Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Planet of the Damned, Harry Harrison (serialized 1961)
From the back cover: “Brion Brandd of the Galactic CRF had a problem. It was the planet Dis. Brion’s assignment was to salvage it.
Dis was a harsh, inhospitable, dangerous place and the Disans made it worse. They might have been a human once–but they were something else now.
The Disans had only one desire–kill! Kill everything, themselves, their planet, the universe if they could–
BRION HAD MINUTES TO STOP THEM–IF HE COULD FIND OUT HOW!”
Initial Thoughts: Smells like a variation of Harrison’s Deathworld (1960), which I never managed to review, from a year earlier. Which isn’t a good sign… Planet of the Damned was a finalist for the 1962 Hugo for Best Novel. It lost to Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land (1961).
2. Probe, Carole Nelson Douglas (1985)
From the back cover: “PROBE was a crack government-funded psychiatric unit and Kevin Blake was its star psychoanalyst… innovative, daring, infallible. But he’d finally met his match–an amnesiac known simply as ‘Jane Doe.’ She’d been found on a rocky Minnesota bluff one lonely night… naked, emaciated, her deathly white face blotched with a leprosy of filth.. her mouth frozen into a death camp grin.
She had lived. The two policemen who found her had not.
Now she is Kevin’s most challenging patient. Young and beautiful, physically Jane Doe is the perfect specimen.. too perfect. No vaccination scars, no dental work, no imperfections.
Kevin finds himself increasingly drawn to the uniquely innocent personality time and therapy uncover. There is something–something even more disturbing than the alien word ‘Zyunsinth’ hypnosis wrested from her subconscious–something darkly ominous in Jane Doe’s unremembered past that obsesses Kevin Blake. He will risk his career, his life, even his sanity, to discover it.
The truth will forever change them both.. and out world.”
Initial Thoughts: Carole Nelson Douglas (1944-2021) is unknown to me. SF Encyclopedia describes Probe (1985) as follows: “Though she has been an infrequent author of sf, the Probe sequence–Probe (1985) and Counterprobe (1988)–is of some interest for its slow unfolding of the mystery behind the Amnesia afflicting a young woman who has Psi Powers and who turns out to be what the title says she is: a probe inserted by Aliens into the human world to gather data. But love intervenes. Nelson’s sf is strongly plotted, and it was long hoped that she might one day return to the genre.”
3. Star Science Fiction Stories No. 4, ed. Frederik Pohl (1958)
From the back cover: “This is the fourth volume in the brilliant STAR series of original science-fiction stories edited by Frederik Pohl. Of the three previous volumes, reviewers have said: ‘The best buy in science fiction for this or any year…’ ‘…really exceptional stories, brilliantly written…’ ‘I have never read more entertaining, more well written, more excellent science fiction in one volume.’
Here are two short novels, and seven short stories in the best tradition of STAR. We wish to mention with particular pride two stories from the contents of this volume:
‘The Advent on Channel Twelve,’ by C. M. Kornbluth. Brief, incisive, and at his satiric best.
‘A Cross of Centuries,’ by Henry Kuttner. The last great story by one of science fiction’s beloved masters.”
Contents: Henry Kuttner’s “A Cross of Centuries” (1958), C. M. Kornbluth’s “The Advent of Channel Twelve” (1958), Fritz Leiber’s “Space-Time for Springers” (1958), Richard Wilson’s “Man Working” (1958), Lester del Rey’s “Helping Hand” (1958), Miriam Allen deFord’s “The Long Echo” (1958), Edmund Cooper’s “Tomorrow’s Gift” (1958), Damon Knight’s “Idiot Stick” (1958), James E. Gunn’s “The Immortals” (1958)
Initial Thoughts: Purchased due to C. M. Kornbluth’s “The Advent of Channel Twelve” (1958) for my media landscapes of the future series!
4. Wyrldmaker, Terry Bisson (1981)
From the back cover: “WYRLDMAKER WAS KEMEN’S TREASURE–AND HIS CURSE.
Heir to one of the eleven kingdoms of Treyn, Kemen was haunted by the image of Noese, a magnificent woman who rose from the sea and taught him to love–then disappeared again.
But with Kemen she left a son, Hayl, and a magnificent sword called Wyrldmaker–a powerful weapon that blazed with the cold-hot fire of a magic blue stone.
Soon it would thrust him into battle, forcing him to don his deathrobe and walk the past of no return. But far from dying, Kemen found that he had been sent on a special quest for life…
Tormented and betrayed by the woman who saved him, aided by a wyzard who sprang from his past, still Kemen pursued his quest–a quest that would lead him toward the dawn of a fabulous new universe…”
Initial Thoughts: I’ve not read any of Bisson’s work. I’ve heard good things about some of his short fictions. This is his first novel.
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