Tag Archives: space opera

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)

[Short] Book Reviews: Samuel R. Delany and Howard V. Chaykin’s Empire (1978), Kate Wilhelm’s City of Cain(1974), Charles Sheffield’s Sight of Proteus(1978)

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

1. City of Cain, Kate Wilhelm (1974)

(Uncredited cover for the 1978 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

Kate Wilhelm’s City of Cain (1974) is a moody, streamlined, and psychologically heavy near-future SF thriller. Peter Roos returns from the Vietnam War a scarred man both mentally and physically. After a technical error on a helicopter, a missile it was carrying explodes killing half the crew and sending shrapnel into Roos’ body. Back in the US, Roos engages Continue reading [Short] Book Reviews: Samuel R. Delany and Howard V. Chaykin’s Empire (1978), Kate Wilhelm’s City of Cain(1974), Charles Sheffield’s Sight of Proteus(1978)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIII (Sheffield + Lessing + Callenbach + Ford)

1. Body modification + new definitions of humanity + a mystery! What is there not to like? I’ve not read any of Charles Sheffield’s SF. I look forward to exploring his oeuvre.

2. A proto-cyberpunk novel? I wonder if Ford’s novel, Web of Angels (1980), doesn’t receive the readership it should due to the lack of noir imagery and Asian culture that forms the “cyberpunk” archetype…. thoughts?

3. I need to complete Doris Lessing’s sequence! When I might get around to reading it is another matter…

4. I always see Ernest Callenbach’s environmental utopia novel on the shelves of my local Half Price Books. While wandering around Mexico City I saw this one for a few pesos… and grabbed it.

Note: I am currently in Mexico City, far away from my scanner, and will be for almost another week. In two instances I own different editions of the books than the cover might indicate. I have noted in the back cover blurb which I own.

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

~

1. Sight of Proteus, Charles Sheffield (1978)

(Clyde Caldwell’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIII (Sheffield + Lessing + Callenbach + Ford)

Updates: Vonda N. McIntyre (August 28, 1948 – April 1, 2019)

Vonda N. McIntyre (August 28, 1948 – April 1, 2019) passed away yesterday from pancreatic cancer. McIntyre, best known for her Hugo and Nebula-winning SF novel Dreamsnake (1978) and her Star Trek Novels and film adaptations (1981-2004) (bibliography), published her first SF story “Breaking Point” in in the February 1970 issue of Venture Science Fiction Magazine. John Clute in SF Encyclopedia describes her two best-known SF novels: Continue reading Updates: Vonda N. McIntyre (August 28, 1948 – April 1, 2019)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Crashed Spaceships, Part III

(Detail from Alan Daniels’ cover for the 1980 German edition of Open Prison (1964), James White)

The crashed spaceship — a wrecked hulk spinning in the emptiness of space, shattered metal struts strewn across an alien landscape…. I find few SF scenarios more nostalgic than this one as a younger me was obsessed with books about the societies formed from the survivors of such cataclysms (Anne McCaffrey’s Acorna Universe sequence, of dubious quality now, was a cornerstone of my youth).

I have selected a range of fascinating covers which add to a series I made in 2012 (Part I) and 2013 (Part II). My favorite of the bunch is Tibor Csernus’ cover for the 1973 French edition of Clifford D. Simak’s Time and Again (1951) due to the verdant and wet landscape the spaceship finds itself in. My second favorite is Dean Ellis’ “descriptive” cover for the 1974 edition of Alan Dean Foster Icerigger (1974). It doesn’t try to be surreal but rather depicts a scene straight from novel. I usually prefer when the artist takes a more unusual approach but in this case Ellis narrows in on the wonder of the premise. Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Crashed Spaceships, Part III