Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's Over... For Now

Hello all,

Thanks everyone who checked out this blog... But I am semi-permanently closing shop while I focus a business venture... Which involves SF and you can check out here- Wreck-Age

MAYBE I will pop on here when I find something particularly awesome, or have the time to slog through the giant box of pulps I have, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

Missing you,


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Art of Penguin Science Fiction

Cool little database of the Penguin SF covers- highly recommended for the seventies entries alone:


Examples that have boobs:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Taking a Short Break

Hello all,

I am going to relax for the month of January and rinse my brain with some non SF fiction. I promise to come back guns blazing in February!

In the meantime I will be posting covers from my paperback collection to http://sfcovers.tumblr.com/ Hope you enjoy it.

Update- I am going to buy a sweet color scanner in the next few weeks, so expect some better quality pics come February.

Secondary update- this blog is not dead, I promise, I just happen to be cranking out some writing for a project and my creativity is spent. Hopefully this blog will raise from the dead once baseball starts!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Herovit's World By Barry N. Malzberg

Rejected Naked Lunch cover

Original copyright 1973, this is a Pocket Books 1974 reprint. 94c cover price. 159 pages.

Jonathan Herovit is a lecherous, scotch-soaked author of over 90 pulpy science-fiction novels written under the pseudonym of Kirk Poland. As Herovit's World kicks off, our protagonist is at the yearly cocktail party for the New League For Science-Fiction Professionals.

As usual, Herovit desperately tries (and finally succeeds) to lay one of the young female SF enthusiasts in attendance as a distraction from his home life, which is spiraling out of his control. Faced with his wife Janice’s post-partum depression, his own burgeoning alcohol problem, and an overdue novel that he has no desire to write, Herovit begins to hallucinate that his pseudonym is speaking to him and wants to take over his life.

As the pressure builds—his wife makes overtures at leaving him, constant threatening calls from his agent, plus a period of impotence— Herovit’s conversations with Kirk Poland (and even some of the characters from his many novels) become more and more vivid and conversative.

This is a very nervous novel, which plays to author Barry Malzberg's strengths, and, naturally, entire chapters are dedicated to awkward and unfulfilling sexual activity because old Barry is a pervert of the first degree.

Roughly halfway through the novel (right next to the full color Kent Cigarettes ad!), pseudonym Kirk Poland offers to completely take over his life and “clean up the mess” that Herovit has created. After a dark period of drunken introspection and intense anxiety, Herovit finally succumbs to the pressure, relinquishing his life to his alter-ego.

Kirk Poland has trouble adjusting to his new reality after so many years of insubstantiality, but the new man is not without an agenda. First, he burns the manuscript that has been festering on Herovit's typewriter in order to start fresh with some new material.

Secondly, Poland intends to give Herovit's wife Janice “a good fuck” to set her straight, but since he is technically a virgin he finds it prudent to practice on a prostitute, which leads to my favorite passage from this dirty little novel:  

“He pours virtually yards and yards of seed into the prostitute, feeling them uncoil within, whole ropes of sperm flung from the ship of self (he must save that phrase for use someday), and he uses these ropes to clamber toward some sense of self-discovery.” (106)

Unfortunately for Poland, Janice is already on her way out the door when he gets home from his tryst, hoping to dump the baby and bills on him. Kirk bemoans that he “came into the sequence too late” and drinks himself into a stupor. When he awakens, thoroughly defeated, ready to renounce his newfound reality, he is greeted by Mack, the hard-nosed alien hater and protagonist of his Survey Team series. Mack gladly enters the shell that was once Herovit to set things right by murdering all those damn aliens that fouled it up for him in the first place.

Herovit's World really wasn't all that terrible. The nervous energy Malzberg creates is almost palpable in its intensity, and Jonathan Herovit reminded me of many of the loathsome characters you can find in any Irvine Welsh novel. I would definitely recommend this over the god-awful Sodom and Gomorrah Business if you really wanted to pick up a trashy Malzberg novel. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Pulpaweek Timeline!

2010 is about to wrap up, so what better way to end the year than with a sarcastic timeline relating to the events depicted in the shitty books I read every week?

12,000 BC: (Time Slave, estimate) Brenda Hamilton arrives in the Paleolithic to gain an education in suffering and degradation to supplement her PHD.

1936 AD: (Dinosaur Beach) Time-sweep agent Ravel shoots a cyborg to 'death' in a shabby apartment after telling his wife he was just going out for a beer run. What a dick.

1953 AD: (The Well Of The Worlds) Clifford Sawyer plays the role of inter-dimensional Spartacus by sticking it to the snake people who have enslaved humanity and a rich asshole who put a kill-switch in his brain.

1977 AD: (Black In Time)'A black militant, a white supremacist, and a time travel device tangle in a fight to rewrite history and eternity!' Presented without comment.

1980's AD: (Camp Concentration, estimate) Louis Sacchetti is imprisoned for being a conscientious objector. They experiment on him with a strain of syphilis that boosts intelligence, which is unfortunately squandered on him as he spends the rest of the novel writing whiny poetry.

2002 AD: (Deus Irae, estimate) Limbless Tibor McMasters is sent on a pilgrimage through the nuclear wastes. Why? So he can paint a portrait of the malevolent atomic god he worships using  his metal claw prosthesis and a paintbrush made out of donkey hair.

2170's AD: (The Sodom And Gomorrah Business, estimate) Just your average buddy road trip novel with some added sexual assault and murder to spice things up.

2300's AD: (The Demolished Man, Estimate) Evil rich guy Reich throws a party so he can kill off his competitor, hoping he can then fool the telepathic police force and get off scot-free.

2600's AD:  (Under A Calculating Star, estimate) Captain Jorry takes us on a galactic treasure hunt that ends in a Quespodon revolution. Also: a green alien lady gets naked!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Time Slave By John Norman

They rejected the title 'Rape in Time'

“The author of the novels of Tarl Cabot on Gor, Earth's orbital counterpart, has turned his talent to the problem of time travel and our own world's primitive era.

What has happened to man since the days when his rugged ancestors battled the mastodon and the saber-toothed tiger and wrestled a living from the raw nature of an untamed world?

This was the directive that brought a dedicated group of scientists to devise a means of sending one of their number back into the Old Stone Age when the great hunters of the Cro-Magnon days ripped the world away from the Neanderthals and their save clan rivals.

It's a John Norman novel comparable to his epics of Gor and to the best jungle sagas of the mighty Tarzan.”
 -The Back Cover

DAW Books, copyright 1975. $1.50 cover price. 380 pages.

Oh man, where to start? This novel is even viler than Norman's Gor series, which is saying quite a bit. I think I will spare you most of my thoughts on this piece of shit and give you a synopsis. 

Dr. Brenda Hamilton—mathematician, feminist, bombshell—accepts a job under false pretense from Herjellsen, an octogenarian who definitely fulfills the 'mad scientist' archetype. It isn't until Hamilton has been at Herjellsen's Rhodesian compound for a few weeks that she discovers the madman is actually working on time travel, and that she is both a prisoner and one of the subjects about to be sent back in time.

This all sounds pretty standard, and it is, but right around page 50 is when Norman starts in with his bizarre dom-sub philosophies, so the whole story becomes murky. Before Hamilton can be sent back to the distant past (in the hopes that she will join a group of Cro-mags), her will must be broken by Herjellsen's lackeys until she is deemed ready for the submissive, slave-like existence that awaits her.

Here’s the old crank's explanation to Hamilton before he shoves her into a box for a one-way trip to the Stone Age: 

“’You must understand,' said Herjellsen, ‘that if you were transmitted as a modern woman, irritable, sexless, hostile, competitive, hating men, your opportunities or survival might be considerably less.’" (111)

Hamilton’s mission? To turn ancient mankind's eyes to the stars so that space travel hurries along, allowing Herjellsen to partake in exploration of the galaxy, because what the universe really needs is Herjellsen 'bad touching' his way from star to star. Why Hamilton? Because she was the sexiest virgin they could find on such short notice, plus chaining up learned feminists is apparently the hobby of Herjessen's second in command, Gunther. It only took a few pages for the man to get his results:

"’I'm a prisoner,’ she said. ‘I want to be fucked like a prisoner, used!’” (63)

Time Slave wouldn't be a John Norman book if women didn't revel in their captivity, which brings us to the middle of the book, where things get real. Brenda Hamilton, transported to an unfamiliar time, is naked and running through the forest with a leopard in pursuit when she runs into Tree, a red blooded Cro-Magnon hunter.

At page 143 is the first (of many, very unfortunate) rape scenes in Time Slave. Some go on for pages, none are really necessary. The next 100 pages chronicle Brenda's transformation from a (caricature of) a fully realized woman to a whimpering, sex-obsessed slave. Of course, this being a John Norman novel, she revels in this change and feels that she has finally become a 'true woman':

“For the first time in her life she felt the fantastic sentience of an owned, loving female... She had just begun, under the hands of a primeval hunter, to learn the capacities of her femaleness.”  (220)

The most unfortunate aspect of Time Slave is that there are, in fact, portions of the book about Stone Age man that aren't just a vehicle for Norman’s weirdo sexual philosophies, and they are actually pretty good. Plenty of action, along with the intricate detail devoted to each tribe's unique culture, plus some cool flora and fauna (cave bears!) could have been enough for a decent story in themselves.

Regrettably, more than half of this novel is lent to Norman's BDSM leanings, which involves a repetitive, preachy tone because the man is literally trying to convert you.

Time Slave is an interesting example of the sleazy underbelly of 70s SF, but I can't really recommend it on any other level.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dinosaur Beach by Keith Laumer

Cover is actually a good representation
of how muddled the story is
Appearing from the remote future, Nexx Central agent Ravel is emplaced in America, circa 1936. His mission: to undo successive tamperings of the time stream which threaten the survival of Mankind. He falls in love with a lovely, simple girl, Lisa, but in the midst of his happiness is called away to Dinosaur Beach.

Dinosaur Beach is a Nexx Central station located millions of years in the past, in the Jurassic Age. but shortly after Ravel's arrival, the station is attacked and destroyed, and Ravel begins a terrifying odyssey through time. For the attackers were another time-tampering team from still a different future era. And Ravel himself is not only in growing danger but the human world as we know it... -The (poorly written) back cover 

DAW Books UQ1021. Published 1971. 151 pages. 95c cover price.

Laumer starts Dinosaur Beach off strong with time-sweep agent Ravel abruptly awakening from a hypnotic state as a sleeper agent, which involved a happy marriage, to eliminate a rogue cyborg in the 'distant past' of 1936. Mission accomplished, our protagonist is zipped back to the Jurassic in order to have his memory wiped and a new personality laid over ita procedure Ravel is looking forward to since the wound from leaving his dear wife is still raw and painful.

Right around this point in the novel, which isn't too far in, I noticed the many this storys many inconsistencies. Granted, picking apart time travel yarns is a hobby in itself, particularly for the losers that flock to the SF genre (like myself). However, Dinosaur Beach had far too many to list in this little blog. E.g.: If Nexx Central is attempting to clean up numerous generations of abuse from the past, why destroy an anachronistic (for 1936) piece of technology like a cyborg, only to leave all of its parts for the natives to discover? Why are Nexx Central agents eating baby stegosaur and partying on the beach millions of years ago when their mission is to leave behind no trace? Laumer just doesnt make an effort to make the story logical, so after about 50 pages, I decided I wouldnt concern myself with paradoxes and plot holes.

Concerns about plausibility ditched, Dinosaur Beach becomes more enjoyable, but it still has its issues. A love story that takes up a good chunk of the book is tossed aside for a lukewarm 'twist' at the end, and the result is that the little emotional impact the novel was striving for falls flat. Likewise, the time travel itself takes us to very few exotic locales in favor of vague 'null spaces,' plus different variations of the titular beach that Ravel on which keeps finding himself stranded.

Im intrigued by the short story The Time Sweepers on which this novel was based, as I think Dinosaur Beach could be much more memorable if boiled down to a 30 page story about killing robots in the Jurassic. Maybe move the party to the Cretaceous so a T-Rex can crash it? Make that a cyborg T-Rex with lasers firing out of its little vestigial arms and now youre cooking with gas!

Altogether, this ended up being a filler week. Sorry guys!