Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Quicksand, John Brunner (1967)
From the back cover: “She had nearly killed a man who tried to assault her. She spoke a language no one could understand. Commonplace objects like clothing and cars were a mystery to her.
Paul was haunted and entranced by her. He licked at the secrecy that surrounded her until, inevitably, his fate became linked to hers. And she gave him a vision of a world more beautiful than any he had ever known.
THEY LIVED IN A PARADISES OF SENSUAL ECSTACY… UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE. BECAUSE HER LOVE WAS LIKE QUICKSAND.”
Initial Thoughts: My Brunner obsession in my early 20s generated a packed few years of reading as many novels–the good and the bad–that I could get my hands on. This one escaped my grasp.
As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Millennium: A Novel About People and Politics in the Year 1999, Ben Bova (1976)
Fred Marcellino’s cover for the 1st edition
From the inside flap: “We are thrust into the terrifying world of the future in this chilling novel about people and politics in the year 1999. The Earth’s population has soared to eight billion. The two major powers are on the brink of nuclear war as they vie for control of the planet’s dwindling supply of natural resources.
Meanwhile, a few hundred kilometers above the Earth’s surface, on their respective Moon colonies, the United States Continue reading →
As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
Ben Bova (1932-2020) passed away a few weeks ago due to Covid-19 complications (and a stroke) (Tor Remembrance Article). While I haven’t had the best luck with his work, if you have any fond memories of him or reading his SF, let me know in the comments. I purchased his first collection Forward in Time (1973) (below) in his honor.
1. Final Stage: The Ultimate Science Fiction Anthology, ed. Barry N. Mazlberg and Edward L. Ferman (1974)
David Pelham’s cover for the 1975 edition
From the back cover: “Thirteen fantastic new stories on the classic themes of Science Fiction.” See Continue reading →
2. Side 1 of an Ace Double. Suzette Haden Elgin’s The Communipaths is the first in her Coyote Jones sequence. I had mixed views on the third volume: At the Seventh Level (1972).
3. Side 2 of an Ace Double. Back in 2012 I reviewed Louis Trimble’s intriguing SF allegorical city tale The City Machine (1972). It was a competent work that, in the hands of a more polished writer, could have been so much more. Not sure what to expect from this one…. the zany nature of the blurb is off-putting.
1. I’ve acquired quite a few vintage SF novels and short story collections in translation over the last few weeks–here’s one from Paul Van Herck, a Belgian author who wrote in Dutch. Not the cheapest DAW books edition I’ve encountered….
2. I always want more Le Guin…. Here, a series of linked short stories set in a fantasy world.
3. This Analog Annual anthology contains the only publication of P. J. Plauger’s novel Fighting Madness. Plauger won the John Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer before fading from the scene.
4. I love vintage SF. I do not love Ace Doubles. Yes, they published a few PKD novels that are worth reading, but, on the whole, I find their quality quite low. This was a gift from a family friend and one of the very few Ace Doubles I’ve been looking for — mostly due to Philip E. High’s city-themed novel.
As always, enjoy the covers! (they are hi-res scans of my personal copies — click for larger image)
Are any other the works worth reading? Let me know in the comments!
EDIT: I was too harsh on my Ace Doubles comment. I realized, and mentioned in the post and comments below, that they also published early PKD, Samuel Delany, and Barry N. Malzberg novels and short story collections, etc. Due to my low tolerance of pulp, I still find the vast majority of them uninteresting.
1. Where Were You Last Pluterday?, Paul Van Herck (1968, trans. 1973)
1) Futuristic city? Yes! Is more needed? Okay, okay, I concede, more is needed. I hope Gotschalk’s novel with its fantastic Dean Ellis cover delivers. Among the least known of the Ace Science Fiction Special series…
2) Ballard blurbs Martin Bax’s novel as “…the most exciting, stimulating and brilliantly conceived book I have read since Burroughs’ novels.” Hyperbole aside, the two reviews (here and here) I’ve read of Bax’s sole novel puts this at the top of my “to read” pile.
I have cheated a bit by including the cover for the first New Directions edition rather than the later Picador edition I own due to the cover quality.
3) Three acquisitions posts ago (here) I mentioned that the premise of Marge Piercy’s Dance the Eagle to Sleep (1970) did not inspire me to read it anytime soon. Thankfully I found a copy of what many consider her masterpiece Woman at the Edge of Time (1976) cheap at the local used book store.
4) I am not sure why I picked this collection up—I’ve heard good things about Joe Haldeman’s introduction which draws on his experience in the Vietnam War. As Isaac Asimov, Mack Reynolds, etc are not normally authors who intrigue me, I might do something I rarely do and read and review Effinger’s story only (and maybe Poul Anderson’s as he’s better in short form)…
As always thoughts and comments are welcome.
1. Growing up in Tier 3000, Felix C. Gotschalk (1976)
H. Lawrence Hoffman (b. 1911-1977) [wikipedia article] illustrated a vast range of covers for the major presses such as Popular Library—his mystery novel covers, including those by Dashiell Hammett, are particularly evocative [here is a substantial gallery displaying the range of his non-SF covers].
His use of coral and figures inspired by Central American Art (see his cover for The Gate of Worlds (1967), Robert Silverberg) demonstrate his more experimental moments. His coral covers are stunning— Last Door to Aiya (1968), ed. Mirra Ginsburg and A Century of Science Fiction (1962), ed. Damon Knight. And the 1973 edition of Alien Art by Gordon R. Dickson scratches a strange artistic itch…
Unfortunate title aside (“darkling” sound like a small evil creature in a work of fantasy), Ben Bova’s As on a Darkling Plain (1972) is a middling fix-up novel in every respect. It is worth noting that Chapters 5 (‘The Jupiter Mission’) and 6 (‘The Sirius Mission’), which comprise a great majority of the novel, appeared earlier in If February 1970 and Galaxy January 1969 as “Pressure Vessel” and “Foeman, Where Do You Flee?” respectively. I’m not sure how much was expanded or subtracted. If anyone knows please leave a comment — I find that the act of revising earlier work interesting in itself.