Sunday, May 29, 2011

More great non-fiction (Part 2)

* BENCHMARKS, Algis Budrys -- Great late '60s reviews of science fiction masterworks like DUNE, THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, LORD OF LIGHT, THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, RINGWORLD & lots more, by an SF star of the '50s. Budrys adds plenty of advice 4 writers + some nostalgia pieces on what it was like 2 write back in the days of the SF pulps. The best collection of book reviews ever. (& when is someone gonna collect his '70s & '80s reviews from F&SF?)
* DREAM MAKERS I & II, Charles Platt -- Superb late-'70s/early-'80s interviews with 50+ SF writers in which: Philip K. Dick talks about Talking With God; Joanna Russ admits she's a lesbian; Keith Laumer gets furious with everybody; Piers Anthony acts grumpy; Samuel R. Delany doesn't reveal that he's gay; Robert Silverberg reflects on his '70s masterpieces; James Tiptree Jr. masquerades as Alice Sheldon; Barry Malzberg reveals why every day's a crisis at his house; & so much more. These interviews have never been topped within the SF field.
* TRILLION YEAR SPREE, Brian W. Aldiss -- The best history of SF yet written. Detailed, wide-ranging, funny.
* THE ENGINES OF THE NIGHT, Barry N. Malzberg -- An anguished, despairing critical history of SF. Malzberg is at his best in the essay form, & at his absolute peak when writing about forgotten writers like Cornell Woolrich & Mark Clifton. With a coupla added long essays (1 of which is the Xcellent "Tripping with the Alchemist"), this book is also available under the title BREAKFAST IN THE RUINS. Malzberg threatens sevral times here to write THE TERRIBLE TRUE SECRET HISTORY OF SF, & I hope he does it before he passes away....
* THE SALON.COM READERS' GUIDE TO CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS -- What do you wanna know about Cormac McCarthy, William T. Vollman, Don DeLillo, Alice Walker, Doris Lessing & 100's of others? R they any good? This book will tell you.
* ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE: THE UNCENSORED HISTORY, Robert Draper -- In this involving history of Rock's favorite rag, Draper makes the case that anything good published in the mag happened despite the work of publisher/editor Jann Wenner. & Wenner will still talk to him at the end of the book. Brilliant atmosphere, hilarious stories, & great snapshots of Hunter S. Thompson, Dave Marsh, Tim Cahill, Lester Bangs, Greil Marcus, Ed Ward, & lots more.
* THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION, edited by John Clute & Peter Nichols -- Massive, detailed, accurate. Almost anything you'd ever want to know about the field. They get pretty obscure, too....
* THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SF, David Pringle -- Hundreds of capsule book reviews of SF novels & short story collections. Pringle's pretty level-headed, even funny, & not afraid 2 point-out the Real Crap....
* IN SEARCH OF WONDER, Damon Knight -- Dated but still pretty great. '50s & '60s SF reviews by the pioneer of book-reviewing in the field. Lotsa SF stars R critiqued, including Heinlein, Asimov, Blish, Pohl, Kornbluth & many more. & when Knight chops up the hacks it's pretty hilarious.

* THE GLASS TEAT & THE OTHER GLASS TEAT, Harlan Ellison -- Brilliant, ferocious, angry TV criticism from the late '60s with Harlan championing the counterculture & lashing out viciously at televised mediocrity wherever he sees it. The 1st volume is so angry it gets kinda depressing, but there was a lot 2 B angry about back then. The 2nd book is a little bit mellower. But not much.

* WALK AWAY RENE, Hipgnosis -- This collection of '70s album-cover artwork is gorgeous 2 look at, of course, but the best thing about the book is Storm Thorgerson's hilarious stories about working with Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, 10 CC, Keith Emerson, etc.
* VIEWS, Roger Dean -- Absolutely gorgeous SF artwork illustrating albums by Yes among many others. Dominy Hamilton's text coulda been a little bit lighter, but it's great on the technical aspects.

* THE GREAT SHARK HUNT, Hunter S. Thompson -- The "best-of" by the '60s/'70s outlaw reporter & creator of "Gonzo Journalism." Badly edited & arranged in no real order, but all Thompson's best work is here, from the opening of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, 2 Xcerpts of his political coverage 2 his trip 2 the Kentucky Derby, encounters with the Hell's Angels & MUCH more. Nearly all brilliant & hilarious.
* FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL '72, Hunter S. Thompson -- Minute-by-minute coverage of the '72 Nixon/McGovern presidential race, from the quiet beginnings in New Hampshire thru the conventions & in the bunker in Rapid City, S.D. on Election Night. Brilliant, hilarious, outrageous, 1-of-a-kind, & never ever boring. You may not believe that Thompson took acid with NBC News anchor John Chancellor, but you probly will believe an ugly scene in Cleveland at the end of the Ohio primary in which vote totals R so out-of-whack that McGovern's people start waking up Supreme Court Justices in the middle of the nite....
* THE CURVE OF BINDING ENERGY, John McPhee -- Everything you'd ever wanna know about safeguarding nuclear weapons -- & about how nukes became so ever-present during the Cold War. The scary last section of the book muses on how big a nuke a terrorist would need 2 knock down the World Trade Center....

1 comment:

rastronomicals said...

On the Campaign Trail is the best political book ever written, or that ever *will be* written.