David Gerrold and his associate editor Stephen Goldin collect a bizarre range of SF oddities including an epistolary nightmare from Vonda N. McIntyre’s pen and a one-sentence “sign” by Duane Ackerman. Gerrold argues that he wants “science fiction to be fun again” without “literary inbreeding and incestuous navel-studying” (8). With a more than pungent hint of hypocrisy, he spouts “I’m tired of the kind of bullshitting that creates false images in the readers’ minds” (8). Alternities (1974) reads like the cast off stories from a New Wave (i.e. deliberately literary) Judith Merril or Harlan Ellison anthology with heavy dose of erotic comedy and shock value. A few–including E. Michael Blake’s “The Legend of Lonnie and the Seven-Ten Split,” Vonda N. McIntyre’s “Recourse, Inc.,” and Edward Bryant’s “Cowboys, Indians”–rise above the dross.
To be clear, I enjoy devouring anthologies like Alternities. The stories are originals and few are anthologized elsewhere. I adore reading authors I wouldn’t otherwise encounter (Robert Wissner, E. Michael Blake, et al.). Gerrold’s nonsense of an introduction aside, the anthology with its deliberate attempts at the “literary” (Greg Bear’s “Webster” and James Sallis’ “The First Few Kinds of Truth”) and “edgy” (Steven Utley’s “Womb, with a View”) firmly fit in the passing mid-70s foam of the New Wave movement.
Prepare for a glut of “Recent Science Fiction Acquisition” posts!
From my recent travels and a gift from a friend (@SFPotpourri)….
Michael G. Coney is an odd bird. If you’re curious what I might mean, check out my reviews of Friends Come in Boxes (1973) and Hello Summer, Goodbye(variant title: Rax) (1975). In short, I had to procure a short story collection!
Chad Oliver, an early proponent of anthropological SF, intrigues yet frustrates—I need to read more than The Shores of Another Sea (1971) to come to a firm conclusion about his fiction.
And New Dimensions IV (1974), an anthology edited by Silverberg—with a story from one of the unsung SF greats, David R. Bunch. I have discussed but not reviewed his collection Moderan (1972). I placed it on my top 10 SF works (pre-1980) for inclusion in the Gollancz Masterwork series list. And, has anyone read Felix C. Gotschalk? It contains two stories by this unknown (at least to me) author. An overall fantastic lineup (Malzberg, Lafferty, Dozois, Bunch, etc.)….
[does anyone know the artist for the Silverberg edited anthology?]
1. Monitor Found in Orbit, Michael G. Coney (1974)
The Gollancz Masterwork series [list] ranges from famous novels such as Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) to lesser known short story collections such as The Caltraps of Time (1968)by David I. Masson. The Masterwork series has the power to introduce readers to the canonical “best of SF” and works that should be considered classics. Many of the second group have not seen print for decades. Although I have some qualms about certain inclusions, I was genuinely blown away that they recently chose one of my favorite novels The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (variant title: The Unsleeping Eye) (1973) by D. G. Compton—an underread and unjustly forgotten author.
Over the course of the next week or so a handful of my fellow SF bloggers (most of whom have a focus on earlier SF) will release lists on their sites of SF they would like to see featured by Gollancz. I have not given them any guidelines so the lists should be varied and hopefully will generate some discussion. I highly recommend you head over to their sites (I will post the links as they come in) and comment.
Thoughts + comments are always welcome (as well as your own lists!).
More “What to Include in the Gollancz Masterwork Series” Lists (blog friends)