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

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XVIII (Disch + Silverberg + Pohl + Dickson + et. al.)

Half-Price Books in Dallas, Texas (its first location!) = bliss.

9 books = only 12 dollars. (curtesy of my girlfriend’s parents’ pre-Christmas gift)

What an amazing haul — and if I had known they were only going to be twelve dollars I would have picked up nine more.  Lots of Silverberg from his glory years…  Generation ships… City building machines… Weird psychic forcefields out beyond Pluto… Vietnam army camps experimenting with intelligence enhancing (and death inducing) syphilis strains…

1. Camp Concentration, Thomas M. Disch (1972)

(Uncredited cover for the 1971 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XVIII (Disch + Silverberg + Pohl + Dickson + et. al.)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Doomed Cities (post-apocalyptical ruins, war-wrecked landscapes, burning winds)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1959 edition of The Rest Must Die (1959), Kendell Foster Crossen)

The electricity turns off in a futuristic city and people turn into animals and everyone slowly kills each other, mysterious winds sweep through cities killing everyone, large machine minds take over, nuclear bombs destroy everything, intelligent dogs take over, the sun expands drying all the oceans, the sun expands (but not as much) and water floods over all the cities, aliens come with large guns and blow everything up, aliens come with brain probes and make others blow everything up, aliens pretend to be humans and annoy the humans enough so they blow each other up with nuclear bombs, people from the past go back in time and see that humans have blown everything up and they try to prevent the aliens from making the humans blow everything up, a bacterial agent from an alien kills everyone, Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Doomed Cities (post-apocalyptical ruins, war-wrecked landscapes, burning winds)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XVII (Asimov + Silverberg + White + et al.)

I somehow forgot to post these four…..

Because I thoroughly enjoyed James White’s The Watch Below (1966) I procured his first novel, The Secret Visitors (1957).  My expectations are low….

Despite the egregious cover of Silverberg’s The Masks of Time (1968) (“white firmament congregating, emanating?, from floating man’s manhood,” or, “Ball Lightening” as a particularly witty individual posted on Good Show Sir after I submitted the cover), I’ve found that virtually everything that Silverberg wrote in the late 60s and early 70s is on the whole top-notch so I couldn’t help but pick up a copy.

I’m no Asimov fan but I found an old copy of The Currents of Space (1952) at my parents’ house and purloined it —  I read it when I was 12 so it has intense nostalgic value, one of my first science fiction books!

1. The Currents of Space, Isaac Asimov (1952)

(Uncredited cover for the 1953 edition)

Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XVII (Asimov + Silverberg + White + et al.)

Book Review: The Watch Below, James White (1966)

(Uncredited cover for 1966 Ballantine edition)

4/5 (Good)

James White, famous for his Sector General series, spins a disturbing tale of two isolated and decaying societies — one alien, one human.  Without doubt the work demands a certain suspension of disbelief.  The isolated human society half of the premise comes off as highly artificial/improbably/impossible (and, well, bluntly put, hokey).  I found the alien half of the story line a more “realistic” situation but less emotionally involving as the human half.  White has difficultly meshing the trans-generational nature of both story lines — and the inevitable intersection at the end is predictable, anti-climactic, and dents the great appeal of the central portion of the work.

Lest this dissuade you, White’s dark vision is a transfixing take on the generation ship (literally) — how would a society descended from five individuals evolve for a hundred years trapped Continue reading Book Review: The Watch Below, James White (1966)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Domed Cities of the Future Part I

(Uncredited cover for the 1965 edition of Beyond the Sealed World (1965), Rena M. Vale)

While browsing through my collection of cover images I’ve collated over the last few months for science fiction art post ideas, I came across the uncredited cover for Rena Vale’s Beyond the Sealed World (1965) and was transfixed!  The angle of the text, the mountain, the dark expanse of space, the little spaceship, the figures silhouetted against the night, and the surreal shape of the domed city connected to other distant domed cities… If anyone knows the artist (or has a good educated guess) please let me know!  The second edition cover (below) still has beautiful domed cities but the caveman, helmeted soldier, and white-clad (not for long, the dress is slipping) woman tableau ruins the feel.

Particularly noteworthy is Jack Gaughan’s elevated domed city cover Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Domed Cities of the Future Part I