Book Review: The Explorers, C. M. Kornbluth (1954)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1954 edition)

collated rating: 4/5 (Good)

I’ve stayed away from C. M. Kornbluth for far too long.  I read Kornbluth and Pohl’s The Space Merchants (1953) when I was quite young and was put off for some unexplainable reason.  What a shame!  This collection of short stories and novelettes contains some of the best short works I’ve ever read from the 50s (a few of Philip K. Dick’s early works are just as good).  As with The Space Merchants, Kornbluth exposes (in an often satirical manner) the dark underbelly of the usually glamourous 50s accounts of space travel, interplanetary trade, and the devastating social ramifications of technology on astronauts, new cultures, etc.  Kornbluth is equally adept at infusing his work with devastating commentary on American society.

This collection is brilliant throughout — only the annoying silly Continue reading Book Review: The Explorers, C. M. Kornbluth (1954)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XIX (Herbert + Aldiss + et al.)

Christmas = gift cards = more science fiction books, and a few my dad had procured for himself appeared miraculously in my pile — I’ve decided to break down the clump into manageable four book posts.

And of course, I wish you all a good sci-fi book hunting/reading year!

Enjoy!

1. The Santaroga Barrier, Frank Herbert (1968)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1968 edition)

I’ve read a substantial number of Frank Herbert’s non-Dune Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XIX (Herbert + Aldiss + et al.)

Book Review: The City Machine, Louis Trimble (1972)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1972 edition)

3.75/5 (Good)

First, a snarky comment about Kelly Freas’ unfortunate cover art — I can’t help but giggle at the imposing sci-fi behemoth cityscape which accidentally wandered onto a Thomas Kinkade, “Painter of Light” (or, as I call him, “The Painter of Kitsch”) Christmas tableau.  Kelly Freas’ fuzzy light, happy-budget-hotel-color-scheme art seldom impresses me.  Perhaps I’m too harsh….

On the other less caustic hand, Louis Trimble’s The City Machine is a surprisingly intriguing blend of allegory and sci-fi tale.  In line with my previous Continue reading Book Review: The City Machine, Louis Trimble (1972)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Superminds (giant brains, expanding minds, rampant imagination)

(Uncredited cover for the 1960 edition of The 22nd Century (1954), John Christopher)

There’s no better way to start off the new year than a gallery of science fiction covers depicting rampant imagination,  unlimited promise.  Some of us probably wish for mechanisms that conjure extraordinary feats of telepathy or the throbbing delights (avoiding all the pitfalls, of course) of a wisdom inundated supermind (well, I do at least).

Regardless, depicting extraordinary intelligence — whether harnessed for nefarious schemes or not — is a common trope: gigantic brains! unusual metal helmets! exploding heads replete with spectral fires! rays darting from eyes! otherworldly auras encircling heads, emanating symbols Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Superminds (giant brains, expanding minds, rampant imagination)

Book Review: Magellan, Colin Anderson (1970)

(Uncredited cover for the 1970 first edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

Magellan (1970), Colin Anderson’s only science fiction publication, is an inventive but emotionally hollow novel, overly brief, and lacking in sufficient prose to adequately convey the lengthy allegorical sequences.  It is a shame that Colin Anderson didn’t write other science fiction works because this one holds great potential.  The future evolution of mankind — waiting to be subsumed into a computer of their own making — is a fascinating premise.  The tepid  and unadventurous prose conflicts with the grand and audacious subject matter.

Brief Plot Summary (limited Continue reading Book Review: Magellan, Colin Anderson (1970)

Update: 2011 in review, best books, movies, etc

Here are my favorite films and science fiction novels I’ve reviewed this year (and some other interesting categories) with links to my reviews….

Watch them! Read them! Gaze at them!  (the array below….)

Best Science Fiction Novel (tie: The World Inside, The Unsleeping Eye, Hawksbill Station)

The World Inside (1971), Robert Silverberg (REVIEW) 5/5 (Masterpiece)

Silverberg’s The World Inside is a fascinating take on the theme of overpopulation — what if society was organized towards a single goal, propagation?  What would society look like?  What position in society would women occupy?  Men? What would cities look like? Hallways? Rooms? Institutions?  What happens to those who don’t fit in?  Or, can’t have children?

The Unsleeping Eye (variant title: Continue reading Update: 2011 in review, best books, movies, etc

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Reusing Cover Art

(Jack Gaughn’s cover for the 1964 edition of Three Worlds to Conquer (1964), Poul Anderson)

I spend a substantial amount of time looking through the sci-fi publisher catalogues of Ace, Pyramid Books, Dell, Doubleday, Signet, Ballantine, etc for both books to read and interesting covers that fit into various themes for my Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art posts (INDEX).

While perusing I’m occasionally baffled by covers that I’ve sworn I’ve seen on other books — and lo and behold, publishers sold art to different publishers, often lesser-known and unable to commission their own Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Reusing Cover Art