As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. The Island Under the Earth, Avram Davidson (1969)
From the inside page: “In THE ISLAND UNDER THE EARTH, a master fantasist has created his most fabulous land of imagination, peopled with humans and not-humans who speak with characteristically different voices and pursue goals and philosophies that set them inevitably against one another.
“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 →
Little pleases me more than reading the fascinating cross-section of the genre presented by anthologies from my favorite era of SF (1960s/70s). After the success that was World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (variant title: World’s Best Science Fiction: Third Series) (1967), ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr, I decided to browse my “to post” pile of recent acquisitions and share a handful with you all. As is often the case, the collections are peppered with stories I’ve already read—I’ve linked the relevant reviews.
Filled with authors I haven’t read yet—Stephen Tall, Robin Scott, Roderick Thorp, Jean Cox, Christopher Finch, etc.
…and of course, many of my favorites including Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin, Barry N. Malzberg, and Kate Wilhelm (among many many others).
Scans are from my collection.
1. The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972)
Philip K. Dick. Roger Zelazny. Bob Shaw. Michael Moorcock. R. A. Lafferty. Seldom do I say that a “best of” anthology includes a large number of the best stories of the year. From PKD’s artificial memories to Bob Shaw’s slow glass, World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (1967) contains both fascinating technological marvels and serious character-centered storytelling. While not all the stories are successful, I highly recommend this collection for fans of 60s SF.
Note: I reviewed both Roger Zelazny stories elsewhere—I have linked and quoted my original reviews.
1) Barry N. Malzberg’s back cover blurb for Jody Scott’s 1977 novel suggests a worthwhile, or at least intriguing (and satirical), read: “What Paganini did to four strings and three-and-a-half octaves, Jody Scott does for our dear, undead genre.”
My first The Women’s Press edition!
2) My Christopher Priest collection nears completion. Has anyone read his early novel Fugue for A Darkening Island (1972)? Although I adore the short fiction and novels of his I’ve read so far, this premise has the potential to be deeply problematic (racist, etc). That said, I discovered my copy is signed! Purchased it for $4 with shipping off of Abebooks — it’s a $50+ book with signature.
3) A collection of Avram Davidson stories. The title story “Or All the Seas with Oysters” won the 1958 Hugo for Best Short Story. The two works of his I’ve read so far disappointed: The Enemy of My Enemy(1966) and “Rife of Spring” (1970).
4) Peter Tate’s stories mostly appeared in various New Worlds publications. Although hailing from the UK, his novels were almost entirely published by Doubleday Press in the US. In the past I read “The Post-Mortem People” (1966) and found it a functional New Wave experiment. As is my wont, I tracked down a collection of his short fictions.
As on all posts, thoughts and comments are welcome!
Here are three short reviews. Either I waited too long to review the work or in the case of the short story collection, the handful of poor stories (amongst the many gems) faded from memory and I couldn’t convince myself to reread them…
I apologize for the brevity and lack of analysis. My longer reviews definitely try to get at the greater morass of things but hopefully these will still whet your palate if you haven’t read the works already.
One of the least known works on David Pringle’s The 100 Best Novels between 1949-1984 list and soon to be published as a Gollancz Masterwork… For reference here’s a link to the list. Hopefully the Gollancz publication will bring the price down! (paperbacks go for ~30$ online).
A collection from a prolific 50s/60s primarily short-fiction SF author who died too young (at 41 due to lymphoma)….
Another Avram Davidson novel…
And a suspicious work by Jacqueline Lichtenberg described as for “admirers of the Early Heinlein”—of which I am obviously not. But, then again, the way presses marketed new women authors took on strange guises in the period. It might not feel like Heinlein in the slightest!
The avant-garde leaning Orbit anthology series, edited by Damon Knight, had an illustrious run from 1966-1976. Recently I have become more and more intrigued by the anthology as a way to access a wider range of authors and radical visions. Despite my rather lowish collated rating of Best SF Stories from New Worlds 2, ed. Michael Moorcock, it was a satisfying collection which exposed me to the SF of Langdon Jones and Pamela Zoline. Likewise, it somewhat rehabilitated my view of Charles Platt whose Planet of the Voles (1971) has long been one of my least favorite SF novels.
Anthologies are fascinating cross sections of the genre reflecting what was perceived as worthwhile SF by editors. They will almost always be more uneven than single author collections. But the exposure to forgotten authors and authors who never received a single author collection makes them almost always worthwhile.
Orbit 8 (1970) is no exception. The anthology swings wildly from Gardner Dozois’ masterpiece “Horse of Air” (1970) Continue reading →
Another varied selection of recent acquisitions—the majority are gifts from Carl V. Anderson at Stainless Steel Droppings. Thanks so much! A signed edition of Hal Clement’s Close to Critical (1964) is coming your way!
I love Sheckley. I’ve never read Richard Matheson’s short fiction. Terry Carr’s short fiction is supposedly rather good (he’s primarily known as an editor of course). And Avram Davidson is still an unknown quantity—I do adore the Leo and Diane Dillon cover.