All posts by Joachim Boaz

In a doomed city under the sea....

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)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCVIII (Sargent + Kelley + Ely + Anthology ed. Harry Harrison)

1. Leo P. Kelley is an author whose work I’ve encountered in various used book stores but never acquired…. until now. Here’s the SF Encyclopedia entry on his work. Let me know if you’ve read any of them!

Note: The Kelley edition and cover are different than the one I own. I accidentally mutilated the cover by removing (by incorrect means) a large sticker. I own the 1971 Berkley Medallion first edition.

2. I adored David Ely’s Seconds (1962). I hope to have a review up soon! I went ahead and acquired his only other SF novel.

3. Although I’ve read and complained vehemently about Pamela Sargent’s Cloned Lives (1976), I’m  not a reader who gives up on an author after a single novel. Like Cloned LivesThe White Death (variant title: The Sudden Star) (1979), creates a tapestry of characters presented with a crisis. I’ll read this one sooner than later.

4. An original anthology on the year 2000. I couldn’t pass it up especially as it contains a SF short story by Naomi Mitchison. I remember Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962) fondly….

As always, let me know your thoughts on the books/covers/or tangents.

Enjoy!

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1. The Coins of Murph, Leo P. Kelley (1971)

(Colin Hay’s cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCVIII (Sargent + Kelley + Ely + Anthology ed. Harry Harrison)

Book Review: Cybernaut, E. G. Valens (1968)

(Robert Andrew Parker’s cover art for the 1968 edition)

2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)

E. G. Valens’ Cybernaut (1968), a narrative SF poem, translocates earth exploration metaphors into the endless emptiness of space with varying degrees of success.

The narrator’s deep space exploration–“Operation C / Exploratory / A first incision in the skin of time. / Objective: / Lay back the superficial tissue / Lay bare the cortex of / The galaxy” (13)–is not all triumph. Continue reading Book Review: Cybernaut, E. G. Valens (1968)

Book Review: Under a Calculating Star, John Morressy (1975)

(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1978 edition)

3/5 (Average)

After finishing John Morressy’s Frostworld and Dreamfire (1977), I tracked down another volume of his Del Whitby sequence. Although far from as engaging and emotionally affective as the former, Under a Calculating Star (1975) provides the historical background to the Morressy’s weirdly primitive far future world: the origins of the Sternverein (the dominant business polity), the explanation of why swords and knives are the weapons of choice while high-tech spaceships roam the interstellar expanses, and the role of Old Earth in the colonization of the far flung reaches. Historical content aside, Under a Calculating Star‘s plot and characters fail to engage and the worlds and societies are one-dimensional in comparison to Frostworld and Dreamfire‘s metamorphic Onhla and the planet Hraggellon, locked in its unusual orbit. Continue reading Book Review: Under a Calculating Star, John Morressy (1975)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCVII (Moorcock + Pohl + Leinster + Morressy)

1. Frederik Pohl short stories? I’ve collected volumes and volumes and volumes for years—I suspect I should get around to reading one!

An effective Dean Ellis cover….

2. I acquired the second volume in Michael Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time sequence at my local used bookstore down the street. I read An Alien Heat (1972) in 2016.

3. A few days ago I reviewed John Morressy’s wonderful Frostworld and Dreamfire (1977) — I was intrigued enough that I tracked down another volume in the Del Whitby sequence—Under a Calculating Star (1975). I’ll have a review up in the next few days.

4. The second Murray Leinster Med Service collection I’ve acquired–as a huge fan of medical-themed SF…. I should put together a list.

Other lists: Immortality in SF, Generation Ships, and Overpopulation in SF.

Do you have a favorite cover?

As always, I look forward to your comments!

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1.  Alternating  Currents,  Frederik  Pohl  (1956)

(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCVII (Moorcock + Pohl + Leinster + Morressy)

Book Review: Frostworld and Dreamfire, John Morressy (1977)

(David Wilhelmsen’s cover for the 1977 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

John Morressy’s moving SF epic Frostworld and Dreamfire (1977) is set in the Del Whitby sequence (1972-1983) of novels which explore conflict and colonialism (humans and humanoid aliens) within the loose human Sternverein polity.  Conceptually the sequence, which does not have to be read in order, fascinates: the first three novels–Starbrat (1972), Nail Down the Stars (1973), and Under a Calculating Star (1975)–analyze the same conflict from three different perspectives (SF Encyclopedia entry). Continue reading Book Review: Frostworld and Dreamfire, John Morressy (1977)