Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIII (J. G. Ballard, Fred Saberhagen, Richard A. Lupoff, Garry Kilworth)

1. I have yet to read any of J. G. Ballard’s late 70s and early 80s short fiction.  Myths of the Near Future (1982) seems to contain some fascinating gems. I’ve previously reviewed two collections of his 50s and 60s fiction on the site—both are highly recommended!

2. My exploration of 60s/70s SF takes me to an another author I’ve only read about– Fred Saberhagen. I enjoy post-apocalyptical landscapes and balkanized and decayed far future societies–but, is there anything original in this take on the theme?

3. I’m proud owner (*cough*) of one of the worst vintage covers ever created. The premise was the sole reason I snatched up Kilworth’s The Night of Kadar (1978)—malfunctions create unusual growth in the seeded human colonists on an alien planet.

4. A fix-up novel (with substantial rewritten and added material) from Richard A. Lupoff…. not an author I’m too familiar with, but this one is endorsed by Harlan Ellison and definitely screams 70s!


1. Myths of the Near Future, J. G. Ballard (1982)

(James Marsh’s cover for the 1984 edition)

From the back cover: “Three decades after the end of America’s space programme, the forests and swamps of Florida are still inhabited by a handful of people dreaming of space exploration—but space exploration of a new kind. Myths of the Near Future, the title story of this outstanding collection, is just one of Ballard’s extraordinary visions of other times and other places, where nothing seems quite right…”

Contents: “Myths of the Near Future” (1982), “Having a Wonderful Time” (1978), “A Host of Furious Fancies” (1980), “Zodiac 2000” (1978), “News from the Sun” (1981), “Theatre of Ear” (1977), “The Dead Time” (1977), “The Smile” (1976), “Motel Architecture” (1978), “The Intensive Care Unit” (1977).

2. The Broken Lands, Fred Saberhagen (1968)

(Melvyn Grant’s cover for the 1978 edition)

From the back cover: “The passing of thousands of years had left the planet Earth a series of broken lands, a mutated world of distant alien empires and near-at-hand-rapacious satraps. The common people, hunted by the great lords, harried by the evil killer reptiles, were sustained by one last legeng—that some day one would come who would ‘ride the Elephant; and thereby bring back the Golden Age.

The champion, when he came, was no mighty warrior of the West, pledged to destroy the foul wizardry that kept the Broken Lands in subjection, but a leader from the deep swamps where the Free People still lurked. And the power with which he challenged the satraps and the wizards was a power from an earlier age—the power of a long-dead technology which had put its faith in creatures like the legendary Elephant.”

3. The Night of Kadar, Garry Kilworth (1978) (MY REVIEW)

(Adrian Chesterman’s cover for the 1980 edition)


Its programmed destination: a world chosen for its similarity to earth. Frozen embryos warm to life, their growth accelerated, and intelligence units instruct the occupants in their future role on the new world.

But before instruction is complete, a malfunction occurs. An alien presence is detected, and a vital piece of information is withheld…”

4. Space War Blues, Richard A. Lupoff (1978)

(George Barr’s cover for the 1st edition)


On Yurakosi—where swashbuckling aborigines ride the colossal membrane-shipss, buck-naked to the winds of space…

On N’Yu-Atlanchi—where tiny gelatinous angels are ripped from a crystal cavern paradise to brutally used as pawns of war…

On N’Haiti–where ultramodern technology marries voodoo to sire a race of blond-haired, black-skinned killer zombies… and

On New Alabama—where a government spokesperson recently announced: No cruvvelin black animam […] goin lay one filfthy paw on some golden curly-head surn baby while Pissfire Pallbox draws breath? Are you with me?

For book reviews consult the INDEX

For cover art posts consult the INDEX

25 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIII (J. G. Ballard, Fred Saberhagen, Richard A. Lupoff, Garry Kilworth)

      • I read THE BROKEN LANDS in my Saberhagen days, thought it was overwrought; and “Myths of the Near Future” was in, I think, F&SF…lemme go look…yep, 10/82 issue and I was a subscriber that year so that was where I read it. Excellent story, one I really thought about for a long time.
        That, um, “spaceship” on the back cover…well…jeez. smutty snicker

  1. I really like Saberhagen’s Dracula Tapes, which I think is a very smart “rethinking” of Bram Stoker’s novel, and in many ways more convincing a story than Stoker’s. Haven’t read any of his SF, though!

    • He’s best known for the Beserker series of novels and short fiction.

      Brian W. Aldiss also wrote a metafictional preconception of Stoker’s novel — Dracula Unbound (1991). I’m a huge fan of Aldiss but I haven’t read anything that late in his career….

  2. I can almost see a young Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the models for the Kilworth cover.
    I’ve read the first of the Berserker stories. Not bad. Solid. Intriguing. I’ve got a copy of a collection now (http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?288719).
    I think I’ve read the Ballard. I read a lot of him between the mid-1980s and late 90s, but have sketchy memories of his sketchy books!

    • Hah. Both are strangely shaped….

      After Brunner’s “Lungfish” we have a Ballard generation ship story–> “Thirteen to Centaurus” (1962). Fascinated by how he takes on the theme! Apparently it was adapted for TV: http://www.ballardian.com/thirteen-to-centaurus


      We’ll be reading a Fred Saberhagen generation ship story soon as well — “The Long Way Home” (1961)—> https://archive.org/details/Galaxy_v19n05_1961-06_modified/page/n83

      • I just read another of the Berseker stories yesterday–“The Life Hater” (aka “Peacemaker”). It was good–enough to make me continue reading other stories in the series.
        I’ve read the Ballard, but not in a long time–maybe 20+ years ago. I did, however, read “The Long Way Home” a few years back. I don’t remember much of it. Likewise with “Lungfish”. I hope to get around to reading them all again, but at the mo the silly season is in full swing here and time is slipping away.

  3. You are in my back yard now. I read multiple collections of Ballard when they came out. He was unique and powerful, but not an author I much enjoy rereading. His complete works edition sits menacingly on my bookshelf now, depressing me every time I look up. His negative view of humanity is, I fear, accurate. I also read Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker stories. They were not exciting as writing, but the concept was a knockout. No wonder Star Trek ripped it off in The Doomsday Machine.

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