Tag Archives: technology

Book Review: Under a Calculating Star, John Morressy (1975)

(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1978 edition)

3/5 (Average)

After finishing John Morressy’s Frostworld and Dreamfire (1977), I tracked down another volume of his Del Whitby sequence. Although far from as engaging and emotionally affective as the former, Under a Calculating Star (1975) provides the historical background to the Morressy’s weirdly primitive far future world: the origins of the Sternverein (the dominant business polity), the explanation of why swords and knives are the weapons of choice while high-tech spaceships roam the interstellar expanses, and the role of Old Earth in the colonization of the far flung reaches. Historical content aside, Under a Calculating Star‘s plot and characters fail to engage and the worlds and societies are one-dimensional in comparison to Frostworld and Dreamfire‘s metamorphic Onhla and the planet Hraggellon, locked in its unusual orbit. Continue reading Book Review: Under a Calculating Star, John Morressy (1975)

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

Short Story Reviews: Four Stories from New Worlds Science Fiction (April 1964), ed. John Carnell

To mix things up a bit I decided to review four stories in John Carnell’s last issue of New Worlds Science Fiction (April 1964) before he handed over the reins of the dying publication to Michael Moorcock, who would elevate it to New Wave greatness. Other than the James White serial Open Prison, which I plan on reading in book form when I procure a copy, three of the four authors reviewed below owed much of their careers to John Carnell, and would see few stories in print after his departure (see the individual story reviews for details). Only Barrington J. Bayley, writing as P. F. Woods, would see continued publication (and growing popularity) in New Worlds under Moorcock.

Of the stories I recommend reading William Spencer’s rumination on overpopulation and urban life,  “Megapolitan Underground.” The others are worthwhile only for die-hard fans of Carnell’s New Worlds and other editorial projects. Continue reading Short Story Reviews: Four Stories from New Worlds Science Fiction (April 1964), ed. John Carnell

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCV (Farmer + Simak + Effinger + New Dimensions Anthology)

1. I recently read and reviewed enthusiastically New Dimensions 3, ed. Robert Silverberg (1973). Inspired, I procured quite a few more in the series… Here is number 1. Looks like an absolutely spectacular lineup — Le Guin, Ellison, Malzberg, Lafferty, etc.

2. One always needs more Clifford D. Simak, right?

3. Huge fan of George Alec Effinger’s novels and short stories. Here’s what I’ve reviewed so far…. Heroics (1979), Irrational Numbers (1976), and What Entropy Means to Me (1972).

4.  Philip José Farmer, despite multiple masterpieces, churned out a lot of crud… I expect this will fall in that category.

Note: The hi-res scans are of my personal copies — click to enlarge.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Enjoy!

~

1. New Dimensions 1, ed. Robert Silverberg (1971)

(Uncredited cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCV (Farmer + Simak + Effinger + New Dimensions Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCIV (Ely + Abe + Coulson + Malec)

1. Overpopulation + an author I’ve not encountered before? Can there be a better combo? I’ve long been a fan of the subgenre–and I’ve gathered a substantial number of both read and unread overpopulation-themed SF into a list. And yes, I know Laser Books has a reputation for publishing low-quality crud…. I am not expecting a masterpiece!

2. I’ve been on a Kobo Abe kick as of late! Secret Rendezvous (1977, trans. 1979) is, as of now, my favorite read of the year–I hope to have a review up soon. Back cover blurb here.

I went ahead and purchased another “SFish” Abe novel… I’ve seen Abe’s 1966 film adaption of his own work (directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara) and it’s a brilliant cinematic experience. I’m hoping the novel has some of the same magic!

3. Another source material novel for one of my favorite SF films–Frankenheimer’s Seconds (1966)… I’m 50 odd pages through the novel and some of the scenes in the movie are identical. The book and movie diverge as the story unfolds…. I look forward to finishing Ely’s disconcerting SF thriller.

4. And finally, a complete and utter unknown quantity…. Scroll down to find out.

Note: the hi-res scans are of my personal collection. As I am not a “collector,” I tend to go with cheaper copies even if it means they have substantial imperfections.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Enjoy!

~

1. Unto the Last Generation, Juanita Coulson (1975)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCIV (Ely + Abe + Coulson + Malec)

Fragment(s): Monday Maps and Diagrams (Science Fiction) 2/18/19 — David Brin’s Sundiver (1980)

Monday Maps and Diagrams 2/18/19

Today’s diagram comes from David Brin’s first novel in the Uplift sequence, Sundiver (1980). I remember virtually nothing from the novel (I must have been 15 when I read it), although, I was intrigued enough to read ALL the sequels. The years have sequestered them to the “I enjoyed them as a kid but probably wouldn’t enjoy them now” category. This series on maps and diagrams was a nostalgic journey…. leafing through the pages of tomes I had long forgotten.

The diagram in Sundiver is a vehicle to descend below the surface of the sun. As with so many diagrams and maps, I’m unsure if it is needed or adds to the reading experience. But like a gorgeous cover, the image draws you in…. and suggests grand adventures and fascinating worlds.

The artist is David Perry.

The Diagram (click to enlarge)

Citation: Hi-res scan of my personal copy of the diagram from the 1983 Bantam edition of David Brin’s Sundiver (1980) [click for larger image]. Continue reading Fragment(s): Monday Maps and Diagrams (Science Fiction) 2/18/19 — David Brin’s Sundiver (1980)

Book Review: A Man of Double Deed, Leonard Daventry (1965)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1967 edition)

3/5 (Average)

Leonard Daventry’s A Man of Double Deed (1965) is an dark and grungy tale of polyamory, telepathy, and apocalyptical violence. Swinging between philosophical and emotional introspection and awkwardly explained action sequences based on the flimsiest of plots, Daventry’s novel succeeds as a noirish character study but fails as a compelling unity of parts. Continue reading Book Review: A Man of Double Deed, Leonard Daventry (1965)