Returning to my old haunt (Texas) conjures the normal quality science fiction haul…. Not the range of Dallas’ spectacular Half Price Books but still a nice selection.
As always, I took a few risks. I know very little about Zenna Henderson’s short stories — and the cover for the 72 edition of Holding Wonder (1971) (below) is atrocious! But she’s generally considered a worthwhile author despite the rather hokey premise of her The People series. I’m most interested in Edgar Pangborn’s A Mirror for Observers (1954) — and I promise not only because of the Richard Powers’ cover. My father disliked Simak’s Our Children’s Children (magazine 1973) so I don’t have high hopes… I’m rather ambivalent towards Simak. I enjoyed City (1954) but would never call it a masterpiece. Cemetery World (1973) was an interesting read but more in concept than delivery. Way Station (1963) didn’t deserve the Hugo award but had its moments… etc.
Michael G. Coney’s The Hero of the Downway (1973) was an impulsive buy. I know very little about the quality of his writing but was persuaded by Josh Kirby’s cover! And underground societies usually hold my interest — even if they don’t achieve the heights of David F. Galouye’s wonderful Dark Universe (1961).
Enjoy the covers! And the back cover blurbs!
1. A Mirror for Observers (1954), Edgar Pangborn
(Richard Powers’ cover Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XXIV (Simak + Henderson + Pangborn + Coney)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1956 edition)
Harold Mead’s The Bright Phoenix is a readable future ultra-regulated “perfect” State themed science fiction novel with a time-worn but proven plot. Unfortunately, the end product, despite moments of intriguing characterization and oppressive gloom, sinks into forgettable melodrama and the conclusion resorts to frustratingly obvious references to a “second coming” (of sorts). Mead is less interested in describing the mechanisms of the “perfect” state and more interested in the slow evolution of a character coming to grips with the deficiencies of the system. This is an admirable program that falls woefully short in part due to the paltry descriptions of the before mentioned system. This causes our hero’s evolution to occasionally ring hollow. The primitive but somehow “truer” pseudo-Christian civilization contacted by our hero, the fulcrum of his transformation, lacks any seductive qualities that would facilitate Continue reading Book Review: The Bright Phoenix, Harold Mead (1955)
(Julian S. Krupa’s cover for the July 1947 issue of Amazing Stories)
Through the window, through the view screen cities are discovered, worlds end in searing flame, vectors to unknown lands are plotted, the horrors of earth are left behind. Alone in a space station an astronaut observes the fragile construction arrayed around him. Through the window, through the view screen aliens observe our strife, loved ones watch in agony, and the culmination of our era’s scientific endeavors are arrayed in orderly rows.
In short, the possibilities are endless. The glass (or some scientifically advanced clear material) frames the story, we watch others watching or we see what they see while we stand among them…
Definitely a delightful sci-fi cover art trope worth exploring. Here are a broad selection of covers from juvenile science fiction novels, pulp magazines, edited Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Through the View Screen, Through the Window
(Robert Foster’s cover for the 1971 edition of The Dakota Project (1968), Jack Beeching)
Unfortunately, science fiction covers from the 60s/70s are not always credited — Robert Foster’s covers are no exception. Originally I assumed that Foster had only produced a handful (see my first post on his work, Part I), but after searching under Bob Foster and identifying covers by sight I’ve cobbled together another varied/intriguing/unusual collection of his work.
His work are often characterized by fascinating collaged, geared, industrial machinery paired with nudes and semi-nudes Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Art of Robert Foster, Part II
A while back I slogged through Philip José Farmer’s dismal To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971) (the worst novel ever to win the Hugo Award?) and all the increasingly terrible sequels and made a solemn vow to wait a few years before I returned to his extensive oeuvre — so, against my better judgement I picked up a copy of Traitor to the Living (1973). I don’t have high hopes (but I love the cover!). I hope my two dollars were well spent.
Malzberg is shaping into my “under read/unjustly forgotten author of the year” whom I’ll showcase. Last year’s winner was the brilliant D. G. Compton (see INDEX for reviews). Fresh off Conversations (1975) and In The Enclosure (1973) I picked up a copy of Guernica Night (1975). I can’t wait!
Harold Mead’s The Bright Phoenix (1955) is yet another against the oppressive state à la Orwell’s 1984… But, I’ve found that the premise generally holds up despite frequent re-interpretations…
Greenfield’s Waters of Death (1967) should be avoided — at all cost. I’ve already written a scathing review (rant).
1. Traitor to the Living (1973), Philip José Farmer (MY REVIEW)
(Hans Ulrich Osterwalder and Ute Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XXIII (Farmer, Malzberg + et al.)
(Dave Meltzer’s cover for the 1973 edition)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
Fresh off Malzberg’s intriguing young adult novel, Conversations (1975), I picked up a copy of the altogether more disturbing, transfixing, unnervingly prescient, and at moments, brilliant In The Enclosure (1972). As with many of Malzberg’s oeuvre, the work is infused with a steady dose of metafiction — our hero laments (and we writhe along with him in a malaise of unease), “I will never really know” (189). Just as Quir is unsure of his own reality, his diaristic words — which the reader is desperate to hold on to — are admittedly, “an impression, a conception, nothing more” (190).
Combining the science fiction trope of implanted memories with the literary narrative mode of the unreliable narrator creates an overwhelmingly uncomfortable gulf between reality and constructed reality. The result, the overpowering desire to pick up a piece of pulp science fiction where the future is rosy, technology = happiness, the kids smart, where rockets Continue reading Book Review: In The Enclosure, Barry N. Malzberg (1973)
Hello all, Ian Sales’ wonderful SF Mistressworks (link), a review collating blog, has recently been nominated for the BSFA award (British Science Fiction Association) in the non-fiction category (link for the list). I’ve submitted nine of my reviews of sci-fi works written by women over the last few months. It was created in direct response to the absence of sci-fi masterpieces by women on a list by The Guardian, a lack of general knowledge in the sci-fi community about early female pioneers in the genre, and general lack of readership for their many award-winning works.
If you’ve written reviews of science fiction works by women (the novels/short story collections need to be written before 2000) please submit them as well (500 words or so is preferred)! So, gather up any Russ, Norton, Cherryh, C. L. Moore, Merril, Brackett, Piserchia, Le Guin, MacLean, Butler, etc etc etc reviews you might have on your blog or anywhere else. It’s a great resource for finding seldom read works/authors which deserve a greater readership. Continue reading Updates: Visit + Submit to the BSFA Award Nominated Review Site SF Mistressworks