Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Tue Apr 10 19:09:26 EDT 1990

Raymond's Reviews #37

This time, two more classy reprints in the Collier Nucleus series, followed by some old business and an oddity...

%T Solar Lottery
%A Philip K. Dick
%I Collier Nucleus/Macmillan
%D 1990
%O paperback, US$3.95
%P 188
%G 0-02-029125-6

This is Philip K. Dick's debut novel from 1955. The science is absurd, the social predictions dated in many respects, the characters are strictly 2-D and the plotting is melodramatic and left to lurch to an abrupt end -- but the fascinating, feverish intensity that consumed and eventually destroyed Dick is already on display. The book stumbles headlong forward like a an overbalanced runner going faster and faster to keep from falling down, throwing off fireworks in all directions. There is also still some interest in his portrait of a ruthless industrial feudalism worshiping the Von Neumann-Morgenstern minimax game. High weirdness indeed!

%T Deathbird Stories
%A Harlan Ellison
%I Collier Nucleus/Macmillan
%D 1990
%O paperback, US$3.95
%P 295
%G 0-02-028361-X

This reprint of Ellison's powerful 1975 anthology takes us back to the days when American SF's enfant terrible was a little more enfant. The stories are still gripping, often at the same moments that they seem most overwrought and self-indulgent. But when Ellison's rage-till-your-guts-bleed style works, when his moral vision is actually matched by reality, it creates experiences of unmatched awe-fulness (as in The Whimper Of Whipped Dogs, surely one of the most searing short stories ever committed to paper). I find myself alternately slack-jawed with amazement at the raw power of his writing and the utter obviousness and triviality of some of the Vast Insights he uses it to build up to. Ah, well. The world would be a poorer place without him.

%T Star Hunters, Vol III: Bluebloods
%A David Drake (editor)
%I Baen Books
%D March 1990
%O paperback, US$3.50
%P 279
%G 0-671-69866-4

Yawn, another ho-hum `theme' anthology of reprints from other anthologies. The stories in this one are OK but old (one, a minor Kuttner, dates from 1949), only incidentally related, and the whole was obviously intended to ride the coattails of Star Hunters I and II. I wish Drake and Baen had displayed more taste, and advise you not to buy this one lest it encourage similar mediocrities in the future.

%T Roofworld
%A Christopher Fowler
%I Ballantine
%D April 1990
%O paperback, US$4.95
%P 307
%G 0-345-36731-6

Satanic punks rappel across the rooftops of London, scheming to bring a horrific New Age to the unsuspecting city. Our Hero, a nebbish strongly resembling the author, falls in with a smart & sexy lady photographer and a rival gang of good-guy of roofworlders led by an incompetent idealist. Gore, action, and many aerial chase scenes ensue. Goddess knows why this got mailed to an SF reviewer; fans might find the roofworlders' tech toys of some interest, though.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Tue Apr 10 19:09:26 EDT 1990

Eric S. Raymond <esr@snark.thyrsus.com>