(Pompeo Posar’s cover for the 1st edition)
3/5 (collated rating: Average)
“The dead astronaut: The phrase is filled with anxiety, the words themselves evoking the tension and anguish that gripped the whole world in that fateful month of April 1970, when a technical malfunction came close to costing the lives of astronauts Lovell, Swigert and Haise” (5).
The Dead Astronaut (1971) contains a range of 50s and 60s SF stories—from Ursula K. Le Guin to J. G. Ballard—on the broad theme of astronauts, that appeared in Playboy Magazine. For a reader of genre for only the last decade (and a bit), it’s shocking to consider that Playboy, at one point, contained top-notch science fiction! That aside, The Dead Astronaut contains a range of soft and hard science fictional accounts of astronauts Continue reading Book Review: The Dead Astronaut, ed. uncredited (1971) (J. G. Ballard, Ursula K. Le Guin, Arthur C. Clarke, et al.)
Yes (I see inquisitive phantom stares), I listened to an audiobook written in this decade. And it was good. Very good. Brilliant actually. As it was an audiobook, I’m unable to write an in-depth review. However there are plenty online for the curious–in part because it won the 2015 Nebula Award. I added two additional novels that have been waiting patiently in a “to review” pile that are more my standard territory…
Think of these short reviews as tantalizing fragments rather than my normal analysis. The books that reside in these short review posts often defeated my reviewing capabilities.
1. The Müller-Fokker Effect, John Sladek (1970)
(McInnery’s cover for the 1972 edition)
4.25/5 (Very Good)
In my 2016 in review I promised to read more of Sladek’s work, and for once I’m holding true to my reading goals.
That said, I find Sladek’s novels notoriously difficult to parse into cohesive reviews—his SF (and my reviews by extension) stretch satirically in all directions, unfolding in fascinating experiments that jest with layered wordplay and (often) diagrammatic dalliances (see example below). There’s a humorous Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (2014), John Sladek’s The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970), Robert Sheckley’s Options (1975)
September will be a slow month, my apologies in advance. The review backlog grows and grows–reviews of Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero (1970) and The Best SF Stories from New Worlds #2 (1968) should be appearing soon. Although, there are many unreviewed volumes less fresh on my memory…
At least I have a massive review INDEX to keep you all busy.
I am diligently posting all the KWG volumes I snagged from a local Half Price Books—this shadowy person had a spectacular collection.
I am rarely interested in SF series, but, I’ll make an exception as Suzy McKee Charnas’ Walk to the End of the World (1974) was so darn amazing!
More Tucker! Fresh off the very satisfying The Long Loud Silence (1952)…
And finally, a novel from an author I’ve never read before—Alfred Coppel.
As always, thoughts/comments are welcome.
1. Motherlines, Suzy McKee Charnas (1978)
(Doug Beekman’s very bland cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acqusitions No.CLVIII (Tucker + Charnas + Coppel + Sheckley)
I can’t pass up a Sheckley collection!
Nor can I pass up a rather unknown “discovered manuscript” type 1960s feminist dystopia by Marya Mannes. She wrote for Vogue and The New Yorker over her career….
Nor can I pass up a Sturgeon collection (perhaps I will appreciate his more radical SF short stories?)….
And finally, a best of collection by an author who might not be worth exploring, but, sometimes short stories give a better impression of an author’s capabilities than a novel-length work.
As always, thoughts/observations/comments are welcome!
1. They, Marya Mannes (1968)
(Stanley Zuckerberg’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLVII (Sturgeon + Sheckley + Scortia + Mannes)
Despite my incredible busyness my reading of SF has not slowed that heavily as I find it a relaxing activity before bed. There is a chance (time permitting) that I will post (two paragraph?) mini-reviews of such gems as Disch’s Camp Concentration (1968) + Lafferty’s intriguing Past Master (1968) + Mann’s Wulfsyarn (1990) et alii in the coming weeks in order to get caught up (I haven’t been in more than a year)…
That said, I am still working through my recent acquisition posts for a stack of books that have slowly come in over the last few months. More psychological SF via Wilhelm, a Mars novel originally in German, a collection of 50s – 80s short SF by an unsung master (according to some), and Sheckley at his most bizarre…
Three of the following novels came via Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings on his book store trip… Grateful as always for his book hunting skills on his travels and willingness to send me a large box (and paypal bill! — haha).
- The Earth is Near, Ludek Pesek (1970, english trans. 1973)
(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXVI (Sheckley + Wilhelm + Pesek + Shaara)
(William Hofmann’s cover for the 1964 edition)
4/5 (collated rating: Good)
Filth. Decay. Mud. Transmutation. Brian W. Aldiss’ SF is filled with such images: Men—with limbs removed—who are slowly (and artificially) transmuted into fish, writhe around in the mud of their tanks grasping at the last shards of their humanity; A powerful matriarch lords over a planet where her pets transform at will; A tall tale about a planet filled with strange life and a human hero who cannot get over the fact that everything smells like garbage…. Aldiss’ novel The Dark Light-Years (1964), despite its poor delivery, is the best example of these themes—humans encounter sentient aliens who spend their days copulating, laying around, and eating in their own fifth. And they are happy with their lot.
Starswarm (1964) is comprised of three novelettes and five short stories with conjoining explanatory material that links the previously published short fiction into a cohesive collection. The modus operandi of such a conjoining concerns the “Theory of Multigrade Superannuation” where “the universe is similar to the cosmic clock; the civilizations of man are not mere cogs but infinitely smaller clocks, ticking in their own right” (7). Thus, the inhabited solar systems of Starswarm—our galaxy—will exhibit all the characteristics through which a civilization can Continue reading Book Review: Starswarm, Brian W. Aldiss (1964)
I have yet to read anything by the Nobel Prize for Literature-winning author Doris Lessing… And she wrote numerous SF novels—I’m very excited that I found one in a clearance section for 2$. I also found one of the very few 1970s works by Silverberg not in my collection. Dickson’s supposedly most mature novel (which I doubt is very good) also joins my collection. So far the only Dickson I can tolerate are a handful of his short stories. And finally, my last acquisition is one of Robert Sheckley’s best-loved novels.
1. The Memoirs of a Survivor, Doris Lessing (1974)
(Brad Holland’s cover for the 1988 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVI (Lessing, Silverberg, Sheckley, Dickson)
Another varied selection of recent acquisitions—the majority are gifts from Carl V. Anderson at Stainless Steel Droppings. Thanks so much! A signed edition of Hal Clement’s Close to Critical (1964) is coming your way!
I love Sheckley. I’ve never read Richard Matheson’s short fiction. Terry Carr’s short fiction is supposedly rather good (he’s primarily known as an editor of course). And Avram Davidson is still an unknown quantity—I do adore the Leo and Diane Dillon cover.
1. Third From the Sun, Richard Matheson (1955)
(Gene Szafran’s horrid cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVII (Matheson + Carr + Davidson + Sheckley)
Here are the rest of the books my fiancé purchased for me while on her vacation from my “to acquire” master list. I’m having a lot of fun reading White’s All Judgement Fled (1969) so I can’t wait to read The Dream Millennium (1973)—and, who can resist overpopulation themed SF? More Sheckley stories…. always good. A St. Clair novel and short story collection + more Zelazny.
Have you read any of them? Thoughts?
1. The Dream Millennium, James White (1973)
(John Berkley’s cover for the 1974 edition)
From the back cover: “Earth was a polluted, dying planet. Violence was rampant and civilization was doomed. If Man was to survive, John Devlin had to find him a new home somewhere in the galaxy. He had 1,000 years to look—and 1,000 Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIII (Zelazny + Sheckley + White + St. Clair)