Updates: My 2019 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Categories)

(Chis Foss’ cover for the 1976 French edition of The Inverted World (1974), Christopher Priest)

2019, the tenth year of my site, proved to be a renaissance of sorts. While I managed to read a lot in 2018, I wrote few posts—mostly acquisition and art posts (which take the least effort and time). I have returned, almost, to my earlier levels of productivity and I hope that continues into 2020. Thank you all for reading and commenting be it on the site or on twitter.  It’s greatly appreciated.

And here are my favorite novels and short stories I read in 2019 Continue reading Updates: My 2019 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Categories)

Short Book Reviews: Harry Harrison’s Captive Universe (1969), John Christopher’s The Death of Grass (1956), Nancy Kress’ An Alien Light (1987), and Joe Haldeman’s Mindbridge (1976)

My “to review” pile is growing and my memory of them is fading… hence short—far less analytical—reviews.

1. Mindbridge, Joe Haldeman (1976)

(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1977 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

Nominated for the 1977 Hugo Award

Joe Haldeman never struck me as an author who experimented with New Wave methods of telling. Mindbridge (1976) shatters my misconception. Imagine the basic plot of his masterpiece The Forever War (1975) combined with a fascinating experimental structure. The latter intrigued me far more than the former.

The Basic Plot: The Levant-Meyer Translation allows humans to instantaneously travel across the galaxy. The Tamer Agency sends its agents to investigate alien worlds. Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Harry Harrison’s Captive Universe (1969), John Christopher’s The Death of Grass (1956), Nancy Kress’ An Alien Light (1987), and Joe Haldeman’s Mindbridge (1976)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIV (Anne McCaffrey, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, and Philip Wylie)

1. In my youth Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels received a privileged place on my shelf. I have yet to explore her other SF in any great detail. The Ship Who Sang (1969) is a fix-up novel of six earlier short fictions from the 60s. I’ve put this one near the top of my to-read list!

2. Another epic series of tales of space exploration from Poul Anderson! I hope it’s better than Tau Zero (1970).

3. A post-apocalyptical novel from Philip Wylie—14 survivors in the bomb shelter of a millionaire. Thoughts on this one?

4. I’ve never cared for Lester del Rey, The only work of his I’ve somewhat enjoyed was The Eleventh Commandment (1962, rev. 1970) as I’m a sucker for overpopulation-themed SF.

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

~

1. The Ship Who Sang, Anne McCaffrey (1969)

(Greg and Tim Hildebrandt’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIV (Anne McCaffrey, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, and Philip Wylie)

Book Review: The Space-Born, E. C. Tubb (1955)

(Ed Valigursky’s cover for the 1956 edition)

2.5/5 (Bad)

Almost the surprise of the year! E. C. Tubb’s The Space-Born (variant title: Star Ship) (1955) first appeared as a serial in New Worlds (April, May, and June 1955 issues). For American audiences, Tubb’s novel was paired with Philip K. Dick’s The Man Who Japed (1956) as an Ace Double. My only previous exposure to the prolific British author’s SF was “The Seekers” (1965), a paranoid vision of spacemen possessed by delusions of grandeur after their captain’s death. The Space-Born is a fascinating generation ship novel with a catastrophic Continue reading Book Review: The Space-Born, E. C. Tubb (1955)

Generation Ship Short Story Review: J. G. Ballard’s “Thirteen to Centaurus” (1962)

Preliminary note: This is the fifth post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. All of the stories I’ll review are available online (see links below). 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: We’re stepping back almost two decades! A. E. van Vogt’s “Centaurus II”in the June 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr. (story link).

Previously: John Brunner’s “Lungfish” (1957) appeared in the December 1957 issue of Science Fantasy, ed. John Cornell.

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Lloyd Birmingham’s cover for the April 1962 issue, ed. Cele Goldsmith)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

J. G. Ballard’s “Thirteen to Centaurus” (1961) first appeared in the April 1962 issue of Amazing Stories, ed. Cele Goldsmith. Due to the twists in Ballard’s short story, I feel the need to indicate spoilers. My reviews are uninterested in avoiding spoilers as I am here to analyze and uncover secrets, and secretive commentaries, and metaphoric layers—and there are a lot of fascinating and unnerving elements in “Thirteen to Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: J. G. Ballard’s “Thirteen to Centaurus” (1962)

Generation Ship Short Story Review: John Brunner’s “Lungfish” (1957)

Preliminary note: This is the fourth 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: J. G. Ballard’s “Thirteen to Centaurus” in the April 1962 issue of Amazing Stories, ed. Cele Goldsmith (link).

Previously: Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon a Star” in the December 1958 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Robert P. Mills

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Brian Lewis’ cover for the December 1957 issue of Science Fantasy, ed. John Cornell)

4.75/5 (Near Masterpiece)

Our generation ship short story series continues with a gem! John Brunner’s “Lungfish” (1957) appeared in the December 1957 issue of Science Fantasy, ed. John Cornell. It also appeared in the 1972 collection Entry to Elsewhen which I reviewed back in 2010. “Lungfish” was the only worthwhile story in the collection and I was eager to give it a reread!

John Brunner wrote thought-provoking Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: John Brunner’s “Lungfish” (1957)

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)