Tag Archives: paperbacks

Book Review: The Watch Below, James White (1966)

(Uncredited cover for 1966 Ballantine edition)

4/5 (Good)

James White, famous for his Sector General series, spins a disturbing tale of two isolated and decaying societies — one alien, one human.  Without doubt the work demands a certain suspension of disbelief.  The isolated human society half of the premise comes off as highly artificial/improbably/impossible (and, well, bluntly put, hokey).  I found the alien half of the story line a more “realistic” situation but less emotionally involving as the human half.  White has difficultly meshing the trans-generational nature of both story lines — and the inevitable intersection at the end is predictable, anti-climactic, and dents the great appeal of the central portion of the work.

Lest this dissuade you, White’s dark vision is a transfixing take on the generation ship (literally) — how would a society descended from five individuals evolve for a hundred years trapped Continue reading Book Review: The Watch Below, James White (1966)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Domed Cities of the Future Part I

(Uncredited cover for the 1965 edition of Beyond the Sealed World (1965), Rena M. Vale)

While browsing through my collection of cover images I’ve collated over the last few months for science fiction art post ideas, I came across the uncredited cover for Rena Vale’s Beyond the Sealed World (1965) and was transfixed!  The angle of the text, the mountain, the dark expanse of space, the little spaceship, the figures silhouetted against the night, and the surreal shape of the domed city connected to other distant domed cities… If anyone knows the artist (or has a good educated guess) please let me know!  The second edition cover (below) still has beautiful domed cities but the caveman, helmeted soldier, and white-clad (not for long, the dress is slipping) woman tableau ruins the feel.

Particularly noteworthy is Jack Gaughan’s elevated domed city cover Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Domed Cities of the Future Part I

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XVI (Kornbluth + Compton + et al.)

It’s not every day that a signed D. G. Compton novel arrives free in the mail.  About half a year or so ago Ian Sales (check out his amazing blog) hooked me on D. G. Compton’s works and ever since I’ve grabbed as many as I can find on used book stores shelves and I’ve written a slew of reviews (The Unsleeping Eye, The Quality of Mercy, The Steel Crocodile, Synthajoy, The Missionaries).  I made a comment on one of his D. G. Compton posts — a few days later a SIGNED copy of Compton’s Scudder’s Game (1988) (below) arrived in the mail!!  Ian, thanks again and keep up the uncovering of underrated 60s/70s sci-fi authors!

The others, well, the covers are gorgeous!  Two Richard Powers covers (the C. M. Kornbluth short story collection and the Conklin edited anthology).  I must confess that the Hunt Collins purchase was impulsive — in part due to the vibrant 50s cover by Bob Lavin.

I apologize for the recent absence of book reviews — due to the approaching end of my last semester of graduate course work I’ve been pressed for time.  I have reviews for Joanna Russ’ The Female Man (1975), James White’s The Watch Below (1966), and Samuel R. Delany’s Nova (1968) in preparation.

Enjoy!

1. The Explorers, C. M. Kornbluth (1954) (MY REVIEW)

Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XVI (Kornbluth + Compton + et al.)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Selection of Elevated Cities Part II

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1970 edition of You Will Never Be The Same (1963), Cordwainer Smith)

“Now I shall tell of the city of Zenobia, which is wonderful in this fashion: though set on dry terrain it stands on high pilings, the houses are of bamboo and zinc, with many platforms and balconies placed on stilts at various heights, crossing one another, linked by ladders and hanging sidewalks, surmounted by cone-roofed belvederes, barrels storing water, weather vanes, jutting pulleys, and fishpoles and cranes” — Italo Calvino (Invisible Cities, 1972, pg. 35)

Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities has a choice place on my living room bookshelf next to various Saramago and Pynchon novels.  Whenever I pick it up I’m immediately immersed in intense nostalgia, I see my father reading it on the sofa, I remember paging Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Selection of Elevated Cities Part II

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of Tufted Gumby Aliens and Mushroom People

(David Hardy’s cover for the November 1975 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)

I couldn’t stop laughing while putting together this post from my collection of gleaned covers: gumby in space with two fuzzy tufts and three unsymmetrical eye ridges (or, his fingers) ogling at a space probe, mushroom people transfixed by a mysterious white tentacled orb hoisted aloft by man in a pink cape and a skimpy pink unitard, evil nosed caterpillars, scary monstrous mole monster, etc.  Did the editors KNOW precisely what the art looked like before it appeared on the covers evoking such throat hurting unintended (or perhaps intended) consequences?  But, I have to admit there’s nothing like a cool (and funny alien) to make me pick up a book or magazine.

As always, what are your favorite funny alien covers which I haven’t posted?

I’ve read a few of Vance’s novels so I’ll probably pick up The Eyes of the Overworld Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of Tufted Gumby Aliens and Mushroom People

Update: Another Wonderful Sci-fi Review Blog

   

Michael (2theD), one of my friends whose reviews on Amazon I’ve been compulsively reading, has just started a review blog (on blogspot) called the Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature.

(the titles above are a small sample of the works Continue reading Update: Another Wonderful Sci-fi Review Blog

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Selection of Vincent Di Fate’s early 70s Covers

(Cover for the 1972 edition of Plunder (1972), Ron Goulart)

The covers of Vincent Di Fate (1945-) often evoke a Terry Gilliam-esque romp — for example, Ron Goulart’s Plunder — a lone facade and a house dot a purple and green plain, mountains emerge in the distance, planets pepper the sky, a head floats ominously, a bizarre reptilian creature in a boatie rides an antique bicycle.  I desperately want to know if it’s a scene from the book.  If so, I’m tracking down a copy!

Vincent Di Fate’s work graced a few of the great works of the genre Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Selection of Vincent Di Fate’s early 70s Covers