Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. The Dark Side of the Sun, Terry Pratchett (1976)
From the back cover: “Dom Sabalos, the young heir to the Sabalos dynasty, has a strangely uncertain future. Probability math, the infallible science of foretelling the future, has predicted his assassination in twenty-four hours. But, by an extraordinary paradox, it has also predicted that he will go on to discover the fabulous, almost mythical world of the Jokers–the gods of the universe.
When, by a million to one chance, Dom survives the assassination attempt, he takes his destiny in his hands and sets out in search of the Jokers.
But there are strange powers at play. Who, for example, is responsible for the robot assassin with built-in luck that has been put on his tail? Who, or what, is protecting him every time it strikes? And where is this mysterious world which, according to legend, lies on the dark side of the sun?”
Initial Thoughts: Terry Pratchett is an author I’ve avoided–for whatever reason. I suspect I’ll only explore his earliest published science fiction. The Dark Side of the Sun is his first SF novel. Ian Sales recently reviewed it here.
2. Capricorn Games, Robert Silverberg (1976)
From the inside flap: “A master attempt to make unconventional use of the traditional subject matter of science fiction, this collection of eight stories is playful in structure and execution—and all with the brilliant Silverberg touch.
The traditional subject matter of science fiction is robots, computers, spaceships, time machines, and they are used in unconventional ways—to revivify thematic clichés by inversions, transpositions and other narrative manipulations. The author regards these stories as being serious in a playful way, and playful in a serious way, hence the title of the collection. (Incidentally, Capricorn is his sign.)
Everywhere science fiction is sold, or understood, or read, Silverberg is one of the big names, along with Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Arthur Clarke.”
Contents: “Capricorn Games” (1974), “The Science Fiction Hall of Fame” (1973), “Ms. Found in an Abandoned Time Machine” (1973), “Breckenridge and the Continuum” (1973), “Ship-Sister, Star-Sister” (1973), “A Sea of Faces” (1974), “The Dybbuk of Mazel Tov IV” (1974), “Getting Across” (1973)
Initial Thoughts: Silverberg has long been a staple of my SF reading. My review index contains all the Silverberg I’ve read other than the fantastic A Time of Changes (1971) and Tower of Glass (1970). As of late, I’ve become increasingly interested in the SF he produced right before his self-imposed hiatus (~1976-1980) as he grew increasingly disenchanted with the genre. I’ve also snagged a copy of Shadrach in the Furnace (1976) that I’ll feature in a later post.
3. The Sword Smith, Eleanor Arnason (1978)
From the back cover: “This is the legend…
Of Limber, a royal sword smith
Of a baby dragon named Nargri
Of a mountainous land, a world of mystery
Of peasants and kings, sorcerers and trolls.
It is a take of fantasy, but it has the earthy
reality of a true story of survival.
It is a perilous adventure,
but it has with and charm and love.
It is a work of uncommon imagination and rare talent.
Initial Thoughts: Other than a handful of 70s short stories, Eleanor Arnason’s science fictional output started in earnest in the late 80s with To the Resurrection Station (1986). For whatever reason, perhaps the tides of nostalgia took hold (I was obsessed with all forms of fantasy as a child), I decided to purchase her first-published novel. SF describes it as “a Fantasy notable for the spare elegance of its narrative, which focuses with modest intensity upon its young protagonist’s slow grasp of life’s meaning.”
4. The Shadow of Alpha, Charles L. Grant (1976)
From the back cover: “Introducing Parric: an ordinary civil servant being ground up in a mill of paperwork, who is given a chance to work on an experimental government project—to live secretly in a town entirely populated by androids–whose very existence, if it were known, would disrupt society–something the repressive society does not want.
But Parric is happy in his secret village, protected by a force-field from outsiders, in contact with only a very few others in similar positions in other secret villages. Protect, until way breaks out and civilization outside falls into the horrifying Plaguewind. Then the experimental androids, affected by the plague in strange ways, become killers! Parric must escape his village, then trek across the desolate countryside, in danger from the surviving mobs of plague victims, to the control center of the secret android project, in an attempt to join the other men in starting a new civilization.”
Initial Thoughts: Not an author or work I know much about! Online reviews tend to be outright dismissive. I do not have high hopes.
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