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)

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(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

Short SF Book Reviews: Michaelmas, Algis Budrys (1976), The Machine in Shaft Ten, M. John Harrison (1975), and Catacomb Years, Michael Bishop (1979)

[The second of four review catch up posts.  The first — > here]

1. Catacomb Years, Michael Bishop (1979)

(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1979 edition)

5/5 (collated rating: Masterpiece)

Michael Bishop’s Catacomb Years (1979) takes the form of a complex and multi-layered future history of a single city, the Urban Nucleus of Atlanta, Georgia—entombed/reborn under a vast dome where even the sky is obscured.  Over the course of seven short SF works linked by recurring characters (and character references), theme, and chronology Bishop weaves one of the more spectacular future history canvases.  This is a future history of a profoundly human scope focusing on transformative junctures in the life of the city from the point of view of a range of the inhabitants—from the old to the young, from technicians to recluses obsessed with bonsai, from teachers to human caregivers of the alien visitors…  And most intriguing is Bishop’s willingness to Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXV (Delany + Wyndham + Budrys + McIntyre)

*preliminary note:  I am on something of a semi-hiatus—PhD writing and the like.  However, I have a Malzberg review of Scop (1976) nearly complete and might do a rundown of the SF I’ve been unable to review over the past few months in a more informal format (one paragraph reviews or something of that ilk)—Phillip Mann’s Wulfsyan (1990), M. John Harrison’s The Machine in Shaft Ten (1975), etc.

In my recent travels, I stopped in Nashville, Tennessee and picked up three of the four novels for under a dollar each.  McIntyre’s novel is the sole Hugo Award Winner for best Novel between the years 1953 to 1990 I’ve not read.  I should remedy that immediately as I’ve enjoyed her other work—for example, the novella “Screwtop” (1976).

Budrys’ novel actually sounds like I’d enjoy it despite my dislike of some of his work (and views)…. It certainly is my type of SF story concept-wise.  The last Delany novel missing from my collection and everyone loves Wyndham and immortality SF, right?

Thoughts?

1. Dreamsnake, Vonda N. McIntyre (1978)

DRMSNKA21978

(Stephen Alexander’s cover for the 1978 edition of Dreamsnake) Continue reading