(Norman Adams’ cover for the 1977 edition)
3.25/5 (collated rating: Good)
According to a list compiled by Ian Sales [here] only a handful of SF anthologies have hit print solely featuring women authors—none were published before 1972 and, surprisingly, few after 1980 (there seems to be a resurgence in the last few years). The Crystal Ship (1976) ed. Robert Silverberg, is one of these. It contains the three novellas by three important SF authors who got their start in the 70s: Marta Randall, Joan D. Vinge, Vondra McIntyre. The latter two achieved critical success: Joan D. Vinge won the Hugo for her novel The Snow Queen (1980) and Vonda N. McIntyre won the Hugo for her novel Dreamsnake (1978). Marta Randall, on the other hand, despite her Nebula nomination for the intriguing Islands (1976) remains to this day lesser known.
All three of the novellas feature impressive female protagonists and narratives that subvert many of SF’s traditional Continue reading Book Review: The Crystal Ship (three novellas by Vonda N. McIntyre + Marta Randall + Joan D. Vinge), ed. Robert Silverberg (1976)
A nice mix with some gorgeous Powers’ covers—some 30s + 50s pulp, three novellas in one of only a handful of female SF author anthologies ever published, and another John Brunner novel for my extensive collections (it’s an expanded novel from one of his earlier pulp works, hopefully he improved the original version).
1. After Worlds Collide, Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer (1933)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)
From the back cover: “When the group of survivors from Earth landed on Bronson Beta, they expected absolute desolation. This Earth-like planet from another universe had been hurtling through space, cold and utter darkness for countless millennia. All life should have perished millions of years ago. But the Earth-people found a breathtakingly beautiful city, encased in a huge, transparent metal bubble; magnificent apartments filled with every luxury; food for a lifetime in the vast, empty kitchens; but with no trace either of life—or death. Then the humans learned they were not alone on Bronson Beta…” Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCIX (Vinge + Randall + McIntyre + Wylie + Brunner + Sohl)
(Stephen Hickman’s cover for the 1978 edition)
3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)
Like so many SF fans, my first exposure to Joan D. Vinge’s work was via her wonderful Hugo-winning novel The Snow Queen (1980). Eventually I found a copy of her first published novel, The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978), which had an intriguing premise but a less than satisfactory delivery (poor characterizations, pacing, etc). The collection Fireship (1978) is comprised of two novellas: the Hugo- and Nebula-nominated “Fireship” (1978) and one of her earlier works, “Mother and Child” (1975).
The title story is the lesser of the two despite its (dare I say dubious) award nominations. It’s a light-hearted and unchallenging proto-cyperpunk Continue reading Book Review: Fireship (variant title: Fireship / Mother and Child), Joan D. Vinge (1978)
Part 1 of many: Half Price Books in Dallas, TX (the second best bookstore, after Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, MI for SF I have ever come across). Gift card courtesy of fiancé’s mother = LOTS OF SCIENCE FICTION. There could not be a better gift….
Everyone reads Robert Zelazny’s This Immortal (1966) and Lord of Light (1967), but who has read Isle of the Dead (1969)? Thematically it seems similar to Lord of Light… I have high hopes. James White’s SF is always above average — and a fund cover from Dean Ellis makes that an auto-buy. Although I disliked David Gerrold’s Space Skimmer (1972) my father swears Yesterday’s Children (1972) is somewhat readable.
I enjoyed Joan D. Vinge’s The Summer Queen (1980), tolerated her first novel The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978), so I suspect her two novella collection Fireship (1978) will be worthwhile…
1. Isle of the Dead, Robert Zelazny (1969)
(Leo and Dianne Dillon’s cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXXI (Vinge + Gerrold + Zelazny + White)
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1978 edition)
The title of Joan D. Vinge’s first novel, The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978), is an homage to The Outcasts of Poker Flat (1869) by the turn of the century western writer and poet Bret Harte. He is famous for his depictions of resourceful women in California pioneer settlements. Vinge creates a resourceful female captain of a powerful but weaponless spaceship who finds herself beset–with only a depleted crew–by a series of challenges in the decadent, grasping, and fractured pioneer societies of Heaven Belt. Although the often less than amicable conflict between the egalitarian society with powerful women and the male-focused pioneer cultures could be the focus of the novel, Vinge is less interested in exploring the social ramifications (à la Le Guin and other works of the previous decade — the 1960s). Instead, this conflict provides a suitable world-building backdrop for a traditional space opera — a bedraggled but technologically Continue reading Book Review: The Outcasts of Heaven Belt, Joan D. Vinge (1978)