As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
Ben Bova (1932-2020) passed away a few weeks ago due to Covid-19 complications (and a stroke) (Tor Remembrance Article). While I haven’t had the best luck with his work, if you have any fond memories of him or reading his SF, let me know in the comments. I purchased his first collection Forward in Time (1973) (below) in his honor.
1. Final Stage: The Ultimate Science Fiction Anthology, ed. Barry N. Mazlberg and Edward L. Ferman (1974)
From the back cover: “Thirteen fantastic new stories on the classic themes of Science Fiction.” See below for author list. Here are the themes: First contact, the exploration of space, immortality, inner space, robots and androids, strange children, future sex, space opera, alternate universes, the uncontrolled machine, after the holocaust, and time travel.
Contents (all published 1974): Frederik Pohl’s “We Purchased People,” Poul Anderson’s “The Voortrekkers,” Kit Reed’s “Great Escape Tours, Inc.” Brian W. Aldiss’ “The Girl in the Tau-Dream,” “The Immobility Crew,” and “A Cultural Side-Effect,” Isaac Asimov’s “That Thou Art Mindful of Him!” Dean R. Koontz’ “We Three,” Joanna Russ’ “An Old-Fashioned Girl,” Harlan Ellison’s “Catman,” Harry Harrison’s “Space Rats of the CCC,” Robert Silverberg’s “Trips,” Barry N. Malzberg’s “The Wonderful, All-Purpose Transmogrifier,” James Triptree, Jr.’ “Her Smoke Rose Up Forever,” Philip K. Dick’s “A Little Something for Us Tempunauts.”
Initial Thoughts: Denizens of the twitter-scape claimed, when I posted an image of Pelham’s disturbing cover, that this was indeed “The Ultimate Science Fiction” anthology. I’m fascinated by the thematic framework of the anthology. And knowing Malzberg, I suspect many of the stories take a more contrarian look at the theme.
I purchased the collection as I did not own PKD’s “A Little Something for Us Tempunauts” (1974) and needed it for my series on negative depictions of astronauts and the space race. PKD wrote the story to convey “a vast weariness over the space program, which had thrilled us so at the start” (wikipedia).
2. A Rumor of Angels, Marjorie Bradley Kellogg (as M. Bradley Kellogg) (1983)
From the back cover: “THE WARDS—the maximum security prisons where Earth permanently disposes of its most troublesome citizens. Jude Rowe has survived six years in the Wards, and now Earth intelligence is offering her a way out. The price—a one-way trip to Arkoi, an Eden-like planet, with its childlike, primitive natives and its thriving human colony. But there is something terribly wrong with this picture of paradise.
Every expedition sent beyond the colony’s borders has disappeared. The few survivors who eventually straggle back are totally, permanently insane. Are Arkoi’s natives not as docile as they seem? Or are there some Other out there ready to destroy any humans who stumble into their territory? Can Jude alone succeed where whole expeditions have failed? Or will she too vanish without a trace while two worlds whirl closer and closer to a final cataclysmic confrontation?”
Initial Thoughts: Another unknown author and book to me. Tarbandu reviewed (and disliked) it on his The PorPor Books Blog. As we don’t always see eye-to-eye on books, I am willing to give it a shot. He emphasizes that it will “appeal to those who prefer a character-driven narrative that explores the necessary journey through various psychological crises” — sounds like my cup of tea.
3. Forward in Time, Ben Bova (1973)
From the back cover: “TOMORROW when the ultimate in computers begins to mysteriously destroy its masters.
AND TOMORROW when a pair of rival artificial satellites duel to the death while spinning around the earth.
AND TOMORROW when a lone spaceman in the furthest reaches of the universe finds himself humankind’s sole hope for survival.
AND ALL THE TOMORROWS AFTER THAT with electrifying new science fiction by Ben Bova, editor of Analog magazine and one of today’s top S-F talents, as he invites you to unleash your imagination and take a tight hold of your nerves for a shattering journey — FORWARD IN TIME.”
Contents: “Zero Gee” (1972), “Test in Orbit” (1965), “The Weathermakers” (1966), “A Slight Miscalculation” (1971), “Fifteen Miles” (1967), “Stars, Won’t You Hide Me?” (1966), “The Next Logical Step” (1962), “Men of Goodwill” (1964) (written with Myron R. Lewis), “The Perfect Warrior” (variant title: “The Dueling Machine”) (1963) (written with Myron R. Lewis).
Initial Thoughts: As I mentioned above, Bova’s novels haven’t faired well on my site. Sometimes the short story format gives another angle–and I’m excited to read this one.
RIP Ben Bova.
4. The Shadow of the Ship, Robert Wilfred Franson (1983)
From the back cover: “RUMOR HAD IT… that out there, somewhere, a starship lay abandoned along the airless subspace trail that was the only means of travel between planets for the primitive trailside peoples.
And Eiverdein needed a ship if ever he was to return to known space and the culture of Earth Humans.
But many things stood in his path–murderers, strange physics, and alien whose speech could kill, and a girl who was, at best, never all there…”
Initial thoughts: I’ve never heard of the author or novel! According to SF Encyclopedia, The Shadow of the Ship is “set in a universe where interstellar travel is accomplished through a kind of Parallel World desert, by caravans; a disparate group of human-like voyagers trek across this desert” [link]. Seems on the surreal side… we shall see!
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