the Little Red Reviewer

Alfred Bester, Robert Heinlein, and short stories for Vintage Month

Posted on: January 13, 2018

 

Sorry about the radio silence, it’s been a long week!   I haven’t written formal reviews for these books, but here’s what I’ve been reading recently for Vintage Science Fiction month!

 

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (1957) – I’ve been meaning to read this forever. It’s one of those books that can spark never ending conversations, in a good way! It’s a sort of space opera version of The Count of Monte Cristo.  Gully Foyle is just a regular guy, and he gets marooned in space, the only survivor of a nearly destroyed ship.  A ship comes to salvage, and sees Foyle. But instead of rescuing him, the ship leaves. Foyle vows to find the people who left him behind, and destroy them.    Things I enjoyed about The Stars My Destination included the explanation of how people discovered how to teleport themselves and how teleportation drastically changes how society functions, how Foyle survives a few minutes at a time on the dying ship, his tiger tattoos and the lunatics who tattood him, and I really loved the revelation at the end about WHY certain people want to get their hands on Gully Foyle. The last chapter was absolutely brilliant. Things I didn’t like about this book were basically all of the characters.  Maybe upon reread I’ll connect with the characters more, but I didn’t care for any of them, and I couldn’t buy into Foyle’s insta-relationship with Olivia.

 

9th Annual Year’s Best SF, edited by Judith Merrill (1964) – I’ve been dipping in and out of this anthology. I started with one of my favorite Cordwainer Smith short stories, “Drunkboat”, what a great story! I mean, everything Smith wrote was fantastic!  And then I got laugh out of “Double Standard”, by Frederic Brown. Told from the point of view of  a person who lives inside a television set, who acts towards the window, and wonders about the people he sees on the other side of the window, different people every night. This hilariously rated G story originally appeared in Playboy.  Other fun stories I enjoyed included  “Mrs Pigafetta Swims Well” by R. Bretnor, “Poppa Needs Shorts”, by Walt & Leigh Richmond, and “Ming Vase”, by E.C. Tubb.  I expect to dip into this anthology more, as there are stories by Alfred Bester, Fritz Leiber, and Hal Clement I’d like to read.

 

Starman Jones by Robert Heinlein (1953) – So, I do consider myself a Heinlein fan. And many people list Starman Jones as their favorite Heinlein juvenile. But it fell completely flat for me. Maybe I would have liked it more if I’d read it as a pre-teen? It seems like something a pre-teen could really get into.   The characters felt very flat to me, and Max Jones, the main character, he doesn’t seem to have any personality. Things happen around them, he responds to them in whatever way the story needs, the story moves on. So, the less said about this one, the better.

 

 

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2 Responses to "Alfred Bester, Robert Heinlein, and short stories for Vintage Month"

I really liked Stars My Destination. Great stuff.

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Gutted to hear that Starman Jones isn’t much cop – it’s on my pile for this month and Heinlein’s one of those big names I feel I should have read, you know? I’ll definitely be giving The Stars My Destination a go though. 🙂

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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