(Uncredited cover for the 1963 1st edition)
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)
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!
Note: scans are of my personal copies. Click to enlarge.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
1. Leo P. Kelley is an author whose work I’ve encountered in various used book stores but never acquired…. until now. Here’s the SF Encyclopedia entry on his work. Let me know if you’ve read any of them!
Note: The Kelley edition and cover are different than the one I own. I accidentally mutilated the cover by removing (by incorrect means) a large sticker. I own the 1971 Berkley Medallion first edition.
2. I adored David Ely’s Seconds (1962). I hope to have a review up soon! I went ahead and acquired his only other SF novel.
3. Although I’ve read and complained vehemently about Pamela Sargent’s Cloned Lives (1976), I’m not a reader who gives up on an author after a single novel. Like Cloned Lives, The White Death (variant title: The Sudden Star) (1979), creates a tapestry of characters presented with a crisis. I’ll read this one sooner than later.
4. An original anthology on the year 2000. I couldn’t pass it up especially as it contains a SF short story by Naomi Mitchison. I remember Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962) fondly….
As always, let me know your thoughts on the books/covers/or tangents.
1. The Coins of Murph, Leo P. Kelley (1971)
(Colin Hay’s cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCVIII (Sargent + Kelley + Ely + Anthology ed. Harry Harrison)
(Robert Andrew Parker’s cover art for the 1968 edition)
2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)
E. G. Valens’ Cybernaut (1968), a narrative SF poem, translocates earth exploration metaphors into the endless emptiness of space with varying degrees of success.
The narrator’s deep space exploration–“Operation C / Exploratory / A first incision in the skin of time. / Objective: / Lay back the superficial tissue / Lay bare the cortex of / The galaxy” (13)–is not all triumph. Continue reading Book Review: Cybernaut, E. G. Valens (1968)
1. Frederik Pohl short stories? I’ve collected volumes and volumes and volumes for years—I suspect I should get around to reading one!
An effective Dean Ellis cover….
2. I acquired the second volume in Michael Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time sequence at my local used bookstore down the street. I read An Alien Heat (1972) in 2016.
3. A few days ago I reviewed John Morressy’s wonderful Frostworld and Dreamfire (1977) — I was intrigued enough that I tracked down another volume in the Del Whitby sequence—Under a Calculating Star (1975). I’ll have a review up in the next few days.
4. The second Murray Leinster Med Service collection I’ve acquired–as a huge fan of medical-themed SF…. I should put together a list.
Other lists: Immortality in SF, Generation Ships, and Overpopulation in SF.
Do you have a favorite cover?
As always, I look forward to your comments!
1. Alternating Currents, Frederik Pohl (1956)
(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCVII (Moorcock + Pohl + Leinster + Morressy)