Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1952)
From the back cover: “Want the computer to solve all your problems? Want machines to give you everything you need? Want to be taken care of from cradle to grave by an industrial society that knows what is best for you? Want to find out what hell is really like?
Then you are invited to visit Kurt Vonnegut’s funny and savage vision of a future that is somewhere between Animal Farm and Alice In Wonderland. You’ll laugh until you cry.”
Initial Thoughts: Of Vonnegut’s SF, I’ve only read the magnificent Cat’s Cradle (1963) and Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) more than a decade ago. The latter has faded a bit from memory. I am intrigued by his first novel. Here’s the synopsis from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database: “In the near future, when cybernetic automation has effectively separated people into two castes, the “engineers and managers”, and the remainder of the population who can find work only in “recycling and reclamation” or the largely useless military, an underground movement arises with the intention of rolling back those changes and giving the masses the dignity of owning their own, productive, work once more.”
2. A Spaceship Built of Stone and Other Stories, Lisa Tuttle (1987)
From the back cover: “The ten stories collected here illustrate the range of Lisa Tuttle’s talent. In ‘No Regrets’ a poet reflects on the difficult choices she has made as her past returns to haunt her; in ‘The Other Kind’ a suspicion becomes a cruel reality; in ‘A Spaceship Built of Stone’ collective dreaming creates a new, and alien, version of the past.
These stories break through the calm of everyday life to reveal the shifting uncertainties that lie below. They show Lisa Tuttle to be one of the most exciting new voices in science fiction today.”
Contents: “No Regrets” (1985), “Wives” (1979), “The Family Monkey” (1977), “Mrs T” (1976), “The Bone Flute” (1981), “A Spaceship Built of Stone” (1980), “The Cure” (1984), “The Hollow Man” (1979), “The Other Kind” (1984), “Birds of the Moon” (1979)
Initial Thoughts: I’ve wanted this collection for a long while but it was always priced a bit out of my range. And then a cheap copy appeared online and I pounced!
3. Sneak Preview, Robert Bloch (1971)
From the back cover: “Long shot: The domed city of Hollywood, self-contained, functioning perfectly–as it has since it was sealed off against fallout generations ago. The camera moves in, follows a man in priestly white through the doors of Twenty-First-Century-Vox and into a conference room. He is joined by others–some clad in Technobility blue, some in the khaki of the Brass.
The man in the archaic business suit at the head of the table is ARCHER, His MGMinence. The camera tightens on his face. As he opens his mouth, his face dissolves to that of a young men, GRAHAM, who says:
‘Space Operas are important to social conditioning. The hero must be dark; the heroine, blonde; the monster, green; and the plot…'”
Initial Thoughts: Far from Bloch’s best known work…. definitely no Psycho (1959). I’m a sucker for SF satires of media and fiction/film about writing/creating movies. I suspect this will be middling at best but I’m willing to give it a shot. This is an expanded (?) version of the 1959 short story by the same name that appeared in Amazing Science Fiction Stories (November 1959), ed. Cele Goldsmith.
4. First Person, Peculiar, T. L. Sherred (1972)
From the back cover: “HOW FIRST CAN A PECULIAR PERSON GET? Which in itself is a pretty odd question. But it is in fact typical of science fiction, a field of writing which examines the usual the better to extrapolate the unusual, which revels in oddity, in looking at things upside down, or backwards, or even forwards, which delights in the strange juxtaposition, the reversed field, the apparent contradiction–and which is, indeed, the genre where T. L. Sherred is certainly one of the first and most significant of writers (although not necessarily peculiar).
His work is rare and precious and it is therefore all the more pleasurable to be the able to present this collection: FIRST PERSON, PECULIAR.”
Contents: “E for Effort” (1947), “Cure, Guaranteed” (1954), “Eye for Iniquity” (1953), “Cue for Quiet” (1953)
Initial Thoughts: Sherred only published five short stories (between 1947-1972) and two novels. I’ve previously procured Alien Island (1970) but have yet to read his work. I purchased his only collection due to “E for Effort” (1947) — “It describes, semi-humorously but with a fundamental pessimism, the consequences of a Time Viewer device that permits its users to view past and present events. Its inventor and his associate are successful at first, but are soon defeated by government forces; ultimately the existence of the “camera” in the hands of the US military causes a final Future War, as the victim-narrator has predicted” (SF Encyclopedia). Apparently the story had a quite different take on technology than Astounding Science Fiction‘s normal fare and was accepted in John W. Campbell, Jr.’s absence (SF Encyclopedia).
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