Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Macrolife, George Zebrowski (1979)
From the inside flap: “A novel of epic scope, Macrolife opens in the year 2021. The Bulero family owns one of Earth’s richest corporations. As the Buleros gather for a reunion at the family mansion, an industrial accident plunges the corporation into a crisis, which eventually brings the world around them to the brink of disaster. Vilified, the Buleros flee to a space colony where the young Richard Bulero gradually realizes that the only hope for humanity lies in macrolife—mobile, self-reproducing space habitats.
A millennium later, these mobile communities have left sunspace and multiplied. Conflicts between macrolife and natural planets arise. John Bulero, a cloned descendent of the twenty-first century Bulero clan, falls in love with a woman from a natural world and experiences the harshness of her way of life. He rediscovers his roots when his macroworld returns to the solar system, and a tense confrontation of three civilizations takes place.
One hundred billion years later, macrolife, now as numerous as the stars, faces the impending death of nature. Regaining his individually by falling away from a highly evolved macrolife, a strangely changed John Bulero struggles to see beyond the collapse of the universe into a gigantic black hole.
Inspired by the possibilities of space settlements, projections of biology and cosmology, and basic human longings, Macrolife is a visionary speculation on the long-term future of human and natural history. Filled with haunting characters, this is a vivid and brilliant work.”
Initial Thoughts: Zebrowski is known to me only through his poor to vaguely good SF short stories collected in The Monadic Universe (1977). I’ve previously purchased The Omega Point (1972) but haven’t gotten around to reading it. Macrolife appears to be one of those vast in scope, replete with genealogical trees, SF epics crammed into only 278 pages (ah the 70s!). I’ve seen Macrolife on lists of generation ship stories but I’m not sure, at first glance, if they can be classified as such.
2. The Starry Rift, James Tiptree, Jr. (1986)
From the inside flap: “”the Rift is the RIver Darkness, a starless standing wave of nothingness between galactic arms. A region filled only with visions and voices; innocent terror and mortal atrocity; sacrifice, tragedy, decisions. And heroes.
Set in the same universe as the acclaimed Brightness Falls From the Air, against the backdrop of a far future university library where alien students are researching a project on the history of the human race, acclaimed multiple Hugo and Nebula winner James Tiptree, Jr. weaves a tapestry of individual courage and passion into a saga of exploration, confrontation and crisis–the Federation’s conquest of a galactic frontier.
Coati Cass is a rambunctious teen runaway who discovers; an unseen, unknown species; the trail of two missing Fed scouts; the promise of a miracle; an intimate friendship in the utter void… and a nightmare that destroyed the Lost Colony, and threatens all intelligent life.
Raven is a deep-space Salvage office who suddenly reunites with the lost love of his youth—twice. She is Illyera, a rejuvenated media queen aboard a private yacht full of stranded rich tourists. She is Illaine, clone of Illyera’s clone, aboard a Lost Colony survivor ship enslaved by sadistic Black Worlder pirates who capture and ravage whole cultures, and who are attacking Illyera’s yacht. Unaided, Raven must stop the slavers, save both ships, and both women, and only then face an impossible conflict between the dictates of his life and the anguish of his heart.
Rift-Runner One is an exploratory mission homing on signals from the transRift planet Zieltan. The crew have no way of known that Black Worlder atrocities have spread to the Ziello Harmony: the Ziellor, genetically unable to prodce outlaws, can only conclude that all humans are evil—unaware that a civilized Federation exists, they have begun destroying human colonies. Two galactic powers who share no language, no heritage, not even biology, are about to stumble into an era of war, unless the crews of Rift-Runner and a Ziello warship, both beset by violent space-spawned hallucinations, can learn–and communicate–the truth.
One of the most gripping and dramatic writers in SF, James Tiptree’s popular novels include Up the Walls of the World and Brightness Falls From the Air.”
Initial Thoughts: I want to read more James Tipree, Jr. That is all! I’ve reviewed the following:
- “A Momentary Taste of Being” (1975)
- “A Source of Innocent Merriment” (1980)
- “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” (1977)
- “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” (1973)
3. International Science Fiction, Vol. 1, No. 1 (November 1967), ed. Frederik Pohl
Contents: Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s “Wanders and Travelers” (1963), Helmuth W. Mommers and Ernst Vlcek’s “The Epsilon Problem” (1964), Michel Ehrwein’s “Uranis” (1961), Damien Broderick’s “The Disposal Man” (1965), Luigi Cozzi’s “Rainy Day Revolution No. 39” (1965), Robert Presslie’s “Ecdysiac” (1963), “Ilya Varshavsky’s “Perpetual Motion” (1965), J. L. Mahe;s “They Still Jump” (1967), F. C. Gozzini’s “Witchcraft for Beginners” (1967), Ilya Varshavsky’s “Homunculus” (1965), Helmuth W. Mommers and Ernst Vlcek’s “Monster” (1964), Philip E. High’s “The Big Tin God” (1963)
Initial Thoughts: This Frederik Pohl-edited SF magazine lasted a grand total of two issues. I’m now the proud owner of both! Those who review and read SF in translation have a major problem—most of the authors are complete unknowns to the general readership and reviews generate a fraction of the readership that even a middling English-language author would. Does anyone know if Pohl wrote or spoke about his experiences creating this magazine?
4. The Planet Explorer (variant title: Colonial Survey), Murray Leinster (1956)
From the back cover: “You are There—Centuries, eons from now the peculiar, fantastic, astounding MIND OF MAN will conquer strange, new worlds, presently beyond the reaches of imagination—and probe the meaning of the central core of Infinity with instruments of incredible scientific precision! You Are There! in the far-off era when man will defy gravity, space, time—to explore the UNIVERSE and make immensity HIS OWN!”
Initial Thoughts: If I were to pick an author I enjoy that writes completely different SF than what I normally obsess over (i.e. the meta, moody, broody, and sinister), Murray Leinster would be at the top of the list. Something about his Med Service stories latch onto me (ideas of service? the need to regulate big business?). Check out my reviews of S.O.S From Three Worlds (1967) and Doctor to the Stars (1964).
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