Some New Doctor Who Books (Part One)

The books have been rolling in (don’t they always – I need a bigger house), from Amazon.co.uk, Ebay.co.uk, and my regular comics and books supplier in the US. So I’m going to start listing the new stuff that has landed on my doorstep during the past few months, starting off with the books based on various telefantasy series.

I’ll begin first with a few Doctor Who books. We’re in the quiet period now, between the Christmas Special and the start of Series 9, so there’s nothing Who-related happening on television at the moment. That gives me some time to catch up on a few posts about the Doctor Who-related books that I’ve picked up in recent months.

  • DOCTOR WHO: THE VISUAL DICTIONARY
  • DOCTOR WHO: THE OFFICIAL ANNUAL 2015
  • BEHIND THE SOFA: CELEBRITY MEMORIES OF DOCTOR WHO
  • THE OFFICIAL QUOTABLE DOCTOR WHO: WISE WORDS FROM ACROSS TIME AND SPACE
  • DOCTOR WHO: 50TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION – 11 DOCTORS 11 STORIES

DOCTOR WHO: THE VISUAL DICTIONARY written by Neil Corry, Jacqueline Rayner, Andrew Darling, Kerrie Dougherty, David John and Simon Beecroft (hardcover, Dorling Kindersley DK, London, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-4053-5033-4) is a lovely big coffee table book, as are most of DK’s offerings. There are lots and lots of gorgeous pictures, and plenty of info on the series, both old and new, although the newer stuff tends to take prominence. Very, very nice indeed

DOCTOR WHO: THE OFFICIAL ANNUAL 2015 (hardcover, Puffin Books, London, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-405-91756-8) isn’t quite as beefy and interesting as the big DK book, but each year wouldn’t be the same without the Doctor Who Annual.

BEHIND THE SOFA: CELEBRITY MEMORIES OF DOCTOR WHO edited by Steve Berry (hardcover, Matador, UK, 2012, ISBN: 978-1780882-857) is an interesting little read, with over a hundred celebrity fans sharing their Doctor Who memories

THE OFFICIAL QUOTABLE DOCTOR WHO: WISE WORDS FROM ACROSS TIME AND SPACE by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright (hardcover, Harper Design, New York, 2014, ISBN: 978-0-06-233614-9), a nice, fat book of Doctor Who quotations, from all eras of the show.

DOCTOR WHO: 50TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION – 11 DOCTORS 11 STORIES (trade paperback, Puffin Books, London, 2013, ISBN: 978-0-141-34894-0), is my favourite Doctor Who book of the bunch, a big, beefy trade paperback of wholesome Doctor Who fiction. Eleven stories celebrating the 50th Anniversary of our favourite Time Lord, one for each incarnation of the Doctor. Eleven stories by eleven different authors, all of which have originally appeared as a series of individual ebooks earlier in 2013. Most of the names are not authors that I recognize, but I certainly know Neil Gaiman, Eoin Colfer and Alex Scarrow, who are big-name authors (well, Gaiman and Colfer are, but Scarrow has also had a few books published).

So we have five Doctor Who books to start off with, all big, juicy tomes. There’s a lot of good reading there.

That’s it for now. More new Doctor Who book acquisitions coming up soon.

Some New and Old SF Novels

I’ve picked up a few books recently, so I’ll list them, a few at a time. Starting off firstly with the novels. Two new purchases from Amazon.co.uk, and two old/used books from local car-boot sales.

  • SATURN’S CHILDREN by Charles Stross (paperback, Orbit Books, London, 2008, ISBN: 978-1-84149-568-2)
  • NEPTUNE’S BROOD by Charles Stross (paperback, Orbit Books, London, 2013, ISBN: 978-0-356-50100-0)
  • PIRATES OF THE ASTEROIDS by Isaac Asimov (Paperback, NEL, London, 1973, first published by Doubleday & Co., Inc., New York, 1953, as LUCKY STARR AND THE PIRATES OF THE ASTEROIDS by Paul French)
  • OCEANS OF VENUS by Isaac Asimov (Paperback, NEL, London, 1974, first published by Doubleday & Co., Inc., New York, 1954, as LUCKY STARR AND THE OCEANS OF VENUS by Paul French)

The two Charles Stross books were bought new from Amazon.co.uk. These two books can be considered a pair, or loosely connected series, set in the same post-human “universe” (but many centuries apart) where humanity’s “children” seem intent on recreating the worst mistakes of both our dodgy societies and our nasty individual behaviour. Both novels can be classified as “thrillers”, set in the above-mentioned SF scenario.

The first book of the two, Saturn’s Children, is set within our solar system, only two hundred years after the death of the final natural human, whilst the follow-up novel, Neptune’s Brood, is set five thousand years later, and against an interstellar background, although constrained by STL travel and real physics. Both books are of the Hard(ish) SF/New Space Opera sub-genre of SF that I like so much, and Stross writes excellent New Space Opera fiction, so I’m pretty much guaranteed to enjoy them. I’ll leave commenting on the plots of either novel until a later date, as I haven’t read them yet.

The two Isaac Asimov novels are part of his “juvenile” or Young Adult (YA) SF&F Lucky Starr six-book series, written back in the 1950’s under his “Paul French” pseudonym (Pirates of the Asteroids is Book 2 in the series, and Oceans of Venus is Book 4). I read all of these books back when I was a kid, and they were an important part of my formative years as a young SF reader, leading me directly onto reading Asimov’s more adult SF works. As the series was written back in the Fifties, long before the first space probes gave us the first true images of our planetary neighbours, giving us a wonderful glimpse of one of those SF alternate “solar-system-that-never-was” continuums that fascinate me so much.

Unlike the two Stross novels, these two books are much older, used/second-hand copies, and were picked up recently at a car-boot sale for next-to-nothing. Both books are in quite tatty, strictly “readers-only” condition. They are definitely not collectible copies, so, ideally, I’d love to pick up pristine copies (or at least much better) of these two books, and every book in the series (if possible), as these are the classic New English Library (NEL) UK editions with the gorgeous cover artwork that I read way back when I was a pre-teenager.

I know that an omnibus collection of the entire six-book series, The Complete Adventures of Lucky Starr, was released back in 2001 (although it’s apparently now out-of-print and quite expensive to buy), but I’d like to track down decent condition copies of the six 1970’s NEL paperback UK releases, just for the lovely covers, and because they will bring back so many great childhood memories. 🙂

Some Good Sunday Night Viewing

Another interesting Sunday night with myself and the mates here at Chez Phil, and we’re all sitting here right now, watching some good sci-fi stuff on DVD.

First up, it was the complete 2-Season DVD box-set of The New Captain Scarlet. This was an impressive modern CGI remake of the classic Gerry Anderson 1960’s puppet show. In my opinion, the stories are more intelligent and more adult than those in the original series, which suits me fine, as I’m not a little kid any more. Likewise, on a visual level, the excellent (for it’s time) CGI visuals of the new series far outstrips the 1960’s version (and its rather wooden actors – couldn’t resist that! 🙂 ). Indeed, the only thing that lets The New Captain Scarlet down is its rather bland theme music, which is pretty lame compared the absolutely brilliant Barry Gray 60’s theme.

Well, four episodes later of The New Captain Scarlet, and it was time to move onto something else. So, what did we watch? By unanimous verdict, we all decided to pop open the lovely Series 1-5 DVD box-set of Warehouse 13, and stick on a few episodes of Season 4. Warehouse 13 is an odd but interesting show, very, very funny at times, with an excellent cast who work very well together. It’s also completely stark, raving bonkers, with some really daft (but fun) storylines, completely tongue-in-cheek, and is always a hoot to watch. But it can also be very dark at times. Sometimes I think that the writers of this show are on LSD or something stronger, and they certainly must have had a complete ball coming up with all the kooky powers for those crazy artifacts that they created for the series. 🙂

This Warehouse 13 box-set actually belongs to a friend of mine, and he has generously brought it (and so much other good stuff) up for all of us to watch on Sunday nights (thanks mate!). He picked it up locally for only £35, which is an absolute steal for the entire five-season run of this entertaining show. Jeeze! I remember the not-to-distant days when we had to pay £13-£14 for VHS videos containing only two lousy episodes of our favourite sci-fi series. That would’ve been somewhere between £400-£500 for this series on video. When you ain’t exactly Rockerfella, there’s a massive difference between £35 and £500 – I’ll try anything decent for £35, but £500 is reserved for computers, electronics and other relatively expensive stuff. At only £35, methinks I shall be stalking Amazon.co.uk in the near future to pick said box-set up for such a trifling sum.

Anyway, four episodes of The New Captain Scarlet and five episodes of Warehouse 13 later, and its almost 1am on Monday morning, and time to pack it in for another night. Pretty enjoyable evening overall.

THE SWORD & SORCERY ANTHOLOGY edited by David G. Hartwell and Jacob Weisman

TITLE: THE SWORD & SORCERY ANTHOLOGY
EDITED BY: David G. Hartwell and Jacob Weisman
CATEGORY: Short Fiction
SUB-CATEGORY: Anthology
PUBLISHER: Tachyon Publications, San Francisco, 2012
FORMAT: Trade Paperback, 1st Edition, 480 pages
ISBN 13: 978-1-61696-069-8
ISBN 10: 1-61696-069-8

CONTENTS:

  • Introduction: Storytellers: A Guided Ramble into Sword and Sorcery Fiction by David Drake
  • “The Tower of the Elephant” by Robert E. Howard (Weird Tales, March 1933)
  • “Black God’s Kiss” by C. L. Moore (Weird Tales, October 1934)
  • “The Unholy Grail” by Fritz Leiber (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, October 1962)
  • “The Tale of Hauk” by Poul Anderson (first appeared in Swords Against Darkness, Vol. 1, edited by Andrew J. Offutt, Zebra Books, New York, 1977)
  • “The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams” by Michael Moorcock (first appeared as “The Flame Bringers”, Science Fantasy #55, October 1962)
  • “The Adventuress” by Joanna Russ (first appeared in Orbit 2, edited by Damon Knight, Putnam, New York, 1967)
  • “Gimmile’s Songs” by Charles R. Saunders (first appeared in Sword and Sorceress #1, edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley, DAW Books, New York, 1984)
  • “Undertow” by Karl Edward Wagner (Whispers #10, August 1977)
  • “The Stages of the God” by Ramsey Campbell [writing as Mongomery Comfort] (Whispers #5, November 1974)
  • “The Barrow Troll” by David Drake (Whispers #8, December 1975)
  • “Soldier of an Empire Unacquainted with Defeat” by Glen Cook (Berkley Showcase, Volume 2, edited by Victoria Schochet and John Silbersack, Berkley Books, New York, 1980)
  • “Epistle from Lebanoi” by Michael Shea (Original to this anthology, 2012)
  • “Become a Warrior” by Jane Yolen (Warrior Princess, edited by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough and Martin H. Greenberg, DAW Books, New York, 1998)
  • “The Red Guild” by Rachel Pollack (Sword and Sorceress #2, edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley, DAW Books, New York, 1985)
  • “Six from Atlantis” by Gene Wolfe (Cross Plains Universe: Texans Celebrate Robert E. Howard, edited by Scott A. Cupp and Joe R. Lansdale, MonkeyBrain Books & Fandom Association of Central Texas, 2006)
  • “The Sea Troll’s Daughter” by Caitlín R. Kiernan (Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders, EOS, New York, 2010)
  • “The Coral Heart” by Jeffrey Ford (Eclipse Three, edited by Jonathan Strahan, Night Shade Books, San Francisco, 2009)
  • “Path of the Dragon” by George R. R. Martin (Asimov’s SF, December 2000)
  • “The Year of the Three Monarchs” by Michael Swanwick (Original to this anthology, 2012)

Right, we have something a bit different this time around. Firstly, this anthology is a lot more recent than most of the others that I’ve posted about on the blog so far. It’s relatively new, in fact, published in 2012, and edited by David G. Hartwell, with whom I’m very familiar for his work on SF anthologies (one of my favourite modern SF editors, but I’m not familiar at all with his co-editor, Jacob Weisman). But I will be including new anthologies that I’m impressed with from time to time, so this may be the first, but it won’t be an exception, although the main focus of the blog will always be on the older, “forgotten” anthologies.

Secondly, and this is a first for this blog, this isn’t a science fiction anthology, it’s a fantasy anthology. Or, to be more precise, a sword and sorcery anthology. The “About” section of this blog does state that I would be including very occasional reviews of fantasy books, although they will be very far and few between. I’m not overly fond of reading fantasy at the best of times (I’m more of an Analog nuts ‘n’ bolts hard SF kinda guy), and I simply can’t abide the modern dominant Tolkein-imitation strain of mainstream fantasy. Hey, I can’t even read Tolkein himself, as his writing totally bores me to tears, so how could I abide second and third-rate imitators?

However, I do like some of the older, more traditional forms of fantasy (for instance, the Narnia books, which IMHO are far superior to Tolkein) and some Young Adult SF&F. Like I said, there will be only very rare reviews of fantasy books, as it only comprises a tiny percent of what I read. More than 95% of my fiction reading is SF, most of the rest is classic/older horror (not the modern stuff), and only about 1% (maybe less) is fantasy.

But this is a sword and sorcery anthology, and s&s is a very rare exception, the only sub-genre of fantasy that I actually enjoy reading on a more widespread basis. It’s definitely the darker, horror elements that really attract me to s&s, as well as the fact that most s&s stories are not afflicted by that excruciatingly boring pseudo-medieval, rustic scenario that the vast majority of modern mainstream fantasy is set in. I could never be a farmer! 🙂

I have to admit that my s&s reading has been mostly confined to the classic 1930’s and 1940’s work of Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, C. L. Moore, maybe a little of Fritz Leiber and a few others. I haven’t read anything in this genre post-1950. So tackling this anthology is going to be quite interesting. Only two of the stories are pre-1950 (both early 1930’s), and the rest are from the 1960’s onwards, and covering every decade from then up until the two original 2012 stories written for the anthology. I don’t know how different modern s&s is to the classic form, but I reckon I’ll find out soon enough.

I must admit that my tastes in SF&F reading material have changed and narrowed drastically in the last 10-15 years. I know I’ll still enjoy the earlier Robert E. Howard and C. L. Moore stories, and most likely the Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock and Poul Anderson. But as for the more modern stories by the authors that I’m not familiar with, that remains to be seen. Let’s see if I can make it the whole way through this one without giving up. 🙂