Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. The Shockwave Rider, John Brunner (1975)
From the back cover: “Future shock!
In the obsessively technological, paranoidally secretive and brutally competitive society depicted by John Brunner, even personal identities are under threat. But one man has made it his mission to liberate the mental prisoners, to restore their freedom in a world run mad.
Nickie Haflinger, the only person to escape from Tarnover–where they raise hyper-intelligent children to maintain the political dominance of the USA in the 21st century–is on the run, dodging from loophole to crevise to crack in the computerised datanet that binds the continent like chains. After years of flight and constant changes of identity, at the strange small town called Precipice he discovers he is not alone in his quest. But can his new allies save him when he falls again into the sinister grasp of Tarnover…?”
Initial Thoughts: I read John Brunner’s The Shockwave Rider (1972) before I started my site–along with his other masterpieces Stand on Zanzibar (1968), The Sheep Look Up (1972), The Jagged Orbit (1969), The Whole Man (196), etc. Of his best known novels, I remember the least about The Shockwave Rider. However, I cannot find my copy for a rare reread! For all I know I gave it to a friend or lost it in a move. I sought out this UK edition due to the intriguing urban arcology background of the cover.
2. Water Witch, Cynthia Felice and Connie Willis (1982)
From the back cover: “Mahali’s rulers for generations were the water witches, who could feel the ebb and flow of previous water in their very bones. Then there was a coup, and control of Mahali’s water passed to an impersonal computer network.
It was Deza’s father who hit upon the scheme. Dressing his daughter in ceremonial garb, he passed her off as the last surviving member of the royal house. With tricks and illusions she and her father moved towards the centers of power.
But it’s the nature of a con artist to go too far…”
Initial Thoughts: This novel, Connie Willis’ first, is a complete unknown to me. I have yet to read anything by Cynthia Felice yet either! As for Willis, I’ve never cared for her SF (so far)–I’ve read Doomsday Book (1992), To Say Nothing of the Dog, or How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last (1998), and perhaps one or two more in my late teens.
3. The End of the Dream, Philip Wylie (1972)
From the back cover: No summary is provided on the back cover or inside flap. Here’s SF Encyclopedia’s blurb on the novel: “set in a 2023 multiply devastated by Ecological catastrophes, several of which are unspecifically but clearly linked to Climate Change.”
Initial Thoughts: I still have yet to read any SF written by the creator of “momism.”
4. Two Views of Wonder, ed. Thomas N. Scortia and Chelsea Quin Yarbro (1973)
From the back cover: “ALL ORIGINAL STORIES–on themes selected by paired teams of writers whose TWO VIEWS OF WONDER ILLUMINATE THE SUBJECTS THEY HAVE CHOSEN”
Here are the theme paragraphs provided by the editors: “THEMES:
(1) After watching the televised torture-murder pf his/her lover, the protagonist must device a communication system for the revolutionary underground in a society tyrannized by complete electronic surveillance.
(2) The protagonist is the manager a vast megalopolis that is breaking down because of transportation failure. Protagonist has commissioned a research group to solve the problem. The group comes up with the answer, a form of instantaneous matter transmission. The manager is aware of the decaying quality of life in the city. Shall the protagonist use the invention to prolong the existence and growth of the impractical city or, knowing that the proper use of the invention will render cities unnecessary, can he/she devise a scheme for using the invention to reverse the whole social trend?
(3) The protagonist, a biochemist, is face with the problem of releasing a newly discovered serum that confers near-immortality. The only problem is that it does not stop the normal aging progress.
(4) In a society critically overpopulated, all citizens suffering from chronic, debilitating, or terminal diseases are subject to euthanasia. The protagonist, involved in a love-hate triangle, discovers that one of the other two memories has successfully concealed a chronic disease.
(5) Through a destructive act, the protagonist becomes involved with an alien, unaware that because of their different natures, their relationship will destroy one or the other of them.
(6) The protagonist is part of a starship party rediscovering a planet settled years ago by a misanthropic molecular biologist and part. Protagonist falls in love with a native only to discover that all inhabitants of the planet are not human but rather mutated domestic animals.”
Contents (all but the Ellison published in 1973): Joe Gores’ “Faulty Register,” Miriam Allen deFord’s “Lone Warrior,” Pamela Sargent’s “IMT,” Michael Kurland’s “Small World,” Sydney J. Van Scyoc’s “When Petals Fall,” Reginald Bretnor’s “Papa Schimmelhorn and the S.O.D.O.M. Serum,” George Zebrowski’s “Rope of Glass,” Tamsin Ashe’s “The Quality of Mercy,” Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s “Un Bel Di,” Harlan Ellison’s “Kiss of Fire” (1972), Willo Davis Roberts’ “A Personage of Royal Blood,” Thomas N. Scortia’s “Thou Good and Faithful.”
Initial Thoughts: Here are the theme paragraphs provided by the editors to the authors. Each theme received two stories — from the male and female perspective.
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