Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. The Escape Orbit (variant title: Open Prison), James White (1964)
From the back cover: “STRANDED ON A PLANET OF MONSTERS. When the survivors of the his starship were taken prisoner by the insec-creatures against whom Earth had fought a bitter war for nearly a century, Sector Marshal Warren expected to be impounded in a prison camp like those the Earthmen maintained. But the “Bugs” had a simpler method of dealing with prisoners–they dumped them on an uninhabited planet, without weapons or tools, and left them to fend for themselves against the planet’s environment and strange monsters. A “Bug” spaceship orbited above, guarding them.
Escape was impossible, the “bugs” told them–but it was absolutely necessary, for reasons Warren couldn’t tell even his own men.”
Initial Thoughts: James White’s novels have long been favorites of mine. The Escape Orbit (variant title: Open Prison) was nominated for the 1966 Nebula Award for Best Novel. I’ve reviewed the following:
2. Fire from the Wine Dark Sea, Somtow Sucharitkul (1983)
From the back cover: “Somtow Sucharitkul is a triple science fiction award winner. His awards include the John W. Campbell for Nest New Science Fiction Writer. Sucharitkul not only lives up to, but exceeds the standards set by his honor.
Fire From the Wine Dark Sea is the exclusive first collection of his work. Always exciting, original, and provocative. Somtow Sucharitkul is the brightest new star in the SF galaxy!”
Contents (excluding nonfiction and poetry): “Fire from the Wine-Dark See” (1979), “The Thirteenth Utopia” (1979), “A Child of Earth and Starry Heaven” (1981), “Sunsteps” (1977), “Aquila the God” (1982), “Comets and Kings” (1979), “Angels’ Wings” (1980), “Dear Caressa of This Towering Torment” (1980), “Absent Three from Felicity Awhile…” (1981), “Darktouch” (1980), “Coaster Time” (1982), “The Last Line of the Haiku” (1981)
Initial Thoughts: The only Somtow Sucharitkul work I’ve read was the average Starship & Haiku (1981). I’m eager to explore his short fiction!
A bit about him from my Starship & Haiku review: “Somtow Sucharitkul (S. P. Somtow after 1985) is a fascinating individual. He’s a Thai-American SFF author/composer who moved back and forth between Thailand and the UK (English was his first language and he received his education at the University of Cambridge). Perhaps best known for his Mallworld sequence of stories (1979-2000), Somtow’s output is immense and ranges from horror to mainstream fiction (in addition to numerous symphonies and operas).”
3. Eyes of Amber and Other Stories, Joan D. Vinge (1979)
From the back cover: “THE UNIVERSE OF THE IMAGINATION AWAITS YOU IN–
“Eyes of Amber”–The Hugo Sward-winning story of one Earthman trying to play a symphony of civilization to a distnat, barbaric world.
“To Bell the Cat”–What happens to human facing true alien encounter when they have already become alienated from each other?
“View from a Height”–What do you do with the rest of your life when you’re alone on a one-way journey to meet the universe?
“Media Man”–In the precarious society of Heaven Belt, he sold dreams to dying people. And he knew his career would be over the day he told them the truth…
“The Crystal Ship”–The Star Well: was it two races’ chance for the future or a bottomless pit in which all hope must die?
“Tin Solder”–Can love really survive across the spaceways and down through time?”
Contents: Eyes of Amber” (1977), “To Bell the Cat” (1977), “View from a Height” (1978), “Media Man” (1976), “The Crystal Ship” (1976), Tin Solder” (1974)
Initial Thoughts: I procured this collection as I thought “Media Man” (1976) might fit my current media landscapes of the future series (my most recent post). I’ll read it soon. I’ve enjoyed Joan D. Vinge’s short fiction in the past. Check out my review her first collection Fireship (variant title: Fireship / Mother and Child) (1978). I thought “The Crystal Ship” (1976) was solid as was the fix-up novel The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978). Before I started writing about SF, I read and enjoyed Vinge’s Hug-winning Snow Queen (1980).
4. A Usual Lunacy, D. G. Compton (1978)
From the back cover: “It makes people positively ache with happiness. It puts the roses back in their cheeks and the itch back in their blood. ‘It’ is the Scholes Virus–proper medical term for what used to be called, out of mawkish ignorance but with uncanny prescience, the ‘love bug.’
Professor Trevor Scholes has discovered, isolated and classified every variety of the infection that now bears his name. One variety, B79/K, is so rare that the odds are fifty thousand to one against two compatible carriers meeting.
So of course Giles Cranston and Tamsin McGillvray meet…”
Initial Thoughts: In the earlier years of my site I read D. G. Compton’s science fiction religiously. If he’s new to you, check out The Unsleeping Eye (variant title: The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe) (1973), Synthajoy (1968), and Farewell, Earth’s Bliss (1966). He won the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award last year. Check out this video announcing the award (with Friend of the Site Rich Horton).
Others I’ve read include:
- Chronocules (variant title: Hot Wireless Sets, Aspirin Tablets, the Sandpaper Sides of Used Matchboxes, and Something that Might have been Castor Oil) (1970)
- The Missonaries (1972)
- The Quality of Mercy (1965)
- The Silent Multitude (1966)
- The Steel Crocodile (1970)
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