Tag Archives: fantasy

Book Review: Port Eternity, C. J. Cherryh (1982)

(Gary LaSasso’s cover for the 1983 edition)

4/5 (Good)

In my late teens I encountered the space opera of C. J. Cherryh  through the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Downbelow Station (1981).* I was hooked. Her paranoia-drenched spacescapes, interstellar freighters, the awe-inspiring cumulative world-building effect of innumerable novel sequences from distinct perspectives, and narration that dwells on psychological impact of events were my bread and butter. See below for the list of the ten (I think?) novels I’ve previously read (although many details blend together). For whatever reason I hadn’t returned to her SF in more than a decade. I am glad I did!

C. J. Cherryh’s Port Eternity (1982), part of the Age of Exploration sequence within the larger Alliance-Union world, can be read alone.  It is a claustrophobic rumination on identity Continue reading Book Review: Port Eternity, C. J. Cherryh (1982)

Book Review: Daybreak on a Different Mountain, Colin Greenland (1984)

(Steve Weston’s cover for the 1st edition)

4/5 (Good)

Fantasy and science fiction that deploys geographical and urban allegory—Italo Calvino-esque cities balanced over chasms, the skeletons of urban human interactions measured out in string, etc.*—relentlessly intrigues. In John Crowley’s The Deep (1975), the world as chessboard is perched on top of a pillar with endlessness on all sides. In Garry Kilworth’s Cloudrock (1988), two tribes eek out their existence on a levitating rock surrounded by poisonous gasses. Terry Carr’s Cirque (1977) posits a city next to an abyss out of which crawls a tentacled beast…. Sculpted urban and geographic artifice can, in the hands of an adept author, create meaning-rich texts as characters inscribe new patterns on the landscapes they traverse. Continue reading Book Review: Daybreak on a Different Mountain, Colin Greenland (1984)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CC “Foreign Vintage SF Edition” (Dutch SF Anthology + World SF Anthology + Non-English Language European SF Anthology + and a Czech Collection)

(Gianni Benvenuti’s back cover art detail for the 1978 edition of View from Another Shore (1973), ed. Franz Rottensteiner)

A Vintage Foreign SF Acquisitions Post!

Over the last few weeks, I’ve acquired three anthologies that gather vintage SF in translation from Japan to Denmark. I’ve also included in this post a single author collection of Czech 50s/60s science fiction. In addition to my initial thoughts, I’ve noted the non-English language countries covered in each volume. This is an incredibly exciting group of books as I know little to nothing about the individual authors and their works and can’t wait to explore….

1. Fantastic ruined city cover with exploring spaceman…. At first glance, this collection contains a substantial number of fantasy stories–I wish I knew which ones were SF!

Countries: Denmark and Belgium (specifically, the Dutch-speaking regions).

2. Maxim Jakubowski’s anthology deliberately gathers stories from a range of countries (many are English-speaking) including a few famous English-speaking authors (Brian W. Aldiss, Michael Moorcock, Cherry Wilder, John Sladek, etc.). In a humorous touch, he includes one of his own stories under the name Adam Barnett-Foster from the country of San Serriffe. As I knew immediately that this wasn’t a real country, a quick Wikipedia search reveals it was a fictional island nation created by Britain’s Guardian for April Fools’ Day 1977!

(Real) Countries: Romania, West Germany, France, USSR, The Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Poland.

3. Entirely non-English language European SF in translation… I enjoyed the humorous cover.

Countries: Poland, France, Denmark, West Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Italy, USSR.

4. One of the few non-Soviet single-language vintage SF collections I’ve encountered–Josef Nesvadba, Czechoslovakia (modern day Czech Republic). Of the four included in the collection, Nesvadba’s collection beckons most seductively.

All scans are of my personal copies (click to enlarge). Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CC “Foreign Vintage SF Edition” (Dutch SF Anthology + World SF Anthology + Non-English Language European SF Anthology + and a Czech Collection)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCVIII “Christmas Edition” (An Atlas of Fantasy + Sturgeon + Jeter + Berriault)

1. One of two SF/F gifts (not specifically for Christmas — but let’s pretend!) I’ve included in this post…. Due to my recent series on Maps and Diagrams in Science Fiction, a reader and fan of the site sent me his extra copy of J.B. Post’s An Atlas of Fantasy (1973)–which includes some SF maps as well. Thank you!

2. The second gift—I’ve been spacing a giant pile of vintage SF I received from a family friend out over many months! Sturgeon sometimes intrigues, and sometimes infuriates—hopefully there will be more of the former in this collection. No stories in the vein of “The Hurkle Is a Happy Beast” (1949) please.

3. Dr. Adder, K. W. Jeter’s infamous “couldn’t be published when it was written” novel that might have defined “cyberpunk” long before Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984). I have the Bluejay Books 1st edition with lots of evocative (and disturbing) interior art.

4. And finally, a completely unknown quantity from an author I’d never heard of–Gina Berriault. Promises to be a Cold War satire of impending nuclear destruction. And it has a History professor as a main character! (i.e. maybe a 1960s version of me? we shall see).

Enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

And let me know in the comments if you receive any SF/fantasy Christmas gifts.

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1. An Atlas of Fantasy, J. B. Post (1973)

(Uncredited cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCVIII “Christmas Edition” (An Atlas of Fantasy + Sturgeon + Jeter + Berriault)

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)