Tag Archives: sci-fi

Book Review: The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972)

(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1972 edition)

3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)

The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972) doesn’t feel like a “best of” collection. The majority of the contents are unspectacular space operas and hard SF in the Analog vein. Amongst the chaff, a few more inventive visions shined through—in particular, Joanna Russ’ mysteriously gauzy and stylized experiment replete with twins and dream machines; Michael G. Coney’s evocative overpopulation story about tourist robots; Christopher Priest’s “factual” recounting of human experimental subjects that isn’t factual at all; and Barry Malzberg’s brief almost flash piece about differing perspectives all tied together by the New York metro.

On the whole, I give it a solid recommendation although the best can be found in single-author collections.

Brief Analysis/Summary

“The Fourth Profession” (1971), novelette by Larry Niven, 3/5 (Average): Nominated for the 1972 Continue reading Book Review: The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972)

Book Review: The Halcyon Drift, Brian Stableford (1972)

(Angus McKie’s cover for the 1976 edition)

2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)

I have not had the best luck with Brian Stableford’s science fiction (albeit, I’m not sure I’ve read a single short story of his). Jesse over at Speculiction… swears (and I believe him!) that Stableford is occasionally capable of intelligent and sustained SF — consult his wonderful review of Man in a Cage (1975). Jesse barely dignifies The Halcyon Drift (1972) with a review. I’m in the same boat (or spaceship?). It took weeks of staring at my battered copy in a pile of other superior “to review” novels to convince myself to put finger to keyboard. How does one approach a bare by the numbers outline of a space opera?

By starting with the plot?

The Prologue forms the most evocative and moody Continue reading Book Review: The Halcyon Drift, Brian Stableford (1972)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXC (Ellison + Burroughs + Walker + Gladman)

1. Harlan Ellison does mystery and horror…. might not get around to this one for a while. What I’ve read of Ellison suggests he might be very good at it!

For example, see my review of his collection Approaching Oblivion (1974) (Ellison also came by an wrote a comment).

2. There is plenty of fascinating contemporary SF/fantasy out there… for anyone who adheres to some narrative of the degradation of genre, you just need to look! Gladman’s novella is case in point. I’m a sucker for any Invisible Cities-esque experiment.

3. The PorPor Books blog mostly enjoyed this environmental SF disaster novel. As it cost less than a dollar, I snatched up a copy.

4. I’ve not read any of William Burroughs’ fiction. Seems like a good place to start. I’m in love with the cover.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~

1. No Doors, No Windows, Harlan Ellison (1975)

(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXC (Ellison + Burroughs + Walker + Gladman)

Short Story Review: Marcel Schwob’s “The Death of Odjigh” (1892)

(John Yang’s cover for the 2017 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

Marcel Schwob’s short stories (and invented biographies) inspired the likes of Jorge Luis Borges, Roberto Bolaño, and other proponents of “intertextual” and “encyclopedic” literature. Due to this intellectual genealogy which speaks to my very fiber, I purchased a copy of Wakefield Press’ gorgeous 2017 edition of The King in the Golden Mask (1892), which contains a kaleidoscope of fascinating fictions  filled with evocative imagery and metafictional delights. I eagerly await a new edition of Schwob’s pseudo-historical biographies Imaginary Lives Continue reading Short Story Review: Marcel Schwob’s “The Death of Odjigh” (1892)

Book Review: The Two-Timers, Bob Shaw (1968)

(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1968 1st edition)

2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)

Various Bob Shaw fans told me to read Nightwalk (1967) or find a copy of Other Days, Other Eyes (1972)—especially as I adored one of the short stories that appeared in the later fix-up novel —“Light of Other Days” (1966). Instead, I cast wary eyes toward my shelves and read The Two-Timers. I wish I read Nightwalk. I tried, I must confess, but wasn’t in the mood and then something about The Two-Timers’ Diane and Leo Dillon cover—the doubling visages, contorted, anguished, and angular—pulled me in. For the full glory of the image, I’ve included a his-res scan below.

The Plot

John Breton’s relationship with his wife, Kate, is Continue reading Book Review: The Two-Timers, Bob Shaw (1968)

Updates: Kate Wilhelm (June 8, 1928-March 8, 2018)

(My Kate Wilhelm collection)

Today I learned on twitter that Kate Wilhelm passed away on March 8th. A sadness has descended far more than I thought it would for someone I’ve never met…. But the intimate activity of reading always casts an entrancing net of familiarity with the creation and creator. If she’s new to you, I recommend her most famous Hugo- and Nebula-winning fix-up novel Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976)–I’ve linked ta review from my friend Admiral Ironbombs. I’d returned to the novel myself over the last week in audiobook form on my drive to work. It’s as powerful and unsettling as I remember it from my first read-through as a teen somewhere between 2006 and 2008.

As frequent readers of my site might know, she is one of my favorite authors—especially in short story (novella) form–her short story collection The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction (1968) is required SF reading. My favorite short fiction includes the Nebula-nominated “Baby, You Were Great!” (1967) and the Nebula-Award winning “The Planners” (1968). They are entrancing, Continue reading Updates: Kate Wilhelm (June 8, 1928-March 8, 2018)

Short Story Review: William Harrison’s “Roller Ball Murder” (1973)

(Uncredited cover for the 1975 edition of The Year’s Best Science Fiction No. 7 (variant title: Best SF: 1973) (1974), ed. Harry Harrison and Brian Aldiss)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

I am (generally) not a fan of sports. I am a fan of science fiction about sports. More specifically, I’m a proponent of sports as a SF vehicle for social commentary on commercialism, trauma, alienation, and violence. One of the more successful I’ve encountered so far might be William Harrison’s “Roller Ball Murder” (1973) — it easily joins the sports SF hall of fame along with George Alec Effinger’s “25 Crunch Split Right on Two” (1975), a harrowing account of an NFL player seeking hard (and damaging) hits to trigger lucid memories of his wife, and Robert Sheckley’s violent “The Prize of Peril” (1958), a reality TV show with human Continue reading Short Story Review: William Harrison’s “Roller Ball Murder” (1973)