Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 1952


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Daybreak – 2250 A.D. (aka Star Man’s Son): Simple and heartwarming

Daybreak – 2250 A.D. (aka Star Man’s Son) by Andre Norton

It’s 2250 A.D., two hundred years after a nuclear holocaust destroyed most life, knowledge, history, and civilization on Earth. Fors, a young man with a mutation that renders his hair silver and his hearing and sight extra keen, is a descendent of a group of scientists who used to do nuclear research before it all went wrong. Fors desperately wants to become a Star Man like his father who died on a quest ten years ago.


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Away and Beyond: Thanks again, Mr. Miller!

Away and Beyond by A.E. van Vogt

As I believe I have mentioned elsewhere, it was one of my high school English teachers, Mr. Miller, who first got me interested in literary sci-fi. This was back in the late ‘60s, when my high school was hip enough to actually offer a course in science fiction, taught by Mr. Miller; a very popular course, need I even mention? One of the earliest books that Miller required us to read, as I recall, was A.E. (Alfred Elton) van Vogt’s 1946 novel Slan,


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City: Pastoral SF classic where Rover takes over

City by Clifford D. Simak

City is a well-loved classic by Clifford D. Simak published back in 1952 and awarded the International Fantasy Award in 1954. It’s actually a collection of linked far-future stories written between 1944 and 1951 about men, mutants, dogs, robots, ants and stranger beings still. It’s told as a series of episodes that trace the evolution of the various species as they reach out to space, but also follows the fates of those groups that remain on Earth.

I would describe Simak’s writing style as “pastoral,” “contemplative,” “philosophical,” and “understated,” and as he was born in rural Wisconsin,


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The Starmen of Llyrdis: A small but perfect gem from “The Queen of Space Opera”

The Starmen of Llyrdis by Leigh Brackett

For fans of sci-fi’s Golden Age, it has been a sort of literary guessing game to riddle out which stories were written by Henry Kuttner and which by his wife, C.L. Moore. And this has proved to be no easy task, as the two, as legend goes, were so in rapport that one could pick up in mid-paragraph where the other had left off. But for several reasons, no such difficulty could ever be presented by Golden Age stalwart Edmond “The World Wrecker” Hamilton and his wife,


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The Demolished Man: The first Hugo Award winner

The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

If I had read The Demolished Man back in 1952 when it was first published, I would have given it 5 stars, no question. But in 2014, with 60 years of refinements in the genre, it suffers from some very dated dialogue and characterization, and some really condescending portrayals of women. I’m afraid the present value of the book is 4 stars.

Having said that, The Demolished Man remains an impressively-imagined story of a future society shared by telepaths and normals,


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Judgment Night: Colorful, emotional, thrilling

Judgment Night by C.L. Moore

Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, the foremost husband-and-wife writing team in sci-fi history, produced their novels and short stories under a plethora of pen names, as well as their own, and for the past half century it has been a sort of literary game to puzzle out which author was the primary contributor to any particular work. This has apparently been far from a simple task, as either writer was perfectly capable of picking up the other’s thoughts in mid-paragraph and carrying on.


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The Rolling Stones: A clever family’s space adventures

The Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein

Castor and Pollux Stone are 15-year-old red-headed twin boys who live in Luna City (a moon colony). They are young entrepreneurs and are making plans to buy a spaceship so they can start a trading business. When their father Roger Stone, a retired engineer and former mayor of Luna City whose current job is to write cheesy sci-fi stories for a television show, finds out about their plans, he decides to buy a space yacht and take the whole family on a trip. That includes their baby brother,


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Robots Have No Tails: Unfailingly inventive and often laugh-out-loud funny

Robots Have No Tails by Henry Kuttner

Originally released in 1952 by the early sci-fi/fantasy publisher Gnome Press, the meaninglessly titled Robots Have No Tails collects the five stories that Henry Kuttner wrote featuring the drunken inventor Galloway Gallegher. (As to that title, in the book’s original introduction by Kuttner’s equally celebrated wife, C.L. Moore, she tells us that her husband was at a loss for an appropriate name for this collection, and so told the publisher, “I can’t think of one. Call it anything you like.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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