Tag Archives: pulp

Book Review: Candy Man, Vincent King (1971)

(Patrick Woodroffe’s cover art for the 1973 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

The Candy Man wanders from place to place in a crumbling mega-city with his sole companion, a mechanical dog named Wolf who comes with a handy handle. Candy Man instigates the lobotomized, with primal speeches and drugged sugar floss tinted with pulverized beetles, to revolution. His reward for turning in those he encouraged deviate from the will of the Deep Machine and their Teachers? Vials of drugs. Enter the hypnagogic world of Vincent King’s Candy Man (1971), an unsettled landscape inhabited by the degenerate remnants of humankind and the arcane workings of a computer program that cannot escape its original perimeters.

Fresh off Vincent King’s short story “Defense Mechanism” (1966), I tracked down a copy of his second novel. Occupying a similar space as “Defense Mechanism” (conceptual breakthrough in a decaying world city), King pushes the narrative Continue reading Book Review: Candy Man, Vincent King (1971)

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)

(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: New Writings in SF 7, ed. John Carnell (1971)

(David McCall Johnston’s cover for the 1971 edition)

3/5 (collated rating: Average)

Preliminary publication note: The UK and US editions of the New Writings in Science Fiction anthology series (1964-1977) varied in content—even volumes indicated by the same number. They are often treated as separate entries in the isfdb.org anthology listing. I read and reviewed the US edition.

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The back cover of New Writings in Science Fiction 7 (1971), ed. John Carnell promises a form of “future shock”—plunging us into a world derived from ours but foreign and alien. Is the collection successful? As with the three other volumes in this anthology series I’ve read—New Writings in SF 4 (1965), New Writings in SF 6 (1965), and New Writings in SF 9 (191972)–the answer is a mixed “somewhat.”

In the volumes I’ve explored so far, Vincent King is the biggest surprise—i.e. an author I had never read who produces regularly solid work. As with “Testament” (1968), King’s “Defence Mechanism” (1966) evokes “existential emptiness” Continue reading Book Review: New Writings in SF 7, ed. John Carnell (1971)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Strange Visages of Burt Shonberg (1933-1977)

(Burt Shonberg, 1964 Ibiza Spain)

Burt Shonberg (1933-1977) produced only one SF cover for the Fantastic Science Fiction Stories (June 1960), ed. Cele Goldsmith. I adore the etched helmet, the lack of a distinct face, the looking backward at a similar form emerging…. I wish more magazines commissioned covers from him–he could have added a nice visual wrinkle to the fair of the day. Here’s the isfdb.org listing for the issue–do you know which story he’s illustrating?

(Fantastic Science Fiction Stories (June 1960), ed. Cele Goldsmith)

So who was he? His biography, which the following paragraph is based on, lays out an intriguing life. Born in Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Strange Visages of Burt Shonberg (1933-1977)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLI (Ben Bova, Margaret Elphinstone, Christopher Evans, Lee Hoffman)

1. New author to me. Unknown book. Fascinating Peter Gudynas city-scape cover. Let the act of exploration carry me through!

2. My The Women’s Press collection of SF/F novels grows. This is probably one of the least known volumes.

But so was Elizabeth Baines’ The Birth Machine (1983) and it was fantastic!

3. I love the concept of an epic near-future space thriller involving weather manipulation! But me and Ben Bova never see eye-to-eye….

4. An unknown Doubleday SF edition. I have yet to read any of Lee Hoffman’s SF — she wrote a handful.

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

1. Capella’s Golden Eyes, Christopher Evans (1980)

(Peter Gudynas’ cover for the 1982 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLI (Ben Bova, Margaret Elphinstone, Christopher Evans, Lee Hoffman)

Short Book Reviews: Fredric Brown’s The Lights in the Sky Are Stars (variant title: Project Jupiter) (1953), M. A. Foster’s Waves (1980), Eric Frank Russell’s The Great Explosion (1962)

My “to review” pile is growing and my memory of them is fading… hence short—far less analytical—reviews.

1. The Lights in the Sky Are Stars, Fredric Brown (1953)

(Mitchell Hooks’ cover for the 1955 edition)

3/5 (Average)

Frederic Brown’s The Lights in the Sky are Stars (1953)  is a slick 1950s vision of the fanatical men and women who take America by the scruff of the neck and yank it, without letting the law get in the way, towards space and the deep beyond. As a rumination on radicalism,  The Lights in the Sky are Stars succeeds—I’m not entirely sure if it was entirely intentional as Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Fredric Brown’s The Lights in the Sky Are Stars (variant title: Project Jupiter) (1953), M. A. Foster’s Waves (1980), Eric Frank Russell’s The Great Explosion (1962)

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)