Tag Archives: experimental

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LVI (Herbert + Pohl + Kornbluth + Harrison + Wouk)

More Christmas gifts and winter break purchases….

Another Herbert non-Dune novel with a great vat baby fetus cover by the indomitable Lehr…

Another Pohl + Kornbluth 50s satire about worlds sunk into savage degeneration….

A lesser known illustrated utopian space fable by the Pulitzer Prize winning Herman Wouk…  I really have no idea what to expect from this one.

And an alternate history sci-fi adventure by Harry Harrison.

1.  Tunnel Through the Deeps (variant title: A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!), Harry Harrison (1972)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LVI (Herbert + Pohl + Kornbluth + Harrison + Wouk)

SF Article: Barry N. Malzberg (b.1939): Metafiction and the Demystification of the Cult of the Astronaut

This was my recent guest post on Little Red Reviewer.

For those who didn’t see it I decided to post it here….

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 Barry N. Malzberg (b. 1939): Metafiction and the Demystification of the Cult of the Astronaut

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In the World Book Encyclopedia Science Service publication The United States Astronauts and their Families: A Pictorial Presentation (1965), each astronaut is allotted a two-page spread replete with staged photos of their family life and hobbies.  Otis L. Wiese, the editor of the volume, proclaims grandiosely “Man’s reach for the world of space is born of his insatiable curiosity about the unknown… his indomitable drive for accomplishment… his instinctive response to a challenge. Astronauts-Husbands-Fathers: these men are the men featured here but it’s essentially as family men that we portray them” (i).

The photographs are fascinating.  Roger B. Chaffee’s wife Martha teaches him lunar geography (22), L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. sits at the helm of his speedboat Bluebonnet which is capable of reaching 80 knots (28), in another photo him and his family spend time with their German shepherd (29), Donn F. Eisele teaches his daughter “the finer points of marksmanship” (35), while Alan B. Shepard, Jr. plays piano tunes for his daughters (61) and in the facing image shakes hands with John F. Kennedy (61).

Their families illustrate the epitome of the American family: the ultra-masculine man with his cars and boats, the supportive wife facilitating Continue reading SF Article: Barry N. Malzberg (b.1939): Metafiction and the Demystification of the Cult of the Astronaut

Book Review: The Hieros Gamos of Sam and An Smith, Josephine Saxton (1969)

(Jack Faragasso’s cover for the 1970 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

The Hieros Gamos of Sam and An Smith (1969) is an experimental (but approachable) science fiction fable set in a world which, at least on the surface, is very much like our own.  The buildings remain, food dispensers still dispense food, and undisturbed store shelves are fully stocked.  However, the majority of the animals have disappeared and people are almost all gone. Cannibalism is hinted at.  A few other individuals flit on the outskirts of the narrative, phantom-like, unsubstantial in their physicality.  Are they hallucinations, or external viewers of the spectacle who intrude when needed before vanishing with no evidence of their arrival?

Josephine Saxton deftly utilizes the coming of age narrative, Continue reading Book Review: The Hieros Gamos of Sam and An Smith, Josephine Saxton (1969)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XXXIX (Priest + Brunner + Crowley + Wallace + Duncan)

Ah, what a delightful group! A few from my father, a few from Marx books which I hadn’t posted yet….  Priest and Crowley’s novels involve fascinating worldscapes — a world winched across the horizon, a world at the top of a pillar…  Both are considered among the better stylists in science fiction and fantasy.

And, my 22nd (?) Brunner novel!  The Stone That Never Came Down (1973) — from his glory period of the late 60s-early 70s (this period produced Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, Shockwave Rider, The Jagged Orbit).

And two more impulsive finds — Ian Wallace’s Croyd (1967) — a reader claimed it was one of the best sci-fi novels of the 60s, and thus due to my intense curiosity, I had to find a copy.  And Dark Dominion (1954), I know little about David Duncan — he wrote only three sci-fi novels in the 50s.  His work is described by SF encyclopedia as “quietly eloquent, inherently memorable, worth remarking upon.”

And the covers!

1. The Inverted World, Christopher Priest (1974)

(Jack Fargasso’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XXXIX (Priest + Brunner + Crowley + Wallace + Duncan)

Book Review: Farewell, Earth’s Bliss, D. G. Compton (1966)

(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1971 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

(*some spoilers due to the limited nature of the plot*)

Another D. G. Compton novel, another wonderful (and terrifying) experience…  The only one of his novels so far that has failed to hold my interest was The Missionaries (1971), a lackluster satire on religion.  The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (variant title: The Unsleeping Eye) (1973) is a masterpiece and Farewell, Earth’s Bliss (1966) and Synthajoy (1968) are close behind.

Farewell, Earth’s Bliss is best described as a character study of a group of convicts sent to Mars and their attempts to integrate into an incredibly repressive and conservative society (derived in part to to the extreme dangers of the Martian environment) — in short, a piece of race and religion themed social science fiction.  Be warned, there  is little to no action.  As with most of Compton’s works, near future environments are the perfect vehicle for societal ruminations Continue reading Book Review: Farewell, Earth’s Bliss, D. G. Compton (1966)

Book Review: Revelations, Barry N. Malzberg (1972)

(Michael Presley’s cover for the 1977 edition)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

Revelations (1972) is the second in a thematically linked group of Malzberg’s novels — published in-between its siblings, The Falling Astronauts (1971) and Beyond Apollo (1972) (from now on BA).  Each deals with insane astronauts, and in Malzberg’s own words, “sexual dysfunction as representing the necessary loss of energy of the machine age,” and each contains a character desperately attempting to speak out.  But, as with most of Malzberg’s novels, it is unclear whether there is truth in these cries.

Revelations is less rigorously structured than BA, which was characterized by 67 short tellings/retellings/scenes/dream moments all from the perspective of a single insane character.  As with BA, our anti-hero is an unreliable narrator, but due to the variety of diaristic, epistolary, and interrogatory fragments that comprise  Continue reading Book Review: Revelations, Barry N. Malzberg (1972)

Book Review: Guernica Night, Barry N. Malzberg (1975)

(Tim White’s cover for the 1979 edition)

4.25/5 (Good)

Nominated for the 1976 Nebula Award for Best Novel

“Here we are in Disney Land/Disney World; clutching the strange hands of those with whom we came, we move slowly through the ropes under the chanting of the attendants, swatting insects of habitation, toward the exhibit of the martyred President.  The martyred President has become a manikin activated by machinery, tubes and wiring; he delivers selected portions of his famous addresses, stumbling back and forth […] (1)”

Guernica Night (1975) is the third of Barry N. Malzberg’s books I’ve read after Conversations (1975) and In the Enclosure (1973).  Although lacking the Continue reading Book Review: Guernica Night, Barry N. Malzberg (1975)