Tag Archives: British

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVI (Wyndham + Conway + Brown + Wright)

Post-PhD job takes over… and books are not reviewed. But reading and buying still happens!

1. A supposed cult classic republished by Picador Press….. Has anyone read Smallcreep’s Day (1965)? Near the top of my “to read” pile. And I love Barbara Costall’s cover.

2. Early in the year I reviewed Conway’s short story “Mindship” (1971) in Universe 1 (1971), ed. Terry Carr. It was pretty solid. I tracked down the novel version which included the short as the prologue.

3. I was obsessed with Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia (1942) as a kid. Not with the novel per se, which I never owned, but the lengthy and descriptive entry in Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi’s spectacular (and wonder inducing) The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (1987). And of course, the idea of  Wright slowly creating an imaginary world that could exist within our own and only “discovered” after his death resonated with a young me…

I’ve included the map from the entry in The Dictionary of Imaginary Places.

4. And finally, another John Wyndham novel… although the premise sounds downright bland and trite. But then again, I still have not read a lot of his work and I know he was a formative voice in SF.

~

1. Smallcreep’s Day, Peter Currell Brown (1965)

(Barbara Costall’s cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVI (Wyndham + Conway + Brown + Wright)

Updates: Links from the Vintage SF Blogsphere No. 3 (Aldous Huxley + Soviet SF + Cyberpunk nightmares + et al.)

My third installment (earlier ones here) of Links from the Vintage SF Blogsphere… Be sure to check out the reviews linked from other amazing sites (and subscribe to them). And, as always, there are some fascinating covers to behold!

Go forth and read!

(Uncredited cover–Michael Hooks?–for the 1964 edition)

1. Mike White posts an earlier review of Aldous Huxley’s Ape and Essence (1948). Let’s just say I can’t wait to review the book myself.

From his review:

“Huxley’s not offering hopeful alternatives; we’re doomed by our essential nature. As a work of post-apocalyptic fiction, the book is a powerful exploration of the relationship between science and civilization that has brought humanity to the brink of near-total annihilation.”

2. Guy, a frequent commenter on this site and Continue reading Updates: Links from the Vintage SF Blogsphere No. 3 (Aldous Huxley + Soviet SF + Cyberpunk nightmares + et al.)

Updates: Links from the Vintage SF Blogsphere No. 2 (Soviet SF + Michael Moorcock + Hannes Bok + 70s UK Anthology + Allen Adler)

As a number of my favorite vintage SF sites have either gone into temporary hiatus or stopped posting completely, I’ve decided to make my Links from the Vintage SF Blogsphere a semi-regular feature (Part I). I will also include links to various articles that I’ve encountered that might be older as well.

1) Kaggsy, over at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings, reviewed what appears to be an unmissable collection of Soviet SF: The Air of Mars and Other Stories of Time and Space (1976), translated and edited by Mirra Ginsburg. From her review:

“Normally when I read Soviet sci-fi I end up looking for hidden messages or subtexts, as so many authors living under repressive regimes have turned to sci-fi as a way of hiding up their ideas and their dissent. Certainly, there were elements in some of the stories here, most obviously in “We Are Not Alone”, when any heresy against the dominant ideology is harshly punished. And in “Twelve Holidays” the clever trick used to get rid of a ruler could have been wishful thinking on the part of an author living with the cult of great leaders. However, whether or not there are hidden messages, all of these stories sparkled and entertained and made me look at the world and universe around me with fresh eyes – which for me is what I look for in science fiction writing.”

(Image via Kaggsy. Charles Mikolaycak’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Links from the Vintage SF Blogsphere No. 2 (Soviet SF + Michael Moorcock + Hannes Bok + 70s UK Anthology + Allen Adler)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIV (Kornbluth + Goldin + Charnock + Harrison edited Anthology)

1) A 1970s SF short story anthology. How could I resist? Could you? As with Judith Merril’s anthology I posted recently, Harry Harrison applies a very wide-ranging lens (publication venue, non-English language authors, etc) to the notion of “SF.”

2) Occasionally I procure (but more often than not, fail to review) a handful of newer SF novels by authors who haven’t yet received the spotlight they deserve. I listened to Anne Charnock’s A Calculated Life (2013) as an audible audiobook and found it rather brilliant. In a recent trip to Edinburgh, Scotland I went out for beers with Mike at Transreal Fiction and snagged a copy of Charnock’s newest novel from his store. I apologize in advance if no review appears—I must have a mental block when comes to reviewing books published in the last three decades. hah.

3) Today (July 23rd) is C.M. Kornbluth’s birthday! He’s long been one of my favorite 50s short fiction authors—I’ve reviewed The Marching Morons and Other Famous Short Stories (1959)The Explorers (1954), and Gladiator-At-Law (magazine publication 1954) with Frederik Pohl.

Another one of his short fiction collections — edited after his death by James Blish.

4) I’ve never read anything by Stephen Goldin. MPorcius over at MPorcius’ Fiction Log spoke highly of Goldin’s Assault on the Gods (1977). I don’t know what to expect.

As on any and all posts, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. Best SF: 1970 (variant title: The Year’s Best Science Fiction No. 4), ed. Harry Harrison (1971)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIV (Kornbluth + Goldin + Charnock + Harrison edited Anthology)

Book Review: The Hospital Ship, Martin Bax (1976)

(Uncredited cover for the 1976 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

The Lure. A nuclear powered hospital ship with a giant morgue. “THEY ARE CRUCIFYING US.” Love therapy. Will you move from your fetal position?

“1. Are you in love? [with Bax’s The Hospital Ship] (a) Yes (b) No.” (170)

Joachim Boaz scrawls…

First, musical equivalencies. Francis Dhomont, a French composer of electroacoustic / acousmatic music, stitched together the compositions of his students and friends to form the Frankenstein Symphony (1997). This act of creative compilation, compiling previously gathered and arranged found sounds, brought forth, in his words, “[a] little acousmatic monster which I hold particularly close to my heart.”

For the composer, each musical fragment indicates a personal connection, the weaving together creates a tapestry of his intellectual Continue reading Book Review: The Hospital Ship, Martin Bax (1976)

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

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXIX (The Scotland Edition) (Moorcock + Cowper + Dozois + Raphael)

My perambulations through Scotland (Edinburgh–> castles–> castles–> Aberdeen–> Orkney Islands–> broch–> chambered cairn –> haggis meat pie) has not provided the most suitable opportunities to sit down and put in the hours necessary to review books. However it has given me the opportunity to acquire a range of UK editions.

1) Michael Moorcock’s first Jerry Cornelius novel. Count me intrigued (but filled with trepidation)! I look forward to reading The Final Programme (1968) when I finally get home to the States.

A bizarre Bob Haberfield cover!

Relevant recent review: An Alien Heat (1972)

2) Gardner Dozois blew me away with his short story “Horse of Air” (1970) and I look forward to trying one of his novel length works. Strangers (1978) was nominated for the 1979 Nebula Award.

3) Rick Raphael’s slice of life fix-up novel–about life patrolling the streets of the future–Code Three (1967) was not without merits. I’m eager to read more of his short fiction.

4) Richard Cowper’s Profundis (1979) mixed humor and a wicked streak of satire to create a SF parable that made me want more. And the short stories in The Custodians (1976) were middling to good. Kuldesak (1972) takes on a far more standard theme…

Note: as I am not home with my handy scanner these are cover images I found online rather than high resolution images of my own copies.

I look forward to your thoughts! Any favorite covers?

1. The Final Programme, Michael Moorcock (1968)

(Bob Haberfield’s cover for the 1971 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXIX (The Scotland Edition) (Moorcock + Cowper + Dozois + Raphael)