Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. 5 Tales From Tomorrow, ed. T. E. Dikty (1957)
From the back cover: “THE TIME: TOMORROW… when
…space travel is as simple as suburban commuting
…robots do everything from washing dishes to waging wars
…do-it-yourself surgery kits are as common as Band-aids
…giant electronic brains mastermind all human activity
THE PLACE: SPACE SPACE SPACE
where the cold, dark islands of abandoned planets drift in a fabulous universe flooded with blazing energy, the dust of old suns and the heat of smoldering new stars.
Space–the promise of new life to a crowded earth–the new frontier–the hope of tomorrow!”
Contents: Bud Foote’s “Push-Button Passion” (1954), Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations” (1954), Clifford D. Simak’s “How-2” (1954), Robert Abernathy’s “Deep Space” (1954), Everett B. Cole’s “Exile” (1954)
Initial Thoughts: Confession time. I haven’t read Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations” (1954). As someone interesting in mapping a territory, I feel that it’s one of those important short fictions with lasting (and controversial) impact on the genre. I’ve certainly read quite a few debates about the story! The rest of the anthology interests me less–although I’m always eager to explore works by authors I know little about (Everett B. Cole, Bud Foote, and Robert Abernathy).
2. Sometimes, Never, ed. William Golding, Mervyn Peake, John Wyndham (1956)
Selection from the inside page: “With the publication of LORD OF THE FLIES, William Golding was recognized in England as a major novelist. Similar acclaim and recognition have followed publication of the novel in the U.S., and there is now a second novel, PINCHER MARTIN, available for U.S. readers who are rapidly developing what might be called a Golding cult.
The listing of his works, however, do not mention William Golding’s novelette, ENVOY EXTRAORDINARY, which is one of the three in this volume and which represents the first publication of this astonishingly varied author in America.”
Contents: William Golding’s “Envoy Extraordinary” (1956), John Wyndham’s “Consider Her Ways” (1956), Mervyn Peake’s “Boy in Darkness” (1956).
Initial Thoughts: I adore William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954) — take a premise of triumph and survival and bravery à la Jules Verne’s Two Years’ Vacation (1888) and create an incisive commentary on the superficiality of civilization. I have never read anything else by Golding! As for the other authors in the collection, I’ve long been a fan of Peake’s Titus Groan (1946) (I haven’t the later volumes) and have limited experience with Wyndham beyond The Chrysalids (variant title: Re-Birth) (1955).
3. The Snow Queen, Joan D. Vinge (1980)
From the back cover: “The Winter colonists have ruled Tiamat for 150 years, slaughtering the gentle sea mers in trade for off-world wealth. But soon the gate to the galactic Hegemony will close, Tiamat will be isolated, and the 150-year reign of the Summer primitives will begin. Unless…. ARIENRHOD, the ageless, corrupt Snow Queen, can commit a genocidal crime–and destroy destiny… unless SPARKS DAWNTREADER, the Snow Queen’s companion, can survive sea and city, palace and slums–and find destiny… unless HEGEMONY COMMANDER JERUSHA PALATHION, the Snow Queen’s victim, can find one ally on Tiamat–and change destiny… And unless MOON SUMMER, a young mystic, can break a conspiracy that spans space–and control destiny. Because Moon is the Snow Queen’s lost weapon. The Snow Queen’s lost rival. The Snow Queen’s lost nemesis. The Snow Queen’s lost soul. Moon is the Snow Queen’s clone…”
Initial Thoughts: In my earlier years of SF reading, I tackled Vinge‘s The Snow Queen (1980) due to its status as a Hugo Award winner. I enjoyed the novel so much that I gave it to my sister. As it’s been almost 15 years (and my memory of it has faded), I thought I’d reacquire a copy although I’m not sure I’ll get to rereading it anytime soon.
4. The Simultaneous Man, Ralph Blum (1970)
From the back cover: “A CHILLING FACTUAL NOVEL ABOUT MAN-MADE MINDS FOR A COLD NEW WORLD
The agency specializes in surgical alterations, government bureaucrats set about making one man’s brain the receptable for the memory of another.
‘Bear’–the input. ‘Black Bear’–the receiver. A research scientist and a convicted murderer become two men with one shared mind.”
Initial Thoughts: Blum published one SF work–The Simultaneous Man (1970). According to SF Encyclopedia, Blum was a screenwriter and author involved in early drug research. His interests inspired the novel in which a “A Black convict undergoes, through advanced brainwashing, a memory edit that progressively erases his personality, rather as in Alfred Bester’s earlier The Demolished Man (1952) or Robert Silverberg‘s later The Second Trip (1972). The process enables Identity Transfer from a research scientist, but eventually transforms the convict into a Doppelganger who haunts his original, a relationship that ends tragically in the Cold War USSR.” Count me intrigued! An African American protagonists isn’t a common thing in 70s SF…
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