Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLVII (Candas Jane Dorsey, Michael Elder, Garry Kilworth, Sterling E. Lanier)

1. Sterling E. Lanier is best known for Hiero’s Journey (1973), which I procured in 2012 but haven’t yet read. Here’s the second of his singleton novels—Menace Under Marswood (1983). SF Encyclopedia describes it as “tamely repeat[ing]” (SF Encyclopedia) material from his earlier novels.

I’m a fan of the Darrell K. Sweet cover! Especially the mysterious creature decked out in scepter, robe, and hat.

darrell k. sweet Menace Under Marswood

(Darrell K. Sweet’s original canvas for the 1st edition)

2. A discussion on twitter about female authors of cyberpunk yielded a name unfamiliar to me — Candas Jane Dorsey. I procured a collection of her best known short fictions, which “polemically re-use and rework sf and fantasy tropes from a Feminist perspective, engaging most memorably, and fascinatedly [sic], in the title story of the first volume, “(Learning About) Machine Sex”, with the phallocentrism of much Cyberpunk” (SF Encyclopedia). Count me in!

3. My Garry K. Kilworth exploration series continues with Gemini God (1981). I must confess my enthusiasm has waned a bit after I read In Solitary (1977). See my review of The Night of Kadar (1978) for what he’s capable of.

4. This cover…. the gauze… the sheen…. the cheesiness. Explorations of media in SF is always something I gravitate towards—even when “graced” which such dismal artist failures.

Haven’t read anything by Michael Elder. I do not have high hopes!

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


1. Menace Under Marswood, Sterling E. Lanier (1983)

(Darrell K. Sweet’s cover for the 1st edition)

From the back cover: “Seven Against the Unknown.

For centuries the human outcasts of Mars lived wild, independent lives in the Martian outback called the Ruck. But then the mysterious men of the “New Clan” came to preach total rebellion against the Mother Planet—and that Earth’s U.N. Command could not allow.

So it sent a team of its best officers to learn the secrets of the “New Clan.” Unfortunately, to do the job right, the Terrans would have to cooperate with their worst enemies—the Ruckers!”

2. Machine Sex and Other Stories, Candas Jane Dorsey (1988)

(Gretta Kool’s cover for the 1990 edition)

From the back cover: “Candas Jane Dorsey’s stories are speculative and subtle. They deal with the advance of technology, cultural changes and human relationships. In ‘[Learning About) Machine Sex’ she offers a brilliant parody of cyberpunk: funny, angry and feminist. In ‘Time is the School in Which We Learn, Time is the Fire in which We Burn’, a woman dying of cancer meditates on her life and choices she has made and teaches herself to come to terms with her past. Other stories are concerned with exile and identity, with the fragile beauty of earth, with loneliness and desire.

Candas Jane Dorsey is a new writer who is contemplative, passionate, and original.”

Contents: All were published in 1988 unless otherwise noted. “Sleeping in a Box, “Johnny Applespeed and the New World” (1985), “Death and Morning,” “The Prairie Warriors,” “War and Rumours of War,” “Black Dog,” “[Learning About’ Machine Sex,” “‘You’ll Remember Mercury,,'” “Time is the School in Which We Learn, Time Is the Fire in Which We Burn,” “Columbus Hits the Shoreline Rag” (1977), “the white city” (1985), “By Their Taste Shall Ye Know Them,” “Willows” (1987).

3. Gemini God, Garry Kilworth (1981)

(Chris Moore’s cover for the 1982 edition)

From the back cover: “YEAR 2096. The human race is in decline. Soon its numbers on earth will drop below survival level.

Then New Carthage, a world inhabited by strange, cheetah-like creatures, is discovered. Could contact with these aliens provide a lifeline for mankind?

Using the twins, On Lo and Ti, experiments are started to create a human empathetic telemetry system between the two worlds. But the encouragement of the closeness factor between the twins provides the catalyst for a far more fantastic event…”

4. Paradise Is Not Enough, Michael Elder (1970)

(Uncredited—for good reason—cover for the 1971 edition)

From the back cover: “Eat, drink and be merry…. There’s nothing else to do!

In two hundred years’ time the robots have taken over so completely that man has nothing to do but eat free food, drink free drink and spend most of his waking hours watching Tri-V. One small group of men and women still work—the actors who provide the canned entertainment mankind demands, but even this work is now threatened as the robots strive to remove this last remaining field of human enterprise.

This is the story of one actor, John Kelloway, and his fight for the freedom of the actors and also of humanity itself against the all-pervading monotony of motiveless existence which is engulfing it, with the ever-present threat of “disanimation” hanging over him if he fails.”

20 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLVII (Candas Jane Dorsey, Michael Elder, Garry Kilworth, Sterling E. Lanier)”

    1. Don’t be. I have two functional Half Price Books stores and that’s about it. The best used book stores that I frequent are hours away in Chicago. These did not necessarily come from local bookstores. Some might have (I don’t always process my purchases very quickly), some might have come from online stores (often independent book stores), some from the big conglomerates (Abebooks, etc.). As most Americans, I buy a lot of stuff online. And without my periodic travels in the era of Covid-19, this has only become more common….

      1. How do you know what to look for online? I know you don’t like award lists but without them I’d never have been reading like I do. I wouldn’t know where to even begin finding more retro sci-fi.

        1. SF Encyclopedia online. Impulse buys. isfdb.org (I skim the list for birthdays every single morning and look up names I don’t recognize). My gut. Constantly reading reviews online (not for what people like but to identify books that I might like).

          My knowledge is from a decade of regular research and compulsive reading. I don’t dally in a field, I compulsively digest (again, for good or bad). I log between 1-2 hours of research almost every day.

          I read the award lists in my teens and early 20s (~10 years ago)– found the eras I enjoyed the most, dug in….

        2. My site is a great place to find more retro-SF! My reading goes far beyond any restrictive award list. At the same time, there’s a lot I dislike. I try to make that crystal clear: https://sciencefictionruminations.com/2018/06/15/fragment-s-why-i-read-and-review-50s-70s-science-fiction/

          My number one method is a simple one: I don’t read reviews worrying about whether I’ll be spoiled. I read a review to understand the themes of a novel and to understand what the reviewer looks for and whether that novel might resonate with me.

          I know you’ve done it already, but I have a vast list of reviews organized by rating here: https://sciencefictionruminations.com/science-fiction-book-reviews-by-author/sci-fi-book-review-index-by-rating/

        3. Pick a theme you like. Look it up on SF Encyclopedia. Track stuff down. See what people write about it online. Track those author’s other stuff down. It’s an organic cumulative/active process.

          For example, The New Wave: http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/new_wave

          I read tons of secondary scholarship, I track down bibliographies, I read and I read and I read — and I dislike a good chunk of it, and that’s okay. The exploration is fun.

    1. Thank you for the kind words.

      Does any of the SF I acquired or reviews I’ve recently posted intrigue you? What’s your favorite type of SF? Authors? Tell me more!

  1. #4 That…it…my giddy aunt!
    I hope they paid the face under the glittery dickhead that’s got an eye in its glans A. Lot. Of. Money. because he never worked again.

          1. I liked their version of DUNE, but more because they got most of two storylines into it than did the ill-advised attempt to turn it into a movie (which is happening again FFS).
            Mostly the good stuff was series that they canceled too soon (cf BATTLESTAR GALACTICA).

            1. I could never get through BSG — quit in the final season I think.

              I can’t remember if I’ve watched their version of Dune. When I think of Dune on the screen I think of Lynch….

  2. Hi

    I did a post on Hiero’s Journey here, it is a favourite.
    I read Menace Under Marswood which was okay as I remember but not as evocative for me. I have also read his Brigadier Ffellowes club tales which I enjoyed, Club tales are a style of story I enjoy they take me back to my reading of Sherlock Holmes and his many pastiche’s (which are not really club tales). Club tales also seem to be big in science fiction, with Clarke’s Tales from the White Hart being just one example. The Kilworth sounds a bit like Heinlein’s Time for the Stars one of his juveniles that I did not particularly enjoy. Hopefully the Kilworth is better. I have not read Dorsey though I have seen her work on the PS Publishing website. The Machine Sex cover is my favourite from this post it is just cool, sorry.

    Happy Reading

    1. I remember your review of Hiero’s Journey. I’ll check it out again — to refresh my memory. Who knows, maybe I’ll give it a read soon.

      I sort of like Gretta Kool’s cover as well. It’s superior than a lot of The Women’s Press covers.

      1. My reading has been all over the place lately, which is quite fun, but it has been a while science I’ve read science fiction…far too long really. I think the last stuff I read and enjoyed were the four Murderbot novellas that Martha Wells wrote, and I have the new novel that continues that series. I listened to the audio book of Anthony Daniel’s memoir, I Am C-3PO this month and enjoyed that. So much nostalgia listening to that and it was interesting to hear Daniels’ experiences playing a man inside a robot suit for four decades. I’m certainly getting in the mood to dig out some classics again.

        All is well here, hope it is for you. I mentioned elsewhere today that I am truly aching to go visit the local used bookstores and cannot wait until they are open again.

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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.