Tag Archives: book reviews

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXV (Haldeman + Lerman + Vonarburg + Slonczewski)

An acquisition post of entirely 80s novels? Joachim Boaz, you must be kidding!

1. SF in translation from Quebec! My edition is banged up so I included an image for the 1st English language edition instead. Rachel S. Cordasco sings the sequel’s praises here.

2. I recently finished Joe Haldeman’s Mindbridge (1976), and, despite its rather canned plot, I adored his “way of telling” (use of memos, citations from invented essays, desk ephemera, etc.) I’ll post a review soon. As a result, I purchased another Haldeman novel missing from my collection–his take on near future SF.

3. I have yet to read any of Joan Slonczewski’s novels. This appears to be her best known one… Her first novel, Still Forms on Foxfield (1980) will also be joining the Joachim Boaz SF Library momentarily.

4. Rhoda Lerman’s SF(ish?) novel seems like a fascinating slipstream experiment in medievalism. I’m not sure what to make of the back cover. As always, I am up for a radical experiment.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Enjoyed? Hated?

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1. The Silent City, Élisabeth Vonarburg (1981, trans. by Jane Brierley)

(Ken Campbell’s cover for the 1988 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXV (Haldeman + Lerman + Vonarburg + Slonczewski)

Book Review: Seeklight, K. W. Jeter (1975)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1975 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

K.W. Jeter’s first published novel is a promising one (*). On a nameless colony world, entropic forces influence all. Humankind speaks less and less and resorts to animistic grunts. Robotic priests go mad. Speculation abounds of a “Dark Seed” (52) implanted by the eugenicists on Earth in the colonist gene pool creating an increasingly crude and lazy population, “wretched and fearful of any change or effort” (46). The landscape itself  is inscribed with the entropic effects: most of the population seems to be engage in quarrying, hillsides are covered with the Continue reading Book Review: Seeklight, K. W. Jeter (1975)

Book Review: Don’t Bite the Sun, Tanith Lee (1976)

(Brian Froud’s cover for the 1st edition)

3.75/5 (Good)

My friend Hergal had killed himself again. This was the fortieth time he had crashed his bird-plane on the Zeefahr Monument and had to have a new body made” (9).

Tanith Lee’s Don’t Bite the Sun (1976) posits a post-scarcity future  replete with advanced technology where youth, the Jang, are encouraged (and “taught” via hypno-schools) to engage in various forms of excess. The nameless female Jang narrator (N) attempts to find life’s purpose in a society without rules, struggle, Continue reading Book Review: Don’t Bite the Sun, Tanith Lee (1976)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIII (Sheffield + Lessing + Callenbach + Ford)

1. Body modification + new definitions of humanity + a mystery! What is there not to like? I’ve not read any of Charles Sheffield’s SF. I look forward to exploring his oeuvre.

2. A proto-cyberpunk novel? I wonder if Ford’s novel, Web of Angels (1980), doesn’t receive the readership it should due to the lack of noir imagery and Asian culture that forms the “cyberpunk” archetype…. thoughts?

3. I need to complete Doris Lessing’s sequence! When I might get around to reading it is another matter…

4. I always see Ernest Callenbach’s environmental utopia novel on the shelves of my local Half Price Books. While wandering around Mexico City I saw this one for a few pesos… and grabbed it.

Note: I am currently in Mexico City, far away from my scanner, and will be for almost another week. In two instances I own different editions of the books than the cover might indicate. I have noted in the back cover blurb which I own.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Enjoyed? Hated?

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1. Sight of Proteus, Charles Sheffield (1978)

(Clyde Caldwell’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIII (Sheffield + Lessing + Callenbach + Ford)

Book Review: Moonstar Odyssey, David Gerrold (1977)

(Gene Szafran’s cover for the 1st edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

David Gerrold’s Moonstar Odyssey (1977) is a careful and introspective reflection on identity and gender set in a fascinating world made habitable by terraforming.  While the back cover suggests the presence of a driving narrative–the fulfillment of a prophecy propelled by a catastrophic cataclysm–instead, Gerrold’s novel is a bildungsroman that follows the self-realization of a precocious child named Jobe.  The dominate struggle that forms the core of the novel is “The Choice”–the moment in a young person’s life when they chose to move from their androgynous state to either “Reethe [or] Dakka, between female Continue reading Book Review: Moonstar Odyssey, David Gerrold (1977)

Book Review: Daybreak on a Different Mountain, Colin Greenland (1984)

(Steve Weston’s cover for the 1st edition)

4/5 (Good)

Fantasy and science fiction that deploys geographical and urban allegory—Italo Calvino-esque cities balanced over chasms, the skeletons of urban human interactions measured out in string, etc.*—relentlessly intrigues. In John Crowley’s The Deep (1975), the world as chessboard is perched on top of a pillar with endlessness on all sides. In Garry Kilworth’s Cloudrock (1988), two tribes eek out their existence on a levitating rock surrounded by poisonous gasses. Terry Carr’s Cirque (1977) posits a city next to an abyss out of which crawls a tentacled beast…. Sculpted urban and geographic artifice can, in the hands of an adept author, create meaning-rich texts as characters inscribe new patterns on the landscapes they traverse. Continue reading Book Review: Daybreak on a Different Mountain, Colin Greenland (1984)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXII (Martin + Jeter + Lee + Gerrold)

I told you I had a glut of SF acquisitions! My reading hasn’t slowed although reviewing, I’ll confess, has taken a back seat. However, my summer holiday begins today–I have multiple book reviews partially finished and scheduled.

In the meantime–> new books.

1. I have not read a single Tanith Lee short story or novel. I bought three to rectify that gaping hole in my knowledge. MPorcius, over at MPorcius’ Fiction Log (one of the few vintage SF review sites still publishing out reviews at a delightful pace), regularly celebrates her work. Check out his review of Don’t Bite The Sun (1976).

2. The surprising Half Price find of the last few years of browsing was the near complete publication series of Laser Books (see photo below). They are notorious for being mostly low quality (even the better authors in the series such as Gordon Eklund). However, K.W. Jeter–of Dr. Adder (written 1972, published 1984) fame–published his first novel in the series — I snagged it.

Note: if there are ANY other lesser known gems in the Laser books publication series PLEASE let me know. I suspect that vast majority of books will still be on the shelf if I were to return.

3. I finally have my hands on two early George R. R. Martin SF novels. Dying of the Light (1977) seems to have a fantastic premise. I look forward to it.

4. David Gerrold’s Moonstar Odyssey (1977) was nominated for the 1978 Nebula Award and then promptly forgotten…. online reviews indicate the challenging subject material (child sexuality) and the lack of a distinct plot. Some reviews made comparisons to Ursula Le Guin… Gerrold’s fiction has not satisfied me in the past. My knowledge, however, is limited to the following two books I reviewed on my site:

The Space Skimmer (1972)

Yesterday’s Children (variant title: The Space Hunt) (1972)

Tangent: Moonstar Odyssey contains a fantastic map. I’ll feature it on Monday in my soon-to-be-revived Monday Maps and Diagrams series.

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

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1. Don’t Bite the Sun, Tanith Lee (1976) (MY REVIEW)

(Brain Froud’s cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXII (Martin + Jeter + Lee + Gerrold)