Tag Archives: British

Book Review: The Road to Corlay, Richard Cowper (1978)

(Gary Viskupic’s cover for the 1979 edition)

3.75/5 (Good)

Nominated for the 1980 Nebula Award for Best Novel

Richard Cowper’s The Road to Corlay (1978) charts the ethereal pastoral wanderings and religious musings of the followers of The White Bird of Kinship, an anti-institutional pseudo-Christian religion at odds with the oppressive Church Militant that holds sway over what remains of Europe. Continue reading Book Review: The Road to Corlay, Richard Cowper (1978)

Short Story Reviews: Four Stories from New Worlds Science Fiction (April 1964), ed. John Carnell

To mix things up a bit I decided to review four stories in John Carnell’s last issue of New Worlds Science Fiction (April 1964) before he handed over the reins of the dying publication to Michael Moorcock, who would elevate it to New Wave greatness. Other than the James White serial Open Prison, which I plan on reading in book form when I procure a copy, three of the four authors reviewed below owed much of their careers to John Carnell, and would see few stories in print after his departure (see the individual story reviews for details). Only Barrington J. Bayley, writing as P. F. Woods, would see continued publication (and growing popularity) in New Worlds under Moorcock.

Of the stories I recommend reading William Spencer’s rumination on overpopulation and urban life,  “Megapolitan Underground.” The others are worthwhile only for die-hard fans of Carnell’s New Worlds and other editorial projects. Continue reading Short Story Reviews: Four Stories from New Worlds Science Fiction (April 1964), ed. John Carnell

Book Review: A Man of Double Deed, Leonard Daventry (1965)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1967 edition)

3/5 (Average)

Leonard Daventry’s A Man of Double Deed (1965) is an dark and grungy tale of polyamory, telepathy, and apocalyptical violence. Swinging between philosophical and emotional introspection and awkwardly explained action sequences based on the flimsiest of plots, Daventry’s novel succeeds as a noirish character study but fails as a compelling unity of parts. Continue reading Book Review: A Man of Double Deed, Leonard Daventry (1965)

Book Review: The Two-Timers, Bob Shaw (1968)

(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1968 1st edition)

2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)

Various Bob Shaw fans told me to read Nightwalk (1967) or find a copy of Other Days, Other Eyes (1972)—especially as I adored one of the short stories that appeared in the later fix-up novel —“Light of Other Days” (1966). Instead, I cast wary eyes toward my shelves and read The Two-Timers. I wish I read Nightwalk. I tried, I must confess, but wasn’t in the mood and then something about The Two-Timers’ Diane and Leo Dillon cover—the doubling visages, contorted, anguished, and angular—pulled me in. For the full glory of the image, I’ve included a his-res scan below.

The Plot

John Breton’s relationship with his wife, Kate, is Continue reading Book Review: The Two-Timers, Bob Shaw (1968)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIX (Ballard + Tennant + Guin + Anthology)

The move into my first house—with my ridiculous quantity of books—is nearly complete….

1. ….and so is my collection of 60s and 70s J. G. Ballard!

2. Currently reading this peculiar Emma Tennant vision… My third of her books — I never got around to reviewing Hotel de Dream (1976) as I grew disenchanted with the second half but thoroughly enjoyed The Crack (variant title: The Time of the Crack) (1973).

3. Not personally a huge fans of sports but enjoy when SF authors (for example Robert Sheckley, Barry N. Malzberg, and George Elec Effinger) take on future sport… A perfect topic for satirical commentary and sinister undercurrents….

4. I while ago I read and thoroughly enjoyed Wyman Guin’s short story collection Living Way Out (variant title: Beyond Bedlam) (1967). I found this in a thrift story for less than a 1$ so it ended up on my shelf.

Thoughts?

1. Concrete Island, J. G. Ballard (1974)

(Richard Clifton-Dey’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIX (Ballard + Tennant + Guin + Anthology)

Book Review: The Bodyguard, Adrian Mitchell (1970)

(Roger Phillips’ cover for the 1972 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

“[Lens] Rossman’s narrative is both single-minded and rambling, a tangle of facts and fantasies, distorted sexuality, obscured dates, anti-feminism, glorified brutality and narcissism” (153).

Adrian Mitchell’s sole SF novel The Bodyguard (1970) is a perverse romp through a diseased England viewed through the eyes of an equally diseased narrator. Lens Rossman’s deathbed ramblings of his “adventures” and “training” as a B.G. (bodyguard) in his fight against “The Rot” spread by leftist subverts, is, as the “editor” of the narrative indicates in a hilarious afterword, “a tangle of facts and fantasies” and “glorified brutality” (153). Mitchell presents Rossman’s account as a ghastly artifact of a pre-revolutionary era while simultaneously suggesting that the excess Continue reading Book Review: The Bodyguard, Adrian Mitchell (1970)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVIII (Heinlein + Tenn + Wyndham + Bell)

1. My friend Mike sent this to me…. of dubious quality to say the least. But, O my, the cover!

2. Tell me again why I continue to buy Robert Heinlein paperbacks? Why in the world did I read SO MANY OF HIS BOOKS as a kid? Some of life’s persistent questions….

3. John Wyndham short fiction—or rather, a fix-up novel of sorts–with a co-writer. Did not realize any of his work was co-written…. Has anyone read it?

4. William Tenn’s short fiction collection is by far the most appealing of the bunch—his stories always have me chortling with laughter.  For example, The Human Angle (1956) and Of Men and Monsters (1968)

1. Gone To Be Snakes Now, Neal Bell (1974)

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVIII (Heinlein + Tenn + Wyndham + Bell)

Book Review: New Writings in S-F 6, ed. John Carnell (1965)

(David McCall Johnston’s art for the 1971 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Good)

New Writings in S-F 6 (1965) is the third I’ve read so far in John Carnell’s anthology series and by far the most satisfying. New Writings in S-F 4 (1965) was worthwhile only for Keith Roberts’ short story “Sub-Lim” (1965). New Writings in S-F 9 (1972) was marginally overall better with solid outings by Michael G. Coney and M. John Harrison.

The sixth in the sequence offers an intriguing Keith Roberts novella–that takes up almost half the volume–and a kaleidoscope of other moody (albeit lesser) visions from William Spencer, John Baxter, and E.C. Tubb.

Brief Analysis/Summary

“The Inner Wheel” (1965), Keith Roberts, 4/5 (Good): A few months ago I procured a copy of Keith Roberts’ linked series of short stories containing the titular “The Inner Wheel” and chose this particular New Writings in SF volume because of the story. I suspect I won’t be returning to the “novel” Continue reading Book Review: New Writings in S-F 6, ed. John Carnell (1965)

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)