Tag Archives: 1950s

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIV (Anne McCaffrey, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, and Philip Wylie)

1. In my youth Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels received a privileged place on my shelf. I have yet to explore her other SF in any great detail. The Ship Who Sang (1969) is a fix-up novel of six earlier short fictions from the 60s. I’ve put this one near the top of my to-read list!

2. Another epic series of tales of space exploration from Poul Anderson! I hope it’s better than Tau Zero (1970).

3. A post-apocalyptical novel from Philip Wylie—14 survivors in the bomb shelter of a millionaire. Thoughts on this one?

4. I’ve never cared for Lester del Rey, The only work of his I’ve somewhat enjoyed was The Eleventh Commandment (1962, rev. 1970) as I’m a sucker for overpopulation-themed SF.

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

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1. The Ship Who Sang, Anne McCaffrey (1969) (MY REVIEW)

(Greg and Tim Hildebrandt’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIV (Anne McCaffrey, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, and Philip Wylie)

Book Review: The Space-Born, E. C. Tubb (1955)

(Ed Valigursky’s cover for the 1956 edition)

2.5/5 (Bad)

Almost the surprise of the year! E. C. Tubb’s The Space-Born (variant title: Star Ship) (1955) first appeared as a serial in New Worlds (April, May, and June 1955 issues). For American audiences, Tubb’s novel was paired with Philip K. Dick’s The Man Who Japed (1956) as an Ace Double. My only previous exposure to the prolific British author’s SF was “The Seekers” (1965), a paranoid vision of spacemen possessed by delusions of grandeur after their captain’s death. The Space-Born is a fascinating generation ship novel with a catastrophic Continue reading Book Review: The Space-Born, E. C. Tubb (1955)

Generation Ship Short Story Review: Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon A Star” (1958)

Preliminary note: This is the third post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. All of the stories I’ll review are available online. You are welcome to read and discuss along with me as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage. And thanks go out to all who have joined already!

Next up: John Brunner’s “Lungfish” in Science-Fantasy, December 1957, ed. John Carnell (PDF link).

Previously: Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation” (1953).

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the December 1958 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Robert P. Mills)

4.25/5 (Good)

In Judith Merril’s “Daughters of Earth” (1952), she refashions the classic pulp SF tale of male exploration of the galaxy by tracing, in biblical fashion, one family of female explorers. In “Wish Upon A Star” (1958), Merril reworks another trope—the male hero on a generation ship who discovers the true Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon A Star” (1958)

Generation Ship Short Story Review: Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation”) (1953)

Preliminary note: This is the second post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. You are welcome to read and discuss along with me–all of the stories I’ll review will be available online–as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage!

Next up: Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon a Star” in the December 1958 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Internet Archive link).

Previously: Chad Oliver’s fantastic “The Wind Blows Free” (1957).

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Tom O’Reilly’s interior art for the Science-Fiction Plus, August 1953)

3.5/5 (Good)

Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation”) appeared in the August 1953 issue of Science-Fiction Plus, ed. Hugo Gernsback (Internet Archive link). The story is lavishly illustrated with evocative art by Tom O’Reilly. The story itself posits that religion is required to satiate the Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation”) (1953)

Generation Spaceship Short Story Review: Chad Oliver’s “The Wind Blows Free” (1957)

Initial note: This is the inaugural post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. You are welcome to read and discuss along with me–all of the stories I’ll review will be available online–as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage!

Next up: Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation”) in the August 1953 issue of Science-Fiction Plus (Internet Archive link).

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Bob Layzell’s cover for the 1980 edition of A Sea of Space (1970), ed. William F. Nolan)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

Chad Oliver’s “The Wind Blows Free” (1957) first appeared in the July 1957 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Anthony Boucher (Internet Archive link). Despite the simple premise, Oliver’s powerful delivery and imagery reaffirmed my love for generation ship stories and their common tropes: generational change, the science of survival, the architecture of arks Continue reading Generation Spaceship Short Story Review: Chad Oliver’s “The Wind Blows Free” (1957)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXI (Sheri S. Tepper + Paul H. Cook + Robert Merle + Anthology)

1. I bought this themeless hodgepodge anthology for two reasons–the UK 1980 edition has a cool spaceship! And second, it contains Chad Oliver’s generation ship short story “The Wind Blows Free” (1957). MPorcius calls it one of Oliver’s best. As I’ve not been enamored with his brand of SF, I’m eager to try a short story on a favorite theme far outside of his normal anthropological-focused oeuvre.

I’ve previously reviewed Oliver’s The Shores of Another Sea (1971).

2. Sheri S. Tepper is a glaring hole in my SF knowledge. I often explore the back catalog before plunging into the best known novels of an author—The Revenants, her first published novel, is “a long, complex work of SF” according to SF Encyclopedia. I wish it would be a tad more descriptive…. the novel has a fun map which I’ll feature in a Monday Maps and Diagrams post.

3. French post-apocalyptic SF in translation! With an awful cover…

4. Paul Cook is another unknown author to me. His first novel, Tintangel (1981) has a bizarre premise (see blurb below). This might be my next SF read.

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

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1. A Sea of Space, ed. William F. Nolan (1970)

(Bob Layzell’s cover for the 1980 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXI (Sheri S. Tepper + Paul H. Cook + Robert Merle + Anthology)

Updates: Recent Mostly Apocalyptic Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXIX (Nevil Shute, Walter Tevis, Philip McCutchan, and Lawrence Watt-Evans)

1. I’m finally the owner of one of the 50s/60s post-apocalyptic novels…. I suspect the 1959 film adaptation of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (1957), which I did not enjoy, was the reason I’ve taken so long to acquire a copy.

It’ll fit neatly into my recent themed review sequence:

2. A far lesser known UK post-apocalyptic novel–SF Encyclopedia compares Philip McCutchan’s A Time for Survival (1965) to the relentless despair of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006

3. I’ve yet to read any of Walter Tevis’ SF–I’ve acquired his post-apocalyptic novel Mockingbird (1980).

4. And finally, the least-known quantity of this post…. an impulse buy (SF and noir is a fun combo) at my local Half Price.

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

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1. On the Beach, Nevil Shute (1957)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1986 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Mostly Apocalyptic Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXIX (Nevil Shute, Walter Tevis, Philip McCutchan, and Lawrence Watt-Evans)

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)