As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Ambient, Jack Womack (1987)
From the back cover: “Twenty-first century New York. It’s a nightmare. Reaganomics has gone mad: there’s murder and mutilation on the bombed-out streets, and in the corporate conference rooms. Manhattan is a zoo. There’s guerilla war on Long Island. You’ll need to be rich to survive at all, and it’s easier to be dead than poor.
Seamus O’Malley is a bodyguard and assassin in the outrageously powerful Dryco organization, and he’s in deep trouble. Taking the job sounded like a good idea at the time.
Falling in love with his employer’s mistress Avalon, probably wasn’t so bright. Getting caught up in the Dryden family’s crazy, lethal rivalries didn’t help. Agreeing to murder the Old man was plain stupid. And being involved with the Ambient only complicated matters further. Before long O’Malley’s on the run, and there’s nowhere safe to hide. ‘Ready to kill, Shameless?’ Avalon said. ‘Ready to die.’
In this remarkable first novel, Jack Womack combines the horror of A Clockwork Orange, the pace of Alfred Bester, the vision of J. G. Ballard and the wit of Raymond Chandler to create a violent, bizarre and shocking world that is not so very far removed from our own.”
Initial Thoughts: While I have read about Jack Womack’s SF I have yet to read any myself. In part as his first novel Ambient was published in 1987 and my project mostly skews to the early 80s. Sometimes I feel a compulsion to acquire works outside my normal range. Ambient is the first published and the third in internal order of Womack’s Terraplane sequence of 6 novels. Here’s the full list.
2. The Silver Metal Lover, Tanith Lee (1981)
From the inside flap: “It is the world of the future, where beauty is available to all, given the sophistication of technology and medicine. Yet Jane is—well, surely pleasant enough-looking, with her soft brown hair and slightly plump body. Years back, when Jane was tiny, her beautiful, wealthy mother had her analyzed for perfect body type, and now cosmetic medications keep her true to form. And she questions little After all, her mother has so much authority, so many opinions, and there’s nothing for Jane to say.
And Jane’s lovers are largely in her mind–men from films she’s seen, from books she’s read. The thought of confronting a flesh-and-blood lover makes Jane grow cold. What would she say to him? What would he think of plain Jane?
Until she meets Silver, a singer and guitarist. And a robot–with all the adoration and compassion that in-the-flesh lovers lack.
But, unlike human lovers, Silver is for sale, and Jane–desperate for his love–risks estrangement from her mother and friends to possess him. With Silver as her partner, she tastes the first happiness and independence she has ever known. She even grows pretty, as she stops taking the pills and treatments her mother ordered fr her.
Yet–what would you do if the manufacturer decided to recall the particular model of lover you’d bought?
A starling romance of the future by the author of Sometimes, After Sunset and Electric Forest.
Initial Thoughts: Tanith Lee is a Joachim Boaz favorite. I’m a fan of her gauzy and sinister sensibilities and The Silver Metal Lover (1981) seems fill to the brim. Check out my reviews of Electric Forest (1979) and Don’t Bite the Sun (1976). This is high on my “to read” list.
3. Far and Away, Anthony Boucher (1955)
From the inside page: “FAMOUS as an author imaginative fiction and as the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Anthony Boucher here presents a selection of his own best stories. Which means a collection of some of the very best stories in the field.
Here you can read, among others, ingenious tales about
a U. S. election result that is changed
a time machine that enables a murdered man to be seen alive
a Venusian visitor who is captured by a woman’s simplicity
a man who asks to be cursed by doesn’t foresee the hilariously fantastic results
Refreshing in their intelligence, their delightful and sometimes profound imagination, and their exceptional writing, these stories demonstrate clearly that Anthony Boucher is a name to conjure with in the realm of fiction that conjures with fancy.”
Contents: “The Anomaly of the Empty Man” (1952), “The First” (1952), “Balaam” (1954), “They Bite” (1943), “Snulbug” (1941), “Elsewhen” (1943), “Secret of the House” (1953), “Sriberdegibit” (1943), “Star Bride” (1951), “Review Copy” (1949), “The Other Inauguration” (1953)
Initial Thoughts: Last month I read and reviewed Boucher’s “Star Bride” (1951) for my series on negative/subversive takes on astronauts and the culture that produced them. “Star Bride” contains a half-hearted condemnation of colonialism implicit in the process of exploring space. I did not care for the story but felt intrigued enough to procure a collection of Boucher’s short fictions. I do not have high hopes!
4. If You Believe the Soldiers, Alexander Cordell (1973)
From the back cover: “Britain, 1982–a place where blackshirts patrol the streets and a fascist government controls the state. Civil servant Mark Seaton attempts to expose corruption within his ministry and is rewarded by ridicule, ostracism, and finally torture. His wife is faithless, his friends are betrayers, his life is seemingly at an end.
Then yet another government appears to give Mark, and his country, a hope for democratic existence. Be can he trust his ‘liberators,’ or are they too bent on destroying the vestiges of freedom left in Britain? Caught in a whirlwind of revolution, Mark must struggle for his very existence in a land where a chance word may mean imprisonment and an act of revolution spells certain death.
Initial Thoughts: Another fascists take over the state UK thriller! Definitely a dime a dozen theme but I’ve discovered a handful of fascinating takes: from Michael Moorcock and Hilary Bailey’s The Black Corridor (1969) with its inventive typographic art to Reginald Hill’s bizarre speculation that football fan clubs will be take over the state in Albion! Albion! (1974).
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