Short Fiction Reviews: Algis Budrys’ “Forever Stenn” (variant title: “The Ridge Around the World”) (1957), Basil Wells’ “Sole Survivor” (1957), Helen McCloy’s “The Unexpected” (1957), and John D. Odom’s “The Word is Law” (1957)

Preliminary note: I never can pinpoint exactly why I read what I read when I read it as I am a creature of impulse and whim. While browsing lesser known authors, I came across Helen McCloy (1904-1994). She’s best known for her post-apocalyptic novel The Last Day (1959) (as Helen Clarkson)—which you read online as paper copies are incredibly scarce and expensive–and wrote a handful of speculative short stories of which three appear to be science fiction. Mysteries and non-genre fiction made up the majority of her output.

The Last Day led me to McCloy’s “The Unexpected” (1957) and that in turn lead me to the December 1957 issue of Satellite Science Fiction, ed. Cylvia Kleinman. As I recently read the short novel in the issue, Jack Vance’s solid The Languages of Pao (1957), I decided that I might as well read the rest of the stories in the magazine. And I hadn’t read a Budrys short in a bit… And I’d never heard of Basil Wells (1912-2003) or John D. Odom (unknown dates).

Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLXXXII  (Isaac Asimov, Mary Vigliante, Algis Budrys, and Vladimir Voinovich)

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

1. Earth Is Room Enough, Isaac Asimov (1957)

From the back cover: “ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN and probably will RIGHT HERE ON EARTH.

You don’t have to rent a spaceship or sign up for a singles cruise to Saturn or spend your weekends star-hopping along the Milky Way because EARTH IS ROOM ENOUGH.

Earth is where the action is and each tomorrow unleashes new discoveries.

Here are brilliant, witty, frightening, and fascinating stories of the future by the greatest science fiction master of them all. Just hitch your mind to these weird and wonderful tales for a spin around the world of tomorrow that will take you right to the center of your wildest dreams.”

Contents: “The Dead Past” (1956), “Franchise” (1955), “Gimmicks Three” (1956), “Kid Stuff” (1953), “The Watery Place” (1956), “Living Space” (1956), “The Message” (1956), “Satisfaction Guaranteed” (1951), “Hell-Fire” (1956), “The Last Trump” (1955), “The Fun They Had” (1951), “Jokester” (1956), “The Immortal Bard” (1954), “Someday” (1956), “The Author’s Ordeal” (1957), “Dreaming Is a Private Thing” (1955)

Continue reading

Short Book Reviews: M. John Harrison’s A Storm of Wings (1980), Algis Budrys’ Some Will Not Die (1961, rev. 1978), and William Greenleaf’s The Tartarus Incident (1983)

James Gurney’s cover art detail for the 1st edition of William Greanleef’s The Tartarus Incident (1983)

Note: My read but “waiting to be reviewed pile” is growing. Short rumination/tangents are a way to get through the stack. Stay tuned for more detailed and analytical reviews.

1. A Storm of Wings, M. John Harrison (1980)

Michael Whelan’s cover for the 1982 edition

4.5/5 (Very Good)

A Storm of Wings (1980) is the second volume, after The Pastel City (1971), of the Viriconium sequence. Far more dense and oblique than its predecessor, A Storm of Wings revels in the creation of a surreal urban tapestry–redolent with decay and decadent excess. Two Reborn Men (Fay Glass and Alstath Fulthor) attempt to animate the somnolent city of Viriconium Continue reading

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

[Short] Book Reviews: Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys (1960) and Syzygy, Michael G. Coney (1973)

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.

1. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys (1960)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1960 edition)

4/5 (Good)

Over the almost decade of reading for my site, I’ve enjoyed Algis Budrys’ short stories and disliked his novels. After the moody and noir(ish) Rogue Moon (1960), I’ll continue exploring his oeuvre.

Rogue Moon, one of his best-known works, is an odd and oblique read. And odd in that reviewers seem to expect the science fiction al core should be given greater weight than the melodrama… Unlike the melodrama in Michael G. Coney’s Syzygy reviewed below, Budrys’ brand engages as each of his Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVIII (Carter + Boyd + Platonov + Anthology with Sturgeon, Bradbury, Budrys, et al.)

1) Can’t resist a beautiful Richard Powers cover even on a rather standard 60s anthology of short stories—includes Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Theodore Sturgeon, Wyman Guin, Algis Budrys, etc.

Relevant reviews: Algis Budrys’ collection Budrys’ Inferno (1963) and Wyman Guin’s superb collection Living Way Out (variant title: Beyond Bedlam) (1967).

2) A SF novel by Angela Carter — enough said…

3) One of the great (and lesser read) Soviet dystopias! Can’t wait!

4) Another bargain bin find by John Boyd… with some incredibly hyperbolic cover blurbs on the back about his earlier (and lackluster) novel The Last Starship from Earth (1968).

As always, thoughts/comments are welcome!

1. Beyond, ed. Thomas A. Dardis (1963)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: Budrys’ Inferno (variant title: The Furious Future), Algis Budrys (1963)

bdrysnfrn081963

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)

3.5/5 (Collated rating: Good)

Algis Budrys has not fared particularly well on this site. Back in 2012 I read The Falling Torch (1959) and found it a functional military SF novel with some social commentary about the “inhumanity” of the Soviets. More recently I tackled his so-called “masterpiece” Michaelmas (serialized 1976) (short review) that despite all its pretensions to say something relevant about technology and media, slips into SF thriller mode, abandoning the most compelling elements of the narrative (it’s hard to write a convincing character study). At least Michaelmas makes the motions towards SF that moves behind the mechanical blueprints of a potential future mindset and tries to say something substantive about the psyche and society of the people who might live there. As you know, Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLVI (Budrys + New Writings in SF Anthologies)

Another batch of volumes from the mysterious person with the initials KWG who ditched their entire collection at the local Half Price Books.

I have rarely seen the New Writings in SF series edited by John Carnell on used bookstore shelves.  But, as I am a fan of discovering new authors who might not have collected volumes of short stories, it pretty easy to justify snatching them up….  A while back I featured the covers of David Mccall Johnson, and now I have my first physical copy with his art!

More Algis Budrys…  Is it my need to read the major “classics” so I can “rewrite” the canon?  Certainly not out of any love for his SF (or criticism for that matter) —> see my review of The Falling Torch (1959) and my short review of Michaelmas (1976).  I will probably read his short story collection I recently acquired before another one of his novels.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome/appreciated.

Enjoy!

1. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys (1960)

ROGMON1960

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1960 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CL (Ballard + Lafferty + Aldiss + Budrys)

My first David Pelham cover graces a peerless Ballard collection.  I’ve reviewed the following Ballard collections: Billenium (1962) and The Voices of Time and Other Stories (1962).

And Aldiss’ most radical work (Barefoot in the Head (1969) might be the other choice for this distinction)?

In the past Budrys has not intrigued in the slightest—The Falling Torch (1959) was a bland alien invasion novel with a contemporary political message and Michaelmas (1976) turned a promising premise into a naive vision of absolute power wielded for absolute good.  But, short stories often give another avenue into an author’s oeuvre…

And more Lafferty—never pass them up in used bookstores, even if you do not appreciate his odd brand of SF, they are certainly worth a pretty penny…

Thoughts on this selection?

1. The Terminal Beach, J. G. Ballard (1964)

THTRMNLBCH1974

(David Pelham’s cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading