All posts by Joachim Boaz

In a doomed city under the sea....

Book Review: Daybreak on a Different Mountain, Colin Greenland (1984)

(Steve Weston’s cover for the 1st edition)

4/5 (Good)

Fantasy and science fiction that deploys geographical and urban allegory—Italo Calvino-esque cities balanced over chasms, the skeletons of urban human interactions measured out in string, etc.*—relentlessly intrigues. In John Crowley’s The Deep (1975), the world as chessboard is perched on top of a pillar with endlessness on all sides. In Garry Kilworth’s Cloudrock (1988), two tribes eek out their existence on a levitating rock surrounded by poisonous gasses. Terry Carr’s Cirque (1977) posits a city next to an abyss out of which crawls a tentacled beast…. Sculpted urban and geographic artifice can, in the hands of an adept author, create meaning-rich texts as characters inscribe new patterns on the landscapes they traverse. Continue reading Book Review: Daybreak on a Different Mountain, Colin Greenland (1984)

Book Review: Seconds, David Ely (1962)

(Uncredited cover for the 1963 1st edition)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

You’ve got what almost every middle-aged man in American would like to have. Freedom. Real freedom. You can do any damned thing you want to. You’ve got financial security, you’ve got no responsibilities, and you’ve got no reason at all to feel guilty about what you’ve done. The company’s taken care of everything. Right?” (91)

David Ely’s Seconds (1962), a disquieting and sparse thriller, posits a near future where a shadow organization can grant the wealthy new identities via plastic surgery and staged deaths. Wielding deceptively simple prose, Ely ruminates on the existential dread of the male mid-life crisis–an undefined desire to escape, to redo, to break free from the expectations and constraints of the suburban existence. It is a careful novel. A well-crafted nightmare Continue reading Book Review: Seconds, David Ely (1962)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXII (Martin + Jeter + Lee + Gerrold)

I told you I had a glut of SF acquisitions! My reading hasn’t slowed although reviewing, I’ll confess, has taken a back seat. However, my summer holiday begins today–I have multiple book reviews partially finished and scheduled.

In the meantime–> new books.

1. I have not read a single Tanith Lee short story or novel. I bought three to rectify that gaping hole in my knowledge. MPorcius, over at MPorcius’ Fiction Log (one of the few vintage SF review sites still publishing out reviews at a delightful pace), regularly celebrates her work. Check out his review of Don’t Bite The Sun (1976).

2. The surprising Half Price find of the last few years of browsing was the near complete publication series of Laser Books (see photo below). They are notorious for being mostly low quality (even the better authors in the series such as Gordon Eklund). However, K.W. Jeter–of Dr. Adder (written 1972, published 1984) fame–published his first novel in the series — I snagged it.

Note: if there are ANY other lesser known gems in the Laser books publication series PLEASE let me know. I suspect that vast majority of books will still be on the shelf if I were to return.

3. I finally have my hands on two early George R. R. Martin SF novels. Dying of the Light (1977) seems to have a fantastic premise. I look forward to it.

4. David Gerrold’s Moonstar Odyssey (1977) was nominated for the 1978 Nebula Award and then promptly forgotten…. online reviews indicate the challenging subject material (child sexuality) and the lack of a distinct plot. Some reviews made comparisons to Ursula Le Guin… Gerrold’s fiction has not satisfied me in the past. My knowledge, however, is limited to the following two books I reviewed on my site:

The Space Skimmer (1972)

Yesterday’s Children (variant title: The Space Hunt) (1972)

Tangent: Moonstar Odyssey contains a fantastic map. I’ll feature it on Monday in my soon-to-be-revived Monday Maps and Diagrams series.

Let me know what you think of the books/covers in the comments!

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1. Don’t Bite the Sun, Tanith Lee (1976)

(Brain Froud’s cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXII (Martin + Jeter + Lee + Gerrold)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXI (Delany + Griffin + Gordon + Parallel Worlds Anthology)

The book-buying bug has hit particularly hard as of late. I suspect the promise of the end of the semester is part of my mental metric.

In this haul….

An early graphic novel written by Samuel R. Delany and illustrated by Howard V. Chaykin!

A collection of parallel worlds short stories by a whole range of authors I’ve never encountered (Lucy Cores, Robert Coulson, Rob Chilson, Dimitri V. Gat, H. R. Percy, Michael Orgill, Olga Ley, etc.) and a few I want to return to (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Gordon Eklund, George Zebrowski, etc.).

And two lesser known novels by lesser known authors…. Robert G. Griffin and Stuart Gordon.

As always, I love hearing your thoughts on the volumes and authors and covers.

I look forward to your comments!

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1. Empire, Samuel R. Delany and Howard V. Chaykin (1978)

(Howard V. Chaykin’s cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXI (Delany + Griffin + Gordon + Parallel Worlds Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCX (Moorcock + Niven + Jersild + Barbet)

1. DAW Books published quite a few of Pierre Barbet’s pulpy French SF adventures in translation (SF encyclopedia points out some similarities between Barbet and Poul Anderson) in the 1970s. I found a copy for a dollar at a local Half Price Books — the premise of The Napoleons of Eridanus (1970, trans. 1976) sounds utterly silly but fun! I might sneak it in between heavier novels….

2. More Larry Niven short stories + nonfiction–A Hole in Space (1974)… With the oddest dedication ever—“thank you great-grandfather for the trust fund that allowed me to become a published author.”

3. Michael Moorcock’s Rituals of Infinity (serialized 1965) was originally published in New Worlds under the name James Colvin as The Wrecks of Time. It was abridged without Moorcock’s consent to fit in an Ace Double–the complete version was published by Arrow Books in 1971. I made sure to track down the complete edition. I do not have high hopes for this early Moorcock novel— hopefully it reads like one of his experimental stories.

4. I spent a tad too much for this one! The Animal Doctor: A Novel of the Future (1973, trans. 1975): SF in translation from Scandinavia… and an author I’ve never heard of. From the inside flap blurb (reproduced below) it seems like my cup of tea.

Thoughts? Tangents? A book that intrigues or stands out?

Let me know!

Enjoy!

Note: scans are of my personal copies. Click to enlarge.

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1. The Napoleons of Eridanus, Pierre Barbet (1970, trans. 1976)

(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCX (Moorcock + Niven + Jersild + Barbet)

Short Book Reviews: Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s The World Menders (1971), Pamela Sargent’s The Sudden Star (variant title: The White Death) (1979), Josef Nesvadba’s In the Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman (variant title: The Lost Face)(1964, trans. 1970)

Note: My “to review” pile is growing. Short reviews are a way to get through the stack. Stay tuned for more detailed and analytical reviews.

But first…. three completely different volumes.

1.  The  World  Menders, Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (1971)

(David Bergen’s cover for the 1975 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

Despite the idiotic moments in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), as a kid I adored the first sequence–the undercover team observing the Ba’Ku community from a hidden observation station (before Data’s malfunction). Of course, Star Fleet assumed the Ba’Ku were pre-warp drive (and thus first contact shouldn’t be initiated). The mechanics of going undercover to initiate or prepare a society for contact is a fascinating and endlessly replayable SF premise. Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s The World Menders (1971), Pamela Sargent’s The Sudden Star (variant title: The White Death) (1979), Josef Nesvadba’s In the Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman (variant title: The Lost Face)(1964, trans. 1970)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCIX (de Camp + Farren + Effinger + Silverberg Anthology)

1. Mick Farren, of the “protopunk” and rock band The Deviants fame, wrote SF: drug-addled SF about the cult of musicians in a post-apocalyptical England. At least it’ll be a crazy romp! And probably not very good….

2. I’ve been slowly posting all the New Dimensions anthologies edited by Robert Silverberg that I purchased a few months ago. Inspired by my enjoyment of New Dimensions 3 (1973).

3. A gift from a family friend… Definitely not a book I’d look for but, who knows, sometimes I get a hankering for pre-WW II science fiction of the pulp sort.

It comes with a solid Paul Lehr cover.

4. Huge fan of Geo. Alec Effinger (that should go without saying if you following this site). I want ALL his short story collections.

I’ve reviewed the following Effinger novels/collections:

As always, I look forward to your comments/tangents!

Note: Scans are of my personal copies. Click to enlarge.

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1. The Texts of Festival, Mick Farren (1973)

(Peter Jones’ cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCIX (de Camp + Farren + Effinger + Silverberg Anthology)