...and also, a link to Jim's goodreads.com Author Page
More of Jim's Pickswith descriptions from Goodreads.com and other sources...
The Stars My DestinationAlfred Bester (1913-87) is a pop culture author of radio scripts, screenplays & comics--creating the Green Lantern's Oath. Known for his sf, The Stars My Destination may be his finest novel. Published in Galaxy in 1956 as "Tiger! Tiger!" (after Blake's poem), it's about a man who teleports himself out of a tight spot, causing consternation in the process. Slyly potshotting at corporate skullduggery, it remains contemporary.
by Alfred Bester
The Stars My Destination is, in one sense, an adaption of Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo. It's the study of a man without imagination or ambition, Gulliver Foyle. Fate transforms Gully. Shipwrecked in space, abandoned by a passing luxury liner, he becomes a monomaniacally sophisticated monster bent upon revenge. Wearing many masks, learning many skills, he pursues his goals relentlessly.
The Stars My Destination anticipated the cyberpunk movement—megacorporations powerful as governments, a dark overall vision, cybernetic body enhancement. It added the standard one weird idea—that humans could learn to teleport or 'jaunte' from point to point, with various personal limitations & one overall absolute limit: no one can jaunte through outer space. On planet surfaces jaunting rules supreme. Off it, people are restricted to machinery.
Unlike the world of Bester's Demolished Man, telepathy is rare. One character is able to send but not receive thoughts. The solar system has about six full telepaths.
The protagonist, Gully Foyle, is introduced as 'He was one 170 days dying & not yet dead.' He's a cipher, a man with potential but no motivation, suddenly marooned. Even this isn't enough to galvanize him beyond seeking air & food on the wreck. Everything changes when an apparent rescue ship deliberately passes him by, stirring him out of passivity.
The scenario of the strandeded man ignored by passing ships came from a National Geographic story Bester had read. During WWII, a shipwrecked sailor survived 4 months on a raft in the Pacific. Ships passed because their captains feared the raft was a decoy to lure them into Japanese torpedo range.
The Seedling StarsThe Seedling Stars is a collection of science fiction short stories by James Blish. It was first published by Gnome Press in 1957 in an edition of 5000 copies. The stories all concern adapting humans to alien environments. The stories all originally appeared in the magazines Fantasy & Science Fiction, If, Super Science Stories & Galaxy Science Fiction.
by James Blish
"The Thing in the Attic"
Wuthering HeightsEmily Brontë’s only novel, Wuthering Heights remains one of literature’s most disturbing explorations into the dark side of romantic passion. Heathcliff and Cathy believe they’re destined to love each other forever, but when cruelty and snobbery separate them, their untamed emotions literally consume them. Set amid the wild and stormy Yorkshire moors, Wuthering Heights, an unpolished and devastating epic of childhood playmates who grow into soul mates, is widely regarded as the most original tale of thwarted desire and heartbreak in the English language.
by Emily Brontë
A Far Sunset"A VERY FAR SUNSET FROM HOME...
by Edmund Cooper
The -Gloria Mundi-, bound for the distant planet Altair Five, was the third starship to leave Earth in the 21st century. The six pairs of human beings aboard included Paul Marlowe---the ship's psychiatrist---and his wife. Upon arrival on Altair, exploratory expeditions were quickly arranged---from which no one returned. When the remaining three crew members were captured and sent to Baya Nor, one immediately committed suicide, another went insane. Only Paul, now named Poul Mer Lo by the natives, attempted to adapt himself to life on the new planet. But even he found conditions on Altair Five---a place where an ancient myth was still curiously alive---far lonelier and stranger than he had ever dreamed..."
Anansi BoysFat Charlie Nancy's normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn't know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother. Now brother Spider is on his doorstep—about to make Fat Charlie's life more interesting . . . and a lot more dangerous.
by Neil Gaiman
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and WondersFrom Barnes & Noble: "A mysterious circus terrifies an audience for one extraordinary performance before disappearing into the night, taking one of the spectators along with it . . . In a novella set two years after the events of American Gods, Shadow pays a visit to an ancient Scottish mansion, and finds himself trapped in a game of murder and monsters . . . In a Hugo Award-winning short story set in a strangely altered Victorian England, the great detective Sherlock Holmes must solve a most unsettling royal murder . . . Two teenage boys crash a party and meet the girls of their dreams—and nightmares . . . In a Locus Award-winning tale, the members of an exclusive epicurean club lament that they've eaten everything that can be eaten, with the exception of a legendary, rare, and exceedingly dangerous Egyptian bird . . . Such marvelous creations and more—including a short story set in the world of "The Matrix", and others set in the worlds of gothic fiction and children's fiction—can be found in this extraordinary collection, which showcases Gaiman's storytelling brilliance as well as his terrifyingly entertaining dark sense of humor. By turns delightful, disturbing, and diverting, Fragile Things is a gift of literary enchantment from one of the most unique writers of our time."
by Neil Gaiman
NeverwhereRichard Mayhew is a plain man with a good heart - and an ordinary life that is changed forever on a day he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. From that moment forward he is propelled into a world he never dreamed existed - a dark subculture flourishing in abandoned subway stations and sewer tunnels below the city - a world far stranger and more dangerous than the only one he has ever known...
by Neil Gaiman
Tool of the TradeFrom Library Journal: "Nicholas Foley appears to be an ordinary American psychology professor. He is, in fact, a Russian spy, inserted into the United States after World War II, joining the American army, attending American universities, falling in love and marrying an American, but always in touch with his Soviet superiors. All he ever does in the way of spying is turn in the names of people who might be "turned." But then he makes his momentous discovery. He isolates an ultrasonic frequency that causes anyone within earshot to do whatever he is told. A few demonstrations send both the Russians and the Americans after Foley with a vengeance. Eluding both, Foley uses his tool to strike a blow for world peace, as envisioned by a Sixties hippie, his wife. A carefully paced thriller. Recommended." - Patricia Y. Morton, State Lib. of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
by Joe Haldeman
Hal SpacejockAn incompetent, accident-prone pilot is given one last chance to save his ship. An aging robot is trusted with a midnight landing in a deserted field. And a desperate businessman is prepared to sacrifice both of them to get what he wants... Combining relentless action with non-stop laughs, Hal Spacejock explodes onto the science fiction scene with the subtlety of a meteor strike and the hushed reverence of a used car salesman.
by Simon Haynes
FridayFriday is a secret courier. She is employed by a man known to her only as 'Boss'. Operating from and over a near-future Earth, in which North America has become Balkanized into dozens of independent states, where culture has become bizarrely vulgarized and chaos is the happy norm, she finds herself on shuttlecock assignment at Boss' seemingly whimsical behest. From New Zealand to Canada, from one to another of the new states of America's disunion, she keeps her balance nimbly with quick, expeditious solutions to one calamity and scrape after another.
by Robert A. Heinlein
Starship TroopersIn one of Robert Heinlein's most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the Universe - and into battle with the Terran Mobile infantry against mankind's most alarming enemy!
by Robert A. Heinlein
FuryThe Earth is long dead and the human survivors live in huge citadels beneath the Venusian seas, ruled by the Immortals, genetic mutations with a lifespan of 1000 years. Sam Reed was born an immortal, but his deranged father had him mutilated as a baby. Now, at the age of 80, he learns what he is.
by Henry Kuttner
The Summoner: Book One in the Chronicles of the NecromancerThe comfortable world of Martris Drayke, second son of King Bricen of Margolan, is shattered when his older half-brother, Jared, and Jared's dark mage, Foor Arontala, kill the king and seize the throne. Tris is the only surviving member of the royal family aside from Jared the traitor. Tris flees with three friends: Soterius, captain of the guard; Carroway, the court's master bard; and Harrtuck, a member of the royal guard. Tris harbors a deep secret. In a land where spirits walk openly and influence the affairs of the living, he suspects he may be the mage heir to the power of his grandmother, Bava K'aa, once the greatest sorceress of her age. Such magic would make Tris a Summoner, the rarest of magic gifts, capable of arbitrating between the living and the dead.
by Gail Z Martin
The Blood King: Book Two in the Chronicles of the NecromancerThe second installment of the Chronicles of the Necromancer. Having escaped being murdered by his evil brother, Jared, Tris must take control of his magical abilities to summon the dead, and gather an army big enough to claim back the throne of his dead father. But it isn't merely Jared that Tris must combat. The dark mage, Foor Arontala, has schemes to raise the Obsidian King...
by Gail Z Martin
I Am LegendFrom Barnes & Noble: "From out of the night come the living dead with a single purpose: to destroy Robert Neville, the last man on earth."
by Richard Matheson
Note: Provided inspiration and a framework for at least four attempts at a film version, none of which adhere strictly to Matheson's book.
I Am Legend (2007) starring Will Smith
I Am Omega (2007) starring Mark Dacascos (as Renchard)
The Omega Man (1971) starring Charlton Heston
The Last Man on Earth (1964) starring Vincent Price (as Dr. Robert Morgan / The script was written in part by Richard Matheson, but he was dissatisfied with the result and was therefore credited as Logan Swanson. The main character was renamed Robert Morgan for this production, and Richard Matheson felt Vincent Price was miscast in the part)