Reading this collection won’t make your life better; on Facebook I compared it to eating a whole box of bon-bons, if said bon-bons were not in fact candy but deceptively-shaped pieces of dog-shit. What it will do is give you a pretty good idea what sort of person John W. Campbell, Jr. was — terrible — and if you’re an SF fan that matters because Mr. Campbell, he was influential within the world of science fiction. Very influential.
l1983’s The Wizards of Armageddon documents America’s1 long struggle to come up with a conceptual framework for the effective conduct of nuclear war. An awful lot of people, including a number of the people who were actually the ones who would be calling the shots during WWIII, assumed that nuclear war would be a matter of throwing as many nukes at the other guy as possible while trying to survive what the enemy tossed back, However, at least one community of intellectuals yearned for something more nuanced. Many of these people ended up at a think tank called RAND and had a hand in shaping the Cold War that those of us from the Before Times lived through.
I have a habit of focusing on older works because there are so very many of them. Here’s a more recent — forthcoming, in fact — work from a new author that I think is worth your time: Carrie Patel’s March 2015 novel, The Buried Life.
I would like to say that Jirel would never wear a battle-bikini. She wears a full set of armour, enough that it’s not clear if she is a man or a woman.
Two thousand years before Northwest Smith wandered between the planets, Jirel used her impressive capacity for violence to rule and protect the fiefdom of Joiry, somewhere in France. Proud, easy to offend, and very, very stabby, Jirel is not stupid but she never over-thinks situations, preferring direct solutions.
And now, a very special double review!
C.L. Moore was one of the comparatively few1 women active in pulp-era fantasy and science fiction. Whether on her own or with husband Henry Kuttner (whom she met when he sent her fan mail), she was one of the big names of the period. Moore won both the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and the Gandalf Grand Master Award; she would have been the first woman Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America had her second husband not intervened to prevent this2 on the grounds it would confuse Moore, now suffering from Alzheimers .
Among her many works were two series linked by a common setting. Her two protagonists, Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry, were born two thousand years apart in a solar system that was old before humans ever conquered it:
Man has conquered space before. You may be sure of that. Somewhere beyond the Egyptians, in that dimness out of which come echoes of half-mythical names — Atlantis, Mu — somewhere back of history’s first beginnings there must have been an age when mankind, like us today, built cities of steel to house its star-roving ships and knew the names of the planets in their own native tongues — heard Venus’ people call their wet world “Sha-ardol” in that soft, sweet slurring speech and mimicked Mars’ guttural “Lakkdiz” from the harsh tongues of Mars’ dryland dwellers. You may be sure of it. Man has conquered Space before, and out of that conquest faint, faint echoes run still through a world that has forgotten the very fact of a civilization which must have been as mighty as our own.
Humans are not the only ones who have left relics across the many habitable worlds of the Solar System. Visitors from other stars and other universes have also laid claim the worlds orbiting the sun. Some of those visitors are long since gone. Others.…
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.