Book Review: Orbit 3, ed. Damon Knight (1968)

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(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1968 edition)

3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)

Orbit 3 contains both masterpieces (by Gene Wolfe and Kate Wilhelm) and complete duds (by Doris Pitkin Buck and Philip José Farmer).  Damon Knight’s willingness to select a range of known and lesser known authors creates an enjoyable and unpredictable reading experience—but, most of the greats are on their game in this collection, other than Farmer who puts in a lazy shift…  Contains two Nebula award winners: Wilson’s problematic “Mother to the World” (novelette) and Kate Wilhem’s “The Planners” (short story).  The former was also nominated for a Hugo.

Recommended for fans of 60s SF of the experimental bent.  Do not let the collated rating sway you—there are some great stories behind the Paul Lehr Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXIII (Vance + Wolfe + Yarbro + Malzberg)

Two more novels via Carl V. Anderson over at Stainless Steel Droppings—thanks again!  … and two I’ve had laying around for a while.  My Malzberg solo SF novel (non-movie novelization) collection is complete!

Eventually I might read a select few works from the 80s, if I do Gene Wolfe will be at the top of the list. His short fiction from the 70s has wowed me so far (here and here).

Thoughts?

1. Emphyrio, Jack Vance (1969)

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(Gino D’Achille’s cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: Orbit 8, ed. Damon Knight (1970)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

The avant-garde leaning Orbit anthology series, edited by Damon Knight, had an illustrious run from 1966-1976.  Recently I have become more and more intrigued by the anthology as a way to access a wider range of authors and radical visions.  Despite my rather lowish collated rating of Best SF Stories from New Worlds 2, ed. Michael Moorcock, it was a satisfying collection which exposed me to the SF of Langdon Jones and Pamela Zoline.  Likewise, it somewhat rehabilitated my view of Charles Platt whose Planet of the Voles (1971) has long been one of my least favorite SF novels.

Anthologies are fascinating cross sections of the genre reflecting what was perceived as worthwhile SF by editors.  They will almost always be more uneven than single author collections.  But the exposure to forgotten authors and authors who never received a single author collection makes them almost always worthwhile.

Orbit 8 (1970) is no exception.  The anthology swings wildly from Gardner Dozois’ masterpiece “Horse of Air” (1970) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIV (Wolfe + Clement + Mann + Wylie)

A nice batch of used book store finds.  Including the best of surprises i.e. when a clearance $1 SF novel by a rather famous author turns out to be signed!  I only realized it when I sat down to type up this post.

I have officially delved into the 80s—2theD at SF Potpourri included this novel in his “should be picked up by Gollancz Masterworks” list so I grabbed a hardback copy.

And some early Gene Wolfe….

And a what if women disappeared from the world novel by the author of When Worlds Collide (1933)…

Thoughts on any of the novels?

1.  The Fifth Head of Cerebrus, Gene Wolfe (1972)

(Martin Rigo’s cover for the 1981 edition) Continue reading

Updates: 2014 in Review (Top 10 SF novels + Top 10 Short SF works + Other Categories)

I like lists!  I like reading lists!  Here’s my rundown of the best and worst of what I read in 2014.

This year I have tried something new—my first guest post series. My ten post Michael Bishop review series—reviews written by SF bloggers interested in classic SF and frequent readers of my site—hopefully introduced a lot of my frequent readers to one of my favorite (and criminally underrated) authors.  My second post series did not transpire solely on my site but stretched to others—what Gollancz Masterworks should include…  Thanks for all the wonderful contributions!

Feel free to list your best reads of the year.  Maybe I’ll add a few of them to my to read/to acquire list.

…and, if you tend to agree with at least some of my views on SF, read these!

  

Best SF novel

1. Ice, Anna Kavan (1967):  Easily the best novel I have read this year, Kavan weaves a Kafka-esque landscape will touches of J. G. Ballard.  Ice, caused by some manmade disaster, is slowly creeping over the world.  The unnamed narrator is torn between two forces: returning to his earlier research on jungle dwelling singing lemurs in the southern regions vs. tracking down a young woman about whom he has Continue reading

Book Review: Nebula Award Stories Six, ed. Clifford D. Simak (1971)

(Wilson McLean’s cover for the 1972 edition)

4.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

1970 was a wonderful year for short SF.  Nebula Award Stories Six ed. Clifford D. Simak (1971) contains a selection Nebula-nominated and winning works from the three short fiction award categories: three novelettes, three short stories, and one novella.  The novelette and novella winners are included.  No short story award was given out although Gene Wolfe’s “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories” (1970) deserved to win.  I apologize in advance, I hold no love for sword-and-fantasy—the great appeal that Fritz Leiber’s “Ill Met in Lankhmar” (1970) conjures for readers is lost on me.

I was also impressed by the two “second tier” authors in the collection: Harry Harrison and Keith Laumer.  Both of their efforts were mature and evocative.  Although, Joanna Russ’ “The Second Inquisition” (1970) blows them out of Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXVII (Lafferty + Malzberg + Cowper + Anthology)

A strange bunch….

Another Barry N. Malzberg novel—Chorale (1978)—to add to my nearly complete collection of his SF novels + short story collections.

Another Richard Cowper novel—purchased months ago mainly due to the gorgeous Paul Lehr cover.  The whimsical subject matter of the work unfortunately does not match the profound and surreal stillness of Lehr’s vision.

A short story collection containing a nice range of nebula-nominated (and winning) short SF from 1970: Sturgeon, Laumer, Wolfe, Fritz Leiber, Lafferty, Harrison, Russ.

And finally what is supposedly one of Lafferty’s oddest experiments: Annals of Klepsis (1983).

Thoughts?

1. Phoenix, Richard Cowper (1968)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading