Who Am I? What Do I Do?
I lay out my reasons for reading and reviewing SF published between 1945-1985 here.
Selections from an interview with Cora Buhlert:
“Tell us about your site or zine.
Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations maps the varied landscape of SF produced during the turbulence of the post-WWII to the mid-1980s world. I am fascinated by the ways authors responded to the advent of nuclear weapons, the rise of 50s suburbia and commercialism, the Civil Rights movement, the Counterculture and radical student politics, the Vietnam War, and the 1970s political backlash. I chart what’s produced in a specific time and territory to understand the people who dwelled at that moment—their dreams for the future, their fears of the present, and all the manifestations of estrangement and elation generated by a rapidly transforming world. Science fiction is a fantastic way to get at the zeitgeist of an era.
I am particularly receptive to New Wave science fiction of the late 60s and early 70s that attempted to tackle our oblique interiors via radical structure/politics, non-standard characters and perspectives, and experimental prose. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Sometimes it doesn’t work. But it’s all fascinating.
Who are the people behind your site or zine?
It’s just me – Joachim Boaz! I’m a historian by trade and training under another name. My pseudonym comes from a wonderful Russell Hoban novel—The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973)—about a son’s quest to find his father who sells magical maps that diagram the locations of inspiration and clarity. Other than the occasional guest post that I solicit, I write and edit everything posted on Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations.”
If you are so inclined, you can follow me on Twitter and Mastodon
If you wish to contact me: ciceroplatobooks [at] gmail [dot] com.
Note: Do not send me review requests of any sort unless you represent a press wanting reviews of classic SF (pre-1980s) reprints i.e. books I’d buy/devour eagerly anyway.
“Joachim Boaz was how he named himself.” — The Pillars of Eternity (1982), Barrington J. Bayley
“Jachin-Boaz traded in maps […] He sold maps to poets that showed where thoughts of power and clarity had come to other poets.” — The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973), Russell Hoban
Early Flight (and flights of fancy)
Science Fiction (generation ships)
Meditations on decline
Plots? What are plots?
79 thoughts on “About Joachim Boaz”
meditations on flight
layers? are these layers?
early fallout shelters science
fictional flight shelters meditations on…
flying cities layer plots
plot’s layers. are these layers flying?
to shelter meditations on flight:
layer flying cities
plotting fictional histories
where early science falls
before wanderers’ arrows.
revealing mirrors and ancient coins:
faces impressed into diverging histories.
and borges? he too shelters
where i walk late into the half light shadow.
confront your innocent plots.
weep and dream
leap into the air of an enclosed book.
Hey Joachim. Thanks for finding The Movie Brothers!
You have a very impressive blog. It’s depth is impressive! I think Victor, who writes for us, would love it. You should check out his reviews send him the link.
You’re welcome. Most of my blog concerns relatively unknown science fiction books interspersed with the occasional esoteric film reviews (VERY infrequently films as well known as Aeon Flux — I wrote more of a rant than review for that piece of drivel, hahaha).
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Thanks for your profound Blog, Joachim.
For the past few decades I’ve been searching for the title/author of a short read circa 1955 in a thin paperback. I’ve been through most of your reviews of that era but it’s possible you have rejected the theme as banal. Have you come across such a story?
The theme: a man dies and his consciousness transposes to a future-time where women construct Playmen from recycled organs. Women are dominant and Playmen have to serve them in mentally manufacturing food and other things so intriguing to a fifteen-year old.
The author seems to me to be one of the Greats using an alias that most of them did early in their careers.
For some unknown reason the concept keeps driving me in my twilight years to develop a screenplay based on the theme so it’s important to establish copyright and seek permission to use it.
You definitely have an eye for the esoteric! I very much enjoy your writing and reviews.
Thank you for the comment; your blog looks awesome. I’m quite a big fan of the sorts of artists you’re covering (I love Virgil Finlay) but I’m quite ignorant about the minutae of the field, which seems to be your modus operandi. I shall be paying close attention to your blog.
Thanks for stopping by!
Yes, I dable in the esoteric — or rather, I wholeheartedly hurl myself into oceans of esotericism (the back shelves, the dusty corners…) I’m actually more interested in the contents behind the covers — especially 50s/60s/70s sci-fi about social issues — overpopulation, drugs, nuclear war, alien contact and how it changes are conception of the world and ourselves….
Hi, thank you again for commenting on that post I made about science fiction authors and books. Been doing a lot of thinking and I bookmarked your blog so I’m updated on your book reviews. I’m also nominating you for the VBA award ‘coz I like your site.
Thanks for your kind words!
Hey, this is the first time I have run across anyone familiar with the fabulous book “The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, Russell Hoban” (although my old hardcover I found in a used book store spels it like you do) and here you have named yourself for it! Very cool.
Hehe, Joachim and Boaz are also the two columns of the Temple of Solomon — which were then used as masonic symbols (I’m personally not interested in this connection). BUT, hence the paring appears not only in Barrington Bayley’s sci-fi work The Pillars of Eternity but also Russell Hoban’s wonderful magical realist tale (he died recently, I was very sad). But yes, I loved the work. Once again, thanks for stopping by!
Thanks for your great Blog! I’m a fan of science fiction books since childhood and probably read a few of the books you reviewed although in the German version, if there is one… I just stumbled across your blog and will sure read it!
May I ask you a question? I’m looking for a particular story which impressed me much when I was young. Problem is it was from the library and I paid no attention then to the name of the writer or the book so it’s difficult to search. Since you seem to be an expert maybe you remember? It’s about a stranded astronaut/cosmonaut running out of oxgen sitting somewhere while underground creatures are circling him.
Luckily there is a native that understands his sketches of molecular symbols and goes to fetch some oxygen. But when he returns the creatures were faster and the astronaut has vanished. In hindsight it struck me as a sad example of missed opportunity for peaceful contact. Maybe my memory tricks me and the story was not so good but still I’d like to read it again and maybe other stories in the volume were good as well. It nags me a little and you would make me very glad if you had a hint for me… Sorry for the imposition. 😉
Hi! As you have the most comprehensive knowledge of sci-fi book covers of anyone I’ve come across, I’d be genuinely interested to hear your opinion on my new one, if you have a moment. You can find it at http://kasiajames.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/evolution-of-a-cover/
Well, as you probably know I know little about contemporary sci-fi art trends/marketability… Thus my art interests sort of revolve around earlier sci-fi art as well…. However, I find the texture and colors interesting. I’m not convinced a tagline is needed — I feel that they cheapen the product (as in, any reduction of a novel to a single line). But, again, I know little about marketing and suspect that such statements facilitate purchases. Also, I have issues with the font and its placements — the majority of older works place the title in the top third (using the thirds rule) — I understand that it makes the text not go through the middle of the moon, but, is that a problem? I find the font clunky. But, unfortunately, I don’t know of an alternative off the top of my head. You mentioned who the audience is — well, from the sort of demeanor of the figures in the foreground I immediately would guess young adult. Is that what you want?
I appreciate your honesty! To answer some of your questions – the tagline is there largely for marketing purposes, as the book and its author are currently completely unknown, so it gives some hint as to what is inside.
As for the font – we were driven to some extent by the fact that this is an edition for Kindle, and so as the screen is much smaller than a real book, it needed to be quite large to be legible in the smaller format.
Fianlly audience – yes – older young adult is one of the target audiences for this novel, although I hope that that wouldn’t drive away other potential readers. 🙂
Glad that the colour and texture are interesting, and again, thanks for the honest feedback!
Maybe I should have posed my question about “Logan’s Run” over here. I just don’t have a clear sense of how the book was recieved by the public. I find it to be an engaging little adventure. I find it odd that it has been out of print since 1976 or is that fairly common? http://comicsgrinder.com/2013/02/14/logans-run-review-a-lost-science-fiction-classic/
But you’re incorrect — it was printed as recently as the 90s…
I think people considered it how you did — a charming adventure and little more. Clearly it was popular enough for the movie to be made…
I see what you mean. There is a French edition from 1991. And the original has been collected into a trilogy but the others two are Nolan’s. I see the original one as the one that should be set apart. Johnson has said that he has the option to bring out his own sequel and that is likely to happen at some point. For now, the original could hold the fort. It’s been considered for the basis to the next major movie venture and that would turn things around. At this point, I’d like to see the original given its due.
Unfortunately, many classic sci-fi novels remain out of print — only recently did John Brunner’s masterpiece, Stand on Zanzibar (1968) — one of the best books of the genre and the winner of the Hugo award for best novel — re-enter print. I personally like collecting the old paperbacks 😉
Yes, that’s what I’m getting at. Thank you.
Yeah, but Logan’s Run isn’t in the same boat as Stand on Zanzibar 😉
I’ll have to try Stand on Zanzibar.
very experimental….. you need to be in the mood for 60s New Wave 😉
Thought of you when I read this article. Not books, I know, but cinema. Still though you’d be interested:
Cool. Thanks! (sorry for the delay, I often get overwhelmed by the quantity of comments I receive… alas…)
Thanks for your support for my series on PKD. You have a great blog here.
You’re welcome — I’ve had fun reading them! Thanks for the kind words.
Joachim, I really like your blog. For the most part I only read current Science Fiction, but it’s more to do with not knowing what to read. I look forward to expanding my knowledge through your blog.
Thanks. I think to understand where new science fiction is coming from it is necessary to read older works… I definitely prefer science fiction written between the 1940s-1970s. I veer towards the more esoteric, social issue inclined, less plot driven, and more metafictional type sci-fi — Malzberg, Compton, Effinger, etc.
Thanks for the like on Fuzzy Nation 🙂 I like that you focus on older science fiction. The only older science fiction I’m familiar with is some of the older Star Trek novelizations, so I appreciate being able to get a viewpoint on older science fiction. Thanks for having an interesting resource!
I don’t think someone can truly understand/enjoy/or even critique newer science fiction without some understanding of the older classics and the developmental trajectory of the genre…. You should definitely try out some of the old classics — be be warned, my blog is rather more esoteric in nature (it is purposefully not about commonly held classics but rather, more overlooked works) — you should consult the Hugo Award list for best Novel and start with the 60s and 70s works — Dune, Lord of Light, Left Hand of Darkness, Stand on Zanzibar (if you want experimental), etc…
gotta say, I haven’t read or heard of many (if any) of these books. The only writer I have come across is silverberg. I have a copy of Up The Line that was started, but never finished, not because it was tedious or I was bored. Rather the opposite, But I was too busy at the time to enjoy it properly. So next holiday I get, I sit back and enjoy.
Yeah, Up The Line is a very 60s work. I recommend some of his other novels — The World Inside, Downward to the Earth (perhaps his best), The Man in the Maze, etc.
What a pleasure having stumbled on your blog! Me-Too-Feel. I’m searching through vintage (yes, 40-70s) scifi (also new stuff, but not as passionate) since years, being a PKD addict over 20 years now. I love Malzberg. When I came across his work, I ordered immediately at least 10 novels. “Beyond Apollo” & “Falling Astronauts” — great. Do you know “Galaxies”? Tremendous metascifi too! Although again an almost unrewarding read…Best one to recommend (imho): “The Destruction of the Temple”, one of my favorites, if simply for the wordplay of the title. – I was triggered to “land” here, because of searching more on Frank Herbert’s “Hellstroms Hive”, which I just hugely enjoyed.
— Same opinion concerning Silverberg & Brunner. “Stand on Zanzibar” is top ranking with me too, but Brunner has also plain boring work and a lack of consistency in his wake. As most of us do, generally.
As a comment: I put Silverbergs “Hawksbill Station” on my list. Don’t know it yet. I put your beautiful page on my list. And before I retreat to my own back shelves and dusty corners, just having finally started JG Ballards “Drowned World” (Heyne, German Edition, 1972) another comment: Stanislaw Lem & Strugatzky Brothers should be featured muuuch more.
Thanx & Greetings from Switzerland
Thanks for visiting — I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my site. Yes, Brunner’s Stand is by far his best novel — I find his other work (well besides The Sheep Look Up and The Jagged Orbit) rather banal.
Galaxies is on my list of must find Malzberg novels….
I loved Ballard’s The Drowned World. And Lem (I’ve read quite a few of his fiction and non-fiction works)…. but haven’t read any of the Strutgatsky brother’s sci-fi yet. I will, I will! (I’m still young!).
you never told me there was a saga!! ender has a follow up !!!! cool ive just picked up Enders shadow- all about Bean and his point of view-
Yeah, besides Speaker for the Dead they are awful…. haha
Hey! Thanks for liking my post. I’ve followed your blog – wow! I love it, particularly all the book covers! I’ll be posting more book reviews in the future. Thanks again!
Nice blog! This makes my old-school inner geek happy. 🙂
Thanks for visiting!
Just curious. I’ve just begun to read and collect vintage sci-fi. It’s quite a hobby now. Where and how do you find the books you find? I don’t mean specifically (I’m sure you have your secret spots), but generally – i.e. used book stores, flea markets, or online retailers like eBay (or all of the above?). Thanks and love the blog!
Used bookstores, ebay vintage SF lots, special arrangements with collectors getting rid of their collections, and when I’m desperate for a specific title I use abebooks unfortunately (rather not pay 4 or so bucks for a paperback SF book though) — intensive research of authors etc allows me to figure out the titles….
I’m looking for fellow William Tenn fans. Are you one?
Well… I enjoyed Of Men and Monsters but haven’t yet reviewed it. I have two of his short story collections on my shelf….
I have several of his collected shorts & novelettes. “Time in Advance” is my favorite, and next up is “The Square Root of Man”. If I ever clear my desk of more pressing matters, I’ll delve back in. His essay “On the Fiction in Science Fiction” should be interesting to set up against Tolkien’s “On Fairy-Stories”.
Lizzie, I just reviewed William Tenn’s The Human Angle if you’re curious. And finally reviewed Of Men and Monsters 🙂
Really enjoy your blog, I posted a spotlight of it on my blog.
Ever read a book called “Children of the Dust” I read it back in Juior High and really enjoyed it. It’s a post nuclear holocasue survival story, not sure if it’s entirely in your wheel house but it’s a good one I think.
I was drawn to your blog becaue of the cover art reviews. I really like sci-fi book covers, but I’m thinking I should try to read more of it. Can you or anyone else here reccomend any authors to keep an eye out for?
No, I have not heard of it. But I looked it up — at the moment I’m only really reading SF from the 40s-70s (the focus of this blog.)
I have organized everyone of my 180+ reviews by rating. I obviously recommend the highest rated!
Congratulations on being Freshly Squeezed … er … Pressed!
I am very impressed by your enthousiasm to share all these vintage SF cover artwork through your blog . There are some really amazing masterpieces between those covers !
Thanks for the kind words. Personally, I’m rather more interested in sharing the book via reviews…. (of which I’ve written 180 + on this site) 😉
Just found your excellent site. I’m following up your recommendations on Robert Silverberg’s Hawksbill Station! And will look at your other 5/5s
Reading “Thrice Upon a Time” by Paul Hogan. Having a “hard time” with it. Too much science for me. But working through it. Do you know that one?
Yes, I know Hogan. There’s a reason I avoid Hard Science Fiction with a passion 😉
I always liked Robert Forward, though. Dragon’s Egg was a favorite.
You mean James Hogan, right?
Ah, yes, of course. James P Hogan. I read the Gentle Giants of Ganymede in my youth and I remember liking it a lot. I don’t recall a lot of hard SF in that one, but I may have forgotten.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. And Wow!! going through your blog is like walking into a glorious second hand bookstore!! I can almost smell that musty yellow old book smell. 🙂
Just found your Blog, & looking forward to going thro your various, informative Posts!
Wish I had found this site before putting up my latest…
What a fantastic blog, although I haven’t heard of more than a handful of these books, I am looking forward to picking up many a book idea for my ridiculously big TBR list.
Very good site, will be following
Hey, Found a Powers cover I’ve never seen. On the off chance you haven’t either…
John, which one? The link you provided was a link to my site not a link to an image [I deleted the link].
Just finished White’s All Judgement Fled––as you say: a dark, chaotic tangle that slowly crescendo–ed… actually, the plot improved incrementally throughout the book. Initially, I had no idea how White would develop a novel from such a claustrophobic setting and yet he did… very successfully! grazie.
You’re welcome. It was definitely enjoyable! And quite claustrophobic as you point out…
Thanks for the Like. Do you have any further generation ship recommendations, minus those I listed in my last post?
I haven’t read any in years, probably not the person to ask! 😉
You’re the one who recommended Lungfish a long time ago. Figured I’d check back!
I mean James White’s The Dream Millennium (1974) is a deep sleep vessel + not a generation ship — but worth reading for some psychologically tense SF. With a pacifist bent…
Hello — a long time ago I read a SF book and I cannot for the life of me remember the author’s name nor the title. So this is a very long shot! Have you ever read a book that people were kind of windsurfing on the sea near France and also in a parallel universe? Their windsurf would change in the parallel universe though… I loved that book, have been wanting to reread it and of course I quite understand that you would have no clue as to what the book is…
I am sorry for the delayed response. I have posted this on twitter — hopefully we get an answer! I can’t promise anything. Do you know what decade it was published in?
Hi Joachim. Can I ask you a quick question about your dot.com domain. Did you have any problems after upgrading from the free wordpress site? I want to upgrade and the dot.com or dot.jp are a lot more reasonable than wordpress’s version. (WordPress are starting to insert “sponsored posts” as well as the regular Ads into user’s sites from this month.) Thanks.
I’m sorry that I missed your comment. Apologies!
I did have some problems — I had almost immediate had decreased viewership (decreased search terms, etc.) for a good half year. But, as with you, I am infuriated by people seeing ads so I rather pay that they do not.
No problem! Okay, that’s good to know, thanks.