science fiction

  • A Spectre is Haunting Texas by Fritz Leiber

    I first discovered the books of Fritz Leiber through Dungeons and Dragons, because at one stage D&D evolved to include the mythos of many of its players’ favourite fictions, including Michael Moorcock’s Elric, and HP Lovecraft’s Cthulu, both of which could be played if you had the correct edition of Deities and Demigods.

    Fritz Leiber’s contributions were more serious than either of these guys’ works were, and better written, almost literary in fact, and told of the city of Lankmhar, home to two of Leiber’s greatest creations, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

    In the stand alone romp A Spectre is Haunting Texas, hormone treatment has turned all Texans into giants and their Mex slaves into dwarves.

  • Capella’s Golden Eyes

    I have long accepted that Capella’s Golden Eyes by Christopher Evans was the novel that started it all off for me, and I have consulted with other buffs over the years, and it appears that I am not alone and that it is all in the opening.

    I won’t spoil it for you, but the first paragraph of this novel has ensnared many a young teenage boy. I must have been 14 years old when I read them in a bookshop in Inverness, and bought the book a few minutes later.

    After that I was hooked on sci-fi, hooked on books, and probably hooked on writing and publishing too. What a fate!

  • Invaders from Earth by Robert Silverberg

    Invaders From Earth by Robert Silverberg covers the ever-timely subject of Public Relations.  Indeed, one need only use the term P.R. and you know that lies are about to flow, and in this case, the lies are as grand and ubiquitous as anything we suffer today. 

    The story of Invaders From Earth tells of the discovery of valuable minerals on the moon Ganymede, and the predictable consequences on that moon for the local population of aliens who live there.  Needless to say, when the Gannies decide their minerals aren’t for sharing or even selling, the men of earth decide to simply take them, and that they are going to start a war.

  • Night Walk by Bob Shaw

    Night Walk (1967) by Bob Shaw reads like a road movie, which instead of a car and a road, has man with some electronic sonar eyes crossing a swampy continent, using a bird to guide him.

    It’s a tough book, and unlike other Bob Shaw novels of the same era, Night Walk is an intense and gruelling look at madness, and how messed up minds get when basic human functions are altered by science.

  • Other Days, Other Eyes by Bob Shaw

    Science fiction novels are much more fun when a technology they present has a believable aspect to it, and it’s even better still if the application in question is new, hasn’t been thought of before, or is something that already exists in theoretical or prototypical form.

    I guess one of these is true of most SF scenarios, but when they come together as they do in something like Bob Shaw’s Other Days, Other Eyes, the effect can be stunning.

  • Vertigo by Bob Shaw

    Vertigo (1978) isn’t from Bob Shaw’s vintage period, but neither is it one of the less successful novels from the 1980s, when some of the passion seemed to leave him for a while.

    It concerns a much cherished human ambition — personal flight — and the consequences for us poor infallible humans. It’s true, and many SF authors would back this up — but people should never be allowed new inventions, because great as technology may be, it’s always going to be screwed up one way or the other.