Book Review: Don’t Bite the Sun, Tanith Lee (1976)

(Brian Froud’s cover for the 1st edition)

3.75/5 (Good)

My friend Hergal had killed himself again. This was the fortieth time he had crashed his bird-plane on the Zeefahr Monument and had to have a new body made” (9).

Tanith Lee’s Don’t Bite the Sun (1976) posits a post-scarcity future  replete with advanced technology where youth, the Jang, are encouraged (and “taught” via hypno-schools) to engage in various forms of excess. The nameless female Jang narrator (N) attempts to find life’s purpose in a society without rules, struggle, Continue reading Book Review: Don’t Bite the Sun, Tanith Lee (1976)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIV (Haldeman + Lee + Jeter + Kilworth)

1. There are a handful of famous SF authors whose work I haven’t read since my late teens/very early twenties–Joe Haldeman is one of them. Mindbridge (1976) looks intriguing–and I always enjoy finding a UK edition replete with a fun Josh Kirby cover….

2. I finished Tanith Lee’s Don’t Bite the Sun (1976) over my vacation in Mexico City–I’ll have a review up soon. Here’s the second of her SF novels I’ve acquired. If there’s a theme to this post (2 of the 4 novels) it’s portrayals of physical disbility in SF.

3. I’ve never read anything by Garry Kilworth. This late 80s work would normally not be in my sights but I have a fascination with sculpted worlds. See my recent review of Colin Greenland’s Daybreak on a Different Mountain (1984) and John Crowley’s The Deep (1975).

4. The second of K. W. Jeter’s novels with Laser BooksThe Dreamfields (1976) looks like an exercise in extreme paranoia! Count me in.

Note: scans are from my person copies (other than Tanith Lee’s Electric Forest as my copy is in tatters). Click to enlarge.

Let me know your thoughts on the novels and covers + SF tangents in the comments!

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1. Mindbridge, Joe Haldeman (1976)

(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1977 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIV (Haldeman + Lee + Jeter + Kilworth)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIII (Sheffield + Lessing + Callenbach + Ford)

1. Body modification + new definitions of humanity + a mystery! What is there not to like? I’ve not read any of Charles Sheffield’s SF. I look forward to exploring his oeuvre.

2. A proto-cyberpunk novel? I wonder if Ford’s novel, Web of Angels (1980), doesn’t receive the readership it should due to the lack of noir imagery and Asian culture that forms the “cyberpunk” archetype…. thoughts?

3. I need to complete Doris Lessing’s sequence! When I might get around to reading it is another matter…

4. I always see Ernest Callenbach’s environmental utopia novel on the shelves of my local Half Price Books. While wandering around Mexico City I saw this one for a few pesos… and grabbed it.

Note: I am currently in Mexico City, far away from my scanner, and will be for almost another week. In two instances I own different editions of the books than the cover might indicate. I have noted in the back cover blurb which I own.

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

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1. Sight of Proteus, Charles Sheffield (1978)

(Clyde Caldwell’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIII (Sheffield + Lessing + Callenbach + Ford)

Book Review: Moonstar Odyssey, David Gerrold (1977)

(Gene Szafran’s cover for the 1st edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

David Gerrold’s Moonstar Odyssey (1977) is a careful and introspective reflection on identity and gender set in a fascinating world made habitable by terraforming.  While the back cover suggests the presence of a driving narrative–the fulfillment of a prophecy propelled by a catastrophic cataclysm–instead, Gerrold’s novel is a bildungsroman that follows the self-realization of a precocious child named Jobe.  The dominate struggle that forms the core of the novel is “The Choice”–the moment in a young person’s life when they chose to move from their androgynous state to either “Reethe [or] Dakka, between female Continue reading Book Review: Moonstar Odyssey, David Gerrold (1977)

Book Review: Daybreak on a Different Mountain, Colin Greenland (1984)

(Steve Weston’s cover for the 1st edition)

4/5 (Good)

Fantasy and science fiction that deploys geographical and urban allegory—Italo Calvino-esque cities balanced over chasms, the skeletons of urban human interactions measured out in string, etc.*—relentlessly intrigues. In John Crowley’s The Deep (1975), the world as chessboard is perched on top of a pillar with endlessness on all sides. In Garry Kilworth’s Cloudrock (1988), two tribes eek out their existence on a levitating rock surrounded by poisonous gasses. Terry Carr’s Cirque (1977) posits a city next to an abyss out of which crawls a tentacled beast…. Sculpted urban and geographic artifice can, in the hands of an adept author, create meaning-rich texts as characters inscribe new patterns on the landscapes they traverse. Continue reading Book Review: Daybreak on a Different Mountain, Colin Greenland (1984)

Book Review: Seconds, David Ely (1962)

(Uncredited cover for the 1963 1st edition)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

You’ve got what almost every middle-aged man in American would like to have. Freedom. Real freedom. You can do any damned thing you want to. You’ve got financial security, you’ve got no responsibilities, and you’ve got no reason at all to feel guilty about what you’ve done. The company’s taken care of everything. Right?” (91)

David Ely’s Seconds (1962), a disquieting and sparse thriller, posits a near future where a shadow organization can grant the wealthy new identities via plastic surgery and staged deaths. Wielding deceptively simple prose, Ely ruminates on the existential dread of the male mid-life crisis–an undefined desire to escape, to redo, to break free from the expectations and constraints of the suburban existence. It is a careful novel. A well-crafted nightmare Continue reading Book Review: Seconds, David Ely (1962)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXII (Martin + Jeter + Lee + Gerrold)

I told you I had a glut of SF acquisitions! My reading hasn’t slowed although reviewing, I’ll confess, has taken a back seat. However, my summer holiday begins today–I have multiple book reviews partially finished and scheduled.

In the meantime–> new books.

1. I have not read a single Tanith Lee short story or novel. I bought three to rectify that gaping hole in my knowledge. MPorcius, over at MPorcius’ Fiction Log (one of the few vintage SF review sites still publishing out reviews at a delightful pace), regularly celebrates her work. Check out his review of Don’t Bite The Sun (1976).

2. The surprising Half Price find of the last few years of browsing was the near complete publication series of Laser Books (see photo below). They are notorious for being mostly low quality (even the better authors in the series such as Gordon Eklund). However, K.W. Jeter–of Dr. Adder (written 1972, published 1984) fame–published his first novel in the series — I snagged it.

Note: if there are ANY other lesser known gems in the Laser books publication series PLEASE let me know. I suspect that vast majority of books will still be on the shelf if I were to return.

3. I finally have my hands on two early George R. R. Martin SF novels. Dying of the Light (1977) seems to have a fantastic premise. I look forward to it.

4. David Gerrold’s Moonstar Odyssey (1977) was nominated for the 1978 Nebula Award and then promptly forgotten…. online reviews indicate the challenging subject material (child sexuality) and the lack of a distinct plot. Some reviews made comparisons to Ursula Le Guin… Gerrold’s fiction has not satisfied me in the past. My knowledge, however, is limited to the following two books I reviewed on my site:

The Space Skimmer (1972)

Yesterday’s Children (variant title: The Space Hunt) (1972)

Tangent: Moonstar Odyssey contains a fantastic map. I’ll feature it on Monday in my soon-to-be-revived Monday Maps and Diagrams series.

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

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1. Don’t Bite the Sun, Tanith Lee (1976) (MY REVIEW)

(Brain Froud’s cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXII (Martin + Jeter + Lee + Gerrold)