Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Quicksand, John Brunner (1967)
From the back cover: “She had nearly killed a man who tried to assault her. She spoke a language no one could understand. Commonplace objects like clothing and cars were a mystery to her.
Paul was haunted and entranced by her. He licked at the secrecy that surrounded her until, inevitably, his fate became linked to hers. And she gave him a vision of a world more beautiful than any he had ever known.
THEY LIVED IN A PARADISES OF SENSUAL ECSTACY… UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE. BECAUSE HER LOVE WAS LIKE QUICKSAND.”
Initial Thoughts: My Brunner obsession in my early 20s generated a packed few years of reading as many novels–the good and the bad–that I could get my hands on. This one escaped my grasp.
2. World’s Best Science Fiction: 1965, ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr (1965)
From the back cover: “Selected from the pages of every magazine regularly publishing science-fiction and fantasy stories in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and the rest of the world, Ace Books presents here the first of an important new series of anthologies. For the first time in paperbacks, an up-to-date selection of the outstanding modern science-fiction writings in the world, as picked by the discerning eyes of two experts.”
Contents: Tom Purdom’s “Greenplace” (1964), Ben Bova and Myron R. Lewis’ “Men of Good Will” (1964), Christopher Anvil’s “Bill for Deliver” (1964), Norman Kagan’s “Four Brands of Impossible” (1964), William F. Temple’s “A Niche in Time” (1964), Edward Jesby’s “Sea Wrack” (1964), C. C. MacApp’s “For Every Action” (1964), Josef Nesvadba’s “Vampires Ltd.” (1962, trans. 1964), John Brunner’s “The Last Lonely Man” (1964), Robert Lory’s “The Star Party” (1964), Colin Free’s “The Weather in the Underworld” (1964), Philip K. Dick’s “Oh, to Be a Blobell!” (1964), Edward Mackin’s “The Unremembered” (1964), Harry Mulisch’s “What Happened to Sergeant Masuro” (1957, trans. 1964), Thomas M. Disch’s “Now Is Forever” (1964), Jack B. Lawson’s “The Competitors” (1964), Fritz Leiber’s “When the Change-Winds Blow” (1964).
Initial Thoughts: A best of a year collection without a single work by a female author…. at least Carr and Wollheim included two translated fictions from Czechoslovakia (Nesvadba) and the Netherlands (Harry Mulisch). I’ve previous read and reviewed a solid collection Nesvadba–In The Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman (variant title: The Lost Face) (1964, trans. 1970). Harry Mulisch seems to be quite revered in his homeland– albeit, not to my limited knowledge in the US…
3. Gods and Golems, Lester del Rey (1973)
From the back cover: “Surely one of science fiction’s most happily argumentative representatives, an authority on a variety of subjects far too wide to list, and with a command of language, agility of mind and a total confidence to pass as an authority on any subject.
In an odd way, this is what science fiction is all about–the ability to convince the reader, or the listener, of the absolute reality of total impossibilities. But of course, one needs more than gall, a good mind, and command of the language. One needs talent, and professionalism, and experience, three qualities that add up to the controlling power which is the key in the finest of Lester del Rey’s writing.
Of which these five stories are a prime example…”
Contents: “Vengeance is Mine” (1964), “Superstition” (1954), “Life Watch” (1954), “For I Am a Jealous People!” (1954), “Pursuit” (1952)
Initial Thoughts: I purchased this collection as a young John Brunner in the listed del Rey’s “For I am A Jealous People” (1954) along with Philip José Farmer’s “The Lovers” (1952), Sherwood Springer’s “No Land of Nod” (1952), Theodore Sturgeon’s “The World Well Lost” (1953) as a “step forward” in the field due to their mature treatment of moral complexities. For more on Brunner’s early views of genre, check out Jad Smith’s John Brunner (2012).
My only previous exposure to del Rey:
- The Eleventh Commandment (1962, revised: 1970)
- Mortals and Monsters (1965)
- “Natural Advantage” (1977)
4. The Last Crime, Ian Kennedy Martin (as John Domatilla) (1980)
From the inside flap: “The Last Crime is a daring and acidly funny science-fiction thriller that propels its reader into the twenty-first century, into the heart of a conspiracy to sabotage the London control center of the polluted, ultra-totalitarian Western world.
England is in the grip of a dictatorship, her demoralized citizens manipulated by mind drugs and by a massive computer complex that records and stores even the minute details about every living being. In this twilight world, Harold Acteon is one of the few who has retained the vivid and dangerous memory of freedom, and in the name of freedom he resolves to destroy the all-powerful and artfully concealed data banks. Shadowed by deadly agents of the omnipotent Kabinet, Acteon draws on all his resources to convert four fellow revolutionaries to his audacious and desperate master plan–a plan that ultimately runs an astonishing course down the dark path of betrayal.
Through his ingenious and crazily contorted prose, John Domatilla brilliantly conveys the future in a story that sparkles with irony, black humor, and sheer inventiveness. He has conjured up with magical skill the alarming prospect, not easily dismissed, of an Orwellian society. Although set in the future, The Last Crime is a deeply contemporary novel, a savage exploration of our present-day “civilization” for which future generations will have to pay.”
Initial Thoughts: All my knowledge of this novel comes from SF Encyclopedia: “set in a harsh, twenty-first century, Dystopian London whose inhabitants are addled and manipulated through forced immersion in an invasive Media Landscape, under the control of Univac-R, a massive Computer. An undercover team led by Harold Acteon, which has been set up to destroy Univac, runs into trouble. Interjections of reportage and other typographical intrusions are moderately intriguing, but perhaps over-complexify Martin’s clear Satirical intent.” A media landscape SF novel with typographical play? Count me intrigued!
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