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)
(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).
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For cover art posts consult the INDEX