Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. The Synthetic Man (variant title: The Dream Jewels), Theodore Sturgeon (1950)
From the back cover: “SUPERKIDDO! He ran away from home into the carny world. Noname “Kiddo,” disguised as a little girl in a freak show. What he didn’t know didn’t exist. What he couldn’t do was unimaginable. What he hadn’t asked was obvious: ‘Who am I and where did I come from?'”
Initial Thoughts: I know little about the quality of Sturgeon’s first SF novel. SF Encyclopedia describes it as follows: “[it] is an enjoyable and sophisticated Young Adult tale whose young protagonist, forced by his wicked step-parents to run away to a circus, gradually becomes aware of his Psi Powers, and defeats the evil adult forces about him.”
2. Bander Snatch, Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. (1979)
From the back cover: “IT IS THE TWENTY-SECOND CENTURY. A vast, complex bureaucracy rules. The rich live in comfortable enclaves or deep-space colonies. They barricade themselves in the burnt-out shells of the dead Earthly cities. Lord of one such Jungle is Bander Snatch. Street-wise leader of a gang that speaks its own defiant, futuristic slang, he is suddenly chosen for the greatest role of his life. Thrust into the harrowing depths of an alien planet and a terrifying confrontation on his own home turf, he must meet the ultimate test of manhood–or be mercilessly consumed.”
Initial Thoughts: I still haven’t read any of O’Donnell, Jr.’s SF! His generation ship Mayflies (1979–his second novel after Bander Snatch (1979)–is first on my list.
3. Sovereign, R. M. Meluch (1979)
From the back cover: “WAR BETWEEN THE WORLDS. In a universe where Earthmen and Uelsons battle over the domination of galaxies, what chance does one small, seemingly backward planet have for survival? But Arana is much more than just a desirable refueling point midway between Earth and the Uelsons. Arana is the homeworld of a new race of the family of man–the Royalists. It is also the home of one very special Bay Royalist–Teal Ray Stewert, a key figure to the future of his entire planet. And what neither Earthman nor Uelsons know is that Teal and his planet may be the catalyst for the ultimate struggle between mankind and its most hated enemy…!”
Initial Thoughts: R. M. Meluch’s first novel, published when she was 23, hasn’t been described to me as her best work… but it’s the only one published in the 1970s and apparently has a sympathetic bisexual protagonist (which wasn’t that common in SF at the time). We shall see!
4. Wild Harbour, Ian Macpherson (1936)
From the back cover: “This is the world of universal future war. Faced with the threat of bombs, bacteriological warfare and poison gas, a married couple whose pacifism compels them to opt out of ‘civilization’, take to the hills to live as fugitives in the wild.
Plainly and simply told, Wild Harbour charts the practical difficulties, the successes and failures of living rough in the beautiful hills of remote Speyside. In this respect the book belongs to a tradition of Scottish fiction reflected in novels such as Stevenson’s Kidnapped and Buchan’s John Macnab. But it takes a darker and more contemporary turn, for although Hugh and his wife Terry learn to fend for themselves, they cannot escape from what the world has become. Their brief summary idyll is brought to an end as the forces of random and meaningless violence close over them.
Written in 1936, Wild Harbour has lost none of its relevance in a post-nuclear age, nor its power to move and to shock.”
Initial Thoughts: A complete unknown novel (and author) someone mentioned in response to my weekly “what vintage SF are you reading?” posts on twitter.
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