Roger Zelazny described To Die in Italbar (1973) as the one novel he would “kill off” if he could! Here’s a bit of context for his condemnatory statement. In early 1969, Zelazny quit his U.S. Social Security Administration job to become a full-time writer. Yes, he wrote Lord of Light (1967) and This Immortal (1966) among many others after work! He quickly wrote To Die in Italbar in May 1969 to complete a contract but the novel was rejected by the press. Years later Zelazny added new material and finally published the novel in 1973 (citation). Haste and filler characterize the final product. That said, if action-packed SF adventure with bizarre ideas is something you are looking for and you already enjoy Zelazny, pick this one up.
Soldiers in mech armor plagued by existential crisis. Asexual insectoid aliens pretending to be human. Children wielding pet apes as weapons. This Side of Infinity, ed. Terry Carr (1972) gathers eight kaleidoscopic visions from stalwarts (Roger Zelazny and Robert Silverberg) to lesser known authors (David Redd and George H. Smith). As a collated whole, this is a solid collection without a defining standout masterpiece but worth acquiring for the sheer variety and hallucinatory power of it all.
The following review is the 10th post in my series searching for “SF short stories that are critical in some capacity of space agencies, astronauts, and the culture which produced them.” Some stories I’ll review in this series might not fit. And that is okay. I relish the act of literary archaeology.
As always, feel free to join the conversation!
Today: Roger Zelazny’s “Halfjack” in the June 1979 issue of Omni, ed. Don Dixon. You can read it online here.
Previously: Frederik Pohl’s (as Paul Flehr) “The Hated” (1958) in the January 1958 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, ed. H. L. Gold. You can read it online here.
Up Next : Charles Runyon’s “First Man in a Satellite” first appeared in Super-Science Fiction (December 1958), ed. W. W. Scott. You can read it online here.
Roger Zelazny’s “Halfjack” first appeared in the June 1979 issue of Omni, ed. Don Dixon. You can read it online here. I read the story in the The Last Defender of Camelot (1980).
1. James Tiptree, Jr.’s first novel is not considered one of her better works. But, as my appreciation of her fiction grows, it was hard to pass up (especially at $1). Have you read it?
2. I recently read and reviewed World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (1967),ed. Terry Carr and Donald A. Wollheim and was thoroughly impressed. Enough to track down the following year’s anthology…. And, as an avowed D. G. Compton fan (for example, his underrated/underread 1966 novel Farewell, Earth’s Bliss), I was thrilled to see this volume contains one of his few short stories. It also contains the original novella version of one of my favorite SF novels–Robert Silverberg’s Hawksbill Station (1968).
Love the Jack Gaughan cover!
3. A novel by Elizabeth A. Lynn, an author I’ve never read — I approach it with trepidation… But, as I always say, I love exploring lesser known works.
4. Peter Carey, another author I’ve never read. His stories (the publisher attempts to distance them from SF) seem my cup of tea.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.
1. Up the Walls of the World, James Tiptree, Jr. (1978)
As I read Roger Zelazny’s post-apocalyptical adventure Damnation Alley (1969), the relentless throbbing of Hawkwind’s 1977 song inspired by the novel along with cringeworthy lines of dialogue from the 1977 film version kept interjecting themselves into my reading experience.
First, a snippet from the song….
I’ve got the serum and I’m going to take it
All the way to Boston, oh I’ve got to get through
The going won’t be easy, but I’m going to make it
It’s the only thing that I’m cut out to do
Ride the post-atomic radioactive trash
The sky’s on fire from the nuclear flash
Driving through the burning hoop of doom,
In an eight wheeled anti-radiation tomb
Thank you Dr. Strangelove for going doolally,
and leaving me the heritage of Damnation Alley […].
Little pleases me more than reading the fascinating cross-section of the genre presented by anthologies from my favorite era of SF (1960s/70s). After the success that was World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (variant title: World’s Best Science Fiction: Third Series) (1967), ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr, I decided to browse my “to post” pile of recent acquisitions and share a handful with you all. As is often the case, the collections are peppered with stories I’ve already read—I’ve linked the relevant reviews.
Filled with authors I haven’t read yet—Stephen Tall, Robin Scott, Roderick Thorp, Jean Cox, Christopher Finch, etc.
…and of course, many of my favorites including Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin, Barry N. Malzberg, and Kate Wilhelm (among many many others).
Scans are from my collection.
1. The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972)
Philip K. Dick. Roger Zelazny. Bob Shaw. Michael Moorcock. R. A. Lafferty. Seldom do I say that a “best of” anthology includes a large number of the best stories of the year. From PKD’s artificial memories to Bob Shaw’s slow glass, World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (1967) contains both fascinating technological marvels and serious character-centered storytelling. While not all the stories are successful, I highly recommend this collection for fans of 60s SF.
Note: I reviewed both Roger Zelazny stories elsewhere—I have linked and quoted my original reviews.
Below are a group of uncredited covers whose artists I have not been able to firmly identify. Some were brought to my attention by Adam who runs a collectible SF store (link). I’d love to hear your input — make sure to read the guidelines.
Guidelines: If you think a cover is the work of a particular artist, please please please provide some evidence for your claim: for example, a comparison cover, a citation from a book/resource, or, perhaps a link to a canvas or artist webpage. This makes identifying the artist more authoritative than a vague claim and readers can follow along more easily. If you think you’ve identified the author, I recommend peeking at their other credited covers at The Internet Speculative Fiction Database.
Pocket Books was notoriously bad at citing their artists. If we are able to identify a few of those below (Margaret and I and Journey), we might be able to nail down tens more covers missing citations in their catalogue.
The three covers below for Fred Saberhagen’s Empire in the East sequence are clearly by the same artist—the style seems so familiar! And, the 1974 Signet edition of Cage a Man (1973), F. M. Busby is credited as FMA only. I wonder if it’s possible to identify who FMA was.
In some cases, I have a pretty good idea who the artist might be but don’t have enough evidence…. I am convinced that Stanislaw Fernandes created the 1974 Signet edition of New Dimensions IV (1974) , ed. Robert Silverberg. Although, it would be very early in his career and love to have some firm evidence.
I look forward to your ideas!
EDIT: I’ve gone ahead and indicated which ones have been solved by inserting the artist into the citation.
For more Adventures in SF Cover Art consult the INDEX
(Bob Haberfield’s cover for the 1971 Tandem edition of The Man in the Maze (1968), Robert Silverberg) Continue reading →
It’s been too long since I’ve read anything by Delany. I polished off Triton (1976), Nova (1968), The Einstein Intersection (1967), and Babel-17 (1966) long before I started my site. For a SF reading group I reread Nova a few years back but never wrote a review. One of the few SF novels I’ve reread. And yes, I do not own a copy nor have I tackled the behemoth that is Dhalgren (1975).
As a teen I was obsessed with Delany’s first collection Driftglass (1971), although I probably did not understand the important of the stories. It is hard to forget the images in “Aye, and Gomorrah…” (1967) or “We, in Some Strange Power’s Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line” (1968) even if the message was lost on my younger self. Now I have an excuse to reread one of Delany’s best known stories, originally collected in Driftglass (1971) — “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” (1968) — in a fascinating anthology with other luminaries of the field, Disch, Sladek, and Zelazny.
I confess, I was seduced by Powers’ gorgeous cover for G. C. Edmondson’s novel despite the terrifying back cover blurb: “Good, Old-fashioned Science Fiction Adventure at its best!”
A few months ago I read and reviewed Somtow Sucharitkul’s Starship and Haiku(1981). Although I did not care for the novel, I need more strikes against before I give up on an author completely. And, why not a fix-up comprised of his best known stories?
Same thing with Edward Bryant… His attempts at channeling extreme decadence, fascinating cityscapes, and odd hybrids come off as inarticulate and forced. Albeit I have only read “Jade Blue” (1971) and “The Human Side of the Village Monster” (1971). As with Somtow Sucharitkul, I need to read more of his stories to come to a firm stance on his abilities.