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]: 1960


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Corpus Earthling: Book vs. film

Corpus Earthling by Louis Charbonneau

As revealed in David J. Schow and Jeffrey Frentzen’s essential reference book The Outer Limits: The Official Companion (1986), that TV series’ producer and co-creator, Joseph Stefano, was laboring with some pretty serious concerns before the airing of Season 1’s ninth episode, “Corpus Earthling.” To quote from the book: “’When “Corpus Earthling” was finished and the music added, I sat there wishing I could say don’t air this,’ said Joseph Stefano. ‘I had never thought it could be that scary,


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The Atlantic Abomination: There goes Jacksonville!

The Atlantic Abomination by John Brunner

In his 1953 novel The Kraken Wakes, English author John Wyndham gave his readers a tale concerning aliens who land on Earth and proceed to terrorize the planet from their bases on the ocean floor. But this, of course, was not the last time that a British writer would regale his readers with a story about malevolent space visitors living beneath the seas. Thus, in John Brunner’s novel of seven years later,


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The Night of the Long Knives: Totally absorbing

The Night of the Long Knives by Fritz Leiber

Free on Kindle.

Murder, as you must know by now, I can understand and sympathize with deeply. But war? No.

After a nuclear holocaust, America is unrecognizable. There are a few cities left on the coasts, but most of America is now the Deathlands, where radioactive dust hazes the skies and radiation-scarred survivors try to stay alive another day. Besides devastating the land, the catastrophe has somehow warped the minds of the few remaining citizens of the Deathlands;


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Trouble with Lichen: Complications of eternal youth

Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham

Published in 1960, John Wyndham’s Trouble with Lichen tells the story of Diana Brackley, a revolutionary, a feminist, and a scientist.

Diana is considered odd because although she is attractive, she does not want to marry. Instead, she is dedicated to her career in the lab, and it is there that she makes her amazing discovery: a type of lichen that slows the aging process. Diana decides to use the lichen to empower women,


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Dr. Futurity: An underrated Dick outing

Dr. Futurity by Philip K. Dick

As I mentioned in my review of Philip K. Dick’s 1960 novel Vulcan’s Hammer, by 1959, the future Hugo winner was feeling decidedly disenchanted with science fiction in general, despite having had published some 85 short stories and half a dozen novels in that genre. The author, it seems, was still pinning his hopes on becoming a more “respectable,” mainstream writer, and had indeed already completed nine such novels: Return to Lilliput,


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Vulcan’s Hammer: Minor Dick, but still very entertaining

Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K. Dick

According to Philip K. Dick authority Lawrence Sutin, in his well-researched biography Divine Invasions, by 1959, although Dick had already had some 85 short stories as well as half a dozen novels published, his interest in creating more sci-fi had reached a low point. The future Hugo winner was at this point hoping to become more of a mainstream author, having by this time already written nine such novels, none of which had been published … yet.


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A Fine and Private Place: A gentle tale of love, death, and lost souls

A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Peter S. Beagle is a well-known author of many fantasy novels, including the classic The Last Unicorn. However, I don’t often hear mention of his debut novel, A Fine and Private Place (1960), written when he was only 19 years old. Given his age it’s a phenomenal achievement — the prose is polished, filled with pathos and humor, and the characters’ relationships are deftly described. And yet I couldn’t get into the story at all,


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The High Crusade: Science fantasy silliness

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson

In his wonderful breakdown of the genre in The Strategies of Fantasy, Brian Atterbery devotes an entire chapter to the sub-genre of science fantasy, stating that of the “works that mingle the rhetoric of science fiction with that of fantasy, nearly all can be classed as either humorous or mythological.” Though citing a scene from A Princess of Mars wherein love develops between a human male and an egg-laying Martian,


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Unearthly Neighbors: A hugely satisfying novel of first contact

Unearthly Neighbors by Chad Oliver

The conventional wisdom for aspiring writers has long been “Write what you know,” a piece of advice that Cincinnati-born author Chad Oliver apparently took to heart. Greatly interested in the field of anthropology, Oliver, over the course of seven novels stretching from 1952 – ’76, as well as four collections of short stories, eventually carved out a place for himself as one of the leading lights in that curious subgenre known as anthropological science fiction. And the author was hardly a dabbler in his chosen scholarly field.


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Planet of Death: Action-packed, light on theme

Planet of Death by Robert Silverberg

Planet of Death by Robert Silverberg is an enjoyable read, but it was the first story/novel I’ve read of his that was this light on theme, which for me is central to good literature. I know that exploring complex themes is also of primary concern for Silverberg because he emphasizes theme in almost all of the forty-plus stories he included in his short story collections covering the period of time before his writing Planet of Death in 1960.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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    Maybe in the next couple months I'll get the DVDs of the two "Dune" SyFy productions from 2000 and 2003.…

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