Thursday, March 29, 2007

Just Read: The Lunatics of Terra by John Sladek

A 1984 collection (only ever published in the UK, and long o/p there) by a half-forgotten satiric SF master (The Complete Roderick, Tik-Tok), that I finally bought over the Internet because I'd never seen a copy in person.

It does have that bright, cheery yellow default Gollancz cover, which is oddly appropriate for Sladek.

This is a bit of an odds and ends collection; I think it was his last collection (though it came out a good decade before he died), and some of it is stories from the previous few years, but more of it is stories from not-entirely-SF venues going back to the early '70s.

I posted my New Wave ramblings because of this book; Sladek was very heavily influenced by the New Wave (as well as by the Galaxy crowd, probably mostly Pohl, Sheckley, and Frederic Brown). He's a bit like J.G. Ballard trying to be funny, at times, and a bit like a nastier, updated Pohl the rest of the time. Anyone who likes their SF straight and Campbellian should stay far away from this book.

The Lunatics of Terra has eighteen stories (plus afterwords by Sladek about the stories) in just about 190 pages -- they're generally quite short stories. (Though some are scenarios or essays rather than really being stories.)

This would not be the collection to start with for anyone wanting to read Sladek; it would be better to start with his earlier collections (or, better yet, with his novels). But it's decent enough for those of us still digging up his books.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see someone bring John Sladek to new SF readers' attention. Roderick and its sequel (Roderick at Random, I believe) were IMHO among the best books of their decade and are now sadly forgotten. I thought at the time they were SF's equivalent of Voltaire's Candide. I'll now have to rerad them to see if they, yoo, have aged gracefully.

Anonymous said...

Dave Langford has made all of Sladek's short story collections available as POD books through his Ansible e-ditions effort.

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