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]: 1980


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The Artificial Kid: Early cyberpunk

The Artificial Kid by Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling’s 1980 novel The Artificial Kid wasn’t on my TBR list until Brilliance Audio published an audiobook edition a couple of months ago. I’m so happy to see these older science fiction novels being revived and made even more accessible to a new generation of speculative fiction readers. Last month I reviewed the new audio edition of Sterling’s first novel, Involution Ocean, also by Brilliance Audio. I hope we’ll be seeing more of his novels coming out in audio soon.


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Nightflyers: Mystery and horror aboard a haunted spaceship

Reposting to include Marion’s review of the new SYFY channel adaptation of Nightflyers. You can find it below our reviews of the novella.

Nightflyers by George R.R. Martin

Nightflyers was first published in 1980, won the Locus Award for best novella, and was nominated for a Hugo Award. It was made into an unsuccessful film in 1987. It’s recently been on people’s radars due to the upcoming SYFY series based on the novella. You can purchase it in several new (2018) formats including an illustrated edition,


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The Land of Laughs: An entertaining and thought-provoking tale

The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll

The Land of Laughs was written back in 1980 and I wonder how many readers know about it now. It’s written by Jonathan Carroll, who has written a number of offbeat modern fantasies, and I only know about it because it was selected by David Pringle for his Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels. Even that is probably not enough to put it on most radars, but Neil Gaiman also chose it for his “Neil Gaiman Presents” series of audiobooks,


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Timescape: Intimate but slow-moving story about scientists

Timescape by Gregory Benford

Timescape (1980) has been on my TBR list for 35+ years, I’ve long wanted to read physicist Gregory Benford, the book won the Nebula Award, and it deals with time paradoxes, which I find fascinating but invariably unconvincing. First off, most of the book’s considerable length is devoted to a slow-moving and detailed portrait of scientists (mostly physicists, but also some biologists and astronomers) at work in the lab as well as their personal relationships with colleagues and wives/girlfriends. So to describe this as a “techno-thriller” would be inaccurate.


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Mockingbird: A warning against drug use and illiteracy

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

In the 25th century, the human race is quickly dwindling. Robots and computers do all of the work while humans spend their meaningless lives in a drug-haze. From birth they are not educated except to be taught not to question their circumstances (“Don’t ask; relax.” “When in doubt, forget it.”) and not to get involved with other humans except to quickly satisfy sexual urges. Most people think they’re happy this way and any who become conscious enough to realize they’re not tend to kill themselves. A preferred method is to set themselves afire in public while others try not to stare.


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Direct Descent: Frank Herbert’s worst novel

Direct Descent by Frank Herbert

Direct Descent (1980) is by a fair margin the weakest novel by Frank Herbert I’ve read.

In the far future the whole of Earth’s interior has been taken up by a gigantic library. Ships travel the known universe to collect information about just about everything and bring it back to Earth to archive it and make it available to the entire galaxy. The first and foremost rule of this organization is always obey the government whomever that may be — a rule meant to underline the library’s strict neutrality.


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The Night Boat: A fine piece of horror fiction

The Night Boat by Robert R. McCammon

The Night Boat was Robert R. McCammon’s third published novel, first appearing in 1980. Now Subterranean Press has brought it back as a (sold out) limited edition, and also made it available in e-book format for the first time. It betrays some of the faults of a then-new writer, but also has considerable power in its portrayal of Nazi submariners, as terrifying 35 years after the end of World War II as they were in the days when they lurked in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean — if not more so.


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Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth: Fragments from Tolkien

Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is the first work that showed us how J.R.R. Tolkien’s obsessive perfectionism was a double-edged sword. On the one hand it gave us the wonderfully deep world and implied distances of THE LORD OF THE RINGS; and on the other hand it left us with a jumble of tales in various states of revision and development that had to be compiled by Tolkien’s son Christopher into some form as The Silmarillion… a jumble of tales that,


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Bethany’s Sin: Dated but emotionally compelling

Bethany’s Sin by Robert McCammon

Robert McCammon originally published Bethany’s Sin in 1980. Subterranean Press is reissuing it just in time for Halloween. This horror novel covered familiar territory even in 1980, with its “perfect little village with a dark secret,” but McCammon’s good characterization managed to make it fresh, and there are a few twists along the way.

The book opens with an archeological dig in Turkey, where an unnamed woman makes an extraordinary discovery. The next section deals with an American soldier,


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Riddley Walker: On the Edge

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

[At The Edge of the Universe, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]

Language is dependent on the society that uses it. We weave into our idiom words and phrases that explain our history and our present. Similes and metaphors embed themselves so deeply into our sentences that we don’t even notice them. Some are slang: we didn’t get the memo,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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