Tag Archives: British

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLIV (Melissa Scott, Murray Leinster, Ian MacMillan, Dick Morland)

As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. Blakely’s Ark, Ian MacMillan (1981)

Tom Hallman’s cover for the 1st edition

From the back cover: THE CEPH… A parasitic virus. Invariably lethal. In two generations, it had reduced the population of America to 10 million people.

New Jersey is populated by roving gangs of children, savage and insane. New York City is a sealed-off Dome.

America is a wasteland. And Dave Blakely just may be the last whole man in the world.”

Initial Thoughts: I’ve been in a post-apocalyptic mood for the last year or more. I’ve started (and much to my surprise, enjoyed) my watch through of Survivors (1975-1977). And devoured Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow (1955).

This is Ian MacMillan’s only SF novel. And SF Encyclopedia describes rather than appraises it… As I often Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLIV (Melissa Scott, Murray Leinster, Ian MacMillan, Dick Morland)

Book Review: The Black Corridor, Michael Moorcock and Hilary Bailey (1969)

(Detail from Bob Haberfield’s cover for the 1973 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

In the Star Trek: Voyager episode “One” (1998), Seven of Nine, unaffected by a nebula’s subatomic radiation, must care for the crew while they’re placed in stasis. Alone on the ship, Seven experiences the prolonged effects of isolation including disturbing dreams and hallucinations. Ever since I saw “One” as a child, I’ve become fascinated with the strategies that humans might use in space to cope with isolation and the rituals they might enact to preserve sanity. Michael Moorcock and Hilary Bailey’s The Black Corridor (1969) (see note below), explores Continue reading Book Review: The Black Corridor, Michael Moorcock and Hilary Bailey (1969)

Short Book Reviews: Samuel R. Delany’s The Ballad of Beta-2 (1965), Barry N. Malzberg’s The Last Transaction (1977), and Philip McCutchan’s A Time for Survival (1966)

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

1. The Ballad of Beta-2, Samuel R. Delany (1965)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1982 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

As I’ve been on a generation ship kick as of late, I was excited to pull out my copy of Samuel R. Delany’s early novel The Ballad of Beta-2 (1965). Delany subverts the standard (and infuriating) trope of cultural stasis—for the sake of societal stability—that authors suggest will occur between the colony ship’s departure and arrival. Instead, Delany explores the intermediary generations by examining a series of ballads Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Samuel R. Delany’s The Ballad of Beta-2 (1965), Barry N. Malzberg’s The Last Transaction (1977), and Philip McCutchan’s A Time for Survival (1966)

Book Review: Electric Forest, Tanith Lee (1979)

(Don Maitz’s original canvas for the 1979 edition)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

“Two years,” Claudio said. “Wasted. I used to go hunting, searching. For someone like you, my Magdala. But you’re unusual, my dear. A freak. Hard to come by. And it had to be someone like you. A genetic mistake. An atrocity, crawling about its hopeless round. Devoid of normal self-preservative wariness. Mewing, inside its warped little soul, for rescue. Not quite human. Here we are (23).”

Tanith Lee spins a gauzy, sinister, and terrifying tale of manipulative resurrection. A brilliant inventor projects the mind of a grotesque social outcast into a new transcendent body—but this isn’t an altruistic act. There’s a plot afoot. Electric Forest (1979), a shimmery nightmare of psycho-sexual manipulation,  enters my pantheon of favorite 70s SF visions.

Electric Forest demonstrates marked improvement over Don’t Bite the Sun (1976). It’s more Continue reading Book Review: Electric Forest, Tanith Lee (1979)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVII (Alan Dean Foster, F. M. Busby, Michael G. Coney, John Christopher)

1. Michael G. Coney is a firm blog favorite–from his deeply lyrical paean Hello Summer, Goodbye (variant title: Rax) (1975) to his off-the-wall bizarre short fictions in Friends Come in Boxes (1973). I eagerly snatched up a copy of his “ecological puzzle story” with  alien shapeshifters–Syzygy (1973) (Coney’s entry in SF Encyclopedia).

2. Always love a SF water world! hah. This one via Alan Dean Foster….

3. MPorcius over at MPorcius Fiction Log speaks highly of F. M. Busby’s Cage a Man (1973). I’ve only previously read Busby’s terrible shock story “Tell Me All About Yourself” (1973).

4. More British apocalypse tales join the ranks—this one a lesser known work by John Christopher. Pendulum (1968) is a tale of apocalypse from within rather than his normal external causes of societal devastation–see my recent review of A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge) (1966).. The inside flap reads as alarmist drivel—we shall see.

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

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1. Syzygy, Michael G. Coney (1973)

(David Bergen’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVII (Alan Dean Foster, F. M. Busby, Michael G. Coney, John Christopher)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVI (Philip K. Dick, Tanith Lee, Paul Park, Gordon Eklund, and Poul Anderson)

1. As I read the vast majority of Philip K. Dick’s novels pre-blog (i.e. pre-2010), many of the details have faded into a general morass of surreal fragments and paranoiac dreams. I know for certain Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) remains one of only a handful of unread works in his vast oeuvre.

This UK edition has a bizarre cover….

2. I thoroughly enjoyed Tanith Lee’s Don’t Bite the Sun (1976) and snatched another one of her early SF works—Day by Night (1980)…. the premise intrigues! A storyteller spins tales on a popular TV network that might not be stories at all…. but true accounts of the denizens from the other side of the planet.

3. A candidate for the worst cover of all time? The book by Gordon Eklund and Poul Anderson might not be much better. Certainly the risk purchase of the batch!

4. And finally, a riff on Brian Aldiss’ Helliconia formula? I can’t wait to read this one.

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

~

1. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Philip K. Dick (1974)

(Richard Clifton-Dey’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVI (Philip K. Dick, Tanith Lee, Paul Park, Gordon Eklund, and Poul Anderson)

Book Review: A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge), John Christopher (1965)

(Steve Crisp’s cover for the 1985 edition)

3.75/5 (Good)

John Christopher’s A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge) (1965) is the second in my informal reading series on 50s/60s post-apocalyptic visions.  Fresh off Alfred Coppel’s moody and reflective Dark December (1960), I chose one of Christopher’s works long overshadowed by his popular Tripods trilogy (1967-68)* and more famous earlier catastrophe novel The Death of Grass (1956).* Continue reading Book Review: A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge), John Christopher (1965)

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. CCVII (Moorcock + Pohl + Leinster + Morressy)

1. Frederik Pohl short stories? I’ve collected volumes and volumes and volumes for years—I suspect I should get around to reading one!

An effective Dean Ellis cover….

2. I acquired the second volume in Michael Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time sequence at my local used bookstore down the street. I read An Alien Heat (1972) in 2016.

3. A few days ago I reviewed John Morressy’s wonderful Frostworld and Dreamfire (1977) — I was intrigued enough that I tracked down another volume in the Del Whitby sequence—Under a Calculating Star (1975). I’ll have a review up in the next few days.

4. The second Murray Leinster Med Service collection I’ve acquired–as a huge fan of medical-themed SF…. I should put together a list.

Other lists: Immortality in SF, Generation Ships, and Overpopulation in SF.

Do you have a favorite cover?

As always, I look forward to your comments!

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1.  Alternating  Currents,  Frederik  Pohl  (1956)

(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCVII (Moorcock + Pohl + Leinster + Morressy)