I had never heard of H. Beam Piper when I spotted the Michael Whelan cover on the 1976 reprint of Little Fuzzy. Of all Piper’s novels, this is probably the one that readers remember most fondly; it was certainly good enough to get me hooked on his fiction.
2012’s The Ruined City is the middle volume of Paula Volsky’s (or as the cover would have it, Paula Brandon’s) Veiled Isles trilogy. It begins on a somewhat hopeful note: not only has Jianna escaped from Ironheart, but the adepts of the Isles finally seem to be doing something about an existential threat that makes all lesser conflicts, political, military or domestic, entirely beside the point.
This is the middle volume of the trilogy, so it’s not going to be that simple.
1962’s Lord of Thunder is a sequel to The Beast Master, picking up pretty much where The Beast Master left off. Hosteen Storm has lost his birth planet and his people , but Arzor has given him a new home, a new family, and a new life.
1949’s Sea-Kings of Mars (also published under the title Sword of Rhiannon) takes us the world most frequently featured in Brackett’s Solar System: the red planet of Mars. In this novel, Mars is an ancient, worn-out world, its peoples and cultures much reduced from their heyday a million years ago. The novel’s protagonist, Matthew Carse, is also much reduced, having fallen from the lofty status of archaeologist to that of criminal. As the book opens, he is merely one of the many disreputable characters lurking in the streets of the Martian city of Jekkara.
My terrible confession: until now, despite buying Jo Clayton’s novels with the intention of reading them at some point, despite being aware enough of her work to have picked up significant details of the Diadem series through cultural osmosis, I have a horrible feeling that this is the first Clayton I have actually read.
Jo Clayton (1939 – 1998) was, I believe, another one of Donald Wollheim’s discoveries. Her debut novel, 1977’s Diadem from the Stars, was the 235th book DAW published . The Diadem universe books made up a large fraction of her output and are probably her best known works. That said, the Diadem books were not the whole of her thirty-five book bibliography. The book I have in hand, 1982’s Moongather, first in the Duel of Sorcery trilogy, is completely unrelated to the Diadem series. It is a fantasy rather than science fiction.
It begins with a shocking betrayal
One of my minor hobbies is keeping an eye out for new examples of unabashedly SFnal entry-level SF, the stuff that draws new readers in and guarantees that there will be an SF of a particular sort decades down the road. While it’s true the young adult genre is filled with clearly SFnal novels, it seems to me that many publishers market Young Adult fiction as its own category, not as science fiction, while bookstores are careful to shelve YA well away from SF. I don’t think it is because they are afraid SF will catch YA cooties. I think the truth is much less complementary to SF: YA is too successful right now to risk it being associated with SF, which only accounts for some 2% of fiction sales.
IMHO, 2014’s Tin Star is in many ways the sort of book SF needs. Think of it as the juvenile SF novel an inexperienced C. J. Cherryh might have written if she’d decided to go full-bore Heinlein juvenile. It’s not a perfect book by any means, but the problems that bugged me could be easily corrected if the author could be convinced that correcting them would be worth her time. As it is, this is still worth consideration as a gift for young proto-SF readers.
I’ve missed a couple of weeks worth of translated works; I need to catch up. On the other hand, people seem to enjoy my Tears reviews. Here is one intersection of the two types of review.
Perry Rhodan: Peacelord of All the Planets! Unifier of Earth! Guardian of the Galaxy Milky Way! A character who makes me wonder if the German language lacks a word for the concept of subtext!
The first weekly Perry Rhodan novella appeared in 1961; the ongoing series passed the 2700-episode mark in 2013. Obviously, Perry Rhodan is the Coronation Street of large-scale space opera.
What it isn’t is … much good,
C. J. Cherryh was one of Donald Wollheim’s discoveries; DAW published Cherryh’s debut novel Gate of Ivrel in 1976. Wollheim being Wollheim, he not only insisted she be C. J. (and not Carolyn Janice), he added an H to her surname, Cherry, so it would not seem too girly.
Works like Gate of Ivrel and Brothers of Earth won her the Campbell in 1976 and her short story “Cassandra” won her first — but not last! — Hugo Award in 1979. She is still a prolific and popular author. If SFWA were in the habit of giving the Grandmaster award to women, I would say Cherryh had an inside chance of winning it at some point.
1982’s Merchanter’s Luck is a sequel to her 1981 Hugo winner, Downbelow Station. Downbelow Station introduced readers to the Company War, a long, bitter war of independence pitting an avaricious Earth Company against a malevolent Union; hapless smaller merchants were caught in the middle. As this book begins, the war has concluded and most of the survivors are ready to set old grudges aside to begin rebuilding the interstellar economy.
For Sandor Kreje of Le Cygne, that’s an impossible task.
1961’s Catseye takes us to the Dipple on Korwar, a slum filled with refugees and their children, despised reminders of the pointless but vastly destructive War of Two Sectors. There are very few ways out of the Dipple and someone trapped there, someone like Troy Horan, might go to any extreme to escape.
They might even agree to work at a pet store.
In Brackett’s version of the Solar System, Venus, the second world out from the Sun, is not the hellworld scientists now know it to be. Brackett’s Venus, while hostile to human life, is home to a wildly diverse assortment of life forms. Maybe too diverse from the point of view of desperate Terrans and Martians hoping to find new homes on an eternally shrouded, fervid swamp world. As a general rule, if something isn’t trying to eat you on Venus, it’s trying to run you through with a spear.