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.

chaim potok in the beginningChaim Potok is better known for the novels The Chosen and The Promise, and the Asher Lev books, but In The Beginning is just as powerful and adds sufficiently more in terms of the Jewish experience in America and how that related to events in Europe, that it may even be his best.

The background to the novel is the initial exodus of Polish Jews from Europe to America in the wake of The Lwów pogrom (also called the Lemberg pogrom) which took place in November, 1918.

What is special about In The Beginning is how well Chaim Potok describes childhood, particularly the very early years of this boy’s life.  It is a very patient book and this reflects the slow awakening that children experience, in this case vastly heightened as the young character David is awakened to Jewishness, to his family’s own history, his own ill-health and what is to become a lifelong study of Talmud, in an effort to establish some kind of truth about himself and life.

Despite the promise of a truly epic title Sex and Satanism by Brad Steiger didn’t turn out to be very good, but at least he (or his publisher) sell a damn good book.

Fortunately the book is slight, and you’ll start skimming immediately. Delving into the Inquisition’s sexual tortures and the Beautiful Heretics and Sadistic Satanists out there, Brad Steiger's arguments if there are any are lost in anticipation of horrors that do not come, despite constant promises. 

Still, one can’t knock Brad Steiger and this is a man who claims to have written his first book when he was seven years old, and has published 162 books with over 17 million copies in print, including the biography of Rudolf Valentino, later made into a feature film by British director Ken Russell.

by Posie Rider

Once upon a time poets could chose to punctuate or not, or they could choose to drop the capital letters if that was their inclination, in the style first associated with poetic caps cop ee cummings.

The more IMS and irrupted text that passes before us, the more possibilities arise and poets tap into this in seconds and produce polygluttonous inventions like Posie Rider.

The mix is contemporary - bankerites (City Break) cake, festivals, alcohol, and poetry found in teacups, petals, beads and stones, and comment threads.

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.

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 (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.