(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1972 edition)
3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)
The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972) doesn’t feel like a “best of” collection. The majority of the contents are unspectacular space operas and hard SF in the Analog vein. Amongst the chaff, a few more inventive visions shined through—in particular, Joanna Russ’ mysteriously gauzy and stylized experiment replete with twins and dream machines; Michael G. Coney’s evocative overpopulation story about tourist robots; Christopher Priest’s “factual” recounting of human experimental subjects that isn’t factual at all; and Barry Malzberg’s brief almost flash piece about differing perspectives all tied together by the New York metro.
On the whole, I give it a solid recommendation although the best can be found in single-author collections.
“The Fourth Profession” (1971), novelette by Larry Niven, 3/5 (Average): Nominated for the 1972 Continue reading Book Review: The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972)
(Angus McKie’s cover for the 1976 edition)
2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)
I have not had the best luck with Brian Stableford’s science fiction (albeit, I’m not sure I’ve read a single short story of his). Jesse over at Speculiction… swears (and I believe him!) that Stableford is occasionally capable of intelligent and sustained SF — consult his wonderful review of Man in a Cage (1975). Jesse barely dignifies The Halcyon Drift (1972) with a review. I’m in the same boat (or spaceship?). It took weeks of staring at my battered copy in a pile of other superior “to review” novels to convince myself to put finger to keyboard. How does one approach a bare by the numbers outline of a space opera?
By starting with the plot?
The Prologue forms the most evocative and moody Continue reading Book Review: The Halcyon Drift, Brian Stableford (1972)
1. Harlan Ellison does mystery and horror…. might not get around to this one for a while. What I’ve read of Ellison suggests he might be very good at it!
For example, see my review of his collection Approaching Oblivion (1974) (Ellison also came by an wrote a comment).
2. There is plenty of fascinating contemporary SF/fantasy out there… for anyone who adheres to some narrative of the degradation of genre, you just need to look! Gladman’s novella is case in point. I’m a sucker for any Invisible Cities-esque experiment.
3. The PorPor Books blog mostly enjoyed this environmental SF disaster novel. As it cost less than a dollar, I snatched up a copy.
4. I’ve not read any of William Burroughs’ fiction. Seems like a good place to start. I’m in love with the cover.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
1. No Doors, No Windows, Harlan Ellison (1975)
(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXC (Ellison + Burroughs + Walker + Gladman)
(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)
(Uncredited cover for the 1975 edition of The Year’s Best Science Fiction No. 7 (variant title: Best SF: 1973) (1974), ed. Harry Harrison and Brian Aldiss)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
I am (generally) not a fan of sports. I am a fan of science fiction about sports. More specifically, I’m a proponent of sports as a SF vehicle for social commentary on commercialism, trauma, alienation, and violence. One of the more successful I’ve encountered so far might be William Harrison’s “Roller Ball Murder” (1973) — it easily joins the sports SF hall of fame along with George Alec Effinger’s “25 Crunch Split Right on Two” (1975), a harrowing account of an NFL player seeking hard (and damaging) hits to trigger lucid memories of his wife, and Robert Sheckley’s violent “The Prize of Peril” (1958), a reality TV show with human Continue reading Short Story Review: William Harrison’s “Roller Ball Murder” (1973)
(Alberto Cavallari’s cover for 1972 edition (Galassia 178) of the anthology The Dark of the Soul (1970), ed. Don Ward)
As my 60s/70s Italian SF art explorations continue on both my site (here and here) and on twitter (@SFRuminations), I’ve come to the conclusion that Italy’s SF easily ranks among the most appealing (at least to me) graphic explorations of the dynamic genre. For most fans of SF art, one name will immediately spring to mind (in part because he created a few covers for American editions)—the masterful Karel Thole. However, I am increasingly impressed by less known Italian artists brought in for shorter periods of time by the Italian press Galassia. This post will focus on one of those figures—Alberto Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Recumbent Figures and Constructing Cities of Alberto Cavallari
The move into my first house—with my ridiculous quantity of books—is nearly complete….
1. ….and so is my collection of 60s and 70s J. G. Ballard!
2. Currently reading this peculiar Emma Tennant vision… My third of her books — I never got around to reviewing Hotel de Dream (1976) as I grew disenchanted with the second half but thoroughly enjoyed The Crack (variant title: The Time of the Crack) (1973).
3. Not personally a huge fans of sports but enjoy when SF authors (for example Robert Sheckley, Barry N. Malzberg, and George Elec Effinger) take on future sport… A perfect topic for satirical commentary and sinister undercurrents….
4. I while ago I read and thoroughly enjoyed Wyman Guin’s short story collection Living Way Out (variant title: Beyond Bedlam) (1967). I found this in a thrift story for less than a 1$ so it ended up on my shelf.
1. Concrete Island, J. G. Ballard (1974)
(Richard Clifton-Dey’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIX (Ballard + Tennant + Guin + Anthology)