Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. 6 Great Short Novels of Science Fiction, ed. Groff Conklin (1954)
From the back cover: “THE BLAST: STUART CLOETE envisions New York City under atomic attack, and tells the story of the lone survivor.
COVENTRY: ROBERT HEINLEIN shows what happens to one of the last individualists, who request a sentence to purgatory.
THE OTHER WORLD: MURRAY LEINSTER reveals a savage, feudal civilization which lives off the sweat of slaves kidnapped from our world.
BARRIER: ANTHONY BOUCHER writers of a time traveler, and his strange encounters with the people who will come after us.
SURFACE TENSION: JAMES BLISH traces a race of microscopic men that works out its destiny under water on a planet somewhere far out of the galaxy.
MATURITY: THEODORE STURGEON depicts the agonizing plight of a super man born in our midst.
Contents: Stuart Cloete’s “The Blast” (1946), Robert A. Heinlein’s “Coventry” (1940), Murray Leinster’s “The Other World” (1949), Anthony Boucher’s “Barrier” (1942), James Blish’s “Surface Tension” (1952), Theodore Sturgeon’s “Maturity” (1947)
Initial Thoughts: You know me…. the post-apocalyptic nightmare always pulls me in. Purchased entirely due to Stuart Cloete’s “The Blast” (1946). The extensive bibliography (with mini-reviews) in Paul Brians’ Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction, 1895-1984 (1987) has proved indispensable. It’s how I found Alice Eleanor Jones’ “Created He Them” (1955) and Katherine MacLean’s “Interbalance” (1960).
2. The Humanoids, Jack Williamson (1980)*
From the back cover: “STRANGE BENEFACTORS. From far beyond Earth came a generation of benevolent robots whose sole purpose was to serve man by ending wars and easing his bodily and spiritual ills. Dr. Clay Forester, brilliant scientist and citizen of the distant future, had been recruited by a band of dissidents to stop the fledgling “brace new world.” But why should he try to kill humanity’s only hope for everlasting peace?
A vagabond band of psychic anarchists are determined to defeat the invincible robots. And Clay Forester must discover the secret of the Humanoids and make an agonizing choice: fight for mankind’s freedom to struggle and despair… or yield to the Humanoids’ implacable imperative of total peace and pure bliss.”
Contents: “With Folded Hands…” (1!947) and The Humanoids (1949)
Initial Thoughts: One of those 1940s “classics” I’ve yet to read. Williamson, other than a handful I read in my late teens and early 20s, is mostly unknown to me…
3. Class Six Climb, William E. Cochrane (1979)
From the back cover: “To climbers, the Giant Tree of Kyle Murre is unique, a solitary goliath tower kilometers into the atmosphere, the greatest living thing in the known universe–the ultimate CLASS SIX CLIMB. To the natives, the Tree is God. To Captain FitzRoi, it is merely an obstacle on the road to power, and so must be destroyed.
All that stands between this symbol of a world’s independent integrity and its contemptuous destruction by Procyon’s Star Service is three human misfits. Clearly that would be no contest all–were it not the the power of the God Tree itself.”
Initial Thoughts: Considering how I bounced off Cochrane’s “The Safety Engineer” (1973) (as S. Kye Boult), I get the sense this one is also all idea with poor delivery…
4. Kindred Spirits: An Anthology of Gay and Lesbian Science Fiction Stories, ed. Jeffrey M. Elliot (1984)
No interior page or cover blurb. Here’s a brief selection from the introduction: “Life, love, sex—possibilities–infinite in number, rich in variety. This anthology explores the subject of same-sex love, within the perimeters of the science fiction-fantasy genre. As such, this is a unique work–the first to deal exclusively with gay/lesbian subject matter. While similar stories have appeared in other collections, this is the first volume to focus wholly on the gay/lesbian experience.
Until the mid-1960s, science fiction-fantasy authors, by and large, portrayed same-sex love, in the worlds of one critic, in a manner that could be described as ‘offensive, repellent, and cliched.’ In many ways, gays/lesbians were treated much like blacks: as non-existent. When they were, they appeared as minor characters, peripheral to the story, often as ugly stereotypes conjured up by homophobic authors. Rarely did gay/lesbian characters occupy center stage–they were, instead, part of the furniture, put there to be laughed at, pities, or scorned.
As times changed, so did the portrayal of same-sex love. This change is directly attributable to the influence of the lesbian-feminist and gay liberation movements, which fostered a new consciousness about gays/lesbians.”
Contents: Mike Conner’s “Vamp” (1977), Joanna Russ’ “When It Changed” (1972), Edgar Pangborn’s “The Night Wind” (!974), Elizabeth A. Lynn’s “The Man Who Loved the Moon” (1979), Barry N. Malzberg’s “Going Down” (1975), Rachel Pollack’s “Black Rose and White Rose” (1975), Thomas N. Scortia’s “Flowering Narcissus” (1973), Paul David Novitski’s “Nuclear Fission” (1979), Robert Silverberg’s “Passengers” (1968), Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s “The Prodigal Daughter” (1981), Theodore L. Thomas’ “Broken Tool” (1959), David Gerrold’s “How We Saved the Human Race” (1972)
Initial Thoughts: I’ve been reading a lot of 50s takes on sex and sexuality (some quite radical) so I thought I’d acquire an anthology on a similar theme from later decades! I’ve already read the Silverberg and Thomas stories.
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