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
The Gollancz Masterwork series [list] ranges from famous novels such as Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) to lesser known short story collections such as The Caltraps of Time (1968) by David I. Masson. The Masterwork series has the power to introduce readers to the canonical “best of SF” and works that should be considered classics. Many of the second group have not seen print for decades. Although I have some qualms about certain inclusions, I was genuinely blown away that they recently chose one of my favorite novels The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (variant title: The Unsleeping Eye) (1973) by D. G. Compton—an underread and unjustly forgotten author.
Over the course of the next week or so a handful of my fellow SF bloggers (most of whom have a focus on earlier SF) will release lists on their sites of SF they would like to see featured by Gollancz. I have not given them any guidelines so the lists should be varied and hopefully will generate some discussion. I highly recommend you head over to their sites (I will post the links as they come in) and comment.
Thoughts + comments are always welcome (as well as your own lists!).
More “What to Include in the Gollancz Masterwork Series” Lists (blog friends)
Chris over at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, and Creased
Megan over at From Couch to Moon
2theD over at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature
Ian Sales over at It Doesn’t Have to be Right…
Jesse over at Speculiction…
2theD over at Tongues of Speculation (his votes regarding translated SF)
Martin over at Martin’s Booklog
My guidelines for inclusion
1. My frequent readers know that I prefer (passionately) SF from the 50s-70s Continue reading
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1973 edition)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
Naomi Mitchison’s first science fiction novel, Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962), is a brilliant episodic rumination on the nature of non-violent interaction with alien species that challenge (and transform) conceptions of ourselves and others. Although R. S. Lonati’s cover for the 1964 Four Square edition suggests a pulp adventure—replete with flashy spaceships, explosions, and traditional adventure—Memoirs is cut from an altogether different cloth.
The first sentence of the novel narrows in on Mitchison’s central themes:
“I think about my friends and the fathers of my children. I think about my children, and I think less about my four dear normals than I think about Viola. And I think about Ariel. And the other. I wonder sometimes how old would be if I counted the years of time blackout during exploration (5).”
I’m a proponent of book store traveling (travel where bookstores are the first target). Two Half Price Books and a quality independent used books store yielded what will be the first of many acquisition posts of worthy SF.
Who could resist a $5 signed copy of Spinrad’s masterpiece Bug Jack Barron (1967)? Or a normally pricey edition of Naomi Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962) for $2? And some Vonnegut, Jr. and a quality anthology containing the best of New Worlds….
1. Bug Jack Barron, Norman Spinrad (serialized 1967)
(Alex Gnidziejko’s cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading