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Book Review: The Hospital Ship, Martin Bax (1976)

(Uncredited cover for the 1976 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

The Lure. A nuclear powered hospital ship with a giant morgue. “THEY ARE CRUCIFYING US.” Love therapy. Will you move from your fetal position?

“1. Are you in love? [with Bax’s The Hospital Ship] (a) Yes (b) No.” (170)

Joachim Boaz scrawls…

First, musical equivalencies. Francis Dhomont, a French composer of electroacoustic / acousmatic music, stitched together the compositions of his students and friends to form the Frankenstein Symphony (1997). This act of creative compilation, compiling previously gathered and arranged found sounds, brought forth, in his words, “[a] little acousmatic monster which I hold particularly close to my heart.”

For the composer, each musical fragment indicates a personal connection, the weaving together creates a tapestry of his intellectual Continue reading Book Review: The Hospital Ship, Martin Bax (1976)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Three Tantalizing Australian SF Covers by Michael Payne

(Michael Payne’s cover for the 1978 edition of Envisaged Worlds (1978), ed. Paul Collins)

Michael Payne created a handful of covers for Australian SF presses in the 1970s. They are difficult to track down (especially in high-quality images) so I’ve provided three tantalizing covers that suggest potential if he had continued to produce SF art. They feature careful pencil work and an eye for the slightly surreal–especially the repeated human figures in Envisaged Worlds (1978) (my favorite of the bunch).

This post is also a call for any additional information you might be able to find about his career, non-SF art (if any), or even the Australian presses (Wren and Void Publications). The art for Beyond Tomorrow (1976) also appeared on the 1975 Science Fiction Monthly, July 1975 “AussieCon Special” edition. If someone has that copy of Science Fiction Monthly please let Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Three Tantalizing Australian SF Covers by Michael Payne

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)

Updates: Evan Lampe’s Philip K. Dick Read-Through Podcast (and Cover Gallery)

(Ed Valigursky’s cover for the 1957 edition of Eye in the Sky (1957), Philip K. Dick)

As the mapmaker in Russell Hoban’s The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973) who creates a map that shows the places of inspiration, I too like to guide people towards voices that are worth the listen. I encountered the writings of Evan Lampe (@EvanLampe1) while perusing various SF articles on WordPress—his site gave an encyclopedic look at the stories and thought of Philip K. Dick. And now he’s following up with a podcast read-through (mostly chronological) of PKD’s fiction.

Evan described the podcast to me as follows:

“My main podcast is based on the idea of looking at American writers. I just wanted to podcast. I would have done it on Youtube but I do not really have the video editing skills to pull that off. Mostly, in that series I am driven to make a full-throated defense of America in these bizarre times. Perhaps its therapy. I guess you are more interested in my Philip Dick series. I think I talk about my motivations for that in my episode on “Stability”. It comes down to Dick being more culturally relevant than ever, with new TV series and a new Blade Runner film. I also never stopped believing that his writing is a useful tool in talking about many of our contemporary political and social dilemmas. The systematic approach will ensure that the stories and early novels will get the love that they deserve. There are a handful of aspects of Dick’s writing that need special attention (the frontier, post-scarcity, work, automation). I am trying to keep these most contemporary questions in mind as I re-read these works.”

Continue reading Updates: Evan Lampe’s Philip K. Dick Read-Through Podcast (and Cover Gallery)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Italian Covers for Philip K. Dick’s Novels and Short Story Collections

(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1986 edition of The Divine Invasion (1981), Philip K. Dick)

Following close on the heels of my post on European (Italy, France, and Spain) editions of Robert Silverberg’s SF I present fifteen Italian covers for Philip K. Dick’s novels and short story collections. Karel Thole, as always, puts in the best shift. But there are some other gems—for example Libero Vitali’s cover for the 1974 edition of PKD’s wonderful (and terrifying) novel A Maze of Death (1970).  My favorite Thole cover of the bunch is for Urania #897 (1981), which contains contains various PKD short stories gathered by the Italian editors. Thole’s delightful ability to interject uncanny surrealist elements in his art matches perfectly PKD’s own stylistic tendencies.

Note: There’s a fantastic (but incomplete) resource that gathers thumbnail images of many of the PKD’s foreign editions. I have tried to find higher quality ones that also appealed to me for the sake of this post. But check Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Italian Covers for Philip K. Dick’s Novels and Short Story Collections

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of French, Italian, and Spanish Editions of Robert Silverberg’s Science Fiction

(Uncredited cover for the 1977 French edition of Tower of Glass (1970), Robert Silverberg)

Robert Silverberg (b. 1935) has long been one of my favorite SF authors. Especially between 1967-1975 (i.e. his shift away from pulp and before his momentary retirement), Silverberg produced a prodigious and thought-provoking corpus of writing. The sheer number of brilliant works crammed into those few years is only rivaled by Barry N. Malzberg (1969-1976) and Kate Wilhelm (1967-c. 1976).

As I’ve been exploring other less known authors, I’ve not read a lot of Silverberg’s novel-length works recently. Tower of Glass (1970), Nightwings (1969), A Time of Changes (1971), The Stochastic Man (1975), Son of Man (1971), and Up the Line (1969) among others remain unread on my shelf. Rather, I’ve restricted my focus to a few wonderful short stories in various collections here and there—“Passengers” (1968), a haunting masterpiece story of alien possession; “When We Went to See the End of the World” (1972), suburban banter Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of French, Italian, and Spanish Editions of Robert Silverberg’s Science Fiction

Book Review: Larger Than Life, Dino Buzzati (1960, trans. 1962)

(Lena Fong Lueg’s cover for the 1967 edition)

3.75/5 (Good)

Dino Buzzati (1906-1972), best known for his masterpiece of Italian literature The Tartar Steppe (1940), was a central figure of the Italian avant-garde. He was a journalist, author, unabashed utilizer of genre tropes (graphic novels, SF, children’s fiction), and artist. Buzzati’s Larger Than Life (1960) is considered by some scholars to be the “first serious novel of Italian science fiction” (see 335-336 in the Encyclopedia of Italian Literary Studies).

Translated by the British poet Henry Reed in 1962, Larger Than Life applies Buzzati’s technique of direct, almost journalistic clarity, to a Kafka-esque scenario that is laid out in the first few paragraphs. In the prologue to the collection Restless Nights – Selected Stories of Dino Buzzati (1983) he describes his technique: “It seems to me, fantasy should be as close as possible to Continue reading Book Review: Larger Than Life, Dino Buzzati (1960, trans. 1962)