All posts by Joachim Boaz

In a doomed city under the sea....

Novella Review (Italian SF in translation): “Cancerqueen” (1950), Tommaso Landolfi

DkVqsjsUwAEDHqm[1].jpg(Colin Hay’s cover for the 1984 Italian edition of Cancerqueen (1950), Tommaso Landolfi)

4.75/5 (Near Masterpiece)

The fiction of Tommaso Landolfi—an Italian author, translator, and critic—dabbled at speculative edges. Those far more knowledgeable about Italian SF consider Landolfi’s novella “Cancerqueen” (1950), translated in 1971 by Raymond Rosenthal, an important work in the history of Italian SF as it resonated with later “New Wave sensibilities” and “went against the realist grain of Italian high culture” (Salvatore Proietti, “The Field of Italian Science Fiction,” Science Fiction Studies, July 2015).

Redolent with gothic overtones, “Cancerqueen” tells the transfixing tale of a possibly insane narrator (N) relating his voyage into space, and into the womb of a manipulative spaceship. Writing as an act of self-delusion—“perhaps I should pretend I have a reader, I shall be less alone, and that is enough” (50)—N relates how, in a disconsolate state of mind, he agreed to an outrageous proposition put forth by Filano, an escapee from a nearby asylum.  The proposition: Deep in the mountains Filano has a spaceship named Cancerqueen and he wants to take N to the moon! For N, “she was my liberator, whose wings (wholly metaphorical) would transport me (not metaphorically) beyond my  disagreeable Continue reading Novella Review (Italian SF in translation): “Cancerqueen” (1950), Tommaso Landolfi

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCV (Leiber + Goulart + Wolf + Anthology edited by Bryant)

1. Why more Fritz Leiber (you might ask) considering your scattered negative comments about his most beloved series of stories, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser? In short, I enjoy his non-sword and sorcery short fiction—notably the stories in A Pail of Air (1964).

And of course his bizarre (and most famous) 50s novel The Big Time (1958)… (read long before I started my site).

2. This looks like a fascinating collection “celebrating” America’s 300th future anniversary! I did not know that Edward Bryant edited volumes of short stories. He includes a wide range of authors—including those by Marge Piercy, Harlan Ellison, Jo Ann Harper (unknown to me), Carol Emshwiller, Vonda N. McIntyre, et al.

3. I finished Gary K. Wolf’s Killerbowl (1975) a few days ago and was blown away. Absolutely one of my favorite novels I’ve read so far this year! The bad taste left by The Resurrectionist (1979) is completely washed from my mouth. I snuck on the computer…. late at night…. and purchased the last of his three 1970s novels I didn’t own–A Generation Removed (1977).

4. A gift from a family friend…. with an otherworldly (and early) Vincent Di Fate cover.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Note: Images are hi-res scans from my personal collection.

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1. The Book of Fritz Leiber, Fritz Leiber (1974)

(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCV (Leiber + Goulart + Wolf + Anthology edited by Bryant)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIV (Vance + Ellison + Durrell + Simak + Carter)

1. Doomsman (1967) is not supposed to be a worthwhile Harlan Ellison work… and one of his few novels. Part of a giant pile given to me by the family friend mentioned in my last acquisition post!

And there’s a short Lin Carter novella included as well….

Note: The cover is quite humorous. Paul Lehr, despite an isfdb.org error in citation, clearly added his touches (the shapes at the bottom, the planets, the colors) to an existing SF image. The face is copied from Ed Valigursky’s cover art for the 1955 edition of Isaac Asimov’s The 1,000 Year Plan (1951). 

2. More Jack Vance! And his first novel — also from the gift stack. And you know me and immortality (a favorite theme)–> I’ve compiled a list here.

3. Still haven’t read Clifford D. Simak’s short fiction…

4. Lawrence Durrell, yes the same Lawrence Durrell, wrote two novels (The Revolt of Aphrodite sequence) that are classified as science fiction. I’ve finally found a copy of the first in the sequence.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Note: covers are hi-res scans of my personal copies.

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1. Doomsman, Harlan Ellison (1967) and The Thief of Thoth, Lin Carter (1967)

(Paul Lehr’s cover–repurposing a head Ed Valigursky’s 1955 cover for Isaac Asmov’s 1,000 Year Plan (1951)–for the 1972 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIV (Vance + Ellison + Durrell + Simak + Carter)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIII (Wolf + Simak + Reynolds + Anthology edited by Silverberg)

1. I recently proclaimed my fascination with sports-related SF (despite my general lack of interest in sports) in my review of William Harrison’s “Roller Ball Murder” (1973)… A few of my blog friends have favorably reviewed Gary K. Wolf’s Killerbowl (1975) — couldn’t resist buying a copy online.

I reviewed Wolf’s The Resurrectionist (1979) last year.

2. An anthology edited by Robert Silverberg filled with a veritable horde of great authors–Ursula Le Guin, Terry Carr, R. A. Lafferty, James Triptree, Jr…..

3. A family friend sent me a large box of science fiction paperbacks, which arrived on my doorstep while I was hiking in the Adirondacks—I’ll be posting them slowly. Some I’d purchase if I’d encountered them in a used book stores, others I’d avoid… All greatly appreciated!

And goodness me does this Simak novel have a stunning Richard Powers cover!

4. Part of the gift–Mack Reynolds. Hmm. I am always weirdly excited about opening his books only to discover shoddy plots, half-baked political philosophy, and a few fun ideas hidden in forgotten corners…. At first glance, this fix-up novel reminds me of Rick Raphael’s slice of life novel Code Three (1967).

As always. thoughts and comments are welcome.

Note: Images are hi-res scans of my personal copies.

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1. Killerbowl, Gary K. Wolf (1975)

(Steve Marcesi’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIII (Wolf + Simak + Reynolds + Anthology edited by Silverberg)

Article: Why I read and review 50s-70s Science Fiction

 

(A section of Karel Thole’s cover for the 1962 Italian edition of Starman’s Quest (1958), Robert Silverberg)

1. MAPPING A TERRITORY

As a trained historian, I am fascinating by the process of “knowing” and “mapping” a period in time. I am possessed by my own ambitions of encyclopedism and particularly enjoy the theme of encyclopedism within fiction—lists of invented articles, books comprised of collated knowledge, even Dune (1965) and its obsession with shifting between all perspectives. To steal a phrase from a recent book I reviewed, I relish in the act of creating a “morphology” of science fiction and its variables. Let us be clear, I am a believer in the process, not the possibility of such dreams actualized. The latter is impossible… But the journey across the inclines and declines beckons.  Continue reading Article: Why I read and review 50s-70s Science Fiction

Book Review: A Rose for Armageddon, Hilbert Schenck (1982)

(Don Maitz’s cover for the 1982 edition)

2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)

Hilbert Schenck’s A Rose for Armageddon (1982) postulates that in the near future a complex computer program (“Archmorph”) will be able to predict political and social trends as “conflict was [and will be] pattern-determined” (26). Filled with references to the turbulent 1970s (Vietnam protests, campus unrest, the 1979 energy crisis) and the fear the decade generated, Schenck suggests that a cataclysmic possibility looms.

A Rose for Armageddon treads intriguing grounds in part because it centers on two non-standard individuals (it’s rare to have elderly main characters!): Dr. Elsa Adams, the Louis Agassiz Professor of Analytic Zoology and Dr. Jake Stinson Continue reading Book Review: A Rose for Armageddon, Hilbert Schenck (1982)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCII (Sturgeon + Turner + Schenck + Best of 1973 Anthology)

1. I seldom buy duplicate editions. I originally read Sturgeon’s masterpiece as a teen and I’m unsure where my original 70s edition with a Bob Pepper cover ran off to…. And this perfect condition 1960 edition has glorious Richard Powers art!

2. George Turner—an author I know next to nothing about. I’ve already read 75 pages of his first novel and am absolutely entranced.

3. Hilbert Schenck—another author who is new to me. He published primarily in the early 80s and snagged a few Nebula nominations for his short fiction. His second novel proved to be a dud (I’ll have a review up soon).

4. Why are you buying another Donald A. Wollheim Best Of collection when you’re firmly in the Terry Carr camp of Best Of anthologies? Good question.

That said, I recently reviewed The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF (1972) and it was solid.

Note 1: All images are hi-res scans of my personal copies — click to expand.

Note 2: A diligent Twitter follower indicated that the 1984 edition cover of the Turner novel is Tony Roberts’ work.

Thoughts? Comments? Tangents? All are welcome.

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1. More than Human, Theodore Sturgeon (1953)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1960 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCII (Sturgeon + Turner + Schenck + Best of 1973 Anthology)