Samuel R. Delany, Jane Yolen, Kate Elliott, Walter Mosley, Jonathan Lethem, N. K. Jemisin, and Gary K. Wolfe pay tribute to Octavia E. Butler and discuss her lasting legacy.
As you likely know, the Hugo Awards were announced yesterday. I was invited to be on the Hugo-nominated Coode Street Podcast for their annual Hugo ballot rundown with hosts Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe, as well as guest Tansy Rayner Roberts.
That episode is now live. Listen to The Coode Street Podcast Episode 186: Hugo Awards 2014 with John DeNardo and Tansy Rayner Roberts.
In this much-too-long-delayed episode of SF Crossing the Gulf, we revisit stories from Cordwainer Smith’s The Rediscovery of Man, with especial focus on “Alpha Ralpha Boulevard”. More importantly, we discuss these stories with senior SF critic Gary K. Wolfe, who brings quite a bit more biographical information about Smith to our attention, to our mutual enlightenment.
Many apologies to those (Fred!) who have been waiting for this episode–I (Karen Burnham) can only plead extreme mental discombobulation. And we hope it is worth the wait!
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
We asked this week’s panelists…
For a history of our most important magazine, you can do a lot worse than A Requiem for Astounding, by Alva Rogers. Explorers of the Infinite and Seekers of Tomorrow, both by Sam Moskowitz, aren’t all that well-written, but he knew just about every one of these giants personally. Brian Aldiss’s Billion Year Spree is a nice, serious history of the genre. Much more fun is Damon Knight’s The Futurians, the history of the late 30s/early 40s New York fan group, and except for Pohl, Wollheim, Asimov, Knight, Blish, Merril, Kornbluth, Lowndes, and Kidd, why, they hardly produced any major figures at all.
Speaking of Knight, his In Search of Wonder remains one of the best critical collections, along with Blish’s The Issue at Hand and More Issues at Hand (both written as “William Atheling, Jr.”). Also worth a look are Benchmarks by Algis Budrys, and Science Fiction at Large, edited by Peter Nichols.
If you’d like to read every word of every speech and panel given at the 1962 and 1963 Worldcons, try The Proceedings: Chicon III, edited by Earl Kemp (it’s being reprinted for Chicon 7), and The Proceedings; Discon, edited by Dick Eney. Noreascon I also did a Proceedings, though I think we were multi-track by then and it just covered the main track. A nice catch-all book was Sprague de Camp’s Science-Fiction Handbook, which he later revised and updated.
The best biographies are Fred Pohl’s The Way the Future Was, Jack Williamson’s Wonder’s Child, and the wonderful 6-bio catchall, Hell’s Cartographers. And then there’s E. Hoffman Price’s wonderful Book of the Dead, which covers his experiences with Lovecraft, Howard, Kuttner, Clark Ashton Smith. et al. And don’t overlook Bob Silverberg’s Other Spaces, Other Times, or Eric Leif Davin’s Pioneers of Wonder: Conversations with the Founders of Science Fiction. John Campbell deserves a shelf of his own, and you can begin filling with the first two massive volumes of The John W. Campbell Letters, and his Collected Editorials from Analog. There are endless indices to the magazines, but only one truly thoroughgoing history of them: Mike Ashley’s wonderful 3-volume The History of the Science Fiction Magazine.
Books on and about science fiction that belong on most writers’ shelves include Barry Malzberg’s Breakfast in the Ruins and Norman Spinrad’s Staying Alive and Science Fiction in the Real World. Half a century ago Advent gathered Heinlein, Bester, Kornbluth and Bloch for The Science Fiction Novel, then assembled Heinlein, Campbell, Doc Smith, and four others for Of Worlds Beyond. The Panshins wrote Science Fiction in Dimension, a very nice follow-up to the more limited Heinlein in Dimension, then won a Hugo for The World Beyond the Hill. Kingsley Amis’s New Maps of Hell remains a classic. And there are a couple of fine compendiums edited by Reginald Bretnor: The Craft of Science Fiction and Science Fiction Today and Tomorrow. Two charming books containing some serious and a lot of hilarious fanzine articles by Robert Bloch are The Eighth Stage of Fandom and Out of My Head. And on the subject of fandom, the best is Fancyclopedia II, with many more entries than the original. And of course there are the histories of fandom: The Immortal Storm by Sam Moskowitz; Up to Now by Jack Speer; and All Our Yesterdays and A Wealth of Fable by Harry Warner, Jr. Finally, I’ll mention some of my own: a trio of Hugo nominees, Putting it Together, I Have This Nifty Idea…, and (with Barry Malzberg) The Business of Science Fiction.
I realize that I haven’t mentioned some of the very popular recent “must-have” books like the Nichols/Clute Encyclopedia and similar, but that’s because I assume anyone reading this Mind Meld already has them or at least knows about them.
Edited by Sidney Offit (May 2012)
- Player Piano
- The Sirens of Titan
- Mother Night
- Six stories
Edited by Gary K. Wolfe (October 2012)
- Frederick Pohl & C. M. Kornbluth, The Space Merchants
- Theodore Sturgeon, More Than Human
- Leigh Brackett, The Long Tomorrow
- Richard Matheson, The Shrinking Man
- Robert Heinlein, Double Star
- Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination
- James Blish, A Case of Conscience
- Algis Budrys, Who?
- Fritz Leiber, Big Time
I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering…