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SF Masterworks is a series of classics that deserve to be in print and kept there, rather than languishing as OP titles. They were published monthly by Millennium, which is an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, a UK publisher whose other imprints include Dolphin, Orion Media, Phoenix and Victor Gollancz. Below you'll find an overview of the series so far, with cover/title links to the SF Site reviews (where applicable) along with synopses of those titles yet to be reviewed (cover images are linked to larger images). They are in reverse order of release, with the newest ones on the left. It is a companion series for their Fantasy Masterworks line.

SF Masterworks | Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 |            Fantasy Masterworks | Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 |

Orion SF Masterworks
   No. 50
Eon Eon by Greg Bear
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
Even in 1985, when the Cold War was still very much within living memory and the way of life it had dictated something familiar to every thinking reader out there, this book must have had a terribly anachronistic feel to it. The technology is there, the potential is there, but none of the characters seem to have evolved past the primal Cold Warrior types.

   No. 49
A Fall of Moondust A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke
reviewed by Steven H Silver
This novel tells the story of a lunar sightseeing cruiser which winds up trapped when a shift in the regolith sucks it into the Sea of Thirst. Although the novel may have seemed a bit melodramatic in 1961 when it was first published, it would prove to be extremely prescient a decade later when Apollo 13 ran into a variety of similar problems en route to the moon.

   No. 48
Grass Grass by Sheri S. Tepper
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
What Peter didn't remember about this book is the splendid sense of place she evokes -- Grass emerges as a fully-formed, beautiful, and thoroughly alien world. The formative image of Grass, to the Colorado-born & raised author, is that of the American Great Plains after a good spring, which is indeed an oceanic experience -- one that your Oklahoma-raised reviewer has shared, and misses.

   No. 47
The Invisible Man The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
"Griffin is a brilliant and obsessed scientist who is dedicated to achieving invisibility. He takes whatever action is necessary to keep his incredible discovery safe and terrorises the local village where he has sought refuge. Gradually he loses his sanity and, ultimately, his humanity. "

   No. 46
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
reviewed by Rich Horton
Jason Taverner is a successful pop singer (more in the Frank Sinatra mode than in any plausible 70s mode), and also the host of a very successful TV variety show. He lives in the US in 1988, in a future where almost all black people have either been killed or sterilized. There are flying cars, but otherwise the milieu is somewhat seedy and not too different from our real 1974. He believes himself to be a "six," one of a group of genetically enhanced individuals. Then one day Jason Taverner is erased from existence.

   No. 45
The Complete Roderick The Complete Roderick by John Sladek
reviewed by Stephen M. Davis
Roderick is an evolving robot: he evolves from an AI construct to a legless but mobile box with sensory apparatus, and finally, near the end of the first novel in this two-volume compilation, to something with a body and a reasonable facsimile of a head, though a head painted black, which causes quite a bit of confusion amongst some of Roderick's neighbors.

   No. 44
The Lathe of Heaven The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
reviewed by Sam Ashurst
When George Orr is arrested for misuse of prescription drugs, the authorities decide to send him to a behavioural psychologist to try and cure his unusual addiction. George believes that his dreams can alter reality, and has been using sleep repressants to try and control them. His therapist, Dr William Haber, is initially sceptical. But when Haber discovers that George is telling the truth, he decides to use Orr's powers to try and change the world for the better...

   No. 43
Valis Valis by Philip K. Dick
reviewed by David Soyka
Here, the author writes an autobiographical parable about a crazy man who recovers his identity and perhaps his sanity through a theological discovery, only to lose his sanity again upon a subsequent revelation of the deeper underpinnings of the phenomenological world. In other words, the lesson is that the only way to deal with a crazy reality is to go crazy yourself.

   No. 42
Bring the Jubilee Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore
Originally published in 1953 and continuously in print since then, this book is still recognized as one of the best alternate history stories ever written. "Hodge Backmaker lives in 20th century New York, a city of cobblestones, gas lamps and 10-storey skyscrapers. In his world, the Confederate South won its independence in the Civil War and North America is divided, with slavery and serfdom still facts of life in the Confederacy and New York a provincial backwater."

   No. 41
Jem Jem by Frederik Pohl
First published in 1979. "The discovery of another habitable world might spell salvation to the 3 bitterly competing power blocs of the resource-starved 21st century; but when their representatives arrive on Jem, with its multiple intelligent species, they discover instead the perfect situation into which to export their rivalries."

   No. 40
Blood Music Blood Music by Greg Bear
reviewed by Martin Lewis
Vergil Ulam is a brilliant, unkempt, maverick scientist. This SF archetype has been carrying out private research behind the back of the biotech firm he works for. When the company find out, he is fired and ordered to destroy his work. Believing his work is too important to be sacrificed Ulam smuggles it out of his lab the only way he can; in his bloodstream. He's injected himself with a solution containing cellular organisms, noocytes, as intelligent as rhesus monkeys. These noocytes continue to evolve within him, getting smarter, learning about his body.

   No. 39
The City and the Stars The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke
This book was first written in the 1940s under the title Against the Fall of Night, and was revised considerably for publication in 1956 under the present title. It is a masterful long-term vision of the human race, millions of years hence. "There had been cities before, but never such a city as Diaspar. For millennia its protective dome shut out the creeping decay and danger of the world outside. Once, it had held powers that ruled the stars; but then, the legends said, the invaders came, driving humanity into this last refuge."

   No. 38
The First Men in the Moon The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells
reviewed by David Maddox
Set in England at the beginning of the 20th century, average industrialist Bedford finds himself entwined in the machinations of Cavor, an eccentric genius who has developed Cavorite, a substance that negates the pull of gravity. The two men construct a vessel called the Sphere which hurls them to the moon. But the adventurers have very different agendas. Cavor hopes to discover a utopian society he imagines living on the planet, while Bedford is purely interested in the monetary gain the trip represents.

   No. 37
Nova Nova by Samuel R. Delany
reviewed by David Soyka
If contemporary readers might wonder what the big deal is, it is only because they've grown accustomed to trails that were being newly blazed by this book. On its face, it would seem to be a traditional Space Opera, pitting a good guy against the forces of evil in an intergalactic setting. But if Space Opera is your thing, you might find yourself a bit puzzled. Discussions about "fitting in," about the nature of storytelling, about art, about, of all things, the Tarot. There is more discourse than battle here.

   No. 36
Now Wait For Last Year Now Wait For Last Year by Philip K. Dick
reviewed by John Berlyne
Set in a  fairly standard space war near-future, our protagonist, Dr Eric Sweetscent, an artiforg surgeon, is employed by Virgil Ackerman, an elderly tycoon he keeps alive by replacing various essential organs as they give out. Ackerman is a wealthy eccentric with powerful connections and he invites Sweetscent and his other senior staff along with him to Mars to visit Wash-35, a reproduction on of the nation's capital as remembered from Ackerman's childhood. This trip though is not all it seems.

   No. 35
Pavane Pavane by Keith Roberts
reviewed by Rich Horton
Alternate history is now one of the most popular sub-genres in the SF field, but that popularity is a recent development. And the recent crop of alternate history stories, enjoyable as some of them may be, seem largely minor works, dwelling in the shadows of 3 great alternate history novels which loom over the present-day offerings. This is one of them.

   No. 34
The Fountains of Paradise The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke
reviewed by Rich Horton
The book tells of Vannevar Morgan, the greatest civil engineer of his time, which is the mid-22nd century. Having built a bridge across the Straits of Gibraltar, he dreams of an even greater accomplishment: sort of a bridge to space: a "skyhook", or "space elevator". This will be a cable stretching from the Earth's equator to an anchoring satellite at geosynchronous orbit. In a long series of short chapters, he tells of Morgan's efforts to get the elevator built.

   No. 33
Non-Stop Non-Stop by Brian W. Aldiss
reviewed by Rich Horton
The generation ship has broken down. After hundreds of years, most of the inhabitants have forgotten even that they are on a ship. They live nasty, brutish and short lives in the corridors of the ship, amid a tangle of hydroponics. Roy Complain, a hunter of the tribe of Greene, is recruited by a "priest" named Marapper to join a band of five people in a journey to "Forwards," the front of the ship (as the priest assures them it really is), to find the "control room." Their journey is full of incident: battles with evolved rats and with "Giants" and with the mysterious "outsiders"; discovery of the "swimming pool"; encounters with weightlessness.

   No. 32
Dr. Bloodmoney Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick
reviewed by David Soyka
The title character is a brilliant scientist who believes himself a godly incarnation of destruction, capable of bringing down atomic ruin simply by willing it. As is typical with the author's handling of the issue of whether just because you're paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get you, you can't be quite sure how crazy he really is. The author is masterful at "getting into the head" of the paranoid, depicting how coincidence and happenstance serve to solidify delusions of grandeur and suspicion of others.

   No. 31
The Centauri Device The Centauri Device by M. John Harrison
reviewed by Martin Lewis
John Truck is a freewheelin' spaceship captain bumming around the galaxy. This existence is interrupted by the appearance of the titular Device, a mysterious alien weapon. Although Truck does not know it, he has a unique connection to the weapon if indeed that is what the Device is. This brings him to the attention of the Earth's two superpowers, the Israeli World Government and the United Arab Socialist Republics. It also attracts the interest of various other factions such as the Interstellar Anarchists and the Openers, a religious cult.

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Copyright © 2004 by Rodger Turner

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