Sunday, June 28, 2015

No Man on Earth, by Walter Moudy

Yet another vintage SF paperback from our groaning bookshelves. It was published in 1964, though, so I'm OLDER than this book, and I do rather not enjoy the idea of being vintage. Still. It clearly belongs to another era of publishing, of slender action-packed novels with somewhat generic covers that looked a bit slapdash but were certainly colorful.

"A Science Fiction novel of a strange quest in interstellar space."

"Thad Stone was like no other man on Earth. Born with superhuman powers, he knew from his earliest days that he had been sired by no mortal man...In the world of 2081, Thad sets out to find his father -- a search that carries him into the farthest reaches of interstellar space. The search is long and at its end Thad discovers just why he had been given his superhuman powers..."

The back cover copy doesn't quite do it justice. A nifty story, well written. Lots of interesting touches for the space travel and confrontations.

This was Moudy's only novel, he also wrote a few short stories, and passed away in 1973.

In case you're interested, it's in very good condition, shows shelfwear, otherwise clean, binding tight, no loose pages. Berkley Medallion paperback #F987, 50 cents. 176 pages.

Sundog, by B.N. Ball

Been a while since I visited our VAST collection of (mostly) inherited vintage science fiction novels. While I was happy to see many of them find new homes via eBay, the majority still reside with us. Slowly but slowly we're working our way through them, I love the covers, and the breathless cover copy. This guy's head looks all xplody, but maybe in a good way?

This1969 paperback from Avon was 1st American printing, Prev. 1965 British publication.

The front says: "A power from outside our universe had imprisoned mankind in the solar system -- until one man dared to confront the captors."
The back cover says: "An unthinkably vast, invisible, and absolutely impenetrable screen imprisoned man within the solar system. Cut off from the stars, men applied their ingenuity to themselves, setting up a world of total control -- where even dreams were programmed."

Hm, that sounds a lot like a very popular current SF novel that's got a lot of attention!

This was Brian N. Ball's first novel. He's since produced a number of sf series and standalone novels, even including a couple of Space:1999 novels.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Book A Week, 2015 So Far

Last August I decided to Get Serious about the ridiculous To Read pile of books in our house. By reading them. Crazy, I know, but I was determined. And Goodreads made it easy to log all those books and put them in order. But it also made it easy to keep adding new books to the "want to read" list...things from hot-topic Facebook and Twitter posts about the world of authors beyond cis white guys* (of which there are MANY) (many non-cis, non-white, non-guys that is), new books by authors I already love, older books I apparently overlooked. I read mostly science fiction and fantasy right now, with a few scoops of music memoirs, history, and natural history/science. 

August 2014: Since I've got 39 books in my To-Read section on Goodreads, and lots more than that just sitting on the actual shelves of the actual house -- and a few on my Kindle-for-Android app for good measure -- this ought to be easy. Especially since most of them aren't Huge Thick Weighty Tomes, but a bunch of reasonable length novels. (Aside from Vernor Vinge's "Children of the Sky" and the final 6 books of Neal Stephensons "System of the World", that is.)

Those last 22 weeks of 2014, I read 17 new books of varying lengths. A couple were essay format ("The Mammoth Book of Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll") and so made good um, smallest room reading over the course of weeks. I finally discovered the amazing work of Graham Joyce, Max Gladstone and Hannu Rajaniemi; was pleasantly surprised by JK Rowling's "The Casual Vacancy"; was amused by my first Georgette Heyer; and rather disappointed in a few things too. (That will be a future post.)

So here is the midpoint of 2015, and I still haven't tackled "Children of the Sky" but I have finished 18 other books, including both of Ann Leckie's existing Imperial Radch novels, more Graham Joyce, and the curious debut from Ian Tregillis. I really enjoyed Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death? and its unsettling mix of tech and magic. I thought Throne of the Crescent Moon was a good first novel in a grand tradition of fantasy sword-and-sorcery, I quite liked The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson, and its blunt/elegant imagining of the mind of a creature of myth. The Goblin Emperor is on the Hugo ballot, and while it's a lovely story of a young man rising to an occasion and taking the world on his shoulders, the fantasy element just isn't compelling, or really even necessary. 

I'm also keeping up with my non-fiction list, reading The History of Spanish and, when that's done, The HIstory of French. There's also a lot more music books on the shelf. I finally finished Joe Boyd's "White Bicycles" and am ready to move on to a few more stories of 60's art. There's also more Amy Stewart books about bugs and flowers. They're fun and easy to grab onto.

I'm pleased to still be close to the desired pace. Especially since the Goodreads To-Read list is now over 80 books. And those are just the ones I've remembered to list. 

NOTE: In modern America we now live in an age where ALL THE BOOKS can at least be mentioned and seen, even if far too few of the people who still read books of any kind feel the urge to find and read more than a few of them. We are finally seeing more English translations of books from authors writing in languages other than English, and not just Tolstoy and Dumas and Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Umberto Eco. Now we have translated Chinese SF like "The Three-Body Problem" available, and more to come. We have more authors than ever who are writing from alternative or minority points of view, whether of culture, language or gender: Kazuo Ishiguro, Samuel Delany, Geoff Ryman, Ted Chiang, Nalo Hopkinson, Karen Lord, Kij Johnson...all these authors are pretty accessible, and a good place to start.