Lester del Rey’s Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year: Fourth Annual Collection (1975) is a mystifying read. For an anthology series claiming to contain the best stories of 1974, del Rey completely misidentifies all the hard-hitters of the year. For example, it does not include a single Hugo– or Nebula-nominated story.
My advice: Ignore the title. Instead, if you have an unnatural obsession with anthologies like myself, then contemplate picking up a copy for the Vonda N. McIntyre, F. M. Busby, John Brunner, and Gordon R. Dickson stories. The rest are average to poor.
Brief Plot Summary/Analysis
“If This Is Winnetka, You Must Be Judy” (1974), F. M. Busby, 4/5 (Good): Until I read this story, I assumed F. M. Busby’s SF from the 70s was as blunt and imprecise as Cage a Man(1973) and “Tell Me All About Yourself” (1973). With the emotional strokes reminiscent of Silverberg’s masterpiece Dying Inside(1972), Busby spins an ingenious time-travel tale about a man who lives his live in non-sequential sections.
As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Worlds Without End, Clifford D. Simak (1964)
From the back cover: “A link between yesterday and the tomorrow that was here already…. Dreams constructed and maintained by society…. A world-to-world search for an elusive secret…. The bizarre, weird, strange creations of things and worlds only Clifford D. Simak could have written… and make believable.”
Contents: “Worlds Without End” (1956), “The Spaceman’s Van Gogh” (1956), “Full Cycle” (1955)
“Have you ever thought that I was frozen and thrown off the ship because they didn’t want me aboard, because I’d done something or they were afraid of me or something of the sort?” (49)
Andrew Blake, with memories of an earlier Earth, is discovered by asteroid miners frozen in a capsule. Is he the crew of a lost vessel? Was he the victim of a catastrophic accident? Or, something far more sinister? A claustrophobic and violent mission unfolds has Andrew Blake seeks to establish his identity, and the reason for the two alien voices in his head, while Continue reading →
Preliminary note: This is the second post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. You are welcome to read and discuss along with me–all of the stories I’ll review will be available online–as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage!
(Tom O’Reilly’s interior art for the Science-Fiction Plus, August 1953)
Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation”) appeared in the August 1953 issue of Science-Fiction Plus, ed. Hugo Gernsback (Internet Archive link). The story is lavishly illustrated with evocative art by Tom O’Reilly. The story itself posits that religion is required to satiate the Continue reading →
1. I recently read and reviewed enthusiastically New Dimensions 3, ed. Robert Silverberg (1973). Inspired, I procured quite a few more in the series… Here is number 1. Looks like an absolutely spectacular lineup — Le Guin, Ellison, Malzberg, Lafferty, etc.
2. One always needs more Clifford D. Simak, right?
1. Doomsman (1967) is not supposed to be a worthwhile Harlan Ellison work… and one of his few novels. Part of a giant pile given to me by the family friend mentioned in my last acquisition post!
And there’s a short Lin Carter novella included as well….
Note: The cover is quite humorous. Paul Lehr, despite an isfdb.org error in citation, clearly added his touches (the shapes at the bottom, the planets, the colors) to an existing SF image. The face is copied from Ed Valigursky’s cover art for the 1955 edition of Isaac Asimov’sThe 1,000 Year Plan (1951).
2. More Jack Vance! And his first novel — also from the gift stack. And you know me and immortality (a favorite theme)–> I’ve compiled a list here.
3. Still haven’t read Clifford D. Simak’s short fiction…
4. Lawrence Durrell, yes the same Lawrence Durrell, wrote two novels (The Revolt of Aphrodite sequence) that are classified as science fiction. I’ve finally found a copy of the first in the sequence.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.
Note: covers are hi-res scans of my personal copies.
1. Doomsman, Harlan Ellison (1967) and The Thief of Thoth, Lin Carter (1967)
(Paul Lehr’s cover–repurposing a head Ed Valigursky’s 1955 cover for Isaac Asmov’s 1,000 Year Plan (1951)–for the 1972 edition) Continue reading →
1. I recently proclaimed my fascination with sports-related SF (despite my general lack of interest in sports) in my review of William Harrison’s “Roller Ball Murder” (1973)… A few of my blog friends have favorably reviewed Gary K. Wolf’s Killerbowl (1975) — couldn’t resist buying a copy online.
2. An anthology edited by Robert Silverberg filled with a veritable horde of great authors–Ursula Le Guin, Terry Carr, R. A. Lafferty, James Triptree, Jr…..
3. A family friend sent me a large box of science fiction paperbacks, which arrived on my doorstep while I was hiking in the Adirondacks—I’ll be posting them slowly. Some I’d purchase if I’d encountered them in a used book stores, others I’d avoid… All greatly appreciated!
And goodness me does this Simak novel have a stunning Richard Powers cover!
4. Part of the gift–Mack Reynolds. Hmm. I am always weirdly excited about opening his books only to discover shoddy plots, half-baked political philosophy, and a few fun ideas hidden in forgotten corners…. At first glance, this fix-up novel reminds me of Rick Raphael’s slice of life novelCode Three (1967).
As always. thoughts and comments are welcome.
Note: Images are hi-res scans of my personal copies.
I had a choice, one of the worst SF covers I have ever seen vs. a standard Richard Powers cover. Despite my undying Powers love, I chose the worst (weird white face bathed in purple/pink strangeness)…. you know…. a conversation starter? As I have read little of Simak’s non-novel SF, I was quite happy to I come across one of his collections at the local bookstore.
Ward Moore’s 1953 alt-history classic fetches quite the price online. Perhaps due to a renewed interest as it was recently published in the Gollancz Masterwork series. Regardless, I found a 70s edition (alas, a bland cover) for a few dollars. I’ve been listening to his humorous satire of salesmen Greener Than You Think (1947) as an ebook while at the gym and thought I’d give his most famous novel a go…
My Universe anthology series grows and grows–and, this one contains authors new to me, including Howard Waldrop, F. M. Busby, and Lee Killough.
Thoughts/comments welcome! I doubt many will support my choice of picking the hideous cover over Powers, but, I can submit a picture of it to our esteemed purveyor of trash covers, Good Show, Sir!
(Cover for the 1967 edition of vol. 1 of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1965), Robert A. Heinlein)
The Portuguese painter and illustrator Lima de Freitas (1927-1998) created a vast number of covers for the Portuguese press Livros do Brasil. For more on the range of art he produced in his career consult his wikipedia page [here].
A while back I reviewed Mordecai Roshwald’s Level 7 (1959) and discovered de Freitas’ amazing cover (below). More than any of the US editions, it evokes the claustrophobic tone of the novel (and even some of the surreal elements).
As the son of two architects, architecturally inclined SF covers always fascinate. Thus, as an introduction to his art (if you do not know it already) I have collected a handful of his cityscapes. They are surreal masterpieces. Lima de Freitas’ covers emphasize the city as a canvas, the textures of human Continue reading →