Tag Archives: spaceships

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)

Book Review: New Writings in S-F 6, ed. John Carnell (1965)

(David McCall Johnston’s art for the 1971 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Good)

New Writings in S-F 6 (1965) is the third I’ve read so far in John Carnell’s anthology series and by far the most satisfying. New Writings in S-F 4 (1965) was worthwhile only for Keith Roberts’ short story “Sub-Lim” (1965). New Writings in S-F 9 (1972) was marginally overall better with solid outings by Michael G. Coney and M. John Harrison.

The sixth in the sequence offers an intriguing Keith Roberts novella–that takes up almost half the volume–and a kaleidoscope of other moody (albeit lesser) visions from William Spencer, John Baxter, and E.C. Tubb.

Brief Analysis/Summary

“The Inner Wheel” (1965), Keith Roberts, 4/5 (Good): A few months ago I procured a copy of Keith Roberts’ linked series of short stories containing the titular “The Inner Wheel” and chose this particular New Writings in SF volume because of the story. I suspect I won’t be returning to the “novel” Continue reading Book Review: New Writings in S-F 6, ed. John Carnell (1965)

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: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIII (Huxley + Vance + Sherred + Merril edited Anthology)

1) What a bonkers cover from Carol Inouye (her only credited piece according to The Internet Speculative Fiction Database)! I do not have high hopes for the novel. T. L. Sherred published little SF in his career–he was a technical writer for the Detroit auto industry. Clute over at SF Encyclopedia describes Alien Island (1970) as “comic but fundamentally melancholy.”

2) Another SF novel from Aldous Huxley. I’ve wanted a copy of Ape and Essence (1948) for a long time. I’ve always preferred Brave New World (1931) to both Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and Yvengy Zamyatin’s We (1921). Excited! Thoughts?

3) A wide-ranging SF anthology from Judith Merril. I am especially interested in reading her intro… and Ward Moore’s “The Fellow Who Married the Maxill Girl” (1960) as Admiral.Ironbombs has been reviewing and enjoying a lot of his work as of late: Bring the Jubilee (1953), “Lot” (1953), and “Lot’s Daughter” (1954).

4) A Jack Vance fix-up novel/short story collection containing seven additional stories in the Dying Earth sequence. Confession time: I read half of the stories in The Dying Earth (1950) recently and could not finish it. There was a certain half-hearted attempt to create a future mythology that slips all too easily into bland fantasy mode. Conflicted.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Note: I’ve finally settled on a new look for my site. There are a few minor issues (not showing comment numbers at the top of the post etc.) but I think the look is more professional and focuses on showcasing content.

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1. Alien Island, T. L. Sherred (1970)

(Carol Inouye’s cover for the 1970 edition of Alien Island (1970), T. L. Sherred) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXIII (Huxley + Vance + Sherred + Merril edited Anthology)