Post-academia depression hits hard…. While completing my PhD (defended in the summer of 2017), reading SF and writing about SF was the way I kept sane. After multiple mostly unsuccessful years on the academic market, I have changed gears career-wise (although I’m still affiliated with a university and teaching college-level history courses but without the research component) and it has been a liberating experience. My history obsessions remain, even stronger in many ways, and academic monographs on all the topics that I wanted to read about but never could—Hellenistic successor states to Alexander, Early Islam, Late Antique and Medieval Persia, etc.–have dominated my time and pocketbook 2018 (don’t ask how much I’ve spent). I have included a “Best Academic History Reads of 2018” section for the curious.
At the beginning of November, I was moments from announcing that I was on hiatus for the foreseeable future. However, I have fallen back in love with SF and writing about SF and the new year beckons!
All of this is to say, I read little SF this year–until last month. However, there were a handful of stand-out SF novels and short stories that I managed to squeeze in.
And please list your favorite vintage (or non-vintage) SF reads of the year. I look forward to reading your comments.
…and read lots of good books in 2019. I will.
Best SF Novels Continue reading
(Uncredited cover for the 1975 edition of The Year’s Best Science Fiction No. 7 (variant title: Best SF: 1973) (1974), ed. Harry Harrison and Brian Aldiss)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
I am (generally) not a fan of sports. I am a fan of science fiction about sports. More specifically, I’m a proponent of sports as a SF vehicle for social commentary on commercialism, trauma, alienation, and violence. One of the more successful I’ve encountered so far might be William Harrison’s “Roller Ball Murder” (1973) — it easily joins the sports SF hall of fame along with George Alec Effinger’s “25 Crunch Split Right on Two” (1975), a harrowing account of an NFL player seeking hard (and damaging) hits to trigger lucid memories of his wife, and Robert Sheckley’s violent “The Prize of Peril” (1958), a reality TV show with human 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