Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLVI (Michel Jeury, Sheila MacLeod, Vietnam War anthology, The Year 2000 anthology)

1. I’m a sucker for themed anthologies! Especially of original stories… This one is on the top of my list to read!

2. The lengths the cover blurb goes to proclaim Sheila MacLeod’s Circuit-Breaker (1978) not SF is humorous. The blurb writer ends up describing the aim of New Wave science fiction (interior vs. exterior space). So many of these arguments demonstrate a lack of knowledge of genre and depends on dismissive stereotypes. As it my practice, I try to avoid these exclusionary/gate-keeping arguments. I recently picked up a copy of her only other SF novel Xanthe and the Robots (1977).

Curious about this one — and all SF about potentially insane astronauts.

A handful of favorite stories of (possibly) insane astronauts

Barry N. Malzberg’s Beyond Apollo (1972), The Falling Astronauts(1971), and Revelations (1972)

Gene Wolfe’s “Silhouette” (1975)

3. Another themed anthology! The topic here is the Vietnam War. Huge fan of Vietnam War inspired SF — especially Ursula Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest (1972) and Kit Reed’s Armed Camps (1969).

What are your favorite Vietnam War-themed SF works? I’m thinking of putting together a resource on the topic.

4. French SF in translation. Here’s Michel Jeury’s bibliography. This appears to be the only one of his MANY SF novels to be translated into English. Alas.

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

~

1. The Year 2000, ed. Harry Harrison (1970)

(Pat Steir’s cover for the 1st edition)

From the inside flap: “‘If science fiction has an impact to make upon our society, and I think it does, it is in its attitude towards science, not in any one-to-one description of things to come.’—Harry Harrison.

In compiling this unique anthology, Mr. Harrison asked some of science fiction’s most noted writers to contribute an original story, the only stipulation being that the story be set in the year 2000. The result is thirteen stories highly imaginative in content and characterization, and yet all oddly similar. They concern themselves with existing crises which confront man today—overpopulation, racial difficulties, space exploration, starvation, and man’s most devastating game, War—and many of them picture the twenty-first Century as a time to fear if our present course of events and actions are not drastically altered.

If we continue our existing policies and attitudes then Africa may become much as Chad Oliver views it in “Far From This Earth.” And if our pressing overpopulation problem is not remedied then we may find ourselves being torn apart over the value of human life as experienced in Keith Laumer’s “The Lawgiver.” And unless true action is taken in the United States over racial problems we may find New York much as Robert Silverberg sees it in “Black is Beautiful” and Mr. Harrison pictures the country in “American Dead.” On the other end of the scale, a perfect Utopia is undesirable as Mack Reynold’s “Utopian” clearly illustrates.

This is a small sampling of the contents, and by no means conclusive, as can be evidenced by these other noted contributors—Fritz Leiber, Daniel F. Galouye, Naomi Mitchison, Bertram Chandler, David I. Masson, J. J. Coupling and Thomas N. Scortia.

Will this be our future? Will the fate of starving India be that depicted in Brian W. Aldiss’ “Orgy of the Living and the Dying”? This, and the other stories written for this volume attempt to lift the veil of time to see what the future might be.”

Contents (all stories are originally published in this volume): Fritz Leiber’s “America the Beautiful,” Daniel F. Galouye’s “Prometheus Rebound,” Chad Oliver’s “Far From This Earth,” Naomi Mitchison’s “After the Accident,” Mack Reynolds’ “Utopian,” Brian W. Aldiss’ “Orgy of the Living and the Dying,” A. Bertram Chandler’s “Sea Change, “Robert Silverberg’s “Black is Beautiful,” David I. Masson’s “Take It Or Leave It,” Keith Laumer’s “The Lawgiver,” John R. Pierce’s “To Be a Man,” Thomas N. Scortia’s “Judas Fish,” Harry Harrison’s “American Dead.”

2. Circuit-Breaker, Sheila MacLeod (1978)

(Uncredited cover for the 1st edition)

From the inside flap: “Sheila MacLeod’s new novel, like her last, should not be confused with science fiction; it is fiction which uses a sci-fi platform as a launching-point from which to explore inner rather than outer space — with remarkable results.

Baird, Devitt and Haskins are presented to us as three astronauts in orbit in a capsule. When something goes wrong with their spacecraft, there seems to be only one hope of return for the three of them, by this time not the best of comrades. Baird, an ex-science fiction writer who is blessed with peculiar powers of autokinesis and telepathy, is told by the  head of Mission Control, Dr. Lvov, o exert his powers to return to earth and enlist telepathic help to effect the rescue of the other two.

Barid ‘comes down to earth’ in more than one sense. He visits Miriam, his partner in what has become a extremely tenuous marriage; Devitt’s parents, an extremely puzzling couple; and Haskins’ unexpectedly attractive wife, Jolene. During their absence the astronauts have not been forgotten, but their relationships with their nearest, if not always their dearest, prove different from Baird’s expectations, especially in the case of his own wife. His mission turns out to be painfully disturbing—and enlightening.

Within its framework of fantasy Circuit-Breaker deals, with deep, ironic understanding, with the nature of human attachments, particularly the marital one, with pride and the fear of failure, and with the problem of authority, personified by the irritatingly sage and powerful Dr. Lovov.

Circuit-Breaker is highly original, intelligent and readable—an exciting and rare combination.”

3. In the Field of Fire, ed, Jeanne Van Buren Dann and Jack Dann (1987)

(Uncredited cover for the 1987 edition)

From the back cover: “This is a book of dreams, of terrible nightmares, of sweet memories of times long gone, of bitter regrets… of lost innocence.

This is a collection of stories created out of the fire that seared a generation, that heated the crucible where our present reality was forged: twenty-two brilliant offerings from the finest fantasists writing today—statements from the heart, bitingly honest, born in a genre that specializes in the creation of dreams, but reaching far beyond it with a perspective and a message that more conventional fiction cannot deliver.

These are war stories from a war that was unlike any other.”

Contents (all are published in 1987 unless noted otherwise): Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Memorial,” Lucius Shepard’s “Delta Sly Honey,” Craig Strete’s “The Game of Cat and Eagle,” Karen Joy Fowler’s “Letters from Home,” Robert Frazier’s “Across Those Endless Skies,” Charles L. Grant’s “The Sheeted Dead,” Richard Paul RUsso’s “In the Season of the Rains,” Lucius Shepard’s “Shades,” Kate Wilhelm’s “The Village” (1973), Dave Smed’s “Goats,” Ben Bova’s “Brothers,” Gardner Dozois’ “A Dream of Noonday” (1970), Barry N. Malzberg’s “The Queen of Lower Saigon,” Dennis Etchison’s “Deathtracks” (1982), Ronald Anthony Cross’ “The Heavenly Blue Answer,” Bruce McAllister’s “Dream Baby,” Susan Casper’s “Covenant With a Dragon,” Lewis Shiner’s “The War at Home” (1985), John Kessel’s “Credibility,” Harlan Ellison’s “Basilisk: (1972), Brian W. Aldiss’ “My Country ‘Tis Not Only of Thee” (1986),  Joe Haldeman’s poem “DX.”

4. Chronolysis, Michel Jeury (1973, trans. Maxim Jakubowski, 1980)

(Peter Goodfellow’s cover for the first edition. Art also used for the 1977 edition The Illustrated Man (1951), Ray Bradbury)

From the inside flap: “This bold, imaginative novel by award-winning science fiction writer Michel Jeury creates a universe where time, as we know it, has no meaning. People must pick and choose their way, carefully sorting through a amze constructed of reality, their own hallucinations, and the projections of others.

Daniel Diersant, a chemist working on drug development for a multinational company, is unwittingly involved in an international political struggle for control of a mysterious new drug. Suddenly he is plunged into a parallel universe, the chronolytic universe, where minds exist outside time and space in a subjective eternity. Human beings enter this universe as the result of violent death or special drugs. At first they compulsively relive past experiences that are, however, subject to distortion by their hopes and fears. Diersant relives incidents from his past, each of which suggests a different death. Was he killed in an automobile accident? Was he tortured to death by his enemies? Or did he commit suicide with a chronolytic drug?

Gradually he becomes aware that all these ‘hallucinations’ are not simply the product of his subconscious, but that two forces are struggling for control of his mind: one, an anarchist-socialist society using Diersant as an unsuspecting contact through which to explore the chronolytic universe; the second, a group of counterrevolutionaries within the chronolyitc universe who had once been in control of the drug industry in the historical universe as we know it and are now, in 2021, trying to regain their old power. Because

For book reviews consult the INDEX

For cover art posts consult the INDEX

13 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLVI (Michel Jeury, Sheila MacLeod, Vietnam War anthology, The Year 2000 anthology)”

  1. #3 Jeury might want to be made into #4 or other readers as plague-dimmed as me might spend 3–4 minutes scrolling up, down, and all around the town.

    Re #2: “Haskins’ unexpectedly attractive wife, Jolene” is a joke on Dolly Parton’s 1974 monster hit “Jolene” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixrje2rXLMA
    which made the second-wave feminists of the era frothingly furious. I mean, incoherent and incandescent with outrage furious.

    L, of course, bought two.

    1. Thanks for pointing out the confusing number. Fixed!

      You bought the Sheila MacLeod novel? (is that what the last line is referencing?).Isn’t the cover blurb ridiculous?

      “Sheila MacLeod’s new novel, like her last, should not be confused with science fiction; it is fiction which uses a sci-fi platform as a launching-point from which to explore inner rather than outer space — with remarkable results.”

      Umm, that’s most of the New Wave movement. So by putting down SF you end looking really stupid and ignorant about SF. Whenever a good SF movie is released someone states “this isn’t SF, it’s a drama in space!” or “this isn’t SF, it’s about the human experience!” Well yes, it was written by a human…. I had no idea that SF was a science textbook written by an alien.

      But, marketing matters.

      1. Marketing, malheureusement, does matter, and more than it should because Dr. Pavlov’s observations have been made central to all commercial interactions.

        I meant I bought two copies of Parton’s album. Whatever made my obnoxious Feminist sister mad was good, at least to me at 15.

  2. I was surprised to see the Daniel Galouye story “Prometheus Bound” in the Harrison-edited volume. I wasn’t aware he was alive that late. But indeed, according to the ISFDB he died in 1976 (at the age of 56) and this was his second to last published story.

    Galouye is historically important as the author of SIMULACRON 3, which was the first “we’re all living in a computer simulation” and the basis of the movie THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR (1999) and the German TV miniseries WORLD ON A WIRE (1973) (directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder). But I re-read it last year and he was a pretty bad writer qua writer; the style in that one at least is like very bad knock-off Pohl-Kornbluth meets P.K. Dick.

    The Harrison anthology is a pretty disappointing effort overall. The best of those stories were pretty lackluster, as I recall. (I don’t recall much, but that’s because many of these stories never saw republication anywhere, which is in itself pretty indicative.)

    On the other hand, the Danns’ IN THE FIELDS OF FIRE anthology is pretty damned good, worth having just for the two Lucius Shepard stories though there’s plenty of other good ones in it.

    As for the other two items, I admire your indefatigability as an archeologist of an overlooked era of the genre, 1970-84. And here you’ve managed to come up with a couple of books I know nothing about.

    (But 1977-84 really was pretty dire. And Vincent King? Seriously?)

    1. I read and reviewed a few Galouye novels in the beginning of my site. I have tried to read Simulacron 3 at least three or four times — and don’t get passed the second chapter. But yes, definitely aware of the Fassbinder TV miniseries. I took a German film class in college and watched at least 10 of his films in the audiovisual library that year (I’m pretty sure World on a Wire was included in my obsessive watching although I could be mistaken).

      I’m excited about the Dann anthology as well. I’m guessing the two Shepard stories rank among your favorite Vietnam War inspired SF? I’d love to know what your favorites are.

      I buy a lot of French SF in translation. And I read very little of the French SF in translation I buy… I spent a twelve months (over three separate years — 2013-2016) in Paris doing my PhD dissertation research. I guess I have a weird desire to read more of the available vintage French SF translations. We shall see!

      As for King. I’m guessing you’re referencing my recent review of Candy Man (1971)? It was weird. Was it good? Maybe it wasn’t. Did it have some cool ideas and unusual delivery? Yes. Was King in control of all elements of his novel? No. Am I angry at getting to explore an author I knew little about? No. Will I remember it? Yes.

        1. I didn’t read much of anything for fun when I was there. I spent 7-8 hours in the archive reading Latin manuscripts. I walked the two miles home — picked up Indian street food at the various stalls and small shops (also so I could speak English without ridicule — got enough of that in the archive and the post office) and played board games online and Skyped with my wife at odd hours. As I relied on stretching out my research money so that I would have enough to pay rent when I returned, I tried to avoid restaurants and unnecessary purchases. I did manage to squeeze in weekend trips to Bayeux and Chartres, Beauvais and Dijon. I reviewed very little in 2016 (the year I spent most of my time in Paris).

          Cool! I’ll check it out.

          1. My dream in ~1979 was to move to Bayeux to research the Tapestry, hang around Rouen, Fontevrault, Poitiers…all the Norman/Angevin sites I could fit in. I was stopped by La Crise and Reagan’s nightmare recession. $$$ vanished.
            Oh well. Life’s about compromise…and a kid or two didn’t help.

      1. THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR was also pretty good for a Hollywood SF movie and way better than the Galouye original.

        Which does, though, have its dynamite premise. Though it’s arguably prefigured by Fred Pohl’s “The Tunnel Under the World’ in 1955, in which an advertising agency is running a simulation where the main characters are very small robots on a giant tabletop. You can see how Galouye could get to his idea from Pohl’s.

        ‘I’m guessing the two Shepard stories rank among your favorite Vietnam War inspired SF? I’d love to know what your favorites are.’

        Aww, you’re so polite and collegial. But I’ll play ….

        So, firstly: I don’t think Shepard mostly was an SF writer. He was more a fantasy writer and I’m normally an SF guy who despises what’s marketed in the ‘fantasy’ genre and what it’s done to SF publishing. But if there were more fantasy writers who wrote as well as Shepard and didn’t write comfort food for idiots, I’d feel differently.

        One Shepard story that’s definitely SF and Vietnam-influenced in that it’s set in a near-future where the U.S. is doing a Vietnam-type workover of Latin America is ‘R&R,’ a long novella from 1986. It’s a little hard to find nowadays since it never went into a Shepard anthology as he used it as the first third of his second novel, LIFE DURING WARTIME (which unfortunately falls apart after that first third). ‘R&R’ is in one of the early Dozois ‘Years Best’ anthologies, which are overpriced in real-book form these days but are available on Kindle . It’s worth looking up.

        Secondly: I don’t much have favorite Vietnam War-inspired SF and dislike what’s marketed in the ‘military SF’ genre these days as much as i dislike ‘fantasy’ and for about the same reasons. Though war, unlike magic and dragons, is all too feasible, Hornblower-style space opera or Rambo-style space marines are idiocy scientifically, let alone morally

        Largely, the horror of war — its most salient aspect — is best approached head on, and isn’t well communicated by fantasy and SF. I prefer mainstream novelists, like a fellow called Robert Stone who wrote a book called DOG SOLDIERS which impressed me — though that book is as much about the effect of Vietnam on U.S. society as anything.

        All the above said, war does have its cosmic horror aspect. Along those lines, Peter Straub had a Vietnam novel called KOKO in 1988 that I thought was pretty good. The stories in IN THE FIELD OF FIRE are about as good as it gets in that line, too.

        1. I was not referring in anyway to “military SF” as a subgenre (I dislike it so much I wasn’t even thinking about it) — I guess I should have been more clear. I’m far more interested in science fiction that addresses the trauma of Vietnam and/or the effects on American protest movement, etc. — for example, the two I mentioned in the post. A lot of what fits this catagory, and intrigues me, are near future dystopias imagined in the 70s derived from the experience of Vietnam. I’m less interested in a science fiction or fantasy element set in Vietnam (and by extension mainstream fiction war stories). That said, I am interested in future war where Vietnam is an explicit analogy.

          1. I guess I should point out that as a historian, I think that one of the best ways to approach the “reality” of war head on is through primary sources. And I have an mini-entire unit/project on American War atrocities in Vietnam where my students read manuals on correct soldier behavior, diaries, interrogations (Paul Meadlo, etc.), and various other sources. I am intrigued how news of American conduct and the experiences of American soldiers impacted fiction. The “reality” of war is not necessarily what my goal is when reading fictional accounts related to the conflict.

  3. Joachim B wrote: I have an mini-entire unit/project on American War atrocities in Vietnam where my students read manuals on correct soldier behavior, diaries, interrogations’

    Salutary for your students — the realities of U.S. hypocrisy and savagery are hard to stomach. I’ve lived in the U.S. for decades as a resident alien, but have never wanted to be a citizen, and the ‘city on a hill’ and American exceptionalist bullshit as contrasted to actual American history are a large reason why.

    Joachim B. wrote: That said, I am interested in future war where Vietnam is an explicit analogy.’

    Other than Haldeman’s THE FOREVER WAR — the stock reference point — I’m struggling to think of much else convincing along those lines other than the best of what’s in the Dann anthology you’ve got.

    Well, except for Lucius Shepard’s stories ‘R&R’ and ‘Salvador’ and ‘Fire Zone Emerald’, all of which are set in a near-future (from the POV of the late 1980s) where U.S. soldiers are sent down to do a Vietnam-type number in various Latin American countries with the aid of (sometimes) moderate cyborg-type armor enhancement and (in every story) future drugs (think the Wehrmacht in Russia on methedrine squared). Oh, there’s also a similar later near-future Shepard, only set in Iraq, too, called ‘A Walk in the Garden.’

    And you might want to look at Mark Geston’s A MIRROR TO THE SKY (1992). You’ve only read his first novel, written when he was young, and it displayed talent in terms of its effects but was logically incoherent and unconvincing as a story.

    A MIRROR TO THE SKY, on the other hand, was written after he’d been settled for two decades into a career as a lawyer in a partnership in the Midwest (he originally had a degree in history). It’s a mature work, with Earth in the position of Vietnam when the advanced aliens — called the Gods — arrive, carelessly do their thing (though no war) and then just as abruptly depart, leaving behind various ragtag elements and covert missions somewhat cognate to what was left of American operations like Air America in Vietnam after the war there officially ended.

    Lots of Washington politicking and byzantine inter-office knife-fights between Foggy Bottom officials and Pentagon intel types, which is what would really happen if aliens arrived, juxtaposed against the aliens having technology to resurrect the dead (although they try to hide it) and art which they careless show in a cultural exchange that … well, you can read the book. It’s almost unknown, but IMO better than nine-tenths of what are supposed to be the great SF novels.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions.

      As for historical grand narratives, I’m suspicious of all them — American exceptionalism to British myths of empire, etc. We all need to engage critically and in an unsentimental way with the past.

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