(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1970 edition)
3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)
Philip K. Dick. Roger Zelazny. Bob Shaw. Michael Moorcock. R. A. Lafferty. Seldom do I say that a “best of” anthology includes a large number of the best stories of the year. From PKD’s artificial memories to Bob Shaw’s slow glass, World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (1967) contains both fascinating technological marvels and serious character-centered storytelling. While not all the stories are successful, I highly recommend this collection for fans of 60s SF.
Note: I reviewed both Roger Zelazny stories elsewhere—I have linked and quoted my original reviews.
Brief Analysis/Plot Summary
“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (1966) Read More
1) Early Elric stories from Michael Moorcock’s pen. Confession: I bought it in Scotland due to the disquieting cover rather than any love of heroic fantasy—albeit M. John Harrison’s The Pastel City (1971) was pretty darn good.
The fantastic cover is uncredited: thoughts regarding the artist?
2) I adored Dino Buzzati’s magical realist novel The Tartar Steppe (1940). And the movie adaptation The Desert of the Tartars, dir. Valerio Zurlini (1976) inspired by the aesthetics of Giorgio de Chirico —I even wrote a half-baked and cursory review of the movie many years ago. While browsing I discovered that Buzzati wrote what is considered the first serious Italian SF novel—Larger than Life (1960). I can’t wait to read it!
3) More Theodore Sturgeon short stories….
Relevant reviews: A Way Home (1956), The Cosmic Rape (1958) and Venus Plus X (1960).
4) A while back I watched, and struggled to enjoy, the 1975 film adaptation of William Harrison’s short story “Roller Ball Murder” (1973). Time to read the source material. Copy snagged in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts.
1. The Stealer of Souls, Michael Moorcock (1963)
(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition) Read More
My perambulations through Scotland (Edinburgh–> castles–> castles–> Aberdeen–> Orkney Islands–> broch–> chambered cairn –> haggis meat pie) has not provided the most suitable opportunities to sit down and put in the hours necessary to review books. However it has given me the opportunity to acquire a range of UK editions.
1) Michael Moorcock’s first Jerry Cornelius novel. Count me intrigued (but filled with trepidation)! I look forward to reading The Final Programme (1968) when I finally get home to the States.
A bizarre Bob Haberfield cover!
Relevant recent review: An Alien Heat (1972)
2) Gardner Dozois blew me away with his short story “Horse of Air” (1970) and I look forward to trying one of his novel length works. Strangers (1978) was nominated for the 1979 Nebula Award.
3) Rick Raphael’s slice of life fix-up novel–about life patrolling the streets of the future–Code Three (1967) was not without merits. I’m eager to read more of his short fiction.
4) Richard Cowper’s Profundis (1979) mixed humor and a wicked streak of satire to create a SF parable that made me want more. And the short stories in The Custodians (1976) were middling to good. Kuldesak (1972) takes on a far more standard theme…
Note: as I am not home with my handy scanner these are cover images I found online rather than high resolution images of my own copies.
I look forward to your thoughts! Any favorite covers?
1. The Final Programme, Michael Moorcock (1968)
(Bob Haberfield’s cover for the 1971 edition) Read More
I still have not reviewed one of my favorite novels (tied with Christopher Priest’s 1981 masterpiece The Affirmation) that I read in 2016: Angela Carter’s The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (1972). I have an excuse—I successfully defended my PhD earlier this month and am currently revising the 300+ page dissertation for final submission later this summer! And, I must confess, the fear that I won’t be able to do The Infernal Desire Machines justice envelopes me….
On May 7th Angela Carter Online [an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to learn more about her life and works] posted a previously unpublished 1979 interview with Carter conducted by David Pringle for a New Worlds volume that never came together: “The conversation focuses mostly on the topic of science fiction, and includes discussions of the seminal Read More
(From Piers Anthony’s Macroscope (1969), 224)
First we must honor the book sacrificed in the making of this post: the spine of my Picador 1977 edition of Martin Bax’s The Hospital Ship (1976) needs some drastic surgery (glue) after I attempted to scan its dark interior….
As of late I’ve been fascinated by pseudo-knowledge in science fiction and speculative fiction–the scholarly afterward in The Iron Dream (1972), the real medical citations in The Hospital Ship (1976), the invented medical citations in Doctor Rat (1976), and “diagrammatic” SF covers filled with maps or anthropological diagrams.
Whatever form it takes, pseudo-knowledge—perhaps derived from our world or even “real” knowledge in our world modified and inserted into another imaginary one—adds, at the most basic level, a veneer of veracity. The most obvious category, and the one I am least interested in, is scientifically accurate Read More
1) I made a “resolution” to read more John Sladek — miserable covers aside. Now what is that spaceman doing standing next the elephant? Although Sladek is rather on the surreal/comical end of things, Peter Goodfellow took the surreal title literally. Not his finest artistic moment. Now if only I could convince myself to put together my disperate thoughts on The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970) into something cohesive.
2) Although “New Worlds editor supreme” Michael Moorcock’s novels haven’t not received the warmest reception on my site, I am determined to get a better sense of his fiction by exploring his short work. And this collection seems fantastic! It’s illustrated, there’s a comic strip (image below), and the Savoy Books publication includes tons of fascinating blurbs about other books both speculative and non-genre.
See my reviews of An Alien Heat (1972) and The Ice Schooner (1969).
The title page of the Jerry Cornelius comic.
3) A lesser known James White novel… Only printed in the UK.
James White is one of THE finds of the last few years. Best known for simple but earnest (and pacifistic) 50s stories about doctors solving alien medical problems, his novels demonstrate surprising power. A reader and frequent commentator (see I listen!) suggested I procure one of his late 70s novels unknown to me. I cannot wait to read it.
See my reviews of The Dream Millennium (1973), All Judgement Fled (1968), and The Watch Below (1966).
4) I recently discussed Emma Tennant’s work and how she was influenced by the UK SF scene (Ballard et al) here. Yes, I showed my inner academic by citing a few articles — many fans don’t realize that there’s serious and fascinating academic study of the genre. And, as literary historians are wont to do, they provide (often) relevant and erudite analysis of development of genre etc. I would pull more in if time allowed. I am currently reading Tennant’s novel and it’s intriguing so far!
Scans are from my own collection (in order to zoom in on the zany madness, click on the image).
I look forward to your comments/thoughts!
(Candy Amsden’s cover for the 1978 edition of The Crack (variant of: The Time of the Crack) (1973), Emma Tennant)
As I recently procured a copy of Emma Tennant’s The Crack (variant title: The Time of the Crack) (1973) in which a fault line appears under London destroying half the city, I decided to research her work.
William Grimes describes Emma Tennant’s fiction—in a New York Times retrospective on her life and works—as blending “fantasy, science fiction and social satire” that “explored the borderland between daylight and dreams, anatomized contemporary Britain.” Grimes quotes Gary Indiana’s 1990 The Village Voice article: “a startling procession of novels unlike anything else being written in England: wildly imaginative, Read More
I’ve read only one Ron Goulart story in Universe 1 (1971), ed. Terry Carr. It was marginally funny but slight. I assume his novels are similar. This is supposedly one of his best… It has an intriguing Diane and Leo Dillon cover.
New Worlds Anthologies? Answer: always yes!
Gary K. Wolf, not Gene Wolfe or the SF scholar Gary K. Wolfe in case anyone is confused… Gary K. Wolf remains best known for the Roger Rabbit sequence of novels (Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (1981) and 1991’s Who P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit?). He started his writing career with three SF novels for Doubleday—Killerbowl (1975), A Generation Removed (1977), and The Resurrectionist (1979). I look forward to exploring his work.
And one of the few PKD novels I do not own (I might be missing four or five others). Not supposedly one of his best books, but his brand of surrealism is always fun. It’s for my collection rather than to read anytime soon. I’m more in a PKD’s early short stories mood!
All images are scans from my own collection (click image to zoom).
As always, thoughts/comments are welcome.
1. After Things Fell Apart, Ron Goulart (1970)
(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1970 edition) Read More
(Bob Haberfield’s cover for the 1974 edition)
3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)
Decay and the end of the world. There are so many ways to write about decadence and decay. M. John Harrison spins haunting tales of crumbling bodies paralleling crumbling landscapes—The Pastel City (1971) and The Committed Men (1971). Mark S. Geston in Lords of the Starship (1967) postulates some retreat into the “medieval” where the masses can be harnessed and manipulated. Michael Moorcock’s An Alien Heat (1972)—the first in The Dancers at the End of Time sequence—unfolds with comedy and wit in a far future where an “inherited millennia of scientific and technological knowledge” allows the remaining inhabitants to “play immense Read More