(Inside illustration by Vincent Di Fate for the 1973 edition of The Orchid Cage (1961), Herbert W. Franke)
Part II of my SF acquisitions from Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, MI– Part I. In my attempt to acquire more foreign SF (still haven’t managed to read that much of it—but the mood will strike eventually), I found a nice copy with a wonderful interior illustration and cover by Vincent Di Fate of one of Herbert W. Franke’s novels.
Also, another Ian Watson novel—I’ve read the Jonah Kit (1975) but never got around to reviewing it as well as his collection (must read for fans of 70s SF) The Very Slow Time Machine(1979). Jesse over at Speculiction raves about his other Continue reading →
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 →
Won the Locus 1972 Award for Best Original Anthology.
The Universe series of anthologies contained original SF that had not yet appeared in print. And, the inaugural volume Universe 1 (1971) ed. by Terry Carr certainly hit critical pay dirt: Robert Silverberg’s minimalist the first robotic pope tale won the Nebula for Best Short Story, George Alec Effinger’s anti-war black comedy was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Short Story, Joanna Russ’ alt-history (sort of) fable was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, and Edgar Pangborn’s sentient “alien” animals look for a caretaker mood piece was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novelette.
“The men heard, and they rejoiced to find an enemy they could conquer at last. One night, as planned, they pulled all the women from sleep, herded them together, and harangued them, saying, remember, you caused the Wasting” (3).
Suzy McKee Charnas’ Walk to the End of the World (1974) is the first of four novels in The Holdfast Chronicles sequence (1974-1999) that charts the slow forces of change in a post-apocalyptical future where women (“fems”) are chattel. Kate Macdonald, in her wonderful review of Ammonite (1993) characterized Nicola Griffith’s novel as “instantly […] feminist: not stealth, or muted, or sub-conscious.” Walk to the End of the World falls squarely, and powerfully into this category. Told with intensity and vigor, Charnasbrands the reader with her vision, a searing and festering landscape where white men have either exterminated the remaining “unmen” (the “Dirties”) or subjugated them (the “fems”) after a manmade cataclysm. Complex societal institutions maintain control in a mostly illiterate world via appeals to collective memory, intensive drug facilitated indoctrination, and the deconstruction of the family unit in favor of exclusively homosocial relationships.
On twitter [my account here — please follow! I post interesting things!] I posed the following question:
Which SF author—for the purposes of this site’s focus, an author starting pre-1980—deserves a new (or reprint) single author collection?
GUIDELINES (please read): Said author cannot have a single author collection published within the last 10 years (you can fudge this a bit). It also should be noted that many eBooks aren’t available in the United States (SF Gateway for example). If the recent eBook edition isn’t available in the US, I guess the author fits the bill (*cough* — John Sladek).
Note: If you are thinking about doing some checking before you make your choice (see guidelines) I recommend using isfdb.org as it has mostly up to date publication histories for all but self-published authors.
My vote: Miriam Allen deFord (active from — SF Encyclopedia LINK
Published collections: Xenogenesis (1969) and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow (1971)
Reason: Miriam Allen deFord (1888-1975) was one of the major voices in SF magazines from 1946 – 1978. She never made the transition to novels and thus might have lost some readership as a result. The stories in Xenogenesis (1969) shows an often radical voice right from her first story in 1946. Although they might not be as polished as some of her more Continue reading →
I like lists! I like reading lists! Here’s my rundown of the best and worst of what I read in 2014.
This year I have tried something new—my first guest post series. My ten post Michael Bishop review series—reviews written by SF bloggers interested in classic SF and frequent readers of my site—hopefully introduced a lot of my frequent readers to one of my favorite (and criminally underrated) authors. My second post series did not transpire solely on my site but stretched to others—what Gollancz Masterworks should include… Thanks for all the wonderful contributions!
Feel free to list your best reads of the year. Maybe I’ll add a few of them to my to read/to acquire list.
…and, if you tend to agree with at least some of my views on SF, read these!
Best SF novel
1.Ice, Anna Kavan (1967): Easily the best novel I have read this year, Kavan weaves a Kafka-esque landscape will touches of J. G. Ballard. Ice, caused by some manmade disaster, is slowly creeping over the world. The unnamed narrator is torn between two forces: returning to his earlier research on jungle dwelling singing lemurs in the southern regions vs. tracking down a young woman about whom he has Continue reading →
(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1968 edition)
Nominated for the 1969 Nebula Award for Best Novel
Joanna Russ’ first published novel Picnic on Paradise (1968) delightfully subverts traditional SF pulp adventure tropes. Although not as finely wrought as The Female Man (1975), And Chaos Died (1970), or her masterpiece We Who Are About To…(1976), Picnic is worthwhile for all fans of feminist SF and the more radical visions of the 60s.
Unfortunately, the metafictional implications/literary possibilities of the Alyx sequence Continue reading →
1970 was a wonderful year for short SF. Nebula Award Stories Six ed. Clifford D. Simak (1971) contains a selection Nebula-nominated and winning works from the three short fiction award categories: three novelettes, three short stories, and one novella. The novelette and novella winners are included. No short story award was given out although Gene Wolfe’s “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories” (1970) deserved to win. I apologize in advance, I hold no love for sword-and-fantasy—the great appeal that Fritz Leiber’s “Ill Met in Lankhmar” (1970) conjures for readers is lost on me.
I was also impressed by the two “second tier” authors in the collection: Harry Harrison and Keith Laumer. Both of their efforts were mature and evocative. Although, Joanna Russ’ “The Second Inquisition” (1970) blows them out of Continue reading →
Another Barry N. Malzberg novel—Chorale (1978)—to add to my nearly complete collection of his SF novels + short story collections.
Another Richard Cowper novel—purchased months ago mainly due to the gorgeous Paul Lehr cover. The whimsical subject matter of the work unfortunately does not match the profound and surreal stillness of Lehr’s vision.
A short story collection containing a nice range of nebula-nominated (and winning) short SF from 1970: Sturgeon, Laumer, Wolfe, Fritz Leiber, Lafferty, Harrison, Russ.
And finally what is supposedly one of Lafferty’s oddest experiments: Annals of Klepsis (1983).