Derek Carter’s cover for the 1st edition
3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)
Ever since I read Judith Merril’s “Daughters of Earth” (1952), I’ve been fascinating with her subversive takes 1950s-60s gender roles and classic SF tropes. Survival Ship and Other Stories (1974) contains twelve short stories and a never-before-published poem selected by the author.
In addition to the merits of the tales within, I found Merril’s brief reflections on her early work fascinating. For example, she ruminates on the failure of her planned novel based on the generation ship launched by The Matriarchy in “Survival Ship” (1951), “Wish Upon a Star” (1958), and “The Lonely” (1963). She also describes a magazine “cover story” commission. The author would be provided with the cover art and asked to write a story containing its elements! The following three in this Continue reading
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
This anthology contains the fourth post in a loose series on SF short stories that are critical in some capacity of space agencies, astronauts, and the culture which produced them. I decided to review the entire anthology!
Today: Katherine MacLean’s “Echo” (1970), 3.75/5 (Good). The entire anthology is available online here.
Previously: William Tenn’s “Down Among the Dead Men” (1954), 5/5 (Masterpiece). First appeared in the June 1954 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, ed. H. L. Gold. You can read it online here.
Up Next: Theodore Sturgeon’s “The Man Who Lost the Sea” (1959). First appeared in the October 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Robert P. Mills. You can read the story online here.
Jim Steranko’s cover for the 1st edition
3/5 (Collated rating: Average)
Robert Hoskins “resurrected” Infinity Science Fiction magazine (1955-1958) as a five volume anthologies series between 1970-1973. The first volume, Infinity One (1970), contains sixteen original stories and one reprint from the original magazine–Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Star” (1955). SF Encyclopedia describes the anthology series as “a competent but not outstanding series.”
Eight of the seventeen stories fall into the “good” category. While none are masterpieces, Robert Silverberg, Arthur C. Clarke, Barry N. Malzberg co-writing with Kris Neville, Katherine MacLean, Gene Wolfe, and Poul Anderson Continue reading
As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
Preliminary Note: I’ve made two big changes to the site. My revamped review index now contains every single short story and novel I’ve reviewed on the site listed by author. In the past, you had to sift through the anthologies to find short stories. Hopefully this is easier to navigate [you better say yes — it took me more than eight hours — hah]. Let me know if it is a useful change.
I’ve also updated the site template to make it easier to navigate on a mobile device. I still like my old template but this seems functionally identical and visually similar.
Now to the science fiction!
1. Deep Space, ed. Robert Silverberg (1973)
John Berkey’s cover for the 1976 edition
From the back cover: “Beyond the rim of the solar system, past the orbit of Pluto, far into uncharted space, a man in a life hutch is held prisoner by a deranged robot. A galactic agent learns that there is a cosmic reason for his distasteful, dangerous job. A man discovers he is the only human being not controlled by an analogue—an invisible guardian. And the planet Centaurus holds Continue reading
This collection contains the third post in a loose series on SF short stories that are critical in some capacity of space agencies, astronauts, and the culture which produced them. After reading today’s installment, I decided to review the entire collection!
Today: William Tenn’s “Down Among the Dead Men” (1954), 5/5 (Masterpiece). First appeared in the June 1954 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, ed. H. L. Gold. You can read it online here.
Previously: Edmond Hamilton’s “What’s It Like Out There?” (1952), 5/5 (Masterpiece). First appeared in the December 1952 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories, ed. Samuel Hines. You can read the story online here.
Up next: Katherine MacLean’s “Echo” (1970) in Infinity One, ed. Robert Hoskins.
Richard Powers’ cover for the 1955 edition
3.25/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Good)
In the early days of my website, I reviewed two volumes by William Tenn–his sole novel Of Men and Monsters (1968) and his collection The Human Angle (1956). Of All Possible Worlds (1955) is his first published collection. The presence of “Down Among the Dead Men” (1954), “The Liberation of Earth” (1953), and “The Custodian” (1953) make this a must purchase (despite the handful of duds that drag down the overall rating) for fans of polished 50s satires in wrecked future worlds. Tenn’s narrators Continue reading
I’m not sure what I can add about the general sentiment of 2020. It was awful in every way. Here’s to a better 2021.
Reading and writing for the site—and participating in all the SF discussions it’s generated over the year—was a necessary and greatly appreciated salve. Thank you everyone!
I also have one (hopefully more) review coming out in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (the Curiosities column) in the spring. I’ve not included my reviews of those esoteric SF novels in this particular post.
Without further ado, here are my favorite novels and short stories I read in 2020 (with bonus categories). Tempted to track any of them down?
And feel free to list your favorite vintage (or non-vintage) SF reads of the year. As always, I look forward to reading your comments.
My Top 10 Science Fiction Novels (click titles for my review)
Tim White’s cover for the 1983 edition
1. Electric Forest, Tanith Lee (1979), 5/5 (Masterpiece): Tanith Lee spins a gauzy, sinister, and terrifying tale of manipulative resurrection. A brilliant inventor projects the mind of a grotesque social outcast into a new transcendent Continue reading
James Gurney’s cover art detail for the 1st edition of William Greanleef’s The Tartarus Incident (1983)
Note: My read but “waiting to be reviewed pile” is growing. Short rumination/tangents are a way to get through the stack. Stay tuned for more detailed and analytical reviews.
1. A Storm of Wings, M. John Harrison (1980)
Michael Whelan’s cover for the 1982 edition
4.5/5 (Very Good)
A Storm of Wings (1980) is the second volume, after The Pastel City (1971), of the Viriconium sequence. Far more dense and oblique than its predecessor, A Storm of Wings revels in the creation of a surreal urban tapestry–redolent with decay and decadent excess. Two Reborn Men (Fay Glass and Alstath Fulthor) attempt to animate the somnolent city of Viriconium Continue reading
This is the second post in a loose series on SF short stories that are critical in some capacity of space agencies, astronauts, and the culture which produced them.
Today: Edmond Hamilton’s “What’s It Like Out There?” (1952), 5/5 (Masterpiece). First appeared in the December 1952 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories, ed. Samuel Hines. You can read the story online here.
Thank you “Friend of the Site” Jennifer Jodell for alerting me to the existence of this gem, our discussion, and for providing a summary of Damon Knight’s 1962 introduction.
Previously: Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s “Death of a Spaceman” (variant title: “Memento Homo”) (1954), 5/5 (Masterpiece): First appeared in the March 1954 issue of Amazing Stories, ed. Howard Browne. You can read the story online here.
Up Next: William Tenn’s “Down Among the Dead Men” (1954). First appeared in the June 1954 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, ed. H. L. Gold. You can read it online here.
Walter Popp’s cover for the December 1952 issue
In the December 1952 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories, Samuel Hines (the editor) presents “What’s It Like Out There?” as the culmination of Edmond Hamilton’s Phoenix-like evolution from a “primitive period” of writing extravagant pulps to 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