(Justin Todd’s cover for the 1979 edition)
3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)
Triax (1977) contains three original novellas written specifically for the volume. I concur with Robert Silverberg’s defense of the novella form in the introduction, “it allows the leisurely development of an idea, the careful and elaborate exploration of the consequences of the fictional situation, while at the same time not requiring the intricate plot-and-counterplot scaffolding of a true novel” (vii). Keith Roberts’ “Molly Zero” and James Gunn’s “If I Forget Thee” have not appeared in subsequent English-language collections. Unsurprisingly, the Jack Vance novella, “Freitzke’s Turn,” appeared in Galactic Effectuator (1980) Continue reading Book Review: Triax, ed. Robert Silverberg (1977)
Everyone likes lists! And I do too…. This is an opportunity to collate some of my favorite (and least favorite) novels and shorter SF works I read this year. Last year I discovered Barry N. Malzberg and this year I was seduced by…. Well, read and find out.
Top Ten Novels
1. We Who Are About To…, Joanna Russ (1976): A scathing, and underread, literary SF novel by one of the more important feminist SF writers of the 70s (of The Female Man fame).
2. A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire, Michael Bishop (1975): A well-written anthropological clash of cultures novel. Slow, gorgeous, emotionally engaging….
3. Level 7, Mordecai Roshwald (1959): A strange satire of the bomb shelter… Everyday surrealism. Continue reading Updates: Year in Review (Top Ten SF Novels + Top Ten Short Stories/Novelettes/Novellas + other categories)
(Robert Foster’s evocative cover for the 1972 edition)
3.25/5 (collated rating: Average)
James E. Gunn’s The Burning (1972) is a fix-up novel containing three previously published but linked novelettes: ‘Witches Must Burn’ (1956), ‘Trial By Fire’ (1969), and ‘Witch Hunt’ (1969). The first two are contiguous while the third section is more loosely related. I will rate each separately as I did with the superior The Immortals (1962).
As someone who has lived in areas of the United States plagued by virulent strains of anti-intellectualism, massive higher education funding cuts (especially for the liberal arts), and an increasing emphasis on “practical” fields of study, James E. Gunn’s The Burning (1972) is a profoundly unsettling read. Of course Gunn’s dystopic future is much more one of doom and gloom: The universities lie in smoldering ruins, the professors (“eggheads”) Continue reading Book Review: The Burning, James E. Gunn (1972)
(Mitchell Hooks’ cover for the 1962 edition)
4.25/5 (collated rating: Good)
James E. Gunn’s The Immortals (1962) is less about the lives and mental state of the eponymous humans “blessed” with immortally (a fascinating topic in itself) and more about the ramifications of their existence on the rest of society not “blessed” with such genetic structures. Their presence exacerbates the problems of an already dystopically tinged world where medical care is increasingly the domain of the ultra wealthy. With the knowledge that a random genetic mutation has created a bloodline whose members are immortal, society is all too eager to root them out and (literally) bleed them dry. Living longer — achieved by whatever means — becomes the single-minded desire of all. Most of humanity is oblivious to the festering (and carcinogenic) Continue reading Book Review: The Immortals, James E. Gunn (1962)
I loved James E. Gunn’s The Joy Makers (1961) and found the collection Station in Space (1958) quite solid… Thus, I snatched up a lot of Gunn’s fix-up novels and short story collections from ebay…. It is often difficult to distinguish Gunn’s short story collections from his novels due to the fact that his favorite form tended to be the novella and novelette — after their original magazine publications they were combined into “proper novels” or existing novellas, for example ‘The Listeners’ (1968), were expanded to novel length.
Regardless, I cannot wait to read these. Which ones to do you recommend?
And some intriguing covers….
1. The Burning, James Gunn (1972) (MY REVIEW)
(Robert Foster’s cover for the 1972 edition)
From the inside flap: “Death to the scientists! The cry for blood vengeance went up all over the Continue reading Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. LXI (James E. Gunn x 5)