Tag Archives: book reviews

Short Story Review: Marcel Schwob’s “The Death of Odjigh” (1892)

(John Yang’s cover for the 2017 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

Marcel Schwob’s short stories (and invented biographies) inspired the likes of Jorge Luis Borges, Roberto Bolaño, and other proponents of “intertextual” and “encyclopedic” literature. Due to this intellectual genealogy which speaks to my very fiber, I purchased a copy of Wakefield Press’ gorgeous 2017 edition of The King in the Golden Mask (1892), which contains a kaleidoscope of fascinating fictions  filled with evocative imagery and metafictional delights. I eagerly await a new edition of Schwob’s pseudo-historical biographies Imaginary Lives Continue reading Short Story Review: Marcel Schwob’s “The Death of Odjigh” (1892)

Book Review: The Two-Timers, Bob Shaw (1968)

(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1968 1st edition)

2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)

Various Bob Shaw fans told me to read Nightwalk (1967) or find a copy of Other Days, Other Eyes (1972)—especially as I adored one of the short stories that appeared in the later fix-up novel —“Light of Other Days” (1966). Instead, I cast wary eyes toward my shelves and read The Two-Timers. I wish I read Nightwalk. I tried, I must confess, but wasn’t in the mood and then something about The Two-Timers’ Diane and Leo Dillon cover—the doubling visages, contorted, anguished, and angular—pulled me in. For the full glory of the image, I’ve included a his-res scan below.

The Plot

John Breton’s relationship with his wife, Kate, is Continue reading Book Review: The Two-Timers, Bob Shaw (1968)

Updates: Kate Wilhelm (June 8, 1928-March 8, 2018)

(My Kate Wilhelm collection)

Today I learned on twitter that Kate Wilhelm passed away on March 8th. A sadness has descended far more than I thought it would for someone I’ve never met…. But the intimate activity of reading always casts an entrancing net of familiarity with the creation and creator. If she’s new to you, I recommend her most famous Hugo- and Nebula-winning fix-up novel Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976)–I’ve linked ta review from my friend Admiral Ironbombs. I’d returned to the novel myself over the last week in audiobook form on my drive to work. It’s as powerful and unsettling as I remember it from my first read-through as a teen somewhere between 2006 and 2008.

As frequent readers of my site might know, she is one of my favorite authors—especially in short story (novella) form–her short story collection The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction (1968) is required SF reading. My favorite short fiction includes the Nebula-nominated “Baby, You Were Great!” (1967) and the Nebula-Award winning “The Planners” (1968). They are entrancing, Continue reading Updates: Kate Wilhelm (June 8, 1928-March 8, 2018)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Recumbent Figures and Constructing Cities of Alberto Cavallari

(Alberto Cavallari’s cover for 1972 edition (Galassia 178) of the anthology The Dark of the Soul (1970), ed. Don Ward)

As my 60s/70s Italian SF art explorations continue on both my site (here and here) and on twitter (@SFRuminations), I’ve come to the conclusion that Italy’s SF easily ranks among the most appealing (at least to me) graphic explorations of the dynamic genre. For most fans of SF art, one name will immediately spring to mind (in part because he created a few covers for American editions)—the masterful Karel Thole. However, I am increasingly impressed by less known Italian artists brought in for shorter periods of time by the Italian press Galassia. This post will focus on one of those figures—Alberto Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Recumbent Figures and Constructing Cities of Alberto Cavallari

Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIX (Ballard + Tennant + Guin + Anthology)

The move into my first house—with my ridiculous quantity of books—is nearly complete….

1. ….and so is my collection of 60s and 70s J. G. Ballard!

2. Currently reading this peculiar Emma Tennant vision… My third of her books — I never got around to reviewing Hotel de Dream (1976) as I grew disenchanted with the second half but thoroughly enjoyed The Crack (variant title: The Time of the Crack) (1973).

3. Not personally a huge fans of sports but enjoy when SF authors (for example Robert Sheckley, Barry N. Malzberg, and George Elec Effinger) take on future sport… A perfect topic for satirical commentary and sinister undercurrents….

4. I while ago I read and thoroughly enjoyed Wyman Guin’s short story collection Living Way Out (variant title: Beyond Bedlam) (1967). I found this in a thrift story for less than a 1$ so it ended up on my shelf.

Thoughts?

1. Concrete Island, J. G. Ballard (1974)

(Richard Clifton-Dey’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIX (Ballard + Tennant + Guin + Anthology)

Book Review: The Bodyguard, Adrian Mitchell (1970)

(Roger Phillips’ cover for the 1972 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

“[Lens] Rossman’s narrative is both single-minded and rambling, a tangle of facts and fantasies, distorted sexuality, obscured dates, anti-feminism, glorified brutality and narcissism” (153).

Adrian Mitchell’s sole SF novel The Bodyguard (1970) is a perverse romp through a diseased England viewed through the eyes of an equally diseased narrator. Lens Rossman’s deathbed ramblings of his “adventures” and “training” as a B.G. (bodyguard) in his fight against “The Rot” spread by leftist subverts, is, as the “editor” of the narrative indicates in a hilarious afterword, “a tangle of facts and fantasies” and “glorified brutality” (153). Mitchell presents Rossman’s account as a ghastly artifact of a pre-revolutionary era while simultaneously suggesting that the excess Continue reading Book Review: The Bodyguard, Adrian Mitchell (1970)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVIII (Heinlein + Tenn + Wyndham + Bell)

1. My friend Mike sent this to me…. of dubious quality to say the least. But, O my, the cover!

2. Tell me again why I continue to buy Robert Heinlein paperbacks? Why in the world did I read SO MANY OF HIS BOOKS as a kid? Some of life’s persistent questions….

3. John Wyndham short fiction—or rather, a fix-up novel of sorts–with a co-writer. Did not realize any of his work was co-written…. Has anyone read it?

4. William Tenn’s short fiction collection is by far the most appealing of the bunch—his stories always have me chortling with laughter.  For example, The Human Angle (1956) and Of Men and Monsters (1968)

1. Gone To Be Snakes Now, Neal Bell (1974)

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVIII (Heinlein + Tenn + Wyndham + Bell)