NONFICTION

Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded

Melville House. Jun. 2018. 256p. discog. notes. index. ISBN 9781612196978. $25.99. MUSIC
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OrangeReviewStarHeller (Taft 2012) makes a convincing case for the influence of sf literature and cinema on 1970s popular music. The narrative roughly begins with the moon landing of 1969, which made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin instantly famous. Another icon's burgeoning career piggybacked off this important event: David Bowie. His 1969 hit "Space Oddity," argues Heller, paved the way for pop music's interest in sf for the next decade. Though Bowie is Heller's central figure, he also homes in on acts such as Jefferson Starship, Hawkwind, Parliament/Funkadelic, and Meco, who rose to fame with his disco version of the Star Wars theme in 1977. Heller further illustrates how sf writers such as Robert A. Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, and Samuel R. Delany strongly influenced the music during this period. The accessible title will have readers scouring local bookstores for old sf classics and used record bins for long-forgotten LPs such as Colonel Elliott & The Lunatics' Interstellar Reggae Drive (1973) and Zed's Visions of Dune (1979).
VERDICT Fans of popular music and sf alike will thoroughly enjoy this journey through the center of the 1970s. Recommended for all libraries.

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