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1986 - Year in SF&F: July

1986 - July

Read other issues here


Robert Charles Wilson
"A Knight of Antiquity"
© F&SF, Jul 1986
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ style award
--/ rare find

Touching and very human; great writing style - I would definitely try to read more of this writer. He reminds me of Theodore Sturgeon in top form.. some compliment, eh?
review: 09-Jul-06 (read in 2002)


Tanith Lee
"Dreams of Dark and Light" (coll)
© Arkham House, 1986
--collection/anthology : 1987 World Fantasy
--collection : 1987 Locus /14

--/ third place f collection
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award

Definitive Tanith Lee collection; I would recommend to start with this book, if you are interested in this writer: very well crafted stories, some are fantasy masterpieces. It is only fitting that the book is published by renowned Arkham House - they did beautiful packaging. If only Tanith Lee would maintain such quality... the classic masters would be proud of such effort. But you know what happened later...
review: 09-Jul-06 (read in 1992)

(image credit: Souleage)


John Farris
"Wildwood" (nv)
© 1986, Tor Books
--/ fourth place dark f novel
--/ wonder award
--/ emotion award
--/ shock value

Superior fantasy horror novel, much better than most recent offerings. Highly recommended. It is the story of a densely wooded land near the Smoky Mountains called Wildwood. It is a place where twisted creatures, part animal and part man, roam; both beautiful and terrifying. Maybe even the best novel in exploring dark possibilities of the obscure woods.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 1986)


Carl Sagan
"Contact" (nv)
© 1986, Harper Collins
--first novel : 1986 Locus W
--sf novel : 1986 Locus /15

This novel is good in conveying the cosmological scale of our existence, the yearning for contact beyond our little world, but it failed to produce in me any sizeable enthusiasm. It is more like a treatise, than a work of fiction.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 1989)


Dean R. Koontz
"Strangers" (nv)
© 1986, Berkley Books
--novel : 1987 World Fantasy
--/ cool sf novel
--/ wonder award

The definitive novel about UFO conspiracies, ESP conspiracies, fads and fans of surrounding movements. Has some genuine moments of scare and suspense in Arizona deserts and motels. I actually enjoyed it, except it suffers from the usual Koontz over-production.
review: 10-Jul-06 (read in 1989)


John Crowley
"Aegypt" (nv)
© 1986, Putnam
--novel : 1988 World Fantasy
--shortlist : 1988 Clarke
--fantasy novel : 1988 Locus /6
--international fiction : 1989 Ditmar

--/ cool f novel
--/ wonder award

The rich and rewarding novel about the "hidden history" of the world. As such, it echoes many "conspiracy-theory" novels like Illuminati, and Da Vinci Code. This one is for all interested in esoteric knowledge and magical symbolism, a distracting read, not to be taken seriously. It's a mind puzzle, a "melting pot" of different styles and plots, not a manual or textbook to learn from. There is an excellent review of this book, here
review: 10-Jul-06 (read in 1989)


Robert Reed
(as Robert Touzalin)
© 1986, Writers of the Future # 2
--Gold Prize Winner story
--1987 Campbell New Writer

--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award

The first story by Robert Reed is a very lively one, with intensity of thought and style that I quite liked... I did not know that he will become a star of SF field, but could tell the potential.
review: 09-Jul-06 (read in 1987)


"Universe # 16", ed. by Terry Carr - review

In 1986 a beautiful book came out: the original anthology "Universe #16", edited by Terry Carr. Two stories from this book ended up on SECOND PLACE in my ratings. The quality is astonishing. Too bad this anthology is out-of-print in its entirety. For reviews of stories included, go to this page


In the meantime, in 1986 in the fantasy field...

J. R. R. Tolkien
"The Lays of Beleriand" (coll)
(Middle-Earth: history 4)
© Allen & Unwin, 1986
--/ FIRST place f collection
--/ awesome scale
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award
--/ romance award
--/ emotion award
--/ shock value

No words necessary. For those who love "high fantasy" there could be no better catalyst to the imagination than these epic poems, in every line of which we find LIFE, DEATH, LOVE concentrated. Closest thing to the Bible (I mean the whole Middle-Earth series) For sheer intensity of legends, implied beauty and depths of destruction, this is it.
review: 09-Jul-06 (read in 2003)


Terry Bisson
"Talking Man" (nv)
© 1986, Arbor House
--novel : 1987 World Fantasy
--fantasy novel : 1987 Locus /27

--/ fourth place f novel
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

One of the best post-modern fantasy novels. Here is a review from "Publishers Weekly", could not say it better - "Having dreamt this world into being, the wizard called "Talking Man'' falls in love with what he has made and retires there. He lives in a house trailer on a Kentucky hillside close by his junkyard, and he only uses magic on the rare occasions he can't fix a car the other way. He'd be there still if his jealous codreamer Dgene hadn't decided to undo his creation and return this world to nothingness. When Talking Man lights out to stop her, he gives chase into a West that changes around them. The geography shimmers and melts, catfish big as boats are pulled from the Mississippi, the moon crumbles into luminous rings and refugees from burning cities choke the highways. A novel of the new South with a liberal dose of the old, fantastic and gothic, a road novel leading to the city at the end of time, a postmodern apocalypse you can drive to in a '62 Chrysler New Yorker... this is a charming, literate, laconic tale, deceptively brief, teasingly allusive and very entertaining."
review: 09-Jul-06 (read in 2003)


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"Then world behind and home ahead..."

Exceptional British Scifi Artwork from the 1950s

Space Pulp Art by Ron Turner and other British artists

Pulp Pleasures: Eando Binder

Great space adventure fiction from the 1930s
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Part 2 of our "Best Classic Fantasy" series
incl. works by Henry Kuttner, Tolkien, etc.

Strange Shadows: Best Classic Fantasy

Fantasy "glitches in the matrix",
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Going beyond the obvious "Dances with Smurfs"...
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"Steampunk" Anthology: Full Review

some truly crazed stories in there...
(plus artwork by John Coulthart)

"Dune", Plus Often-Neglected
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"Dune", plus some overlooked gems:
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Universe at Play:
Two Must-Read Novels of the Fantastic

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon...
and David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas"

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"Vacuum Flowers" by Michael Swanwick...
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Fiction by Jack Finney, Vance, Simak and Bloch
mind impostors and emotion imitators

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Jack O'Connell "The Resurrectionist"
and other newest examples of the bizarre

Overpopulation, Sex and Sensibility

Robert Silverberg's "The World Inside"
and other classic sf blasts

H. P. Lovecraft "At the Mountains of Madness"

and other masterpieces of terror
including original illustrations

"Constellations", edited by Peter Crowther

original anthology, 2005
full review: mind-bending stories

The Ultimate Guide to New Writers of SF&F

more than 2,000 writers, 1990-2009
Ratings, awards, web links

The Surreal Office

"The Situation", "The Cookie Monster"
Weird fiction by Jeff VanderMeer and Vernor Vinge

Mind-shattering Novels of Philip K. Dick

"UBIK", "Now Wait for Last Year", etc.

Theodore Sturgeon's "More Than Human"

There’s a problem with this new gestalt being: needs a conscience.

Jack Williamson's "Legion of Space" Series

Classic Space Opera
The ultimate weapon, controlled by a gorgeous woman

Astounding Stories, August 1934

Jack Williamson, Nat Schachner, "Doc" Smith
Epic space opera gems and horror surprises

Rare Pulp SF&F, Issue 3

Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber, Vic Phillips
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"Bester was the mountain, all the rest of us..."
Pyrokinetic writing in one neat package

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"Nova" and "Babel-17"
New Wave Milestones, and then some.

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(and more reviews of his fiction)
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Vintage Space Travel Posters, and more.
Part 3 of Pulp Sf art series...

Alastair Reynolds' Epic Novels

"Chasm City" and "Revelation Space"
And it's only the beginning...

Rare Fantasy Gems by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner

Hidden Gems of Pulp Fiction
When two star writers become husband and wife

Grand Old Times... in the Future

Overview of Pulp Art
A Loudly Lurid Universe of Sci-Fi Illustration

Exclusive: Interview with Nancy Kress

From High Fantasy to Hard Science Fiction
A Spectrum of Wonder

Jack Vance

"To Live Forever"
and other Vance extravaganzas

Alastair Reynolds

"Pushing Ice"
Cosmological "noir" chase across space

Charles Stross

"Missile Gap"
Mind-bending Cold War world-building

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 2

Rare stories from the "Age of Wonder"
incl. David Keller, Horace Gold etc.

Ultra-Rare Serials from "Fantasy Magazine"

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incredible line-up of writers

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Neat & Rare Stories
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Astounding Stories, June 1935

Full Issue Review
incl. Gallun, Schachner, Campbell

Astounding Stories, May 1941

Full Issue Review
incl. Heinlein, Asimov, Eric Frank Russell

Horace Gold; P. Schuyler Miller

"Apocalyptic Blockbusters"
"Inflexure" and "Spawn": guilty pleasure

Interview with John C. Wright

Plus his advice to new writers
Adventures in Space & Magic

Frank Belknap Long

"The Horror from the Hills"
Great Lovecraftian Weird Novella

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Plus his Recommended Reading List
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"Galactic North"
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Warning: Gross Subject Matter

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"The Stars My Destination"
"...nail it to the Retro Hugo voting board..."

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"Neutron Star"
"better get GP alien ship hull"

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"The Squirrel Cage"
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"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.

All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

Our PERSONAL AWARDS (ratings) are highlighted in RED and PURPLE:
--/ first place :
--/ second place :
--/ third place :

--/ fourth place :

--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
- series :
- novella :
- story :
- collection :

Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
sense-of-wonder, "visual intensity" and inventiveness

--/ idea award
originality of idea / concept

--/ adventure award
exhilarating plot, excitement / action

--/ style award
outstanding literary qualities, inimitable style

--/ romance award
intense and beautiful love / relationships

--/ humour award
funny and cool

--/ emotion award
touching, lasting impression, sensitivity

--/ shock value
altogether wild

--/ awesome scale
mind-boggling; further enhances sense-of-wonder

--/ rare find
very hard to locate, mostly from old pulps, never reprinted, etc.

Again, please feel free to leave your own review or comment under every writer's entry; also recommend us other stories you liked.