Just a quick post before we sneak off for a few days. I am alive, well and still reading science fiction. We all agreed it was hot and dry at the cabin this summer as this photo taken from the porch demonstrates. One take away from the reading I did this summer is how much I still enjoy the genre and how much it has to offer. It also indicted that thematically and chronologically I am all over the place. I thought I would just mention some of the most memorable works or authors I encountered. I do hope to revisit them in more detail in future posts but for now a quick overview.
The Battle of Dorking by George Chesney, (1871).
Probably the most important and influential of early Future War stories, George T Chesney's anonymously published novella The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer (May 1871 Blackwood's Magazine; 1871 chap)
I have been meaning to read this for years and when I did it was not quite what I expected. But I am very happy I read it and I now have a greater feel for it’s place in the genre.
The Misfortunes of John Bull by Camille Debang (1884) adapted by Brian Stableford. (French Science Fiction Series Book 149).
Brian Stableford has released translations or adaptions of a large number of French works, He has also produced the monumental The Plurality of Imaginary Worlds, The Evolution of French Roman Scientifique. Stableford seems to offer a fictional autobiography of his career including his translations in Sprits of the Vasty Deep the first book of the Morgan's Fork trilogy. I loved The Misfortunes of John Bull.
Joachim Boaz mentioned this interview over on his site when discussing Stableford in the comments section.
"I respect his editorial work greatly. I know the wonderful Rachel at SF in Translation interviewed him about his French SF project: Check the interview out if you haven’t already! https://www.sfintranslation.com/?p=4408"
The full post is here.
I had a read “An Appearance of Life” by Brian Aldiss before we went to the cabin and I followed that up with “Full Sun” and “Old Hundredth” boy I will have to read more of his short stories and novels. This stretching of science fiction tropes into fantastic, over the top, almost fantasy far futures, is right up my alley.
Ian R. MacLeod
I cannot remember what possessed me to add Everywhere (The Colllected Short Stories and Novella of Ian R. Macleod Book 1) and Nowhere (The Colllected Short Stories and Novella of Ian R. Macleod Book 2) to my kindle. I knew I had one of his collections at home and I thought I had read his award winning “The Summer Isles”. I proceeded to read “New Light on the Drake Equation” and “The Visitor from Taured” and when I got home a couple of weeks ago I read or reread “The Summer Isles” If you had described the plots of any of these works to me I would have told you I would not like them. No aliens, no space ships, near future rather than far future and “The Summer Isles” won the 1998 Sidewise Award for Best Short Form Alternate History. All were quite good and the resolution of “The Summer Isles” blew me away, if I finished it before I must have…, well I cannot even speculate, it was simply one of the best things I have read in quite some time.
Elizabeth Bear is a writer I really like and so when I noticed she had a couple of new novels out I read Machine A White Space Novel (2020). This is actually the second white space novel and in the notes Bear admits it is a tribute to the Sector General novels of James White as well as some of the other writers she loved. I followed this up with the first white space novel Ancestral Night (2019). I hope to discuss them in more details later but I did like them. I had some quibbles but they were enjoyable reads overall.
I also bought a few books. Peter Crowther is downsizing and PS Publishing is selling some of his books, records etc. I picked up a number of books including this anthology edited by August Derleth. Another thing that was reaffirmed for me this summer is that I still retain many of the interests I had as a child. This includes my interest in archaeology, anthology, paleontology, and ancient history so this book by Mike Resnick (cover by George Barr) from a favourite bookseller on ABE was an obvious choice, as were a few other paperbacks he had. I remain a sucker for cool cover art.
Speaking of cool covers your can also check out my mythos blog and the Arkham House covers by Richard Taylor a Canadian artist who did cartoons for the New Yorker.
And my post on his covers is here.
The Plurality of Imaginary Worlds: cover by Timothee Rouxel
Breathmoss: jacket painting by Bob Eggleton, design by Lynne Condellone
The Outer Reaches; unattributed
Pan paperbacks: unattributed