2022 was the single best year in the history of my site for visits and unique viewers!
As I mention year after year, I find reading and writing for the site—and participating in all the SF discussions generated over the year—a necessary and greatly appreciated salve. Whether you are a lurker, occasional visitor, or a regular commenter, thank you for your continued support.
Continuing a trend from 2021, I read only a handful of novels this year. Instead, I devoted my obsessive attention to various science short story review initiatives (listed below), anthologies, and histories of the science fiction genre. Without further ado, here are my favorite novels and short stories I read in 2022 with bonus categories. Descriptions are derived from my linked reviews.
My Top 5 Science Fiction Novels of 2022 (click titles for my full review)
1. Vonda N. McIntyre’s Dreamsnake(1978), 4.75/5 (Near Masterpiece): Won the 1979 Hugo, Locus, and Nebula Award for Best Novel. Snake journeys across the post-apocalyptic wastes of a future Earth with three serpents healing the sick and caring for the dying. She is a member of the healers, who adopt orphans and rescue the oppressed and train them how to use the serpents. Mist and Sand are genetically modified vipers of terrestrial origin. But Grass comes from another alien world. Snake uses Mist and Sand’s venom to create vaccines, treat diseases, and cure tumors. Grass, the rare dreamsnake, with its alien DNA is the most important of them all–it provides therapeutic pleasure and dreams that facilitate conquering one’s fear and healing in the ill. In Snake’s voyages, she encounters prejudice and violence. A joyous sense of sexual freedom permeates the proceedings. A powerful and different take on a post-apocalyptic worldscape in every possible way.
Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Car Sinister, ed. Robert Silverberg, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander (1979)
From the back cover: “MAN AND HIS MACHINE. The car is man’s most personalized machine; for teenagers it is a rite of passage and a statement of freedom; for adults it is a reflection of success, taste, and hopes; and for an entire culture it is a great and industrious mode of transportation–driving, perhaps, on the road of destruction. And the automobile–thrilling, honking, speeding, nerve-shattering–haunts us with the dark possibility that when our age of motoring innocence is over, we may no longer be the masters… CAR SINISTER–a splendid, imaginative vision of what lies down the road for all of us.”
The third story in my series on the science fictional media landscape of the future! In the wreckage of the 1950s Quiz Show scandals, Avram Davidson and Sidney Klein conjure a “secret history” of the real events.
Previously: Ray Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian” first appeared in the August 7th 1951 issue of The Reporter. You can read it in the February 1952 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas online here.
Next up: Brian W. Aldiss’ “Panel Game” first appeared in New Worlds Science Fiction, ed. John Carnell (December 1955). You can read it online here.
Avram Davidson and Sidney Klein’s “The Teeth of Despair” first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Robert P. Mills (May 1961). I read it in Science Fiction Oddities, ed. Groff Conklin (1966). You can read it online here.
I suspect most of you have seen Robert Redford’s Quiz Show (1994), a dramatization of the 1950s Quiz Show scandals. In the film, John Turturro, as Herbie Stempel, turns whistleblower after a three-month run on NBC’s Twenty-One where he was compelled to allow his opponent, Ralph Fiennes as Charles Van Doren, to win. In the early weeks of Twenty-One, corporate sponsors of the program grew increasingly frustrated with the poor quality of the contestants. In response, the producers increasingly choreographed the rise and fall of America’s fact-regurgitating heroes.
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.