Tag Archives: 1950s

Book Review: Future Without Future, Jacques Sternberg (1971, trans. 1973)

(Rus Anderson’s cover for the 1973 edition)

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

Jacques Sternberg (1923-2006) was a Belgian author who occasionally published SF, especially early in his career. Future Without Future (1971, trans. by Frank Zero 1973) contains a nearly novel-length novella “Fin de siècle” and four other bleak satirical works published between 1958 and 1971.

A worthwhile acquisition for “Fin de siècle” (1971) alone. The other stories are still worth a read. If you’re interested in SF in translation, this collection is a must have. I plan on tracking down Sternberg’s only SF novel in translation, Sexualis ’95 (1956, trans. Lowell Blair 1965). It’s a shame La sortie est au fond de l’espace (“The Way Out is at the Bottom of Space”) (1956), “a black comedy set in space and featuring the last human survivors of a bacterial Holocaust” doesn’t exist (yet!) in translation…. (See SF Encyclopedia for a rundown of his works).

Like Stanislaw Lem, Sternberg creates planetary environments and otherworldly denizens that feel truly alien. In the more dystopic works, Sternberg’s bleak outlook on humanity’s increasing inability to connect with each other and our pasts Continue reading Book Review: Future Without Future, Jacques Sternberg (1971, trans. 1973)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXVII (Bear + Elgin + Lee + Clingerman)

1. Years ago I read and reviewed Suzette Haden Elgin’s provocative At the Seventh Level (1972)–I praised the use of linguistics, the formulation of societal ideologies, and critiqued the ramshackle plot and Orientalism. Native Tongue (1984) is supposedly her strongest work. I look forward to reading it.

2. I have yet to ready any of Greg Bear’s work. This late 70s novel was signed so I snatched it up. I don’t track down signed copies–all the ones I owned were accidentally mislabeled or inexpensive volumes I wanted anyway. Bear’s signature joins the ranks of Christopher Priest, D. G. Compton, Karen Joy Fowler, and Norman Spinrad.

Hegira itself draws inspiration from the Ringworld and Riverworld-style SF novel.

3. My Tanith Lee collection grows and grows. This one more fantasy than SF (although SF elements crop up at the end). In case you missed it, I reviewed Don’t Bite the Sun (1976) recently and procured a copy of Electric Forest (1979).

4. Mildred Clingerman was regularly featured in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the 50s and early 60s. I have finally found an inexpensive copy of her only collection published during her life (an omnibus edition with never before seen stories was recently self-published by her descendants). As it’s a Ballantine Books volume, it has a wonderful Powers cover.

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

1. Native Tongue, Suzette Haden Elgin (1984)

(Jill Bauman’s cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXVII (Bear + Elgin + Lee + Clingerman)

Short Book Reviews: Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s The World Menders (1971), Pamela Sargent’s The Sudden Star (variant title: The White Death) (1979), Josef Nesvadba’s In the Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman (variant title: The Lost Face)(1964, trans. 1970)

Note: My “to review” pile is growing. Short reviews are a way to get through the stack. Stay tuned for more detailed and analytical reviews.

But first…. three completely different volumes.

1.  The  World  Menders, Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (1971)

(David Bergen’s cover for the 1975 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

Despite the idiotic moments in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), as a kid I adored the first sequence–the undercover team observing the Ba’Ku community from a hidden observation station (before Data’s malfunction). Of course, Star Fleet assumed the Ba’Ku were pre-warp drive (and thus first contact shouldn’t be initiated). The mechanics of going undercover to initiate or prepare a society for contact is a fascinating and endlessly replayable SF premise. Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s The World Menders (1971), Pamela Sargent’s The Sudden Star (variant title: The White Death) (1979), Josef Nesvadba’s In the Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman (variant title: The Lost Face)(1964, trans. 1970)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCIX (de Camp + Farren + Effinger + Silverberg Anthology)

1. Mick Farren, of the “protopunk” and rock band The Deviants fame, wrote SF: drug-addled SF about the cult of musicians in a post-apocalyptical England. At least it’ll be a crazy romp! And probably not very good….

2. I’ve been slowly posting all the New Dimensions anthologies edited by Robert Silverberg that I purchased a few months ago. Inspired by my enjoyment of New Dimensions 3 (1973).

3. A gift from a family friend… Definitely not a book I’d look for but, who knows, sometimes I get a hankering for pre-WW II science fiction of the pulp sort.

It comes with a solid Paul Lehr cover.

4. Huge fan of Geo. Alec Effinger (that should go without saying if you following this site). I want ALL his short story collections.

I’ve reviewed the following Effinger novels/collections:

As always, I look forward to your comments/tangents!

Note: Scans are of my personal copies. Click to enlarge.

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1. The Texts of Festival, Mick Farren (1973)

(Peter Jones’ cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCIX (de Camp + Farren + Effinger + Silverberg Anthology)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Crashed Spaceships, Part III

(Detail from Alan Daniels’ cover for the 1980 German edition of Open Prison (1964), James White)

The crashed spaceship — a wrecked hulk spinning in the emptiness of space, shattered metal struts strewn across an alien landscape…. I find few SF scenarios more nostalgic than this one as a younger me was obsessed with books about the societies formed from the survivors of such cataclysms (Anne McCaffrey’s Acorna Universe sequence, of dubious quality now, was a cornerstone of my youth).

I have selected a range of fascinating covers which add to a series I made in 2012 (Part I) and 2013 (Part II). My favorite of the bunch is Tibor Csernus’ cover for the 1973 French edition of Clifford D. Simak’s Time and Again (1951) due to the verdant and wet landscape the spaceship finds itself in. My second favorite is Dean Ellis’ “descriptive” cover for the 1974 edition of Alan Dean Foster Icerigger (1974). It doesn’t try to be surreal but rather depicts a scene straight from novel. I usually prefer when the artist takes a more unusual approach but in this case Ellis narrows in on the wonder of the premise. Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Crashed Spaceships, Part III

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCV (Farmer + Simak + Effinger + New Dimensions Anthology)

1. I recently read and reviewed enthusiastically New Dimensions 3, ed. Robert Silverberg (1973). Inspired, I procured quite a few more in the series… Here is number 1. Looks like an absolutely spectacular lineup — Le Guin, Ellison, Malzberg, Lafferty, etc.

2. One always needs more Clifford D. Simak, right?

3. Huge fan of George Alec Effinger’s novels and short stories. Here’s what I’ve reviewed so far…. Heroics (1979), Irrational Numbers (1976), and What Entropy Means to Me (1972).

4.  Philip José Farmer, despite multiple masterpieces, churned out a lot of crud… I expect this will fall in that category.

Note: The hi-res scans are of my personal copies — click to enlarge.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Enjoy!

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1. New Dimensions 1, ed. Robert Silverberg (1971)

(Uncredited cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCV (Farmer + Simak + Effinger + New Dimensions Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCII “Vintage SF Novels in Translation Edition” (Franke + Le Clézio + Abe + Jeschke)

Vintage SF novels in translation from Japan! Germany! Austria! France!

1. I’ve wanted Kōbō Abe’s SF novel Inter Ice Age 4 for a long while…. If you’re curious, check out Admiral.Ironbombs’ fantastic review. I’m a huge fan of Abe’s non-SF works–for example, The Woman in the Dunes (1962). And of course, all the Japanese film adaptations of his novels directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara…. (which Abe wrote the screenplays for): IMDB link.

Tangent: If you haven’t seen Teshigahara’s 1966 adaptation of Abe’s SF novel The Face of Another (1964), you must! At the very least, browse the stills….

2. My second novel by Franke…. and I’m a few pages in and absolutely intrigued–the plot blurb I include below should tantalize virtually any SF fan. Stay tuned for a review (although it might be in a few weeks).

3. Wolfgang Jeschke’s The Last Day of Creation certainly has the most outrageous reason for time travel ever: to find oil. Curious why Brian Aldiss endorsed this so forcefully!

4. A “nightmare shopping complex” in a futuristic city from a Nobel Price-winning French author? Count me in! For those suspicious of categorizing some of Le Clézio’s work as SF, consult his entry in the SF Encyclopedia. 

As always, comments and tangents are welcome.

Enjoy the covers!

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1. Inter Ice Age 4, Kōbō Abe (1959, trans. E. Dale Saunders, 1970)

(Joseph del Gaudio’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCII “Vintage SF Novels in Translation Edition” (Franke + Le Clézio + Abe + Jeschke)