Book Review: Albion! Albion! (variant title: Singleton’s Law), Dick Morland (aka Reginald Hill) (1974)

KRUDDART’s cover for the 1986 edition

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

Reginald Hill (1936-2012), best known for his crime and mystery novels, wrote two science fiction works under the name Dick Morland. Albion! Albion! (1974) charts the rise of fascism in the UK. The twist to the standard formula? The four main football clubs (Athletic, Wanderers, United and City) depose the government.  The football games are long disbanded. Instead, each team’s supporter groups, managers, insignia, and chants become vehicles of fascist ideology. 

As England devolves into tribalism and turns away from its European neighbors, the Continue reading

Book Review: Beasts, John Crowley (1976)

s-l1600-2.jpg

(John Cayea’s cover for the 1976 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

“‘They want to kill us all, you know.  They’re trying […].  The government.  Men.  You.’  Still his eyes searched hers. ‘We’re no use to them.  Worse than useless.  Poachers.  Thieves.  Polygamists.  We won’t be sterilized.  There’s no good in us.  We’re their creation, and they’re phasing us out.  When they can catch us'” (33).

While reading John Crowley’s Beasts (1976) I was reminded of the life of Stephan Bibrowski (1891-1932) à la Lionel the Lion-faced Man.  Stephan was afflicted with hypertrichosis (most likely) which caused his entire body to be covered with hair.  His mother was so horrified at his appearance  — which she believed was caused because she saw her husband mauled by a lion while she was pregnant Continue reading

Book Review: The Burning, James E. Gunn (1972)

TBRNNG1972

(Robert Foster’s evocative cover for the 1972 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Average)

James E. Gunn’s The Burning (1972) is a fix-up novel containing three previously published but linked novelettes: ‘Witches Must Burn’ (1956), ‘Trial By Fire’ (1969), and ‘Witch Hunt’ (1969).  The first two are contiguous while the third section is more loosely related.  I will rate each separately as I did with the superior The Immortals (1962).

As someone who has lived in areas of the United States plagued by virulent strains of anti-intellectualism, massive higher education funding cuts (especially for the liberal arts), and an increasing emphasis on “practical” fields of study, James E. Gunn’s The Burning (1972) is a profoundly unsettling read.  Of course Gunn’s dystopic future is much more one of doom and gloom: The universities lie in smoldering ruins, the professors (“eggheads”) Continue reading

Book Review: The Immortals, James E. Gunn (1962)

THMMRTLSNS1962(Mitchell Hooks’ cover for the 1962 edition)

4.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

James E. Gunn’s The Immortals (1962) is less about the lives and mental state of the eponymous humans “blessed” with immortality (a fascinating topic in itself) and more about the ramifications of their existence on the rest of society not “blessed” with such genetic structures.  Their presence exacerbates the problems of an already dystopically tinged world where medical care is increasingly the domain of the ultra wealthy.  With the knowledge that a random genetic mutation has created a bloodline whose members are immortal, society is all too eager to root them out and (literally) bleed them dry.  Living longer — achieved by whatever means — becomes the single-minded desire of all.  Most of humanity is oblivious to the festering (and carcinogenic) Continue reading