Post-academia depression hits hard…. While completing my PhD (defended in the summer of 2017), reading SF and writing about SF was the way I kept sane. After multiple mostly unsuccessful years on the academic market, I have changed gears career-wise (although I’m still affiliated with a university and teaching college-level history courses but without the research component) and it has been a liberating experience. My history obsessions remain, even stronger in many ways, and academic monographs on all the topics that I wanted to read about but never could—Hellenistic successor states to Alexander, Early Islam, Late Antique and Medieval Persia, etc.–have dominated my time and pocketbook 2018 (don’t ask how much I’ve spent). I have included a “Best Academic History Reads of 2018” section for the curious.
At the beginning of November, I was moments from announcing that I was on hiatus for the foreseeable future. However, I have fallen back in love with SF and writing about SF and the new year beckons!
All of this is to say, I read little SF this year–until last month. However, there were a handful of stand-out SF novels and short stories that I managed to squeeze in.
And please list your favorite vintage (or non-vintage) SF reads of the year. I look forward to reading your comments.
…and read lots of good books in 2019. I will.
Best SF Novels Continue reading
(Steve Marcesi’s cover for the 1975 edition)
4.75/5 (Very Good)
“The Minutemen’s hidden safety, crouching on the fifteenth floor of the Fontana West apartments, puts cross hairs on Gradington’s Adam’s apple, now even so slightly exposed just below the bottom of his bulletproof helmet and mask, just above the top of his body armor, and squeezes the trigger (5).”
In some ways SF comparisons between modern sports and Roman arenas, where blood and guts are spilled in obligatory fashion, might come off as a soft target. Imagine if the football players had knives! Pass. Imagine if one of the players had a gun! Double pass. Yes, we know sports can be violent and taxing on the mind and body. A quick browse through the current NFL injury list and articles such as The Boston Globe‘s six-part series on Aaron Hernandez makes grim Continue reading
1. Why more Fritz Leiber (you might ask) considering your scattered negative comments about his most beloved series of stories, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser? In short, I enjoy his non-sword and sorcery short fiction—notably the stories in A Pail of Air (1964).
And of course his bizarre (and most famous) 50s novel The Big Time (1958)… (read long before I started my site).
2. This looks like a fascinating collection “celebrating” America’s 300th future anniversary! I did not know that Edward Bryant edited volumes of short stories. He includes a wide range of authors—including those by Marge Piercy, Harlan Ellison, Jo Ann Harper (unknown to me), Carol Emshwiller, Vonda N. McIntyre, et al.
3. I finished Gary K. Wolf’s Killerbowl (1975) a few days ago and was blown away. Absolutely one of my favorite novels I’ve read so far this year! The bad taste left by The Resurrectionist (1979) is completely washed from my mouth. I snuck on the computer…. late at night…. and purchased the last of his three 1970s novels I didn’t own–A Generation Removed (1977).
4. A gift from a family friend…. with an otherworldly (and early) Vincent Di Fate cover.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.
Note: Images are hi-res scans from my personal collection.
1. The Book of Fritz Leiber, Fritz Leiber (1974)
(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading
1. I recently proclaimed my fascination with sports-related SF (despite my general lack of interest in sports) in my review of William Harrison’s “Roller Ball Murder” (1973)… A few of my blog friends have favorably reviewed Gary K. Wolf’s Killerbowl (1975) — couldn’t resist buying a copy online.
I reviewed Wolf’s The Resurrectionist (1979) last year.
2. An anthology edited by Robert Silverberg filled with a veritable horde of great authors–Ursula Le Guin, Terry Carr, R. A. Lafferty, James Triptree, Jr…..
3. A family friend sent me a large box of science fiction paperbacks, which arrived on my doorstep while I was hiking in the Adirondacks—I’ll be posting them slowly. Some I’d purchase if I’d encountered them in a used book stores, others I’d avoid… All greatly appreciated!
And goodness me does this Simak novel have a stunning Richard Powers cover!
4. Part of the gift–Mack Reynolds. Hmm. I am always weirdly excited about opening his books only to discover shoddy plots, half-baked political philosophy, and a few fun ideas hidden in forgotten corners…. At first glance, this fix-up novel reminds me of Rick Raphael’s slice of life novel Code Three (1967).
As always. thoughts and comments are welcome.
Note: Images are hi-res scans of my personal copies.
1. Killerbowl, Gary K. Wolf (1975)
(Steve Marcesi’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading
(Margo Herr’s cover for the 1979 edition)
2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)
“Corporate authorities referred to him instead as the Resurrectionist, the man who dragged the living back from electrical purgatory” (5)
Gary K. Wolf, best known for Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (1981), started his writing career with three SF novels for Doubleday—Killerbowl (1975), A Generation Removed (1977), and The Resurrectionist (1979). Doubleday’s art director, Margo Herr, provided The Resurrectionist‘s captivating cover, which suggests the corruption of pattern, the subversion of delicate movement. A few reflective, but altogether too fleeting, moments suggest Wolf might have had similar ideas at the back Continue reading
I’ve read only one Ron Goulart story in Universe 1 (1971), ed. Terry Carr. It was marginally funny but slight. I assume his novels are similar. This is supposedly one of his best… It has an intriguing Diane and Leo Dillon cover.
New Worlds Anthologies? Answer: always yes!
Gary K. Wolf, not Gene Wolfe or the SF scholar Gary K. Wolfe in case anyone is confused… Gary K. Wolf remains best known for the Roger Rabbit sequence of novels (Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (1981) and 1991’s Who P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit?). He started his writing career with three SF novels for Doubleday—Killerbowl (1975), A Generation Removed (1977), and The Resurrectionist (1979). I look forward to exploring his work.
And one of the few PKD novels I do not own (I might be missing four or five others). Not supposedly one of his best books, but his brand of surrealism is always fun. It’s for my collection rather than to read anytime soon. I’m more in a PKD’s early short stories mood!
All images are scans from my own collection (click image to zoom).
As always, thoughts/comments are welcome.
1. After Things Fell Apart, Ron Goulart (1970)
(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading