Monthly Archives: November 2017

Freedom Beach, by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel

Science fiction in the 1980’s and 1990’s developed a large preoccupation with “inner space” topics like mind-reading and dream travel. Obviously, these tropes began long before 1980, but as the size of novels ballooned in these later decades – perhaps … Continue reading

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Skulduggery, by William Marshall

Skeletons washing ashore make for intriguing mysteries: they have a story to tell, but the truth of their origins are a cloudy mixture of time, culture and circumstance. The bodies of fishermen found in Japan indicate desperate searches for food … Continue reading

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Thin Air, by William Marshall

The 1970s were a big decade for airline-disaster dramas, from the movie Airport in 1970 to its ultimate parody Airplane in 1980. The 1977 William Marshall book Thin Air looks like an attempt to tap the healthy audience for airborne suspense, … Continue reading

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The Augmented Agent and Other Stories, by Jack Vance – part 3

There’s one more aspect of the Jack Vance Integral Edition (VIE) that I wanted to mention – not only did Vance’s entire oeuvre get digitized, re-edited and published in authoritative hardbacks, but the contribution of one Paul Allen enabled copies … Continue reading

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Gelignite, by William Marshall

When reading genre paperbacks from the middle 20th century, it’s important to heed the context in which they were written. Otherwise, we’re preoccupied by what would be unforgivable insensitivity, pervasive sexism, by today’s continually evolving internet standards.* That said, a … Continue reading

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The Hatchet Man, by William Marshall

The Hatchet Man (1976) is the second mystery in the Yellowthread Street series by the Australian writer William Marshall. It follows up on the wonderfully chaotic Yellowthread Street (1975), a book recommended to me by my mother about a year … Continue reading

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The Augmented Agent and Other Stories, by Jack Vance – part 2

My previous post on Jack Vance mentioned his dedicated following, culminating in the production of the authoritative Jack Vance Integral Edition (VIE). The VIE is the product of the work of over 250 volunteers, who digitized, proofed, post-proofed and otherwise … Continue reading

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After the First Death, by Lawrence Block

One of the two famous repeating characters in Lawrence Block’s fiction, the detective Matthew Scudder, is featured in eighteen books. He is a character enriched by a collection of evolving strengths and faults, not the least being his alcoholism. Block … Continue reading

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The Augmented Agent and Other Stories, by Jack Vance – part 1

The collection The Augmented Agent and Other Stories (1986) is made up of early short fiction by the SF Grandmaster Jack Vance. Vance (1916 – 2013) happens to be one of my favorite authors, having turned out several series’ worth … Continue reading

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The Seventh, by Donald Westlake (as Richard Stark)

First, a preamble about the highly regarded Parker series so far . . . Under the Richard Stark pseudonym, the mystery writer Donald Westlake wrote a very successful series of masculine crime novels about the violent thief Parker. Starting with … Continue reading

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