David Gerrold and his associate editor Stephen Goldin collect a bizarre range of SF oddities including an epistolary nightmare from Vonda N. McIntyre’s pen and a one-sentence “sign” by Duane Ackerman. Gerrold argues that he wants “science fiction to be fun again” without “literary inbreeding and incestuous navel-studying” (8). With a more than pungent hint of hypocrisy, he spouts “I’m tired of the kind of bullshitting that creates false images in the readers’ minds” (8). Alternities (1974) reads like the cast off stories from a New Wave (i.e. deliberately literary) Judith Merril or Harlan Ellison anthology with heavy dose of erotic comedy and shock value. A few–including E. Michael Blake’s “The Legend of Lonnie and the Seven-Ten Split,” Vonda N. McIntyre’s “Recourse, Inc.,” and Edward Bryant’s “Cowboys, Indians”–rise above the dross.
To be clear, I enjoy devouring anthologies like Alternities. The stories are originals and few are anthologized elsewhere. I adore reading authors I wouldn’t otherwise encounter (Robert Wissner, E. Michael Blake, et al.). Gerrold’s nonsense of an introduction aside, the anthology with its deliberate attempts at the “literary” (Greg Bear’s “Webster” and James Sallis’ “The First Few Kinds of Truth”) and “edgy” (Steven Utley’s “Womb, with a View”) firmly fit in the passing mid-70s foam of the New Wave movement.
Little pleases me more than reading the fascinating cross-section of the genre presented by anthologies from my favorite era of SF (1960s/70s). After the success that was World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (variant title: World’s Best Science Fiction: Third Series) (1967), ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr, I decided to browse my “to post” pile of recent acquisitions and share a handful with you all. As is often the case, the collections are peppered with stories I’ve already read—I’ve linked the relevant reviews.
Filled with authors I haven’t read yet—Stephen Tall, Robin Scott, Roderick Thorp, Jean Cox, Christopher Finch, etc.
…and of course, many of my favorites including Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin, Barry N. Malzberg, and Kate Wilhelm (among many many others).
Scans are from my collection.
1. The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972)
A quest for SF magazines! Alien possession and its psychological damage! The Supreme Court tackles future crime! And many more unusual visions….
Orbit 4 (1968) dethrones Orbit 3 (1968) for the overall collated rating crown (as of now) in the anthology sequence. All of the anthology so far contain worthwhile stories and should be tracked down by fans of SF from this era—see my reviews of Orbit 1(1966) and Orbit 8 (1970).
Highly recommended for the Wilhelm, Emshwiller, Lafferty, Sallis, and Silverberg stories. A must buy Continue reading →
It’s been too long since I’ve read anything by Delany. I polished off Triton (1976), Nova (1968), The Einstein Intersection (1967), and Babel-17 (1966) long before I started my site. For a SF reading group I reread Nova a few years back but never wrote a review. One of the few SF novels I’ve reread. And yes, I do not own a copy nor have I tackled the behemoth that is Dhalgren (1975).
As a teen I was obsessed with Delany’s first collection Driftglass (1971), although I probably did not understand the important of the stories. It is hard to forget the images in “Aye, and Gomorrah…” (1967) or “We, in Some Strange Power’s Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line” (1968) even if the message was lost on my younger self. Now I have an excuse to reread one of Delany’s best known stories, originally collected in Driftglass (1971) — “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” (1968) — in a fascinating anthology with other luminaries of the field, Disch, Sladek, and Zelazny.
I confess, I was seduced by Powers’ gorgeous cover for G. C. Edmondson’s novel despite the terrifying back cover blurb: “Good, Old-fashioned Science Fiction Adventure at its best!”
A few months ago I read and reviewed Somtow Sucharitkul’s Starship and Haiku(1981). Although I did not care for the novel, I need more strikes against before I give up on an author completely. And, why not a fix-up comprised of his best known stories?
Same thing with Edward Bryant… His attempts at channeling extreme decadence, fascinating cityscapes, and odd hybrids come off as inarticulate and forced. Albeit I have only read “Jade Blue” (1971) and “The Human Side of the Village Monster” (1971). As with Somtow Sucharitkul, I need to read more of his stories to come to a firm stance on his abilities.
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 →