Lee Killough may be comparatively obscure now but in the 1970s she was one of a cohort of hard SF writers discovered by Del Rey. Later on she turned to horror and what would have been called urban fantasy if she had written it 20 years later but it was her SF that I loved.
In the olden times of the long long ago, Don A. Wollheim turned his new company, DAW Books, to importing, translating and publishing foreign SF. This interesting experiment was not rewarded with glowing sales and eventually the experiment was dropped.
Although still an amnesiac, the man known as Poldarn has reunite with his people after a generation of separation and although he cannot remember why it was he had to flee all those years ago, no doubt such matters are of the distant past and could not possibly come back to haunt him now.
Amnesia isn’t the only thing dividing Poldarn from his devoted family; everyone else on the two islands of the raiders are telepathic, and in a society where households run smoothly thanks to what is almost a group mind, Poldarn is the odd man out, a stranger in a practical-minded community beyond such petty superstitions as religion or volcanoes.
So, bad news about volcanoes; turns out they are real.…
Just a short review today; I thought this was a full length novel and when I discovered it wasn’t, it was too late to bring a back-up book.
The Dai Viet Empire spans star systems but it spans fewer systems than it did a few years previously. As an ineffectual emperor and his court abandon peripheral systems to warlords, Linh, a functionary haunted by guilt over having abandoned her responsibilities flees towards Prosper Station and what she hopes will be refuge in the arms of family.
The 1970s were a golden age of disaster movies and books; skyscrapers burned down, nuclear reactors melted down, and earthquakes leveled cities. First published in 1977, Lucifer’s Hammer was a late entry into that genre0 but what it lacked in timing it made up for in scale; where previous entries had wrecked cities, Hammer smashed the planet and where others killed hundreds, Hammer killed billions. It’s a shame, therefore, that one could easily envision D.W. Griffith filming it and not for the spectacle.
First published in 1947.
Post-war but not too post-war America! While the UN police guarantee global peace and systems as different as the American and Russian ways of life live together amicably, three young men, products of America’s impressive new school system, are focused (as so many young men of this time were) on their homemade rocket. While the rocket itself goes all kerblooie, the young men — Ross Jenkins, Art Mueller and Maurice Abrams – count the experiment as a success, at least until they find the unconscious man on the doorstep of their test facility, apparently brained by a fragment from the exploding rocket.
A battered man wakes on a battlefield, surrounded by the dead of two armies. His own clothing gives no hint which side he was on and when he stops to think about it, neither do his memories because he is an amnesiac. Happily, from time to time he encounters people who recognize him; less happily, recognition is immediately followed by attempts to kill the nameless man.
As murder attempt after murder attempt is foiled by the amnesiac’s preternatural skill at killing, the amnesiac begins to suspect that perhaps he isn’t the nicest person around. While he cannot do anything about the past, he can try to be a better person in the future.
As Arthur C. Clarke once observed, nothing is quite so ominous as “means well.”
Note: the Kindle edition of Cage will be going on deep discount on 8⁄14 (Thurs), the anniversary of the end of WWII. It will start at 80% off ($1.99), then tick up by approximately $2/day until it returns to its normal $9.99 price.
This is a bit outside my usual remit, a strictly historical novel based on events that occurred from 1944 onwards, but it seemed like an interesting choice to inaugurate Translation Wednesdays.
By 1944, the war in the Pacific had developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage. Logistical challenges were met with increasingly desperate measures, including dragooned cargo ships being sent out without military cover in the hope that if enough ships left port, a few would make it to their destination. Most, of course, did not.
The Seven Citadels quartet is composed of the books Prince of the Godborn, The Children of the Wind, The Dead Kingdom, & The Seventh Gate and was originally published in the early 1980s.
I dithered about whether to do these as four stand-alone reviews or one but while each book works on its own, I read them all back to back and however I happen to have read something the first time is obviously the best way to have done it. Except for how I read Princess Bride, which involved having my left hand crushed under a rock; I don’t recommend that at all.
(Ah, the lower-case “a” Ace colophon. I much prefer it to the capital A that showed up sometime after Baen started running Ace. What was it about him and publishers with triangular colophons)
Charles Sheffield (1935 – 2002), born in the UK but resident in the US for much of his life, was a moderately prolific science fiction writer, specializing what’s often called hard SF. You would therefore expect this particular book would be filled with mass ratios, slide-rules white-hot with the speed of calculation and engaging discussions of the implications of the Poynting-Robertson effect on deep space mining. Instead it is a glorious celebration of some of the wackier elements kicking around the United States deep in the now-legendary Disco Era.
2190(ish): three million humans live in space but the majority of the fourteen billion people alive live on an overcrowded Earth that is despite the best efforts of the experts of General Coordination teetering on the edge of collapse. Draconian measures to limit population growth1 have failed to produce a steady state and aside from one act of terrorism that killed a billion people, population has only crept ever closer to the the Malthusian limit. Space resources may help but they are only delaying the crisis and if Earth collapses, the United Space Federation will soon follow.