Posts Tagged ‘novels’

Joanna Russ, And Chaos Died (1970)

18 January 2009

Russ’s second novel, after Picnic on Paradise (1968), and read now as part of my research into homosexuality in 1970s sf. In Jai Vedh we have a character who declares himself a homosexual – a rare usage of the word, and let down by the fact that his sexual partners through the novel are women. Maybe there is no essentialism in sexuality here. It’s possible to ponder about his relationship with Ivat on his return to Earth, but it doesn’t feel quite right.

Existentially flustered Jai is travelling through space when the ship he is in crashes on a planet of telepaths. The aliens teach him to teleport and to influence matter, a skill he takes back to Earth when they are rescued. He plays with the boy Ivat, jumping around Earth, and is reunited with his mentor/lover Evne.

The aliens attack Earth – but only after they have been attacked by humans – and it transpires that they themselves are colonising humans, educated by now-extinct aliens.

Of course, this must have been written in the 1960s, and is odd in the Russ canon for having a male protagonist. Of course, as she went on to write The Female Man next, this is something “fixed” by that book.


Elizabeth A. Lynn, A Different Light (1978)

31 July 2008

A first novel: terminally ill artist Jimson Alleca decides he will travel with his old lover Russell on a mission to acquire a mask from the planet Demea. The mission is risky enough, but Jimson will die without proper medication. But perhaps his art will help them survive.

Definitely a novel of two halves, as the consequences of the illness play out. Not a novel that made me want to go out and buy up everything I’ve missed by the author, but I’d pick it up if I saw it.

For once there is no coyness about the characters: they are gay and we see them having a love life – and Russell has played the field having abandoned Jimson a decade or more before. At the same time we have the old Gay Gothic where one or more of the lovers (usually the passive partner) has to die, be killed or commit suicide. The thread of telepathy that runs through the middle of the nopvels allows him to cheat death by becoming a none material, but Russell Can Never Know. No happily ever afters.

Note the novel gave its name to a LGBT bookshop.

Thomas M. Disch, On Wings of Song (1979)

26 July 2008

For various day job related reasons, and as a mark of respect, this is my starting point – Disch’s suicide came as a shock and yet seems all too foreseeable given the things that were piled up on his plate. But it also seems likely that I will be writing about gay sf soon, so this seemed a correct place to start. Although, oddly, it has less gay content than I remember.

This was serialised in F&SF (Feb, Mar and Apr 1979) and then collected by Gollancz and St Martin’s (1979). Set in a typically Dischean dystopian American, this is the Bildungsroman – almost a Kunstlerroman – of Daniel Weinreb, growing up poor in an oppressive twenty-first century America. Some people are able to fly, and leave behind the bounds of their bodies and the earth, but this is both discouraged and criminalised. Weinreb is sent to prison, and after his release falls into a relationship with a rich heiress, Boadicea Whiting. They marry, but Boa disappears flying during a stop off in New York on their way to Europe, and the plane they were to take is blown up by terrorists (or possibly her father). Daniel hides in New York, with Boa’s body. He gains work as an usher at the opera, and slowly makes his fortune, aware that he could be discovered at any point.

In something that will prove to be a recurring point, there is little homosexuality in the novel. As a teen Daniel has a crush on another boy, but in his prison sentence it is middle age women he forms attachments to, rather than engaging in situational homosexuality. And he gets married. For most of the time as an usher – essentially a gigolo – he avoids putting out, and these are both male and female clients. Curiously the sequence when he is under the control of a male artist, he is wearing a chastity belt – and the artist is castrated. The sexuality works by suggestion rather than representation. (Clute in his review in Foundation 19 describes Daniel as exclusively homosexual in the third part of the novel; I think this is overstatement – he often says no or leads them on to spurn them. At what point are you homosexual?)

I wonder if there’s something to track in the image of the flyers as “fairies” – fairies are disapproved of, proper people don’t fly, there are laws against it, and people are actually frightened (why?) are fairies. Some people who are fairies, keep the secret closeted. Flying also becomes associated with the camper end of high art music (opera) so I think there’s something in the connotation. It is Bo who first flies – but it seems somewhat of a marriage of convenience between the two of them, a beard to gain respectfulness.

The ending is ambiguous – Daniel, who throughout the novel has been told that he is too Iowan, too square, to fly is giving the first performance of a grand tour in a slightly less dystopian US. At one moment he apparently flies, but is shot dead, assassinated. In fact it isn’t clear that he has flown – it may be a theatrical trick – and if he has, he may have escaped the body. It is the typical downbeat, probably unhappy, 1970s ending.

A note on the title: a Heinrich Heine poem set by Felix Mendelssohn (Op. 32/2)

Auf Flügeln des Gesanges,
Herzliebchen, trag ich dich fort,
Fort nach den Fluren des Ganges,
Dort weiß ich den schönsten Ort;

Dort liegt ein rotblühender Garten
Im stillen Mondenschein,
Die Lotosblumen erwarten
Ihr trautes Schwesterlein.

Die Veilchen kichern und kosen,
Und schaun nach den Sternen empor,
Heimlich erzählen die Rosen
Sich duftende Märchen ins Ohr.

Es hüpfen herbei und lauschen
Die frommen, klugen Gazelln,
Und in der Ferne rauschen
Des heilgen Stromes Welln.

Dort wollen wir niedersinken
Unter dem Pamenbaum,
Und Liebe und Ruhe trinken,
Und träumen seligen Traum.

There’s a translation – but there’s clearly a degree of irony at work here to consider any chance of Daniel and Bo reaching utopia.

Further reading:

  • Brigg, Peter (1990) ”Redemption’s Song’: Society and the Creative Elite in Thomas Disch’s On Wings of Song‘, Extrapolation 31 (2): 125-133.
  • Francavilla, Joseph (1985) ‘Disching It Out, An interview With Thomas Disch’, Science Fiction Studies 12 (3): 241-251.
  • Rossi, Umberto (2002) ‘Ecological Awareness and Capitalist Shortsightedness in Thomas M. Disch’s On Wings of Song‘, Foundation 84 (Spring) : 8-22.
  • Swirski, Peter (1991) ‘Dystopia or Dischtopia: The Science-Fiction Paradigms of Thomas M Disch’, Science Fiction Studies 18 (2): 161-179.

Novels: Towards a Master List

11 July 2008

This is a list of sf novels (and collections) published between 1970 and 1980, largely drawing on awards and awards shortlists. This is excluding what I will call (but not define) slipstream and (some) fantasy. Think of it as a reading list:

  • Anderson, Poul, Tau Zero (1970)
  • Clement, Hal, Starlight (1970)
  • Compton, D G, Chronocules (1970)
  • Compton, D G, The Steel Crocodile (1970)
  • Heinlein, Robert A, I Will Fear No Evil (1970)
  • Lafferty, R A, Fourth Mansions (1970)
  • Niven, Larry, Ringworld (1970)
  • Russ, Joanna, And Chaos Died (1970)
  • Saxton, Josephine, Vector for Seven: The Weltanschaung [sic] of Mrs Amelia Mortimer and Friends (1970)
  • Silverberg, Robert, Tower of Glass (1970)
  • Tucker, Wilson, The Year of the Quiet Sun (1970)
  • van Vogt, A E, Children of Tomorrow (1970)
  • Adlard, Mark, Interface (1971)
  • Anderson, Poul, The Byworlder (1971)
  • Bass, T J, Half Past Human (1971)
  • Cowper, Richard, Domino (1971)
  • Eklund, Gordon, The Eclipse of Dawn (1971)
  • Farmer, Philip, To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971)
  • Gutteridge, Lindsay, Cold War in a Country Garden (1971)
  • Harrison, M John, The Committed Men (1971)
  • Harrison, M John, The Pastel City (1971)
  • Lafferty, R A, The Devil Is Dead (1971)
  • Le Guin, Ursula K, The Lathe of Heaven (1971)
  • Lessing, Doris, Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971)
  • McCaffrey, Anne, Dragonquest (1971)
  • Moorcock, Michael, The Warlord of the Air (1971)
  • Pedlar, Kit and Gerry Davis, Mutant 59: The Plastic-Eater (1971)
  • Pery, Walker, Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World (1971)
  • Saxton, Josephine, Group Feast (1971)
  • Silverberg, Robert, A Time of Changes (1971)
  • Simak, Clifford D, Destiny Doll (1971)
  • van Vogt, A E, Quest for the Future (1971)
  • Wilhelm, Kate, Margaret and I (1971)
  • Zelazny, Roger, Jack of Shadows (1971)
  • Adlard, Mark, Volteface (1972)
  • Anderson, Poul, There Will Be Time (1972)
  • Asimov, Isaac, The Gods Themselves (1972)
  • Brunner, John, The Sheep Look Up (1972)
  • Compton, D G, The Missionaries (1972)
  • Coney, Michael, Mirror Image (1972)
  • Cowper, Richard, Clone (1972)
  • Effinger, George Alec, What Entropy Means to Me (1972)
  • Gerrold, David, When Harlie Was One (1972)
  • Gunn, James E, The Listeners (1972)
  • Malzberg, Barry N, Beyond Apollo (1972)
  • Moorcock, Michael, An Alien Heat (1972)
  • Moorcock, Michael, Breakfast in the Ruins (1972)
  • Moorcock, Michael, The English Assassin (1972)
  • Priest, Christopher, Fugue for a Darkening Island (1972)
  • Silverberg, Robert, Dying Inside (1972)
  • Silverberg, Robert, The Book of Skulls (1972)
  • Simak, Clifford D, A Choice of Gods (1972)
  • Spinrad, Norman, The Iron Dream (1972)
  • Stableford, Brian, The Halcyon Drift (1972)
  • Williamson, Jack, The Moon Children (1972)
  • Zebrowski, George, The Omega Point (1972)
  • Aldiss, Brian, Frankenstein Unbound (1973)
  • Anderson, Poul, The People of the Wind (1973)
  • Ballard, J G, Crash (1973)
  • Clarke, Arthur, Rendezvous with Rama (1973)
  • Coney, Michael, Friends Come in Boxes (1973)
  • Coney, Michael, Syzygy (1973)
  • Cowper, Richard, Time out of Mind (1973)
  • Dickinson, Peter, The Green Gene (1973)
  • Gerrold, David, The Man Who Folded Himself (1973)
  • Gutteridge, Lindsay, Killer Pine (1973)
  • Heinlein, Robert A, Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long (1973)
  • Lessing, Doris, The Summer Before the Dark (1973)
  • Merle, Robert, Malevil (1973)
  • Niven, Larry, Protector (1973)
  • Pynchon, Thomas, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)
  • Simak, Clifford D, Cemetery World (1973)
  • Stableford, Brian, Rhapsody in Black (1973)
  • Tennant, Emma, The Time of the Crack (1973)
  • Tiptree, James, Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home (1973)
  • Watson, Ian, The Embedding (1973)
  • Anderson, Poul, Fire Time (1974)
  • Ballard, J G, Concrete Island (1974)
  • Bass, T J, The Godwhale (1974)
  • Charnas, Suzy McKee, Walk to the End of the World (1974)
  • Compton, D G, The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (1974)
  • Cowper, Richard, The Twilight of Briareus (1974)
  • Dick, Philip, Flow My Tears the Policeman Said (1974)
  • Disch, Thomas M, 334 (1974)
  • Dozois, Gardner, Strangers (1974)
  • Eklund, Gordon, All Times Possible (1974)
  • Harrison, M John, The Centauri Device (1974)
  • Jones, D F, The Fall of Colossus (1974)
  • Le Guin, Ursula K, The Dispossessed (1974)
  • Lessing, Doris, The Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
  • Moorcock, Michael, The Hollow Lands (1974)
  • Moorcock, Michael, The Land Leviathan (1974)
  • Niven, Larry and Jerry Pournelle, The Mote in God’s Eye (1974)
  • Pedlar, Kit and Gerry Davis, Brainrack (1974)
  • Pisechia, Doris, Star Rider (1974)
  • Priest, Christopher, The Inverted World (1974)
  • Stableford, Brian, Promised Land (1974)
  • Stableford, Brian, The Fenris Device (1974)
  • Stableford, Brian, The Paradise Game (1974)
  • Tennant, Emma, The Last of the Country House Murders (1974)
  • Adlard, Mark, Multiface (1975)
  • Anderson, Poul, A Midsummer Tempest (1975)
  • Ballard, J G, High-Rise (1975)
  • Bester, Alfred, The Computer Connection (1975)
  • Bishop, Michael, A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (1975)
  • Bradley, Marion Zimmer, The Heritage of Hastur (1975)
  • Coney, Michael G, Brontomek! (1975)
  • Coney, Michael, Charisma (1975)
  • Coney, Michael, Hello Summer Goodbye (1975)
  • Cover, Arthur, Autumn Angels (1975)
  • Crowley, John, The Deep (1975)
  • Delany, Samuel R, Dhalgren (1975)
  • Doctorow, E L, Ragtime (1975)
  • Gutteridge, Lindsay, Fratricide is a Gas (1975)
  • Haldeman, Joe, The Forever War (1975)
  • Harding, Lee, A World of Shadows (1975)
  • Lee, Tanith, The Birthgrave (1975)
  • MacLean, Katherine, The Missing Man (1975)
  • Malzberg, Barry N, Guernica Night (1975)
  • McIntyre, Vonda N, The Exile Waiting (1975)
  • Mitchison, Naomi, Solution Three (1975)
  • Niven, Larry and Jerry Pournelle, Inferno (1975)
  • Pedlar, Kit and Gerry Davis, The Dynostar Menace (1975)
  • Russ, Joanna, The Female Man (1975)
  • Shaw, Bob, Orbitsville (1975)
  • Sheckley, Robert, Options (1975)
  • Silverberg, Robert, The Stochastic Man (1975)
  • Simak, Clifford D, Enchanted Pilgrimage (1975)
  • Sky, Kathleen, Birthright (1975)
  • Stableford, Brian, Swan Song (1975)
  • Tiptree, James, Warm Worlds and Otherwise (1975)
  • Wilson, Robert Anton, Leviathan (1975)
  • Wilson, Robert Anton, The Eye in the Pyramid (1975)
  • Wilson, Robert Anton, The Golden Apple (1975)
  • Zelazny, Roger, Doorways in the Sand (1975)
  • Amis, Kingsley, The Alteration (1976)
  • Bova, Ben, Millennium (1976)
  • Butler, Octavia, Patternmaster (1976)
  • Delany, Samuel R, Triton (1976)
  • Gotlieb, Phyllis, O Master Caliban! (1976)
  • Haldeman, Joe, Mindbridge (1976)
  • Harding, Lee, Future Sanctuary (1976)
  • Herbert, Frank, Children of Dune (1976)
  • Holdstock, Robert, Eye Among the Blind (1976)
  • Jeter, K W, The Dreamfields (1976)
  • Moorcock, Michael, The Adventures of Una Persson and Catherine Cornelius in the Twentieth Century (1976)
  • Moorcock, Michael, The End of All Songs (1976)
  • Piercy, Marge, Woman On The Edge Of Time (1976)
  • Pohl, Frederik, Man Plus (1976)
  • Pratchett, Terry, The Dark Side of the Sun (1976)
  • Randall, Marta, Islands (1976)
  • Sargent, Pamela, Cloned Lives (1976)
  • Silverberg, Robert, Shadrach in the Furnace (1976)
  • Simak, Clifford D, Shakespeare’s Planet (1976)
  • Tennant, Emma, Hotel de Dream (1976)
  • Vonnegut, Kurt, Slapstick or Lonesome No More! (1976)
  • Watson, Ian, The Jonah Kit (1976)
  • Wilhelm, Kate, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976)
  • Williamson, Jack, The Power of Blackness (1976)
  • Aldiss, Brian, Brothers in the Head (1977)
  • Benford, Gregory, In the Ocean of Night (1977)
  • Bradley, Marion Zimmer, The Forbidden Tower (1977)
  • Budrys, Algis, Michaelmas (1977)
  • Butler, Octavia, Mind of my Mind (1977)
  • Carr, Terry, Cirque (1977)
  • Dick, Philip, A Scanner Darkly (1977)
  • Dickson, Gordon R, Time Storm (1977)
  • Gaskell, Jane, Some Summer Lands (1977)
  • Haldeman, Joe, All My Sins Remembered (1977)
  • Holdstock, Robert, Earthwind (1977)
  • Jones, D F, Colossus and the Crab (1977)
  • Kilworth, Garry, In Solitary (1977)
  • Martin, George R R, Dying of the Light (1977)
  • Moorcock, Michael, The Condition of Muzak (1977)
  • Niven, Larry and Jerry Pournelle, Lucifer’s Hammer (1977)
  • Pohl, Frederik, Gateway (1977)
  • Scott, Jody, Passing for Human (1977)
  • Simak, Clifford D, A Heritage of Stars (1977)
  • Strugatsky, Arkady and Boris, Roadside Picnic (1977)
  • Varley, John, The Ophiuchi Hotline (1977)
  • Watson, Ian, Alien Embassy (1977)
  • Watson, Ian, The Martian Inca (1977)
  • Zebrowski, George, Ashes and Stars (1977)
  • Zebrowski, George, The Monadic Universe (1977)
  • Aldiss, Brian, Enemies of the System: A Tale of Homo Uniformis (1978)
  • Ballard, J G, The Unlimited Dream Company (1978)
  • Benson, Donald R, And Having Writ… (1978)
  • Bova, Ben, Colony (1978)
  • Butler, Octavia, Survivor (1978)
  • Charnas, Suzy McKee, Motherlines (1978)
  • Chayefsky, Paddy, Altered States (1978)
  • Cherryh, C J, The Faded Sun Trilogy (1978-1979)
  • Cowper, Richard, The Road to Corlay (1978)
  • Kilworth, Garry, The Night of Kadar (1978)
  • McCaffrey, Anne, The White Dragon (1978)
  • McIntyre, Vonda N, Dreamsnake (1978)
  • Moorcock, Michael, Gloriana (1978)
  • Priest, Christopher, Palely Loitering (1978)
  • Reamy, Tom, Blind Voices (1978)
  • Sheckley, Robert, The Alchemical Marriage of Alistair Crompton (1978)
  • Simak, Clifford D, Mastodonia (1978)
  • Simak, Clifford D, The Fellowship of the Talisman (1978)
  • Sterling, Bruce, Involution Ocean (1978)
  • Tiptree, James, Star Songs of an Old Primate (1978)
  • Turner, George, Beloved Son (1978)
  • Varley, John, The Persistence Of Vision (1978)
  • Vidal, Gore, Kalki (1978)
  • Vinge, Joan, The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978)
  • Watson, Ian, Miracle Visitors (1978)
  • Benford, Gregory, Timescape (1979)
  • Bova, Ben, Kinsman (1979)
  • Buffery, Judith, Saffron (1979)
  • Buffery, Judith, The Sheeg (1979)
  • Butler, Octavia, Kindred (1979)
  • Clarke, Arthur, The Fountains of Paradise (1979)
  • Cowper, Richard, Profundis (1979)
  • Crowley, John, Engine Summer (1979)
  • Disch, Thomas M, On Wings of Song (1979)
  • Disch, Thomas M, The Brave Little Toaster (1979)
  • Dodderidge, Esme, The New Gulliver or The Adventures of Lemuel Gulliver Jr. in Capovolta (1979)
  • Fairburns, Zoes, Benefits (1979)
  • Jeter, K W, Morlock Night (1979)
  • Kilworth, Garry, Split Second (1979)
  • Pohl, Frederik, Jem (1979)
  • Varley, John, Titan (1979)
  • Watson, Ian, God’s World (1979)
  • Watson, Ian, The Very Slow Time Machine (1979)
  • Wilhelm, Kate, Juniper Time (1979)
  • Williamson, Jack, Brother to Demons Brother to Gods (1979)
  • Broderick, Damien, The Dreaming Dragons (1980)
  • Buffery, Judith, Gringol Weed (1980)
  • Buffery, Judith, The Iron Clog (1980)
  • Butler, Octavia, Wild Seed (1980)
  • Charnas, Suzy McKee, Vampire Tapestry (1980)
  • Compton, D G, Ascendencies (1980)
  • Ford, John M, Web of Angels (1980)
  • Gearheart, Sally Miller, The Wanderground: Stories of the Hill Women (1980)
  • Niven, Larry, The Ringworld Engineers (1980)
  • Pohl, Frederik, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (1980)
  • Sargent, Pamela, The White Death (1980)
  • Saxton, Josephine, The Travails of Jane Saint (1980)
  • Silverberg, Robert, Lord Valentine’s Castle (1980)
  • Simak, Clifford D, The Visitors (1980)
  • Stallman, Robert, The Orphan (1980)
  • Sterling, Bruce, The Artificial Kid (1980)
  • Tevis, Walter, Mockingbird (1980)
  • Varley, John, The Barbie Murders (1980)
  • Varley, John, Wizard (1980)
  • Vinge, Joan, The Snow Queen (1980)
  • Wolfe, Gene, The Shadow of the Torturer (1980)
  • Bryant, Edward Particle Theory (1981)
  • Tiptree, James, Out of the Everywhere and Other Extraordinary Visions (1981)
  • Holdstock, Robert, In the Valley of the Statues (1982)
  • Varley, John, Demon (1984)