The Computer Connection (1975) by Alfred Bester

TheComputerConnection1Bester. If you’ve had any experience with his short fiction, or even his most famous novel, the first ever Hugo-winning novel, The Demolished Man (1952), you know he unleashes his prose at a gallop, with punchy, dynamic lingo that jabs, cuts, and bruises with unrelenting speed. The Demolished Man is special because that signature bold style is razor-sharp perfect for the unlikeable sociopathic protagonist and his foul point-of-view shaped by Freudian theory and old-fashioned mores. It’s a novel that’s powered by grating absurdity and ugly humanity, and could potentially put off modern readers not expecting such strong, repugnant flavors (and the taint of the poorly aged). Yet it’s a clever and transcendent way of telling a story about a guy attempting to literally get away with murder, in a telepathic world, no less.
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Doorways in the Sand (1976) by Roger Zelazny

DoorwaysintheSand1Bits and pieces. Pieces–

Splayed and static, dry-throated, stomach churning, a red-eyed study in Bruise and bacteria, at some 12,000 feet with a Speicus of my own, I reflect upon the whispered taunts: DID YOU REVIEW ME YET?

Sigh, no. No, I did not. Soon as I get off this mountain. Promise. Continue reading

The Female Man (1975) by Joanna Russ

TheFemaleManEveryone knows that much as women want to be scientists and engineers, they want foremost to be womanly companions to men (what?) and caretakers of childhood; everyone knows that a large part of a woman’s identity inheres in the style of her attractiveness.” [60]

“Laura is daydreaming that she’s Genghis Khan.” [60] Continue reading

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) by Philip K. Dick

FlowMyTears1Drugs. Alternate realities. Paranoia.

Drugs.

Stuff I expect from Philip K. Dick, even though I’ve never read his work. Stuff that deterred me from reading Philip K. Dick, because Naked Lunch and Sartre was enough paranoia for me. Stuff that’s old now, moving on, roll my eyes, that’s so old-fashioned.

And yet, the man managed to shock my worn sensibilities in this 1974 tale about the ultimate I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

One thing about Ruth Rae: she was smart enough not to let her skin become too tanned. Nothing aged a woman’s skin faster than tanning, and few women seemed to know it… (96)

“You look every bit as beautiful—“ he began, but she cut him off brusquely.
“I’m old.” She rasped. “I’m thirty-nine” (98)
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To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971) by Philip Jose Farmer

toyourscatteredbodiesgo1They had obviously been raised from the dead so they could enjoy themselves. Otherwise, why the liquor, the cigarettes, the marihuana, the dreamgum, and the nudity? (p. 91)

Oh, boy. Don’t let that tantalize you. We’ve got a lot of annoying things going on in this book. Shall we begin?

Richard Francis Burton, esteemed 19th century explorer, geographer, cartographer, culturaler, racister, and sexualar (“master of thirty-nine languages–including pornography” [62]), dies in 1890 Trieste, and wakes up in this moving tube of slime that rotates like a rotisserie chicken, surrounded by other tubes of rotating naked, hairless people, but he’s mostly noticing the Black guy over there, and the Asian guy over there, and this really pale chick whose breasts move with her breathing, and I guess those would be normal things for an undead 19th century European guy to notice. Then he shoots out of the tube and arrives in the bank of this river, and everybody is naked and hungry, and he winds up leading a group of people.

Our cast of characters: Continue reading

A Time of Changes (1971) by Robert Silverberg

ATimeofChanges1One is finally getting around to the massive bibliography of Robert Silverberg, whom one likes to call the Susan Lucci of the Hugo Awards, (also otherwise known as Calvin Aaargh, the best pseudonym ever), the author most Hugo-nominated, but never Hugo-won, has won one over with his Nebula-winning “memoir,” A Time of Changes, about a far-future alien from a culture of severe self-suppression, where words like I, me, and myself are obscene and forbidden. One may only speak of oneself indirectly.

One really enjoyed this book.

 

I am Kinnall Darival and I mean to tell you all about myself (p. 17).

Obscene! Obscene! (p. 18).

“I! Me! I! Me! (p. 85). Continue reading

Man Plus (1976) by Frederik Pohl

ManPlus1In a criticism of the sterilized suburban existence of mid-20th America, Frederik Pohl’s protagonist of Man Plus, Roger Torraway (look at that loaded surname), celebrated astronaut on the downslope of fame, undergoes an extreme physical transformation in order to join a colonial mission to Mars, and likewise experiences a bewildering internal transformation that upsets his life, his perspective, and, ultimately, his place as a modern American male. He also gets bug eyes.

Roger and Dorrie Torraway live in Tonka, Oklahoma, “a nice couple… in a nice world,” Continue reading