I found this new collection of classic Stan Lee & Steve Ditko Spider-Man tales by chance when I was browsing on Amazon. I have always liked this design of the Penguin Classics books, and when I checked what was reprinted I had to order a copy. (Content details below.) I bought the paperback edition for $28. There is a gorgeous looking hardcover edition as well, but it was too pricey for me. I actually prefer paperback volumes to hardbacks. I find them easier to handle as well as read .
Penguin Classics Marvel Collection: The Amazing Spider-Man (2022) by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Foreword by Jason Reynolds, Introduction by Ben Saunders. It Collects “Spider-Man!” from Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962); The Amazing Spider-Man#1-4, #9, #10, #13, #14, #17-19 (1963-1964); “Goodbye to Linda Brown” from Strange Tales #97 (1962); “How Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Create Spider-Man!” from The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964).
‘The doctors who worked in the Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH) during the Korean War were well trained but, like most soldiers sent to fight a war, too young for the job. In the words of the author, “a few flipped their lids, but most of them just raised hell, in a variety of ways and degrees.”‘
I remember watching the TV series with my parents when I was young. Later, I discovered the Robert Altman film adaptation. After getting used to Alan Alda and Wayne Rogers as the surgeons Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce and “Trapper” John McIntyre, it was strange seeing them played by Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould in the 1970 movie. I haven’t watched the TV show in years but I re-watched the M*A*S*H film earlier this year. I really enjoyed it and it inspired me to read the book.
‘In the bottom compartment of her jewellery case he came across a small flat gold-cased object, equipped with a wrist strap. The dial had no hands but the twelve-numbered face intrigued him and he fastened it to his wrist.’
-J.G. Ballard, Chronopolis
In a world where timepieces have been abolished, Conrad Newman is in jail, waiting to stand trial for murder.
The story opens with the protagonist Conrad Newman in jail awaiting trial. We learn that he has fashioned a sundial in his cell which he uses to keep track of the “daily roster.” It’s clear that Conrad is obsessed with time, as he worries about “going mad” if he is unable to tell what time it is “at any given moment.” There are no clocks in the prison.
“Then how come,” Blair said, “you’re squatting here in these ruins instead of lounging at a swimming pool in one of those conapt constellations?” The man grunted, gestured. “I just–like to be free.”
Back in 2016, I took part in a Philip K. Dick reading challenge with a few fellow bloggers. I read and reviewed one PKD novel each month, while working through the mammoth, monster-of-a-tome that isThe Exegesis of Philip K. Dick(2011), 75 pages at a time. That was the year my blog became more than just the occasional post about cherry blossoms or Halloween reads. So, I have the novels of PKD to thank for leading me–kind of–to where I am today, typing these words.
‘World War III is raging – or so the millions of people crammed in their underground tanks believe. For fifteen years, subterranean humanity has been fed on daily broadcasts of a never-ending nuclear destruction, sustained by a belief in the all powerful Protector. But up on Earth’s surface, a different kind of reality reigns. East and West are at peace. Across the planet, an elite corps of expert hoaxers preserve the lie.’
‘And a helm was on his head; a black helm, with a dragon’s head craning over the peak, and dragon’s wings flaring backward above it, and a dragon’s tail curling down the back.’
Yes, I’m very late to the tales of Elric VIII, 428th Emperor of Melniboné. His first appearance was in a novelette titled “The Dreaming City” which was published in the British magazine Science Fantasy in 1961. Since then, Moorcock’s most famous creation has featured in a wide range of stories including short stories, novels, comic books and graphic novels. The publisher Gollancz republished all of Moorcock’s Elric back catalogue over seven volumes from 2013–15. This is the first volume and serves as an introduction to the character.
‘The flesh surrenders itself, he thought. Eternity takes back its own. Our bodies stirred these waters briefly, danced with a certain intoxication before the love of life and self, dealt with a few strange ideas, then submitted to the instruments of Time. What can we say of this? I occurred. I am not . . . yet, I occurred.’
I recently read and reviewed Frank Herbert’s Dune. It was my second time to read it and the reread confirmed my opinion that Dune is a masterpiece. I believe it can stand on its own as a single story, a one-and-done work of incredible imagination. But like most readers of Dune, I wanted more. Imagine trying to write a sequel to such a book. How do you follow up a story like Dune? Where do you go next?
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
I first read Dune some years ago, probably in my later teens. I really enjoyed it and it left a strong impression on me. I remember going to see David Lynch’s film version at a cinema in Manchester back in the winter of 1984. This was before I read the book. I also remember the hype building up to the film’s release and the focus on the special effects of the sandworms. Lynch’s movie; I know how much it gets slated but there’s something about it that I’ve always loved. Parts of it look and feel completely alien and strange. And those sandworms still look great today, I don’t care what you say!
But on to the novel.
There are so many reviews of Dune already out there that I wonder what I can add to the conversation. Only my opinion and what I liked about the story. I’m not going to attempt a critical reading or interpretation of the novel. If you want to read one of those, I highly recommend you check out fellow book-blogger Bart’s rich and thoughtful review over here at “Weighing A Pig Doesn’t Fatten It“. I can only dream of writing such a thoughtful and intelligent review. Continue reading →
‘The planet Tandy was a gas giant as big as Jupiter, a beautiful object when it rose into Tandy Two’s skies, but uninhabitable and unapproachable.’
“O Moon of My Delight” is a character-driven short story with an interstellar setting. It is one of eight stories found in Brian Aldiss’ 1963 collection “The Airs of Earth“. The story opens with Murragh Harrison preparing to watch the arrival of a Faster-Than-Light starship. He is on the moon Tandy Two, a place which is used as a kind of braking device for the incoming F.T.L. ships. Harrison, a wannabe poet, is there for the spectacular display.
‘The F.T.L. ship burst into normal space on automatic control, invisible and unheard at first. Boring for the world like a metal fist swung at a defenseless heart, it was a gale of force.’
Douglas Quail wakes up in his ‘conapt’ after dreaming of Mars. He dreams of walking along its valleys. At the beginning of the story, we are told that Mars is a world ‘which only Government agents and high officials had seen.‘ It’s not a place a ‘miserable little salaried employee‘ can visit. Kirsten, Doug’s wife, reminds him of this every day. But it’s okay because ‘it was a wife’s job to bring her husband down to Earth.‘
This is how Dick’s classic story opens. As he inhales his morning shot of snuff, Doug’s wife complains that he is obsessed with the Red Planet. She wants him to take her on a trip to ‘the bottom of the ocean‘, to ‘one of those year-round aquatic resorts.‘ His Martian dreams can only lead one way: “you’re doomed, Doug!” Continue reading →
“Pete, I can’t go on. I’ve got a gelatinous blob for a child.” (p.11)
First published in the February 1964 issue of Galaxy magazine, Oh, to Be a Blobel! is a satirical short story about interplanetary war veteran George Munster. The Blobels, large amoeba-like aliens, arrived from another star system prompting the Human-Blobel War.
“I fought three years in that war, […] I hated the Blobels and I volunteered; I was only nineteen.” (p.1)
George became a spy, which required him to be medically altered into the jelly-like Blobel form. The problem was, when he returned from the war he was unable to fully relinquish this ‘repellent form.’ Despite his doctor’s best efforts, every twelve hours George reverts to a Blobel. Continue reading →