While travelling to visit my family in Texas, I stopped at the original Half Price Books location in Dallas. I procured a giant pile of vintage SF that I’ll feature in the upcoming year in my acquisition posts, including a signed copy (for $3) of Lee Killough’s A Voice Out of Ramah (1979). I realized that I’ve only read Killough’s “Bête et Noir” (1980) and, as is my wont, decided to start with her first three published pieces of short fiction before diving into a novel. As these are her first published works, I suspect she has not found her best form.
“Caveat Emptor” (1970), 2.5/5 (Bad): First appeared in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, ed. John Campbell, Jr. (May 1970). You can read it online here. Equine Andvarian aliens pilot a trading vessel across the Commonwealth. Soon after first contact, a young human woman named Danae learns their language and customs on board their vessel. Danae sets up a trade meeting with the business conglomerate Galiol, a member of the Federation, whom she represents (109). Killough posits that megacompanies, driven by profit, will drive humanity’s expansion outward. The climax of the story features economic gamesmanship as the head of Galiol attempts to take advantage of the newly contacted alien species. But both get what they want in the end. Business is business for humans and aliens…
Ever since I read Judith Merril’s “Daughters of Earth” (1952), I’ve been fascinated by her subversive takes 1950s-60s gender roles and classic SF tropes. Survival Ship and Other Stories (1974) contains twelve short stories and a never-before-published poem selected by the author.
In addition to the merits of the tales within, I found Merril’s brief reflections on her early work fascinating. For example, she ruminates on the failure of her planned novel based on the generation ship launched by The Matriarchy in “Survival Ship” (1951), “Wish Upon a Star” (1958), and “The Lonely” (1963). She also describes a magazine “cover story” commission. The author would be provided with the cover art and asked to write a story containing its elements! The following three in this Continue reading →
This anthology contains the 4th post in a loose series on SF short stories that are critical in some capacity of space agencies, astronauts, and the culture which produced them. I decided to review the entire anthology!
Up Next: Theodore Sturgeon’s “The Man Who Lost the Sea” in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Robert P. Mills (October 1959). You can read the story online here.
Jim Steranko’s cover for the 1st edition
3/5 (Collated rating: Average)
Robert Hoskins “resurrected” Infinity Science Fiction magazine (1955-1958) as a five volume anthologies series between 1970-1973. The first volume, Infinity One (1970), contains sixteen original stories and one reprint from the original magazine–Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Star” (1955). SF Encyclopedia describes the anthology series as “a competent but not outstanding series.”
Eight of the seventeen stories fall into the “good” category. While none are masterpieces, Robert Silverberg, Arthur C. Clarke, Barry N. Malzberg co-writing with Kris Neville, Katherine MacLean, Gene Wolfe, and Poul Anderson Continue reading →
This collection contains the third post in a loose series on SF short stories that are critical in some capacity of space agencies, astronauts, and the culture which produced them. After reading today’s installment, I decided to review the entire collection!
Previously: Edmond Hamilton’s “What’s It Like Out There?” in Thrilling Wonder Stories, ed. Samuel Hines (December 1952). You can read the story online here.
In the early days of my website, I reviewed two volumes by William Tenn–his sole novel Of Men and Monsters(1968) and his collection The Human Angle(1956). Of All Possible Worlds (1955) is his first published collection. The presence of “Down Among the Dead Men” (1954), “The Liberation of Earth” (1953), and “The Custodian” (1953) make this a must purchase (despite the handful of duds that drag down the overall rating) for fans of polished 50s satires in wrecked future worlds. Tenn’s narrators Continue reading →
Allison’s cover for the 1978 Italian edition of Tanith Lee’s Volkhavaar (1977)
Mariella Anderlini (aka Allison) (d. 1992) was a behemoth of Italian SF art (note 1). Her covers graced entire years of science fiction editions for various Italian presses—for example, she illustrated the complete Slan. Il Meglio della Fantascienza series for Libra Editrice. Her work was ubiquitous and fantastic.
Over the years, loose cover art post sequences emerge from the back catalog of my site (both conscious and unconscious)–and one topic I return to regularly are SF covers by Italian women. Female Italian cover artists in the decades I am most interested in (50s-mid-80s), made up a far larger percentage Continue reading →
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 →
As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
Ben Bova (1932-2020) passed away a few weeks ago due to Covid-19 complications (and a stroke) (Tor Remembrance Article). While I haven’t had the best luck with his work, if you have any fond memories of him or reading his SF, let me know in the comments. I purchased his first collection Forward in Time (1973) (below) in his honor.
1. Final Stage: The Ultimate Science Fiction Anthology, ed. Barry N. Mazlberg and Edward L. Ferman (1974)
David Pelham’s cover for the 1975 edition
From the back cover: “Thirteen fantastic new stories on the classic themes of Science Fiction.” See Continue reading →
Between 1963 and 1980, American SFF author Phyllis MacLennan (1920-1912) published one novel and seven short stories (bibliography and obituary). She served as a translator and linguist in Military Intelligence during WWII. As I can find little about her work online, I decided to review three of her SFF short fictions. Perhaps they’ll inspire me to pick up her sole novel Turned Loose on Idra (1970), which I bought in 2014.
Vincent Di Fate’s cover for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1972
“Thus Love Betrays Us” (1972), 4.5/5 (Very Good): First appeared in the September 1972 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Edward L. Ferman. Read the story here.
Deirdre, a night-less and oppressive world filled with thick mists and layers of moss, had only just been Continue reading →
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 →