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.
(Gray Morrow’s cover for the 1973 edition of Among the Dead and Other Events Leading Up to the Apocalypse (1973), Edward Bryant)
On February 10th SF author and two-time Nebula Award winner Edward Bryant (1945-2017) passed away after a long illness. As the number of authors from my favorite era of SF is sadly dwindling as the years go by, I decided to briefly highlight his career and the stories of his I’ve read so far (too few!). Although primarily a short story author, Bryant co-wrote Phoenix in Ashes (1975) with Harlan Ellison. For more on his life and genre impact see the write-up posted after his death on Locus and his entry on SF Encyclopedia. I’ve decided to review two stories from his disturbing and powerful collection Among the Dead and Other Events Leading Up to the Apocalypse (1973).
“The Hanged Man” (1972), short story, 4/5 (Good): “Shrikes were my playmates when I was about ten” (2). Two friends reminisce. But there’s a dark and sinister twist, one named Rockaway dangles, head downward tied by his feet to a tree branch and his friend refuses to cut him down…. Fragments of the world interjects into their unnerving conversion: family members have died, they survived by eating birds. Their conversation reflects Continue reading →
It’s been too long since I’ve read anything by Delany. I polished off Triton (1976), Nova (1968), The Einstein Intersection (1967), and Babel-17 (1966) long before I started my site. For a SF reading group I reread Nova a few years back but never wrote a review. One of the few SF novels I’ve reread. And yes, I do not own a copy nor have I tackled the behemoth that is Dhalgren (1975).
As a teen I was obsessed with Delany’s first collection Driftglass (1971), although I probably did not understand the important of the stories. It is hard to forget the images in “Aye, and Gomorrah…” (1967) or “We, in Some Strange Power’s Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line” (1968) even if the message was lost on my younger self. Now I have an excuse to reread one of Delany’s best known stories, originally collected in Driftglass (1971) — “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” (1968) — in a fascinating anthology with other luminaries of the field, Disch, Sladek, and Zelazny.
I confess, I was seduced by Powers’ gorgeous cover for G. C. Edmondson’s novel despite the terrifying back cover blurb: “Good, Old-fashioned Science Fiction Adventure at its best!”
A few months ago I read and reviewed Somtow Sucharitkul’s Starship and Haiku(1981). Although I did not care for the novel, I need more strikes against before I give up on an author completely. And, why not a fix-up comprised of his best known stories?
Same thing with Edward Bryant… His attempts at channeling extreme decadence, fascinating cityscapes, and odd hybrids come off as inarticulate and forced. Albeit I have only read “Jade Blue” (1971) and “The Human Side of the Village Monster” (1971). As with Somtow Sucharitkul, I need to read more of his stories to come to a firm stance on his abilities.
The Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop, started in 1968, continues to this day as one of the successful workshops for authors with instruction by the best the genre has to offer. The alumni list is massive including Vonda N. McIntyre, Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Lucius Shepard, Bruce Sterling, etc. For more on the workshop consult the SF Encyclopedia entry. Robin Scott Wilson, the original director, published three anthologies decked out with the distinctive art of Gene Szafran. I am now the proud owner of all three!
Stories by Ursula Le Guin, Kate Wilhelm, Octavia Butler, George Alec Effinger, Edward Bryant, among others and reflections by the greats of the day, Frederik Pohl, Joanna Russ, Harlan Ellison, etc.
And many many many less familiar authors whose stories I will be keen to explore.
And, last but not least, A Frederik Pohl collection with a stunning Richard Powers cover. He was in fine form in the early 60s.
Won the Locus 1972 Award for Best Original Anthology.
The Universe series of anthologies contained original SF that had not yet appeared in print. And, the inaugural volume Universe 1 (1971) ed. by Terry Carr certainly hit critical pay dirt: Robert Silverberg’s minimalist the first robotic pope tale won the Nebula for Best Short Story, George Alec Effinger’s anti-war black comedy was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Short Story, Joanna Russ’ alt-history (sort of) fable was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, and Edgar Pangborn’s sentient “alien” animals look for a caretaker mood piece was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novelette.