Tag Archives: space opera

Short Book Reviews: Fredric Brown’s The Lights in the Sky Are Stars (variant title: Project Jupiter) (1953), M. A. Foster’s Waves (1980), Eric Frank Russell’s The Great Explosion (1962)

My “to review” pile is growing and my memory of them is fading… hence short—far less analytical—reviews.

1. The Lights in the Sky Are Stars, Fredric Brown (1953)

(Mitchell Hooks’ cover for the 1955 edition)

3/5 (Average)

Frederic Brown’s The Lights in the Sky are Stars (1953)  is a slick 1950s vision of the fanatical men and women who take America by the scruff of the neck and yank it, without letting the law get in the way, towards space and the deep beyond. As a rumination on radicalism,  The Lights in the Sky are Stars succeeds—I’m not entirely sure if it was entirely intentional as Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Fredric Brown’s The Lights in the Sky Are Stars (variant title: Project Jupiter) (1953), M. A. Foster’s Waves (1980), Eric Frank Russell’s The Great Explosion (1962)

Generation Ship Short Story Review: A. E. van Vogt’s “Centaurus II” (1947)

Preliminary note: This is the sixth 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: A far lesser known author and story! David Rome’s “Bliss” (1962) in Science Fiction Adventures, No. 24, ed. John Carnell (story link)

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

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme with links to all my reviews.

(Charles Schneeman’s cover for the June 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr.)

4/5 (Good)

A. E. van Vogt’s “Centaurus II” (1947)* (story link) first appeared in the June 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. Together with two later stories—“Rogue Ship” Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: A. E. van Vogt’s “Centaurus II” (1947)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXI (Sheri S. Tepper + Paul H. Cook + Robert Merle + Anthology)

1. I bought this themeless hodgepodge anthology for two reasons–the UK 1980 edition has a cool spaceship! And second, it contains Chad Oliver’s generation ship short story “The Wind Blows Free” (1957). MPorcius calls it one of Oliver’s best. As I’ve not been enamored with his brand of SF, I’m eager to try a short story on a favorite theme far outside of his normal anthropological-focused oeuvre.

I’ve previously reviewed Oliver’s The Shores of Another Sea (1971).

2. Sheri S. Tepper is a glaring hole in my SF knowledge. I often explore the back catalog before plunging into the best known novels of an author—The Revenants, her first published novel, is “a long, complex work of SF” according to SF Encyclopedia. I wish it would be a tad more descriptive…. the novel has a fun map which I’ll feature in a Monday Maps and Diagrams post.

3. French post-apocalyptic SF in translation! With an awful cover…

4. Paul Cook is another unknown author to me. His first novel, Tintangel (1981) has a bizarre premise (see blurb below). This might be my next SF read.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

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1. A Sea of Space, ed. William F. Nolan (1970)

(Bob Layzell’s cover for the 1980 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXI (Sheri S. Tepper + Paul H. Cook + Robert Merle + Anthology)

Book Review: Port Eternity, C. J. Cherryh (1982)

(Gary LaSasso’s cover for the 1983 edition)

4/5 (Good)

In my late teens I encountered the space opera of C. J. Cherryh  through the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Downbelow Station (1981).* I was hooked. Her paranoia-drenched spacescapes, interstellar freighters, the awe-inspiring cumulative world-building effect of innumerable novel sequences from distinct perspectives, and narration that dwells on psychological impact of events were my bread and butter. See below for the list of the ten (I think?) novels I’ve previously read (although many details blend together). For whatever reason I hadn’t returned to her SF in more than a decade. I am glad I did!

C. J. Cherryh’s Port Eternity (1982), part of the Age of Exploration sequence within the larger Alliance-Union world, can be read alone.  It is a claustrophobic rumination on identity Continue reading Book Review: Port Eternity, C. J. Cherryh (1982)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXI (Nancy Kress + Norman Spinrad + Charles Sheffield + Graham Dunstan Martin)

1. A lesser-known novel by Nancy Kress… She remains a complete unknown author to me. I’ve heard high praise for her best-known novel–the Hugo and Nebula-nominated Beggars in Space (1990).

2. In the mid-80s Bluejay Books released a series of illustrated editions of previously published novels and novellas from the likes of Vernor Vinge, Rosel George Brown, and Theodore Sturgeon. As I’ve long respected the work of Norman Spinrad, I tracked down a Bluejay Books edition of his Hugo-nominated novella “Riding the Torch” (1974) with illustrations by Tom Kidd. At first glance the illustrations are not my cup of tea…. but the Spinrad novella has a wonderful premise.

I’ve previously reviewed Spinrad’s meta-fictional masterpiece The Iron Dream (1972) and his worthwhile short story collection The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde (1970).

3. I recent reviewed Charles Sheffield’s novel Sight of Proteus (1978) and was impressed enough to track down a short story collection. Unfortunately my copy is rather battered, obfuscating my absolute favorite Attila Hejja SPACE SCENE cover!

4. Post-apocalyptic nightmares where survivors are forced to live inside radiation suits? Yes! Raving preacher promising deliverance if survivors leave their radiation suits? Yes! Probability of novel being a “lost” masterpiece? Close to zero.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Enjoyed? Hated?

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1. An Alien Light, Nancy Kress (1988)

(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXI (Nancy Kress + Norman Spinrad + Charles Sheffield + Graham Dunstan Martin)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXX (M. John Harrison + John Christopher + Ian Watson)

1 and 2. As a kid, I read and adored John Christopher’s Tripod Trilogy (1967-1968). Little did I know at the time the quantity of other SF novels—mostly of the post-apocalyptical sort—published over his long career. In 2012 I read,  reviewed, and enjoyed his post-apocalyptical satire The Long Winter (1962). And now, I have both his single most famous “cozy catastrophe” and a lesser known one… with a fantastic cover by Steve Crisp.

3. I now own three of the four volumes in M. John Harrison’s Viriconium sequence (1971-1984)! Here’s volume two. I reviewed and adored The Pastel City (1971).

My other M. John Harrison reviews (he’s a Joachim Boaz favorite):

The Committed Men (1971)

The Centauri Device (1974)

The Machine in Shaft Ten (1975)

4. Ian Watson is a fascinating author. The stories in The Very Slow Time Machine (1979) should be tracked down. I also recommend The Jonah Kit (1975), which I never got around to reviewing…. this acquisition is a lesser known novel in his extensive oeuvre.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Enjoyed? Hated?

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1. A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge), John Christopher (1965)

(Steve Crisp’s cover for the 1985 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXX (M. John Harrison + John Christopher + Ian Watson)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXVII (Bear + Elgin + Lee + Clingerman)

1. Years ago I read and reviewed Suzette Haden Elgin’s provocative At the Seventh Level (1972)–I praised the use of linguistics, the formulation of societal ideologies, and critiqued the ramshackle plot and Orientalism. Native Tongue (1984) is supposedly her strongest work. I look forward to reading it.

2. I have yet to ready any of Greg Bear’s work. This late 70s novel was signed so I snatched it up. I don’t track down signed copies–all the ones I owned were accidentally mislabeled or inexpensive volumes I wanted anyway. Bear’s signature joins the ranks of Christopher Priest, D. G. Compton, Karen Joy Fowler, and Norman Spinrad.

Hegira itself draws inspiration from the Ringworld and Riverworld-style SF novel.

3. My Tanith Lee collection grows and grows. This one more fantasy than SF (although SF elements crop up at the end). In case you missed it, I reviewed Don’t Bite the Sun (1976) recently and procured a copy of Electric Forest (1979).

4. Mildred Clingerman was regularly featured in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the 50s and early 60s. I have finally found an inexpensive copy of her only collection published during her life (an omnibus edition with never before seen stories was recently self-published by her descendants). As it’s a Ballantine Books volume, it has a wonderful Powers cover.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Enjoyed? Hated?

1. Native Tongue, Suzette Haden Elgin (1984)

(Jill Bauman’s cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXVII (Bear + Elgin + Lee + Clingerman)