Tag Archives: post-apocalyptic

Book Review: The Watch Below, James White (1966)

(Uncredited cover for 1966 Ballantine edition)

4/5 (Good)

James White, famous for his Sector General series, spins a disturbing tale of two isolated and decaying societies — one alien, one human.  Without doubt the work demands a certain suspension of disbelief.  The isolated human society half of the premise comes off as highly artificial/improbably/impossible (and, well, bluntly put, hokey).  I found the alien half of the story line a more “realistic” situation but less emotionally involving as the human half.  White has difficultly meshing the trans-generational nature of both story lines — and the inevitable intersection at the end is predictable, anti-climactic, and dents the great appeal of the central portion of the work.

Lest this dissuade you, White’s dark vision is a transfixing take on the generation ship (literally) — how would a society descended from five individuals evolve for a hundred years trapped Continue reading Book Review: The Watch Below, James White (1966)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Domed Cities of the Future Part I

(Uncredited cover for the 1965 edition of Beyond the Sealed World (1965), Rena M. Vale)

While browsing through my collection of cover images I’ve collated over the last few months for science fiction art post ideas, I came across the uncredited cover for Rena Vale’s Beyond the Sealed World (1965) and was transfixed!  The angle of the text, the mountain, the dark expanse of space, the little spaceship, the figures silhouetted against the night, and the surreal shape of the domed city connected to other distant domed cities… If anyone knows the artist (or has a good educated guess) please let me know!  The second edition cover (below) still has beautiful domed cities but the caveman, helmeted soldier, and white-clad (not for long, the dress is slipping) woman tableau ruins the feel.

Particularly noteworthy is Jack Gaughan’s elevated domed city cover Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Domed Cities of the Future Part I

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Spherical Spaceships, Spherical Aliens, Unidentified Spheres

(Walter Popp’s cover for the August 1952 issue of Fantastic Adventures)

The sphere — as a manifestation of the perfectly round geometrical shape or replete with various derivations and modifications (tentacles, slight elongations, eye sockets, limbs both fleshly or mechanical) — holds a particular fascination for sci-fi artists and authors.  The possibilities are endless: spherical aliens, spherical ocean descent vehicles, spherical spaceships, spherical robotic doctors, wizards levitating spherical objects, and spherical legged war vehicles…

I’ve selected a delightful variety of these spherical manifestations.  In my favorite (above) female scientists alternately shout about, gaze at, and document descending Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Spherical Spaceships, Spherical Aliens, Unidentified Spheres

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Infernal Machines

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition of The Stars Will Judge (1974), Irving A. Greenfield)

There are manifold possibilities for the infernal machine unraveling beneath the streets or inhabiting entire planets — it could construct simulacra, infiltrate spaceships with insinuating metal tentacles, conduct experiments, terraform the soil, create new life, manipulate politicians, cause natural disasters — technology gone mad, endlessly proliferating…  The dangers of technology, or technology in the hands of nefarious individuals is by far one of the most popular themes of science fiction.  I cannot count how many Star Trek episodes, novels, movies, and other television shows examine these scenarios — innumerable, it goes without saying.

I’ve chosen a wonderful collection of science fiction cover Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Infernal Machines

Update: Another Wonderful Sci-fi Review Blog

   

Michael (2theD), one of my friends whose reviews on Amazon I’ve been compulsively reading, has just started a review blog (on blogspot) called the Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature.

(the titles above are a small sample of the works Continue reading Update: Another Wonderful Sci-fi Review Blog

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XIII

A few fellow History grad students and I (and two or three from various departments — Gender Studies, English) have cobbled together a science fiction reading group list for this fall and spring: mainly social sci-fi by female authors along with a few random gems by Ballard (The Drowned World), Silverberg (The World Inside), and Delany (Nova).  I wasn’t going to buy any sci-fi books this semester.  I promise.  That is before we formed our reading group!  So, I had to pick up the few works on our list that I didn’t already own.

What a haul!

1. The Drowned World (1962), J. G. Ballard

Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XIII

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. IX

Success (i.e. infrequent purchases)!  Only three new but unknown/fascinating/and potentially interesting) acquisitions to report….

1. The Alien Way (1965), Gordon R. Dickson (MY REVIEW HERE)

I’ve not read any of Gordon R. Dickson’s substantial corpus of novels.  Yes, I need to pick up a copy of his classic work Dorsai! but, military sci-fi has never Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. IX

Book Review: A Billion Days of Earth, Doris Piserchia (1976)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

Doris Piserchia’s A Billion Days of Earth (1976) is a whimsical, disturbing, and stunningly inventive science fiction novel.  This is the second and by far the best of her novels I’ve read (A Billion Days of Earth surpasses Doomtime (1981) in virtually every regard).  Not only are the characters better drawn but the plot isn’t as easily derailed by repetitious actions.  That said, she isn’t always the best at plotting but her imaginative worldscapes and bizarre creatures more than compensate.   Continue reading Book Review: A Billion Days of Earth, Doris Piserchia (1976)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. VI

I’ve held to my promise not to buy any more books this summer considering I have at least 40 unread sci-fi books looming over my shoulder.   However, other people are welcome to procure books FOR me! And they have — all of the following were gifts! Thank you!

1. The Last Starship from Earth (1968), John Boyd (MY REVIEW)

I’ve read multiple reviews which claim that John Boyd’s The Last Starship from Earth is a lost classic.  However, opinion are far from unanimous (for example, the sci-fi author Joanna Russ wrote a scathing review blaming the publishers for subjecting her and fellow readers to Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. VI