Category Archives: Updates + Articles

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.

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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)

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)