(Gary LaSasso’s cover for the 1983 edition)
In my late teens I encountered the space opera of C. J. Cherryh through the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Downbelow Station (1981).* I was hooked. Her paranoia-drenched spacescapes, interstellar freighters, the awe-inspiring cumulative world-building effect of innumerable novel sequences from distinct perspectives, and narration that dwells on psychological impact of events were my bread and butter. See below for the list of the ten (I think?) novels I’ve previously read (although many details blend together). For whatever reason I hadn’t returned to her SF in more than a decade. I am glad I did!
C. J. Cherryh’s Port Eternity (1982), part of the Age of Exploration sequence within the larger Alliance-Union world, can be read alone. It is a claustrophobic rumination on identity Continue reading Book Review: Port Eternity, C. J. Cherryh (1982)
To mix things up a bit I decided to review four stories in John Carnell’s last issue of New Worlds Science Fiction (April 1964) before he handed over the reins of the dying publication to Michael Moorcock, who would elevate it to New Wave greatness. Other than the James White serial Open Prison, which I plan on reading in book form when I procure a copy, three of the four authors reviewed below owed much of their careers to John Carnell, and would see few stories in print after his departure (see the individual story reviews for details). Only Barrington J. Bayley, writing as P. F. Woods, would see continued publication (and growing popularity) in New Worlds under Moorcock.
Of the stories I recommend reading William Spencer’s rumination on overpopulation and urban life, “Megapolitan Underground.” The others are worthwhile only for die-hard fans of Carnell’s New Worlds and other editorial projects. Continue reading Short Story Reviews: Four Stories from New Worlds Science Fiction (April 1964), ed. John Carnell
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1967 edition)
Leonard Daventry’s A Man of Double Deed (1965) is an dark and grungy tale of polyamory, telepathy, and apocalyptical violence. Swinging between philosophical and emotional introspection and awkwardly explained action sequences based on the flimsiest of plots, Daventry’s novel succeeds as a noirish character study but fails as a compelling unity of parts. Continue reading Book Review: A Man of Double Deed, Leonard Daventry (1965)
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1976 edition)
Marta Randall’s A City in the North (1976), is a work of anthropological SF that focuses on “authentic” relationships between its human and alien characters (see note). A commentary on the societal effects and cultural disconnects between natives, explorers, and colonizers, A City in the North refuses to provide easy answers. Although retreating into an occasional stock evil character to jolt the plot forward, on the whole Randall’s novel intrigues and provokes due to the underlying mysteries of native culture and ritual. Continue reading Book Review: A City in the North, Marta Randall (1976)
Monday Maps and Diagrams 1/14/19
A tantalizing title—Voyage to the City of the Dead (1984)–made all the more mysterious by two wonderful maps by Shelly Shapiro. The first charts a lengthy winding river stretching from the north pole past the equator. The second, a cross section illustrating the elevation of the river’s vast canyon….
I’m almost compelled to pick up the book! Although I’ve had little luck with Alan Dean Foster’s SF in the past. Thoughts?
The Maps (click to enlarge):
Continue reading Fragment(s): Monday Maps and Diagrams (Science Fiction) 1/14/19 — Alan Dean Foster’s Voyage to the City of the Dead (1984)
(Yves Tanguy’s cover for the 1963 edition of Mission of Gravity (1954), Hal Clement)
On the birthday of French-American surrealist Yves Tanguy (1900-1955) (January 5th), I always take a minute to browse his art online. I faintly recalled seeing his art on various 1960s Penguin edition covers…. And lo and behold, J. G. Ballard’s New Wave masterpiece The Drowned World (1962) and Hal Clement’s pioneering work of hard SF, Mission of Gravity (1954) were both graced with Tanguy’s canvases. Penguin regularly used the work of famous mainstream artists–for example, Max Ernst (I identified ten covers). China Miéville’s novella “The Last Days of New Paris” (2018) also uses a Tanguy/Lamba/Breton exquisite corpse collage (I’m focusing primarily on earlier covers in this post). Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Yves Tanguy and Penguin SF Cover Art
Monday Maps and Diagrams 12/24/18
Sometimes a map tells a story…. Sometimes a series of maps reveal the evolution of a story. C. J. Cherryh’s sequence of six maps of the same location in Forty Thousand in Gehenna (1983) tracks the evolving relationship between settlers, azi clones, and native caliban lizard creatures.
A careful eye might be able to discern the general trajectory of the novel’s plot — if you haven’t read it yet, than perhaps (if you can tear your eyes off of MAPS) proceed no further….
Continue reading Fragment(s): Monday Maps and Diagrams (Science Fiction) 12/24/18 — C. J. Cherryh’s Forty Thousand in Gehenna (1983)