The following review was originally conceived as the fifth post in my series on “SF short stories that are critical in some capacity of space agencies, astronauts, and the culture which produced them.” However, it does not fit. It is a spectacular evocation of memory and triumph and worth the read.
Thank you Mark Pontin, “Friend of the Site,” for bringing it to my attention.
Today: Theodore Sturgeon’s “The Man Who Lost the Sea” (1959), 5/5 (Masterpiece). First appeared in the October 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Robert P. Mills. You can read the story online here.
Previously: Katherine MacLean’s “Echo,” in Infinity One 3.75/5 (Good). Available online here.
Up next: Theodore L. Thomas’ “Broken Tool” (1959) in the July 1959 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr. You can read the story online here.
Uncredited cover for the 1st edition of Alpha 8 (1977)
Theodore Sturgeon’s “The Man Who Lost the Sea” (1959), nominated for the 1960 Hugo Award for Best Short Story, thrusts the reader into a seemingly delusional landscape, generated by extreme trauma, of narrative fragments. One thread follows a child as he presents increasingly complex toy Continue reading
1. One of two SF/F gifts (not specifically for Christmas — but let’s pretend!) I’ve included in this post…. Due to my recent series on Maps and Diagrams in Science Fiction, a reader and fan of the site sent me his extra copy of J.B. Post’s An Atlas of Fantasy (1973)–which includes some SF maps as well. Thank you!
2. The second gift—I’ve been spacing a giant pile of vintage SF I received from a family friend out over many months! Sturgeon sometimes intrigues, and sometimes infuriates—hopefully there will be more of the former in this collection. No stories in the vein of “The Hurkle Is a Happy Beast” (1949) please.
3. Dr. Adder, K. W. Jeter’s infamous “couldn’t be published when it was written” novel that might have defined “cyberpunk” long before Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984). I have the Bluejay Books 1st edition with lots of evocative (and disturbing) interior art.
4. And finally, a completely unknown quantity from an author I’d never heard of–Gina Berriault. Promises to be a Cold War satire of impending nuclear destruction. And it has a History professor as a main character! (i.e. maybe a 1960s version of me? we shall see).
And let me know in the comments if you receive any SF/fantasy Christmas gifts.
1. An Atlas of Fantasy, J. B. Post (1973)
(Uncredited cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading
1. I seldom buy duplicate editions. I originally read Sturgeon’s masterpiece as a teen and I’m unsure where my original 70s edition with a Bob Pepper cover ran off to…. And this perfect condition 1960 edition has glorious Richard Powers art!
2. George Turner—an author I know next to nothing about. I’ve already read 75 pages of his first novel and am absolutely entranced.
3. Hilbert Schenck—another author who is new to me. He published primarily in the early 80s and snagged a few Nebula nominations for his short fiction. His second novel proved to be a dud (I’ll have a review up soon).
4. Why are you buying another Donald A. Wollheim Best Of collection when you’re firmly in the Terry Carr camp of Best Of anthologies? Good question.
That said, I recently reviewed The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF (1972) and it was solid.
Note 1: All images are hi-res scans of my personal copies — click to expand.
Note 2: A diligent Twitter follower indicated that the 1984 edition cover of the Turner novel is Tony Roberts’ work.
Thoughts? Comments? Tangents? All are welcome.
1. More than Human, Theodore Sturgeon (1953)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1960 edition) Continue reading
(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.
“The Fourth Profession” (1971), novelette by Larry Niven, 3/5 (Average): Nominated for the 1972 Continue reading
Little pleases me more than reading the fascinating cross-section of the genre presented by anthologies from my favorite era of SF (1960s/70s). After the success that was World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (variant title: World’s Best Science Fiction: Third Series) (1967), ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr, I decided to browse my “to post” pile of recent acquisitions and share a handful with you all. As is often the case, the collections are peppered with stories I’ve already read—I’ve linked the relevant reviews.
Filled with authors I haven’t read yet—Stephen Tall, Robin Scott, Roderick Thorp, Jean Cox, Christopher Finch, etc.
…and of course, many of my favorites including Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin, Barry N. Malzberg, and Kate Wilhelm (among many many others).
Scans are from my collection.
1. The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972)
(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1972 edition) Continue reading
1) Early Elric stories from Michael Moorcock’s pen. Confession: I bought it in Scotland due to the disquieting cover rather than any love of heroic fantasy—albeit M. John Harrison’s The Pastel City (1971) was pretty darn good.
The fantastic cover is uncredited: thoughts regarding the artist?
2) I adored Dino Buzzati’s magical realist novel The Tartar Steppe (1940). And the movie adaptation The Desert of the Tartars, dir. Valerio Zurlini (1976) inspired by the aesthetics of Giorgio de Chirico —I even wrote a half-baked and cursory review of the movie many years ago. While browsing I discovered that Buzzati wrote what is considered the first serious Italian SF novel—Larger than Life (1960). I can’t wait to read it!
3) More Theodore Sturgeon short stories….
Relevant reviews: A Way Home (1956), The Cosmic Rape (1958) and Venus Plus X (1960).
4) A while back I watched, and struggled to enjoy, the 1975 film adaptation of William Harrison’s short story “Roller Ball Murder” (1973). Time to read the source material. Copy snagged in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts.
1. The Stealer of Souls, Michael Moorcock (1963)
(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition) Continue reading
1) Can’t resist a beautiful Richard Powers cover even on a rather standard 60s anthology of short stories—includes Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Theodore Sturgeon, Wyman Guin, Algis Budrys, etc.
Relevant reviews: Algis Budrys’ collection Budrys’ Inferno (1963) and Wyman Guin’s superb collection Living Way Out (variant title: Beyond Bedlam) (1967).
2) A SF novel by Angela Carter — enough said…
3) One of the great (and lesser read) Soviet dystopias! Can’t wait!
4) Another bargain bin find by John Boyd… with some incredibly hyperbolic cover blurbs on the back about his earlier (and lackluster) novel The Last Starship from Earth (1968).
As always, thoughts/comments are welcome!
1. Beyond, ed. Thomas A. Dardis (1963)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition) Continue reading
(Cover for the 1960 edition of Out of Silent Planet (1938), C. S. Lewis)
Art Sussman produced a remarkable corpus of SF and other pulp covers (mysteries, crime, etc). He could easily shift gears between Richard Powers-esque surrealism—although distinctly his own take—to covers that suited an Agatha Christie mystery (browse the range here). I would be wary comparing him to Powers until you skim through the latter’s late 50s early 60s art (definitely an enjoyable activity!). Although Powers is still far superior, both were part of the SF art movement increasingly experimented with surreal/metaphoric and experimental art (there are still spaceships lurking around the edges, and futuristic cities, and other pulpy moments).
There is a precision of vision with Sussman’s art—his cover for the 1960 edition of Out of Silent Planet (1938), C. S. Lewis places the astronauts in an outline of a vessel with strange hints at alien planets and experiences scattered gem-like in the distance. Sussman’s focus on the human form — often surrounded by surreal forms and humanlike membranes — showcases agony and despair. A great example (and my favorite of the bunch) pairs jagged black fields with a bloodied man, the 1960 Continue reading
I can’t pass up a Sheckley collection!
Nor can I pass up a rather unknown “discovered manuscript” type 1960s feminist dystopia by Marya Mannes. She wrote for Vogue and The New Yorker over her career….
Nor can I pass up a Sturgeon collection (perhaps I will appreciate his more radical SF short stories?)….
And finally, a best of collection by an author who might not be worth exploring, but, sometimes short stories give a better impression of an author’s capabilities than a novel-length work.
As always, thoughts/observations/comments are welcome!
1. They, Marya Mannes (1968)
(Stanley Zuckerberg’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading