Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVII (Rex Gordon, Craig Strete, Graham Dunstan Martin, and an Anthology of European SF)

Clifford D. Simak, Tanith Lee, and M. A. Foster reviews are incoming. The first few weeks of every semester hit with a vengeance—teaching is an exhausting profession.

In the meantime get inspired to read vintage SF by ogling these gems!

1. In my youth I was obsessed with Victorian/Belle Epoque survivalist novels–Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island (1874), Perseverance Island Or the Robinson Crusoe Of The Nineteenth Century(1885), et al. I judged them on their “realistic” portrayals of how man (and yes, the characters were always men) moved up the technological tree—from fire to steam engines—in a hostile world. Although I’ve utterly disavowed SF that adheres to such  naive technological triumphalism, occasionally nostalgia calls…. Here’s a SF Robinsonade along similar lines.

2. I adore Craig’s Strete unique brand of SF story. I reviewed, in abbreviated form, his spectacular collection If All Else Fails…. (1980). I’ll read this one soon! The Bleeding Man and Other Science Fiction Stories is also a well-designed volume as elements of the cover art are used at the beginning of each short story.

3. Another unknown commodity—seems to combine SF and fantasy tropes.

4. Back in November I acquired the second in the Terra SF series of anthologies edited by Richard D. Nolane of Western European SF in translation. I pointed out that the first volume online was prohibitively expensive. A follower on twitter discovered that a seller on Amazon incorrectly listed the collection under another title—at a radically reduced price. Now it’s a happy member of my collection.

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!


1. First on Mars (variant title: No Man Friday), Rex Gordon (1956)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1976 edition)

from the back cover: “Gordon Holder was a man with a mission: to photograph the surface of Mars from an orbiting spacecraft. But then tragedy struck. Holder was forced to crash-land the ship in the Martian desert, and suddenly acquired a new mission—to survive.

FIRST ON MARS is Rex Gordon’s gripping saga of man pitted against the terrors and challenges of an alien world. From Holder’s first efforts to construct survival tools out of the chaos of a shattered spacecraft, to his perilous attempts to establish communication with two alien lifeforms, to the mind-buffeting discovery of his ultimate role in the ecological chain of the enigmatic planet, FIRST ON MARS takes the reader on a spellbinding voyage of discovery—a journey to adventure in the greatest traditions of science fiction….a novel to remember.”

2. The Bleeding Man and Other Science Fiction Stories, Craig Strete (1977) (MY REVIEW)

(Karl Stueklen’s cover for the 1st edition)

From the inside flap: “The Amerind heritage of the author is clearly reflected in this unique collection of stories. They range from the representative science fiction of ‘Into Every Rain, a Little Life Must Fall,’ in which ‘wombcops’ plugged into computer consoles monitor city streets, to the phantasmagoric, prophetic qualities of the titles story. There is wry humor and folk wisdom in ‘A Sunday Visit with Great-grandfather,’ and the influence of Indian lore and legend is powerfully evident in ‘White Brothers from the Place Where No Man Walks.’

‘Craig Strete,’ writes Virginia Hamilton in her foreword, ‘has fused the ways of Amerind peoples to the realm of Science Fiction in a way that has never before been attempted.’

The result is a highly original collection, a fresh treat for science fiction fans.”

Contents: “In Every Rain, a Little Life Must Fall” (), “White Brothers from the Place Where No Man Walks” (), “When They Find You” (), “A Sunday Visit with Great-grandfather” (), “Mother of Cloth, Heart of Clock” (), “The Bleeding Man” ().

3. The Soul Master, Graham Dunstan Martin (1984)

(Terry Oakes’ cover for the 1985 edition)

From the inside flap: “In Tethesta, the laws of the universe no longer operate. Human emotions can turn shiny like glass and as hard and resistant as rock. Fear and pain can create an impenetrable wall, standing in the middle of a forest, advancing out of it across the plain and threatening to overwhelm the world.

The souls of men are controlled by a single consciousness, a single selfishness who seeks to become a God, and despises the other human beings of whom his world is formed. For Lithran, a frightened ‘Isolate,’ trapped in the prison of Kin Kosmion’s will and forced to imagine everything that he most hates and dreads, there seems for a long time no escape; for what escape can there be from a power which can enter the very minds of men to direct them within. Yet the more absolute the power, the more glaring its weakness. Kosmion, Lord of the World, may at last be defeated—or rather half defeated.

The Soul Master is an exciting and intriguing tale. Its pages ring with the sounds of swords, battles, music and difficult loving. Through them simple unmagical men and women seek to overcome black sorcery, the sorcery of Power.”

4. Terra SF: The Year’s Best European SF, ed. Richard D. Nolane (1981)

(Vincente Segrelles’ cover for the 1st edition)

From the back cover: “TERRA SF. Faithful to its tradition of bringing the full spectrum of fantasy to readers, DAW Books now presents TERRA SF, an anthology of recent science fiction from Western Europe which will augment and amplify the various annuals of the best in English language fantasy fiction.

Selected and edited from a French expert on science fiction with the assistance of similar enthusiasts in other countries, TERRA SF includes fourteen recent SF gems, specially translated for this book. Discover new worlds of fantasy by the SF giants of other lands such as: Lino Aldani, Sam J. Lundwall, Ronald Hahn, Michel Jeury, Paul Van Herk, Gianni Montanari and many more, representing France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Spain.

TERRA SF—takes up where the others leave off.”

Contents: Gianni Montanari’s “Test Flesh” (1978), Paul van Herck’s “Parallel Worlds” (1978), Bertil Martensson’s “The Fifth Time Out” (1981), Kathinka Lannoy’s “Drugs’ll Do You” (1978), Gabriel Bermúdez Castillo’s “Opportunities Galore” (1978), Michel Jury’s “Fill in the Blank(s)” (1978), Richard D. Nolane’s “Where Neuroses Thrive” (1978), Philip Goy’s “Back to Earth, Finally” (1976), Sam J. Lundwall’s “Take Me Down the River” (1979), Ingar Knudtsen, Jr.’s “Turnabout” (1977), Erwin Netzsky-Wulff’s “Aruna” (1979), Lino Aldani’s “Red Rhombuses” (1977), Thomas Ziegler’s “The Many Miniworlds of Matuschek” (1978), Hans Joachim Alpers and Ronald M. Hahn’s “End of an Era” (1976).

For book reviews consult the INDEX

For cover art posts consult the INDEX

16 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVII (Rex Gordon, Craig Strete, Graham Dunstan Martin, and an Anthology of European SF)

  1. I first read “The Bleeding Man” in “If All Else Fails” following your review of it. The entire collection made no lasting impression on my memory. I’ve just reread “The Bleeding Man”, and there seems to be an obvious biblical theme here, although it’s meaning seems obscure in the context of the piece.

    • “No lasting impression”…. wow, we have different tastes!

      “The Bleeding Man,” as my review indicates, was far from my favorite of the collection. But I intensely remember the effect of the collection as a whole–moving, powerful, brutal.

      • Yes, we have on some authors or books. I think I did enjoy the collection “If All Else Fails” at the time, and I did say looking back on my comment for your review of it, that they were “poignant and strange”, but it’s effects have proved to be ephemeral for me. That’s why I reread this one, which wasn’t bad. You said before they are challenging.

  2. Hi

    I have Terra SF II: The Year’s Best European Sf I should pull it out and give it a read.

    I liked the Freas cover it reminded me of one you posted earlier for the Snyder novel Testament XXI it also reminded me of his cover for The Mind Net by Franke. I read First on Mars which was okay. I was a bit torn but no spoilers. My copy had the Ed Emshwiller cover which I loved.

    The Soul Master sounds kind of interesting, maybe a bit like Tanith Lee, as you say a mixture of SF and Fantasy.

    Happy Reading

    • When Freas goes in more surreal directions—the cover you mention as well as for Coney’s Monitor Found in Orbit—I enjoy his work. He’s adept at creating alien landscapes. (I still dislike his pulp-stanced male forms even in this group of covers).

      However, so much of his work is too gauzy and too rushed (all of his awful Lancer covers come to mind).

  3. I put No Man Friday on my British SF Masterworks SF. I quite enjoyed the book. A bit dated, but well put together. I reviewed it on my blog.

    I read The Soul Master back in the 1980s, but I can remember nothing about it. Looking at my records, I see I actually owned a copy of the book but sold it on eBay ten years ago.

    • Yesterday I re-looked at your British Masterwork list. Good stuff! (although I’d put Tanith Lee’s 1979 gem Electric Forest on the list).

      As for The Soul Master, I like my fantasy unusual — there seems to be some SF elements as well. Hopefully it’s worth the effort.

  4. Ah yes, remember the golden days of DAW Books? Back when then were discovering new authors all of the time, and encouraging older authors to write again. Remember when they had anthologies that were the best of sf, horror, fantasy, and then these world samplers? Now they have nothing. Sad.

    I remember reading Strete’s short fiction when they were first appearing in Galaxy (Yes! Strete was a Jim Baen discovery!). I found them hard going then, but that was then, it may have been because they came from a completely different cultural mindset. Have you ever read up on the fatwah Ellison had against him?

    Again, I just love Freas artwork. Have you ever wondered, based on the rocky scrag in his artwork, what kind of sculture he could have created?

    • Definitely wasn’t alive during the “golden age of DAW Books.” I’m assuming you’re talking about the 70s and early 80s? I’m a child of the very late 80s.

      I’m 90% done my review of Strete’s collection. I’ve been delayed by work pressures.

      What was Ellison’s gripe? Do you have an article I could read on the topic?

  5. Most of it has been lost to time, or is buried in the fanzines of the time. A partial look at Ellison’s anger at Strete can be found here: https://alt.fan.harlan-ellison.narkive.com/0wWMzdDg/the-mote-in-ellison-s-eye. It all started when Strete withdrew his story from Ellison’s “Last Dangerous Visions”, something Ellison took personally. Ellison was never happy unless he was picking a fight with somebody.

    Also fun is the reading of https://web.archive.org/web/20000902203835/http://sf.www.lysator.liu.se/sf_archive/sf-texts/Ansible/Last_Deadloss_Visions,Chris_Priest which damn near gave Ellison a stroke.

Comment! Join the discussion!

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 )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter 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.