(Cover for the 1965 edition of All Flesh is Grass (1965), Clifford D. Simak)
On twitter I like to highlight the birthdays of often lesser known SF artists and authors—and today is Emanuel Schongut’s birthday! The 1960s SF covers of Emanuel Schongut (b. 1936) demonstrate an eye for the simple form, the surrealist twist, the optical trick…. In 2012 I compiled a list of my favorite fifteen (as of then) SF covers [here]—although I suspect some of the list would change, his cover for the 1966 edition of Watchers of the Dark (1966) [below] by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. would retain its privileged place.
I was kindly asked by Andrea over at The Little Red Reviewer to submit an article for SF Signal’s Mind Meld feature (she is also one of their editors). Along with a cross section of other bloggers/authors and the like, I discussed the range and variety an author’s less famous backlist might have and how it can be a minefield of unrealized potential and financial obligations (think of what John Brunner was writing in the same year as Stand on Zanzibar!). I wrote about Barry N. Malzberg [original link here]—I am the last contributor.
For those who do not visit SF Signal I have decided to put it on my site as well.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Backlists can be unnerving places. Like the vibrations of residual sounds that gather across the urban landscape in Ballard’s “The Sound-Sweep” (1960), the lists themselves resonate both discordant and dulcet—a deluge of aborted passions, financial desires, experimental tendencies not yet crystalline. Although Clifford D. Simak might produce a Cosmic Engineers (1950), he also invoked a most extraordinary allegorical worldscape in Why Call Them Back from Heaven? (1967) where the promise of immortality (undelivered) causes irrevocable transformations—the living live through life without living waiting for a resurrection where they can finally live. Robert Silverberg might shift entirely, as if on whim, from old-fashioned SF adventure where young Heinlein-esque space boys look for those “cool artifacts that do great things” in Across a Billion Years (1969) to The Man in the Maze (1969), a restless and uneasy rumination on pariahism and filled with delusions of self-martyrdom and all those other uncomfortable emotions we try so Continue reading Update: My short article on the topic of “All About the Backlist” for SF Signal’s Mind Meld→
(Leo and Diane Dillon’s cover for the 1970 edition)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
I have found that the most successful science fiction novels on the theme of immortality are not about the immortals themselves or the state of “being immortal.” Novels like Raymond Z. Gallun’s The Eden Cycle (1974) might attempt to convey, at moments effectively, the ennui of an endless existence with endless possibilities but, as with mind of the immortal in question, the reader too feels the effects of endless, repetitive inundation. Rather, the most successful and evocative novels — for example James Gunn’s The Immortals (1962) — explore the social space that is created by the presence of immortals although they might be only peripheral characters. Simak’s Why Call Them Back From Heaven? (1967) takes Gunn’s premise a step further: What would happen to our society if almost everyone bought into the idea that immortality would be a real possibility sometime in the future? Continue reading Book Review: Why Call Them Back From Heaven?, Clifford D. Simak (1967)→
I just came back from more than a month in Paris where I was rather sci-fi deprived so I headed immediately (well, not literally) to the local used bookstore. A nice collection of novels from some of the genre’s greats — Hal Clement, James White, Clifford D. Simak, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. I’ve not read any of Bradley’s novels and I’ve heard that Darkover Landfall (1972) is probably the place to start.
And I’ve enjoyed James White’s work so far. Clement isn’t exactly my cup of tea but it might be good to read another one of his novels before I come to a conclusion.
And some fun Paul Lehr covers…
1. Lifeboat (variant title: Inferno), James White (1972)
Four more wonderful books… I can’t wait to read J. G. Ballard’s The Burning World (1964) and Poul Anderson’s short story collection Time and Stars (1964)… Ballard is a genius and Anderson is a solid writer who always produced fun plot-driven works (I suspect his Hugo nominated There Will Be Time (1973) will be similar). Also, despite my general frustration with Clifford D. Simak’s ouvre, I’m intrigued by Why Call Them Back From Heaven? (1967)….
A new bookstore in my hometown! Great results! Dirt cheap (between 1-2 $ a book)! Happy me!
I finally have a copy of Hal Clement’s hard science fiction masterpiece, Mission of Gravity (1953)… And a collection of William Tenn’s short stories with a downright gorgeous Powers cover — Tenn is supposedly up there with Sheckley in the satirical pantheon of the 50s… Among others…
Has anyone read Michael Frayn’s A Very Private Live (1968)? I’ve never heard of it before but the Lehr cover was too amazing to pass up…
1. The Human Angle, William Tenn (1956) (MY REVIEW)