Recent Science Fiction and Fantasy Purchases No. CCLXVII (Daniel F. Galouye, Gordon Eklund, Lisa Tuttle, George R. R. Martin, and Andrew Sinclair)

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

1. Windhaven, George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle (1981)

Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1st edition

From the inside flap: “The planet Windhaven was settled by humans after the crash of a colony starship. Survivors discovered that people could actually fly on this world, aided by the light gravity and dense atmosphere, and using wings made from a virtually indestructible metal fabric that had once been part of the starship. On this planet of small islands, monster-infected seas and stormy skies, the only means of regular communication between islands is the flyers, a society of men and women who carry messages from island to island, serving those who are land-bound.

Tradition is strong in the flyers’ guild, and tradition has always dictated that new members must be the children of flyers, that wings can be passed only from a flyer to his oldest child. Tradition also dictates that flyers will carry no weapons, and that they will remain politically aloof, detached from the messages they carry.

Maris of Amberly is land-bound—and she wants nothing more than to fly. The daughter of a fisherman, she has no right to the wings of her stepfather, who will pass them on to his son, Coll. And Coll wants nothing more than to be a singer, to spend his life traveling the planet by sea, composing and singing the songs that will carry legends and tales around the world.

Maris challenges flyer tradition when she speaks up for herself and her stepbrother, Coll, defending their right to pursue their individual dreams. She proposes that flyers be chosen on the basis of merit, so that only the best fly. Maris wins her battle, but she must face the challenges her victory brings.

Not all flyers are willing to accept those who are not flyer-born, and not all ‘one-wings,’ flyers who win wings in competition, share Maris’ love of the established flyers’ traditions. Led by Val, an intense, brooding man, the one-wings begin to challenge everything that has been sacred to the flyers’ guild and Windhaven’s culture, including political neutrality and the custom of not bearing arms. Maris finds herself battling to preserve the integrity of the flyers and to adjust to the new world she has helped create.”

Initial Thoughts: I have yet to read anything other than a short story or two from Lisa Tuttle or George R. R. Martin. This is an unknown novel to me. I procured Martin’s Songs of Stars and Shadow (1977) and Dying of the Light (1977) recently as well but have yet to read them. In reality, I’m more interested in Tuttle’s output than Martin’s.

2. Project Barrier, Daniel F. Galouye (1968)

Bill Botten’s cover for the 1970 edition

No cover blurb describing the stories.

Contents: “Shuffle Board” (1957), “Recovery Area” (1963), “Rub-A-Dub” (1961), “Reign of the Telepuppets” (1963), “Project Barrier” (1958)

Initial Thoughts: In the early days of my site Galouye received two reviews: the wonderful Dark Universe (1961) and the average/bad A Scourge of Screamers (1966). I have acquired almost all of his other novels but will explore this collection of short fictions first.

Also, ‘Rub-a-Dub” was an honorable mention for the 1962 Hugo Award for Best Short Fiction.

3. All Times Possible, Gordon Eklund (1974)

Charles Gross’ cover for the 1st edition

From the back cover: “Do you remember Tommy Bloome, our beloved Leader who led the revolution that kept America out of World War II and established the worker’s state?

No? Then perhaps you may remember Tommy Bloome, the alienated kid who tried to assassinate our heroic General Norton in 1947?

Not him either?

Well, never mind. You may recall still another Tommy Bloome who… But maybe you had better read this account that Gordon Eklund has put down of the Americas that might have been, of the ambitions of one idealistic young man who tried to make our country and our world “better” and what happens when he bucks the invisible tides that sweep relentlessly through the course of human events.

It may be Eklund’s finest novel–it is certainly science fiction far our of the usual paths.”

Initial Thoughts: I’ve explored a bit of Gordon Eklund’s work in the history of the site: from the solid religious parable “Three Comedians” to his co-written with Gregory Benford Nebula-winning “If The Stars Are Gods” (1974). His dystopic The Eclipse of Dawn (1971) contained promising sequence but failed to deliver. I look forward to reading more of his political SF.

4. Gog, Andrew Sinclair (1967)

Stephen Miller’s cover fort he 1969 edition

From the back cover: “Oh, once upon a time GOG (they said it was) got up from the seabeach where he lay. He was big all over—seven feet, some said. his hands were tattooed and his mind was gone. This is a book about what happened to him in the wonderful world of tomorrow–or was it yesterday?”

Initial thoughts: As a young medievalist voluntarily sequestered in the University of Texas’ massive Perry-Castañeda Library, cryptic lines from the Chronicon Scotorum for the year 900 A. D., from a tattered 1866 edition, caught my eye and my imagination:

“A great woman was cast up from the sea in Alba: she was nine score and twelve feet in length, sixteen feet between her two breasts, her hair fifteen feet long, six the length of her finger, seven the length of her nose. Every part of her was as white as a swan or the foam of a wave.”

Inspired (and lonely), I wrote an overly complex and labyrinthine short story titled “The Hanged God and his Implausibility Or ‘Jahn Yost’s Deposition and Exposition concerning the Pillaging of a World’” that explored a secretive conventicle of authors who used that annalistic fragment to create a new mythology of a world. I included diagrams, further textual fragments, sketchy metaphorical attempts to convey the seductive allure of invention…

And Andrew Sinclair seems to have done the same thing (in a far more refined way), perhaps inspired by the same historical fragment of a massive unknown human washing up on a beach, forty years earlier!


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44 thoughts on “Recent Science Fiction and Fantasy Purchases No. CCLXVII (Daniel F. Galouye, Gordon Eklund, Lisa Tuttle, George R. R. Martin, and Andrew Sinclair)

    • I bought it as it’s Lisa Tuttle’s first novel, based on two short stories they’d previously published: “The Storms of Windhaven” (1975) and “One-Wing” (1980). As for Martin, more interested in his short fiction at the moment.

      • Have you read his short fiction then? I read the collection “A Song for Lyra” last year. The titular title refers to the best piece in it, which I don’t think is even close to being a masterpiece, but is very good. I preferred his novel “Ferve Dream”, which is excellent.

        • I have read but never reviewed a few of his short fictions — one of the side-effects of not reviewing them is that their titles have fallen from memory. As for his Vampire novel, that’s not my style of fantasy.

          • FEVRE DREAM is actually SF (though one might dispute that) — at least, it’s SFnal in its treatment of vampirism. (BLINDSIGHT of course is even MORE SFnal.)

            FEVRE DREAM is very definitely a vampire novel for people who don’t like vampires. (Raises hand!)

            • BLINDSIGHT is too recent for you, I guess. Otherwise I’d ask if you liked it.

              I posted a review of it back when it came out — very positive review. I think it was on rec.arts.sf.written. And one commenter seemed to be literally foaming at the mouth becuase of — ick! — a vampire in his science fiction! (You could, of course, dispute the logic of Watts’s rationale for how vampires made ecological sense, or for why crosses work against them, but his resistance seemed more visceral. And not just “I don’t like vampires, so I’ll pass”. (The vampire is not central to that novel, by the way.) More like “Peter Watts DARED to put a vampire in an SF novel. Burn him!”)

            • Reddit SF forums scared me off Blindsight a long time ago. They are unnaturally obsessed with that book — hah.

              But yes, I’ve heard good things although it’s not something I’ll read anytime soon.

          • Well, they’re not supernatural vampires, just a different race of humans [similar to those in Jack Williamson’s “Darker than You Think”], who were hidden from us, but managed to disguise themselves and mingle among us. One of them even befriends the hero of the novel. Their bloodlust is compared to the human need for slavery in the steamboat/Civil War era in which it takes place.

  1. Eklund’s alt-hist was a real pleasure to me when I read it in the 70s. I still like alt-hist and that read is partly why,

    GOG sounds interesting. A bit like SEXING THE CHERRY, Jeannette Winterson’s giantess novel.

    • I’ve never been bitten by the alt-history bug. Those I’ve read, I suffer through them — as you know! (Pavane, etc.).

      But this one seems intriguing and has a different than normal jonbar point (if FDR had not become president).

    • As for Winterson’s Sexing the Cherry (1989) — that premise sounds wonderful!

      Wikipedia: “Set in 17th century London, Sexing the Cherry is about the journeys of a mother, known as The Dog Woman, and her protégé, Jordan.[2] They journey in a space-time flux: across the seas to find exotic fruits such as bananas and pineapples; and across time, with glimpses of “the present” and references to Charles I of England and Oliver Cromwell. The mother’s physical appearance is somewhat “grotesque”. She is a giant, wrapped in a skirt big enough to serve as a ship’s sail and strong enough to fling an elephant. She is also hideous, with smallpox scars in which fleas live, a flat nose and foul teeth. Her son, however, is proud of her, as no other mother can hold a good dozen oranges in her mouth all at once. Ultimately, their journey is a journey in search of The Self.”

      • SEXING THE CHERRY is pretty good. I got a bit annoyed with Winterson later when she did the whole Atwood thing (“My obviously science fictional and fantastical books aren’t SF or Fantasy because they’re not about squids in space”) … can’t recall if she’s recanted that (as Atwood did, pretty much.)

        • Those types of comments are definitely one reason I try to ignore what authors say about their own works! haha.

          Wasn’t there a recent SF fandom in outrage when an author claimed that they were writing SF that no one else has? And the only conclusion from the statement was that they hadn’t read any SF…. but were repeating hilarious clichés. I can’t remember his name.

  2. I read and enjoyed WINDHAVEN as its constituent parts appeared in Analog. I don’t know to what extent the published novel might be different. It’s not great work at all, but it’s fun. I have liked a lot of Lisa Tuttle’s short fiction over the years. We reprinted her “Ragged Claws” at Lightspeed.

    If you are going to read one George R. R. Martin novel, it should be FEVRE DREAM, in my opinion. Best vampire novel this side of BLINDSIGHT.

    Daniel F. Galouye is one of the “good bad writers” I like to follow, usually by reading his stuff in ’50s and ’60s magazines like Imagination and Amazing. By “good bad” I mean his ideas were pretty cool, but his execution sometimes faltered. I really liked SIMULACRON-3, and also the movie (one of 2!) made from it, THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR. (The latter, to be sure, in part because of Gretchen Moll.)

    • Unfortunately, fantasy is hard enough to get me to read (what I loved as a young teen reader) — but vampires are completely in the “will not touch with a pole” category. And as I mentioned above, vampires I just can’t….

      I definitely know all about Galouye. I’ve even seen Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on the Wire — the 1973 German tv mini-series on Simulacron-3 (highly recommended): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070904/?ref_=nm_flmg_wr_2

      I was on a huge Fassbiner kick in college.

      I haven’t seen The Thirteenth Floor.

      I’ve attempted to read Simulacron-3 a good three or four times and have set it down about 30 pages in…

      • I mentioned the book replying to you on Twitter and how Project Barrier seemed like a direct sequel to the much later Bears Discover Fire by Terry Bisson!
        Nice to see you got the edition with the cover art by Bill Botten. https://www.flickr.com/photos/17270214@N05/33376348276/in/photolist-SUVTkn-SRmvwC-SHAwag/

        I thought the Tuttle was very good – a set-up a little like Pern, but much more interesting! I’ve read 2 or 3 of her other titles – the Silver Bough was the best.

        Don’t recall GOG at all; sounds curious. I guess James Morrow might have been partially inspired by the same fragment of text to write Towing Jehovah!

        • You were the one, now I remember.

          Better than Pern? Blasphemy! Jesting aside, The Pern novels were some of the central books of my childhood. I haven’t returned to them nor do I plan to as I don’t want to ruin the amazing spell they cast.

          Ah, you might be right re-James Morrow. I guess (related to the short story I wrote on the fragment) there really is “secret” conventicle of authors inspired by the same bizarre medieval mythical event.

          • I‘ve reread Dragonriders of Pern some five years ago, and feared that it would destroy fond memories. I gladly found that it still stands the test of time, and you know that I can be critical with that.

            • I’ve seen a lot of bad reviews of the book. I better play it safe!

              I enjoyed all of them — until the destruction of thread in The White Dragon (hopefully that’s not too big of a spoiler — not sure how many you read). With thread destroyed, I felt a lot of the impetus of the series was gone. She at least, for a younger me, went back to explore sequel material which I also scarfed up.

              But the ones that REALLY sucked a younger me in were Dragonsong (1976), Dragonsinger (1977), and Dragondrums (1978).

            • That series went on endlessly. I don’t know where I stopped. Do I hate you for spoilers now? No, I don’t think I‘ll return anytime soon and until then I‘ll have forgotten everything 😁
              As for playing it safely: do you have many other such books that you don’t dare rereading?

  3. I remember reading the Windhaven stories when they were serialized in Analog, and I remember liking them, but I can’t remember anything about them. I think that the story behind the authors collaboration would prove interesting. I’ve liked both of the authors, but such divergent authorial styles… I remember liking both of the Galouye novels that I read, but I was in my teens, and my tastes have changed since then. Never heard of either Gog, or Andrew Sinclair. The quote and the blurb on the cover sound like a hard sell to me though.

    • I’m hoping the Sinclair novel is a weird, surreal, voyage across England with strange bits of medievalism… we shall see! I take a lot of risks — that’s for sure.

      • Just good, old-fashioned storytelling I think! Interesting world-building, strong characters. I would say it’s more Tuttle than Martin overall, although one character is very GRRM. I have read one of her short stories, ‘Wives’ which haunts me to this day!

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