Category Archives: Updates + Articles

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLIII (Mary Gentle, Robert Reed, Mike Resnick, and Jayge Carr)

1. As a historian, I am particularly fascinated by future histories—stories or novels chronologically organized to convey the historical scope of a society’s evolution. Mike Resnick, a new author to me, presents a future history in the form of linked original short stories. The format reminds me of Michael Bishop’s Catacomb Years (1979), although the stories in the latter volume were previously published.

Barry N. Malzberg also tried his hand at a future history (albeit, a distinctly Malzbergian take) in the underrated Universe Day (1971).

2. I’ve read extensively about Mary Gentle but I haven’t picked up one of her novels–until now. I’d love to know your thoughts on this one.

3. Jayge Carr is best known for Leviathan’s Deep (1979) which I bought a few years back but haven’t read. Here’s a lesser known work—it only received one printing—in a trilogy.

4. And finally, another complete unknown…. SF Encyclopedia describes Robert Reed’s first novel, The Leeshore (1987), as “a tale which combines adventure-sf plotting (a pair of twins, the sole humans left on the eponymous water-covered colony planet, must guide a task force in pursuit of the Computer-worshiping zealots who have killed everyone else) with an almost mystical sense for the genius of place, the intricacies of self-hood.”

Count me intrigued! I’m all for unusual planets…..

As always, let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

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1. Birthright: The Book of Man, Mike Resnick (1982)

(Uncredited cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLIII (Mary Gentle, Robert Reed, Mike Resnick, and Jayge Carr)

Updates: A New Resource on Sports and Games in Science Fiction

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1972 edition of The Space Olympics (1967), A. M. Lightner)

Official Resource Page LINK (this will be updated based on your suggestions).

In the era of Covid-19, sports leagues and events around the world have been cancelled. ESPN runs replays of the glorious past…. partial sports fans like myself miss Major League Soccer and the conclusions to various European football leagues. I thought it would be fun to put together a new resource on Sports and Games in Science Fiction. And, these resources serve as a way to organize my reviews (links provided).

To quote from my review of William Harrison’s “Roller Ball Murder” (1973), “I am (generally) not a fan of sports. I am a fan of science fiction about sports. More specifically, I’m a proponent of sports as a SF vehicle for social commentary on commercialism, trauma, alienation, and violence.”

One last thing before I discuss the list I’ve compiled, let me know your favorites. I am open to tracking a bunch down for my reading pleasure in this sports-deprived Continue reading Updates: A New Resource on Sports and Games in Science Fiction

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLII (C. J. Cherryh and T. A. Waters)

All the following books came from the Chicago, IL bookstore Bucket O’Blood. I bought them online to support one of my favorite bookstores negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Check them out!  If able, support your favorite stores (buy online, buy gift cards for later purchases, etc.) in this trying time.

I hope all of you are well.

1. Book two of C. J. Cherryh’s Faded Sun trilogy. I bought the first one a few months ago.

While I’ve only reviewed two of Cherryh’s novels on my site—-Merchanter’s Luck (1982) and Port Eternity (1982)—she was one of my favorite pre-blog authors. I’ve previously read fifteen or so of her novels including Cyteen (1988) and Downbellow Station (1981). I have yet to read any of her pre-1980 novels so I look forward to diving into this trilogy.

2. An unknown author and novel (at least to me)…. with a flashy/fun cover. According to SF Encyclopedia, “A counter-cultural ethos also inspired the grimmer Centerforce (1974), in which motorcycle dropouts and commune dwellers combine in opposition to a Near-Future police-state America.”

3. One of C. J. Cherryh’s few standalone novels–Hestia (1979). Seems like a standard anthropological mystery on an alien world. Thoughts? As always, annoyed by the cat woman alien art….

4. Book three of C. J. Cherryh’s Faded Sun trilogy.

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

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1. The Faded Sun: Shon’Jir, C. J. Cherryh (1978)

(Gino D’Achille’s cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLII (C. J. Cherryh and T. A. Waters)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLI (Ben Bova, Margaret Elphinstone, Christopher Evans, Lee Hoffman)

1. New author to me. Unknown book. Fascinating Peter Gudynas city-scape cover. Let the act of exploration carry me through!

2. My The Women’s Press collection of SF/F novels grows. This is probably one of the least known volumes.

But so was Elizabeth Baines’ The Birth Machine (1983) and it was fantastic!

3. I love the concept of an epic near-future space thriller involving weather manipulation! But me and Ben Bova never see eye-to-eye….

4. An unknown Doubleday SF edition. I have yet to read any of Lee Hoffman’s SF — she wrote a handful.

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

1. Capella’s Golden Eyes, Christopher Evans (1980)

(Peter Gudynas’ cover for the 1982 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLI (Ben Bova, Margaret Elphinstone, Christopher Evans, Lee Hoffman)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXL (Melissa Scott, Ignácio de Loyola Brandão, Sheila MacLeod, and Albert J. Guerard)

1. I have yet to read anything by Melissa Scott — as is my habit, I start with a lesser known novel (in this case, her first one).

2. SF in translation from Brazil! Looks terrifying.

3. And I’m yet again the owner of another one of the worst SF covers. That said, Sheila MacLeod’s Xanthe and the Robots  (1977) seems to be an intriguing take on androids and the the nature of humanity.

4. A complete unknown author (wrote more mainstream lit than SF) and novel… According to SF encyclopedia, Albert Joseph Guerard’s only SF novel Night Journey (1950) “depicts an idealistic soldier against the background of a useless Near-Future European Future War. The loss of his illusions is rendered with psychological acuity, though the narrative itself is dithery.”

Count me intrigued.

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

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1. The Game Beyond, Melissa Scott (1984)

(Alan Gutierrez’s cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXL (Melissa Scott, Ignácio de Loyola Brandão, Sheila MacLeod, and Albert J. Guerard)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIX (Jack Dann, Judith Merril, Anne McCaffrey, John Shirley)

1. I have yet to read any of Jack Dann’s SF — this surreal (?) post-apocalyptical novel looks promising! And a strange Jim Burns cover to boot…

2. I recently reviewed Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon a Star” (1958) for my generation ship short story read-through (i’ll have a new installment soon). I decided to track down another one of her short fiction collections….

I’ve reviewed the following collections so far:

3. The title of Anne McCaffrey’s collection Get Off the Unicorn (1977) was derived from a humorous misprint. According to the collection’s introduction: “The title was derived by accident: McCaffrey’s working title had been “Get of the Unicorn” but this was misprinted as “Get Off the Unicorn” in Ballantine’s roster of unfilled contracts. After McCaffrey’s editor, Judy-Lynn del Rey, was repeatedly asked what “Get Off the Unicorn” was, del Rey asked McCaffrey what she could do about that theme.”

The collection itself contains a wide-range of her short fictions—from the Pern sequence (a childhood favorite) to the earliest story in the Catteni Sequence. I DEVOURED Freedom’s Landing (1995), Freedom’s Choice (1997), Freedom’s Challenge (1998), and Freedom’s Randsom (2002) as a kid! How to survive and thrive on an alien planet was my “go-to” SF device.

4. I’ve only read a handful of John Shirley’s short stories. It’s time for a novel. Eclipse (1985), set in a future a cyberpunk dystopia, tells the tale of anti-fascist resistance. We shall see!

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

1. The Man Who Melted, Jack Dann (1984)

(Jim Burns’ cover for the 1986 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIX (Jack Dann, Judith Merril, Anne McCaffrey, John Shirley)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVIII (Poul Anderson, Kathleen M. Sidney, Barry B. Longyear, Philippe Curval)

1. I have yet to read anything by Barry B. Longyear, best known Enemy Mine (with David Gerrold) (1985) and Sea of Glass (1986). Circus World (1981) seems like a fun series of linked short stories published in 1978 and 1979 about the descendants of a crashed circus ship.

2. My Poul Anderson collections grows and grows. Sometimes I’m not sure why I bother procuring them… I mean, it was only $1. See the index for my extensive (and apparently contentious) reviews of his work i.e. Tau Zero (1971). And eww, a gauzy cover by Gene Szafran….

3. A complete unknown—and Kathleen M. Sidney’s only SF novel (she wrote three additional short stories according to isfdb.org).

4. Vintage French SF in translation! With a fantastic cover by Max Ernst. In addition to writing SF, Philippe Curval produced fascinating photo collage SF cover art. I’ve featured his art previously on the site: Part I and Part II.

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

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1. Circus World, Barry B. Longyear (1981)

(John Rush’s cover for the 1981 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVIII (Poul Anderson, Kathleen M. Sidney, Barry B. Longyear, Philippe Curval)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVII (Rex Gordon, Craig Strete, Graham Dunstan Martin, and an Anthology of European SF)

Clifford D. Simak, Tanith Lee, and M. A. Foster reviews are incoming. The first few weeks of every semester hit with a vengeance—teaching is an exhausting profession.

In the meantime get inspired to read vintage SF by ogling these gems!

1. In my youth I was obsessed with Victorian/Belle Epoque survivalist novels–Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island (1874), Perseverance Island Or the Robinson Crusoe Of The Nineteenth Century(1885), et al. I judged them on their “realistic” portrayals of how man (and yes, the characters were always men) moved up the technological tree—from fire to steam engines—in a hostile world. Although I’ve utterly disavowed SF that adheres to such  naive technological triumphalism, occasionally nostalgia calls…. Here’s a SF Robinsonade along similar lines.

2. I adore Craig’s Strete unique brand of SF story. I reviewed, in abbreviated form, his spectacular collection If All Else Fails…. (1980). I’ll read this one soon! The Bleeding Man and Other Science Fiction Stories is also a well-designed volume as elements of the cover art are used at the beginning of each short story.

3. Another unknown commodity—seems to combine SF and fantasy tropes.

4. Back in November I acquired the second in the Terra SF series of anthologies edited by Richard D. Nolane of Western European SF in translation. I pointed out that the first volume online was prohibitively expensive. A follower on twitter discovered that a seller on Amazon incorrectly listed the collection under another title—at a radically reduced price. Now it’s a happy member of my collection.

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

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1. First on Mars (variant title: No Man Friday), Rex Gordon (1956)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVII (Rex Gordon, Craig Strete, Graham Dunstan Martin, and an Anthology of European SF)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVI (Eric Frank Russell, Cherry Wilder, Tim Powers, and Kevin O’Donnell, Jr.)

1. I adore the SF Rediscovery series published by Avon (full listing with covers here): the large size, the font and formatting, the framing of the art, and the general feel of the volume in my hand. If there’s a downside it’s the so-so quality of the art itself. I own and have reviewed two in the series previously: Barry N. Malzberg’s brilliant Revelations (1972) and E. C. Tubb’s generation ship novel The Space-Born (1955).

I have yet to read any of Eric Frank Russell’s SF—The Great Explosion (1962) seems to fit the satirical anti-Imperialism mode… we shall see!

2. A book an author whom I know little about…. Tony Roberts’ cover and the back-cover blurb intrigue!

3. Tim Powers’ first two novels were science fiction for the Laser Books imprint. I do not have high hopes (the imprint was notoriously low quality) but always enjoy exploring the early visions of authors. Miserable cover aside, it has a fun (if silly) premise!

4. A generation ship novel! (with a few unusual twists?)

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

1. The Great Explosion, Eric Frank Russell (1962) (MY REVIEW)

(Chris Foss’ cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVI (Eric Frank Russell, Cherry Wilder, Tim Powers, and Kevin O’Donnell, Jr.)