Tag Archives: post-apocalyptic

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXX (M. John Harrison + John Christopher + Ian Watson)

1 and 2. As a kid, I read and adored John Christopher’s Tripod Trilogy (1967-1968). Little did I know at the time the quantity of other SF novels—mostly of the post-apocalyptical sort—published over his long career. In 2012 I read,  reviewed, and enjoyed his post-apocalyptical satire The Long Winter (1962). And now, I have both his single most famous “cozy catastrophe” and a lesser known one… with a fantastic cover by Steve Crisp.

3. I now own three of the four volumes in M. John Harrison’s Viriconium sequence (1971-1984)! Here’s volume two. I reviewed and adored The Pastel City (1971).

My other M. John Harrison reviews (he’s a Joachim Boaz favorite):

The Committed Men (1971)

The Centauri Device (1974)

The Machine in Shaft Ten (1975)

4. Ian Watson is a fascinating author. The stories in The Very Slow Time Machine (1979) should be tracked down. I also recommend The Jonah Kit (1975), which I never got around to reviewing…. this acquisition is a lesser known novel in his extensive oeuvre.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Enjoyed? Hated?

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1. A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge), John Christopher (1965)

(Steve Crisp’s cover for the 1985 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXX (M. John Harrison + John Christopher + Ian Watson)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIX (Elgin + Oliver + Shiner + Worlds of Tomorrow Magazine)

1. My exploration of the early 80s continues with an intriguing Mars mystery. I had not heard of the author—Lewis Shiner—until browsing SF Encyclopedia recently. It’s also graced with a stirring, if rather simple, Di Fate spaceship.

2. Giants in the Dust  (1976) might be Chad Oliver’s least known SF novel. Clute describes it thus: “Giants in the Dust (1976) argues the thesis that mankind’s fundamental nature is that of a hunting animal, and that our progress from that condition has fundamentally deracinated us.” I reviewed another one of Oliver’s 70s visions—The Shores of Another Sea (1973)—a few years ago.

I’m positive that this is Di Fate’s cover as well although it’s uncredited. One of his clunkier works…. His figures are always slightly off.

3. I picked up one of the later volumes of Suzette Haden Elgin’s Coyote Jones sequence. Did not care for At the Seventh Level (1972).

4. And finally, I bought a large pile (20?) magazines for less than a dollar each. People might be obsessed with the aesthetic of old SF but the magazines and paperbacks are cheap as dust at some of the stores I frequent…. I’ll post them slowly over the coming months.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Enjoyed? Hated?

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1. Frontera, Lewis Shiner (1984)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIX (Elgin + Oliver + Shiner + Worlds of Tomorrow Magazine)

Book Review: Dark December, Alfred Coppel (1960)

(Uncredited cover for the 1971 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

“In my holster I carried a pistol that had never been fired. Yet I was master of ten thousand graves” (72).

Occasionally my childhood love of survival tales—whether post-apocalyptic nightmares or sailors stranded on Pacific islands—rears its head and I am forced to track down a book, languishing in some forgotten corner, that satiates the craving. Alfred Coppel’s Dark December (1960), an unknown gem, successfully distills in ultra-realistic strokes the basic post-nuclear war survival formula: man traverses a bombed landscape, pockmarked with the vestiges of human habitation, on a quest to find his family. Dark December is a careful study of trauma and survival in the face of forces willing to plunge the world back into Continue reading Book Review: Dark December, Alfred Coppel (1960)

Book Review: The Road to Corlay, Richard Cowper (1978)

(Gary Viskupic’s cover for the 1979 edition)

3.75/5 (Good)

Nominated for the 1980 Nebula Award for Best Novel

Richard Cowper’s The Road to Corlay (1978) charts the ethereal pastoral wanderings and religious musings of the followers of The White Bird of Kinship, an anti-institutional pseudo-Christian religion at odds with the oppressive Church Militant that holds sway over what remains of Europe. Continue reading Book Review: The Road to Corlay, Richard Cowper (1978)

Fragment(s): Monday Maps and Diagrams (Science Fiction) 3/25/19: A French edition of Mark S. Geston’s Lords of the Starship (1967) and Out of the Mouth of the Dragon (1969)

Today’s installment of Monday Maps and Diagrams returns to the worlds of Mark S. Geston. In 1980 French publisher OPTA released the first two volumes of Geston’s The Wars series, Lords of the Starship (1967) and Out of the Mouth of the Dragon (1969), in a handsome volume with a striking interior map by Claude Fritsch. The series charts the slow climb out of a Dark Age, where the landscape is littered with unusual mutants and the relics of past technologically superior empires and peoples…. I find the map and cover try to evoke more “medieval” imagery than the actual novels (I mean, even in the first one, the technology exists to “construct” a spaceship).

Enjoy! And, as always, comments are welcome and appreciated!

My review of Lords of the Starship (1967).

Citation: Claude Fritsch’s interior map (above) and cover art (below) for the 1st French OPTA edition of Les seigneurs du navire-étoile / Hors de la bouche du dragon (1980). Continue reading Fragment(s): Monday Maps and Diagrams (Science Fiction) 3/25/19: A French edition of Mark S. Geston’s Lords of the Starship (1967) and Out of the Mouth of the Dragon (1969)

Book Review: The Word for World is Forest, Ursula K. Le Guin (1972)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

Won the 1973 Hugo for Best Novella. Nominated for the 1973 Nebula for Best Novella.

In November 1969, word of the My Lai Massacre (March 16, 1968), where American soldiers killed (and raped and mutilated) between 347-504 unarmed South Vietnamese civilians, reached American newspapers. Ronald L. Haeberle’s iconic (and horrifying) photograph of massacred children and adults–superimposed with, “Q. And babies? A. and babies,” the chilling lines from NBC’s interview with massacre participant Paul Meadlo–was transformed into the “most successful poster” opposing the Vietnam War by the Art Workers Coalition. Ursula K.  Le Guin brilliantly channels this general anti-war anger, transposed to an alien local with colonizing humans as villains, in The Word for World is Forest (1972). Continue reading Book Review: The Word for World is Forest, Ursula K. Le Guin (1972)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCIII (Holdstock + Attanasio + Conrad + Abe)

1. While browsing through various New Dimension anthologies I’ve procured recently (stay tuned for an all New Dimension post), I found a few names that I hadn’t heard of… I impulsively purchased A. A. Attanasio’s first novel–nominated for the 1982 Nebula Award.

2. I’ve read and reviewed a few short stories and novels by Robert Holdstock over the years. Eye Among the Blind (1976) had promise. And before I jump into his most famous works, I thought I’d explore more of his short stories first.

3. More Japanese SF in translation! This novel takes place in a vast underground hospital complex. COUNT ME IN!

4. Not sure what possessed me to grab this Curtis Books edition of an author those stories were rarely anthologized… oh wait, it included the words “overpopulation.” If you haven’t yet, check out my list of overpopulation-themed SF.

All the images are hi-res scans of my personal copies.

As always, thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated.

Enjoy (and happy book buying)!

1. Radix, A. A. Attanasio (1981)

(Fred Marcellino’s cover for the 1981 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCIII (Holdstock + Attanasio + Conrad + Abe)