Book Review: Eye Among the Blind, Robert Holdstock (1976)

(Peter Goodfellow’s cover for the 1977 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

Robert Holdstock’s first science fiction novel, the anthropologically inclined Eye Among the Blind (1976), contains kernels of his later genius.  His abilities, according to critics such as John Clute, are fully manifested in works such as his fantasy novel Mythago Wood (1984).

At first glance Eye Among the Blind has the trappings of intellectually inclined “heavy” anthropological SF in the vein of Ursula Le Guin and Michael Bishop.  It tackles themes such as colonization, alien collaboration with the colonizers, aliens who do not choose to engage with the colonizers, humans who choose to live among the aliens, humans who study the aliens but are reluctant to appreciate (or take seriously) those whom they study, Continue reading

Book Review: Stolen Faces, Michael Bishop (1977)

(Steve Hickman’s cover for the 1978 edition)

4.75/5 (Near Masterpiece)

“The growths beside her mouth moved like living tumors when she spoke.” (19)

There is nothing superfluous in Michael Bishop’s Stolen Faces (1977).  Like some nightmarish condensate that gathers into waiting cups, it induces hellish visions.  Metaphors and images of bodily decay, societal decadence, and strange rituals abound.  I suspect that Bishop’s profoundly uncomfortable themes, deliberate plotting, and metaphorical/literary way of telling have prevented the novel from gaining a wider audience.

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Book Review: The Shores of Another Sea, Chad Oliver (1971)

(Michael Booth’s cover for the 1984 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

Suppose that one day man landed on some distant planet.  Why would he have come, what impulse would have driven him across the darkness and the light-years?  Could he explain, and would he even try?  If he set out to explore that fearful world, if he trapped some specimens, what would he do if he were attacked by monstrous beings he could not understand? (135)

Chad Oliver is a well-known proponent of anthropological science fiction.  John Clute (of SF encyclopedia) proclaims him “pioneer in the application of competent anthropological thought to sf themes.”  Despite being relatively prolific between the 50s-70s (a handful of short stories appeared in the 80s), The Shores of Another Sea (1971) retains a distinctly 50s tone, Continue reading