Category Archives: Updates + Articles

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXI (Sheri S. Tepper + Paul H. Cook + Robert Merle + Anthology)

1. I bought this themeless hodgepodge anthology for two reasons–the UK 1980 edition has a cool spaceship! And second, it contains Chad Oliver’s generation ship short story “The Wind Blows Free” (1957). MPorcius calls it one of Oliver’s best. As I’ve not been enamored with his brand of SF, I’m eager to try a short story on a favorite theme far outside of his normal anthropological-focused oeuvre.

I’ve previously reviewed Oliver’s The Shores of Another Sea (1971).

2. Sheri S. Tepper is a glaring hole in my SF knowledge. I often explore the back catalog before plunging into the best known novels of an author—The Revenants, her first published novel, is “a long, complex work of SF” according to SF Encyclopedia. I wish it would be a tad more descriptive…. the novel has a fun map which I’ll feature in a Monday Maps and Diagrams post.

3. French post-apocalyptic SF in translation! With an awful cover…

4. Paul Cook is another unknown author to me. His first novel, Tintangel (1981) has a bizarre premise (see blurb below). This might be my next SF read.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

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1. A Sea of Space, ed. William F. Nolan (1970)

(Bob Layzell’s cover for the 1980 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXI (Sheri S. Tepper + Paul H. Cook + Robert Merle + Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXX (Ben Bova, Suzette Haden Elgin, Louis Trimble, Josephine Saxton, Orbit Anthology)

1. Ben Bova is not a site favorite…. But I’m willing to give a handful of his better known novels a shot. Here is the first (in the internal chronology) of the Kinsman sequence. Low hopes.

If you want to know why I have low hopes check out these three reviews:

2. Side 1 of an Ace Double. Suzette Haden Elgin’s The Communipaths is the first in her Coyote Jones sequence. I had mixed views on the third volume: At the Seventh Level (1972).

3. Side 2 of an Ace Double. Back in 2012 I reviewed Louis Trimble’s intriguing SF allegorical city tale The City Machine (1972). It was a competent work that, in the hands of a more polished writer, could have been so much more. Not sure what to expect from this one…. the zany nature of the blurb is off-putting.

4. Josephine Saxton’s The Hieros Gamos of Sam and An Smith (1969) still haunts me. I need to read more of her short fiction.

5. And finally, my Orbit anthology series collection grows!

Previous reviews:

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

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1. Kinsman, Ben Bova (1979)

(Uncredited cover for the 1981 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXX (Ben Bova, Suzette Haden Elgin, Louis Trimble, Josephine Saxton, Orbit Anthology)

Updates: Recent Mostly Apocalyptic Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXIX (Nevil Shute, Walter Tevis, Philip McCutchan, and Lawrence Watt-Evans)

1. I’m finally the owner of one of the 50s/60s post-apocalyptic novels…. I suspect the 1959 film adaptation of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (1957), which I did not enjoy, was the reason I’ve taken so long to acquire a copy.

It’ll fit neatly into my recent themed review sequence:

2. A far lesser known UK post-apocalyptic novel–SF Encyclopedia compares Philip McCutchan’s A Time for Survival (1965) to the relentless despair of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006

3. I’ve yet to read any of Walter Tevis’ SF–I’ve acquired his post-apocalyptic novel Mockingbird (1980).

4. And finally, the least-known quantity of this post…. an impulse buy (SF and noir is a fun combo) at my local Half Price.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

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1. On the Beach, Nevil Shute (1957)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1986 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Mostly Apocalyptic Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXIX (Nevil Shute, Walter Tevis, Philip McCutchan, and Lawrence Watt-Evans)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVII (Alan Dean Foster, F. M. Busby, Michael G. Coney, John Christopher)

1. Michael G. Coney is a firm blog favorite–from his deeply lyrical paean Hello Summer, Goodbye (variant title: Rax) (1975) to his off-the-wall bizarre short fictions in Friends Come in Boxes (1973). I eagerly snatched up a copy of his “ecological puzzle story” with  alien shapeshifters–Syzygy (1973) (Coney’s entry in SF Encyclopedia).

2. Always love a SF water world! hah. This one via Alan Dean Foster….

3. MPorcius over at MPorcius Fiction Log speaks highly of F. M. Busby’s Cage a Man (1973). I’ve only previously read Busby’s terrible shock story “Tell Me All About Yourself” (1973).

4. More British apocalypse tales join the ranks—this one a lesser known work by John Christopher. Pendulum (1968) is a tale of apocalypse from within rather than his normal external causes of societal devastation–see my recent review of A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge) (1966).. The inside flap reads as alarmist drivel—we shall see.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

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1. Syzygy, Michael G. Coney (1973)

(David Bergen’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVII (Alan Dean Foster, F. M. Busby, Michael G. Coney, John Christopher)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVI (Philip K. Dick, Tanith Lee, Paul Park, Gordon Eklund, and Poul Anderson)

1. As I read the vast majority of Philip K. Dick’s novels pre-blog (i.e. pre-2010), many of the details have faded into a general morass of surreal fragments and paranoiac dreams. I know for certain Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) remains one of only a handful of unread works in his vast oeuvre.

This UK edition has a bizarre cover….

2. I thoroughly enjoyed Tanith Lee’s Don’t Bite the Sun (1976) and snatched another one of her early SF works—Day by Night (1980)…. the premise intrigues! A storyteller spins tales on a popular TV network that might not be stories at all…. but true accounts of the denizens from the other side of the planet.

3. A candidate for the worst cover of all time? The book by Gordon Eklund and Poul Anderson might not be much better. Certainly the risk purchase of the batch!

4. And finally, a riff on Brian Aldiss’ Helliconia formula? I can’t wait to read this one.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

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1. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Philip K. Dick (1974)

(Richard Clifton-Dey’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVI (Philip K. Dick, Tanith Lee, Paul Park, Gordon Eklund, and Poul Anderson)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXV (C. J. Cherryh, Gene Wolfe, Jane Palmer, Chris Boyce)

1. Gene Wolfe’s first novel—purchased for the Peter Elson cover alone…. Wolfe disowned the book, which apparently underwent substantial editorial amputation.

SF Encyclopedia‘s description: “Wolfe’s first novel, Operation ARES (1970), where a twenty-first-century America which has turned its back on Technological advance is propagandized and benignly infiltrated by its abandoned Martian colony, was heavily cut by the publisher, and reads as apprentice work. Nevertheless it is very characteristic of Wolfe that his protagonist, having pretended membership of the pro-Mars underground called ARES, should unwillingly become its effective leader.”

2. Another The Women’s Press publication joins my shelf.

3. The unknown quantity of the post…. Clute over at SF Encyclopedia describes it as follows: “[Chris] Boyce’s most important work was the sf novel Catchworld (1975), joint winner […] of the Gollancz/Sunday Times SF Novel Award. Catchworld is an ornate, sometimes overcomplicated tale combining sophisticated brain-computer interfaces […] and Space Opera; the transcendental bravura of the book’s climax is memorable.”

4. I recently read (but haven’t yet reviewed) C. J. Cherryh’s Port Eternity (1982). My exploration of her early 80s novels continues!

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

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1. Operation ARES, Gene Wolfe (1970)

gene wolfe, operation ares

(Peter Elson’s cover for the 1978) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXV (C. J. Cherryh, Gene Wolfe, Jane Palmer, Chris Boyce)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXIV (John Varley + Marta Randall + Jean Mark Gawron + Colin Greenland)

1. John Varley’s fantastic mind trapped in a computer after an accident while a lion in an underground Mars safari park short story “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank” (1977) inspired me to pick a collection of his late 70s and early 80s short stories—including the Nebula and Hugo-nominated “Beatnik Bayou” (1980) and the Hugo-nominated “The Barbie Murders” (1979).

2. Colin Greenland’s oblique Daybreak on a Different Mountain (1984) is my type of fantasy—sculpted landscapes, a Ballard-inspired entropy-filled world, surreal sequences…. I picked up volume two in the loose Daybreak sequence.

3. I am slowly working through Marta Randall’s novels–see my favorable reviews of Islands (1976) and A City in the North (1976)–and, despite the awful cover, snagged the first volume in her Kennerin Saga sequence.

4. An finally, a complete unknown quantity…. My friend 2theD (who, unfortunately, has long retired his blog) described it as impossible to paraphrase, nebulous, linguistically inspired….

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

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1. The Barbie Murders, John Varley (1980)

(David Plourde’s cover for the 1980 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXIV (John Varley + Marta Randall + Jean Mark Gawron + Colin Greenland)