Lester del Rey’s Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year: Fourth Annual Collection (1975) is a mystifying read. For an anthology series claiming to contain the best stories of 1974, del Rey completely misidentifies all the hard-hitters of the year. For example, it does not include a single Hugo– or Nebula-nominated story.
My advice: Ignore the title. Instead, if you have an unnatural obsession with anthologies like myself, then contemplate picking up a copy for the Vonda N. McIntyre, F. M. Busby, John Brunner, and Gordon R. Dickson stories. The rest are average to poor.
Brief Plot Summary/Analysis
“If This Is Winnetka, You Must Be Judy” (1974), F. M. Busby, 4/5 (Good): Until I read this story, I assumed F. M. Busby’s SF from the 70s was as blunt and imprecise as Cage a Man(1973) and “Tell Me All About Yourself” (1973). With the emotional strokes reminiscent of Silverberg’s masterpiece Dying Inside(1972), Busby spins an ingenious time-travel tale about a man who lives his live in non-sequential sections.
F. M. Busby’s Cage a Man (1973) is an exercise in discomfort and disorientation. A case study of the scarring effects of dehumanizing brutality at the hands of very alien aliens and the slow path towards recovery, Cage a Man successfully conveys the former and stumbles with the latter. Despite its flaws, Busby tells his tale with a punchy blue-collar intensity that does not shirk from Continue reading →
1. Michael G. Coney is a firm blog favorite–from his deeply lyrical paean Hello Summer, Goodbye(variant title: Rax) (1975) to his off-the-wall bizarre short fictions in Friends Come in Boxes(1973). I eagerly snatched up a copy of his “ecological puzzle story” with alien shapeshifters–Syzygy (1973) (Coney’s entry in SF Encyclopedia).
2. Always love a SF water world! hah. This one via Alan Dean Foster….
4. More British apocalypse tales join the ranks—this one a lesser known work by John Christopher. Pendulum (1968) is a tale of apocalypse from within rather than his normal external causes of societal devastation–see my recent review of A Wrinkle in the Skin(variant title: The Ragged Edge) (1966).. The inside flap reads as alarmist drivel—we shall see.
Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
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.
Fresh off Terry Carr’s novel Cirque (1977), I decided to return to his original Universe series of anthologies. I’ve previously reviewed Universe 1 (1971) and Universe 2 (1972). As with the majority of SF anthologies, Universe 10 (1980) is sprinkled with both good and bad. I selected it from the veritable sea of anthologies on my shelves due to the presence of authors I wish to explore further and those who are foreign to me: Michael Bishop and James Tiptree, Jr. in the former category; Lee Killough, Howard Waldrop, Carter Scholz, and F. M. Busby in the latter.
Michael Bishop’s“Saving Face”, James Tiptree, Jr.’s “A Source of Innocent Merriment,” and Carter Continue reading →
I had a choice, one of the worst SF covers I have ever seen vs. a standard Richard Powers cover. Despite my undying Powers love, I chose the worst (weird white face bathed in purple/pink strangeness)…. you know…. a conversation starter? As I have read little of Simak’s non-novel SF, I was quite happy to I come across one of his collections at the local bookstore.
Ward Moore’s 1953 alt-history classic fetches quite the price online. Perhaps due to a renewed interest as it was recently published in the Gollancz Masterwork series. Regardless, I found a 70s edition (alas, a bland cover) for a few dollars. I’ve been listening to his humorous satire of salesmen Greener Than You Think (1947) as an ebook while at the gym and thought I’d give his most famous novel a go…
My Universe anthology series grows and grows–and, this one contains authors new to me, including Howard Waldrop, F. M. Busby, and Lee Killough.
Thoughts/comments welcome! I doubt many will support my choice of picking the hideous cover over Powers, but, I can submit a picture of it to our esteemed purveyor of trash covers, Good Show, Sir!
Below are a group of uncredited covers whose artists I have not been able to firmly identify. Some were brought to my attention by Adam who runs a collectible SF store (link). I’d love to hear your input — make sure to read the guidelines.
Guidelines: If you think a cover is the work of a particular artist, please please please provide some evidence for your claim: for example, a comparison cover, a citation from a book/resource, or, perhaps a link to a canvas or artist webpage. This makes identifying the artist more authoritative than a vague claim and readers can follow along more easily. If you think you’ve identified the author, I recommend peeking at their other credited covers at The Internet Speculative Fiction Database.
Pocket Books was notoriously bad at citing their artists. If we are able to identify a few of those below (Margaret and I and Journey), we might be able to nail down tens more covers missing citations in their catalogue.
The three covers below for Fred Saberhagen’s Empire in the East sequence are clearly by the same artist—the style seems so familiar! And, the 1974 Signet edition of Cage a Man (1973), F. M. Busby is credited as FMA only. I wonder if it’s possible to identify who FMA was.
In some cases, I have a pretty good idea who the artist might be but don’t have enough evidence…. I am convinced that Stanislaw Fernandes created the 1974 Signet edition of New Dimensions IV (1974) , ed. Robert Silverberg. Although, it would be very early in his career and love to have some firm evidence.
I look forward to your ideas!
EDIT: I’ve gone ahead and indicated which ones have been solved by inserting the artist into the citation.
For more Adventures in SF Cover Art consult the INDEX
(Bob Haberfield’s cover for the 1971 Tandem edition of The Man in the Maze (1968), Robert Silverberg) Continue reading →