Updates: Recent Purchases No. CCLXXXIV (Ray Bradbury, H. R. F. Keating, Judith Moffett, New Dimensions anthology)

Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury (1950)

From the back cover: “A MAGNIFICANCTLY ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES WHICH MASTERFULLY ENHANCES THE CLASSIC WONDER AND TERROR BY THE WORLD-RENOWNED AUTHOR OF THE ILLUSTRATED MAN RAY BRADBURY.

Sometimes eerie, sometimes fanciful, here is a glimpse of things to come, and a glance back at things that were. Here is Ray Bradbury’s masterwork of fantasy about the colonization of Mars, a saga of people and passions set against the incredible, shimmering beauty of a new world. Illustrated by Ian Miller.

Initial Thoughts: While I can’t remember the exact year (1999-2001?), I suspect The Martian Chronicles was one of the earliest SF works I read from my dad’s childhood shelf at my grandfather’s–soon after Isaac Asimov’s The Currents of Space. I remember enjoying it but returned immediately to all the multi-volume epic high fantasy series (Tad Williams, Robert Jordan, etc.) I was addicted to at the time. I’m not sure where my original edition went. I suspect I gave it to my sister. While looking through Ian Miller’s catalogue–one of my favorite UK cover artists–I discovered that he created an illustrated edition. Straight on the “to acquire” list it went. And paging through the edition I’m not disappointed!

Here’s a sample (note: I can’t scan the complete image without breaking the spine).

2. Pennterra, Judith Moffett (1987)

From the inside flap: “Pennterra is a beautiful and fertile planet and humanity’s last hope for survival. But Pennterra is already inhabited.

After warning other colony ships to stay away, the small advance colony of Quakers has adapted to life on Pennterra. Heeding the empathic warnings of the native hrossa, they have settled in a single valley, sharply limited their population, and continued to use no heavy machinery in their building and farming.

But surviving under these conditions has left the Quakers little time to learn more about their native neighbors.

Now, a radio transmission from space makes it the Quakers’ first priority: a colony ship of refugees from an impoverished and starving Earth, launched before the Quakers’ message of warning arrived, is headed for Pennterra.

The new colonists, called “Sixers,” arrive eager to conquer their new home and refuse to believe the strange warning that the planet will destroy them if they do not accept the strictures for living on Pennterra. The new colonists demand proof that the threat is real–proof the Quakers don’t have.

In the quest to learn more about the culture of the hrossa and ecology of Pennterra, the Quaker boy Danny becomes torn between the mystical bond he feels for the hrossa and his attraction to the high-tech terran way of life the Sixers offer in their separate settlement. Unknowing, Danny becomes the fulcrum on which the future of all the colonists will be weighed.

Catastrophe or peace—Tanka Waka, the omnipotent master spirit of Pennterra, will decide.

Erotically charged, spiritually vibrant, and lyrically moving, Pennterra will remind readers of the work of Ursula K. Le Guin and the late James Tiptree, Jr.”

Judith Moffett is an accomplished mainstream poet, literary critic, and translator. She is also a teacher at both the University of Pennsylvania and the prestigious Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. Her novelette, “Surviving,” was nominated for a 1986 Nebula Award. She lives in Wallingford, Pennsylvania.”

Initial Thoughts: Judith Moffett is an unknown author to me. The initial premise seems similar to Joan Slonczewski’s Still Forms on Foxfield (1980).

3. A Long Walk to Wimbledon, H. R. F. Keating (1978)

From the back cover of the 2002 US edition: “For London the worst has happened. It is some time in the not-too-distant future. There have been riots, uncontrolled fires, outbreaks of looting. The great city lies three parts deserted, its highways and landmarks tumbled like ruined temples. To Mark, comparatively safe in less troubled Highgate, there comes a message that his estranged wife is dying in Wimbledon, on the far side

Initial Thoughts: I’m not sure what it is about British post-apocalyptical fictions but I want more and more and more and more. Check out my reviews of J. G. Ballard’s The Wind From Nowhere (1962), Martin Bax’s The Hospital Ship The Hospital Ship (1976), John Christopher’s A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge) (1965), The Death of Grass (variant title: No Blade of Grass) (1956), The Long Winter (1962) and Phillip McCutchan’s A Time For Survival (1966) for a sample of what I’ve reviewed.

4. New Dimensions 11, ed. Robert Silverberg and Marta Randall (1980)

From the back cover: “The exciting series that showcased the best of the 70’s now launches the 80’s with superb science fiction–from the terrifying to the sublime! Featuring:

UNICORN TAPESTRY, Suzy McKee Charnas

A Vampire who teaches anthropology seeks psychiatric help and works an unorthodox spell on his therapist.

A SUNDAY VISIT WITH GREAT-GRANDFATHER, Craig Strete

Aliens in a streamlined space vessel meet their match in a crusty old Indian with a taste for expensive chewing tobacco.

THE HAUNTING, Mary Pangborn

A Man slips in and out of time and is scared by his own ghost.”

Contents: Suzy McKee Charnas’ “Unicorn Tapestry” (1980), Mary C. Pangborn’s “The Haunting” (1980), Scott Russell Sanders’ “The Eros Passage” (1980), Craig Strete’s “A Sunday Visit with Great-Grandfather” (1974), Pat Cadigan’s “Criers and Killers” (1980), Gary Woolard’s “The Four” (1980), Alan Ryan’s “Comstock” (1980), Steven Bryan Bieler’s “Kid Photon” (1980), Michael Swanwick’s “The Feast of Saint Janis” (1980).

Initial Thoughts: I have an unabashed love of anthologies. Who doesn’t love exploring short works by authors you don’t know or haven’t read yet! I’ve head of Pat Cadigan, Scott Russell Sanders, and Michael Swanwick. However, Gary Woolard, Alan Ryan, and Steven Bieler are complete unknowns.

I acquired this anthology due to the Charnas and Cadigan short works. Charnas wrote very little and I eventually want to read it all (at least her SF). As for Cadigan, I think I read Synners (1991) but it was long before my website.


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27 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Purchases No. CCLXXXIV (Ray Bradbury, H. R. F. Keating, Judith Moffett, New Dimensions anthology)

  1. The Martian Chronicles really is quite wonderful — I read it at 12 or so, of course, but a rereading much later (though still about 20 years ago!) convinced me that it is worth it reputation. “The Martian” and “The Million Year Picnic” are particularly good. (I believe Kim Stanly Robinson may have been consciously echoing the last line of the “The Million Year Picnic” with the last line of his novella (not the novel!) “Green Mars”.

    I’ve read Judith Moffett’s long linked set of stories and novels — THE RAGGED WORLD et. al., with considerable enjoyment, but I never had read PENNTERRA.

    I did not know H. R. F. Keating wrote some SF! I know him as a crime writer — I own one entry in his most famous series, the Inspector Ghote books, set in Bombay, but I haven’t read it yet.

    I bought and read NEW DIMENSIONS 11 when it came out … I don’t honest remember much beyond the stories by Cadigan, Charnas, and Swanwick. You really should read Michael Swanwick — he’s exceptional, if mostly a bit too late for you! I like Pat Cadigan’s work a lot as well. (I’ve reprinted stories by each of them in my books.)

  2. The illustration for “The Martian Chronicles”, doesn’t quite evoke the imagery Ray Bradbury’s writing made me imagine his Mars to be, but it is beautifully illustrated and atmospheric.

    “The Martian Chronicles” is one of my favourite SF novels, but I haven’t read much by Bradbury, meaning his short stories. Some like this novel, have become what could be called part of his canon, but I think others of his shorter fiction remain undiscovered.

      • I agree, but I viewed and read it as a novel. I seemed to prefer his novels to his short fiction;I thought “Dandelion Wine” was excellent, but I wasn’t so keen on “Fahrenheit 451”. Yes, I should.

        • I have to say I consider THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES short fiction, partly because I think the stories are really not all that internally consistent, and also because the brief linking interludes seem very weak to me.

          As for DANDELION WINE — I’m glad other people like it. I grew up in Northern Illinois, and in 8th Grade our English teacher assigned us DANDELION WINE, telling us effusively that as DANDELION WINE was about a boy growing up in Northern Illinois and we (the male half of the class, anyway) were boys growing up in Northern Illinois, we ought to love it. Naturally (and leaving aside the radical differences between Waukegan in the ’20s and Naperville in the ’70s), that guaranteed I would not like the book! I know I didn’t give it a fair chance, but so be it!

  3. I re-read ‘The Martian Chronicles’ during the lockdown. Bradbury is one of those rare authors who straddles the divide between pulp and literary fiction.

    That Miller illustration reminds me a bit of the French graphic artist Philippe Druillet.

    • And as someone who struggles to read pulp, I’ve always found his brand refreshing. Although it’s been a while! I find Druillet’s art a bit more rounded than Miller’s lines. I enjoy both for sure.

  4. Yeah – re Miller! That would one big difference. Miller’s cross-hatching is all straight lines. Druillet’s isn’t. I think what they have in common (in this instance, anyhow) is that their figures tend to be dwarfed by their surroundings.

  5. Like other people I read The Martian Chronicles around the age of 12. Though it was the UK edition under the title of « The Silver Locusts »—a title I’ve always found more effective in conjuring the rapacious image of colonisation.
    What sent me down this rabbit hole c. 1980 was the TV « mini-series » adaptation starring Rock Hudson. I barely remember either the book or the TV show these days, other than finding the dream like quality of the stories much more unsettling than the show. I’ve heard the TV adaptation wasn’t very good. I’m not sure if I want to revisit it, but the book still calls to me.

    • I haven’t seen the TV adaption.

      I am getting tempted to reread the book though!

      Although, at the moment exploring esoteric French SF in translation — The Neon Halo by Jean-Louis Curtis–is satiating my SFictional desires….

  6. I like anthologies as well as full-blown novels. Stephen King describes a short story as being like a kiss while a novel is like a full-blown affair you’re having. I can see his point. If I had to choose one or he other I’d choose a really long novel that kicked fvckin ass.

    — Catxman

    • Yeah, I’m talking about something a bit different. I’m talking about an anthology of short fiction from many different authors — both well known and lesser known. Thus, I am referencing the the act of exploration which is possible in an anthology vs. a comment on form. Of course I enjoy both novels and short fiction as my site reviews both extensively!

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