Tag Archives: 1960s

Book Review: Dark December, Alfred Coppel (1960)

(Uncredited cover for the 1971 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

“In my holster I carried a pistol that had never been fired. Yet I was master of ten thousand graves” (72).

Occasionally my childhood love of survival tales—whether post-apocalyptic nightmares or sailors stranded on Pacific islands—rears its head and I am forced to track down a book, languishing in some forgotten corner, that satiates the craving. Alfred Coppel’s Dark December (1960), an unknown gem, successfully distills in ultra-realistic strokes the basic post-nuclear war survival formula: man traverses a bombed landscape, pockmarked with the vestiges of human habitation, on a quest to find his family. Dark December is a careful study of trauma and survival in the face of forces willing to plunge the world back into Continue reading Book Review: Dark December, Alfred Coppel (1960)

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)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXVI (Le Guin + Leiber + Laumer + Martin)

1. Keith Laumer is an author I’ve only dabbled in—a few short stories in an anthology here and there. Another (one of twenty?) Laumer volume joins my collection. With a solid Richard Powers’ cover!

2. I finally picked up a copy of Ursula Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven (1971)—one of her few early works lacking from my collection. I recently read and enjoyed The Word for World is Forest (1972).

3. According to a goodreads review, Justin Leiber’s novel “a hard sci-fi take on gender dysphoria.” SF Encyclopedia emphasizes how Justin Leiber, Fritz Leiber’s son, “used sf as a medium  for speculation in his field of interest, the philosophy of the mind.” Call me intrigued about Beyond Rejection (1980)….. and suspicious.

4. The unknown quantity of this post. Have you read any of his work? Or heard of his most “famous” novel Time-Slip (1986)? Joachim Boaz, taking risks since the birth of this abomination (website).

1. Nine by Laumer, Keith Laumer (1967)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXVI (Le Guin + Leiber + Laumer + Martin)

Book Review: Seconds, David Ely (1962)

(Uncredited cover for the 1963 1st edition)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

You’ve got what almost every middle-aged man in American would like to have. Freedom. Real freedom. You can do any damned thing you want to. You’ve got financial security, you’ve got no responsibilities, and you’ve got no reason at all to feel guilty about what you’ve done. The company’s taken care of everything. Right?” (91)

David Ely’s Seconds (1962), a disquieting and sparse thriller, posits a near future where a shadow organization can grant the wealthy new identities via plastic surgery and staged deaths. Wielding deceptively simple prose, Ely ruminates on the existential dread of the male mid-life crisis–an undefined desire to escape, to redo, to break free from the expectations and constraints of the suburban existence. It is a careful novel. A well-crafted nightmare Continue reading Book Review: Seconds, David Ely (1962)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCX (Moorcock + Niven + Jersild + Barbet)

1. DAW Books published quite a few of Pierre Barbet’s pulpy French SF adventures in translation (SF encyclopedia points out some similarities between Barbet and Poul Anderson) in the 1970s. I found a copy for a dollar at a local Half Price Books — the premise of The Napoleons of Eridanus (1970, trans. 1976) sounds utterly silly but fun! I might sneak it in between heavier novels….

2. More Larry Niven short stories + nonfiction–A Hole in Space (1974)… With the oddest dedication ever—“thank you great-grandfather for the trust fund that allowed me to become a published author.”

3. Michael Moorcock’s Rituals of Infinity (serialized 1965) was originally published in New Worlds under the name James Colvin as The Wrecks of Time. It was abridged without Moorcock’s consent to fit in an Ace Double–the complete version was published by Arrow Books in 1971. I made sure to track down the complete edition. I do not have high hopes for this early Moorcock novel— hopefully it reads like one of his experimental stories.

4. I spent a tad too much for this one! The Animal Doctor: A Novel of the Future (1973, trans. 1975): SF in translation from Scandinavia… and an author I’ve never heard of. From the inside flap blurb (reproduced below) it seems like my cup of tea.

Thoughts? Tangents? A book that intrigues or stands out?

Let me know!

Enjoy!

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

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1. The Napoleons of Eridanus, Pierre Barbet (1970, trans. 1976)

(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCX (Moorcock + Niven + Jersild + Barbet)

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)