Today I’ve reviewed the twenty-second and twenty-third story in my series on the science fictional media landscape of the future. In “Thing of Beauty” (1958) Damon Knight speculates on something very similar to AI art. And in “You’re Another” (1960) Knight conjures a delirious manifestation of reality TV unlike any other. I’ve gone ahead and included reviews of the rest of the stories in Knight’s collection Far Out (1961).
Previously: Ray Bradbury’s “Almost the End of the World” in The Reporter (December 26, 1957). It appeared in his short story collection The Day It Rained Forever (1959). If you have an Internet Archive account, you can read it online here.
Up Next: Richard Matheson’s “Through Channels” in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas (April 1951). You can read it online here.
Robert F. Young’s “Audience Reaction” in Science Fiction Quarterly, ed. Robert A. W. Lowndes (February 1954). You can read it online here.
3.5/5 (Collated rating: Good)
Damon Knight’s impact on the science fiction field can be felt to this day. He founded the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and co-founded two influential science fiction workshops (Milford and Clarion). Knight also edited the Orbit series of anthologies, notable for their larger-than-average number of female science fiction authors and overall quality–I’ve reviewed Orbit 1 (1966), Orbit 3 (1968), Orbit 4 (1968), and Orbit 8 (1970) so far. I can’t help but notice that his fiction, on the other hand, has faded a bit from popular knowledge. I struggle to identify a masterpiece Knight novel. Did he write one?
I’ve enjoyed his short fiction, notably “Down There” (1973) and “I See You” (1976), immensely. With that in mind, I consumed my first collection of his short stories. I can add “The Enemy” (1958), “You’re Another” (1955), and “Cabin Boy” (1951) to my list of favorite Knight visions.
Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Planet of the Damned, Harry Harrison (serialized 1961)
From the back cover: “Brion Brandd of the Galactic CRF had a problem. It was the planet Dis. Brion’s assignment was to salvage it.
Dis was a harsh, inhospitable, dangerous place and the Disans made it worse. They might have been a human once–but they were something else now.
The Disans had only one desire–kill! Kill everything, themselves, their planet, the universe if they could–
BRION HAD MINUTES TO STOP THEM–IF HE COULD FIND OUT HOW!”
Initial Thoughts: Smells like a variation of Harrison’s Deathworld (1960), which I never managed to review, from a year earlier. Which isn’t a good sign… Planet of the Damned was a finalist for the 1962 Hugo for Best Novel. It lost to Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land (1961).
2. Side 1 of an Ace Double. Suzette Haden Elgin’s The Communipaths is the first in her Coyote Jones sequence. I had mixed views on the third volume: At the Seventh Level (1972).
3. Side 2 of an Ace Double. Back in 2012 I reviewed Louis Trimble’s intriguing SF allegorical city tale The City Machine (1972). It was a competent work that, in the hands of a more polished writer, could have been so much more. Not sure what to expect from this one…. the zany nature of the blurb is off-putting.
The 1977 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wolheim and Arthur S. Saha (1977) is a glorious anthology of SF published from the year before containing rousing works by the established masters (Isaac Asimov and Brian W. Aldiss), philosophical gems from New Wave icons (Barrington J. Bayley), and gritty and disturbing commentaries on masculinity by the newer voices (James Tiptree, Jr.). While Richard Cowper and Lester del Rey misfire, the overall quality is high for a large Continue reading →
For an anthology, bound to contain a filler story or two, this one is spectacular. Robert Silverberg’s New Dimensions 3 (1973) lives up to his claim to contain “stories that demonstrate vigorous and original ways [often experimental] of approaching the body of ideas, images, and concepts that is science fiction” yet do not sacrifice “emotional vitality, or clarity of insight.” Ursula K. Le Guin, with her rumination on utopias, and James T. Tipree, Jr.’s proto-cyberpunk tale of commercialism and performing gender, deliver some of their best work.
1) Futuristic city? Yes! Is more needed? Okay, okay, I concede, more is needed. I hope Gotschalk’s novel with its fantastic Dean Ellis cover delivers. Among the least known of the Ace Science Fiction Special series…
2) Ballard blurbs Martin Bax’s novel as “…the most exciting, stimulating and brilliantly conceived book I have read since Burroughs’ novels.” Hyperbole aside, the two reviews (here and here) I’ve read of Bax’s sole novel puts this at the top of my “to read” pile.
I have cheated a bit by including the cover for the first New Directions edition rather than the later Picador edition I own due to the cover quality.
3) Three acquisitions posts ago (here) I mentioned that the premise of Marge Piercy’s Dance the Eagle to Sleep (1970) did not inspire me to read it anytime soon. Thankfully I found a copy of what many consider her masterpiece Woman at the Edge of Time (1976) cheap at the local used book store.
4) I am not sure why I picked this collection up—I’ve heard good things about Joe Haldeman’s introduction which draws on his experience in the Vietnam War. As Isaac Asimov, Mack Reynolds, etc are not normally authors who intrigue me, I might do something I rarely do and read and review Effinger’s story only (and maybe Poul Anderson’s as he’s better in short form)…
As always thoughts and comments are welcome.
1. Growing up in Tier 3000, Felix C. Gotschalk (1976)
A quest for SF magazines! Alien possession and its psychological damage! The Supreme Court tackles future crime! And many more unusual visions….
Orbit 4 (1968) dethrones Orbit 3 (1968) for the overall collated rating crown (as of now) in the anthology sequence. All of the anthology so far contain worthwhile stories and should be tracked down by fans of SF from this era—see my reviews of Orbit 1(1966) and Orbit 8 (1970).
Highly recommended for the Wilhelm, Emshwiller, Lafferty, Sallis, and Silverberg stories. A must buy Continue reading →
I’ve decided to return to my roots (no pun intended)! Although partially inspired by my 2014 post Human Transformations/Transfigurations (one duplicate cover), I’d been thinking about providing a gallery on the theme after reading “Ganthi” (1958), a disturbing Miriam Allen deFord short story about sentient tree-aliens and their mysterious caretaker Continue reading →
Including a Richard Powers’ cover that might be among my favorites as it has a delightful architectural feel…. Do you have a favorite Powers?
I must fill the hole that is my lack of knowledge about Cordwainer Smith. A source of many arguments!
Rachel S. Cordasco recently reviewed three stories by French women SF authors pre-1969 and I decided to track down the same collection. And yes, the back cover is filled with purple prose… Plus hilarious back cover font which I will feature in a SF cover art post in the near future.
And another John Carnell anthology in his New Writings in SF series. I featured the artist a few months ago here.
All the covers are scans of my own copies — if you click on the images you can see them in high resolution.