Tag Archives: space opera

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. CLXXXVIII (Heinlein + Tenn + Wyndham + Bell)

1. My friend Mike sent this to me…. of dubious quality to say the least. But, O my, the cover!

2. Tell me again why I continue to buy Robert Heinlein paperbacks? Why in the world did I read SO MANY OF HIS BOOKS as a kid? Some of life’s persistent questions….

3. John Wyndham short fiction—or rather, a fix-up novel of sorts–with a co-writer. Did not realize any of his work was co-written…. Has anyone read it?

4. William Tenn’s short fiction collection is by far the most appealing of the bunch—his stories always have me chortling with laughter.  For example, The Human Angle (1956) and Of Men and Monsters (1968)

1. Gone To Be Snakes Now, Neal Bell (1974)

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVIII (Heinlein + Tenn + Wyndham + Bell)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVI (Wyndham + Conway + Brown + Wright)

Post-PhD job takes over… and books are not reviewed. But reading and buying still happens!

1. A supposed cult classic republished by Picador Press….. Has anyone read Smallcreep’s Day (1965)? Near the top of my “to read” pile. And I love Barbara Costall’s cover.

2. Early in the year I reviewed Conway’s short story “Mindship” (1971) in Universe 1 (1971), ed. Terry Carr. It was pretty solid. I tracked down the novel version which included the short as the prologue.

3. I was obsessed with Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia (1942) as a kid. Not with the novel per se, which I never owned, but the lengthy and descriptive entry in Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi’s spectacular (and wonder inducing) The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (1987). And of course, the idea of  Wright slowly creating an imaginary world that could exist within our own and only “discovered” after his death resonated with a young me…

I’ve included the map from the entry in The Dictionary of Imaginary Places.

4. And finally, another John Wyndham novel… although the premise sounds downright bland and trite. But then again, I still have not read a lot of his work and I know he was a formative voice in SF.

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1. Smallcreep’s Day, Peter Currell Brown (1965)

(Barbara Costall’s cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVI (Wyndham + Conway + Brown + Wright)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXV (Tiptree, Jr. + Lynn + Carey + Best of SF 1968 Anthology)

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.

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1. Up the Walls of the World, James Tiptree, Jr. (1978)

(Uncredited cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXV (Tiptree, Jr. + Lynn + Carey + Best of SF 1968 Anthology)

Updates: Links from the Vintage SF Blogsphere No. 1 (Philip K. Dick + Ward Moore + Michael Moorcock + and others)

For my readers who do not have twitter I’ve decided to post every few weeks links to articles/reviews/and other resources that particularly interested me. Predominately vintage SF/F related, a few might dally in more diverse directions—German avant-garde art for example.

It’s always worth supporting fellow bloggers!

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the books/articles.

(New Worlds, #197 January 1970, ed. Charles Platt)

1) A fascinating article: SF New Worlds and Savoy Books: Michael Butterworth via Andrew Darlington on his indispensable site Eight Miles Higher.

“Michael Butterworth was an integral part of the ‘New Worlds’  SF New Wave, just as he was perpetrator of the sensationally iconoclastic ‘Savoy Books’ revolution in Manchester, and his fiction is never less than challenging. Andrew Darlington charts his evolution as a literary activist…”
2) Andrew Darlington reviews The Twilight Man, Michael Moorcock (1966).

Continue reading Updates: Links from the Vintage SF Blogsphere No. 1 (Philip K. Dick + Ward Moore + Michael Moorcock + and others)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIV (Kornbluth + Goldin + Charnock + Harrison edited Anthology)

1) A 1970s SF short story anthology. How could I resist? Could you? As with Judith Merril’s anthology I posted recently, Harry Harrison applies a very wide-ranging lens (publication venue, non-English language authors, etc) to the notion of “SF.”

2) Occasionally I procure (but more often than not, fail to review) a handful of newer SF novels by authors who haven’t yet received the spotlight they deserve. I listened to Anne Charnock’s A Calculated Life (2013) as an audible audiobook and found it rather brilliant. In a recent trip to Edinburgh, Scotland I went out for beers with Mike at Transreal Fiction and snagged a copy of Charnock’s newest novel from his store. I apologize in advance if no review appears—I must have a mental block when comes to reviewing books published in the last three decades. hah.

3) Today (July 23rd) is C.M. Kornbluth’s birthday! He’s long been one of my favorite 50s short fiction authors—I’ve reviewed The Marching Morons and Other Famous Short Stories (1959)The Explorers (1954), and Gladiator-At-Law (magazine publication 1954) with Frederik Pohl.

Another one of his short fiction collections — edited after his death by James Blish.

4) I’ve never read anything by Stephen Goldin. MPorcius over at MPorcius’ Fiction Log spoke highly of Goldin’s Assault on the Gods (1977). I don’t know what to expect.

As on any and all posts, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. Best SF: 1970 (variant title: The Year’s Best Science Fiction No. 4), ed. Harry Harrison (1971)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIV (Kornbluth + Goldin + Charnock + Harrison edited Anthology)