Tag Archives: aliens

Novella Review (Italian SF in translation): “Cancerqueen” (1950), Tommaso Landolfi

DkVqsjsUwAEDHqm[1].jpg(Colin Hay’s cover for the 1984 Italian edition of Cancerqueen (1950), Tommaso Landolfi)

4.75/5 (Near Masterpiece)

The fiction of Tommaso Landolfi—an Italian author, translator, and critic—dabbled at speculative edges. Those far more knowledgeable about Italian SF consider Landolfi’s novella “Cancerqueen” (1950), translated in 1971 by Raymond Rosenthal, an important work in the history of Italian SF as it resonated with later “New Wave sensibilities” and “went against the realist grain of Italian high culture” (Salvatore Proietti, “The Field of Italian Science Fiction,” Science Fiction Studies, July 2015).

Redolent with gothic overtones, “Cancerqueen” tells the transfixing tale of a possibly insane narrator (N) relating his voyage into space, and into the womb of a manipulative spaceship. Writing as an act of self-delusion—“perhaps I should pretend I have a reader, I shall be less alone, and that is enough” (50)—N relates how, in a disconsolate state of mind, he agreed to an outrageous proposition put forth by Filano, an escapee from a nearby asylum.  The proposition: Deep in the mountains Filano has a spaceship named Cancerqueen and he wants to take N to the moon! For N, “she was my liberator, whose wings (wholly metaphorical) would transport me (not metaphorically) beyond my  disagreeable Continue reading Novella Review (Italian SF in translation): “Cancerqueen” (1950), Tommaso Landolfi

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCV (Leiber + Goulart + Wolf + Anthology edited by Bryant)

1. Why more Fritz Leiber (you might ask) considering your scattered negative comments about his most beloved series of stories, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser? In short, I enjoy his non-sword and sorcery short fiction—notably the stories in A Pail of Air (1964).

And of course his bizarre (and most famous) 50s novel The Big Time (1958)… (read long before I started my site).

2. This looks like a fascinating collection “celebrating” America’s 300th future anniversary! I did not know that Edward Bryant edited volumes of short stories. He includes a wide range of authors—including those by Marge Piercy, Harlan Ellison, Jo Ann Harper (unknown to me), Carol Emshwiller, Vonda N. McIntyre, et al.

3. I finished Gary K. Wolf’s Killerbowl (1975) a few days ago and was blown away. Absolutely one of my favorite novels I’ve read so far this year! The bad taste left by The Resurrectionist (1979) is completely washed from my mouth. I snuck on the computer…. late at night…. and purchased the last of his three 1970s novels I didn’t own–A Generation Removed (1977).

4. A gift from a family friend…. with an otherworldly (and early) Vincent Di Fate cover.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Note: Images are hi-res scans from my personal collection.

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1. The Book of Fritz Leiber, Fritz Leiber (1974)

(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCV (Leiber + Goulart + Wolf + Anthology edited by Bryant)

Book Review: The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972)

(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1972 edition)

3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)

The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972) doesn’t feel like a “best of” collection. The majority of the contents are unspectacular space operas and hard SF in the Analog vein. Amongst the chaff, a few more inventive visions shined through—in particular, Joanna Russ’ mysteriously gauzy and stylized experiment replete with twins and dream machines; Michael G. Coney’s evocative overpopulation story about tourist robots; Christopher Priest’s “factual” recounting of human experimental subjects that isn’t factual at all; and Barry Malzberg’s brief almost flash piece about differing perspectives all tied together by the New York metro.

On the whole, I give it a solid recommendation although the best can be found in single-author collections.

Brief Analysis/Summary

“The Fourth Profession” (1971), novelette by Larry Niven, 3/5 (Average): Nominated for the 1972 Continue reading Book Review: The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972)

Book Review: The Halcyon Drift, Brian Stableford (1972)

(Angus McKie’s cover for the 1976 edition)

2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)

I have not had the best luck with Brian Stableford’s science fiction (albeit, I’m not sure I’ve read a single short story of his). Jesse over at Speculiction… swears (and I believe him!) that Stableford is occasionally capable of intelligent and sustained SF — consult his wonderful review of Man in a Cage (1975). Jesse barely dignifies The Halcyon Drift (1972) with a review. I’m in the same boat (or spaceship?). It took weeks of staring at my battered copy in a pile of other superior “to review” novels to convince myself to put finger to keyboard. How does one approach a bare by the numbers outline of a space opera?

By starting with the plot?

The Prologue forms the most evocative and moody Continue reading Book Review: The Halcyon Drift, Brian Stableford (1972)

Updates: Evan Lampe’s Philip K. Dick Read-Through Podcast (and Cover Gallery)

(Ed Valigursky’s cover for the 1957 edition of Eye in the Sky (1957), Philip K. Dick)

As the mapmaker in Russell Hoban’s The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973) who creates a map that shows the places of inspiration, I too like to guide people towards voices that are worth the listen. I encountered the writings of Evan Lampe (@EvanLampe1) while perusing various SF articles on WordPress—his site gave an encyclopedic look at the stories and thought of Philip K. Dick. And now he’s following up with a podcast read-through (mostly chronological) of PKD’s fiction.

Evan described the podcast to me as follows:

“My main podcast is based on the idea of looking at American writers. I just wanted to podcast. I would have done it on Youtube but I do not really have the video editing skills to pull that off. Mostly, in that series I am driven to make a full-throated defense of America in these bizarre times. Perhaps its therapy. I guess you are more interested in my Philip Dick series. I think I talk about my motivations for that in my episode on “Stability”. It comes down to Dick being more culturally relevant than ever, with new TV series and a new Blade Runner film. I also never stopped believing that his writing is a useful tool in talking about many of our contemporary political and social dilemmas. The systematic approach will ensure that the stories and early novels will get the love that they deserve. There are a handful of aspects of Dick’s writing that need special attention (the frontier, post-scarcity, work, automation). I am trying to keep these most contemporary questions in mind as I re-read these works.”

Continue reading Updates: Evan Lampe’s Philip K. Dick Read-Through Podcast (and Cover Gallery)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of French, Italian, and Spanish Editions of Robert Silverberg’s Science Fiction

(Uncredited cover for the 1977 French edition of Tower of Glass (1970), Robert Silverberg)

Robert Silverberg (b. 1935) has long been one of my favorite SF authors. Especially between 1967-1975 (i.e. his shift away from pulp and before his momentary retirement), Silverberg produced a prodigious and thought-provoking corpus of writing. The sheer number of brilliant works crammed into those few years is only rivaled by Barry N. Malzberg (1969-1976) and Kate Wilhelm (1967-c. 1976).

As I’ve been exploring other less known authors, I’ve not read a lot of Silverberg’s novel-length works recently. Tower of Glass (1970), Nightwings (1969), A Time of Changes (1971), The Stochastic Man (1975), Son of Man (1971), and Up the Line (1969) among others remain unread on my shelf. Rather, I’ve restricted my focus to a few wonderful short stories in various collections here and there—“Passengers” (1968), a haunting masterpiece story of alien possession; “When We Went to See the End of the World” (1972), suburban banter Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of French, Italian, and Spanish Editions of Robert Silverberg’s Science Fiction

Book Review: World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (variant title: World’s Best Science Fiction: Third Series), ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr (1967)

(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1970 edition)

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

Philip K. Dick. Roger Zelazny. Bob Shaw. Michael Moorcock. R. A. Lafferty. Seldom do I say that a “best of” anthology includes a large number of the best stories of the year. From PKD’s artificial memories to Bob Shaw’s slow glass,  World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (1967) contains both fascinating technological marvels and serious character-centered storytelling. While not all the stories are successful, I highly recommend this collection for fans of 60s SF.

Note: I reviewed both Roger Zelazny stories elsewhere—I have linked and quoted my original reviews.

Brief Analysis/Plot Summary

“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (1966) Continue reading Book Review: World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (variant title: World’s Best Science Fiction: Third Series), ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr (1967)