Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLXI (Algis Budrys, Gwyneth Jones, Russell M. Griffin, Dino Buzzati)

As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. Some Will Not Die, Algis Budrys (1961, rev. 1978)

Frank Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1978 edition

My 1978 revised edition contains no inside flap or back cover blurb. Instead, here’s the brief description of the novel and its complex publication history from SF Encyclopedia: “Budrys’ first novel has a complex history. As False Night (March 1954 Galaxy as “Ironclad”; much exp. 1954) it was published in a form abridged from the manuscript version; this manuscript served as the basis for a reinstated text which, with additional new material, was published as Some Will Not Die (1961; rev 1978). In both versions a Post-Holocaust story is set in a plague-decimated Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Surrealism of Carlos Ochagavia, Part I

Canvas for the 1977 edition of Universe 7, ed. Terry Carr (1978)

The covers for Pocket Books and Popular Library tend not to scream “visual zeitgeist of the 70s” like the catalogs of DAW, Ace, and Del Rey/Ballantine Books (note 1). But amongst the former’s primarily forgettable stable of artists who are often uncredited (2), a few gems emerge–notably the work of Carlos Ochagavia (1913-2006) (3).

I cannot find more than a few sentences of biographical material on Ochagavia online. He was born in Spain and moved at a young age to Argentina. He arrived in the United States Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLVI (Joan Slonczewski, Barrington J. Bayley, James E. Gunn, Per Wahlöö)

As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. The Mind Master (variant title: The Dreamers), James E. Gunn (1981)

Lisa Falkenstern’s cover for the 1982 edition

From the back cover: “IT IS THE 22ND CENTURY… IT IS THE AGE OF ECSTASY… Man has perfected the chemical transfer of information. Pop a pill and experience the Garden of Eden, the knowledge of centuries, or the vicarious thrill of someone else’s life. And in this world, one man—The Mnemonist—holds the task of keeping society Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCLV (Francis Stevens, M. Barnard Eldershaw, Robert Thurston, Rudolph Wurlitzer)

As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. The Heads of Cerberus, Francis Stevens (1919)

Uncredited cover for the 1984 edition

From the back cover: “Francis Stevens’ fast-paced, imaginative novel is probably the first science-fiction work to deal with the concept of parallel worlds. Five young friends inhale the dust of Purgatory, pass through the Gateway of the Moon and enter the marvelous Alternate Earth where time flows at a far faster pace than her own. To their horror and amazement, by stepping over the bank of the unknown, they have left their world of Philadelphia in 1917 and have entered into a mystifying and dangerous “Philadelphia” of 2118. How they attempt to escape from the oblivion that threatens to swallow them is an unforgettable journey into the fantastic.”

Initial Thoughts: Pre-WWII SF and I don’t mix. I’ve tried. I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), C. S. Lewis’ Cosmic Trilogy (1938-1945), David Lindsay’s A  Voyage to Arcturus (1920), and plenty of others…. That said, the historian in me itches to have Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLIV (Melissa Scott, Murray Leinster, Ian MacMillan, Dick Morland)

As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. Blakely’s Ark, Ian MacMillan (1981)

Tom Hallman’s cover for the 1st edition

From the back cover: THE CEPH… A parasitic virus. Invariably lethal. In two generations, it had reduced the population of America to 10 million people.

New Jersey is populated by roving gangs of children, savage and insane. New York City is a sealed-off Dome.

America is a wasteland. And Dave Blakely just may be the last whole man in the world.”

Initial Thoughts: I’ve been in a post-apocalyptic mood for the last year or more. I’ve started (and much to my surprise, enjoyed) my watch through of Survivors (1975-1977). And devoured Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow (1955).

This is Ian MacMillan’s only SF novel. And SF Encyclopedia describes rather than appraises it… As I often Continue reading

Book Review: The Heirs of Babylon, Glen Cook (1972)

Detail from Dean Ellis’ (?) cover for the the 1st edition

3/5 (Average)

Glen Cook’s first novel, The Heirs of Babylon (1972), is one of a handful of science fiction works in his extensive catalog. He’s best known for two fantasy sequences, Chronicles of the Black Company and Dread Empire. Operating in standard post-apocalyptic territory (wrecked landscapes created by nuclear and chemical warfare), Cook weaves a disturbing tale of the power of militaristic fantasies and traditions. While suffering from diminishing narrative impetus as the ancient warship Jäger steams towards its inevitable end, The Heirs of Babylon transpires within a well-wrought Earth hellscape with a deeply flawed main Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLIII (Stanley G. Weinbaum, Monique Wittig, Wayland Drew, Anthology)

As always which books/covers intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. The Memoirs of Alcheringia, Wayland Drew (1984)

Darrell K. Sweet’s cover for the 1984 edition

From the back cover: “What began as just another Alcheringian raiding party—sanctioned by the chief and approved by the Gods—had gradually become a war to the death.

But noting was quite as it seemed to the primitives of Norriya, for forces they could hardly comprehend were influencing events from offstage. More than tribal honor Continue reading

SF TV Episode Reviews: Survivors (1975-1977): Season 1, Ep. 2, “Genesis”

Preliminary Note: I’ve decided to try Terry Nation’s post-apocalyptic drama Survivors (1975-1977). For the background and history of the show check out the Wikipedia entry. Terry Nation might be best known as the creator of the Daleks in Dr. Who and Blake’s 7 (1978-1981).

You are welcome to watch along with me (episode 2 is on YouTube). I cannot promise how many episodes I’ll get through or at what rate I’ll watch the show.

This will not be a formal review but rather an informal/brief collection of ruminations.

Previously on Survivors (episode 1)…

In the first episode “The Fourth Horseman” (full review), the narrative followed the flight of two women, Abby and Jenny, in the immediate aftermath of “The Death.” This disease wipes out 4,999 out of every 5,000 humans on the planet within a few weeks. Abby, who lives a normal upper middle-class life outside London, contracts the disease and miraculously survives. Her husband is less fortunate. She sets off to find her son Peter, who might have survived the pandemic at his boarding school. When she arrives, the school is empty but for one elderly teacher, Dr. Bronson, who warns her of the horror to come. Abby resolves to find new survivors and sever herself from her previous life: she cuts her hair, burns the her house with her husband’s body, and sets off to find her son. Jenny, a working class London dweller, flees the city after the death of her roommate and the warnings of a kindly doctor. She encounters a range of fellow survivors—from street hooligans to money hoarders waiting for it all to end.

Take-away line/thematic thread:

Dr. Bronson: “The real survivors will be those who will come through what will follow.”


Jenny, Grant, and Abby

Season 1, Episode 2: “Genesis”

Basic Plot

Greg Preston, an engineer, arrives from mainland Europe (also devastated by “The Death”) to discover his wife dead. He encounters Anne, an upper class Continue reading

SF TV Episode Reviews: Survivors (1975-1977): Season 1, Ep. 1, “The Fourth Horseman”

In the prehistoric era of my site (2011), I attempted to conduct a watch through of Space: 1999 (1975-1977). After three episodes I quit (1, 2, 3). It reinforced my low tolerance for 70s science fiction TV/movies. As illustrated by my ratings of novels and short stories reviewed in the history of Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations, the 1970s clocks in as my favorite decade for SF texts. I’ve decided that if I’m serious about the process of constructing a morphology of science fiction in the decade, I should reattempt to tackle a TV show or two. Right?

~

For whatever perverse reason, I’ve decided to try Terry Nation’s post-apocalyptic drama Survivors (1975-1977). And yes, I’ve been in a post-apocalyptic kick for far longer than our Covid-19 era! For the background and history Continue reading