As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Worlds Apart (variant title: Born Leader), J. T. McIntosh (1954)
From the back cover: “ROG FOLEY had never seen Earth—and he never would. For all that was left of Earth was an atomic funeral pyre in the sky.
ROG FOLEY was a leader of the new generation of humans who were born and raised on Mundis, the distant planet circling Brinsen’s Star and to which the last survivors of Earth had escaped in a 17-year journey through space.
ROG FOLEY and his disciples were strongly opposed to the way things were being run on Mundis by their elders. There were too many DOs and too many DON’Ts. Finally, in desperation, Rog established a separate colony—and it seemed as though the conflicts which had brought Earth to its doom were destined to haunt mankind even in this remote solay system.
BUT THEN a new danger appeared—invasion by a band of interplanetary despots who wanted to make Mundis their first conquest on the path to Galactic Empire. Faced by this common peril, the Mundians were forced to unite in a desperate, last-ditch struggle to save humanity.
Here is a mature science-fiction novel of human conflict in outer-space—with the fate of the entire Universe at stake!”
Initial Thoughts: I’ve yet to read anything by J. T. McIntosh. I do not have high hopes. SF Encyclopedia describes it as follows: “Born Leader […] puts two sets of colonists from a destroyed Earth on nearby planets, where the authoritarian set conflicts with the libertarian set.” Does not sound promising. I have a soft spot for Powers’ cover!
2. The Two of Them, Joanna Russ (1978)
From the back cover: “Irene (née Waskiewicz), TransTemp agent and mother by chance to a daughter by choice, starlover turned outlaw. Zubeydeh, child of crystal veils and quiet madness. Irene stole her own freedom, and now she has bought Zubeydeh’s. The price was murder and there is nowhere to run but Earth…”
Initial Thoughts: In my various twitter escapades, Joanna Russ’ came up and inspired me to comb through her bibliography to identify any of her novels that I might be missing. And lo and behold, I bought The Two of Them (1978).
3. The Glory of the Empire: A Novel, A History, Jean d’Ormesson (1971, trans. by Barbara Bray, 1974)
From the back cover: “The Glory of the Empire is the rich and absorbing history of an extraordinary empire, at one point a rival to Rome. Rulers such as Basil the Great of Onessa, who founded the Empire but whose treacherous ways made him a byword for infamy, the romantic Alexis the bastard, who dallied in the fleshpots of Egypt, studied Taoism and Buddhism, returned to save the Empire from civil war, and then retired ‘to learn to die,; come alive in The Glory of the Empire, along with generals, politicians, prophets, scoundrels, and others. Jean d’Ormesson also goes into the daily life of the Empire, its popular customs, its contribution to the arts and the sciences, which, as he demonstrates, exercised an influence on the word as a whole, from the East to the West, and whose repercussions are still felt today. But it is all fiction, a thought-experiment worthy of Jorge Luis Borges, and in the end The Glory of the Empire emerges as a great shimmering mirage, filling us with wonder even as it makes us wonder at the fugitive nature of power and the meaning of history itself.”
Initial Thoughts: History as fiction. As a historian, I am fascinated. Far more fascinated than I am about historical fiction. Invented histories of the Borgesian tilt tickle all my fancies. A dense/labrythine tome for sure…
4. Universe 12, ed. Terry Carr (1982)
From the inside page: “Terry Carr’s UNIVERSE anthologies are recognized as the premier forum for new works of science fiction and fantasy. UNIVERSE 12 continues the tradition of creative and literary excellence, concentrating on the human element. included in this supernova of fiction are:
George Turner’s “A Pursuite of Miracles,” in which the “impossible” is commonplace but dilemmas of the heart are an impenetrable puzzle—even under laboratory conditions.
Nancy Kress; “Talp Hunt,” which explores humanity’s tenuous grasp on selfhood in the “eternalizing” process on an alien planet.
Howard Waldrop’s “God’s Hook,” a Hawthornesque allegory of plagues, hellfire, and dire incantations as Izaak Walton meets John Bunyan on an apocalyptic fishing expedition.
R. A. Lafferty’s “Thieving Bear Planet,” the tale of havoc among explorers of a topsy-turvy world where reality merges with hallucinatory memory of disturbing hilarity.”
Contents (all original stories): George Turner’s “A Pursuit of Mira’s “Exploring Fossil Canyon,” Howard Waldrop’s “God’s Hooks,” Nancy Kress’ “Talp Hunt,” Bruce McAllister’s “When the Father’s Go,” R. A Lafferty’s “Thieving Bear Planet,” Mary C. Pangborn’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” James Patrick Kelly’s “In Memory of,” Leigh Kennedy’s “Helen, Whose Face Launched Twenty-eight Conestoga Hovercraft.”
Initial Thoughts: One of the my best reads of 2019 was Nancy Kress’ first SF novel An Alien Light (1987). I procured Universe 12 in order to read her earlier short fiction. Speaking of which, I should put a post together on her first four short stories published in the 1970s…. Let me know if you’re interested!
For book reviews consult the INDEX
For cover art posts consult the INDEX