As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Furthest, Suzette Haden Elgin (1971)
From the back cover: “Coyote Jones, agent for the Tri-Galactic Intelligence Service, had been sent to a planet so unimaginably distant from the rest of the Federation that it bore the descriptive name Furthest. His mission: to find out why the total body of data about Furthest showed the world’s inhabitants to be absolutely average down to the last decimal place. That data had to be false.
Jones was permitted to live on the planet, but the natives were so wary of him that he could uncover nothing—until he chanced into a personal crisis faced by his young Furthest assistant. The boy’s sister had been sentenced to Erasure, and he wanted Coyote Jones to take the fugitive girl in and hide her.
Against his judgement, Jones agreed, and thereby became a criminal on a world he didn’t understand. But suddenly the answers began to come, and he found that this planet named Furthest held more strangeness than he could ever have imagined…”
Initial Thoughts: Back in 2013 I reviewed Suzette Haden Elkin’s At the Seventh Level (1972), part of a loose sequence of novels that feature Trigalactic Intelligence Service agent Coyote Jones and his voyages to various worlds. While not blown away by the book, I remained intrigued enough to track down the rest of the volumes. I finally own all four published in the 70s—The Communipaths (1970), Furthest (1971), At the Seventh Level (1972), and Star-Anchored, Star-Angered (1979). A further volume, Yonder Comes the Other End of Time, appeared in 1986.
And the Diane and Leo Dillon cover is gorgeous.
2. Duende Meadow, Paul Cook (1985)
From the back cover: “SIX CENTURIES AFTER THE LAST WAR, THE BATTLE FOR AMERICA HAS JUST BEGUN.
For six long centuries after mankind’s Last War, a handful of survivors dwelled in a place of eternal twilight below the fields of Kansas. transformed into duendes, ghost-like beings, by the fields of organic energy which protected them, they waited for nature to heal the wounds of the Earth. But when, at last, they reached the light, they found their land in the hands of their age-old enemies…”
Initial Thoughts: Paul Cook is a new author to me. I acquired Tintagel (1981) in 2019 but haven’t read it. My local Half Price Books had a stack of his SF so I grabbed this one!
3. Survival Margin (variant title: The Darkest of Nights), Charles Eric Maine (1962)
From the back cover: “Worst plague in Human History. Government goes underground. Emergency measures to counter epidemic: Don’t travel. Don’t mix. Millions surrender to incinerators. Full stop: Britain goes into deep freeze. Unit five to black leader: block access roads.”
Initial Thoughts: Another author I know little about other than the handful of reviews I’ve encountered over the years and his SF Encyclopedia entry.. I bought this after a positive assessment over at the sadly defunct The Numinous Book of Review.
4. The Mind Net, Herbert W. Franke (1963, trans. Christine Priest, 1974)
From the back cover: “Herbert W. Franke, who is rated as one of the four best science fiction writers of modern Europe, is quite tricky. What may seem simple usually turns out to be deceptively complex. What may seem simple usually turns out to be deceptively complex. What may seem irrelevant may have an impact like an earthquake.
In THE MIND NET we encounter a vast spacefleet exploring the cosmos. They find some organic remnants in the lifeless soil of an ancient world. But when the space explorers test these mysterious objects they suddenly find their ship trapped in an alien mental web and face a menace never allowed for on their computers. But that is only the beginning and thereafter we encounter seemingly isolated scenes on alien worlds with unearthly growths, in mechanical civilizations, in rebel cities where everyday people face extraordinary problems. The whole ties in with a shocking impact… and THE MIND NET will prove again that the name of Franke ranks with those of Philip K. Dick and Stanislaw Lem as a science fiction innovator.”
Initial Thoughts: I read Franke’s Zone Null (1970, trans. Chris Herriman, 1974), enjoyed it, but never got around to writing a review. I should give it a reread. I’ve also read two of his short stories for my current astronaut series but haven’t put pen to paper. This, supposedly lesser Franke, was sitting amongst a gorgeous array of vintage paperbacks at my local Half Price so I snagged it. And it has a Freas cover I can firmly get behind!
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