‘Whenever you talk, Meyer, I begin to think of a certain tone of green.’
‘Holofilms’, ‘transport units’, ergot, references to Mars, Shakespeare, and Coleridge, Brian Aldiss’s THE ERGOT SHOW is a bit of a wild ride. It reads like a 1960s art-house film script if written by someone under the influence of something strong. Is this what is often labelled New Wave science fiction? It does feel experimental and artistic. I’m not familiar with the movement so please feel free to correct me in the comments below.
The story features two film directors, Pagolini and Rhodes. One is filming the other’s film being made. They attend a party and talk about the ‘holofilm’ industry. This is interspersed with descriptions of various locations and brief scenes featuring some background characters. The effects of consuming ergot fungi plays a small part in the narrative. Continue reading →
‘If we remove him from the past, we have to make sure no one notices the big jagged hole in history we’ll leave.’
I reviewed John Sladek’s 1983 BSFA-winning novel Tik-Tok back in December 2015. I enjoyed the story, describing it as “a darkly humorous satire that casts a wry eye on such topics as art, celebrity, power, politics and slavery.” THE STEAM-DRIVEN BOY is a humourous short story that pokes fun at Asimov’s “Robot” novels. It’s another story taken from the fine 1972 collection Nova 2.
‘I opened eyes and saw him, the God-man with the special food.’
When I was researching this short story by Naomi Mitchison, I remembered where I’d heard the author’s name before. Her 1962 novel Memoirs of a Spacewoman is on a list I made of female authors to read. It was recommended to me by a fellow blogger but I wasn’t able to find a copy. (Bart over at Weighing a Pig Doesn’t Fatten It has a thoughtful review of Memoirshere if you are interested.)
Mitchison’s short story “Miss Omega Raven” was published in Nova 2 (1972), as well as the Terry Carr edited The Best Science Fiction of the Year #2 (1973). It’s a very short story clocking in at only six pages. In his brief introduction to Mitchison’s story, Harry Harrison described it thus:
‘this deeply understanding story of a completely different type of mutation.’
“That’s right, friends! Imagine yourself the star of your own show in your own home! All you need is the fantastic new Twenty-Twenty holovision plan, available only from UniCom.”
I read this short story in Nova 2 (1972) edited by Harry Harrison. I will be working my way through this anthology as part of my Short Story Tarot Challenge.
Cover Art by Enrico Scull
Ransom is a struggling poet who makes a living writing ‘holovision’ shows for a huge corporation. He lives in a ‘labyrinthian apartment block’ in a polluted city where windows ‘stay permanently shut.’ He hates writing scripts for UniCom and is hatching a plan to break free from its soulless grip. Continue reading →
On a recent trip over to England I found these three gems in a second-hand book store. The shop was “Empire Exchange” in Manchester. It was the first time in years that I had explored the shelves of a “proper” second-hand store. I paid an unbelievable five pounds for all three books, (about $6.50).
Nova 2, Edited by Harry Harrison (1975)
The 1975 Sphere paperback. Cover art by Eddie Jones.
From the back cover: ‘Once again Harry Harrison has collected a dazzling line-up of talent for the second of his exciting NOVA collections. Established writers and new talent rub shoulders, their common ground a brilliant talent for sf.’
Includes the short stories: ZIRN LEFT UNGUARDED, THE JENGHIK PALACE IN FLAMES, JON WESTERLY DEAD by Robert Sheckley; EAST WIND, WEST WIND by Frank M. Robinson; THE SUMERIAN OATH by Philip Jose Farmer; NOW + n NOW- by Robert Silverberg; TWO ODYSSEYS INTO THE CENTER by Barry Malzberg; DARKNESS by Andre Carneiro; ON THE WHEEL by Damon Knight; MISS OMEGA RAVEN by Naomi Mitchison; THE POET IN THE HOLOGRAM IN THE MIDDLE OF PRIME TIME by Ed Bryant; THE OLD FOLKS by James E. Gunn; THE STEAM-DRIVEN BOAT by John Sladek; I TELL YOU, IT’S TRUE by Poul Anderson; AND I HAVE COME UPON THIS PLACE BY LOST WAYS by James Tiptree Jr.; THE ERGOT SHOW by Brian Aldiss Continue reading →