Note: My read but “waiting to be reviewed pile” is growing. Short rumination/tangents are a way to get through the stack before my memory and will fades. Stay tuned for more detailed and analytical reviews.
1. The Languages of Pao, Jack Vance (1958)
3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)
Since I started my site in 2011, I’ve soured a bit on Jack Vance’s brand of planetary adventure in richly realized and exotic worlds. I doubt I’d currently rate novels like Showboat World(1975) or The Blue World (1966) as highly as I did back then. One of more appealing elements of having a single project for so long is my ability to track my evolving views on genre. That said, I’d classify Wyst: Alastor 1716(1978) and The Languages of Pao (1958) amongst his most conceptually ambitious novels I’ve read so far and worth tracking down. For a full list consult my index. Note: I read but never reviewed Dying Earth (1950).
As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
Preliminary Note: I’ve made two big changes to the site. My revamped review index now contains every single short story and novel I’ve reviewed on the site listed by author. In the past, you had to sift through the anthologies to find short stories. Hopefully this is easier to navigate [you better say yes — it took me more than eight hours — hah]. Let me know if it is a useful change.
I’ve also updated the site template to make it easier to navigate on a mobile device. I still like my old template but this seems functionally identical and visually similar.
Now to the science fiction!
1. Deep Space, ed. Robert Silverberg (1973)
John Berkey’s cover for the 1976 edition
From the back cover: “Beyond the rim of the solar system, past the orbit of Pluto, far into uncharted space, a man in a life hutch is held prisoner by a deranged robot. A galactic agent learns that there is a cosmic reason for his distasteful, dangerous job. A man discovers he is the only human being not controlled by an analogue—an invisible guardian. And the planet Centaurus holds Continue reading →
Terry Carr’s original anthology Universe 4 (1974) contains a cross-section of early 70s science fiction–from oblique New Wave allegories to “hard SF” first contact stories with unusual aliens.
Despite clocking in last in the installments I’ve read so far– behind Universe 2(1972), Universe 1 (1971), and Universe 10(1980)—the best stories, R. A. Lafferty’s rumination on memory and nostalgia, Pamela Sargent’s bleak account of urban Continue reading →
On a recent trip to Chicago I spent far too much on vintage SF at Bucket O’ Blood Books and Records (twitter).If you’re in the city and love old SF paperbacks, stop by! I’ll certainly be back. Here are the first four books from that haul.
1. Jack Vance is an author I always tend to buy but never enjoy as much as I think I should–see my recent review of Emphyrio(1969). Thoughts on this one?
2. I have yet to read anything by Alexei Panshin—at least I now have a copy of his masterpiece, Rite of Passage (1968) (nominated for the 1969 Hugo + won that year’s Nebula).
3. A lesser-known 70s comedic novel from Brian W. Aldiss…
4. And finally, the one I’m most excited about. Evolved humans are thrust into conflict on a terraformed, but dying, Mars. With a fun Powers cover to boot! The rest of Frederick Turner’s SF output appears to be the epic poem variety according to SF Encyclopedia.
Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Enjoyed?
Jack Vance’s Emphyrio (1969) is a story about how a story can create change and heighten our own yearning for escape. Although a pulp coming-of-age adventure at heart, Vance reigns in his baroque descriptive tendencies to spin a narrative that tries (successfully) to say something meaningful about the impact of storytelling. Continue reading →
In my informal Monday Maps and Diagrams series I will showcase scans of SF maps and diagrams from my personal collection. As a kid I was primarily a fantasy reader and I judged books on the quality of their maps. When my reading interests shifted to science fiction, for years I still excitedly peeked at the first few pages… there could be a map!
Let’s start off with a simple yet effective map via Jack Vance. Islands, and rivers, and swamps….
Citation: Map from the 1973 Ballantine edition of Jack Vance‘s Trullion: Alastor 2262 (1973) [click to enlarge].Continue reading →
1. Doomsman (1967) is not supposed to be a worthwhile Harlan Ellison work… and one of his few novels. Part of a giant pile given to me by the family friend mentioned in my last acquisition post!
And there’s a short Lin Carter novella included as well….
Note: The cover is quite humorous. Paul Lehr, despite an isfdb.org error in citation, clearly added his touches (the shapes at the bottom, the planets, the colors) to an existing SF image. The face is copied from Ed Valigursky’s cover art for the 1955 edition of Isaac Asimov’sThe 1,000 Year Plan (1951).
2. More Jack Vance! And his first novel — also from the gift stack. And you know me and immortality (a favorite theme)–> I’ve compiled a list here.
3. Still haven’t read Clifford D. Simak’s short fiction…
4. Lawrence Durrell, yes the same Lawrence Durrell, wrote two novels (The Revolt of Aphrodite sequence) that are classified as science fiction. I’ve finally found a copy of the first in the sequence.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.
Note: covers are hi-res scans of my personal copies.
1. Doomsman, Harlan Ellison (1967) and The Thief of Thoth, Lin Carter (1967)
(Paul Lehr’s cover–repurposing a head Ed Valigursky’s 1955 cover for Isaac Asmov’s 1,000 Year Plan (1951)–for the 1972 edition) Continue reading →
This piece of uncredited cover art appeared on the 1976 Italian edition of Jack Vance’s solid adventure novel The Blue World (variant Italian title: Pianeta D’Acqua) (1966)—my review. It’s my type of non-collage SF art. Hints at the “feel” of the novel, has a surreal touch, Continue reading →
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 Encyclopediadescribes 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.
1. Alien Island, T. L. Sherred (1970)
(Carol Inouye’s cover for the 1970 edition of Alien Island (1970), T. L. Sherred) Continue reading →