Updates: Year in Review (Top Ten SF Novels + Top Ten Short Stories/Novelettes/Novellas + other categories)

Everyone likes lists!  And I do too….  This is an opportunity to collate some of my favorite (and least favorite) novels and shorter SF works I read this year.  Last year I discovered Barry N. Malzberg and this year I was seduced by…. Well, read and find out.


Top Ten Novels

1. We Who Are About To…, Joanna Russ (1976): A scathing, and underread, literary SF novel by one of the more important feminist SF writers of the 70s (of The Female Man fame).

2. A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire, Michael Bishop (1975): A well-written anthropological clash of cultures novel.  Slow, gorgeous, emotionally engaging….

3. Level 7, Mordecai Roshwald (1959): A strange satire of the bomb shelter…  Everyday surrealism. Continue reading

Book Review: The Human Angle, William Tenn (1956)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1964 edition)

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

I’ve been in a 50s SF short story craze of late, devouring collections by Robert Silverberg (Godling, Go Home!), Walter M. Miller, Jr. (The View From the Stars), Fritz Leiber (A Pail of Air), Lester Del Rey (Mortals and Monsters), and a few Robert Sheckley volumes a few months before. Fresh off of William Tenn’s solid novel Of Men and Monsters (1968) I went into The Human Angle (1956) (containing three novelettes and five short stories predominately from the 50s) with high expectations.  Despite the handful of duds — “The Human Angle” (1948), “Project Hush” (1954) and “The Discovery of Morniel Mathaway” (1955) —  that tend to creep into most collections of shorts, the majority were characterized by sardonic brilliance.

Although not as biting as his august contemporaries Robert Sheckley and C. M. Kornbluth, Tenn’s visions are delightfully humorous and ironic.  It’s worth getting your Continue reading

Book Review: Of Men and Monsters, William Tenn (1968)


(Stephen Miller’s cover for the 1968 edition)

4/5 (Good)

There’s a small pile of novels on my shelf that wait ever so patiently to be reviewed months and months after I’ve read them — J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World (1962), Robert Silverberg’s The Masks of Time (1968) and Dying Inside (1972), David R. Bunch’s Moderan (1972) (among others), and, until now, William Tenn’s Of Men and Monsters (1968).  Perhaps I was put off by the three mysterious pages filled with small chicken scratch composed by some earlier reader– “224 PKNY, 248 MINCED, 219 M in OKST” — that hinted at some arcane undercurrents or masonic messages that had alluded me.  Perhaps it was my confusion over Tenn’s Heinlein-esque female character, who, in a work of satire, could indicate something so much more progressive than Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXIV (Herbert + Tenn + Geston + Cummings)

More from my local dirt cheap book store…

By far most interested in William Tenn’s lone novel (he was predominately a short story writer) Of Men and Monsters (1968) — humans living in the walls, like mice, in the homes of the alien invaders of Earth.  Geston’s novelette The Day Star (1972) should be a fast and fun read — hopefully despite the comment by previous owner of the book who inscribed “TEDIOUS” on the back cover with a ballpoint pen…

Some fun covers.

1. Hellstrom’s Hive, Frank Herbert (1972)


(R. Shore’s cover for the 1975 edition)

Excerpt from the inside flap of the first edition hardback: “In the summer of 1971, Doctor Nils Hellstrom appeared in his own film production, The Hellstrom Chronicle.  The motion picture Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXIII (Simak + Tenn + Clement + Frayn)

A new bookstore in my hometown!  Great results! Dirt cheap (between 1-2 $ a book)!  Happy me!

I finally have a copy of Hal Clement’s hard science fiction masterpiece, Mission of Gravity (1953)…  And a collection of William Tenn’s short stories with a downright gorgeous Powers cover — Tenn is supposedly up there with Sheckley in the satirical pantheon of the 50s… Among others…

Has anyone read Michael Frayn’s A Very Private Live (1968)?  I’ve never heard of it before but the Lehr cover was too amazing to pass up…

1. The Human Angle, William Tenn (1956) (MY REVIEW)


(Robert Powers’ cover for the 1956 edition)

From the inside flap: “WIT: an extra-terrestrial sells pornographic literature Continue reading