Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. The Escape Orbit (variant title: Open Prison), James White (1964)
From the back cover: “STRANDED ON A PLANET OF MONSTERS. When the survivors of the his starship were taken prisoner by the insec-creatures against whom Earth had fought a bitter war for nearly a century, Sector Marshal Warren expected to be impounded in a prison camp like those the Earthmen maintained. But the “Bugs” had a simpler method of dealing with prisoners–they dumped them on an uninhabited planet, without weapons or tools, and left them to fend for themselves against the planet’s environment and strange monsters. A “Bug” spaceship orbited above, guarding them.
As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Dawn, Octavia E. Butler (1987)
From the back cover: “XENOGENESIS: The birth of something new—and foreign.
Lilith Iyapo awoke from a centuries-long sleep—and found herself aboard the vast living spaceship of the Oankali. Alien creatures covered in writhing tentacles, the Oankali had saved every surviving human from a dying, ruined Earth. They healed the planet, cured cancer, increased human strength and disease resistance, and were now ready to help Lilith lead her people back to Earth.
As always which books/covers intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. Fool’s Run, Patricia A. McKillip (1987)
Michael Whelan’s cover for the 1988 edition
From the back cover: “Terra Viridian is a young woman who obeyed a vision, took a laser assault rifle, and turned fifteen hundred innocents into light. She was captured, convicted, and sentences to the orbital prison called the Underworld. Forever.
Dear readers, thank you all profusely for your comments, words of thanks, and emails over the year. It is my overarching goal to inspire you all to read more SF from the 50s-70s, dust off the boxes of your parents’ books in some forgotten closet, browse the shelves at your local used book store (or favorite online store), reflect on the often fascinating cover art…
2016 was not the most productive reading/reviewing year as my PhD dissertation defense date rapidly approaches. For the purposes of maintaining my sanity, reading and writing about SF remains my primary relaxation hobby—surprising perhaps as I read a lot of depressing SF that wouldn’t be “relaxing” for most people. According to Megan at From Couch to Moon I like my fiction “moody, broody, meta, and twisted.”
And other than a few satires here and there, my favorite SF reads of 2016 fit firmly within Megan’s descriptors.
“The thought of the vast, utterly silent ship stretching away on all sides of his cubicle, guarded and guided by silent computers, was paralyzing his own ability to make sounds […]” (3)
The crew of a seed ship sent to find a new habitable planet dream the same dreams, dreams of unnatural clarity plagued by pain and death. As a young woman lies dying in her cold cubicle, her final meal at her lips and unaware of her predicament, she whispers to our reluctant hero (Devlin), “All I seem to dream about is being a lady dinosaur” (32). Devlin’s dreams follow some pseudo-evolutionary schema, first he dreams he’s a trilobite in some Silurian sea crushed by the tentacles of a cephalopod, “he went on feeding while the hot, constant flame of hunger was punctuated by explosions of pain as his appendages were twisted and crushed and torn away […]” (10). Then he dreams he’s a brontosaurus, and then an early primate…
Periodically, the automated machines that tend the colonists in cold storage awake their charges, “BASIC INSTRUCTIONS. SPEAK. EXERCISE. REMEMBER” (2). The Continue reading →
[Preliminary Note: This year saw a massive drop off in the number of reviews I’ve managed to put together due to professional pressures etc. I wish I had been able to write fuller reviews–especially as much of the SF I read is lesser known and deserves a wider audience. In some cases, I waited too long to write and thus loss the necessary momentum. I have ten or so more waiting in the wings–hopefully they will allow me “to catch up” so to speak.]
1. If All Else Fails…, Craig Strete (1980)
(Margo Herr’s cover for the 1980 edition)
4.75/5 (collated rating: Very Good)
Craig Strete, one of the few Native American SF authors, picked up three Nebula Award nominations for short SF over the 70s and early 80s (“The Bleeding Man” in 1976, “Time Deer” in 1976, and “A Sunday Visit With Great-Grandfather” in 1981 although it was withdrawn). The first two are in If All Else Fails… (1980). They are both far from the best of the collection.
Favorites: “All My Statues Have Stone Wings” (1980), “To See the City Sitting on Its Buildings” (1975), and “A Horse of a Different Technicolor” (1975).
The pages reek with despair at the loss of Native American culture …. The narrator of the “All My Statues” is reminded of his “grandfather who died humming all the songs he had kept silent because there was no one left to sing them” (11). In “To See the City” the dead try to escape the concrete prisons of the cities that desecrate the holy places: “Buried animal and ground Continue reading →
(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1964 edition of Alien Worlds (1964), ed. Roger Elwood)
Michael Whelan’s cover for the 1979 Dutch edition of Greybeard (1964) by Brian W. Aldiss appeared in a collection of SF art Space Wars, Worlds & Weapons (1977). I remember encountering the collection at a used bookstore, perhaps in Philadelphia when I went to visit my grandparents… It terrified me for years. The bizarre metal construct looming over the destroyed world—and most of all, the strange tentacled hands…
…hence, today’s themed art post!
Tentacles and Other Strange Appendages.
I have a confession: I am warming to the art of Charles Moll—1974 edition of New Dimensions 3 ed. Continue reading →
Here are the rest of the books my fiancé purchased for me while on her vacation from my “to acquire” master list. I’m having a lot of fun reading White’s All Judgement Fled (1969) so I can’t wait to read The Dream Millennium (1973)—and, who can resist overpopulation themed SF? More Sheckley stories…. always good. A St. Clair novel and short story collection + more Zelazny.
Have you read any of them? Thoughts?
1. The Dream Millennium, James White (1973)
(John Berkley’s cover for the 1974 edition)
From the back cover: “Earth was a polluted, dying planet. Violence was rampant and civilization was doomed. If Man was to survive, John Devlin had to find him a new home somewhere in the galaxy. He had 1,000 years to look—and 1,000 Continue reading →
A nice grab bag of used book store finds… I’m nearing completion of my collection of Zelazny’s pre-1980 novels (I do not own nor really want to read any of his purely fantasy works). Also, I couldn’t help but pick up David Gerrold’s 1974 Hugo and Nebula Award nominated novel The Man Who Folded Himself (1973) although I have been utterly underwhelmed with his work in the past—for example, Space Skimmer (1972) and Yesterday’s Children(1972).
I also found the first volume of a trilogy by Leonard Daventry—owned only the third one for some reason. And, who can resist another James White novel. I desperately want to recreate the joy that was White’s The Watch Below(1966).
1. Damnation Alley, Roger Zelazny (1969) (MY REVIEW)