Archive for May, 2009
This is Bob Shaw’s second collection of short stories and it contains a few gems.
First off is the novella Skirmish on a Summer Morning which I must confess I will have to read again as it either went over my head or I could not get into it. It is a Western based story with SF elements. Or an SF story with western elements.
And how about this to start a story: ‘Coburn gazed at his girl friend with a growing sense of dread. He had heard about things like this happening to perfectly normal young women, but he had always considered Erica to be immune.
‘”You’ve never mentioned marriage before,” he said numbly.’
His effort to avoid marriage sends the hero into an adventure, starting with the transport ship he is piloting getting hijacked by a criminal. This is an out of the frying pan into the fire, then out of the fire into an even bigger fire type of story.
The story is Unreasonable Facsimile and the planet they crash land on is called Toner II. It’s a fun story and resolves itself quite well, bringing the main character back to his predicament at the beginning of the story.
Also included is The Giaconda Caper, a detective style story about a duplicate Mona Lisa that is slightly different to the one in the Lourve.
This short story collection includes A Little Night Flying, originally called Dark Icarus and the basis for the novel Vertigo – later revised as Terminal Velocity. Boy did he get mileage out of that one.
Incidentally, getting the (signed) hardback edition caused me to purchase a book on Amazon. Gollancz hardbacks had a list of ‘Recent Gollancz SF’ on the inside back of the dust jacket. One such book, Bruno Lipshitz and the Disciples of Dogma by John Robert King, caused me to search for it online and then purchase from Amazon.
I have received the new edition (or the latest edition; it’s actually dated 1993) of the bibliography of Bob Shaw’s works. Quite interesting reading it is too. It is a nicely printed booklet. This and others are available from Phil Stephensen-Payne at Galactic Central. I already have an ancient copy of this bibliography, from the eighties, which is a massive four printed pages. The new one is close to forty.
I’ve had a quick look through it and will have to go through it in detail later on but a couple of things jumped out. I note that I’ll need to get a US edition of Cosmic Kaleidoscope as that edition has a different story line up to the UK edition. I’m not sure if I’m going to chase a hardback copy or a paperback copy. Ditto the US edition of Tomorrow Lies in Ambush as the Ace edition adds two stories.
Another useful fact in this bibliography is that I’m informed Bob Shaw had some work on radio and TV. He created a drama with Bryan Talbot for Granada TV – wonder if I could find it on YouTube? – and was interviewed on Radio 4 as well as Who Goes Here being dramatised for Radio in 1991.
The bibliography also mentions The Light of Other Days being adapted to comics and that rang a bell. I’m sure I have a comic somewhere where the main character introduces stories via slow glass. I was browsing through comics (somewhere) and I’m sure the only reason I bought the (unknown to me) comic was that Bob Shaw and his works were therein.
There was also a Bob Shaw edition of Interzone. I subscribe to that now – I used to pick up the odd copy here and there – and may contact them to see if any copies are available, although I doubt it.
Slight difference of opinion on the second edition dates:
Printed to celebrate Novacon 25 and published by The Birmingham Science Fiction Group Overload contains work by Brian W Aldiss, Iain Banks, Harry Harrison and Bob Shaw. There were 500 copies printed, of which I have No 396.
As well as the story itself, The Mercenary Mirage, there is a short introduction by Bob Shaw. The copyright on the story is 1991 but Shaw tells us that it was written in the fifties and rejected by various magazine editors.
In fact Shaw states he had forgotten the story and only because of Forrest J Ackerman (very famous in SF) did the story survive. Ackerman had tried his hand at being an agent but failed to sell the story. Years later he sent it back to Shaw.
The story itself is well written and intriguing, but I can understand why editors didn’t buy it as the ending is not the greatest that Shaw came up with. A man, who has stolen money from his employer, tramps through the desert, dying of thirst. Someone appears and offers to sell him a drink for the exact amount of money he has stolen. The story is enjoyable but the ending is not relevant to the major character. I suspect that this would be the reason why the story didn’t sell.
I changed the WordPress theme for this blog.
The first theme, Inanis Glass, while excellent, was a bit on the slow side – the theme creator even mentions that. It was used in the main because of the ability to put a picture on the blog; and I used a picture that is available on a few of the Gollancz hardbacks.
I’ve hacked a little into the current theme, and replaced pictures of sunny paradise like locations with Shaw’s mug. I’m sure he would appreciate that (although the theme creator might not). This theme will stay until I can find a new one. Maybe I will revert to the old one, maybe stick with this one.
EDIT: Changed the images at the top right hand corner. Now instead of just Bob Shaw you get Bob Shaw and some images of his books. The theme has about eight separate images, originally peaceful settings. I have changed these to include scanned in cover images of Shaw books I have. For some variety.
EDIT AGAIN: I think I’m going to stick with this theme for the foreseeable future.
Before I went on this recent spree I had thirty of Shaw’s books. A mixture of hardback and paperback but bought mainly to read the contents and a more or less a complete collection of Shaw’s works. I was aware of some of the more obscure items, but never really considered buying them until recently. Thank God for the internet.
With the arrival of another signed edition (Medusa’s Children) the number I need to get to complete my collection of Bob Shaw hardbacks now stands at 10. SF Book club editions don’t count.
I know I’m going to have a hard time getting some of them. A Better Mantrap is very rare apparently – the old short story thing. Publishers are always saying they can’t sell books of short stories – even though science fiction is more or less built on short stories – and hence when they do publish them they will print less than a novel, so less copies out there to start with. And the older ones will be nigh on impossible to get in first editions if at all. Shaw’s books from the sixties and early seventies in particular. One I saw online was going for about four hundred pounds. I may have to settle for reprints if they are available. I think the only hardback I have which is a reprint is his first novel Night Walk.
I also received a copy of Anticipations, an anthology editied by Chrisopher Priest. He of that magicians film fame, although I always felt The Glamour would make a much better film. I have a few Christopher Priest books kicking around, mainly paperbacks. This collection is signed by Christopher Priest and a few of the authors, including Bob Shaw and the recently deceased J.G. Ballard.
The story itself is Amphitheater, later collected in A Better Mantrap.