1. I’ve scoured my online sources and finally found an affordable copy of George R. R. Martin’s Songs of Stars and Shadows (1977). It includes the first Martin short story I’ve read—“This Tower of Ashes” (1976) (I haven’t reviewed it).
2. More SF in translation! As it’s an 80s anthology it hadn’t been on my radar until recently… Terra SF (1981), the first in the series, remains prohibitively expensive. Rarely do I encounter an anthology where ALL the authors are unknown to me.
3. Another early Sheri S. Tepper novel…
4. And finally, what appears to be a radical departure from the standard Robinson Crusoe survival on an alien world novel (I’ve read a few reviews and fans of SF where man’s ingenuity wins the day might not be pleased). I adore Bergen’s cover art.
Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Songs of Stars and Shadow, George R.R. Martin (1977)
(Uncredited cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXII (George R.R. Martin + Sheri S. Tepper + Charles Logan + Anthology of European SF)
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)
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 [Short] Book Reviews: Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys (1960) and Syzygy, Michael G. Coney (1973)
(Gary Viskupic’s cover for the 1st edition)
F. M. Busby’s Cage a Man (1973) is an exercise in discomfort and disorientation. A case study of the scarring effects of dehumanizing brutality at the hands of very alien aliens and the slow path towards recovery, Cage a Man successfully conveys the former and stumbles with the latter. Despite its flaws, Busby tells his tale with a punchy blue-collar intensity that does not shirk from Continue reading Book Review: Cage a Man, F. M. Busby (1973)
(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)