All posts by Joachim Boaz

In a doomed city under the sea....

SF Film Rumination: Chronopolis, dir. Piotr Kamler (1982)

A cabal of immortal beings

8/10 (Very Good)

Piotr Kamler’s SF film Chronopolis (1982) is a hypnotic exercise in sinister science whose imagery is lifted from an archaic stone vault (1). Against an unsettling patina of musique concrète composed by Luc Ferrari, we are plunged into a far future existence where immortal beings ensconced in a celestial city perform apathetic conjurations of matter. An external force, explorers climbing the pillars (?) that hold up the city, presage a deliverance from the languor that afflicts all.

Science as Ritual, Scientist as Priest Continue reading SF Film Rumination: Chronopolis, dir. Piotr Kamler (1982)

Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLIX (Gwyneth Jones, Thomas F. Monteleone, Knut Faldbakken, Stefano Benni)

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

1. Guardian, Thomas F. Monteleone (1980)

Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1981 edition

From the back cover: “GUARDIAN. There existed nothing like it in the known World. It climbed boldly into the sky, a symbol of the power and imagination of those who had created it…. Varian Hamer stood face to face with a robot. It was not only fantastic—it was impossible. In the known World there were no such things as robots. They had been destroyed, along with everything else, thousands of years before, in what many supposed was Armageddon.

Continue reading Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLIX (Gwyneth Jones, Thomas F. Monteleone, Knut Faldbakken, Stefano Benni)

Book Review: Quake, Rudolph Wurlitzer (1972)

Sandy Kossin’s cover for the 1974 edition

3.75/5 (Good)

Rudolph Wurlitzer’s Quake (1972) parades the traumatized victims of a near-future earthquake through a lust-filled black comedy. Wurlitzer deftly re-purposes the language of erotica for distinctly un-pornographic ends: the aimlessness of life transmutes into a priapic shuffle towards nothing.

Brief Summary

In the near future an earthquake destroys Los Angeles. A nameless transient (N), a recent transplant to the city’s “rituals and corruptions” (3), wakes to a scene of carnage. N stumbles from his cheap cabin, with a bed sheet tied around his waist, towards the hotel pool. Stretched out on the diving board, he observes hotel cabins collapse disgorging the sad dramas playing out within. A woman joins him on the diving board and attempts to converse. He refuses to give his name: “we’re overloaded as it is” (11).

Continue reading Book Review: Quake, Rudolph Wurlitzer (1972)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCLVIII (Philip K. Dick, Kit Reed, Kenneth F. Gantz, and a Themed Anthology)

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

1. Clans of the Alphane Moon, Philip K. Dick (1964)

Ed Valigursky’s cover for the 1st edition

From the back cover: “Holding a precarious liberty as the result of an interstellar stalemate, the human survivors of Alpha Centauri’s hospital moon readied themselves for their war of independence.

Naturally, the Pares, always suspicious and sunning, assumed the leadership, leaving it to the Manses to provide the super weapons out of their sheer love of violence. Propaganda and other details would have been left to the Skitzes, the Heebs, and Polys, and the Ob-Coms.

Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCLVIII (Philip K. Dick, Kit Reed, Kenneth F. Gantz, and a Themed Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLVII (Two themed anthologies on space habitats and sports, Irene Schram, Ralph A. Sperry)

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

1. Habitats, ed. Susan Shwartz (1984)

Robert Andre’s cover for the 1st edition

From the back cover: “HABITATS. Where people live determines their cultures and ambitions. What then of times to come: the fabulous days of star flight, the furious days of interplanetary competition, the horrendous days of world disaster, or the weirdly wonderful days of epic changes undreamed of? In this astonishingly original anthology eleven brilliant science fiction writers have created eleven scenes of high adventure in future human habitations.

Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLVII (Two themed anthologies on space habitats and sports, Irene Schram, Ralph A. Sperry)

Book Review: Alqua Dreams, Rachel Pollack (1987)

Les Edwards’ cover for the 1st edition

3.75/5 (Good)

“To the Lukai, when a mother bore a child both the mother and child were really dead souls, locked in fake bodies. ‘The child cries,’ the Death Woman told Cooper, “because it still remembers the truth'” (28).

At first glance the mission was like so many others: negotiate with a native people, the Lukai, over a rare resource that facilitates space travel. But Jaimi Cooper is plunged into an ontological nightmare, he is branded as an alqua, “someone who suffers an illusion” (20). According to the Lukai, “you are dead. We are all dead” (27). And as the mythology and its theology come into play, Jaimi Continue reading Book Review: Alqua Dreams, Rachel Pollack (1987)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLVI (Joan Slonczewski, Barrington J. Bayley, James E. Gunn, Per Wahlöö)

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

1. The Mind Master (variant title: The Dreamers), James E. Gunn (1981)

Lisa Falkenstern’s cover for the 1982 edition

From the back cover: “IT IS THE 22ND CENTURY… IT IS THE AGE OF ECSTASY… Man has perfected the chemical transfer of information. Pop a pill and experience the Garden of Eden, the knowledge of centuries, or the vicarious thrill of someone else’s life. And in this world, one man—The Mnemonist—holds the task of keeping society Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLVI (Joan Slonczewski, Barrington J. Bayley, James E. Gunn, Per Wahlöö)

Book Review: The Best SF Stories from New Worlds 6, ed. Michael Moorcock (1970) (stories by J. G. Ballard, Hilary Bailey, Carol Emshwiller, M. John Harrison, et al.)

Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

Welcome to a postmodern museum of disordered landscapes. J. G. Ballard paints a cratered England as a new Vietnam. Langdon Jones reduces the operation of the world to a series of sculptural machines. Hilary Bailey weaves a dystopic England changed beyond recognition in mere years. M. John Harrison’s characters interact with cardboard cutouts on an imaginary set. And Michael Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius flits between India and Pakistan’s present and past.

While there are a few duds, the cream Continue reading Book Review: The Best SF Stories from New Worlds 6, ed. Michael Moorcock (1970) (stories by J. G. Ballard, Hilary Bailey, Carol Emshwiller, M. John Harrison, et al.)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCLV (Francis Stevens, M. Barnard Eldershaw, Robert Thurston, Rudolph Wurlitzer)

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

1. The Heads of Cerberus, Francis Stevens (1919)

Uncredited cover for the 1984 edition

From the back cover: “Francis Stevens’ fast-paced, imaginative novel is probably the first science-fiction work to deal with the concept of parallel worlds. Five young friends inhale the dust of Purgatory, pass through the Gateway of the Moon and enter the marvelous Alternate Earth where time flows at a far faster pace than her own. To their horror and amazement, by stepping over the bank of the unknown, they have left their world of Philadelphia in 1917 and have entered into a mystifying and dangerous “Philadelphia” of 2118. How they attempt to escape from the oblivion that threatens to swallow them is an unforgettable journey into the fantastic.”

Initial Thoughts: Pre-WWII SF and I don’t mix. I’ve tried. I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), C. S. Lewis’ Cosmic Trilogy (1938-1945), David Lindsay’s A  Voyage to Arcturus (1920), and plenty of others…. That said, the historian in me itches to have Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCLV (Francis Stevens, M. Barnard Eldershaw, Robert Thurston, Rudolph Wurlitzer)