Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLI (Lessing + Zelazny + Engh + Priest)

Fresh off reading Christopher Priest’s An Infinite Summer (1979) and his even more amazing novel The Affirmation (1981) (which I’ve been unable to review for a variety of reasons), I acquired yet another one of his challenging gems….

And M.J. Engh’s Arslan (1975), which appears to polarize audiences—for example, Ian Sales’ negative review of her novel [here].  One of the odder and lesser known Golancz SF Masterwork inclusions for sure….  I.e. normally my cup of tea.  Seriously problematic seems to be Arslan‘s operating word.

And more Zelazny novels! I’m close to owning everything he wrote, other than the Amber sequence, up to the 1980s.

And there’s nothing wrong with more Lessing! (I wish MPorcius would stop writing such intriguing reviews of her work—haha.  Here’s his review of Briefing for a Descent Into Hell).

As always, thoughts?

1. Arslan, M. J. Engh (1975)


(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXIX (Yarbro + Jones + Priest + Anthology)

Another Priest collection!—go find An Infinite Summer (1979)…

A collection by Yarbro—did not care for False Dawn (1978)…

A wonderful anthology with Robert Silverberg, Joanna Russ, Ron Goulart (whom I have never read), Gregory Benford, Gordon Eklund, Wilson Tucker, Edward Bryant, R. A. Lafferty, George Alec Effinger, Barry N. Malzberg, Gerard F. Conway, Edgar Pangbon…

And finally, the sole collection by one of the important (but lesser known) proponents of the New Wave…

Two (guess which!) are gifts from my wife who definitely knows my SF tastes…


  1. Cautionary Tales, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1978)


(Uncredited cover for the 1983 edition)

From the back cover of an earlier edition: “A bizarre and haunting journey through inner and outer space—to alien worlds where an aging playwright is in danger of losing his soul to a monstrous organic computer…. a charming teeny-bopper ghoul solves the problem of hunger in the town morgue… a member of the patrol squad on a dreary, useless planet is lured by the sucking darkness of evil Scranton’s marsh… the frozen steerage passengers on a floundering space ship share a gruesome fate… malevolent forces on the other side of death are held at bay by a huge black swan… and other strange and wondrous events Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXVIII (Matheson + Tenn + Priest)

Adored An Infinite Summer (1979), had to procure more Priest…

I want to give Matheson another chance—although some of the stories in Third From the Sun (1955) were worth reading…

William Tenn, great short story author—needed more! I had previously read both Of Men and Monsters (1968) and his collection The Human Angle (1956).


1. The Shores of Space, Richard Matheson (1957)


(Uncredited cover for the 1957 edition)

From the back cover: “Shocking— Startling — Incredible.  13 strange and unusual stories set against the background of new worlds and fantastic futures— Continue reading

Book Review: An Infinite Summer, Christopher Priest (1979)


(Don Puchatz’s cover for the 1981 edition)

4.75/5 (collated rating: Very Good)

With Christopher Priest’s second short story collection, An Infinite Summer (1979), he enters the pantheon of my favorite SF authors.  The thing is, I knew he would all along once I moved past the sour taste of his first novel Indoctrinaire (1970) and finally picked up one of his later endeavors.

Priest’s fiction appeals to my sensibilities: he is the consummate wordsmith; his worlds (especially the stories in the loose sequence of the Dream Archipelago) are evocative; the stories drip with a certain nostalgic longing and/or are populated with characters who cannot escape their memories; metafictional experimentation (a novel within a story, a novel that Priest himself would go on to write–perhaps with a different plot!) is rooted to the aims of each story (you cannot separate the two without Continue reading

Book Review: Indoctrinaire, Christopher Priest (1970)

(Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1971 edition)

3.25/5 (Slightly Above Average)

“There is an element of terror in any natural object that does not exist in its proper place. Wentik experienced the full force of this as he stood in the dark. A hand grows from a table, and an ear from a wall. A maze is constructed to sophisticated mathematical formula, yet is housed in a tumbledown shack. A minor official terrorizes me, and a man tries to fly a helicopter without vanes. Land exist in future time, through I feel and believe instinctively that I am in the present. What else will this place do to me? (83)”

Christopher Priest’s first novel Indoctrinaire (1970) explores the mystery of a vast perfectly round plain with a series of strange buildings that appears in the middle of the Amazonian jungle.  Seemingly displaced in time, the transformed landscape is not only a visible sign of the ecological transformation the world will undergo but also, less visibly, the unseen but pernicious scars Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CIV (Yarbro + Priest + Farmer + Malzberg)

Ann Arbor’s Dawn Treader Book Store contains the best used SF collection I have encountered in my perambulations (fortunately, I live far away or else I would empty my bank account).  Prepare for its manifold and manifest joys (multiple parts over the next month or so)!

What a haul!  I have yet to read a Chelsea Quinn Yarbro novel—this one is her most famous work so I look forward to it despite the creepy wolf/man with blood on the cover.  Also, Farmer has somewhat redeemed himself in my eyes with Strange Relations (1960)—thus, the metafictional account of a man who recreates the Burrough’s Tarzan tales sounds like an experimental New Wave SF novel right up my alley.

As does Christopher Priest’s Indoctrinaire (1970)…  I think I will read this one before I tackle Inverted World (1974) that I acquired a while back but never felt like reading.

And, I bought FOUR novels by one of my favorite authors, Barry N. Malzberg—the first is On a Planet Alien (1974).  Will read this one soon.

Thoughts?  Have you read any of the novels?

1. False Dawn, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1978) (MY REVIEW)

(Gary Friedman’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XXXIX (Priest + Brunner + Crowley + Wallace + Duncan)

Ah, what a delightful group! A few from my father, a few from Marx books which I hadn’t posted yet….  Priest and Crowley’s novels involve fascinating worldscapes — a world winched across the horizon, a world at the top of a pillar…  Both are considered among the better stylists in science fiction and fantasy.

And, my 22nd (?) Brunner novel!  The Stone That Never Came Down (1973) — from his glory period of the late 60s-early 70s (this period produced Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, Shockwave Rider, The Jagged Orbit).

And two more impulsive finds — Ian Wallace’s Croyd (1967) — a reader claimed it was one of the best sci-fi novels of the 60s, and thus due to my intense curiosity, I had to find a copy.  And Dark Dominion (1954), I know little about David Duncan — he wrote only three sci-fi novels in the 50s.  His work is described by SF encyclopedia as “quietly eloquent, inherently memorable, worth remarking upon.”

And the covers!

1. The Inverted World, Christopher Priest (1974)

(Jack Fargasso’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading