Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Father to the Stars, Philip José Farmer (1981)
From the back cover: “John Carmody has no ethics, no morals and no conscience. Until he takes the Chance on Dante’s Joy, living through seven nights of wildest fantasies come true, he can’t even imagine why anyone would want a conscience. But Dante’s Joy is a truly strange place–and the phone calls from his murdered wife are only the beginning of his strange experiences.
Father John Carmody is a man who knows evil intimately, and is coming to know good with an equal intimacy. He is in a unique position to roam the galaxy, dispensing wisdom and advice along with Catholic doctrine and the saying of mass–a fully qualified father to the stars!”
Contents: “The Night of Light” (1957), “A Few Miles” (1960), “Prometheus” (1961), “Father” (1955), “Attitudes” (1953)
Initial Thoughts: I’ve previously read two works within Philip José Farmer’s Father Carmody sequence–“Father” (1955) and the 1966 novelization of “The Night of Light” (1957). Unfortunately, I never got around to reviewing the latter although I have positive memories despite the disturbing subject matter.
2. Under the Canopy (1980)
From the back cover: “JUNGLE WORLD. The primitive jungle planet known as Gaea was one of the most distant outposts of the Interplanetary Union. But as far as both the natives and Margo Kemperer, the I. U.’s colonial administrator, were concerned, life on Gaea was just about perfect. At least until Margo’s new assistant, Stephanie Leeds, arrived. Stephanie, a crusader from another colonial planet, seemed determined to turn the whole structure of Gaean society upside down. But what Stephanie didn’t seem to realize was that she was about to tackle three very powerful opponents: Margo, who wouldn’t let anyone upset the delicate balance of her world; the proud and intensely loyal Gaeans; and the jungle itself–the dark, brooding, deadly jungle, where the first mistake she made might very well be her last…”
Initial Thoughts: In 2016, I reviewed (and disliked) Barbara Paul’s first novel An Exercise for Madmen (1978). I am always willing to give an author a second shot! For a brief blurb about the author and her work check the SF Encyclopedia entry.
3. Caduceus Wild, Ward Moore with Robert Bradford (1978)
From the back cover: “MEDARCHY. It finally happened. The medical establishment has taken over the the civilized world. Orwell’s Big Brother is a doctor, and there is a prescription for everyone… usually thanatization or “modification.” The all-powerful high court of Medics will decide. The primitive operations and drugs of an earlier culture have been replaced by a more sophisticated methods and controls.
The population at large, described as Patients, willingly observe the codes of behavior set by the ruling Medics. It is a strange and cold world, still evolving from the devastation of ancient bacteria aerosols. All that is visible, from architecture to transportation, has been newly created by the Medical technologists. The minds and bodies of the citizens are on “hold.” Nothing must encroach on the Public Health. Every facet of life has been measured and made safe.
But there are a few escapees, dissidents,, deviants. The “Abnormals.” This is the story of three of them…”
Initial Thoughts: Ward Moore’s poor Greener Than You Think (1947) about grass gone wild has put me off his fiction for a while (never managed to review it). In 2016, I acquired but haven’t yet read Moore’s best known alternative history novel Bring the Jubilee (1953). As a fan of SF about medicine/doctors, I thought I’d track down Caduceus Wild — the 1978 rewrite of the 1959 serial. I suspect the best SF dystopia with a world controlled by doctors will remain James Gunn’s The Immortals (1962).
4. Sweetwater, Knut Faldbakken (1976, trans. Joan Tate 1994)
From the inside flap: “Sweetwater, by the distinguished Norwegian writer Knut Faldbakken, is the sequel to the widely acclaimed Twilight Country.
When Jonathan Bean of the Peacekeeping Force goes in search of his brother, listed as missing, his life takes a sudden and dramatic turn. Trapped by the inhabitants of the Dump, repository of Sweetwater’s rubbish, he comes parts of their lives. THese people, former citizens of Sweetwater who escaped the city with certain ideals, have by now deteriorated, physically and morally. War and deprivation have taken their toll and struggle for survival leads them to desperate acts. We follow their fortunes as they are driven back to their ravaged civilization.
Knut Faldbakken portrays unflinchingly the behavior of people in a disintegrating society against an unforgettable landscape of decay and collapse.”
Initial Thoughts: I adored Knut Faldbakken’s Twilight Country (1974, trans. Joan Tate, 1993). With my revised rating, Twilight Country clocks in as my second best read of 2020 (original list). This sequel follows an outsider her journeys into the Dump to track down his brother. I can’t wait to give it a go! Check out my review of Twilight Country.
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