Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVIII (Disch + Vance + Dick + Watson)

There is no better way to celebrate the New Year than with a pile of vintage SF acquisitions!

You might notice the predominance over the coming weeks of UK publishers (Pan, Granada, Panther)—the images correspond to my editions. I acquired nine via a “secret” UK pipeline for a mere $3.50 each (with shipping) as a gift from my wife. Cue bad Chris Foss copycat (Tony Roberts and his ilk) covers. The disconnect between Thomas M. Disch’s 334 (1972) and the Tony Roberts spaceship pains me.

The books: A lesser known Ian Watson novel. Anyone know the cover artist? His short fiction inspires: A Very Slow Time Machine (1979). I found Jonah Kit (1975) worthwhile although I never reviewed it.

A Jack Vance novel that explores the nature of language…

A collection of early PKD stories. I’ve read the majority of his short fiction in my omnibus collections of his work but it might be worth the reread.

And finally, what I am most excited about, Disch’s best known collection of thematically linked short fiction….

Enjoy! As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. Alien Embassy, Ian Watson (1977)

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(Uncredited cover for the 1979 edition) 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 Cover Art: The Brothers Quay and SF covers

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(Cover by the Brothers Quay for the 1977 edition of A Scanner Darkly (1977), Philip K. Dick)

While looking through the cover catalogue to celebrate Octavia E. Butler’s birthday on twitter (@SFRuminations), I found that her first novel Patternmaster (1976) was graced with a cover by Stephen and Timothy Quay—as in, the famous stop-motion (and more recently, live action) film directors know collectively as Brothers Quay!  If you’ve never seen their work, check out The Street of the Crocodiles (1986).

Brothers Quay—along with Guy Maddin, Jan Švankmajer, Wojciech Has, Juraj Herz (for The Cremator, 1969) among others—have long been among my cinematic cornerstones, and to discover that they created SF covers certainly made my day!  I have included a series of stills from their films below—creepy, gorgeous, incredibly well-crafted, (the adjectives could continue for pages).   Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLVI (Holdstock + Howard + Guin + Anthology with Zelazny, Pohl, Dick, Aldiss, et al.)

An eclectic range of books from my annual pilgrimage to Ann Arbor, MI.  Unfortunately, the anthology series I was most excited about—Best of New Worlds and Orbit—were lacking from the shelves of Dawn Treader Books….

….but!

World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (1967) contains stories famous stories by Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny (2xs), R.A. Lafferty, Michael Moorcock, Frederick Pohl, Brian W. Aldiss, and lesser known stories by Dannie Plachta, Paul Ash, Bob Shaw, A. A. Walde….

Also, I also procured a 1967 Nebula-nominated novel by Hayden Howard, more Richard Holdstock, and a collection containing the famous short story “Beyond Bedlam” (1951).  Over the next few weeks I’ll post the rest of my acquisitions.

Thoughts/comments?

1. The Eskimo Invasion, Hayden Howard (1967)

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(Stephen Miller’s (?) cover for the 1967 edition) Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Max Ernst and his landscapes of decay (on SF/F covers)

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Max Ernst’s Barbarians Marching to the West

Max Ernst (1891-1976) has long been one of my favorite artists.  I had no idea, until browsing through the Penguin SF cover images from the 60s, that his art appeared on a variety of SF/F novels and related literature/nonfiction….  Yes, I had seen the memorable cover for J. G. Ballard’s The Crystal World (1966) [below] but I had not put the two together.

My favorite is without a doubt the use of Ernst’s awe-inspiring Europe After the Rain II (1940-42) for J. G. Ballard’s collection of stories, Memories of the Space Age (1988).  The malaise generated by his landscapes of decay combined with the sheer power of Ballard’s visions evoke are almost palpable shudders of joy…

There are a handful more but I have included most of the 50s to early 80s examples.

And today, April 2nd, is Max Ernst’s birthday!  So, share, if you are so inclined, your favorite of his works of art.  And, feel free to identify any that might appear on the covers below…  Too bad more publishers don’t latch onto the joy that are his collages (do a google search and you will understand).

Enjoy!

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(Max Ernst, Europe After the Rain, cover for the 1988 edition of J. G. Ballard’s Memories of the Space Age, 1988) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. CXXV (M. John Harrison + Coney 3x + Anthology + Cooper)

M. John Harrison’s collection The Machine in Shaft Tent (1975) contains one of the more humorous inside flap advertisements I have encountered:

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Don’t worry, I certainly intend to “see tomorrow today!”  I’ll be disappointed if I can’t!

The others are a strange blend…  From Edmund Cooper’s apparently anti-Free Love/60s culture Kronk (1970) to a delightful collection of another one of my favorite years of SF.

Also, I seldom accept advanced reader copies due to my limited time/limited interest in newer SF/and incredible mental block when it comes to, how shall I say it, outside forces guiding my central hobby which tends to take me in a variety of directions solely on whim.  But, Gollancz was nice enough to send me their new omnibus collection of 1970s Michael G. Coney novels (amazon link: US, UK).  Not only did I enjoy Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975) but I recently reviewed and loved Coney’s bizarre and original Friends Come in Boxes (1973).  With two out of two successes it’s hardly like I wouldn’t buy his work on sight anyway (another one of my requirements when accepting AVCs)….  I will review two or three of the novels in the omnibus one at a time over the next few months.

Thoughts?

1. The Machine in Shaft Ten, M. John Harrison (1975)

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(Chris Foss’ cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Tentacles and Other Strange Appendages

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(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1964 edition of Alien Worlds (1964), ed. Roger Elwood)

Michael Whelan’s cover for the 1979 Dutch edition of Greybeard (1964) by Brian W. Aldiss appeared in a collection of SF art Space Wars, Worlds & Weapons (1977).  I remember encountering the collection at a used bookstore, perhaps in Philadelphia when I went to visit my grandparents…  It terrified me for years.  The bizarre metal construct looming over the destroyed world—and most of all, the strange tentacled hands…

…hence, today’s themed art post!

Tentacles and Other Strange Appendages.

 I have a confession:  I am warming to the art of Charles Moll—1974 edition of New Dimensions 3 ed. Continue reading

Guest Post: A Little Knowledge, Michael Bishop (1977)

(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1978 edition)

The sixth installment of my The Science Fiction of Michael Bishop guest post series was graciously provided by Heloise over at Heloise Merlin’s Weblog.  She is a long time fan of Michael Bishop’s work and we have engaged in numerous (fruitful) discussions of his work—including whether or not the first version of A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (1975) is superior to his complete rewrite Eyes of Fire (1980).

Heloise purposefully chose one of Bishop’s lesser known novels.  But, from the review, A Little Knowledge (1977) has been wrongly ignored: “even though [A Little Knowledge] never leaves this single place on Earth, in the end Bishop’s novel manages to give more of a sense of what it means for humans to live in a vast, largely unexplored universe than most novels that are filled with large spaceships and far-future technologies.”

I plan acquiring a copy ASAP.

Visit Heloise’s site! Enjoy!  Comment!

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A Little Knowledge (1977)—Michael Bishop

Michael Bishop’s Urban Nucleus sequence (consisting of the novel A Little Knowledge and the stories collected in Catacomb Years) is unusual among his early works in that it is not an anthropological Science Fiction novel; unlike books like A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire or And Strange at Ecteban the Trees, while reading A Little Knowledge, one is not so much reminded of Ursula K. LeGuin but it rather seems influenced by Philip K. Dick – and not by his largely consensual novels like Ubik or The Man in the High Castle, but his Continue reading

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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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