Tag Archives: Short stories

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.

~

1. City Come A-Walking, John Shirley (1980) (MY REVIEW)

(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.

~

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)

Updates: A New Resource on Sports and Games in Science Fiction

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1972 edition of The Space Olympics (1967), A. M. Lightner)

Official Resource Page LINK (this will be updated based on your suggestions).

In the era of Covid-19, sports leagues and events around the world have been cancelled. ESPN runs replays of the glorious past…. partial sports fans like myself miss Major League Soccer and the conclusions to various European football leagues. I thought it would be fun to put together a new resource on Sports and Games in Science Fiction. And, these resources serve as a way to organize my reviews (links provided).

To quote from my review of William Harrison’s “Roller Ball Murder” (1973), “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 last thing before I discuss the list I’ve compiled, let me know your favorites. I am open to tracking a bunch down for my reading pleasure in this sports-deprived Continue reading Updates: A New Resource on Sports and Games in Science Fiction

Book Review: The Bleeding Man and Other Science Fiction Stories, Craig Strete (1977)

(Karl Stuecklen’s cover for the 1st edition)

4/5 (collated rating: Good)

In 2015, I read and reviewed Craig Strete’s collection If All Else Fails…. (1980) and found it to be a spectacular vision “filled with gorgeous lines, evocative images” and palpable “despair at the loss of Native-American culture.” Strete, one of the few Native-American SF authors I know of, picked up three Nebula Award nominations for short SF over the 70s and early 80s (“Time Deer” in 1976, “The Bleeding Man” in 1976, and “A Sunday Visit With Great-Grandfather” in 1981 although it was withdrawn). The latter two are in this collection. The former two can be found in If All Else Fails….

Recommended for fans of experimental 70s Continue reading Book Review: The Bleeding Man and Other Science Fiction Stories, Craig Strete (1977)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVII (Rex Gordon, Craig Strete, Graham Dunstan Martin, and an Anthology of European SF)

Clifford D. Simak, Tanith Lee, and M. A. Foster reviews are incoming. The first few weeks of every semester hit with a vengeance—teaching is an exhausting profession.

In the meantime get inspired to read vintage SF by ogling these gems!

1. In my youth I was obsessed with Victorian/Belle Epoque survivalist novels–Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island (1874), Perseverance Island Or the Robinson Crusoe Of The Nineteenth Century(1885), et al. I judged them on their “realistic” portrayals of how man (and yes, the characters were always men) moved up the technological tree—from fire to steam engines—in a hostile world. Although I’ve utterly disavowed SF that adheres to such  naive technological triumphalism, occasionally nostalgia calls…. Here’s a SF Robinsonade along similar lines.

2. I adore Craig’s Strete unique brand of SF story. I reviewed, in abbreviated form, his spectacular collection If All Else Fails…. (1980). I’ll read this one soon! The Bleeding Man and Other Science Fiction Stories is also a well-designed volume as elements of the cover art are used at the beginning of each short story.

3. Another unknown commodity—seems to combine SF and fantasy tropes.

4. Back in November I acquired the second in the Terra SF series of anthologies edited by Richard D. Nolane of Western European SF in translation. I pointed out that the first volume online was prohibitively expensive. A follower on twitter discovered that a seller on Amazon incorrectly listed the collection under another title—at a radically reduced price. Now it’s a happy member of my collection.

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

~

1. First on Mars (variant title: No Man Friday), Rex Gordon (1956)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVII (Rex Gordon, Craig Strete, Graham Dunstan Martin, and an Anthology of European SF)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIV (Anne McCaffrey, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, and Philip Wylie)

1. In my youth Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels received a privileged place on my shelf. I have yet to explore her other SF in any great detail. The Ship Who Sang (1969) is a fix-up novel of six earlier short fictions from the 60s. I’ve put this one near the top of my to-read list!

2. Another epic series of tales of space exploration from Poul Anderson! I hope it’s better than Tau Zero (1970).

3. A post-apocalyptical novel from Philip Wylie—14 survivors in the bomb shelter of a millionaire. Thoughts on this one?

4. I’ve never cared for Lester del Rey, The only work of his I’ve somewhat enjoyed was The Eleventh Commandment (1962, rev. 1970) as I’m a sucker for overpopulation-themed SF.

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

~

1. The Ship Who Sang, Anne McCaffrey (1969) (MY REVIEW)

(Greg and Tim Hildebrandt’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIV (Anne McCaffrey, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, and Philip Wylie)

Generation Ship Short Story Review: J. G. Ballard’s “Thirteen to Centaurus” (1962)

Preliminary note: This is the fifth post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. All of the stories I’ll review are available online (see links below). You are welcome to read and discuss along with me as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage. And thanks go out to all who have joined already.

Next up: We’re stepping back almost two decades! A. E. van Vogt’s “Centaurus II”in the June 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr. (story link).

Previously: John Brunner’s “Lungfish” (1957) appeared in the December 1957 issue of Science Fantasy, ed. John Cornell.

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Lloyd Birmingham’s cover for the April 1962 issue, ed. Cele Goldsmith)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

J. G. Ballard’s “Thirteen to Centaurus” (1961) first appeared in the April 1962 issue of Amazing Stories, ed. Cele Goldsmith. Due to the twists in Ballard’s short story, I feel the need to indicate spoilers. My reviews are uninterested in avoiding spoilers as I am here to analyze and uncover secrets, and secretive commentaries, and metaphoric layers—and there are a lot of fascinating and unnerving elements in “Thirteen to Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: J. G. Ballard’s “Thirteen to Centaurus” (1962)

Generation Ship Short Story Review: John Brunner’s “Lungfish” (1957)

Preliminary note: This is the fourth post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. All of the stories I’ll review are available online. You are welcome to read and discuss along with me as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage. And thanks go out to all who have joined already!

Next up: J. G. Ballard’s “Thirteen to Centaurus” in the April 1962 issue of Amazing Stories, ed. Cele Goldsmith (link).

Previously: Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon a Star” in the December 1958 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Robert P. Mills

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Brian Lewis’ cover for the December 1957 issue of Science Fantasy, ed. John Cornell)

4.75/5 (Near Masterpiece)

Our generation ship short story series continues with a gem! John Brunner’s “Lungfish” (1957) appeared in the December 1957 issue of Science Fantasy, ed. John Cornell. It also appeared in the 1972 collection Entry to Elsewhen which I reviewed back in 2010. “Lungfish” was the only worthwhile story in the collection and I was eager to give it a reread!

John Brunner wrote thought-provoking Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: John Brunner’s “Lungfish” (1957)

Generation Ship Short Story Review: Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon A Star” (1958)

Preliminary note: This is the third post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. All of the stories I’ll review are available online. You are welcome to read and discuss along with me as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage. And thanks go out to all who have joined already!

Next up: John Brunner’s “Lungfish” in Science-Fantasy, December 1957, ed. John Carnell (PDF link).

Previously: Clifford D. Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” (variant title: “Target Generation” (1953).

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme.

(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the December 1958 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Robert P. Mills)

4.25/5 (Good)

In Judith Merril’s “Daughters of Earth” (1952), she refashions the classic pulp SF tale of male exploration of the galaxy by tracing, in biblical fashion, one family of female explorers. In “Wish Upon A Star” (1958), Merril reworks another trope—the male hero on a generation ship who discovers the true Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: Judith Merril’s “Wish Upon A Star” (1958)