Tag Archives: avant-garde

Updates: My 2018 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Catagories)

Post-academia depression hits hard…. While completing my PhD (defended in the summer of 2017), reading SF and writing about SF was the way I kept sane. After multiple mostly unsuccessful years on the academic market, I have changed gears career-wise (although I’m still affiliated with a university and teaching college-level history courses but without the research component) and it has been a liberating experience. My history obsessions remain, even stronger in many ways, and academic monographs on all the topics that I wanted to read about but never could—Hellenistic successor states to Alexander, Early Islam, Late Antique and Medieval Persia, etc.–have dominated my time and pocketbook 2018 (don’t ask how much I’ve spent). I have included a “Best Academic History Reads of 2018” section for the curious.

At the beginning of November, I was moments from announcing that I was on hiatus for the foreseeable future. However, I have fallen back in love with SF and writing about SF and the new year beckons!

All of this is to say, I read little SF this year–until last month. However, there were a handful of stand-out SF novels and short stories that I managed to squeeze in.

And please list your favorite vintage (or non-vintage) SF reads of the year. I look forward to reading your comments.

Enjoy!

…and read lots of good books in 2019. I will.

Best SF Novels Continue reading Updates: My 2018 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Catagories)

Fragment(s): The Power of a Good Introduction (Judith Merril’s 1968 New Wave Anthology England Swings SF)


(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1970 Ace edition)

I must confess, I generally skip the introductions to anthologies—even if they are written by my favorite authors who happen to be notable anthologists (Judith Merril, Robert Silverberg, Barry N. Malzberg, etc.). While paging through various collections hunting for stories, I encountered Judith  Merril’s micro-introduction to her famous New Wave anthology England Swings SF (1968). Here’s a list of the contents.

Although it is spread across three pages, it is only a few lines of text–a poetic beckoning, itself a condensed version of what the New Wave embodied. Merril’s intro as poem demonstrates literary invention, the blend of old (“scout ship”) and new (“heading out of sight into the multiplex mystery of inner/outer space”) images, and references to both high (“surrealism) and pop culture (“Beatles”). Continue reading Fragment(s): The Power of a Good Introduction (Judith Merril’s 1968 New Wave Anthology England Swings SF)

Book Review: New Dimensions 3, ed. Robert Silverberg (1973) (Le Guin + Tiptree, Jr. + Lafferty + Malzberg + Effinger + et al.)


(Dennis Anderson’s cover for the 1973 edition)

4/5 (Collated rating: Good)

For an anthology, bound to contain a filler story or two, this one is spectacular. Robert Silverberg’s New Dimensions 3 (1973) lives up to his claim to contain “stories that demonstrate vigorous and original ways [often experimental] of approaching the body of ideas, images, and concepts that is science fiction” yet do not sacrifice “emotional vitality, or clarity of insight.” Ursula K. Le Guin, with her rumination on utopias, and James T. Tipree, Jr.’s proto-cyberpunk tale of commercialism and performing gender, deliver some of their best work.

Continue reading Book Review: New Dimensions 3, ed. Robert Silverberg (1973) (Le Guin + Tiptree, Jr. + Lafferty + Malzberg + Effinger + et al.)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Dark Depths and Haunting Layers of Michel Jakubowski


(Fiction 114, May 1963)

Whenever it is Philippe Curval’s birthday I am pulled back into the fascinating world of French SF cover art–in particular the magazine Fiction, which, during its early years, had an utterly different aesthetic than anything found on American magazines. As I desperately want to read his novels (the vast majority remain untranslated), I can only enjoy the magazine covers he created in the 50s (Part I and Part I of my series on his photocollages).

This is all to say, I have chosen another lesser known artist for Fiction to showcase, Michel Jakubowski. This post which continues a loose series I’ve cobbled together on Adventures in French Science Fiction Cover Art (list below). I cannot find any information on him online. Perhaps he’s related to the more famous French SF author and editor Maxim Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Dark Depths and Haunting Layers of Michel Jakubowski

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)

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)

Fragment(s): Monday Maps and Diagrams (Science Fiction) 12/10/18 — Suzy McKee Charnas’ Walk to the End of the World (1974)

Monday Maps and Diagrams 12/10/18

A map from one of my absolute favorite SF novels… Suzy McKee Charnas’ Walk to the End of the World (1974).

The Map:

Citation: Map from the Ballantine Books 1st edition of Suzy McKee Charnas’ Walk to the End of the World (1974)
Continue reading Fragment(s): Monday Maps and Diagrams (Science Fiction) 12/10/18 — Suzy McKee Charnas’ Walk to the End of the World (1974)