Tag Archives: post-apocalyptic

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLIV (John Shirley, Carol Emshwiller, Daniel Walther, and Jacques Sternberg)

1. Few themes make me as excited as dystopic urbanism: the city or suburbia as an arena of all the malignancies of societal decay. The progressive SF symbol of progress, a lake of uplifting spires, tossed into anarchy and chaos….

John Shirley’s City Come A-Walking (1980) takes this premise to its extremes—the city of San Francisco, the “pulsing heart of urbanized madness” gains sentience. Definitely the Shirley novel I’ll read first (recently nabbed Shirley’s 1985 novel Eclipse).

Tarbandu read it and didn’t care for it over at The PorPor Books Blog. I hope my experience is different!

2. Back in 2017, I read and reviewed Carol Emshwiller’s masterful short story “Animal” (1968). It’s about time I read more of her short fictions.

3. I recently read and enjoyed Jacques Sternberg’s collection Future Without Future (1971, trans. 1973). He was a Belgian author who wrote in French. Unfortunately, the only other one of his SF works available in English is Sexualis ’95 (1965, trans. 1967). I’m not sure this erotic SF novel has any merit. We shall see.

Too bad his first SF novel La sortie est au fond de l’espace (1956) remains untranslated. Its premise seems like SF I could get behind: “a black comedy set in space and featuring the last human survivors of a bacterial Holocaust” (SF Encyclopedia).

4. Daniel Walther, a French SF author, positions The Book of Shai (1982, trans. C. J. Cherryh, 1984) as a deliberate anti-Ayn Rand novel. Considering the one man saves everything nature of so many post-apocalyptical and sword-and-sorcery adventures, I’m intrigued how it plays out! I don’t have high hopes.

Translated by fellow author C. J. Cherryh, who appeared to translate a bunch of the DAW French editions….  lists of translations should be a feature of her  isfdb.org listing — alas.

I also find it humorous that Cherryh gives the sequel, which she also translated, 1 star on Goodreads! The third volume of the trilogy remains untranslated.

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1. City Come A-Walking, John Shirley (1980) (MY REVIEW)

(Catherine Huerta’s cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLIV (John Shirley, Carol Emshwiller, Daniel Walther, and Jacques Sternberg)

Book Review: In Solitary, Garry Kilworth (1977)

(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1979 edition)

3/5 (Average)

Garry Kilworth’s first novel, In Solitary (1977),  attempts to present a morally complex take on human revolt against brutal alien conquest. A brief read, In Solitary piques interest but doesn’t manage to provide compelling backstories to beef up its analysis of the morality of revolt.

Ultimately, In Solitary (1977) does not live up to its compelling premise. Recommended for die Continue reading Book Review: In Solitary, Garry Kilworth (1977)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIX (Jack Dann, Judith Merril, Anne McCaffrey, John Shirley)

1. I have yet to read any of Jack Dann’s SF — this surreal (?) post-apocalyptical novel looks promising! And a strange Jim Burns cover to boot…

2. I recently reviewed Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon a Star” (1958) for my generation ship short story read-through (i’ll have a new installment soon). I decided to track down another one of her short fiction collections….

I’ve reviewed the following collections so far:

3. The title of Anne McCaffrey’s collection Get Off the Unicorn (1977) was derived from a humorous misprint. According to the collection’s introduction: “The title was derived by accident: McCaffrey’s working title had been “Get of the Unicorn” but this was misprinted as “Get Off the Unicorn” in Ballantine’s roster of unfilled contracts. After McCaffrey’s editor, Judy-Lynn del Rey, was repeatedly asked what “Get Off the Unicorn” was, del Rey asked McCaffrey what she could do about that theme.”

The collection itself contains a wide-range of her short fictions—from the Pern sequence (a childhood favorite) to the earliest story in the Catteni Sequence. I DEVOURED Freedom’s Landing (1995), Freedom’s Choice (1997), Freedom’s Challenge (1998), and Freedom’s Randsom (2002) as a kid! How to survive and thrive on an alien planet was my “go-to” SF device.

4. I’ve only read a handful of John Shirley’s short stories. It’s time for a novel. Eclipse (1985), set in a future a cyberpunk dystopia, tells the tale of anti-fascist resistance. We shall see!

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

1. The Man Who Melted, Jack Dann (1984)

(Jim Burns’ cover for the 1986 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIX (Jack Dann, Judith Merril, Anne McCaffrey, John Shirley)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIII (J. G. Ballard, Fred Saberhagen, Richard A. Lupoff, Garry Kilworth)

1. I have yet to read any of J. G. Ballard’s late 70s and early 80s short fiction.  Myths of the Near Future (1982) seems to contain some fascinating gems. I’ve previously reviewed two collections of his 50s and 60s fiction on the site—both are highly recommended!

2. My exploration of 60s/70s SF takes me to an another author I’ve only read about– Fred Saberhagen. I enjoy post-apocalyptical landscapes and balkanized and decayed far future societies–but, is there anything original in this take on the theme?

3. I’m proud owner (*cough*) of one of the worst vintage covers ever created. The premise was the sole reason I snatched up Kilworth’s The Night of Kadar (1978)—malfunctions create unusual growth in the seeded human colonists on an alien planet.

4. A fix-up novel (with substantial rewritten and added material) from Richard A. Lupoff…. not an author I’m too familiar with, but this one is endorsed by Harlan Ellison and definitely screams 70s!

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1. Myths of the Near Future, J. G. Ballard (1982)

(James Marsh’s cover for the 1984 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIII (J. G. Ballard, Fred Saberhagen, Richard A. Lupoff, Garry Kilworth)

Generation Spaceship Short Story Review: Chad Oliver’s “The Wind Blows Free” (1957)

Initial note: This is the inaugural post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. You are welcome to read and discuss along with me–all of the stories I’ll review will be available online–as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage!

Next up: Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation”) in the August 1953 issue of Science-Fiction Plus (Internet Archive link).

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Bob Layzell’s cover for the 1980 edition of A Sea of Space (1970), ed. William F. Nolan)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

Chad Oliver’s “The Wind Blows Free” (1957) first appeared in the July 1957 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Anthony Boucher (Internet Archive link). Despite the simple premise, Oliver’s powerful delivery and imagery reaffirmed my love for generation ship stories and their common tropes: generational change, the science of survival, the architecture of arks Continue reading Generation Spaceship Short Story Review: Chad Oliver’s “The Wind Blows Free” (1957)

Updates: Recent Mostly Apocalyptic Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXIX (Nevil Shute, Walter Tevis, Philip McCutchan, and Lawrence Watt-Evans)

1. I’m finally the owner of one of the 50s/60s post-apocalyptic novels…. I suspect the 1959 film adaptation of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (1957), which I did not enjoy, was the reason I’ve taken so long to acquire a copy.

It’ll fit neatly into my recent themed review sequence:

2. A far lesser known UK post-apocalyptic novel–SF Encyclopedia compares Philip McCutchan’s A Time for Survival (1965) to the relentless despair of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006

3. I’ve yet to read any of Walter Tevis’ SF–I’ve acquired his post-apocalyptic novel Mockingbird (1980).

4. And finally, the least-known quantity of this post…. an impulse buy (SF and noir is a fun combo) at my local Half Price.

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

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1. On the Beach, Nevil Shute (1957)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1986 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Mostly Apocalyptic Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXIX (Nevil Shute, Walter Tevis, Philip McCutchan, and Lawrence Watt-Evans)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXIII (Jack Vance, Alexei Panshin, Brian Aldiss, Frederick Turner)

On a recent trip to Chicago I spent far too much on vintage SF at Bucket O’ Blood Books and Records (twitter).If you’re in the city and love old SF paperbacks, stop by! I’ll certainly be back. Here are the first four books from that haul.

1. Jack Vance is an author I always tend to buy but never enjoy as much as I think I should–see my recent review of Emphyrio (1969). Thoughts on this one?

2. I have yet to read anything by Alexei Panshin—at least I now have a copy of his masterpiece, Rite of Passage (1968) (nominated for the 1969 Hugo + won that year’s Nebula).

3. A lesser-known 70s comedic novel from Brian W. Aldiss…

4. And finally, the one I’m most excited about. Evolved humans are thrust into conflict on a terraformed, but dying, Mars. With a fun Powers cover to boot! The rest of Frederick Turner’s SF output appears to be the epic poem variety according to SF Encyclopedia.

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

1. The Anome, Jack Vance (magazine, 1971)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the  1973 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXIII (Jack Vance, Alexei Panshin, Brian Aldiss, Frederick Turner)

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

(Steve Crisp’s cover for the 1985 edition)

3.75/5 (Good)

John Christopher’s A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge) (1965) is the second in my informal reading series on 50s/60s post-apocalyptic visions.  Fresh off Alfred Coppel’s moody and reflective Dark December (1960), I chose one of Christopher’s works long overshadowed by his popular Tripods trilogy (1967-68)* and more famous earlier catastrophe novel The Death of Grass (1956).* Continue reading Book Review: A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge), John Christopher (1965)

Book Review: Future Without Future, Jacques Sternberg (1971, trans. 1973)

(Rus Anderson’s cover for the 1973 edition)

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

Jacques Sternberg (1923-2006) was a Belgian author who occasionally published SF, especially early in his career. Future Without Future (1971, trans. by Frank Zero 1973) contains a nearly novel-length novella “Fin de siècle” and four other bleak satirical works published between 1958 and 1971.

A worthwhile acquisition for “Fin de siècle” (1971) alone. The other stories are still worth a read. If you’re interested in SF in translation, this collection is a must have. I plan on tracking down Sternberg’s only SF novel in translation, Sexualis ’95 (1956, trans. Lowell Blair 1965). It’s a shame La sortie est au fond de l’espace (“The Way Out is at the Bottom of Space”) (1956), “a black comedy set in space and featuring the last human survivors of a bacterial Holocaust” doesn’t exist (yet!) in translation…. (See SF Encyclopedia for a rundown of his works).

Like Stanislaw Lem, Sternberg creates planetary environments and otherworldly denizens that feel truly alien. In the more dystopic works, Sternberg’s bleak outlook on humanity’s increasing inability to connect with each other and our pasts Continue reading Book Review: Future Without Future, Jacques Sternberg (1971, trans. 1973)