Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLXIII (Elizabeth A. Lynn, Romanian SF Anthology, Eastern European SF Anthology, and Barry N. Malzberg)

As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. Other Worlds, Other Seas, ed. Darko Suvin (1970)

Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1972 edition

From the back cover: “Darko Suvin was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia in 1930. An internationally known critic of literature and theater, he is the author of seven books of criticism including POSSIBLE WORLDS—An outline of Science-Fiction and Utopias.

Stanislaw Lem of Poland, author of SOLARIS, is only the most famous of a burgeoning group of Eastern European writers. His contribution to OTHER WORLDS, OTHER SEAS—four brilliant stories—is a treat to his hundreds of thousands of American admirers. But a whole body of first rate s-f is now being produced in the socialist countries by equally gifted writers such as Josef Nesvadba, Anatoliy Dneprov, and Anton Donev. Here is a brilliant sampling of superb s-f adventure by these undiscovered masters—and more!”

Contents: Stanislaw Lem’s “Patrol” (1959), “The Computer That Fought a Dragon” (1964), “The Thirteenth Journey of Ion Tichy” (1957), “The Twenty-Fourth Journey of Ion Tichy” (1954), Vladimir Colin’s “The Contact” (1966), Josef Nesvadba’s “Vampire Ltd.” (1962), Anton Donev’s “Why Atlantis Sank” (1966), Genrikh Altov’s “The Master Builder” (1961), Romain Yarov’s “The Founding of Civilization” (1965), Ilya Varshavsky’s “Lectures of Parapsychology” (1964), “Biocurrents, Biocurrents…” (1963), “SOMP” (1963), and “The Noneatrins” (1963), Nikolay Toman’s “A Debate on SF–Moscow 1965” (1966), Anatoliy Dneprov’s “Interview with a Traffic Policeman” (1964), “The S*T*A*P*L*E Farm” (1964), and “The Island of Crabs” (1958).

Initial Thoughts: Pre-site I read tons of Stanislaw Lem — from his non-fictions Microworlds: Writings on Science Fiction and Fantasy (1985) to His Master’s Voice (1969). I’ve also read a handful of Josef Nesvadba’s short fictions. I look forward further exploring Eastern European SF.

2. The Woman Who Loved the Moon and Other Stories, Elizabeth A. Lynn (1981)

Eric Ladd’s cover for the 1st edition

From the back cover: “HER FIRST AND ONLY COMPLETE COLLECTION. Containing the first, the favorite, the lyrical and lust short fiction of today’s most celebrated new fantasy talent, the author of A DIFFERENT LIGHT and the winner of two World Fantasy awards in one year.”

Contents: “Wizard’s Domain” (1980), “The Gods of Reorth” 1980), “We All Have to Go” (1976), “The Saints of Driman” (1977), “I Dream of a Fish, I Dream of a Bird” (1977), “The Island” (1977), “The Dragon That Lived in the Sea” (1979), “Mindseye” (1977), “The Man Who Was Pregnant” (1977), “Obsessions” (1978), “The Woman in the Phone Book” (1981), “Don’t Look at Me” (1978), “Jubilee’s Story” (1978), “The Circus That disappeared” (1978), “The White King’s Dream” (1979), “The Woman Who Loved the Moon” (1979)

Initial Thoughts: I purchased Elizabeth A. Lynn’s best known SF work A Different Light (1978) back in 2017 but haven’t read it. Over the years I’ve discovered that I like to read short fiction first to get a sense of an author’s characteristics.

3. Twelve: A Romanian Science-Fiction Anthology, ed. Cornel Robu (1995)

Eugenia Banciu’s cover for the 1st edition

From the back cover: “You might find in the stories in this anthology more “sense of loss” than “sense of wonder”, more soft SF than hard.

Unlike the “sense of wonder”, the “sense of humour” and, in equal amount, the “sense of loss” have been generously bestowed on the Romanian SF writer. Natively biased to “soft sf” and not very keen on “hard sf,” the Romanian sf writer is genuinely endowed with that touching “sense of loss” which is the empirical signal of the generic aesthetic pleasure all over in art: the “sense of loss” springs from the epiphany of beauty, while the “sense of wonder” springs from the epiphany of sublime.

The “sense of loss” is, of course, much more largely and highly praised, much more familiar to the readers and deeply rooted in their tastes, much more “respectable” for the eyes of the “aesthetes”—and not only in Romania—than “sense of wonder.” Perhaps the experience of beauty is a more common one than the experience of the sublime. Perhaps it is only naturally, only “humanly” to be so.

Science fiction—and especially “soft sf”–may compete the mainstream literature in offering this “sense of loss”, this generic aesthetic pleasure underkept by the presence of beauty. However, sf’s specific task and functionality are to offer a specific aesthetic pleasure, not only a generic one, a pleasure or and enjoyment or a delight that no other kind of literature can offer: the “sense of wonder,” that aesthetic pleasure underkept by the presence of sublime.

Maybe less “humanly” touching, it is certainly more “inhumanly”—i.e. sublimely–overwhelming.

Which is closer to sf’s true essence.”

Contents: Victor Papilian’s “Igor’s Mannequin” (1938), Mircea Eliade’s “Les trois Grâces” (1976), Vladimir Colin’s “Tristan’s Last Avatar” (1966), Ovid S. Chrohmălniceanu’s “The Neuhof Treaty” (1980), Gheorghe Săsărman’s “Algernon’s Escape” (1978), Mircea Opriţă’s “The Judges” (1976), Gheorghe Păun’s “Prosthesosaurs” (1983), Mihail Grămescu’s “Phenotype of Mist and Drops of Nothing” (1981), Lucian Ionică’s “Haustoria” (1989), Cristian Tudor Popescu’s “Omohom” (1987), Alexandru Ungureanu’s “Modern Martial Arts” (1982), Silviu Genescu’s “The Shakespeare Variant” (1988)

Initial Thoughts: I have yet to read any SF work from Romania! This will be a completely new experience. An expensive anthology to track down, I hope to read it in time for Rachel S. Cordasco‘s Romanian SF Month of January. The original publication dates I gave for the stories might not be all correct. I took them from the “Author” blurbs at the end of the volume–and some might be for the anthologies they appeared in rather than the original publication date. I also hope that the translation is superior to the repetitive/incomprehensible back cover blurb….. It reads like an oblique peek into a weird debate that happened in Romanian SF fandom — which we don’t have sufficient context to understand.

4. The Engines of the Night: Science Fiction in the Eighties, Barry N. Malzberg (1982)

Lawrence Ratzkins cover for the 1st edition

From the inside flap: “Barry N. Malzberg’s almost one hundred books include science fiction novels–no less than twenty-six, to be exact—collections, anthologies, and now a volume which looks critically at the world in which his work, both authorial and editorial, has helped to shape.

THE ENGINES OF THE NIGHT is a long, hard look at the state of the art in science fiction today, an examination which offers thoughtful consideration of sf’s classic past, the golden age of the pulps and the seminal editors, John W. Cambell [sic] and Horace Gold, as well as the authors who got their start in that era and the ideas which they originated, ideas which still resonate today; an acerbic evaluation of the present: the writers and the would-bes, the fans, the fantasies, the conventions, the science fiction Establishment, the plots, the preoccupations and the practices of the modern sf universe; and a glimpse into the future of the field.

Hard-nosed, uncompromising, in-depth, THE ENGINES OF THE NIGHT addresses, in the inimitable Malzberg style, every question of consequence that might occur to the science fiction aficianoado, as well as a few which only an old hand would take on. And take them on he does, in this controversial, witty, straight-from-the-shoulder book which will make some mad as hell, make others nod in sage approval, and make eery reader a great deal more aware of the issues (and some of the answers) that have shaped, shape, and will continue to shape science fiction.”

Contents: Here’s the bibliographic listing with the essay titles.

Initial Thoughts: I’ve long been a fan of Malzberg nihilistic black comedies (I’ve reviewed 15 of his novels and collections). I’d thought I’d finally branch out and read some of his non-fiction articles on the genre of science fiction.


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15 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLXIII (Elizabeth A. Lynn, Romanian SF Anthology, Eastern European SF Anthology, and Barry N. Malzberg)

  1. I don’t hear the words „Yugoslavia“ and „USSR“ often these days.
    That … belt … barely covering the woman in Lynn‘s collection is nice. I wonder if Amazon would sell the title in that form or cover the nipples.

  2. Ooo, the Malzberg collection sounds really promising. His observations in fiction are trenchant enough, can’t wait to hear if he’s got the chops in non-fiction as well.

      • I think I’ve read most of “Engines of the Night” in the subsequent “Breakfast in the Ruins” collection…? The writing is (as one would expect) very sharp. His deep love for various forgotten titans of 50s sf sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole trying to find specific stories and collections. Generally the essays split the difference between rhapsodizing about how good sf can be and bitterly complaining about how cruel the publishing industry is

  3. First time posting, love the site! If you get the chance, I highly recommend reading A Different Light. It’s a profoundly human, gorgeously written space heist with one of my favorite protagonists.

    • Thanks for stopping by! (and the kind words)

      I can’t promise anything — as I mentioned in the “initial thoughts” under the book, I’ve had a copy for a few years. I’m a reader of whim — and when the whim strikes I fall victim… haha. But yes, I’ve heard good things.

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