Tag Archives: fantasy

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVI (Wyndham + Conway + Brown + Wright)

Post-PhD job takes over… and books are not reviewed. But reading and buying still happens!

1. A supposed cult classic republished by Picador Press….. Has anyone read Smallcreep’s Day (1965)? Near the top of my “to read” pile. And I love Barbara Costall’s cover.

2. Early in the year I reviewed Conway’s short story “Mindship” (1971) in Universe 1 (1971), ed. Terry Carr. It was pretty solid. I tracked down the novel version which included the short as the prologue.

3. I was obsessed with Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia (1942) as a kid. Not with the novel per se, which I never owned, but the lengthy and descriptive entry in Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi’s spectacular (and wonder inducing) The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (1987). And of course, the idea of  Wright slowly creating an imaginary world that could exist within our own and only “discovered” after his death resonated with a young me…

I’ve included the map from the entry in The Dictionary of Imaginary Places.

4. And finally, another John Wyndham novel… although the premise sounds downright bland and trite. But then again, I still have not read a lot of his work and I know he was a formative voice in SF.

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1. Smallcreep’s Day, Peter Currell Brown (1965)

(Barbara Costall’s cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVI (Wyndham + Conway + Brown + Wright)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIII (Huxley + Vance + Sherred + Merril edited Anthology)

1) What a bonkers cover from Carol Inouye (her only credited piece according to The Internet Speculative Fiction Database)! I do not have high hopes for the novel. T. L. Sherred published little SF in his career–he was a technical writer for the Detroit auto industry. Clute over at SF Encyclopedia describes Alien Island (1970) as “comic but fundamentally melancholy.”

2) Another SF novel from Aldous Huxley. I’ve wanted a copy of Ape and Essence (1948) for a long time. I’ve always preferred Brave New World (1931) to both Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and Yvengy Zamyatin’s We (1921). Excited! Thoughts?

3) A wide-ranging SF anthology from Judith Merril. I am especially interested in reading her intro… and Ward Moore’s “The Fellow Who Married the Maxill Girl” (1960) as Admiral.Ironbombs has been reviewing and enjoying a lot of his work as of late: Bring the Jubilee (1953), “Lot” (1953), and “Lot’s Daughter” (1954).

4) A Jack Vance fix-up novel/short story collection containing seven additional stories in the Dying Earth sequence. Confession time: I read half of the stories in The Dying Earth (1950) recently and could not finish it. There was a certain half-hearted attempt to create a future mythology that slips all too easily into bland fantasy mode. Conflicted.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Note: I’ve finally settled on a new look for my site. There are a few minor issues (not showing comment numbers at the top of the post etc.) but I think the look is more professional and focuses on showcasing content.

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1. Alien Island, T. L. Sherred (1970)

(Carol Inouye’s cover for the 1970 edition of Alien Island (1970), T. L. Sherred) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIII (Huxley + Vance + Sherred + Merril edited Anthology)

Updates: Evan Lampe’s Philip K. Dick Read-Through Podcast (and Cover Gallery)

(Ed Valigursky’s cover for the 1957 edition of Eye in the Sky (1957), Philip K. Dick)

As the mapmaker in Russell Hoban’s The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973) who creates a map that shows the places of inspiration, I too like to guide people towards voices that are worth the listen. I encountered the writings of Evan Lampe (@EvanLampe1) while perusing various SF articles on WordPress—his site gave an encyclopedic look at the stories and thought of Philip K. Dick. And now he’s following up with a podcast read-through (mostly chronological) of PKD’s fiction.

Evan described the podcast to me as follows:

“My main podcast is based on the idea of looking at American writers. I just wanted to podcast. I would have done it on Youtube but I do not really have the video editing skills to pull that off. Mostly, in that series I am driven to make a full-throated defense of America in these bizarre times. Perhaps its therapy. I guess you are more interested in my Philip Dick series. I think I talk about my motivations for that in my episode on “Stability”. It comes down to Dick being more culturally relevant than ever, with new TV series and a new Blade Runner film. I also never stopped believing that his writing is a useful tool in talking about many of our contemporary political and social dilemmas. The systematic approach will ensure that the stories and early novels will get the love that they deserve. There are a handful of aspects of Dick’s writing that need special attention (the frontier, post-scarcity, work, automation). I am trying to keep these most contemporary questions in mind as I re-read these works.”

Continue reading Updates: Evan Lampe’s Philip K. Dick Read-Through Podcast (and Cover Gallery)

Book Review: World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (variant title: World’s Best Science Fiction: Third Series), ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr (1967)

(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1970 edition)

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

Philip K. Dick. Roger Zelazny. Bob Shaw. Michael Moorcock. R. A. Lafferty. Seldom do I say that a “best of” anthology includes a large number of the best stories of the year. From PKD’s artificial memories to Bob Shaw’s slow glass,  World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (1967) contains both fascinating technological marvels and serious character-centered storytelling. While not all the stories are successful, I highly recommend this collection for fans of 60s SF.

Note: I reviewed both Roger Zelazny stories elsewhere—I have linked and quoted my original reviews.

Brief Analysis/Plot Summary

“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (1966) Continue reading Book Review: World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (variant title: World’s Best Science Fiction: Third Series), ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr (1967)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXI (Harrison + Sturgeon + Moorcock + Buzzati)

1) Early Elric stories from Michael Moorcock’s pen. Confession: I bought it in Scotland due to the disquieting cover rather than any love of heroic fantasy—albeit M. John Harrison’s The Pastel City (1971) was pretty darn good.

The fantastic cover is uncredited: thoughts regarding the artist?

2) I adored Dino Buzzati’s magical realist novel The Tartar Steppe (1940). And the movie adaptation The Desert of the Tartars, dir. Valerio Zurlini (1976) inspired by the aesthetics of Giorgio de Chirico —I even wrote a half-baked and cursory review of the movie many years ago. While browsing I discovered that Buzzati wrote what is considered the first serious Italian SF novel—Larger than Life (1960). I can’t wait to read it!

3) More Theodore Sturgeon short stories….

Relevant reviews: A Way Home (1956), The Cosmic Rape (1958) and Venus Plus X (1960).

4) A while back I watched, and struggled to enjoy, the 1975 film adaptation of William Harrison’s short story “Roller Ball Murder” (1973). Time to read the source material. Copy snagged in Edinburgh, Scotland.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts.

1. The Stealer of Souls, Michael Moorcock (1963)

(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXI (Harrison + Sturgeon + Moorcock + Buzzati)

Book Review: Doctor Rat, William Kotzwinkle (1976)

(James Grashow’s cover for the 1976 edition)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

“Oh scaly skin and dandruff

with hemorrhagic sores,

come and look inside us,

they’ve provided us with doors!” (15)

Winner of the 1977 World Fantasy Award

In the early 1970s DARPA (Defense Advance Research Projects Agency) got wind of a Soviet project in parapsychological submarine communication. Gruesome details unfold: the Soviet scientists suspected there was “a psychic link between mothers [in this case rabbits] and their offspring.”  If say, someone on the surface were to kill the rabbit baby then the submarine, with the mother on board, would know to surface and launch their nuclear weapons. Of course the entire idea is utter hogwash and the DARPA investigations of  various parapsychological claims resulted in nothing (see note 1).

William Kotzwinkle’s maniacal satire Doctor Rat (1976) takes the idea of animal communication, in this case across species with the exclusion of humans, to bizarre and alluring Continue reading Book Review: Doctor Rat, William Kotzwinkle (1976)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXV (Ballard + Strugatski + deFord + Baines)

1) Blunt statement: I need to read more of the Strugatski brothers. I devoured the The Ugly Swans (written 1966-1967, published 1979 in the US, published in 1987 in the USSR) but did not review it.

2) A fascinating speculative feminist novel from The Women’s Press–birth, myth, delusions, dreams, terror.  Few reviews exist online so I will go in without much knowledge of the work.

3) I placed Miriam Allen deFord’s collection (filled with numerous gems) Xenogenesis (1969) on a list of SF Gollancz’s Masterwork series should acquire. Her only other published collection for the longest time was priced far out of my reach. This is why you have Amazon lists… scan them frequently, find the deals!

4) A Ballard novel with “pervading auroral gloom, broken by inward shifts of light”? Count me in! As a fierce advocate of Ballard’s early fiction and novels, I cannot wait to read this one…

Related reviews: Billenium (1962), High-Rise (1975), The Voice of Time and Other Stories (1962). The Drowned World (1962) and The Drought (1964) clock in as my favorite of his novels—although both remain unreviewed… Stay tuned for my upcoming review of The Terminal Beach (1964).

Scans are from my personal collection. Click to enlarge.

Thoughts/comments are welcome (as always)!

1. The Final Circle of Paradise, Arkadi and Boris Strugatski (1965, trans. 1976)

(Laurence Kresek’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXV (Ballard + Strugatski + deFord + Baines)