Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Ahead of Time, Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore (1953)
From the inside page: “A brain in a box fights a criminal plot
A visitor from the future turns out to be peculiar even for his society
An eternal hillbilly family survives the centuries and gets into political trouble
A sick electronic calculator catches a psychosis from its operator
…these are some of the highly original and vividly written stories you will find in this selection of a master’s work.
Science fiction and fantasy grow constantly in popularity. Writing of this quality and imagination is the reason. Henry Kuttner demonstrates again in his book why more and more readers are becoming devotees of that intriguing fiction which is not content to stay in the world as we see it and know it, which takes us to the farthest reaches of space and time, to the farthest reaches of the human mind.”
Contents (bold titles, according to The Internet Speculative Fiction Database, were co-written with C. L. Moore): “Or Else” (1953), “Home Is the Hunter” (1953), “By These Presents” (1953), “De Profundis” (1953), “Camouflage” (1945). “Year Day” (1953), “Ghost” (1943), “Shock” (1943), “Pile of Trouble” (1948), “Deadlock” (1942)
Initial Thoughts: I purchased this collection as Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore’s short fiction is a hole in my knowledge. I plan on featuring the spectacular “Year Day” (1953) soon in my media landscapes of the future series.
2. Twilight of the Basilisks, Jacob Transue (aka Joan Matheson) (1973)
No plot summary provided on the back cover or inside flap. Bad marketing for an unknown author! Goodreads reviews don’t provide any clear indication of the plot.
Initial Thoughts: The definition of an unknown novel. I’ve reviewed Joan Matheson’s only other SF work — the short story “This Corruptible” (1968), a creepy body horror immortality tale. If you find anything else about her novel, let me know.
3. Star Science Fiction Stories, ed. Frederik Pohl (1953)
From the back cover: “HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of readers are discovering that science fiction provides some of the best writing and most fascinating stories that are being published today. They are learning that superior science fiction writers–like those in this volume–take you by means of real characters and gripping narrative into strange and stimulating new worlds: worlds that come closer to actuality every day.
Those who have already discovered this will also welcome this book: not only because the authors represented are recognized masters in the field but because this collection is no ‘re-hash’–these are all brand-new stories, appearing here for the fist time.”
Contents: William Morrison’s “Country Doctor” (1953), C. M. Kornbluth’s “Dominoes” (1953), Lester del Rey’s “Idealist” (1953), Fritz Leiber’s “The Night He Cried” (1953), “Clifford D. Simak’s “Contraption” (1953), John Wyndham’s “The Chonoclasm” (1953), William Tenn’s “The Deserter” (1953), H. L. Gold’s “The Man with English” (1953), Judith Merril’s “So Proudly We Hail” (1953), Ray Bradbury’s “A Scent of Sarsaparilla” (1953), Isaac Asimov’s “Nobody Here But–” (1953), Robert Sheckley’s “The Last Weapon” (1953), Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore’s “A Wild Surmise” (1953), Murray Leinster’s “The Journey” (1953), Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Nine Billion Names of God” (1953)
Initial Thoughts: I loved William Tenn, Fritz Leiber, Murray Leinster (perhaps weird), etc. so I suspect this anthology will be solid. I’ve already reviewed the Merril and Sheckley and enjoyed both. Clarke’s “The Nine Billion Names of God” might have been the first science fiction short story I ever read. At the time, it bounced off me — I wonder what I’ll think now.
4. Manseed, Jack Williamson (1982)
From the inside flap: “In the beginning was Egan Drake, wanderer and unhappy visionary. The neurotic child of a wealthy family, he died early, leaving behind a powerful dream–Egan proposed to spread mankind among the stars.
Then there was Megan Drake. Talented and beautiful, she took her brother’s vision–and her uncle’s money–and made of it something real. At the Raven Foundation’s mysterious New Mexico headquarters, she gathered experts in a myriad fields. But five were of paramount importance–the department heads in astronautics, biology, computer science, defense, and fusion propulsion–for they could contribute their genes to the electromechanical wombs that each ship was to carry into space.
The project was as simple in its design as it was grandiose in its aim: perhaps a thousand tiny ships would crawl to the stars; each that landed successfully on an Earth-type planet would produce several dozen well-educated colonists; each colonists would be a product of an optimized mix of the genes derived from Megan and the department heads and edited to suit local conditions of gravity, temperature, air pressure, etc. Every ship could manufacture cyborgs for repairs and self-protection.
But much of the technology was new and untried; no one could reliably foretell what might really occur at a millennia-long journey’s end if, say, a cyborg fell in love or aliens were met or…”
Initial Thoughts: My initial thoughts are entirely formed by the hilarious cover and title pairing. The worst in SF? Hyperbolic perhaps… but it’s so bad!
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