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)
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?
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)
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)
(Steve Crisp’s cover for the 1985 edition)
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)
(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)
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?
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)
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?
1. Frontera, Lewis Shiner (1984) (MY REVIEW)
(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)
(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)
(Gary Viskupic’s cover for the 1979 edition)
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)