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]: 1978


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What Dreams May Come: Dead on arrival

What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson

It’s the big question; one that has been weighing on mankind for millennia now … namely, what happens to us when we buy the farm? You know … croak, kick the bucket, breathe one’s last, check out, cash in one’s chips, bite the dust, ride into the sunset, pass on, pass away, give up the ghost, meet one’s maker, pass over, perish … in a word, die. It’s a conundrum that many people have wondered about once or twice – or 10,000 times – during their stay here on Earth;


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The Stand: The biggest, baddest tale of the apocalypse

The Stand by Stephen King

Stephen King‘s The Stand is an awesomely epic creation. It’s good versus evil writ large across the American landscape. It’s heavy, detailed, and extremely rich in the characterizations of its people and themes. The story is familiar — an apocalyptic virus is accidentally (and inevitably) released from a government lab. Over 99% of all human life is wiped out by what becomes known as Captain Trips. This story is about those who survived.

The survivors are polarized around two god-like characters that magnetize individuals through their dreams.


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Half in Shadow: 14 perfect gems

Half in Shadow by Mary Elizabeth Counselman

In my review of Jessie Douglas Kerruish‘s The Undying Monster, I warned readers away from the British publishing outfit known as Flame Tree 451, because of the company’s slapdash manner of proofreading and editing its products. But just as there are some publishers that should be avoided, there exist others whose books might be safely recommended just by virtue of the company’s imprint itself. Such a one, for me, is Arkham House,


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The Eye of the Heron: A short but complex novel suitable for all ages

The Eye of the Heron by Ursula K. Le Guin

Starscape (Tom Doherty’s YA imprint) presents The Eye of the Heron as a book for ages 10 and above. While the story is straightforward enough, the philosophical ideas that underpin the story are quite complex, so The Eye of the Heron is quite an interesting read for the more mature reader as well. Le Guin does not waste any words in telling the story, she delivers a to-the-point but surprisingly complex novel. If you read it at age 10,


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The Sandcats of Rhyl: Possibly the worst novel I’ve ever read

The Sandcats of Rhyl by Robert E. Vardeman

The Sandcats of Rhyl, Robert E. Vardeman’s first novel, is possibly the worst novel I’ve ever read. It is bad in every sense — so bad that I wondered if it might be a parody of bad science fiction. Apparently it’s not a parody; it’s just simply bad.

So how did I end up with this awful book? It was one of those daily ebook deals at Amazon. I think I paid 99¢ and then added the audio narration for 99¢ more.


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The Persistence of Vision: Fascinating

The Persistence of Vision by John Varley

In a post-apocalyptic near-future, a middle-aged drifter roams from commune to commune in the Southwest United States. Each of these groups has its own culture and he stays a while at each, doing whatever he needs (e.g., going nude, praying, chanting “Hare Krishna”) to fit in while he’s there. This works well for him — he stays fed and sheltered and moves on when he’s ready for a change of scenery.

But when he comes across a walled-in settlement in the middle of Native American land,


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Dreamsnake: Nebula and Hugo winner

Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre

Dreamsnake (1978) by Vonda N. McIntyre is a novel that won the Nebula and Hugo double, something that happened more often than not in the 1970s. Although slightly less common since the mid-1980s, it is still surprising to see how many novels are joint winners, especially since the nominees don’t overlap that much. I purchased Dreamsnake as an e-book after reading an article by Ursula K. Le Guin about it. It ended up on the formidable to-read stack but this month I finally managed to read it.


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Baal: Exploring early McCammon

Baal by Robert McCammon

The first Robert McCammon book I ever read was Swan Song, a post-apocalyptic horror story about the choices people make when there are no rules. Baal, published in 1978 and reissued by Subterranean Press, explores many of the same themes. I expected this book would have some historical interest for me, as a look back at how a mature writer got his start. To my surprise I found compelling writing and a character I cared about.


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No Flying in the House: Adorable book for young readers

No Flying in the House by Betty Brock

Annabel Tippins is not like other girls. First, she has no parents. Second, she is cared for by a tiny white dog named Gloria. Third, Gloria can talk. When Annabel starts to discover the truth about her past, she’ll have to make a choice between the parents she has always wanted, and the best friend she has ever had.

No Flying in the House
by Betty Brock is an engaging tale of a young girl trying to find her way in the world with only a little dog for guidance.


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The Castle of Dark: You won’t regret tracking it down

The Castle of Dark by Tanith Lee

It is continually frustrating to read a rich, suspenseful, beautifully crafted book and then find that hardly anybody else knows about it — such is apparently the case with Tanith Lee’s The Castle of Dark. Containing an imprisoned damsel, a spooky castle, a magical harp and a mysterious secret, this is a wonderful book that has the same tone and atmosphere of an old dark fairytale.

The chapters switch back and forth between two characters: Lilune is a strange young woman living with two hags in an abandoned and dark castle.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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