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]: 1954


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G.O.G. 666: Taine’s Cold War swan-song novel

G.O.G. 666 by John Taine

When famed Scottish mathematician Eric Temple Bell released his first novel, 1924’s The Purple Sapphire, no one could have foreseen that his literary career would extend 30 more years and encompass 15 books of very high-quality science fiction. Looking back on the eight books by Bell that I have read so far – all of them written under his pen name, John Taine – the thing that strikes me first is how very different each one is from the others.


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Shadows in the Sun: Oliver’s story

Shadows in the Sun by Chad Oliver

Although it’s been almost seven years since I read Chad Oliver’s masterful fourth novel, Unearthly Neighbors (1960), such are the evocative atmosphere and compelling alien depictions in that book that I still manage to remember it quite well. And indeed, Unearthly Neighbors just might be the most convincingly realistic description of “first contact” on another world that a reader could ever hope to encounter.


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Untouched by Human Hands: Sheckley’s stories are sharp and insightful

Untouched by Human Hands by Robert Sheckley

After reading Robert Sheckley’s Dimension of Miracles, I was eager to read more of his work. That novel was intelligent, creative, thought-provoking, and entertaining. So I picked up Untouched by Human Hands, a collection of Sheckley’s short stories published in the 1950s in the various pulp magazines.

My edition is the audiobook produced by Skyboat Media and read by Gabrielle de Cuir, Stefan Rudnicki, and Harlan Ellison.


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Brain Wave: A fascinating idea

Brain Wave by Poul Anderson

Poul Anderson’s Brain Wave has a great premise — for millennia, unknown to scientists, the Earth has been under the influence of some sort of field that dampens the speed of neurons in the cortex. But now the Earth has suddenly passed out of the field and immediately neurons start working faster, making everyone’s IQs (man and animal) escalate dramatically. This sounds like a good thing to me, but perhaps it’s not in Poul Anderson’s mind. In his story, human civilization changes drastically,


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The Star Beast: A great story buried under a lot of politics

The Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein

The Star Beast (1954) is one of Robert A. Heinlein’s “juveniles.” When I was a kid in the late ‘70s / early ’80s, I loved these and can still remember where they were located in the library of my elementary school. My dad had some at home, too, and probably still does since I’ve never known him to throw out a book. I can’t say that I love all of Heinlein’s work — in fact, I absolutely loathe some of his novels for adults — but I can give him credit for inspiring my life-long love of science fiction,


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The Broken Sword: A dark fantasy classic

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword (1954) was selected by David Pringle in his Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, and is highly praised by Michael Moorcock, whose character Elric of Melnibone and his demon-possessed sword Stormbringer are directly inspired by The Broken Sword. The audio version is narrated by Bronson Pinchot, who has an amazing vocal range and narrates with passion.


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The City and The Stars: Restless in a perfect future city

The City and The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke

The City and The Stars is a 1954 rewrite of Arthur C. Clarke’s first book Against the Fall of Night (1948). There are plenty of adherents of the original version, but the revised version is excellent too.

As one of his earlier classic tales, this one features many familiar genre tropes: A far-future city called Diaspar, where technology is so sophisticated it seems like magic, a young (well not exactly,


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The Forgotten Planet: You want BEMs? Look no further!

The Forgotten Planet by Murray Leinster

There is a wonderful old term used to describe a feature of Golden Age science fiction novels: BEM, an acronym for “bug-eyed monsters.” Back in the 1930s and ‘40s, you see, the covers of many sci-fi pulp magazines featured illustrations of bulbous-orbed, invariably menacing aliens and other creatures; just do a Google Image search for the Thrilling Wonder Stories periodical and you’ll see what I mean! But anyone wanting to actually READ a book with more BEMs than any 10 other sci-fi books of the era combined would be well advised to pick up Murray Leinster’s The Forgotten Planet.


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Revolt on Alpha C: Inaugurates the start of one of Sci-Fi’s most beloved careers

Revolt on Alpha C by Robert Silverberg

A quick glance at The Quasi-Official Robert Silverberg Web Site will reveal that the author, during the course of his 60-year career, managed to somehow come out with no fewer than 75 science fiction novels, 180 “adult” and crime novels, 450 (!) sci-fi short stories and novellas, 125 adult/crime short stories, and 70 books of nonfiction… not to mention the 130 or so anthologies for which he served as editor! But all great writing careers have to begin somewhere, and for Robert Silverberg,


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I am Legend: Not really about vampires

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

I don’t like vampire novels much, so I wasn’t planning to read Richard Matheson’s classic vampire story I am Legend which was published in 1954, is also known by the title The Omega Man, and is, of course, the basis for the movie I am Legend.

But then I recently read and was enthralled by two other books by Matheson: The Incredible Shrinking Man and Steel and Other Stories.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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