Tag: book reviews

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: French comic book style 70s SF art by Serge Clerc

(Serge Clerc’s cover for the 1977 edition of The Dramaturges of Yan (1972), John Brunner)

Joachim Boaz compiling a post about SF comic book art? Wait. Wait. That can’t be, I remember reading in a comment months ago that he hasn’t opened a comic book once in his entire life. Oh, that makes more sense, the French artist Serge Clerc, who worked for Métal Hurlant early in his career, also created SF covers….

…and they are quite fun in their wacky way. In 1977 for the French Presses de la Cité – Futurama, Serge Clerc created eight covers–gracing works by Brunner, Octavia Butler, E. C. Tubb, and James Gunn–of which I’ve included seven in this post. My favorite is his 1977 edition of John Brunner’s  Read More

Updates: Evan Lampe’s Philip K. Dick Read-Through Podcast (and Cover Gallery)

(Ed Valigursky’s cover for the 1957 edition of Eye in the Sky (1957), Philip K. Dick)

As the mapmaker in Russell Hoban’s The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973) who creates a map that shows the places of inspiration, I too like to guide people towards voices that are worth the listen. I encountered the writings of Evan Lampe (@EvanLampe1) while perusing various SF articles on WordPress—his site gave an encyclopedic look at the stories and thought of Philip K. Dick. And now he’s following up with a podcast read-through (mostly chronological) of PKD’s fiction.

Evan described the podcast to me as follows:

“My main podcast is based on the idea of looking at American writers. I just wanted to podcast. I would have done it on Youtube but I do not really have the video editing skills to pull that off. Mostly, in that series I am driven to make a full-throated defense of America in these bizarre times. Perhaps its therapy. I guess you are more interested in my Philip Dick series. I think I talk about my motivations for that in my episode on “Stability”. It comes down to Dick being more culturally relevant than ever, with new TV series and a new Blade Runner film. I also never stopped believing that his writing is a useful tool in talking about many of our contemporary political and social dilemmas. The systematic approach will ensure that the stories and early novels will get the love that they deserve. There are a handful of aspects of Dick’s writing that need special attention (the frontier, post-scarcity, work, automation). I am trying to keep these most contemporary questions in mind as I re-read these works.”

Read More

Updates: New Website Look and New Projects (Towards a Favorite SF Novels of the 1970s List, Barry N. Malzberg Resource, Guest Post Series Ideas)

(From the uncredited cover for the 1975 edition of The Invincible (1964), Stanislaw Lem)

I’ve updated the website template (and purchased the domain name) and would like to know if it is easy to navigate (especially on mobile devices). Obviously I can’t please everyone but hope that it is more streamlined and 2017 than before.

I started Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations way back in 2010. My first post bashed John Brunner’s Born Under Mars (1967) in vaguely substantive terms (sometimes I think about deleting my earliest reviews). Since then I have written some 300 odd review reviews, 114 cover art posts, and various film reviews, indices, lists, guest post series, an interview, etc. With all of this in mind, I thought I’d give you a sense of what is on the horizon.

Reminder: If you’re the emailing rather than commenting sort I can be reached at ciceroplatobooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

The Three Major Projects

1) I’m in the process of compiling a resource page for Barry N. Malzberg that would include links to reviews/interviews/academic articles from around the web. Let me know if there are any links you would like me to include. Even if you aren’t a Barry N. Malzberg fan, if you happen to come across in your SF perambulations any relevant information I’d be very appreciative if you’d send them my way.

Resource/article INDEX 

2) This will appeal to far more readers. Over the last few years I’ve been slowly working my way towards a “My Favorite 1970s SF Novels List.” Read More

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of French, Italian, and Spanish Editions of Robert Silverberg’s Science Fiction

(Uncredited cover for the 1977 French edition of Tower of Glass (1970), Robert Silverberg)

Robert Silverberg (b. 1935) has long been one of my favorite SF authors. Especially between 1967-1975 (i.e. his shift away from pulp and before his momentary retirement), Silverberg produced a prodigious and thought-provoking corpus of writing. The sheer number of brilliant works crammed into those few years is only rivaled by Barry N. Malzberg (1969-1976) and Kate Wilhelm (1967-c. 1976).

As I’ve been exploring other less known authors, I’ve not read a lot of Silverberg’s novel-length works recently. Tower of Glass (1970), Nightwings (1969), A Time of Changes (1971), The Stochastic Man (1975), Son of Man (1971), and Up the Line (1969) among others remain unread on my shelf. Rather, I’ve restricted my focus to a few wonderful short stories in various collections here and there—“Passengers” (1968), a haunting masterpiece story of alien possession; “When We Went to See the End of the World” (1972), suburban banter Read More

Book Review: Larger Than Life, Dino Buzzati (1960, trans. 1962)

(Lena Fong Lueg’s cover for the 1967 edition)

3.75/5 (Good)

Dino Buzzati (1906-1972), best known for his masterpiece of Italian literature The Tartar Steppe (1940), was a central figure of the Italian avant-garde. He was a journalist, author, unabashed utilizer of genre tropes (graphic novels, SF, children’s fiction), and artist. Buzzati’s Larger Than Life (1960) is considered by some scholars to be the “first serious novel of Italian science fiction” (see 335-336 in the Encyclopedia of Italian Literary Studies).

Translated by the British poet Henry Reed in 1962, Larger Than Life applies Buzzati’s technique of direct, almost journalistic clarity, to a Kafka-esque scenario that is laid out in the first few paragraphs. In the prologue to the collection Restless Nights – Selected Stories of Dino Buzzati (1983) he describes his technique: “It seems to me, fantasy should be as close as possible to Read More

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXII (The Anthology Edition) (Best SF Stories from New Worlds 5, Orbit 6, Alpha 3, Best SF 1972)

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)

(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1972 edition) Read More

Book Review: World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (variant title: World’s Best Science Fiction: Third Series), ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr (1967)

(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1970 edition)

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

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.

Brief Analysis/Plot Summary

“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (1966) Read More

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXI (Harrison + Sturgeon + Moorcock + Buzzati)

1) Early Elric stories from Michael Moorcock’s pen. Confession: I bought it in Scotland due to the disquieting cover rather than any love of heroic fantasy—albeit M. John Harrison’s The Pastel City (1971) was pretty darn good.

The fantastic cover is uncredited: thoughts regarding the artist?

2) I adored Dino Buzzati’s magical realist novel The Tartar Steppe (1940). And the movie adaptation The Desert of the Tartars, dir. Valerio Zurlini (1976) inspired by the aesthetics of Giorgio de Chirico —I even wrote a half-baked and cursory review of the movie many years ago. While browsing I discovered that Buzzati wrote what is considered the first serious Italian SF novel—Larger than Life (1960). I can’t wait to read it!

3) More Theodore Sturgeon short stories….

Relevant reviews: A Way Home (1956), The Cosmic Rape (1958) and Venus Plus X (1960).

4) A while back I watched, and struggled to enjoy, the 1975 film adaptation of William Harrison’s short story “Roller Ball Murder” (1973). Time to read the source material. Copy snagged in Edinburgh, Scotland.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts.

1. The Stealer of Souls, Michael Moorcock (1963)

(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition) Read More

Book Review: The Thirst Quenchers, Rick Raphael (1965)

(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition)

3/5 (collated rating: Average)

Between 1959 and 1981 Rick Raphael produced one fix-up novel—Code Three (1967), expanded from two previously published novellas—and ten other short fictions. The Thirst Quenchers (1965) gathers together three novelettes that appeared in Analog and one new novelette.

In my review of Code Three I wrote that it charms with its realism.” The first two stories of this collection, although lacking the emotional heft of the novel, manage to present Read More