Mailbox Monday: week of June 20-26, 2010

New arrivals – Week of June 20 –26, 2010

A little of just about everything this week with the exception of mystery and western fiction. I’m not sure why I’m not buying mysteries lately, it is usually the mainstay of my reading. Maybe it’s because I’ve been getting some from the library (which I don’t include here, such as the latest by Louise Penny, reviewed here rcently) but more likely it’s because I’ve simply wanted to buy and read SF-F and pulp reprints.

This batch – including one from last week, when I didn’t do a MM post – has a classic I’ve never read, something new by another author I’ve also not yet read, an oldie short story collection and more pulp fiction stuff, two omnibus collections.

note: The SF Signal website has an irregular but frequent feature they call “mind meld” in which they ask a question of several SF-F authors. This one caught my eye not long ago: MIND MELD: What single-author, non-“Best-of” collections of sf/f stories should be in every fan’s library? You may choose between 1 and 10 titles. In the answers, and the comments a great many collections were cited, and three of the books below were among them, one of them many times. I’ve identified them with an *.  If you’d like to read the posts (in two parts), here are the links:  Part 1 and Part 2

Here are all the new books, covers first then a brief summary of each:

* *   click on a cover to see it full size!   * *

* *   click on a cover to see it full size!   * *

The Black Bat Omnibus Volume 1 by Norman A. Daniels. [Altus Press, 2010, trade paperback, new] –  (the pseudonym of Norman A. Danberg) wrote 55 mystery/detective novels and short stories with series character The Black Bat, for “Black Book Detective” magazinethis is Volume 1 of a proposed series of collections by Altus. It contains three novels:  Brand of the Black Bat, Murder Calls the Black Bat and The Black Bat Strikes Again. these are all new to me.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman [St Martin’s Griffin Books, this edition 2009, trade paper, new] – this edition has a forward by John Scalzi – it’s almost inconceivable that I, a dyed in the wool SF fan and reader, would not have already read this book, probably more than once. Yet these things happen. I’ve met Haldeman, I’ve known of the book since it came out in 1974 yet I never got around to it. The same thing happened with Ringworld, Ender’s Game and a few other now-established classics of the genre. No explanation, just never got to it. Now I have it in hand. It will replace something I was going to read this summer, and it won’t remain unread for long.

Hidden Empire by Kevin J. Anderson [Orbit Books 2007 mass market paperback, used] – I’ve read and enjoyed some of Anderson’s Star Wars stuff, so in spite of very mixed reviews on this, I picked up this very clean copy at a book sale for half a buck. We’ll see.

* The Masque of Mañana by Robert Sheckley  [published by NESFA, August 2008, hardcover, new] – Sheckley has been praised as one of the best SF short story writers of the 50’s-60’s decades. This is an excellent collection of his works. I’d been meaning to get this one for a while, the SF Signal post was the push I needed.

* Moon Flights by Elizabeth Moon [Night Shade Books, 2009 mass market paperback, new] – short story collection – another book mentioned more than once. I’ve read a couple of Moon’s novels, this will be my first acquaintance with hr shorter work.

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding [published by Gollancz, 2010 trade paper, new] – Wooding is a British SF writer. This novel is described as good old space opera, space pirates get in a jam that leads them to… well think about Han Solo in his earlier days, I guess. Strong reviews on this one and it sounded like a perfect summer book.

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds [Ace Science Fiction, 2002 mass market paperback, new] – hard SF on a galactic scale. First novel, followed by at least half dozen others. If I like this I’ll read the next.

Seekers of the Glittering Fetish, The Complete Adventures of Armless O’Neil, Volume 1 by Dan Cushman, [Altus Press, 2010 trade paper, new] – more pulp stuff with an interesting and unusual hero.

* The Zanzibar Cat by Joana Russ [Baen 1981 mass market paperback, used] – fantasy-SF short story collection – the third of the books on the Sf Signal lists that looked interesting. I’ve not read anything by this author.

I’m falling behind! Way behind!

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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31 Responses to Mailbox Monday: week of June 20-26, 2010

  1. Bill Crider says:

    Thanks for the link to the SF Signal lists. I have most of the stuff mentioned, but not the newer items.

  2. You got some great sci fo there!

    Here is mine

  3. Carl V. says:

    Good haul! I want to read Forever War at some point myself. I’ve read a couple of Haldeman’s novels and liked them both quite a lot.

    I bought the Robert Sheckley collection a few years ago during my one and only time joining the science fiction book club. I joined because I wanted to buy the 50th anniversary edition of The Stars My Destination and picked this book up as one of my allotment. I personally enjoyed the heck out of it. Some really fun stories in there.

    My only experience with Reynolds thus far is Chasm City, which was fantastic:

    Such great space opera. I’m hoping to get to Revelation Space this summer and I am crossing my fingers that I’ll like it as much as Chasm City.

  4. Evan Lewis says:

    That Dan Cushman book looks mighty interesting. I know him only as the author of pulp stories about the Pecos Kid.

  5. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Ah, that’s more like it! This is the kind of list we expect from you, Rick.

    But I can’t believe I read Forever War before you did! Excellent stuff, by the way, and I’ve since read Haldeman’s followups A Separate War and Other Stories and Forever Free.

    Of course, you’ve read Scalzi’s series so these will seem awfully family to you.

    After reading several blog reviews/comments I picked up Keith Laumer’s Retief! (Baen) via the Paperback Swap people this week and will give it a try. I also got the next three in Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series (which I will relist after I’ve read them) and the next in Ben Rehder’s series about Texas game warden John Marlin, Guilt Trip and Ross Macdonald’s Sleeping Beauty, which I missed back in the days I was reading the Lew Archer series.

    Jackie also got in a bunch of stuff in the romance-related genres.

  6. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Not family, familiar.

  7. bermudaonion says:

    I hope you have a great week in books!

  8. THE FOREVER WAR is a classic. I read that one when it was first published. I have the Sheckley volume, but haven’t read it yet. I did read a lot of Sheckley’s work in the 1960s. I have Alastair Reynolds’ new book, TERMINAL WORLD, on my stack (near the top). If you like space opera, you’ll like Reynolds.

  9. Richard says:

    Bill – you’re welcome. The mind meld feature is my favorite at SF Signal. There’s a link in the left column that gives a complete list of them.

    Evan – I can’t recall how I came across the Cushman, but Altus is publishing some nice stuff!

  10. Richard says:

    Bluestocking – thanks! I hope you have the same.

    bermudaonion – nice to see you here again, are you going to stick with MM at the other hosts site?

  11. Richard says:

    Carl – I’d read good things about the Reynolds books, tried to start at the beginning, or at least of this series. I’ve read some Sheckley, but didn’t have any and have not read not this collection, though I suspect some of the stories will be familiar.

    Some people poo-poo the SFBC, but they do put out some good omnibus editions. I was a member for a few years back when.

  12. Richard says:

    Jeff – I liked the Reteif stories when I read them, many years ago. The only book I seem to have on hand now is a paperback of Retief at Large. I think I read that Macdonald a long time ago, at least I think so. Haven’t read anything of the other authors, though I do see talk and reviews of the Harris books. You like them, yes?

  13. Richard says:

    George – I MEANT to read Forever War when it came out, but somehow never got to it… Too many books and all that!

  14. Patti Abbott says:

    I don’t know how you keep up the pace–either with reading, buying or just keeping abreast of the titles.

  15. Carl V. says:

    I was certainly happy with the books I got from them.

  16. The Black Bat and Armless Oneil look interesting.

    I read The Forever War when it first hit paperback. I predict you will enjoy it.

  17. Todd Mason says:

    It’s certainly time for Joanna Russ. She’s brilliant, and in several directions. And, she and Fritz Leiber would mix their S&S characters …Alyx and Fafhrd make appearances in one of the other writer’s stories.

  18. Todd Mason says:

    Nostalgic list:
    Robert Bloch PLEASANT DREAMS
    Fritz Leiber: NIGHT’S BLACK AGENTS
    Harlan Ellison: PARTNERS IN WONDER
    Ron Goulart: GHOST BREAKER
    Muriel Spark: THE GO-AWAY BIRD (in part)
    Frederik Pohl and CM Kornbluth: CRITICAL MASS
    Jorge Luis Borges: EL ALEPH

  19. Wow! That’s a pretty impressive list, Todd! PLEASANT DREAMS and NIGHT’S BLACK AGENTS are classics. I have GHOST BREAKER but haven’t read it yet. I’m not a fan of Muriel Spark. OR ALL THE SEAS WITH OYSTERS is truly a Forgotten Book as is THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION. Borges’ EL ALEPH, along with much of his writings, has been retranslated and republished. But the original translations by Norman Thomas diGiovanni are vastly superior.

  20. Richard says:

    Thanks, George. I’m not sure what to say about your list, Todd, I have read just one of the books, the Ellison. I’ve found Davidson to be nearly unreadable, haven’t even heard of the Murial Spark and while I’ve read Pohl and Kornbluth, separately and together, I haven’t read that one. Interesting.

  21. Todd Mason says:

    I misremembered the title of the Russ…it’s THE HIDDEN SIDE OF THE MOON. I think that readers just encountering Davidson would do well with the relatively conventional approaches of the stories in OR ALL THE SEAS WITH OYSTERS…and I’d hate to think that anyone is judging Spark solely by BRODIE. Yes, as we’ve agreed before, George, the Borges and Di Giovanni translations of Borges’s own work is easily and by far better than the subsequent in-print collections translated by other hands. So, did you hate the Davidson in PARTNERS, Rick? The Pohl and Kornbluth is not quite a complete collection of their collaborative shorter work, but much of it is devastating.

    Such lists are always mutable. Joe Lansdale, Kate Wilhelm, JC Oates, PK Dick, Thomas Disch, Rachel Pollack, Janet Fox and any number of others might make the list tomorrow…

  22. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I’m a big fan of Spark’s PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE and enjoyed THE GIRLS OF SLENDER MEANS (great picture of post-WW II London) and many of her short stories.

    As for Davidson, look for his posthumous mystery collection THE INVESTIGATIONS OF AVRAM DAVIDSON.

  23. Todd Mason says:

    All the Grania Davis-coedited/edited posthumous Davidson collections are valuable.

    I like BRODIE, too…it simply wasn’t close to the limits of her abilities. She can be like a subtler Highsmith or Roald Dahl…

  24. Drongo says:

    I discovered Sheckley the summer I was 17. In the space of a couple of weeks, I read over 100 of his short stories. For sheer cleverness, he’s hard to beat.

    I haven’t read any of his westerns, but Cushman’s books set in the Far East are loads of fun. Lots of color and action. How can you resist an adventure novel called OPIUM?

  25. Richard says:

    Problem I’m having is getting to all these books!

  26. Todd Mason says:

    Wow. Sorry to have lured that spam to you, Rick.

  27. Todd Mason says:

    Having finally gone over to the Signal lists, I’m impressed by how many folks ignored the request to Not include Best Of/Retrospective collections–Mike Resnick and David Truesdale do so grossly. Hell, THE STURGEON PROJECT en masse if we can do that.

    THE HIDDEN SIDE OF THE MOON is rather retrospective, but that’s in part because Russ has published only four collections of her short fiction so far (iirc…CAT, MOON, THE ADVENTURES OF ALYX and (EXTRA) ORDINARY PEOPLE, and MOON gathers fiction from throughout her career without overlapping much with those others). Likewise CRITICAL MASS doesn’t overlap much if at all with the previous Pohl & Kornbluth short-fiction collection.

  28. Richard says:

    Todd – no problem I just deleted it. I thought the same thing about the collections, but guessed if it didn’t say “The Best of” in the title it was fair game. The first consideration for anyone answering the question, it seems to me, would be what authors do I like best? Then pick a collection. On that basis I would have picked collections by Poul Anderson, Frederic Brown, Hal Clement, etc. All of them from NESFA. But then anything by NESFA may be a best of, automatically.

  29. Todd Mason says:

    Certainly all the collections from them that Resnick and Truesdale cited, excepting the recursive-fiction one by Barry Malzberg (with a few collabs with Bill Pronzini included).

    That is what most of the NESFA Press editions are hoping to be, definitive collections of the given writers’ careers. (Now if only they were proofreading them…)

    I suspect that Signal’s folks just didn’t feel like arguing. And Truesdale and Resnick were lazy.

    Joan Aiken’s THE GREEN FLASH was a collection that hung around the edge of memory, particularly as it was a nostaglic list…and certainly the likes of IN DEEP by Damon Knight or STARBURST by Alfred Bester (THE LIGHT FANTASTIC is another best-of) also came to mind just after I posted, as should’ve NINE HUNDRED GRANDMOTHERS (but there were even better Lafferty collections). Ah, well…

  30. Todd Mason says:

    Fredric Brown, like Aiken, Bloch, Spark, Dahl, and a number of others, adds the slightest of challenge in only infrequently, if ever, offering a collection devoted only to fantastic fiction, not mixing in crime fiction or other work…if this worries anyone…

  31. Richard says:

    Brown doesn’t worry me, I like his SF-F and his crime fiction. I’m getting ready to (re)read The Screaming Mimi.

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