Tag Archives: apocalyptic

Book Review: A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge), John Christopher (1965)

(Steve Crisp’s cover for the 1985 edition)

3.75/5 (Good)

John Christopher’s A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge) (1965) is the second in my informal reading series on 50s/60s post-apocalyptic visions.  Fresh off Alfred Coppel’s moody and reflective Dark December (1960), I chose one of Christopher’s works long overshadowed by his popular Tripods trilogy (1967-68)* and more famous earlier catastrophe novel The Death of Grass (1956).* Continue reading Book Review: A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge), John Christopher (1965)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Crashed Spaceships, Part III

(Detail from Alan Daniels’ cover for the 1980 German edition of Open Prison (1964), James White)

The crashed spaceship — a wrecked hulk spinning in the emptiness of space, shattered metal struts strewn across an alien landscape…. I find few SF scenarios more nostalgic than this one as a younger me was obsessed with books about the societies formed from the survivors of such cataclysms (Anne McCaffrey’s Acorna Universe sequence, of dubious quality now, was a cornerstone of my youth).

I have selected a range of fascinating covers which add to a series I made in 2012 (Part I) and 2013 (Part II). My favorite of the bunch is Tibor Csernus’ cover for the 1973 French edition of Clifford D. Simak’s Time and Again (1951) due to the verdant and wet landscape the spaceship finds itself in. My second favorite is Dean Ellis’ “descriptive” cover for the 1974 edition of Alan Dean Foster Icerigger (1974). It doesn’t try to be surreal but rather depicts a scene straight from novel. I usually prefer when the artist takes a more unusual approach but in this case Ellis narrows in on the wonder of the premise. Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Crashed Spaceships, Part III

Book Review: A Man of Double Deed, Leonard Daventry (1965)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1967 edition)

3/5 (Average)

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)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIX (Ursula K. Le Guin + Cordwainer Smith + M. P. Shiel + John Varley)

1. Ursula K. Le Guin’s novella, The Word for World is Forest, first appeared in Harlan Ellison’s Again, Dangerous Visions (1972) anthology before a stand-alone publication. I seem to remember reading it as a kid…. But…. the memories are vague.

2. Cordwainer Smith and I have never really seen eye to eye (I wanted to rhyme). I’m all for acquiring more of his collections just in case!

3. From Wikipedia:  “H. G. Wells lauded [M. P. Shiel’s] The Purple Cloud as ‘brilliant’ and H. P. Lovecraft later praised the novel as exemplary weird fiction, ‘delivered with a skill and artistry falling little short of actual majesty.'”

The Richard Powers cover is one of his best of the 60s.

4. John Varley, another author whom I’ve yet to read despite owning numerous of his collections and novels…. Millennium (1983) seems, well, suspicious? Time travel, airplanes, dystopic futures, love affairs across time. We shall see!

…and it was turned into a film in 1989.

Note: the images are hi-res scans. Click to enlarge.

As always, comments and tangents are welcome!

Enjoy.

1. The Word for World is Forest, Ursula K. Le Guin (anthology publication 1972) (MY REVIEW)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIX (Ursula K. Le Guin + Cordwainer Smith + M. P. Shiel + John Varley)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCVIII “Christmas Edition” (An Atlas of Fantasy + Sturgeon + Jeter + Berriault)

1. One of two SF/F gifts (not specifically for Christmas — but let’s pretend!) I’ve included in this post…. Due to my recent series on Maps and Diagrams in Science Fiction, a reader and fan of the site sent me his extra copy of J.B. Post’s An Atlas of Fantasy (1973)–which includes some SF maps as well. Thank you!

2. The second gift—I’ve been spacing a giant pile of vintage SF I received from a family friend out over many months! Sturgeon sometimes intrigues, and sometimes infuriates—hopefully there will be more of the former in this collection. No stories in the vein of “The Hurkle Is a Happy Beast” (1949) please.

3. Dr. Adder, K. W. Jeter’s infamous “couldn’t be published when it was written” novel that might have defined “cyberpunk” long before Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984). I have the Bluejay Books 1st edition with lots of evocative (and disturbing) interior art.

4. And finally, a completely unknown quantity from an author I’d never heard of–Gina Berriault. Promises to be a Cold War satire of impending nuclear destruction. And it has a History professor as a main character! (i.e. maybe a 1960s version of me? we shall see).

Enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

And let me know in the comments if you receive any SF/fantasy Christmas gifts.

~

1. An Atlas of Fantasy, J. B. Post (1973)

(Uncredited cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCVIII “Christmas Edition” (An Atlas of Fantasy + Sturgeon + Jeter + Berriault)

Book Review: Mindship, Gerard F. Conway (1974)

mindship conway(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1974 edition)

3/5 (Average)

“The only truth is what happens, in plain and simple reality. I’ve seen the inside of too many minds to think any man’s intentions can be good. We’re evil inside ourselves Kilgarin. We’re sick and foul and filthy. The only ones who come close to being pure are those too stupid to be anything else” (72).

Back in 2016 I read Universe 1, ed. Terry Carr (1971) and was pleasantly surprised by Gerard F. Conway’s short story “Mindship” (1971) about telepathic (“sensitive”) “corks” who calm the minds of the spaceship crews whose psychic powers run interstellar “engines.” This story forms the prologue of Conway’s novel continuation. In an odd way, the novel reinterprets the original short story and adds an additional level of mystery (it wasn’t an accidental death, it was a murder!) to its straightforward plot.

Continue reading Book Review: Mindship, Gerard F. Conway (1974)

Fragment(s): Monday Maps and Diagrams (Science Fiction) 12/17/18 — Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker (1980)

Monday Maps and Diagrams 12/17/18

A map from one of the better known dystopias by one of my favorite authors… Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker (1980). I have not read it, yet. I know, I know, I should. I have opened its pages and savored a passage or two–“Eusa sed, This is a dream. He opent up his iys but that ben open aul redde (34).”

The Map:

Citation: Map from the 1998 Indiana University Press Expanded edition of Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker (1980). [click to enlarge]  Continue reading Fragment(s): Monday Maps and Diagrams (Science Fiction) 12/17/18 — Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker (1980)