Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXVII (Simak, Clement, Bradley, White)

I just came back from more than a month in Paris where I was rather sci-fi deprived so I headed immediately (well, not literally) to the local used bookstore.  A nice collection of novels from some of the genre’s greats — Hal Clement, James White, Clifford D. Simak, and Marion Zimmer Bradley.  I’ve not read any of Bradley’s novels and I’ve heard that Darkover Landfall (1972) is probably the place to start.

And I’ve enjoyed James White’s work so far.  Clement isn’t exactly my cup of tea but it might be good to read another one of his novels before I come to a conclusion.

And some fun Paul Lehr covers…

1. Lifeboat (variant title: Inferno), James White (1972)

(John Berkey’s cover for the 1972 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: The Watch Below, James White (1966)

(Uncredited cover for 1966 Ballantine edition)

4/5 (Good)

James White, famous for his Sector General series, spins a disturbing tale of two isolated and decaying societies — one alien, one human.  Without doubt the work demands a certain suspension of disbelief.  The isolated human society half of the premise comes off as highly artificial/improbably/impossible (and, well, bluntly put, hokey).  I found the alien half of the story line a more “realistic” situation but less emotionally involving as the human half.  White has difficultly meshing the trans-generational nature of both story lines — and the inevitable intersection at the end is predictable, anti-climactic, and dents the great appeal of the central portion of the work.

Lest this dissuade you, White’s dark vision is a transfixing take on the generation ship (literally) — how would a society descended from five individuals evolve for a hundred years trapped Continue reading