Category Archives: SF Book Reviews

Generation Ship Short Story Review: Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon A Star” (1958)

Preliminary note: This is the third post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. All of the stories I’ll review are available online. You are welcome to read and discuss along with me as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage. And thanks go out to all who have joined already!

Next up: John Brunner’s “Lungfish” in Science-Fantasy, December 1957, ed. John Carnell (PDF link).

Previously: Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation” (1953).

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the December 1958 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Robert P. Mills)

4.25/5 (Good)

In Judith Merril’s “Daughters of Earth” (1952), she refashions the classic pulp SF tale of male exploration of the galaxy by tracing, in biblical fashion, one family of female explorers. In “Wish Upon A Star” (1958), Merril reworks another trope—the male hero on a generation ship who discovers the true Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon A Star” (1958)

Book Review: The Texts of Festival, Mick Farren (1973)

(Peter Jones’ cover for the 1975 edition)

2.5/5 (Bad)

Mick Farren (1943-2013)—science fiction author, counterculture musician, underground newspaper journalist—spins a wild drug-tinged adventure, replete with innumerable musical references, across a devastated, decadent, and depopulated future United Kingdom. The Texts of Festival (1973), dolled up with half-baked attempts at philosophy (counterculture becomes mainstream and loses its radical and society-transforming meaning), careens forth  with extensive sequences of action-packed exploitative sleaze. A sword-and-fantasy plot unfolds Continue reading Book Review: The Texts of Festival, Mick Farren (1973)

Generation Ship Short Story Review: Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation”) (1953)

Preliminary note: This is the second post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. You are welcome to read and discuss along with me–all of the stories I’ll review will be available online–as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage!

Next up: Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon a Star” in the December 1958 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Internet Archive link).

Previously: Chad Oliver’s fantastic “The Wind Blows Free” (1957).

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Tom O’Reilly’s interior art for the Science-Fiction Plus, August 1953)

3.5/5 (Good)

Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation”) appeared in the August 1953 issue of Science-Fiction Plus, ed. Hugo Gernsback (Internet Archive link). The story is lavishly illustrated with evocative art by Tom O’Reilly. The story itself posits that religion is required to satiate the Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation”) (1953)

Generation Spaceship Short Story Review: Chad Oliver’s “The Wind Blows Free” (1957)

Initial note: This is the inaugural post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. You are welcome to read and discuss along with me–all of the stories I’ll review will be available online–as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage!

Next up: Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation”) in the August 1953 issue of Science-Fiction Plus (Internet Archive link).

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Bob Layzell’s cover for the 1980 edition of A Sea of Space (1970), ed. William F. Nolan)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

Chad Oliver’s “The Wind Blows Free” (1957) first appeared in the July 1957 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Anthony Boucher (Internet Archive link). Despite the simple premise, Oliver’s powerful delivery and imagery reaffirmed my love for generation ship stories and their common tropes: generational change, the science of survival, the architecture of arks Continue reading Generation Spaceship Short Story Review: Chad Oliver’s “The Wind Blows Free” (1957)

[Short] Book Reviews: Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys (1960) and Syzygy, Michael G. Coney (1973)

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.

1. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys (1960)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1960 edition)

4/5 (Good)

Over the almost decade of reading for my site, I’ve enjoyed Algis Budrys’ short stories and disliked his novels. After the moody and noir(ish) Rogue Moon (1960), I’ll continue exploring his oeuvre.

Rogue Moon, one of his best-known works, is an odd and oblique read. And odd in that reviewers seem to expect the science fiction al core should be given greater weight than the melodrama… Unlike the melodrama in Michael G. Coney’s Syzygy reviewed below, Budrys’ brand engages as each of his Continue reading [Short] Book Reviews: Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys (1960) and Syzygy, Michael G. Coney (1973)

Book Review: Cage a Man, F. M. Busby (1973)

(Gary Viskupic’s cover for the 1st edition)

3/5 (Average)

F. M. Busby’s Cage a Man (1973) is an exercise in discomfort and disorientation. A case study of the scarring effects of dehumanizing brutality at the hands of very alien aliens and the slow path towards recovery, Cage a Man successfully conveys the former and stumbles with the latter. Despite its flaws, Busby tells his tale with a punchy blue-collar intensity that does not shirk from Continue reading Book Review: Cage a Man, F. M. Busby (1973)

Book Review: Port Eternity, C. J. Cherryh (1982)

(Gary LaSasso’s cover for the 1983 edition)

4/5 (Good)

In my late teens I encountered the space opera of C. J. Cherryh  through the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Downbelow Station (1981).* I was hooked. Her paranoia-drenched spacescapes, interstellar freighters, the awe-inspiring cumulative world-building effect of innumerable novel sequences from distinct perspectives, and narration that dwells on psychological impact of events were my bread and butter. See below for the list of the ten (I think?) novels I’ve previously read (although many details blend together). For whatever reason I hadn’t returned to her SF in more than a decade. I am glad I did!

C. J. Cherryh’s Port Eternity (1982), part of the Age of Exploration sequence within the larger Alliance-Union world, can be read alone.  It is a claustrophobic rumination on identity Continue reading Book Review: Port Eternity, C. J. Cherryh (1982)