Tag Archives: book reviews

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVII (Rex Gordon, Craig Strete, Graham Dunstan Martin, and an Anthology of European SF)

Clifford D. Simak, Tanith Lee, and M. A. Foster reviews are incoming. The first few weeks of every semester hit with a vengeance—teaching is an exhausting profession.

In the meantime get inspired to read vintage SF by ogling these gems!

1. In my youth I was obsessed with Victorian/Belle Epoque survivalist novels–Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island (1874), Perseverance Island Or the Robinson Crusoe Of The Nineteenth Century(1885), et al. I judged them on their “realistic” portrayals of how man (and yes, the characters were always men) moved up the technological tree—from fire to steam engines—in a hostile world. Although I’ve utterly disavowed SF that adheres to such  naive technological triumphalism, occasionally nostalgia calls…. Here’s a SF Robinsonade along similar lines.

2. I adore Craig’s Strete unique brand of SF story. I reviewed, in abbreviated form, his spectacular collection If All Else Fails…. (1980). I’ll read this one soon! The Bleeding Man and Other Science Fiction Stories is also a well-designed volume as elements of the cover art are used at the beginning of each short story.

3. Another unknown commodity—seems to combine SF and fantasy tropes.

4. Back in November I acquired the second in the Terra SF series of anthologies edited by Richard D. Nolane of Western European SF in translation. I pointed out that the first volume online was prohibitively expensive. A follower on twitter discovered that a seller on Amazon incorrectly listed the collection under another title—at a radically reduced price. Now it’s a happy member of my collection.

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

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1. First on Mars (variant title: No Man Friday), Rex Gordon (1956)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVII (Rex Gordon, Craig Strete, Graham Dunstan Martin, and an Anthology of European SF)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVI (Eric Frank Russell, Cherry Wilder, Tim Powers, and Kevin O’Donnell, Jr.)

1. I adore the SF Rediscovery series published by Avon (full listing with covers here): the large size, the font and formatting, the framing of the art, and the general feel of the volume in my hand. If there’s a downside it’s the so-so quality of the art itself. I own and have reviewed two in the series previously: Barry N. Malzberg’s brilliant Revelations (1972) and E. C. Tubb’s generation ship novel The Space-Born (1955).

I have yet to read any of Eric Frank Russell’s SF—The Great Explosion (1962) seems to fit the satirical anti-Imperialism mode… we shall see!

2. A book an author whom I know little about…. Tony Roberts’ cover and the back-cover blurb intrigue!

3. Tim Powers’ first two novels were science fiction for the Laser Books imprint. I do not have high hopes (the imprint was notoriously low quality) but always enjoy exploring the early visions of authors. Miserable cover aside, it has a fun (if silly) premise!

4. A generation ship novel! (with a few unusual twists?)

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

1. The Great Explosion, Eric Frank Russell (1962) (MY REVIEW)

(Chris Foss’ cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVI (Eric Frank Russell, Cherry Wilder, Tim Powers, and Kevin O’Donnell, Jr.)

Generation Ship Short Story Review: A. E. van Vogt’s “Centaurus II” (1947)

Preliminary note: This is the sixth post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. All of the stories I’ll review are available online (see links below). You are welcome to read and discuss along with me as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage. And thanks go out to all who have joined already.

Next up: A far lesser known author and story! David Rome’s “Bliss” (1962) in Science Fiction Adventures, No. 24, ed. John Carnell (story link)

Previously: J. G. Ballard’s “Thirteen to Centaurus” (1962) in the April 1962 issue of Amazing Stories, ed. Cele Goldsmith

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme with links to all my reviews.

(Charles Schneeman’s cover for the June 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr.)

4/5 (Good)

A. E. van Vogt’s “Centaurus II” (1947)* (story link) first appeared in the June 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. Together with two later stories—“Rogue Ship” Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: A. E. van Vogt’s “Centaurus II” (1947)

Book Review: The Night of Kadar, Garry Kilworth (1978)

(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1980 edition)

4/5 (Good)

At first glance, Garry Kilworth’s The Night of Kadar (1978) tells the familiar tale of colonization on an alien planet filled with mysterious and hostile forces. Beneath the surface, Kilworth explores the evolution of a religious society separated from its sacred landscape  (the planet Earth) that gave birth to the first followers of the religion. This is an odd novel in the best sense of the word. I’ve discovered few 70s works that tackle Islamic religion and faith (yet alone any religion) in a non-judgmental manner. Continue reading Book Review: The Night of Kadar, Garry Kilworth (1978)

Updates: My 2019 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Categories)

(Chis Foss’ cover for the 1976 French edition of The Inverted World (1974), Christopher Priest)

2019, the tenth year of my site, proved to be a renaissance of sorts. While I managed to read a lot in 2018, I wrote few posts—mostly acquisition and art posts (which take the least effort and time). I have returned, almost, to my earlier levels of productivity and I hope that continues into 2020. Thank you all for reading and commenting be it on the site or on twitter.  It’s greatly appreciated.

And here are my favorite novels and short stories I read in 2019 Continue reading Updates: My 2019 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Categories)

Short Book Reviews: Harry Harrison’s Captive Universe (1969), John Christopher’s The Death of Grass (1956), Nancy Kress’ An Alien Light (1987), and Joe Haldeman’s Mindbridge (1976)

My “to review” pile is growing and my memory of them is fading… hence short—far less analytical—reviews.

1. Mindbridge, Joe Haldeman (1976)

(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1977 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

Nominated for the 1977 Hugo Award

Joe Haldeman never struck me as an author who experimented with New Wave methods of telling. Mindbridge (1976) shatters my misconception. Imagine the basic plot of his masterpiece The Forever War (1975) combined with a fascinating experimental structure. The latter intrigued me far more than the former.

The Basic Plot: The Levant-Meyer Translation allows humans to instantaneously travel across the galaxy. The Tamer Agency sends its agents to investigate alien worlds. Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Harry Harrison’s Captive Universe (1969), John Christopher’s The Death of Grass (1956), Nancy Kress’ An Alien Light (1987), and Joe Haldeman’s Mindbridge (1976)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIV (Anne McCaffrey, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, and Philip Wylie)

1. In my youth Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels received a privileged place on my shelf. I have yet to explore her other SF in any great detail. The Ship Who Sang (1969) is a fix-up novel of six earlier short fictions from the 60s. I’ve put this one near the top of my to-read list!

2. Another epic series of tales of space exploration from Poul Anderson! I hope it’s better than Tau Zero (1970).

3. A post-apocalyptical novel from Philip Wylie—14 survivors in the bomb shelter of a millionaire. Thoughts on this one?

4. I’ve never cared for Lester del Rey, The only work of his I’ve somewhat enjoyed was The Eleventh Commandment (1962, rev. 1970) as I’m a sucker for overpopulation-themed SF.

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

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1. The Ship Who Sang, Anne McCaffrey (1969)

(Greg and Tim Hildebrandt’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIV (Anne McCaffrey, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, and Philip Wylie)