As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Low-Flying Aircraft and Other Stories, J. G. Ballard (1976)
There’s not a back cover or inside cover blurb on my edition
Contents: “The Ultimate City” (1976), “Low-Flying Aircraft” (1975), “The Dead Astronaut” (1968), “My Dream of Flying to Wake Island” (1974), “The Life and Death of God” (1976), “The Greatest Television Show on Earth” (1972), “A Place and a Time to Die” (1969), “The Comsat Angels” (1968), “The Beach Murders” (1966)
Initial Thoughts: I’ve been on a weird (for me) music kick as of late. I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s post-punk/new wave/goth music (Bauhaus, The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs, The Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, etc.) and I came across the British band The Comsat Angels. And they’re named after a J. G. Ballard story! If you don’t know of the band but enjoy any of the bands in the above list, check out Sleep No More (1981) (cold, paranoid, hypnotic). This led me back to Ballard’s catalog to track down the remaining anthologies of his I don’t own.
For anyone new stopping by, Ballard has long been a favorite. I’ve reviewed the following and read quite a few more (The Drought, The Terminal Beach, The Drowned World):
- “The Assassination Weapon” (1966)
- Billenium (1962)
- “The Dead Astronaut” (1968)
- High-Rise (1975)
- “The Killing Ground” (1969)
- Thirteen to Centaurus” (1962)
- The Voices of Time and Other Stories (1962)
- The Wind From Nowhere (1962)
- “You: Coma: Marilyn Monroe” (1966)
2. The Mind Game, Norman Spinrad (1980)
From the back cover: “THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME OF ALL… Director Jack Weller and his actress wife Annie were two of Hollywood’s golden people—attractive, successful and very much in love. Then Annie became a Transformationalist. At first Jack dismissed it as a trendy new self-help movement—until Annie began to change… Overnight, they’d taken her from him, and were reaching out for him as well. When Jack began to fight back, he entered a nightmare of unbridled power, as he discovered an underground empire whose control touched every part of society. To reclaim the woman he loved, he staked his future—and his soul–on a deadly game with a master of illusion.”
Initial Thoughts: Apparently non-genre, Spinrad’s The Mind Game (1980) is a thinly-veiled attack on Scientology. Considering how Scientology pulled many of its early followers from SF fandom and authors, I suspect his readers would pick up on his references. Anyone read this (seems to be a lesser known Spinrad)?
3. Providence Island, Jacquetta Hawkes (1959)
From the inside flap: “As you read this captivating novel, it will seem to you that somewhere in the pacific Ocean there must be an island like the one in the story. You will feel that if you were to come upon Providence Island you would recognize it at once, so real to you are its flowers and animals, its coastline and weather. And surely if you were to land, you would find there the same remarkable race of people you have met in the book. Thus PROVIDENCE ISLAND is a high tribute to Jacquetta Hawkes’ imaginative powers–but it is much more: it is an utterly fascinating story, written with rare charm and humor for today’s world.
When professor Pennycuick of Oxford was shown some unbelievable archaeological remains from a Pacific island, it was just the spur he needed to break away from the wearisome university routine. So, although it seemed incredible that the relics of a race that had lived in Europe ten thousand years ago could possibly be found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Professor invested all his resources in an exploratory expedition. Accompanying him to Providence Island were two men and one woman, Dr. Alice Cutter. They found not only the island but a race of people, living in a veritable paradise, who had miraculously survived from the Magdelanian Age. These pure, living fragments of prehistory were hunters, beautiful of physique and possessed of extraordinary psychic powers. Just as the expeditioners were beginning to understand and revere them, disaster struck in the form of a threat to the ancient race from the worst menace of the twentieth century. How the Professor and his friends—with the help of the islanders’ strange mental powers–save these unique people from the onslaught of the modern world makes a rich, unforgettable story.”
Initial Thoughts: Unknown book by an unknown author to me! SF Encyclopedia describes it as follows: “is a fairly late example of anthropological sf, in which an expedition comes across Lost-Race survivors from the Magdalenian culture of the late Paleolithic living within an extinct volcano on a Pacific Island. They have highly developed empathic and Psi Powers, developed as a kind of cultural alternative to technological prowess; they use these powers to fend off US nuclear tests.”
4. Turn Left At Thursday, Frederik Pohl (1961)
Interior page: “STORIES rich in humor and fantasy—all the way from Levittown to Venus…
A WRITER (Frederik Pohl) rich in variety—all the way from “the most consistently able writer science fiction has yet produced” (Kingsley Amis, s.f. aficianado) to “brilliant satirist” (New York Times)…
Just goes to show, if you’re a literary type, if humor is your dish, if you want to be chilled, thrilled, delighted and (occasionally) horrified—read science fiction. But make sure its by Fred Pohl.”
Contents: “Mars By Moonlight” (1958), “The Richest Man in Levittown” (variant title: “The Bitterest Pill”) (1959), “The Seven Deadly Virtues” (1958), “The Martian in the Attic” (1960), “Third Offense” (1958), “The Hated” (1958), “I Plinglot, Who You?” (1959)
Initial Thoughts: Huge fan of Foster’s cover. Frederik Pohl’s early SF intrigues far less… Although I’ve always loved Gateway (1977) [due for a reread].
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