Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVII (Matheson + Carr + Davidson + Sheckley)

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.

Thoughts?

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. CXXIII (Zelazny + Sheckley + White + St. Clair)

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: 2014 in Review (Top 10 SF novels + Top 10 Short SF works + Other Categories)

I like lists!  I like reading lists!  Here’s my rundown of the best and worst of what I read in 2014.

This year I have tried something new—my first guest post series. My ten post Michael Bishop review series—reviews written by SF bloggers interested in classic SF and frequent readers of my site—hopefully introduced a lot of my frequent readers to one of my favorite (and criminally underrated) authors.  My second post series did not transpire solely on my site but stretched to others—what Gollancz Masterworks should include…  Thanks for all the wonderful contributions!

Feel free to list your best reads of the year.  Maybe I’ll add a few of them to my to read/to acquire list.

…and, if you tend to agree with at least some of my views on SF, read these!

  

Best SF novel

1. Ice, Anna Kavan (1967):  Easily the best novel I have read this year, Kavan weaves a Kafka-esque landscape will touches of J. G. Ballard.  Ice, caused by some manmade disaster, is slowly creeping over the world.  The unnamed narrator is torn between two forces: returning to his earlier research on jungle dwelling singing lemurs in the southern regions vs. tracking down a young woman about whom he has Continue reading

Book Review: Journey Beyond Tomorrow (variant title: The Journey of Joenes), Robert Sheckley (1962)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1962 edition)

4.75/5 (Very Good)

“Beyond a doubt, Joenes himself was an actual person; but there is no way of determining the authenticity of every story told about him.  Some of the tales do not appear to be factual accounts, but rather, moral allegories.  But even those that are considered allegorical are representative of the spirit and temper of the times” (vii).

Robert Sheckley’s third novel Journey Beyond Tomorrow (1962)—after Immortality, Inc. (1959) and The Status Civilization (1960)—is a wildly successful episodic novel that plays to his strengths as a short story author.  In a similar but less radical manner as George Alec Effinger’s What Entropy Means to Me (1972), Sheckley subverts the notion of narrative truth and by so doing explores the complex nature of Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CVIII (Malzberg + Bishop + Sheckley + White)

What a haul!  Three are from numerous previous expeditions to choice used book havens….  And I caved in and bought Malzberg’s The Destruction of the Temple (1974) on abebooks because his seldom reprinted works are hard to find.

Sheckley’s Journey Beyond Tomorrow (1962) is near the top of my reading list.  Supposedly one of his best.

And, who can resist Michael Bishop’s magnum opus, No Enemy But Time (1982)?!?

And James White is always solid…

Thoughts?  Anything particularly worth reading?

1. The Destruction of the Temple, Barry N. Malzberg (1974)

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: Citizen in Space, Robert Sheckley (1955)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1955 edition

4/5 (collated rating: Good)

Robert Sheckley’s easily one of the best SF satirists in the short story form.  The collection Citizen in Space (1955), although not as uniformly brilliant as the collection Store of Infinity (1960), is chock full of gems including “The Luckiest Man in the World” (1955), “Something for Nothing” (1954), “Ask a Foolish Question” (1953), and “Skulking Permit” (1954).  Sheckley exposes in all their glory the vast variety of humankind’s follies and utopic delusions.

Later in the 50s and in the span of 6os his visions would become increasingly searing and metafictional.  This early collection Continue reading

Book Review: Immortality, Inc. (variant title: Time Killer), Robert Sheckley (1958)

(Uncredited cover for the 1959 edition)

3.75/5 (Good)

Nominated for the 1959 Hugo Award for Best Novel

Robert Sheckley’s first novel Immortality, Inc. (variant title: Time Killer) (1958) has a somewhat checkered publication history.  It was originally published by Avalon books under the title Immortality Delivered (1958) where it was abridged against Sheckley’s wishes.  Unless you are a collector of the Avalon publication series I recommend procuring the complete 1959 Bantam Book edition with its gorgeous (and alas, uncredited) cover.  Later editions were decked with rather unfortunate covers linking the book to the atrocious film Freejack (1992) (replete with Mick Jagger) which was supposedly influenced by Sheckley’s novel.

Thematically, Immortality, Inc concerns the societal ramifications of the important discovery that death is not the end of existence and nor does the Christian conception of the afterlife Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Fractured Bodies (unraveling, decaying, [de]constructing)

CRMPTNDVDD1979

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1979 edition of Crompton Divided (variant title: The Alchemical Marriage of Alistair Crompton) (1978), Robert Sheckley)

Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1979 edition of Robert Sheckley’s Crompton Divided (1978) was the inspiration for this post.  I found the cover many years ago while looking through Lehr’s entire (mostly brilliant catalogue) and was intrigued.  The man, comprised of puzzle-like pieces that slowly morph into the swirls of his clothes, stares at us with hybridized eyes — a planet, a pupil — while one missing puzzle piece allows the viewer a glimpse of a barren landscape.  His brain, entirely a puzzle, is complete, but are his senses crumbling?

 Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1971 edition of Larry Niven’s collection All the Myriad Ways (1971) is even more fantastic — the puzzle pieces (bones, faces, limbs) dangle in the air Continue reading

Updates: A New Classic SF Review Blog to add to your list

MPorcius, a frequent and well-read commentator on my site, has started transferring his numerous amazon reviews and writing new reviews of classic SF (a substantial portion is pre-1980s) to his blog.  Please visit him and comment on his posts!

queue rant: I’ve noticed a surprising lack of frequently updated classic SF blogs online.  Yes, many bloggers occasionally dabble in the distant era of SF glory or publish yet another review of the obligatory masterpieces because they appear on a some “best of” list (Dune, The Left Hand of Darkness, etc).  However, few are devoted to the period and make it a point to write reviews of books that very few people will ever actually read due to their obscurity i.e. blogs that don’t sell out by churning out reviews of new Tor releases (I have declined their offer) or endless 4/5 or 5/5 starred let’s pat each other on the back reviews of self-published (and generally awful) ebooks Continue reading