As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Dawn, Octavia E. Butler (1987)
From the back cover: “XENOGENESIS: The birth of something new—and foreign.
Lilith Iyapo awoke from a centuries-long sleep—and found herself aboard the vast living spaceship of the Oankali. Alien creatures covered in writhing tentacles, the Oankali had saved every surviving human from a dying, ruined Earth. They healed the planet, cured cancer, increased human strength and disease resistance, and were now ready to help Lilith lead her people back to Earth.
But for a price. For the Oankali were genetic engineers. DNA manipulators. Gene traders. They planned to give us their alienness. They planned to take our humanity.
They planned to interbreed.
And there was no way to stop them.”
Initial Thoughts: Other than Kindred (1979), Octavia E. Butler is not an author I’ve explored in depth–in part due to how expensive early editions of her paperbacks are! Thus, when I infrequently see them, I buy them. This 1st edition paperback cover by Enric is infamous for whitewashing the main character.
I finished Dawn a few weeks ago and plan on having a review up soon.
2. Major Operation, James White (1971)
From the back cover: “SECTOR GENERAL is an enormous hospital based far out on the Galactic Rim. No other hospital on or off the Earth encounters the wildly diverse problems created by the hundreds of different alien life forms that turn up at Sector General for treatment. Being a doctor, human or otherwise, in this establishment requires a decree of adaptability Hippocrates never imagined…”
Contents: “Invader” (1966), “Vertigo” (1968), “Blood Brother” (1969), “Meatball” (1969), “Major Operation” (1971)
Initial Thoughts: I’ve devoured most of Murray Leinster’s Med Service stories–Doctor to the Stars (1964) and S.O.S From Three Worlds (1967). It’s about time I devour the stories that may have inspired elements of Deep Space Nine (my favorite Trek!) (1993-1999) and Babylon 5 (1993-1998).
I still don’t own the first volume in the Sector Station sequence–Hospital Station (1962)—do you need to read them in order?
3. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison (1975)
From the inside flap: “Winner of six Hugo and three Nebula awards, Harlan Ellison has long been regarded as one of the most brilliant and controversial writers in the field of speculative fiction. The SF Book Blub is proud to present this collection–immediately acknowledged as one of his finest when it was first published in 1975.
Deathbird Stories gathers together 19 tales originally published between 1960 and 1974. It as been extensively revised by the author himself, and is likely to become the definitive edition of the book.
in the tradition of Mark Twain’s “Letter from the Earth,” the Hugo-winning “The Deathbird” retells the story of Genesis from a diabolical perspective. Taken from the molten magma core of the Earth where he rested for millennia within the confines of his crypt, and brought up to the surface by the Snake, Nathan Stack is due for his final showdown with God, “the mad one…”
In the Hugo-winning “Adrift Just off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54′ N, Longitude 77° 00′ 13″ W,” Lawrence Talbot has lost something vitally important, and he can’t die until he finds it. So, with the aid of his old friend, Victor, the Central European scientific genius, he plans an adyssey through the interior of his own body… to search for the exact geographic location of his soul.
The Edgar-winning “The Whimper of Whipped Togs” is set in modern-day New York City, where no one wants to get involved. Beth is a young Bennington graduate who witnesses a Kitty Genovese-like dance of death below the window of her new apartment. She is appalled by her failure to do anything to help the victim, but when the horrors of the city invade her own life, she discovers the existence of a new god….
“Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes”–Hooker. Grabber. Swinger. If there’s a buck in it, there’s rhythm and the onomatopoeia is Maggie Maggie Maggie. She died feeding the “Chief” slot machine in Vegas, and now her love is Kostner. She wants Kostner because she’s lonely and she tells him so with her three blue eyes, staring from the jackpot bars. Kostner’s on a roll, jackpot after jackpot, but all he can think about is those three blue eyes and the woman beckoning in his dreams…
In “Shattered Like a Glass Goblin,” Rudy is home from the army seeking his fiancée, Kristina, who’s living with Jonah and the rest of the gang up at The Hill. When Kris shuns him, he should take a hint. But Rudy’s in love with her. So she moves in and tolerates the perpetual orgy of drigs and sex. But what are those squeaking noises coming from the attic? And the moist sounds from the basement?
Let Harlan Ellison introduce you to the new gods of our age.”
Contents: “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” (1973), Along the Scenic Route” (1969), “On the Downhill Side” (1972), “O Ye of Little Faith” (1968), “Neon” (1973), “Basilisk” (1972), “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes” (1967), “Corpse” (1972), “Shattered Like a Glass Goblin” (1968), “Delusion for a Dragon Slayer” (1966), “The Face of Helene Bournouw” (1960), “Bleeding Stones” (1973), “At the Mouse Circus” (1971), “The Place with No Name” (1969),”Paingod” (1964), “Ernest and the Machine God” (1968), “Rock God” (1969), “Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54′ N, Longitude 77° 00′ 13″ W” (1974), “The Deathbird” (1973)
Initial Thoughts: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Harlan Ellison’s New Wave short stories over the years. Check out my review of Approaching Oblivion (1974). Before his passing he stopped by my website and left a message (25 comments down) on the review.
It’s about time I read more of his work in a more sustained manner than the handful of tales I encounter in various anthologies.
4. Guardians of Time, Poul Anderson (1960)
From the inside flap: “The best of science fiction creates a future that is not only logical and probable, but that seems inevitable.
And given that definition, Poul Anderson’s place in the science-fiction pantheon is assured. With the precision of a fine camera, he has focused his imagination on infinity and recorded in these pages an astonishing depth of field. The past–the Palace of Cyrus the Great, the Mongol bands who explored North America—is is aligned with the future–time-travel and mutable history–in a daringly ambitious projection.
For the inevitability of time-travel being invented somewhere in the future (or “some-when,” as Mr. Anderson puts it) is not difficult to accept. And once accepted, it is obvious that time-travel jeopardizes the existence of all who come after it. A single grain of matter thrown into the past must alter history, change life. Therefore the future must protext itself by establishing the Time Patrol to police the time lanes and prevent irresponsible time-travelers from tampering with the continuum.
GUARDIANS OF TIME is about the adventures of one agent of the Time Patrol. Its excitement lies in the realization that not only must the Time Patrol be organized somewhen, but that it must be operating NOW!
Contents: “Time Patrol” (1955), “Brave to Be A King” (1959),, “The Only Game In Town” (1960), “Delenda Est” (1955)
Initial Thoughts: Poul Anderson was very much an author of my late teen years (~17) when I fell in love with science fiction (I was primarily a fantasy reader before that). While I have soured a bit on his often functional stories, I’m always willing to return.
And goodness, I love the exuberance of the Richard Powers cover!
For book reviews consult the INDEX
For cover art posts consult the INDEX
For TV and film reviews consult the INDEX