Life has been busy for me this past month with COVID, and a funeral, so I decided to jump back into some classic sci-fi. I have almost all of the SF Masterworks series on my eReader and have found reading random novels on the list is a good way to discover something (possibly) great and new to me.
Man Plus by Frederik Pohl
This is about a world that is on the brink of destruction because of a war that might break out, so humans try to figure out a way to colonize Mars. (Yes, this is a novel from the period in sci-fi when everyone was obsessed about Mars.) Eventually, the USA starts an ambitious project to send a man to Mars without special equipment. They give him surgery and biological/technological augmentations to make his body more suited for the environment on Mars. It’s a bit silly at points and I really didn’t like the ending. This book was only OK. It really felt representative of a lot of 1970s sci-fi; non-existent or stereotypical roles for women and being really, really focused on Mars.
You could do worse than this, but you can also do much, much better. This is one of the weakest SF Masterworks books I’ve read in recent memory. Skip this one and read Non-Stop instead.
Non-Stop by Brian W. Aldiss
This SF Masterworks novel was much more exciting and exactly what I needed. It slowly unravels the details of this primitive society. For a bit you wonder if this is really sci-fi you are reading. As you learn more and more about this society, it starts to become obvious that they aren’t living on a planet. They find out there is a lot about their surroundings they don’t know about. There are mysterious ‘giants’, and confusing things to the people living in the tribes.
A group of people from this primitive tribe leave their homes to try to find out more about the world they are on. They’ve heard rumours, seen weird artifacts, and heard stories but want to find out for themselves what’s going on. They can feel that something is not quite right in their world. I won’t ruin anymore of the mystery of this book but it’s really well done. If you want to read this book, don’t read too reviews before reading. It’s an interesting sci-fi adventure in the same vein as M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, The Village, and you don’t want to ruin the mystery of this book by reading about it beforehand.
I really enjoyed this one! Sometimes when you discovery ‘old’ books, they are a breath of fresh air.
Book #83-84 in my 2022 Reading Challenge