Short Story Review: Philip José Farmer’s “The Lovers” (1952)

3.5/5 (Good)

Preliminary note: This is a review of the original 1952 novella. You can read it online here. Philip José Farmer published a novelization in 1961. While the novel was frequently republished, the original novella was not anthologized until 2003 (bibliography). I am in half a mind to read the 1961 version and analyze the changes!

This is a review that I wish I didn’t have to provide a rating as my lukewarm response to the story might obfuscate my fascination with its thematic contents and larger historical context. Philip José Farmer’s novella “The Lovers” (1952) is, without doubt, historically important for the development of the SF genre as it introduced a transgressive mix of sex (mostly implied), unusual xenobiology, and colonial critique. It shocked and fascinated readers at the time. In a letter published in the September issue of Startling Stories, Farmer himself predicted the “Reverberations from THE LOVERS should be really bouncing” later in the year (136). And he was right!

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Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCCIV (Philip José Farmer, Keith Roberts, Pauline Ashwell, Stephen Minot)

Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. The Lovers, Philip José Farmer (1961)

From the back cover: “In 1952, Philip José Farmer excited instant acclaim in the science fiction field with the publication of a short story, THE LOVERS.

In 1961, he wrote and published the full-length novel based on that short story.

And in 1972, Ballantine Books is proud to bring this classic work back into print.

Mr. Farmer, who is known for his explorations into the psychological byways of odd relationships, here postulates a love affair which might well have surprised even Haverlock Ellis. but words such as ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’ simply have no application in the original concepts to which Mr. Farmer’s imagination gives rise. The book remains unique and fascinating.”

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Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLXXVI (Philip José Farmer, Barbara Paul, Knut Faldbakken, and Ward Moore)

Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. Father to the Stars, Philip José Farmer (1981)

From the back cover: “John Carmody has no ethics, no morals and no conscience. Until he takes the Chance on Dante’s Joy, living through seven nights of wildest fantasies come true, he can’t even imagine why anyone would want a conscience. But Dante’s Joy is a truly strange place–and the phone calls from his murdered wife are only the beginning of his strange experiences.

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Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCV (Farmer + Simak + Effinger + New Dimensions Anthology)

1. I recently read and reviewed enthusiastically New Dimensions 3, ed. Robert Silverberg (1973). Inspired, I procured quite a few more in the series… Here is number 1. Looks like an absolutely spectacular lineup — Le Guin, Ellison, Malzberg, Lafferty, etc.

2. One always needs more Clifford D. Simak, right?

3. Huge fan of George Alec Effinger’s novels and short stories. Here’s what I’ve reviewed so far…. Heroics (1979), Irrational Numbers (1976), and What Entropy Means to Me (1972).

4.  Philip José Farmer, despite multiple masterpieces, churned out a lot of crud… I expect this will fall in that category.

Note: The hi-res scans are of my personal copies — click to enlarge.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Enjoy!

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1. New Dimensions 1, ed. Robert Silverberg (1971)

(Uncredited cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCVII (Farmer + Leinster + Williams + Anthology)

I’ve returned! New books!

If you missed it, I also posted a new review of a fantastic novel that melds New Wave sensibilities with an engaging narrative. Check it out.

1. A gift from a family friend…. But what a John Schoenherr cover!

2. Another gift…. a fun space medic premise but I do not trust anything produced by Leinster to have depth yet alone be “thought-provoking” as the blurb proclaims.

3. A Toronto, CA find — unfortunately a tag mutilated the cover…

4. Another Toronto, CA find — while browsing through the shelves I was reminded of one of Tarbandu’s infrequent 5/5 reviews…. We don’t always agree but he introduced me to John Crowley!

As always, comments are welcome.

Enjoy!

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  1. Alien Worlds, ed. Roger Elwood (1964)

(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1964 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXII (The Anthology Edition) (Best SF Stories from New Worlds 5, Orbit 6, Alpha 3, Best SF 1972)

Little pleases me more than reading the fascinating cross-section of the genre presented by anthologies from my favorite era of SF (1960s/70s). After the success that was World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (variant title: World’s Best Science Fiction: Third Series) (1967), ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr, I decided to browse my “to post” pile of recent acquisitions and share a handful with you all. As is often the case, the collections are peppered with stories I’ve already read—I’ve linked the relevant reviews.

Filled with authors I haven’t read yet—Stephen Tall, Robin Scott, Roderick Thorp, Jean Cox, Christopher Finch, etc.

…and of course, many of my favorites including Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin, Barry N. Malzberg, and Kate Wilhelm (among many many others).

Scans are from my collection.

1. The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972)

(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1972 edition) Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Humanoid Plants and Dendroid Humans

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(Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1968 edition of A Scent of New-Mown Hay (1958), John Blackburn)

2016 saw a resurgence in my cover art adventure posts. However, unlike the curated themed collections that prevailed a few years ago I focussed predominately on individual artists from a variety of countries (Portugal, Italy, Germany): my favorites include Max Ernst and His Landscapes of Decay on SF/F Covers, Haunting Landscapes and Cityscapes of Mariella Anderlini, and The Futuristic Cities of Lima De Freitas.   The last themed collection was way back in March 2015 — Tentacles and Other Strange Appendages.

I’ve decided to return to my roots (no pun intended)! Although partially inspired by my 2014 post Human Transformations/Transfigurations (one duplicate cover), I’d been thinking about providing a gallery on the theme after reading “Ganthi” (1958), a disturbing Miriam Allen deFord short story about sentient tree-aliens and their mysterious caretaker Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Women SF Illustrators of the 1960s/70s, Part III: The Galassia Covers of Allison, A.K.A. Mariella Anderlini

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(Cover for Galassia #97, January 1969)

Two of my recent Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art posts fit (retroactively) into a linked post series on women SF illustrators from the 1960s/70s—which includes The Diagrammatic Minimalism of Ann Jonas and Donald Crews and Haunting Landscapes and Cityscapes: The 1970s Italian SF Art of Allison A.K.A. Mariella Anderlini.  This post is a continuation of the latter and explores the twelve covers Alison created for Galassia in 1969 that showcase her vivid creativity.

Galassia was one of the primary Italian SF publications for most of the 1960s (consult Michael Ashley’s Transformations: The Story of the Science-fiction Magazines from 1950-1970, 311) and introduced translations of English-language Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Haunting Landscapes and Cityscapes: The 1970s Italian SF Art of Allison A.K.A. Mariella Anderlini

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(Cover for the 1973 edition of The City in the Sea (1951), Wilson Tucker)

Mariella Anderlini, under the pseudonym Allison, produced a vast number of surreal and masterful SF covers (between 1969-1988) primarily for the Italian SF publisher Libra Editrice.  Apparently, she went under the pseudonym to avoid damaging her professional painting career.  She was the wife of Ugo Malaguti, editor and author, who founded Libra Editrice and edited Galassia.

As I celebrate the birthdays of a range of SF authors/illustrators/editors from multiple language traditions on twitter (@SFRuminations), I came across Allison’s work while researching her husband’s untranslated SF output.  However, only through the diligent research of a twitter follower, whose Italian is far better than mine, were we able to come across her real name.

A reader on twitter sent me two Italian articles for more details (they are scanty) about her life and SF art: “Libra Editrice: ascess e caduta di un impero”  and  “Nova SF.”

And her art is absolutely gorgeous…. Her work enters the pantheon of my favorite SF cover Continue reading