All posts by Joachim Boaz

In a doomed city under the sea....

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Italian Tanith Lee Covers by Allison (aka Mariella Anderlini)

Allison’s cover for the 1978 Italian edition of Tanith Lee’s Volkhavaar (1977)

Mariella Anderlini (aka Allison) was a behemoth of Italian SF art (note 1). Her covers graced entire years of science fiction editions for various Italian presses—for example, she illustrated the complete Slan. Il Meglio della Fantascienza series for Libra Editrice. Her work was ubiquitous and fantastic.

Over the years, loose cover art post sequences emerge from the back catalog of my site (both conscious and unconscious)–and one topic I return to regularly are SF covers by Italian women. Female Italian cover artists in the decades I am most interested in (50s-mid-80s), made up a far larger percentage Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Italian Tanith Lee Covers by Allison (aka Mariella Anderlini)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLXV (Brian W. Aldiss, James E. Gunn, Sharon Webb, and a Themed Anthology)

My first purchases of 2021! As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. Helliconia Spring, Brian W. Aldiss (1982)

Kinuko Y. Craft’s cover for the 1983 edition

From the back cover: “Imagine a world in a system of twin suns, where Winter is 6000 ice-locked years and every Spring is the first remembered. Imagine a People finding ruined cities beneath the melting snows. Never dreaming they had built them. And would again… Imagine Helliconia. And begin the most magnificent peice since DUNE…”

Initial Thoughts: I love Brian W. Aldiss’ SF–from his iconic generation ship novel Non-Stop (variant title: Starship) (1958) to bizarre experimental works short stories like “Judas Danced” (1958) [which I need to reread!]. I have yet to explore any of of his early 80s SF. I’ve reviewed the following Aldiss works: Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLXV (Brian W. Aldiss, James E. Gunn, Sharon Webb, and a Themed Anthology)

Updates: My 2020 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Categories)

I’m not sure what I can add about the general sentiment of 2020. It was awful in every way. Here’s to a better 2021.

Reading and writing for the site—and participating in all the SF discussions it’s generated over the year—was a necessary and greatly appreciated salve. Thank you everyone!

I also have one (hopefully more) review coming out in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (the Curiosities column) in the spring. I’ve not included my reviews of those esoteric SF novels in this particular post.

Without further ado, here are my favorite novels and short stories I read in 2020 (with bonus categories). Tempted to track any of them down?

And feel free to list your favorite vintage (or non-vintage) SF reads of the year. As always, I look forward to reading your comments.


My Top 10 Science Fiction Novels (click titles for my review)

Tim White’s cover for the 1983 edition

1. Electric Forest, Tanith Lee (1979), 5/5 (Masterpiece): Tanith Lee spins a gauzy, sinister, and terrifying tale of manipulative resurrection. A brilliant inventor projects the mind of a grotesque social outcast into a new transcendent Continue reading Updates: My 2020 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Categories)

Short Book Reviews: M. John Harrison’s A Storm of Wings (1980), Algis Budrys’ Some Will Not Die (1961, rev. 1978), and William Greenleaf’s The Tartarus Incident (1983)

James Gurney’s cover art detail for the 1st edition of William Greanleef’s The Tartarus Incident (1983)

Note: My read but “waiting to be reviewed pile” is growing. Short rumination/tangents are a way to get through the stack. Stay tuned for more detailed and analytical reviews.

1. A Storm of Wings, M. John Harrison (1980)

Michael Whelan’s cover for the 1982 edition

4.5/5 (Very Good)

A Storm of Wings (1980) is the second volume, after The Pastel City (1971), of the Viriconium sequence. Far more dense and oblique than its predecessor, A Storm of Wings revels in the creation of a surreal urban tapestry–redolent with decay and decadent excess. Two Reborn Men (Fay Glass and Alstath Fulthor) attempt to animate the somnolent city of Viriconium Continue reading Short Book Reviews: M. John Harrison’s A Storm of Wings (1980), Algis Budrys’ Some Will Not Die (1961, rev. 1978), and William Greenleaf’s The Tartarus Incident (1983)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Cosmic Glimpses of Luciana Tom Matalon

Luciana Tom Matalon, “Untitled” (1971)

Non-English language science fiction presses present a fascinating territory to explore. Their volumes provide not only a window into what SF was available to read but also the distinct visual language used to convey those works. Italian SF cover art remains a firm favorite–from Karel Thole’s Philip K. Dick covers to the haunting landscapes of Mariella Anderlini.  And a new artist joins the ranks!

Luciana Tom Matalon was born in 1937 near Venice and studied art in Milan.  Her paintings, sculpture, and jewelry have appeared in exhibitions around the world. She has a short biography on her eponymous foundation website. You Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Cosmic Glimpses of Luciana Tom Matalon

Short Story Review: Edmond Hamilton’s “What’s It Like Out There?” (1952)

This is the second post in a loose series on SF short stories that are critical in some capacity of space agencies, astronauts, and the culture which produced them.

Today: Edmond Hamilton’s “What’s It Like Out There?” (1952), 5/5 (Masterpiece). First appeared in the December 1952 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories, ed. Samuel Hines. You can read the story online here.

Thank you “Friend of the Site” Jennifer Jodell for alerting me to the existence of this gem, our discussion, and for providing a summary  of  Damon Knight’s 1962 introduction.

Previously: Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s  “Death of a Spaceman” (variant title: “Memento Homo”) (1954)

Up next (maybe): Barry N. Malzberg’s “Two Odysseys into the Center” (1972) in Nova 2, ed. Harry Harrison.

Walter Popp’s cover for the December 1952 issue

In the December 1952 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories, Samuel Hines (the editor) presents “What’s It Like Out There?” as the culmination of Edmond Hamilton’s Phoenix-like evolution from a “primitive period” of writing extravagant pulps to Continue reading Short Story Review: Edmond Hamilton’s “What’s It Like Out There?” (1952)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLXIV (Ben Bova, Marjorie Bradley Kellogg, Robert Wilfred Franson, Barry N. Malzberg and Edward L. Ferman edited anthology)

As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

Ben Bova (1932-2020) passed away a few weeks ago due to Covid-19 complications (and a stroke) (Tor Remembrance Article). While I haven’t had the best luck with his work, if you have any fond memories of him or reading his SF, let me know in the comments. I purchased his first collection Forward in Time (1973) (below) in his honor.

1. Final Stage: The Ultimate Science Fiction Anthology, ed. Barry N. Mazlberg and Edward L. Ferman (1974)

David Pelham’s cover for the 1975 edition

From the back cover: “Thirteen fantastic new stories on the classic themes of Science Fiction.” See Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLXIV (Ben Bova, Marjorie Bradley Kellogg, Robert Wilfred Franson, Barry N. Malzberg and Edward L. Ferman edited anthology)

Let’s Solve A Science Fiction Puzzle from the July 1975 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Edward L. Ferman

Let’s solve a SF acrostic from the July 1975 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction together! Put your answers in the comments. Here is a link to the original. Prove your SFF knowledge 1975 style! (hah)

I’ll get us started. Depending on the level of participation, I’ll update the document as we go.

O. Author of Commune 2000 A.D. = Mack Reynolds

U. He had a rendezvous with a Nebula = Arthur

EDIT: The puzzle has been updated 12/16 (10:28 EST)

EDIT 2: A reader and participant completed the entire puzzle here! Thanks everyone for participating! They also identified errors that the puzzle creator made — they spelled Doris Piserchia’s name as Pischeria (yikes!). 

Continue reading Let’s Solve A Science Fiction Puzzle from the July 1975 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Edward L. Ferman

Book Review: Albion! Albion! (variant title: Singleton’s Law), Dick Morland (aka Reginald Hill) (1974)

KRUDDART’s cover for the 1986 edition

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

Reginald Hill (1936-2012), best known for his crime and mystery novels, wrote two science fiction works under the name Dick Morland. Albion! Albion! (1974) charts the rise of fascism in the UK. The twist to the standard formula? The four main football clubs (Athletic, Wanderers, United and City) depose the government.  The football games are long disbanded. Instead, each team’s supporter groups, managers, insignia, and chants become vehicles of fascist ideology. 

As England devolves into tribalism and turns away from its European neighbors, the Continue reading Book Review: Albion! Albion! (variant title: Singleton’s Law), Dick Morland (aka Reginald Hill) (1974)