Tag Archives: Norman Spinrad

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXII (Spinrad + Vonnegut, Jr. + Mitchison + Anthology)

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….

Thoughts?

1. Bug Jack Barron, Norman Spinrad (serialized 1967)

(Alex Gnidziejko’s cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXII (Spinrad + Vonnegut, Jr. + Mitchison + Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CV (Russ + Spinrad + Malzberg + Kornbluth)

Dawn Treader bookstore haul part II [part I]!  A batch of my favorite authors: Norman Spinrad, Joanna Russ, Barry N. Malzberg, and C. M. Kornbluth.  Two novels and two short story collections!

…and some fun covers.

Thoughts?

1. No Direction Home, Norman Spinrad (1975)

(Charles Moll’s cover for the 1975 edition)

From the back cover: “A GHASTLY WORLD… AN ULTIMATE ORGASM… A COSMIC NIGHTMARE… Bone-chilling, mind-shattering science fiction that will take you Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CV (Russ + Spinrad + Malzberg + Kornbluth)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCIII (McCaffrey + Gunn + Spinrad + Sellings)

My first collection (and a big one at that) of Norman Spinrad short stories!  I loved The Iron Dream (1972).  I’ve also wanted to give Anne McCaffrey’s non-Pern SF a shot (loved Pern as a kid).  Although, it does look rather silly, catlike aliens are generally not my idea of fun.  Another novel by James Gunn, one he claims is his best…. And, one of those impulsive type acquisitions of unknown quality, The Power of X (1968) by Arthur Sellings.

Thoughts?

1. Kampus, James E. Gunn (1977)

(Bob Larkin’s cover for the 1977 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCIII (McCaffrey + Gunn + Spinrad + Sellings)

Updates: Year in Review (Top Ten SF Novels + Top Ten Short Stories/Novelettes/Novellas + other categories)

Everyone likes lists!  And I do too….  This is an opportunity to collate some of my favorite (and least favorite) novels and shorter SF works I read this year.  Last year I discovered Barry N. Malzberg and this year I was seduced by…. Well, read and find out.

  

Top Ten Novels

1. We Who Are About To…, Joanna Russ (1976): A scathing, and underread, literary SF novel by one of the more important feminist SF writers of the 70s (of The Female Man fame).

2. A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire, Michael Bishop (1975): A well-written anthropological clash of cultures novel.  Slow, gorgeous, emotionally engaging….

3. Level 7, Mordecai Roshwald (1959): A strange satire of the bomb shelter…  Everyday surrealism. Continue reading Updates: Year in Review (Top Ten SF Novels + Top Ten Short Stories/Novelettes/Novellas + other categories)

Updates: My 7 Favorite Metafictional Science Fiction Novels

Here are my seven favorite metafictional science fiction novels. By metafiction I’m referring to devices such as breaking the fourth wall (characters addressing the audience), the author addressing the reader, a story about a writer writing a story, a story containing another work of fiction within it, a work where the narrator reveals himself or herself as the author of the story, narrative footnotes, etc….

I’d love to hear your favorites (they don’t have to be novels)!

Obviously, these types of experimental works only appeal to some readers (especially fans of the sci-fi New Wave movement of the late 60s and early 70s) but I personally love seeing experimentation in an often — dare I say — stylistically stale genre.  Often, the metafictional aspects do not prevent authors from deploying traditional narratives.

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 THIRNDRM1972 MNINTHCST1974

My top seven (and an honorable mention):

1. Beyond Apollo, Brian N. Malzberg (1972) (REVIEW) — what you read is most likely the novel written by the main character. However, he’s most likely insane so attempting to get AT the true nature of his voyage to Venus is purposefully layered… Complicating the matter is how unreliable of a narrator he is and the fact that he’s tells many versions of the same story. Malzberg pokes fun at pulp science fiction throughout — which he clearly enjoyed as a child.

2. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner (1968) — the metafictional aspects are rather hidden in this New Wave masterpiece (my single favorite sci-fi novel).  Brunner’s vast (in scope and depth) mosaic of invented book fragments, advertising jingles, and narrative portions are interspersed with news articles taken from his own day — including the school shooting at the University of Texas in 1966.  Of course, as readers we’re geared to imagining that everything Continue reading Updates: My 7 Favorite Metafictional Science Fiction Novels

Book Review: The Iron Dream, Norman Spinrad (1972)

(Uncredited cover for the 1972 edition)

4.75/5 (Very Good)

Nominated for the 1973 Nebula Award

Simply put, Norman Spinrad’s The Iron Dream (1972) is a fantastic alternate history novel.  However, unlike a standard “what if this happened instead and now let’s write a traditional narrative” alternate history, The Iron Dream is organized around a powerful metafictional conceit which explicitly serves to satirize pulp science fiction and fantasy and condemn its lurid nature and Spinrad would argue, racist inclinations.

The premise is straightforward: after the Great War (WWI) Hitler comes to the United States (and thus WWII never happens) and becomes a science fiction illustrator.  Eventually he starts writing science fiction and articles in fanzines.  However, he’s considered by the establishment to be little more than a hack writer and lives the rest of his life in squalor.  It is only after he dies (from symptoms related to syphilis) that he receives any critical success. What you read is Hitler’s 1954 posthumous Hugo-winning novel (which he wrote in six weeks), The Lord of the Swastika,  along with a short pseudo-scholarly “afterward to the Continue reading Book Review: The Iron Dream, Norman Spinrad (1972)