Category Archives: Updates + Articles

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCI (Le Guin + Van Herck + Leinster + High + Analog Anthology)

1. I’ve acquired quite a few vintage SF novels and short story collections in translation over the last few weeks–here’s one from Paul Van Herck, a Belgian author who wrote in Dutch. Not the cheapest DAW books edition I’ve encountered….

2. I always want more Le Guin…. Here, a series of linked short stories set in a fantasy world.

3. This Analog Annual anthology contains the only publication of P. J. Plauger’s novel Fighting Madness. Plauger won the John Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer before fading from the scene.

4. I love vintage SF. I do not love Ace Doubles. Yes, they published a few PKD novels that are worth reading, but, on the whole, their quality was quite low. This was a gift from a family friend and one of the very few Ace Doubles I’ve been looking for — mostly due to Philip E. High’s city-themed novel.

As always, enjoy the covers! (they are hi-res scans of my personal copies — click for larger image)

Are any other the works worth reading? Let me know in the comments!

1. Where Were You Last Pluterday?, Paul Van Herck (1968, trans. 1973)

(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCI (Le Guin + Van Herck + Leinster + High + Analog Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CC “Foreign Vintage SF Edition” (Dutch SF Anthology + World SF Anthology + Non-English Language European SF Anthology + and a Czech Collection)

(Gianni Benvenuti’s back cover art detail for the 1978 edition of View from Another Shore (1973), ed. Franz Rottensteiner)

A Vintage Foreign SF Acquisitions Post!

Over the last few weeks, I’ve acquired three anthologies that gather vintage SF in translation from Japan to Denmark. I’ve also included in this post a single author collection of Czech 50s/60s science fiction. In addition to my initial thoughts, I’ve noted the non-English language countries covered in each volume. This is an incredibly exciting group of books as I know little to nothing about the individual authors and their works and can’t wait to explore….

1. Fantastic ruined city cover with exploring spaceman…. At first glance, this collection contains a substantial number of fantasy stories–I wish I knew which ones were SF!

Countries: Denmark and Belgium (specifically, the Dutch-speaking regions).

2. Maxim Jakubowski’s anthology deliberately gathers stories from a range of countries (many are English-speaking) including a few famous English-speaking authors (Brian W. Aldiss, Michael Moorcock, Cherry Wilder, John Sladek, etc.). In a humorous touch, he includes one of his own stories under the name Adam Barnett-Foster from the country of San Serriffe. As I knew immediately that this wasn’t a real country, a quick Wikipedia search reveals it was a fictional island nation created by Britain’s Guardian for April Fools’ Day 1977!

(Real) Countries: Romania, West Germany, France, USSR, The Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Poland.

3. Entirely non-English language European SF in translation… I enjoyed the humorous cover.

Countries: Poland, France, Denmark, West Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Italy, USSR.

4. One of the few non-Soviet single-language vintage SF collections I’ve encountered–Josef Nesvadba, Czechoslovakia (modern day Czech Republic). Of the four included in the collection, Nesvadba’s collection beckons most seductively.

All scans are of my personal copies (click to enlarge). Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CC “Foreign Vintage SF Edition” (Dutch SF Anthology + World SF Anthology + Non-English Language European SF Anthology + and a Czech Collection)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIX (Ursula K. Le Guin + Cordwainer Smith + M. P. Shiel + John Varley)

1. Ursula K. Le Guin’s novella, The Word for World is Forest, first appeared in Harlan Ellison’s Again, Dangerous Visions (1972) anthology before a stand-alone publication. I seem to remember reading it as a kid…. But…. the memories are vague.

2. Cordwainer Smith and I have never really seen eye to eye (I wanted to rhyme). I’m all for acquiring more of his collections just in case!

3. From Wikipedia:  “H. G. Wells lauded [M. P. Shiel’s] The Purple Cloud as ‘brilliant’ and H. P. Lovecraft later praised the novel as exemplary weird fiction, ‘delivered with a skill and artistry falling little short of actual majesty.'”

The Richard Powers cover is one of his best of the 60s.

4. John Varley, another author whom I’ve yet to read despite owning numerous of his collections and novels…. Millennium (1983) seems, well, suspicious? Time travel, airplanes, dystopic futures, love affairs across time. We shall see!

…and it was turned into a film in 1989.

Note: the images are hi-res scans. Click to enlarge.

As always, comments and tangents are welcome!

Enjoy.

1. The Word for World is Forest, Ursula K. Le Guin (anthology publication 1972)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIX (Ursula K. Le Guin + Cordwainer Smith + M. P. Shiel + John Varley)

Updates: My 2018 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Catagories)

Post-academia depression hits hard…. While completing my PhD (defended in the summer of 2017), reading SF and writing about SF was the way I kept sane. After multiple mostly unsuccessful years on the academic market, I have changed gears career-wise (although I’m still affiliated with a university and teaching college-level history courses but without the research component) and it has been a liberating experience. My history obsessions remain, even stronger in many ways, and academic monographs on all the topics that I wanted to read about but never could—Hellenistic successor states to Alexander, Early Islam, Late Antique and Medieval Persia, etc.–have dominated my time and pocketbook 2018 (don’t ask how much I’ve spent). I have included a “Best Academic History Reads of 2018” section for the curious.

At the beginning of November, I was moments from announcing that I was on hiatus for the foreseeable future. However, I have fallen back in love with SF and writing about SF and the new year beckons!

All of this is to say, I read little SF this year–until last month. However, there were a handful of stand-out SF novels and short stories that I managed to squeeze in.

And please list your favorite vintage (or non-vintage) SF reads of the year. I look forward to reading your comments.

Enjoy!

…and read lots of good books in 2019. I will.

Best SF Novels Continue reading Updates: My 2018 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Catagories)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCVIII “Christmas Edition” (An Atlas of Fantasy + Sturgeon + Jeter + Berriault)

1. One of two SF/F gifts (not specifically for Christmas — but let’s pretend!) I’ve included in this post…. Due to my recent series on Maps and Diagrams in Science Fiction, a reader and fan of the site sent me his extra copy of J.B. Post’s An Atlas of Fantasy (1973)–which includes some SF maps as well. Thank you!

2. The second gift—I’ve been spacing a giant pile of vintage SF I received from a family friend out over many months! Sturgeon sometimes intrigues, and sometimes infuriates—hopefully there will be more of the former in this collection. No stories in the vein of “The Hurkle Is a Happy Beast” (1949) please.

3. Dr. Adder, K. W. Jeter’s infamous “couldn’t be published when it was written” novel that might have defined “cyberpunk” long before Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984). I have the Bluejay Books 1st edition with lots of evocative (and disturbing) interior art.

4. And finally, a completely unknown quantity from an author I’d never heard of–Gina Berriault. Promises to be a Cold War satire of impending nuclear destruction. And it has a History professor as a main character! (i.e. maybe a 1960s version of me? we shall see).

Enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

And let me know in the comments if you receive any SF/fantasy Christmas gifts.

~

1. An Atlas of Fantasy, J. B. Post (1973)

(Uncredited cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCVIII “Christmas Edition” (An Atlas of Fantasy + Sturgeon + Jeter + Berriault)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCVII (Farmer + Leinster + Williams + Anthology)

I’ve returned! New books!

If you missed it, I also posted a new review of a fantastic novel that melds New Wave sensibilities with an engaging narrative. Check it out.

1. A gift from a family friend…. But what a John Schoenherr cover!

2. Another gift…. a fun space medic premise but I do not trust anything produced by Leinster to have depth yet alone be “thought-provoking” as the blurb proclaims.

3. A Toronto, CA find — unfortunately a tag mutilated the cover…

4. Another Toronto, CA find — while browsing through the shelves I was reminded of one of Tarbandu’s infrequent 5/5 reviews…. We don’t always agree but he introduced me to John Crowley!

As always, comments are welcome.

Enjoy!

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  1. Alien Worlds, ed. Roger Elwood (1964)

(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1964 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCVII (Farmer + Leinster + Williams + Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCVI (Ballard + Lessing + Wilson + Nebula Awards Anthology)

1. A Ballard novel that had previously escaped my grasp… Too bad I don’t own the visually fun 1981 1st edition (Bill Botton’s cover screams Damnation Alley).

2. Unfortunately my 1st edition copy of Angus Wilson’s satirical 1961 SF novel The Old Men at the Zoo did not come with a dustjacket (damn sellers who incorrectly list books online!). The novel itself appears interesting! Has anyone read it?

3. A spectacular Paul Lehr cityscape cover + Nebula award winners = what is not to love?

4. And finally, my sole Brooklyn, NY book purchase from my summer trip — the fifth in Doris Lessing’s Canopus in Argos: Archives sequence of SF novels.

As always, comments (and even tangents) are welcome.

Note: His-res images of all but Angus Wilson’s novel are my personal copies.

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1. Hello America, J. G. Ballard (1981)

(James Marsh’s cover for the 1985 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCVI (Ballard + Lessing + Wilson + Nebula Awards Anthology)