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 Book Review: Budrys’ Inferno (variant title: The Furious Future), Algis Budrys (1963)→
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.
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…
[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 Short SF Book Reviews: Michaelmas, Algis Budrys (1976), The Machine in Shaft Ten, M. John Harrison (1975), and Catacomb Years, Michael Bishop (1979)→
*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?
M. John Harrison’s collection The Machine in Shaft Tent (1975) contains one of the more humorous inside flap advertisements I have encountered:
Don’t worry, I certainly intend to “see tomorrow today!” I’ll be disappointed if I can’t!
The others are a strange blend… From Edmund Cooper’s apparently anti-Free Love/60s culture Kronk (1970) to a delightful collection of another one of my favorite years of SF.
Also, I seldom accept advanced reader copies due to my limited time/limited interest in newer SF/and incredible mental block when it comes to, how shall I say it, outside forces guiding my central hobby which tends to take me in a variety of directions solely on whim. But, Gollancz was nice enough to send me their new omnibus collection of 1970s Michael G. Coney novels (amazon link: US, UK). Not only did I enjoy Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975) but I recently reviewed and loved Coney’s bizarre and original Friends Come in Boxes(1973). With two out of two successes it’s hardly like I wouldn’t buy his work on sight anyway (another one of my requirements when accepting AVCs)…. I will review two or three of the novels in the omnibus one at a time over the next few months.
1. The Machine in Shaft Ten, M. John Harrison (1975)