hidden forces of the planet itself—a desperate, final defense that would lead them all the the brink of catastrophe… and beyond.”

4. Shipwreck, Charles Logan (1975)

(David Bergen’s cover for the 1977 edition)

From the back cover: “GALACTIC CRUSOE. When an atomic explosion destroys a huge expedition ship, Tansis becomes the sole survivor of the human race. A skilled space pilot he manages to land his scout craft on the nearest planet. The alien world in which he finds himself is not hostile but has no means of supporting human life. Desperate for intelligent contact, Tansis establishes a telepathic relationship with the extraordinary seal-like creatures who live in the planet’s oceans. But just as things seem to be going smoothly, the craft computer warns Tansis that the energy is running out and he is forced to take drastic measures to safeguard his own survival….”

For book reviews consult the INDEX

For cover art posts consult the INDEX

6 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXII (George R.R. Martin + Sheri S. Tepper + Charles Logan + Anthology of European SF)

  1. Joachim,
    I read Logan’s Shipwreck a little more than 35 years ago, but it is memorable for the indomitable spirit of Tansis and for being the only novel length story I’ve ever encountered that has no dialog. I was reminded of it by Andy Weir’s Martian.

    The Years Best European SF has only one name I recognize: Wolfgang Jeschke. After being inspired by your posts/acquisitions of non English authors I bought and read his The Last Day of Creation. Flawed, but memorable despite the cover that looks like it was partially inspired by a blow up doll:

    I’m waiting for a copy of Michel Houellebecq’s The Possibility of an Island. Have you ever heard of him?

    I don’t believe I’ve read anything by Martin or Tepper yet, unless it was some forgettable shorter fiction in a magazine.

    Happy reading!

    • Isn’t The Martian of a radical different sensibility though? As in, the astronaut actually escapes…. I watched and enjoyed the film version.

      I have heard of Houellebecq — my wife (she has an advanced degree in contemporary English lit.) hates his work with a vehement passion (she’s read at least three or four of his novels). So I’ve avoided him….

      I don’t think, and I could be wrong, that Tepper wrote more than a handful of short stories. She is best known for her late 80 works: The Gate to Women’s Country (1988) and Grass (1989).

      • You’re right about Tansis, ‘…on the rock at the edge of the sea…” (187).

        Many reviews of Houellebecq are disparaging because his writing is variously described as boring, sophomoric, depressing and offensive, with predominately simple characters. I want to explore other French authors than Verne, Boulle, Barjavel, Sternberg, and Klein. And read more Vercors (Jean Bruller), too, as I thought highly of his Borderline.

        I almost stopped collecting SF in the mid 1980s because I got tired of all the fantasy crap that was being published then. When I think of the 80s, visions of book covers of mice waving swords always come to mind. I need to work on that…

        I just read Huxley’s Ape and Essence. A lot of his dialog is soapbox preaching, but aptly describes America today. Have you ever read it?

        • I have read Ape and Essence — relatively recently….. for whatever reason, I couldn’t review it. I thought it was fascinatingly odd. I am a fan of “found manuscript” style novels and short stories. As with Spinrad’s The Iron Dream (1972), the text within the text, which isn’t supposed to be a brilliant work of high literary quality, dragged on a bit…

          • Thanks for the website! I will have a look shortly. Just received Houellebecq in the mail. Several interior blurbs indicate the first part is well done, implying it fizzles, while Ian Kilroy says, “Many readers will be outraged” and David Coward writes that [he’s] a bare knuckle writer who does not pull punches or take prisoner…it takes you by the throat and chokes you.” Sounds interesting…

Leave a Reply to Andrew Pineo Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.