Tag Archives: 1950s

Novella Review (Italian SF in translation): “Cancerqueen” (1950), Tommaso Landolfi

DkVqsjsUwAEDHqm[1].jpg(Colin Hay’s cover for the 1984 Italian edition of Cancerqueen (1950), Tommaso Landolfi)

4.75/5 (Near Masterpiece)

The fiction of Tommaso Landolfi—an Italian author, translator, and critic—dabbled at speculative edges. Those far more knowledgeable about Italian SF consider Landolfi’s novella “Cancerqueen” (1950), translated in 1971 by Raymond Rosenthal, an important work in the history of Italian SF as it resonated with later “New Wave sensibilities” and “went against the realist grain of Italian high culture” (Salvatore Proietti, “The Field of Italian Science Fiction,” Science Fiction Studies, July 2015).

Redolent with gothic overtones, “Cancerqueen” tells the transfixing tale of a possibly insane narrator (N) relating his voyage into space, and into the womb of a manipulative spaceship. Writing as an act of self-delusion—“perhaps I should pretend I have a reader, I shall be less alone, and that is enough” (50)—N relates how, in a disconsolate state of mind, he agreed to an outrageous proposition put forth by Filano, an escapee from a nearby asylum.  The proposition: Deep in the mountains Filano has a spaceship named Cancerqueen and he wants to take N to the moon! For N, “she was my liberator, whose wings (wholly metaphorical) would transport me (not metaphorically) beyond my  disagreeable Continue reading Novella Review (Italian SF in translation): “Cancerqueen” (1950), Tommaso Landolfi

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIV (Vance + Ellison + Durrell + Simak + Carter)

1. Doomsman (1967) is not supposed to be a worthwhile Harlan Ellison work… and one of his few novels. Part of a giant pile given to me by the family friend mentioned in my last acquisition post!

And there’s a short Lin Carter novella included as well….

Note: The cover is quite humorous. Paul Lehr, despite an isfdb.org error in citation, clearly added his touches (the shapes at the bottom, the planets, the colors) to an existing SF image. The face is copied from Ed Valigursky’s cover art for the 1955 edition of Isaac Asimov’s The 1,000 Year Plan (1951). 

2. More Jack Vance! And his first novel — also from the gift stack. And you know me and immortality (a favorite theme)–> I’ve compiled a list here.

3. Still haven’t read Clifford D. Simak’s short fiction…

4. Lawrence Durrell, yes the same Lawrence Durrell, wrote two novels (The Revolt of Aphrodite sequence) that are classified as science fiction. I’ve finally found a copy of the first in the sequence.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Note: covers are hi-res scans of my personal copies.

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1. Doomsman, Harlan Ellison (1967) and The Thief of Thoth, Lin Carter (1967)

(Paul Lehr’s cover–repurposing a head Ed Valigursky’s 1955 cover for Isaac Asmov’s 1,000 Year Plan (1951)–for the 1972 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIV (Vance + Ellison + Durrell + Simak + Carter)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCII (Sturgeon + Turner + Schenck + Best of 1973 Anthology)

1. I seldom buy duplicate editions. I originally read Sturgeon’s masterpiece as a teen and I’m unsure where my original 70s edition with a Bob Pepper cover ran off to…. And this perfect condition 1960 edition has glorious Richard Powers art!

2. George Turner—an author I know next to nothing about. I’ve already read 75 pages of his first novel and am absolutely entranced.

3. Hilbert Schenck—another author who is new to me. He published primarily in the early 80s and snagged a few Nebula nominations for his short fiction. His second novel proved to be a dud (I’ll have a review up soon).

4. Why are you buying another Donald A. Wollheim Best Of collection when you’re firmly in the Terry Carr camp of Best Of anthologies? Good question.

That said, I recently reviewed The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF (1972) and it was solid.

Note 1: All images are hi-res scans of my personal copies — click to expand.

Note 2: A diligent Twitter follower indicated that the 1984 edition cover of the Turner novel is Tony Roberts’ work.

Thoughts? Comments? Tangents? All are welcome.

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1. More than Human, Theodore Sturgeon (1953)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1960 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCII (Sturgeon + Turner + Schenck + Best of 1973 Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCI (Bob Shaw + James Morrow + Richard E. Peck + Anthology of French SF)

1. An anthology of (primarily) 70s French SF? Yes! New authors (at least to me). New adventures. New perspectives.

2. I’ve never read James Morrow… I might as well start with his first SF novel.

3. Bob Shaw’s “Light of Other Days” (1966) is a brilliant piece of short fiction. And I finally have the novel version. After the relentlessly average Shaw novels I’ve read, I look forward to his acknowledged best.

My other Bob Shaw reviews:

Ground Zero Man (variant title: The Peace Machine) (1971)

One Million Tomorrows (variant title:1 Million Tomorrows) (1971)

The Two-Timers (1968)

4. I bought this virtually unknown Doubleday edition due to the art. First class art. Check out my  exploration of her work: Collage and Mechanism: Anita Siegel’s Art for Doubleday Science Fiction.

Wait, there’s one other reason–I’m slowly collating titles for an “academia in SF” list and I might as well read a few of them.

Thoughts and comments are always welcome!

Note: Hi-res scans are of my personal copies.

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1. Travelling Towards Epsilon, ed. Maxim Jakubowksi (1977)

(Christos Kondeatis’ cover for the 1977 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCI (Bob Shaw + James Morrow + Richard E. Peck + Anthology of French SF)

Updates: Kit Reed (June 7, 1932-September 24, 2017)

(A selection of my Kit Reed collection. Left and Right cover info below. Center cover: Peter Andrew Jones, 1978)

Today I learned on twitter that Kit Reed (1932-2017), one of my favorite SF authors, passed away back in September. Although I only had infrequent conversations with her via twitter, her charm and intelligence always showed through. Her most recent novels included Where (2015) and Mormama (2017) for Tor. I, of course, know her best for her 50s-70s short fiction and Armed Camps (1969), her single SF novel published before the 1980s. Continue reading Updates: Kit Reed (June 7, 1932-September 24, 2017)

Updates: Kate Wilhelm (June 8, 1928-March 8, 2018)

(My Kate Wilhelm collection)

Today I learned on twitter that Kate Wilhelm passed away on March 8th. A sadness has descended far more than I thought it would for someone I’ve never met…. But the intimate activity of reading always casts an entrancing net of familiarity with the creation and creator. If she’s new to you, I recommend her most famous Hugo- and Nebula-winning fix-up novel Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976)–I’ve linked ta review from my friend Admiral Ironbombs. I’d returned to the novel myself over the last week in audiobook form on my drive to work. It’s as powerful and unsettling as I remember it from my first read-through as a teen somewhere between 2006 and 2008.

As frequent readers of my site might know, she is one of my favorite authors—especially in short story (novella) form–her short story collection The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction (1968) is required SF reading. My favorite short fiction includes the Nebula-nominated “Baby, You Were Great!” (1967) and the Nebula-Award winning “The Planners” (1968). They are entrancing, Continue reading Updates: Kate Wilhelm (June 8, 1928-March 8, 2018)

Adventures in Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: Women SF Illustrators of the 1960s/70s, Part V: The Eerie Figures of Marcela Cordescu

(Marcela Cordescu’s cover for the 1969 edition of Thaïs din Infern (1969), Alexandru Forje)

The Romanian graphic artist Marcela Cordescu produced a fascinating series of SFF covers from the 1950s-70s.  For more on her consult this short article (most resources are in Romanian unfortunately). Many of her covers graced editions of Vladimir Colin’s (her husband) SFF works. I came across her eerie figures researching the publication history of the French SF author Gérard Klein—a collection of his short stories appeared in Romania with a Cordescu cover in 1973 (below). Her cover for the 1969 edition of Alexandru Forje‘s Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: Women SF Illustrators of the 1960s/70s, Part V: The Eerie Figures of Marcela Cordescu