What pre-1985 science fiction are you reading? + Update No. X

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What pre-1985 science fiction are you reading? + Update No. X


What pre-1985 science fiction are you reading or planning to read this month? Here’s February’s installment of this column.

Before we get to books and birthdays and writing plans…

Do you have the inner strength to survive the panic of a nuclear attack? Take a test in the August 21st 1953 issue of Collier’s and find out! Sample question: “HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN: […] You are alone in an automatic elevator when it stalls between floors?” Possible answers: “I’m not bothered,” “I become tense,” “It jars me badly,” and “I blow up.”

In my last column, I mentioned my voracious consumption of monographs on Cold War culture and relayed a bizarre moment of science fictional thought amongst the planners and advisors of containment from the pamphlet “Civil Defense Implications of the Psychological Impact and Morale Effect of Attacks on the People of the United States” (April 1953). This and other moments from Guy Oakes’ transfixing The Imaginary War: Civil Defense and American Cold War Culture (1994) convinced me to purchase a few of the popular magazines that form the evidence for his analysis.

And the 1953 “Test Yourself: How Panic-Proof Are You” quiz did not disappoint… Below are only a few of the questions you can answer to to figure out if you have the emotional strength to survive the panic of a nuclear attack:

Let me know if this Collier’s article is some thing you want me to feature in my Exploration Log series.

Anxiety inducing quizzes aside, let’s turn to the books in the photo and what I’ve been reading and writing.

The Photograph (with links to reviews and brief thoughts)

  1. Ever read a novel that completely put you off tracking down longform works by an author? Busby’s Cage the Man (1973) is that novel for me. I’ve had better luck with his short fiction: “If This is Winnetka, You Must Be Judy” (1974) reminded me of Robert Silverberg’s Dying Inside (1972).
  2. Everything by James White is underrated — especially The Dream Millennium (1974).
  3. I’ll let my review speak for itself: Damnation Alley (1969).
  4. I imagine most of the political discussion of Le Guin’s The Dispossessed went over my head when I read it in my late teens. I often wonder if it’s worth coming back to a few of those classics that I gravitated towards at that age. Le Guin, of course, remains a favorite of mine whose work I devoured before my site. I’ve reviewed two of her novels and four short stories since I started posting my reviews in 2010.

What am I writing about?

My most recent review is an installment in my series to read the first three short stories by female SF authors I should know more about: Alice Eleanor Jones’ “Life, Incorporated” (1955), “Miss Quatro” (1955), and “Recruiting Officer” (1955). While Jones only published five science fiction short stories (all in 1955), two of the five–“Created He Them” (1955) and “Recruiting Officer” (1955)–are really really good!

I also posted a review of John Brunner’s structurally inventive and architecturally fascinating near-future thriller The Squares of the City (1965).

What am I reading?

I’m currently struggling through a collection of 40s and 50s short stories by an author I’ve been promising to tackle in a more serious manner for years. Stay tuned for more information. They can’t all be winners.

As for history, I finished Guy Oakes’ wonderful The Imaginary War: Civil Defense and American Cold War Culture (1994) and a book on the Ancient Greek oracles and moved on to Isiah Lavender III’s Race in American Science Fiction (2011).

A Curated List of SF Birthdays from the Last Two Weeks

March 2nd: Author Louis Trimble (1917-1988). I reviewed The City Machine (1972) in the first few years of the site. Freas’ cover is far more memorable than the book!

March 2nd: Artist Leo Dillon (1933-2012). One half of the illustrious art partnership of the 60s/70s/80s! Leo created fantastic cover art with his wife Diane.

March 3rd: Artist Ric Binkley (1921-1968)

March 5th: Author Mike Resnick (1942-2020).

March 5th: Author Robin Hobb (1952). I might have read some of her fantasy as a younger teen.

March 5th: Artist Attila Hejja (1955-2007). If there’s a SF artist who loves one color palette more than another, it’s Heijja… his endless array of blues….

March 6th: Author William F. Nolan (1928-2021). Best known for Logan’s Run (1967). He also wrote quite a few short stories. Any favorite short works that I should keep my eyes out for?

March 7th: Author Leonard Daventry (1915-1987). Wrote A Man of Double Deed (1965)–which I described as a “dark and grungy tale of polyamory, telepathy, and apocalyptical violence.”

March 7th: Kobo Abe (1924-1993). I’m a huge fan of his work, from The Woman in the Dunes (1962, trans. 1964) to Secret Rendezvous (1977, trans. 1979).

March 7th: Author Elizabeth Moon (1945-).

March 7th: Author and editor Stanley Schmidt (1944-).

March 9th: Author William F. Temple (1914-1989). Another prolific magazine author whom I’ve not read…

March 9th: Author Manly Banister (1914-1986).

March 9th: Author Pat Murphy (1955-). While outside of my timeframe, I’ll confess that I’ve been eying Murphy’s The City, Not Long After (1989).

March 10th: Artist Carlos Ochagavia (1913-2006). I’ve featured his work here.

March 11th: Author F. M. Busby (1921-2005).

March 11th: Author Douglas Adams (1952-2001).

March 12th: Author Harry Harrison (1925-2012).

March 13th: Artist Diane Dillon (1933-). One half of the illustrious art partnership of the 60s/70s/80s! Diane created fantastic cover art with her husband Leo.

March 13th: Author William F. Wu (1951-). With his short stories of the late 70s, Wu is one of the earlier Asian-American SF authors. I need to read his work.

March 14th: Author Mildred Clingerman (1918-1997). Another hole in my SF knowledge… I own her collection A Cupful of Space (1961).

March 16th: Artist Chris Foss (1946-). He’s iconic. He spawned a lot of clones. People love him. He’s not for me.

March 16th: Author P. C. Hodgell (1951-). God Stalk (1982) is supposed to be bizarre.

March 16th: Artist James Warhola (1955-).


For book reviews consult the INDEX

For cover art posts consult the INDEX

For TV and film reviews consult the INDEX

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