The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Forry Award: C. L. Moore

Saturday, December 7th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

Astounding Science Fiction Judgment Night August 1943-small

Astounding Science Fiction August 1943,
containing “Judgment Night” by C.L. Moore

The Los Angeles Science Fiction Society (LASFS) began presenting the Forry Award in 1966 for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction. The first award went to Ray Bradbury, who, besides his towering achievements in SF, was a prominent member of LASFS. Over the years, the list of Forry Award winners is a curious mix of the obvious (Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Fritz Leiber, Larry Niven, Arthur C. Clarke, A. E. Van Vogt, Ursula K. Le Guin, Lois McMaster Bujold, etc.), with those whose accomplishments are not as writers but still seem significant (Mike Glyer, Chuck Jones, Fred Patten, Ray Harryhausen), and with those whose importance I have probably unforgivably missed (Charles Lee Jackson II, Len Moffat, John de Chancie.)

The 2002 award went to the award’s namesake, Forrest J. Ackerman. Here I will confess a personal bias… If awards like the Campbell and the Tiptree are going to have their names changed, can the Forry Award retain its name for long? Some of my bias is undoubtedly unfair: I think Ackerman’s taste in science fiction was appalling. But that’s just “taste”, and surely he can be forgiven that, and his enthusiasm for the type of SF he loved was no doubt real. But his ethics as an agent, for one, were distressing. But much more seriously, there are credible accusations of sexual harassment and abuse of women fans, and indeed very young women, at least as young as 13. I can’t but feel icky about the worship some express towards him, and while I’m opposed to changing the name of the Tiptree Award, and ambivalent about changing the names of the Campbell Awards, it seems to me that the Forry Award (justified as it may be by Ackerman’s strong association with LASFS) is right out.

But that doesn’t mean the Forry Award winners (Ackerman himself excepted) should be thrown out with the bathwater. And the 1973 winner, C. L. Moore, qualifies as one of the “obviously worthy” winners.

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New Treasures: Starship Alchemon by Christopher Hinz

Thursday, November 28th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Anachronisms Christopher Hinz-small Starship Alchemon-small

Covers: unknown (left) , and Francesca Corsini

Christopher Hinz’s 1987 SF classic Liege-Killer won the Compton Crook Award, and came in fourth for the Locus Award for Best First Novel. It’s part of the Paratwa Saga, which also includes Ash Ock (1989), The Paratwa (1991), and Binary Storm (2016). I picked up his latest novel Starship Alchemon on Saturday, only to discover it’s a rewrite of his second novel, Anachronisms, from 1988. Here’s an excerpt from the Strange Alliances review by Elaine Aldred, who is clearly better informed than I am.

The nine members of the crew of the Starship Alchemon are sent to investigate a mysterious anomaly on a distant planet. But the mission is far from straightforward and the crew are soon battling for their lives.

Starship Alchemon started life as Christopher Hinz’s 1980’s novel Anachronisms, but this version is not a simple rehash. It has an up-to-date feel and explores the characters in more depth, as well as tightening the whole worldbuilding experience. Each of the crew has their own particular skill set, with some possessing extraordinary abilities, like the character LeaMarsa de Host’s powerful psionic qualities. But there is careful attention paid to giving each of the characters a significant role in the story. The first half of the novel is slow, but the moment strange and ominous events begin to kick off, there is an Alien narrative in the sense of the crew just fighting to survive the escalating events.

Anachronisms could probably be thought of as being “of its time” however, put in the context of 1980’s science fiction, it still makes for an interesting read. Despite having been exposed to the novel in its first incarnation, I enjoyed this second outing, which can be thought of as having its own personality…

Despite being a rewrite of an older book, there’s a lot that appeals to me about Starship Alchemon — not the least of which is Aldred’s comparison to Alien. She’s not the only one to make that connection; keikii Eats Books on Reddit has the same idea.

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Rich Horton on Poul Anderson, Frederik Pohl, and L. Sprague de Camp

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Worlds of If May 1963-small Turn Left at Thursday-small The Continent Makers-small

Cover art by John Pederson, Jr., Richard Powers, and Bob Pepper

I know a lot of writers, and one of the reasons I hang out on Facebook is to find out what the heck they’re all up to. For example, this morning Rich Horton left this brief but intriguing update:

For the third day in a row, I have posted a Birthday Review compendium of reviews of older short fiction from an SFWA Grand Master. In this case, it’s for L. Sprague de Camp.

I checked out his blog Strange at Ecbatan, and sure enough, Rich has had a busy week. It started Monday:

Here’s my first Birthday Review is a while. (I’ve used up most of the birthdays!) This is a pretty significant one — Poul Anderson. He’d have been 96 today. This is a collection of reviews of magazine fiction (with one very late anthology story), including two serializations of a couple of his lesser known novels. And most of the stories here are not that well known either.

In a lengthy post, Rich reviewed 16 Anderson pieces from Super Science Stories, Worlds Beyond, Planet Stories, Space Science Fiction, Science Fiction Adventures, Cosmos, Galaxy, and many more. Here’s his thoughts on Anderson’s cover story for the May 1963 issue of Worlds of If (above left).

“Turning Point” is a neat little story. Kind of Cargo Cult in reverse. Humans come to an isolated alien planet, where the people apparently live primitive lives. But it turns out they are incredible geniuses, who simply never had the spur to develop technology. Once they see human tech, all bets are off.

Read Rich’s complete tribute to Poul Anderson here. Next up was the centenary of Frederik Pohl’s birth, which Rich celebrated with another lengthy review survey yesterday.

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Judith Tarr on The Golden Age of Andre Norton

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Andre Norton Android At Arms-small Andre Norton-Star Born-small Ice Crown-Andre Norton-small

Covers by unknown, Gino D’Achille, and Paul Alexander

I’ve been enjoying Judith Tarr’s detailed and enthusiastic Andre Norton reread over at Tor.com. So far she’s covered…. whew, so many novels I’ve lost count. 70? 75? Seriously, it’s a lot.

The fact that there’s a science fiction writer with 70+ novels worth talking about is astonishing in itself. Andre Norton was a genre onto herself in her heyday, roughly 1952-1998, but very little of her work remains in print. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeking out for modern readers. In last week’s post, “Agency and Mind Control in Andre Norton’s Ice Crown,” Judith makes a case that the Golden Age of Andre Norton was 1962-76, and she may have a point. Anyway, who’s going to argue with someone who’s read 72 Andre Norton novels in a row?

Now that I’ve read and reread a wide range of Norton novels from the Fifties to the early years of the new millennium, I’ve concluded that, for me, her “golden age” ran from the early Sixties through the mid-Seventies. Her official “Golden Age of SF” books of the Fifties have a distinct retro charm, and her later works kept on trucking for decades, delivering the patented Norton themes and settings and the occasional new one — and then there are her many collaborations with younger writers, some of them truly fine. But from about 1962 until about 1976, she wrote the novels that spoke to me most clearly and influenced my own writing the most.

I managed to miss Ice Crown at the time (1970). It hasn’t displaced any of my favorites from the period. But it’s classic Sixties/Seventies Norton.

The strong female protagonist, the overt feminism (so different from her all-male Fifties universes), the attempts at deeper characterization — it’s all there. Along with some of her patented themes and settings: alienation, psychic powers and mind control, political intrigue, and the just about inevitable subterranean adventures. Norton did love her caves.

Read the complete article here, and check out all 72 installments (so far) in the Andre Norton Reread at Tor.com. Here’s the back covers for the novels above: Android at Arms (Ace Books, 1973), Star Born (Ace, 1978), and Ice Crown (Ace, 1981).

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Vintage Treasures: The Tomorrow’s Warfare Anthologies, edited by Joe Haldeman, Charles G. Waugh, and Martin Harry Greenberg

Sunday, November 24th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Body Armor 2000-small Supertanks-small Space-Fighters-small

Covers by Walter Velez

One of the things I miss about modern publishing is mass market anthologies. There’s still loads of anthologies being published, of course — we’ve covered dozens in just the last few months — but most come from small presses, and all of them are in hardcover or trade paperback. Casual buyers just don’t buy short fiction these days. Certainly not in enough volume to make inexpensive paperback anthologies viable, anyway. Which is a shame, since there were a ton of ’em in the 70s and 80s, and it was pretty much the way you discovered new authors back then. This fact was not lost on publishers, and the savvy ones — like Ace and DAW — promoted their stable of authors pretty regularly in themed anthologies.

Take the Tomorrow’s Warfare trilogy of anthologies, for example. Edited by the powerhouse trio of Joe Haldeman, Charles G. Waugh, and Martin Harry Greenberg, they appeared between 1986-88 from Ace Books. Each followed a loose future-war theme, and each was packed with stories from the top writers in the industry.

And such stories! A Hugo-nominated Alliance-Union novella by C. J. Cherryh, a Hammer’s Slammers novella by David Drake, the complete short novel Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny (a 1968 Hugo nominee), a Bolo story by Keith Laumer, a Berserker novelette by Fred Saberhagen, the original short story “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card, an Instrumentality of Mankind tale by Cordwainer Smith, plus stories by Gene Wolfe, Harry Harrison, George R. R. Martin, Robert Sheckley, Gordon R. Dickson, Terry Carr, Christopher Anvil, Joe Haldeman, Edward Bryant, Ben Bova, Walter M. Miller, Jr., Keith Laumer, Ian McDonald, and many, many more.

Anthologies like this don’t exist in paperback anymore. But that’s okay, because I’m still discovering  the old ones — and they’re are still widely available, and they’re still cheap. I wasn’t even aware of this series until I stumbled on two of the three anthologies above in that gargantuan haul of $1 paperbacks I brought home from Windy City Pulp and Paper in April. And I just ordered the third one (Supertanks) on eBay for $1.94.

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Howard Andrew Jones and Todd McAulty on Five Authors Who Taught Me How to Write Fantasy

Sunday, November 24th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Five Authors at Tor

Howard Andrew Jones’ new novel Upon the Flight of the Queen arrived in hardcover on Tuesday, and the day before Howard and I (under my Todd McAulty pseudonym, the name I use to write and promote fiction) appeared at Tor.com to talk about authors who teach you how to write fantasy. Here’s a snippet.

Todd: How have you followed Zelazny’s dictum on keeping the readers in the dark in the second book?

Howard: Throughout [The Chronicles of] Amber, Zelazny had masterful twists and surprises, although none can really compare with the end of book 4, The Hand of Oberon, which literally made me dive across the bed, where I was reading, to grab the final book to find out what happened next. No book conclusion, ever, in all my years of reading, has worked so well, and it’s a high water mark I’ve yet to hit myself.

But it’s something I certainly keep in mind as I build a story. Keep your readers interested and wanting more. With Upon the Flight of the Queen I worked hard to implement the lessons we’ve discussed. Zelazny continues to surprise as Amber rolls along because there were always a few more secrets to be learned, both about character motivation and about how the world actually worked. Information you thought was accurate proves either to be more complicated, or to have been completely wrong. In my own books, there are definitely more secrets to learn, and as some mysteries are solved, other related mysteries are introduced.

This is our third article for Tor.com. The first two, Five Forgotten Swordsmen and Swordswomen of Fantasy and Five Classic Sword-and-Planet Sagas, were surprisingly popular, with nearly 250 comments between them, and that’s been hugely gratifying. We’re having a lot of fun with this series; our next one will likely be about Traveller and classic science fiction gaming.

Howard’s had a good week at Tor.com; on Wednesday reviewer Paul Weimer called Upon the Flight of the Queen “entertaining fun. Sieges, infiltrations, dragon riding, high magic, duels, and larger than life characters trying… to be big damn heroes of their own story. Jones does an excellent job.” Check out his feature review here.


The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 First Fandom Award: Clifford D. Simak

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

Simak city permabooks-small Simak Way Station-small Cemetery World Simak-small

First Fandom was organized in 1959 to celebrate those who had been active science fiction fans since 1938, that is, “before the Golden Age.” (Some define true “first fandom” as dating to 1936 and before.) One of the founders, and first president, was Robert Madle, who is still alive, approaching his 100th birthday.

Beginning in 1963, a First Fandom Hall of Fame Award was instituted, given to a fan active prior to 1938 who was deemed to have given great service to fandom. Over time, as fans of that vintage became rarer, two categories were established: Dinosaurs, who had to have been active prior to the first Worldcon, in 1939; and Associate Members, who have to have been active for at least 30 years. The Hall of Fame Award can be given to anyone active in fandom for at least 30 years.

At the 1973 Worldcon, the First Fandom Hall of Fame winner was Clifford D. Simak. Simak (1904-1988) was born in rural Millville, WI, and much of his fiction reflected that “pastoral” background. His primary career was as a journalist, and he worked for the Minneapolis Star beginning in 1929, retiring only in 1976. He began publishing SF in 1931 with “The World of the Red Sun” in the December Wonder Stories. Simak’s early pulp fiction (which included some Westerns as well as SF) was fairly minor, but he started to make a mark writing for John W. Campbell’s Astounding beginning in 1938. His novel City (1952), a fixup of a number of 1940s stories, won the International Fantasy Award. He won three Hugos, most notably for the 1963 novel Way Station, but also for “Grotto of the Dancing Deer” as late as 1981. He also won a Nebula, and his story “The Big Front Yard,” another Hugo winner, appears in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume IIB. His last novel, Highway of Eternity, was published when he was 82.

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Lost Classics of the Pulps: Guy Boothby’s The Curse of the Snake

Friday, November 22nd, 2019 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Curse of the SnakeThe Curse of the Snake is the Guy Boothby title I have been waiting years to read. I previously covered the five books in his Dr. Nikola series as well as his 1899 novel, Pharos the Egyptian for Black Gate. Boothby is an author whose works have fallen into relative obscurity, but his influence was quite pervasive. A contemporary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, he turned out works that stand up well against their more celebrated efforts. Most importantly, the influence of Dr. Nikola is felt heavily upon Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu series and the character of Ernst Stavro Blofeld from Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. Boothby’s great flaw was that he was a prolific author of serialized novels who made no effort to correct inconsistencies when his works were published in book form. This hurt his reputation and, along with the speed with which he produced new works, unfairly suggested he was little more than a hack.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Make Room! Make Room!, by Harry Harrison

Monday, November 18th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Keith Roberts

Cover by Keith Roberts

Cover by Richard Powers

Cover by Richard Powers

Cover by Alan Aldridge

Cover by Alan Aldridge

An award called The Prix Jules Verne would seem to be presented in France, and, in fact, such a literary prize was given out in France from 1927 to 1933 and 1958 to 1963 for fantasy and science fiction by French authors.  However, the Prix Jules Verne that was presented from 1975 to 1980 was a Swedish award about which little is known. The first one was given to Roland Adlerberth. Rolf Ahlgren, Eugen Semitjov, and Lars-Olov Strandberg for their service to Swedish science fiction.  Subsequent awards were presented to individual authors for specific novels. The first novel to win the award was Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.  The last award before it was discontinued was presented to Harry Harrison for Make Room! Make Room!.

Make Room! Make Room! is best known for being the inspiration for the 1973 Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson film Soylent Green, although there are significant differences between the film and the novel. The novel is an interesting and atypical work.  While the protagonist, Andy Rusch, is a police detective tasked with tracking down the murderer of Big Mike O’Brien and discovering if there are political implications in Big Mike’s death, it is not a police procedural and the crime and investigation often take a back seat. Harrison also provides the identity of the killer, as well as telling parts of the story from his point of view, throughout the book.

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Vintage Treasures: Re-Birth (The Chrysalids) by John Wyndham

Sunday, November 17th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Re-Birth John Wyndham-small Re-Birth John Wyndham-back-small

Cover by Michael Herring

In the 1950s, Ballantine Books reprinted much of John Wyndham’s science fiction in the US with memorable covers by Richard Powers, including The Kraken Wakes (1953), The Chrysalids (1955), Tales of Gooseflesh and Laughter (1956), Trouble with Lichen (1960), and The Infinite Moment (1961). In the process they also made up new names for it, because, you know, America. So The Kraken Wakes became Out of the Deeps, and The Chrysalids became Re-Birth.

In the mid-70s, which was when I was discovering John Wyndham, Del Rey repackaged four of Wyndham’s most popular novels with brand new modern covers. They were:

The Midwich Cuckoos (June 1976)
Trouble with Lichen (August 1977)
Out of the Deeps (December 1977)
Re-Birth (April 1978)

Wikipedia calls The Chrysalids “the least typical of Wyndham’s major novels, but regarded by some as his best.” In a ridiculously short 3-sentence review Kirkus said it was “SF on the fantasy side.” A far more reliable reviewer, Jo Walton at Tor.com, called it, “My favourite of his books… [it] set the pattern for the post-apocalyptic novel.” It’s is my favorite as well…. but mostly because it’s the only one set in Canada (Labrador, that strange slip of Quebec that belongs to Newfoundland). Here’s a snippet from Jo comments.

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