(Pompeo Posar’s cover for the 1st edition)
3/5 (collated rating: Average)
“The dead astronaut: The phrase is filled with anxiety, the words themselves evoking the tension and anguish that gripped the whole world in that fateful month of April 1970, when a technical malfunction came close to costing the lives of astronauts Lovell, Swigert and Haise” (5).
The Dead Astronaut (1971) contains a range of 50s and 60s SF stories—from Ursula K. Le Guin to J. G. Ballard—on the broad theme of astronauts, that appeared in Playboy Magazine. For a reader of genre for only the last decade (and a bit), it’s shocking to consider that Playboy, at one point, contained top-notch science fiction! That aside, The Dead Astronaut contains a range of soft and hard science fictional accounts of astronauts Continue reading
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1st edition)
3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)
“Have you ever thought that I was frozen and thrown off the ship because they didn’t want me aboard, because I’d done something or they were afraid of me or something of the sort?” (49)
Andrew Blake, with memories of an earlier Earth, is discovered by asteroid miners frozen in a capsule. Is he the crew of a lost vessel? Was he the victim of a catastrophic accident? Or, something far more sinister? A claustrophobic and violent mission unfolds has Andrew Blake seeks to establish his identity, and the reason for the two alien voices in his head, while Continue reading
1. I adore the SF Rediscovery series published by Avon (full listing with covers here): the large size, the font and formatting, the framing of the art, and the general feel of the volume in my hand. If there’s a downside it’s the so-so quality of the art itself. I own and have reviewed two in the series previously: Barry N. Malzberg’s brilliant Revelations (1972) and E. C. Tubb’s generation ship novel The Space-Born (1955).
I have yet to read any of Eric Frank Russell’s SF—The Great Explosion (1962) seems to fit the satirical anti-Imperialism mode… we shall see!
2. A book an author whom I know little about…. Tony Roberts’ cover and the back-cover blurb intrigue!
3. Tim Powers’ first two novels were science fiction for the Laser Books imprint. I do not have high hopes (the imprint was notoriously low quality) but always enjoy exploring the early visions of authors. Miserable cover aside, it has a fun (if silly) premise!
4. A generation ship novel! (with a few unusual twists?)
Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!
1. The Great Explosion, Eric Frank Russell (1962) (MY REVIEW)
(Chris Foss’ cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading
(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1980 edition)
At first glance, Garry Kilworth’s The Night of Kadar (1978) tells the familiar tale of colonization on an alien planet filled with mysterious and hostile forces. Beneath the surface, Kilworth explores the evolution of a religious society separated from its sacred landscape (the planet Earth) that gave birth to the first followers of the religion. This is an odd novel in the best sense of the word. I’ve discovered few 70s works that tackle Islamic religion and faith (yet alone any religion) in a non-judgmental manner. Continue reading
My “to review” pile is growing and my memory of them is fading… hence short—far less analytical—reviews.
1. Mindbridge, Joe Haldeman (1976)
(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1977 edition)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
Nominated for the 1977 Hugo Award
Joe Haldeman never struck me as an author who experimented with New Wave methods of telling. Mindbridge (1976) shatters my misconception. Imagine the basic plot of his masterpiece The Forever War (1975) combined with a fascinating experimental structure. The latter intrigued me far more than the former.
The Basic Plot: The Levant-Meyer Translation allows humans to instantaneously travel across the galaxy. The Tamer Agency sends its agents to investigate alien worlds. Continue reading
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
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
(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
(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