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All.".., 1118 Co-Editors: Nonfiction Rmew Editor: Karen Hellekson & Craig Jacobsen Neil Barron PRESIDENT"S MESSAG .. E __ t4j;f;':iI'IiI','liIJ.f.'i_ Joan Gordon To our members: You have been very patient with the trials of our Review. I know I've said it before, but now I think our problems are resolved. Let me bring you up to date. Last December Amy Sisson had to step down as editor because of her many work responsibilities, and Geoffrey Sperl and Karen Hellekson took over. Although Karen, who was responsible for gathering and editing the material, was able to keep up with her work, it became gradually apparent that Geoffrey could not keep up with his layout, printing, and mailing responsibilities in a year increas ingly frought with other demands on his time. By the fall, we had found a new edi tor to take over from Geoffrey in January, the heroic Craig Jacobsen, along with an old hand and old friend, Neil Barron, to handle nonfiction reviews, again starting in January. Thank goodness, Karen agreed to stay on, continuing her fine work. Unfonunately, Geoffrey was unable to produce two of this year's Review issues, those for July/August and September/October: issues you have wondered about, issues for which all the contents were prepared. This has meant that we could not provide the full complement of issues for the year. Now, however, Karen and Craig have produced those two missing issues in a larger double issue-the issue you now hold in your hands-and Karen, Craig, and Neil, who share a serious commirment to deadlineS, will produce future issues in a timely fashion. Ours is a small organization and the Review is produced entirely by volun teer labor, with little, or more commonly, no institutional suppon. I suppose the sons of delays we've had in the last year might be understandable (though not ac ceptable) in a world where people have to work for a living. Nevenheless, we hope that with three editors so committed to timely production, these delays are over at last. You can do your pan by contributing nonfiction reviews and news items of interest to your colleagues in SFRA. Onward and upward in the new year. The SFRAReview (ISSN I068-395X) is published six times a year by the Sdence Fiction Research Assodation (SFRA) and distributed to SFRA members. Individual issues are not for sale. For information about the SFRA and its benefits. see the description at the back of this issue. All contents copyright 1998 Sdence Fiction Research Assodation. CONTENTS President's Message SFRA Review Update Joan Gordon Editorial More Changes at the Review 1 2 Karen Hellekson & Craig Jacobsen Pioneer Acceptance Speech 3 Pioneers! 0 Pioneers! I.F. Clarke Feature Essay 2 Isaac Asimov and Psychohistory James Gunn Review Essay 9 Feminism, Gender and Science Fiction Robin Reid Feature Interview 12 Joan Slonczewski r"1ichaei tot Levy Fiction Re-riew 18 The Children Star Joan Gordon Fiction Re-riew 18 I Who Have Never Known Men Sandra Lindow Fiction Review 20 Leviathan 2 Michael M. Levy Fiction Re-riew 21 Orcuit of Heaven Sue Surova Fiction Re-riew 21 Into the Forest Sue Surova Fiction Re-riew 22 Signs of Life Arthur O. Lewis Fiction Re-riew 23 A Sdentific Romance Rosemary Gray Fiction Re-riew 23 Virus Qans Thomas J. Morrissey Non-Fiction Re-riew 24 Small Press Items of Note Philip E. Kaveny Non-Fiction Re-riew 25 Encydopedia of Fantasy Wendy Bousfield Non-Fiction Review 26 Future Perfect Solomon Davidoff )
., SUBMISSIONS The SFRAReview editors encourage sub missions. Please send submissions to both editors. If you would like to be put on the list of nonfiction reviewers. please contact Neil Barron directly. The general editorial address for the SFRAReview is: . Karen Hellekson. Coeditor 742 N 5th Street Lawrence. KS 66044 Craig Jacobsen. Coeditor 208 E Baseline Road #31 I Tempe. AZ 85283 Neil Barron. Nonfiction Reviews Editor I 149 Lime Place Vista. CA 92083-7428 -==-11IN MEMORIAM: RICHARD DALE MULLEN Richard Dale Mullen, Pro(essor Emeritus o( English at Indiana State University, died on August 8, 1998, after a short hospitalization at Davis Gardens Health Center. He was born in 19/5. His wife. Laoma Brummit Mullen, preceded him in death. A sister, Elizabeth M. White, five nieces, and a nephew survive him. Born in Howell County, Missouri, Dale served during World War II in the 39th Infantry Division o( the United States Army and was awarded the Silver and Bronze Stars. After the war. he returned to Ox ford, Mississippi, where his (ather, Curtiss H. Mullen, published the Oxford Eagle and worked (or the paper as its office man ager, book reviewer, and columnist. In 1949 he graduated with a M in his fDIy and English (rom the University o( Alabama. In 1950 he completed an MA in English at the University o( Mississippi, ( EDITORIAL ... __ ';"1j'jjlQ:'1!j."jl'!j'j'I'i':_ Karen Hellekson and Craig Jacobsen With this combined issue, the 1998 run of SFRA Reviews is complete. When we edited the two missing issues together, we had to cut a lot of sidebar con rent, mostly hopelessly outdated calls for papers. On the up side, this is what we like to see in a Review: a fat issue with tons of great stuff, including two long essays and an interview. Thanks to all contributors, particularly those who turned solicited work in on deadline, for their patience. We have included all of the fiction and nonfiction book reviews originally assigned to these issues. However, we do fear that work that was submitted to Geoffrey Sperl but not to Karen Hellekson may have slipped through the cracks during the editor change. Please inquire about or re-send any material you are not sure of to Karen and new coeditor Craig Jacobsen (our contact information is over in the lefr sidebar on this page). The Review will recommence its every-other-month schedule in February of 1999. This issue and #237 display the Review's new look, and 1999 will see other changes. Perhaps the most significant of these will be a new regular feature, a col let:tion of brief essays focusing on scholarly and academic approaches to a given work. These essays will include the insights and experiences of those that have taught, written about, or researched the text, and a brief bibliography of some help ful secondary sources. This feature is meant to serve as a resource for anyone cur rently teaching or researching the work, or considering doing so. It represents an opportunity for the SFRA to pool our collective knowledge and experience. We have chosen two books as the subjects for our first two features: Wil liam Gibson's Neuromancer and Joanna Russ's The Female Man. We've selected these two works largely for their widespread use in classrooms, and we're hoping that will translate into insightful and copious submissions from the membership. If such submissions are forthcoming, "Approaching Neuromancer"will appear in the February issue, and "Approaching The Female Man" will hit print in April. In addi tion to canonized works, we would like this feature to help discover newer works worthy of scholarly and academic attention. Member suggestions on what texts might be the focus of future Approaches features (say that three times fast) would be greeted with enthusiasm (and a request to submit something). Another change for 1999 is that the Review would like to publish Letters to the Editors, to allow the Review to serve as a forum for membership. The Review will be publishing members' suggestions (submitted with their renewals) as to proj ects the SFRA should undertake, and the Review could serve as a forum to discuss these suggestions, the direction the Review itself should take, or other topics of in terest to members. Please send any letters (e-mail or snail mail) to the editorial ad dress on the back cover of this issue. Those that conform to the standards of good taste and relevance are likely to see print. (Note: a lack of letter to the editors is likely to result in letters from the editors-much less likely to be relevant or in good taste.) There will probably be other changes as 1999 progresses, all with the goal of keeping the Review a timely and valuable resource to SFRA members. Thanks to Mike Levy and Joan Gordon for all their work in helping the Review back on track.
PIONEER ACCEPTANCE SPEECH 'H(.]:ijj;G''H(.j:!jj;G_ I.F. Clarke Although I begin quite deliberately with a respectful nod to a great Ameri can futurist. I am not starting from my own Paumanok. The subtitle should ex plain why my point of origin could never be in Scottsdale, Arizona: This is the Acceptance Speech I would have given, if I had a machine that could take me back to the future. Looking backward from my station here in the rural Cotswolds, I can hear myself beginning to address an audience close on 4,000 miles away but present in the virtual reality of the printed page: Madame President, This is the second occasion I have risen to express my grateful thanks to the SFRA for a signal honor they have done me. Twenty-four years ago it was the occasion of the Pilgrim Award, when I followed in due order my notable predeces sors: J. O. Bailey, Marjorie Nicolson, Julius Kagarlitski, and Jack Williamson. Today, or rather yesterday, the occasion of the Pioneer Award in Scottsdale, Arizona, brings me to a new beginning: "Solitary, singing in the West, I strike up for a New World." This is the world of science fiction research. It was new when Tom Clareson started Extrapolation in 1959; and it was growing in reputation and influ ence when Dale Mullen extended the coverage so admirably with Science-Fiction Studies in 1973. Thanks to their initiatives and to the continuing work of the SFRA, we have come a very long way in close on forty years. I can measure the rate of change from my own experience in 1961, when I sent an essay on future-war fiction to the PMLA. Six weeks later, I received a polite "no thank you," together with a copy of the referee's report. It was both flattering and encouraging-new field, etc.-but the last sentence gave the kiss of death: "So long as it remains the policy of the PMLA to limit papers to belles lettres, it is not possible to recommend this essay." They had marked me with the sign of Cain! In those days, on both sides of the Atlantic, it was part of the received criticism to refer to studies in science fic tion as "subliterary," although utopias in many shapes and sizes managed to gain an honorable mention as worthy of entry in the sacred canon of approved texts. They tell me that this dismissive attitude has largely vanished in the United States, and I can tell you that it is beginning to vanish in the UK, although Oxford continues to uphold its reputation as "The Home of Lost Causes. n If you look up The Oxford Companion to American Literature (6th edition, 1995) you will find that on page 593, there is a quarter column of some 300 words devoted to sci ence fiction. This begins: ... stories of fantasy dealing with the unknown in scientifically conceivable terms of reference. They use imaginary inventions and discoveries; settings that include the earth's interior, other planets, and the atom; and time in the remote future, the prehis toric past, and a new dimension. They sometimes resemble Uto pian fiction ... I can almost see your incredulous faces as you take in a statement that does not even begin to explain, the aims, dominant topics, and immense influence of science fiction. Looking Backward, Nineteen Eighty-Four, A Canticle for Leibo witz, Fahrenheit 451, Riddley Walker, Canopus in Argos-these tales of things to come have raised matters of immense moment; they have of set purpose confronted the world in their time, looking always to the best or to the worst that could be. where he served as instructor in English until 1955. In 1956 he earned a PhD in English at the University of Chicago and that year accepted an appointment to the Department of English at Indiana State. In 1968 he was promoted to the rank of professor of English and in 1981 retired os professor emeritus of English. Over his ISU tenure he served on his department's graduate, undergraduate curriculum, publications, and personnel committees, and in the fall of 1979 served as its octing chairperson. He chaired the college's curriculum and academic affairs committees and the ISU Chapter of the AAUP. He was an active member of MLA, the Sdence Fiction Research Foundation, served on the board of editors of Extraplr lation, and was a regular contributor to the Riverside Quarterly. A centrol focus of Dale's academic interests was fUrthering the cause of sdence fiction as a genre of English and American literature worthy of formal scholarly analysis and indusion in the undergraduate curriculum. In 1969 ISU granted his petition that sdence fiction be adapted os an undergraduate course offering. In 1972 he founded the joumal Sdence-Fiction Studies, which he published and coed'lted until 1978 and again until 1991. The joumal distinguished Dale, his department, and the university .. Often assumed at first impression to be a gruff, direct person, Dale was at heart a most considerate and solicitous colleague and friend. He lived his working and personal lives true to a quotation of Jonathan Swift, a writer and thinker whose works he taught devotedly: "I hate nobody; I am in charity with the world." -John Christie Associate Professor of English Indiana State University )
SFRA 1999: SOUTHERN ACCENTS IN SCIENCE FICTION SFRA 1999 will be held June 2-6, 1999, at the Radisson Admiral Semmes Hotel, Mobile, Alabama. The topic is Southern SF. Michael Bishop is the author guest of honor, and Lisa Snellings is the artist guest of honor. Gregory Benford is the special guest writer, and I. F. Clarke is the special guest speaker. Papers on the guests of honors' work and on Southern SF are particularly encouraged; other SF topics, however, will not be excluded. Hotel reservations can be made by calling 800/333-3333; ask for the SFRA 1999 ffat rate for a double, which is $79. Registration before March 30, 1999, is $75, which includes an awards banquet and evening activities. To register, send a check or money order to SFRA 1999 Mobile, Tom Brennan, Department of English, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL 36688. Send panel or paper proposals to Andy Duncan, Box 870244, Department of English, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, 35487. Email: . MARK DOWN YOUR INTEREST IN SF/F! Peter Sands reminds everyone that when renewing your membership in the Modem Language Association, you should mark group S5 on your interest card. SFRA members, along with others, have been instrumental in forming a formal MLA Discussion Group on Science Fiction, Fantastic, and Utopian Literature. In order to make the case for permanent status, we must all express our interest, showing the MLA just how many people are serious about this genre. ( And during the last forty years, an ever-growing volume of studies has investigated the ways in which these tales of the future have had their say about the human con dition. Some of the best recent research has appeared in Science-Fiction Studies, which has done a great service to the field by maintaining the highest standards and by offering a welcome to younger talent. May I now conclude on a personal note? In the citation for the Pioneer Award, the chair of the nominating committee, Len Hatfield, noted "a strong sense of the larger social and cultural intertexts this fiction inhabited. n I am grateful to Len Hatfield for that commentary, since it has always been my major interest-a vocational drive, if you wish-to follow the high-contour lines of contemporary ideas in order to establish how the factors and influences of today have helped to create the other worlds of science fiction. This is the proper concern of all who have an interest in the shaping of fiction and in the great tides making within society-from social anthropologists to historians and students of literature. Science fiction is the dialogue of a technological society with itself. For this reason, as the greatly honored nominee for the 1998 Pioneer Award, I would like to congratulate the SFRA on the way it has promoted and encouraged the study of the fiction that so perfectly mirrors the hopes and fears, the desires and secret terrors of all the inhabitants of old Terra. If! had a glass, Madame President, I would raise it now, but in the virtual reality of this address I have to become a time traveler, hurtling from a transatlantic elsewhere to the e1sewhen of ancient rimes. I now say, as the Roman augurs used to say when they looked hopefully into the entrails of the sacrificial offerings: Felix foustumque sit! F EAT U R E E S S A_Y ..... I ti;MJM i; Oi,;,:!., h'lj: (.]: in.);i'_ James Gunn [Editor's note: Thanks to James Gunn for sharing this piece on Isaac Asimov with SFRA Review readers. This piece was originally published in the July issue of Clio 's Psyche and is used with the author's permission and with the permission of the publisher of Clio's Psyche. -klhJ My friendship with Isaac Asimov was episodic. We met at science fiction conventions and corresponded (he by postcard) from time to time, though that tapered off as his answers came back so quickly I began to feel that I was taking rime from his work. When I mentioned rhis to him the last time we met-it was a dinner hosted by the director of the planetarium at the New York Museum ofNarional Histoty, where I would later give a talk about science fiction-he told me to write to him whenever I felt like it. We met first at the World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia in 1953. where I remember him (and his first wife Gertrude, the only time I met her) as part of a group rhat went out to dinner at a local restaurant, and I was impressed by his wit and cordiality as well as by his reputation. I knew who he was, of course-he had been publishing SF since 1939 and had been a star since 1941, when "Nightfall" was published as a cover story in Astounding Science Fiction; his place in the SF firmament had been confirmed by his Robot stories and by his Foundation series. which had become one of the central building blocks of science fiction. He had no reason to know me; I had been publishing stories in the maga zines since 1949. bur all of them under a pseudonym that I would abandon that year with the publication of "The Misogynist" in Galaxy. But in his autobiography he remembered meeting me there (along with Randall Garrett and Philip Farmer):
"Gunn was a quiet, youthful, and handsome fellow, while Farmer was equally quiet, not quite so youthful, and not quite so handsome." Perhaps our longest companionship was when Isaac and I and Evelyn Page Gold (Horace Gold, editor of Galaxy, didn't travel because of agoraphobia) joined Martin Greenberg (our mutual publisher) in Greenberg's car for a trip from New York tJ the Cleveland World SF Convention of 1955, where Isaac was guest of honor. We seemed to spend a good deal of time together at the convention as well ("why do we spend our lives among strangers, who don't know what we do or care, so that we can spend three or four days a year among the people we love," he told me then). After that we would meet at occasional conventions or in New York when I was visiting editors or attending SFW A functions (with one or two excep tions, I stopped going to conventions from 1955, when I became involved in vari ous positions at the University of Kansas, to 1968, and Isaac stopped going out of town), but whenever we met Isaac would hug me and tell me how I didn't look any older, and I would respond that my novel The Immortals had been autobiographi cal. The only time I was in his home was just afrer he had separated from his first wife in 1971 and had taken an apartment in New York. He had agreed to do a film about science fiction literary history (The History a/Science Fiction Sinu 1938) that I was producing as part of a series about SF, and we filmed it in his study (interrupted by a telephone conversation with his son, who was disturbed about the impending divorce). About eight years later, afrer a local convention held by a ciry universiry, I interviewed him for my Oxford University Press study of his science fiction (the interview can be found in the revised edition, published by Scarecrow Press in 1996), and he told me I should work on my own fiction rather than writ ing about him. What kind of person was Isaac? When I met him he was gregarious, witty, charming, a marvelous impromptu public speaker, and someone who was pleased with his own success. He became even more successful afrer he began including autobiographical notes in his collections of stories and the anthologies he edited (beginning with The Hugo Winners in 1962), and his life story became entwined with his life's work just as his life's work became entwined with the evolution of science fiction itself. If his attitude of" cheerful self-appreciation" offended some, it endeared him and his work to most of his fans. And his pleasure at his success (measured, in part, at the way he counted his books and celebrated their totalsthe final number was in the 470s) was ameliorated by his frank admission of his own flaws and his genuine surprise at how it all had come about. In the interview, his curious mixture of pride and confession was evidenced by his unwillingness to accept praise or advantage without recognizing other people's contributions and other correctives. He always admitted, for in stance, that, although he would like to claim the credit, John Campbell had in vented "the three laws of robotics" (Campbell maintained that they were implicit in Asimov's stories). I also asked him about his insistence on being designated as a sci ence fiction writer when he was more famous as a science popularizer and man about-letters. He considered loyalty a major virtue, he said, and compared it with his Jewish origins. After saying that he wasn't a good Jew, observed no Jewish rituals, and considered the Judaic "only god" doctrine pernicious"It's not just that we have our God and you have your God-it's that we have the only God and you have something less" -"1 try to make up for it by making sure that everybody knows 1'm a Jew, so while l' fli deprived of the benefits of being part of a group, you know, I make sure that I don't lose any of the disadvantages .... The first volume of Isaac's autobiography gives many examples of the way in which he felt that his later life was shaped by his early experience growing up AlA FOCUSES ON SF/F Book/ist and Reference Books Bulletin is a review journal published by the American Ubrary Association. The May 15, 1998, issue spotlighted SF and fantasy, with reviews, lists of best SFIF books for adults and young adults, reference book resources, Web resources, and an interview with Madeleine L'Engle. The cover of the issue reproduces a garish cover illustration by Leydentrost trom Planet Stories, a magazine not found in more than three dozen American braries. -Neil Barron -II -== CALL FOR PROPOSALS: SFRA 1999 PANEL Craig Jacobsen is organizing "Gone South": Dying, Death and the Dead in Science Fiction, a panel for the I 999 SFRA Conference in Mobile. Anyone interested in joining the panel should submit a brief abstract via email . Deadline is March 15. WHAT'S SO FUNNY Michael Dirda is the assistant editor of, and the most consistently gifted contributor to the Washington Post Boolc World, in whose August 16, 1998, issue he vides a welcome rejoinder to the recent Modem Ubrary ranking of twentieth century novels in English. Here he presents his selection of the one hundred most amusing novels in English published this century, noting that 'The list adopts a one author/one book rule, otherwise half the selections would be written by P. G. Wode house, Evelyn Waugh, and Terry Pratchett." Although there are entries on humor in both the SF and fantasy encydo pedias, I think SF takes itself much too ]
seriously, whereas fantasy is often much more lighthearted. Here are the SFIF titles he se/eaed, in no special order. Sladek, TikTo I<; Stephens, The Pot of Gold; Dunsany, The Travel Tales of Joseph Jorkens; CO/lier, His Monkey Wife; Gorey, Amphigorey; Pinkwater, Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy from Mars; Smith, The Night Life of the Gods; White, The Sword in the Stone; Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld; Cabell, The Silver Stallion; Vonnegut, The Si rens of Titan; Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth; Gamett, Lady into Fox; Davidson, Or All the Seas with 0ys ters; O'Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds; Shaw, Man and Superman; Pratchett, Mort; Sheckley, Is That What People Do?; Nesbit, Five Children and It; and Holt, Expecting Someone Taller. -Neil Barron REVISED SCIENCE-FICTION WRITERS ANNOUNCED Scribners published Everett Bleiler's Science-Fiction Writers in 1982. His son, Richard, at the University of Con necticut library, is working on a forthcoming revision. New subjects include Bear, Benford, Brin, Butler, Card, Cherryh, Cow per, Gibson, Harrison, MacLean, Pat Murphy, Priest, Robinson, Shepard, Sterling, Tepper, Waldrop, Watson, Wilhelm, and Wolfe. Major revisions are planned for twenty-two authors, from Aldiss to Zelazny, with minor revisions made to another nineteen entries. Contributors of the critjcal essays, in many cases the original contributors, have already been se/eaed. Bleiler pere et fils collaborated on the massive bibliography/history of the Gernsback-era magazines, recently published by Kent State University Press. -Neil Barron E under the care of a strict mother and an absent father (busy with the Brooklyn candy store downstairs). He taught himself to read before he went to school, and his father understood then that his son was unusual. That didn't prevent his father from pointing out his faults: yelling up at his son for sleeping late when he should be helping out in the store, calling him a "sluggard." Many ofIsaac's later eccen tricities, such as rising early, working long hours, eating rapidly, and reading news papers so that they looked undisturbed, Isaac traced to his early upbringing. But that, after all, is what an autobiography is-an attempt to explain and make sense of, to rationalize, a life: What brought me to this time and place and position? In the end, Isaac thought that he had earned his eccentricities; they were part of what made him Isaac Asimov, and Isaac Asimov was a good thing to be. As I ended the biographical chapter of my Isaac Asimov: The Foundations o/Science Fiction: "You can see for yourself in my autobiography that I had a great deal of difficulty adjusting to the world when I was young. To a large extent the world was an enemy world ... Science fiction in its very nature is intended to appeal a) to people who value rea son and b) to people who form a small minority in a world that doesn't value reason .... I am trying to lead a life of reason in an emotional world." Asimov, no doubt, still was trying to please his stern father with industry and productivity. Asimov would have been the first to admit it. He also would have said that it didn't matter how the past had shaped him. He was satisfied to be what he was: a claustrophobe, an acrophobe, a compulsive writer. When he was a teen ager, people complained about his eccentricities: his walking home from the library with three books, reading one and holding one under each arm; his love of ceme teries; his constant whistling. Their complaints didn't bother him (though he did, when asked, stop whistling in the cemetery). "I had gathered the notion somewhere that my eccentricities belonged to me and to nobody else and that I had every right to keep them." He added, "And I lived long enough to see these eccentricities and others that I have not mentioned come to be described as 'colorful' facets of my personality." He ended up rationalizing everything that had happened to him; he was a rational man who knew that the past cannot be changed; it can only be under stood. Moreover, the things that he became were rewarded by the world. He had his many triumphs. Scientists applauded his science books. Professor George G. Simpsor. of Harvard called him "one of our natural wonders and national re sources." He was guest of honor and toastmaster at world science fiction conven tions. He won Hugos and Nebulas, was named a grand master by his fellow science fiction writers, and, perhaps best of all, John Campbell told him, "You are one of the greatest science fiction writers in the world." As a rational man, Asimov knew that the present must be accepted, and as a rational man, he knew that what he was was an excellent thing to be. So the world said, and so he agreed. That life of reason found its expression in his fiction as well as his nonfiction .... I might add that none of his neuroses-his "eccentricities"-interfered with the life he desired. To be sure, he might have enjoyed traveling (he turned down several of my invitations to lecture at the University of Kansas because he didn't fly and train travel took too much time), but traveling would have interfered with what he liked most of all: writing. His neuroses may have influenced his fic tion, as Alan Elms suggested in the June 1997 Clio's Psyche, but not in the space
travel that he wrote about. There is little about space or the experience of space travel in his writing, just as there is little description, little sense of place in themhis stories are largely dramas of ideas acted out on a bare stage; but in The Caves of Steel (1953) and The Naked Sun (1956), his so-called Robot novels, he describes a humanity that has developed a species-wide agoraphobia because of its enclosed environment, and one man (Lije Bailey) who fights his phobia and conquers it. They are, to my mind, Asimov's finest novels, and they illusuate what I consider the central, Darwinian concept of science fiction-that humanity is adaptable, but because it can recognize its adaptations it can choose to behave otherwise. The June 1997 issue of Clio's Psyche also mentions Isaac's propositioning the valedictorian of the Ramapo College commencement; the vice president of Paul Elovitz's college attributed that act and Isaac's "literary profusion" to his habit of not censoring his own thoughts or words. As a rational man and a witty man, Isaac sometimes came out with words he regretted (mostly when someone "topped" him with a wittier remark, which he enjoyed recounting on himself), but his "gallantry toward the ladies," as he called it, was a strategy he adopted to cope with his early uneasiness with women. Isaac told about it in his autobiography. He was twentyone and had his first experience with intimacy, though it stopped short of inter course, but he arrived home at 5 A.M. to his family's alarm and his mother's anger, which would, he feared, end up with her calling the police and having him thrown in jail: If, however, I remained backward in sex, I rapidly learned, during that summer of experimentation, how to "kid around" with girls-that is, to make playful sexual allusions. Once I overcame my fright at saying anything of the sort (in particular, my fear that the young woman would call the police and do my mother's job for her) I found it a fascinating game, made up of word play and riposte, which I was naturally adept at, and which I have never outgrown. It was easier for Isaac to be "gallant" to all the women he met rather than to wonder how he should behave or how they would respond. Evety woman he met, young and old, got the same treatment, and he was so notorious among fe male editors that some of them might have felt offended if he had overlooked them in his "all-embracing gallantry. n Finally to psychohistory. Isaac has recounted many times how he con ceived the idea of predicting the future through a science of mass behavior, how on August 1, 1941, he was on the subway going to meet editor John Campbell, and he didn't have a story idea, how he opened his book of Gilbert and Sullivan plays and came up with the idea for a story about the fall of a galactic empire and the return of feudalism. "Foundation" was published in the May 1942 issue of Astounding Sci ence Fiction and was the beginning of the series that later was published (and better known) as The Founddtion Trilogy. Asimov's interest in the series was rooted in his interest in history. In Opus JOO (1969), he confessed that he had almost majored in history instead of chemistry, and when later in his career he turned to writing non fiction, many of his favorite books were histories. It was his love of history (he had read through twice his major source, Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) that inspired his desire to write a future histoty: In the 1940's, you see, I wrote a series of stories about the fall of the Galactic Empire, the thousand-year Dark Age that followed, and the rise of the Second Galactic Empire. What I had in mind WAR OF THE WORLDS. INWOKING "H. G. Wells is the Shakespeare of sci ence fiction"; so said Brian Akfss in the opening session of a conference on Wells's book Wor of the Worlds. The H. G. Wells Society, which organized this inter national conference September 18-20, 1998, at Royal Holloway College. University of London, would seem in general to agree with this statement Approximately fifty people from places as far flung as New Zealand attended to hear critiques on this noveL It was pub lished in 1898, having been written as a result of a chance remark by H. G. Wells's brother, Frank. Frank had said, "Suppose some beings from another planet were to drop out of the sky suddenly and begin loying about them here.." The story had quite an impact. even into the next century. For example. in the United States on Odober 31, 1938, the daily news carried the headline "Fake war' on radio spreads panic over U.s." The radio broadcast of the story about alien invaders caused widespread panic and disruption. Families under the impression that they really were under attock headed for open spaces or tried to flee places such as New York and New Jersey. But it is the opinion of this reviewer that the ending is ever so slightly unsatisfactory. This involves the eventual defeat of the (presumed) Martian invaders at the hand of a bacteria to which humans were immune, which it has been suggested was in keeping with the Darwinian theory of natu ral selection of the times. It is a book ahead of its time, but in many ways it is also a book of its time. Hence, it has also been thearized that Wor of the Worlds is a satire on the colonization by the British &npire of other lands. However that may be, it is a man's book and a man's world, with the female characters being quickly marginalized. The ensuing discussion at )
the conference suggested that the lack of the feminizing inffuence was reffected in the breakdown of social order, which occurs in the book as a result of the invasion by Martians. The chair of the H. G. Wells Society, Dr. Sylvia Hardy, presented a paper on 'Wells and the British Onema," while the president of the SOCiety, Dr. John Hammond, gave the conference dinner speech on the first evening. A very different talk was given on the second day of the conference by lain Wakeford entitled 'Wells and Woking." Wakeford spoke on the local history of Woking. the area where the Martian tripods were supposed to have landed in the War of the Worlds novel. Although Wells changed some of the names of the bUildings-for example, pubs-Wakeford hod managed to identift the existing structures on which Wells based his descriptions. Wells also managed neatly to interweave on old myth about the Pyreford stone into his science fiction stary, so he was aware of much of the local history himself. An after-dinner coach tour of areas around Woking included that of Horsell Common, where the Martians in Wells's novel landed. The Town Centre now has a 55-foot sculpture called 'The Martian" in honor of the novel. The sculpture of a stainless steel tripod figure was selected from fifty-one submissions and is the work of Michael Condron, a twenty-six-year-old graduate from Central St Martin's College of Art and Design in London. It was a splendid conference, much enjoyed by all the enthusiasts present If you would like details of other events or if you would like to subscribe to the newsletter or join the H. G. Wells SOCiety, please contact: John Hammond, 49 Beckingthorpe Drive, Bottesford, Nottingham, NG 13 ODN, Great Britain. Ideas for celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the Soci ety in the year 2000 would be appreci-( was the fall of the Roman Empire, of course, and I was very free in making analogies, although the imitation was never slavish. The stories involved the deliberate establishment of two Foundations of scientists toward the end of the days of the First Empire. It seems that the science of "psychohistory" (an invented term of my own, which deals with the study of quantita tive sociology so that the sweeping changes of history can be foreseen in advance and foretold) had been perfected. The Foundations were therefore located in such places and in such fashion as would serve to reduce (according to the predictions of psycho history) the length and disastrousness of the Dark Age interregnum. (239-40) In his interview, Isaac recounted, as he had a number of times earlier, that Campbell had tried to rationalize psychohistory through symbolic logic (and some commentators had likened it to a kind of "debased Marxism") but Isaac "made it mathematical"; his analogy was to the kinetic theory of gases, where individual molecules are unpredictable but the average action is completely predictable. "[S]o that what we needed were two things, a lot of people, which the galactic empire supplied, and secondly, people not knowing what the conclusions were as to the future so that they could continue to act randomly." Somewhere in his voluminous writings, Isaac referred to his discovery that "psvchohistory" was a term that had been applied to a branch of psychology (though for some reason I remember it as a branch of history, and he may have re ferred to it that way himself), but I haven't located the reference in any convenient sources. Perhaps someone else can find it. In any case, I don't think he was aware (nor was 1) that the word had existed before he "invented" it. In his later work, Prelude to Foundation (1987), Hari Seldon says that "psychohistory" should have been called "psychsociology," but the second term was "too ugly a word" and "he may have known, instinctively, that a knowledge of history was necessary." But, of course, these were later refinements added as Isaac thought through the complica tions and criticisms that "psychohistory" had engendered. Just as his Robot stories continued to refine the concept of robotics and their relationships to humanity and to individual humans, so Isaac's later Foundation novels kept building on and modifying his original ideas about psychohistory and the Foundations. Some of the criticisms of Isaac's fiction are based on the mistaken concept that his Foundation stories form a true trilogy and should be judged as if they were planned that way from the beginning, but it is my contention, and Isaac agreed, that they were put together like tinker-toy pieces, one tacked on to the end of the other. Like the Robot stories, they were exercises in ingenuity, one generation's problem growing out of the previous generation's solution, and the fact that they seem planned is a tribute to Isaac's ingenuity, to his rational approach to fiction, and to his overarching vision of psychohistory and the Foundations set up to im plement it, as well as to his knowledge of history and historical precedent-in par ticular, the example of the fall of the Roman Empire. If Isaac had a distrust of psychologists, it evidenced itself ambiguously in the Foundation stories. The Second Foundation (they are excluded from the First Foundation) is made up of psychologists-they are the custodians ofHari Seldon's psychohistory-and they act in the second half of The Foundation Triwgy to set Seldon's plan back on the correct path after the Mule's mutated and unpredictable psychic abilities get it off track. Still, I felt an uneasiness about their behavior and the fact that the future of the Second Galactic Empire seemed to lie in their hands rather than those of the self-made political leaders of the First Foundation. As the
psychologists had demonstrated in the final novella of The Foundation Trilogy, their powers ro shape human behavior and even human beliefs were roo overwhelming ro trust ro anyone. But in the besr-selling novels that Isaac wrote after 1982 (and after the publication of the firSt edition of Isaac Asimov: The Foundations o/Science Fiction), Isaac found a third way that integrated his Foundation stories and his Ro bot novels Inro a single future hisrory. More about Clio's Psyche The June issue of Clio s Psyche, in which "Isaac Asimov and Psychisrory" first appeared (and which solicited it), also includes several other articles about Asimov and psychohisrory, including one by SFRA scholar and president-elect Alan Elms, "Psychohisrory and Enlightenment," another by Richard Varela, a graduate studem at Walden Universiry, which applies psychohisrory ro Spain during its me dieval period, and "In Search of Isaac Asimov" by ediror Paul Elovirz, which re counts his involvemem with Asimov and his work. If you are imerested in obtaining copies of this issue (Vol. 5, No. 1), please comact Elovirz at . Clio s Psyche is published by the Psychohistory Forum, and one of its interests in Asimov is his use of the term "psychohistory" and the confusion it sometimes has created. Isaac thought he had invemed the word (and later thought the term had later been used for the psychiat ric background of individuals), but the word actually was in prim as early as 1922, according ro psychohisrorians, and psychohisrory roday is a large, vital, psychoana lytically based field. R. E V I E vv E S S A __ 'i,; 1 1:1@;81,:Ij'i'i, : 1 1 j: G j iG i (j:1II Robin Reid Robin Robetts. A Nau Specit!S: Gender and Science in Science Fiction. Champaign: U of Illinois P, 1993. 170 pages, $29.95 hardcover, $12.95 paper back. Jenny W olmark. Aliens and Others: Science Fiction, Feminism and Postmotkrn ism. Iowa City: U ofIowa P, 1994. 167 pages, $29.95 hardcover, $14.95 paperback. Jennifer Burwell. Notes on Nowhere: Feminism, Utopian Logic, and Social Transformation. Volume 13: American Culture. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1997.237 pages, $49.95 hardcover, $19.95 paperback. Judging by the growing number journal articles, dissertations, and publi cations on the general topic of "feminism and science fiction," as well as on indi vidual authors cited in the Modern Language Association's databases and other re sources, feminist criticism of SF is a movement that will continue ro expand and to incorporate a variety of theories and literary works. Three books published in the 1990s provide an interesting spectrum of different possibilities for feminist criti cism. Not surprisingly, given the academic credemials and positions of all three authors, these books draw on a constellation of theories, including Marxism, new historicism, psychoanalytic linguistic, and queer theory, as well as those works identified as feminist theories. A New Species In A New Species, Robin Roberts constructs an "alternative history of sci MEMBERS' WORK IN PROGRESS Helen Collins continues to work on her second novel, working title Windy Planet. Norma Nelida Dangla continues to work on her PhD at Universidad del Salvador in Modern Languages (English) with a dissertation on Modern SF Literature. Alex Eisenstein continues to serve as Associate Editor and Art Director of Spec-Lit, an anthology series published by Columbia College of Chicago. Alan Elms is continuing to work on a book length biography of Paul Unebarger (Cordwainer Smith) and doing re search on psychological training and career of Alice Sheldon Oames Tiptree, Jr.). Fred Erisman is working on an essay on aircraft and aviation technology in boys' series baoks. Pawel Frelik ;s currently writing a PhD dissertation devoted to the technaphobic imagination in cyberpunk and associated narratives. It will analyze the whole spectrum of ways in which technology liberates itself and acquires semi-consciousness, rebeling against its creator, man. Andrew Gordon is working on the Films of Steven Spielberg. Joan Gordon is working on a paper entitled "Utopia and Genocide and the Other. Tracking the Truly Monstrous." Donald M. Hassler is writing a history of early SF academic criticism. He's ]
currently working on the middle dec ades o(the 20th century. Joe Marchesani is working on a paper on the illustrations (or J.G. Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition. Domna Pastourmatzi is working on a book-length history o( Greek SF. Joe Sanders is completing Tom Clareson's book on Heinlein. Philip E. Smith is teaching SF on an around-the-world voyage (or Semester at Sea (S.S. Universe Explorer) in Fall 1999. Carol Stevens is working on an analySiS o( Japanese anime. particularly "Sailor Moon" and the "Kitty" series. MEMBERS' SUGGESTIONS FOR PROJECTS THAT SFRA SHOULD UNDERTAKE Norma Nelida Dangla would like to see more in(onnation on academic Internet sites that deal with SF. Alan Elms suggests that the SFRA publish an anthology of previously published scholarly papers (including. but not limited to Pioneer Award winners and candidates). representing the di versity and quality o( SFRA members' work. Pawel Frelik. would like to improve the SFRA's web page. adding links to schol arly resources in SF. Despina Kak.oudal
Wolmark examines the shift in perspectives from 1970s separatist utopias by Suzy McKee Charnas, Sally Miller Gearhart, and Tiptree to the ambiguity of works published in the 1980s by Sheri S. Tepper, Pamela S:'.fgent, and Margaret Atwood. The earlier separatist novels worked from an essentialist model of gender and reversed the power balance. The later works draw on utopian conventions but exhibit what Wolmark called "double vision"; they are critical of bur complicit with patriarchal structures. W olmark then shifts to analyze cyberpunk and the figure of the cyborg. Wolmark cites the work of Samuel R. Delany and others to argue that feminist SF is the unacknowledged "mother" of cyberpunk, given the early exploration of the interface between human and machine so integral to feminist SF, then examines William Gibson's Neuromancer and Pat Cadigan's Synners, concluding that cyber punk generally privileges the masculine and that it is difficult to overcome that privileging. The text concludes with a brief consideration of the "cyborg" fictions of Rebecca Ore, Marge Piercy, and Elisabeth Vonarburg. Notes on Nowhere Jennifer Burwell's Notes on Nowhere covers utopian novels by five contem porary feminist writers: Sally Miller Gearhart, Joanna Russ, Octavia Butler, Marge Piercy, and Monique Wittig. Drawing on new historicist theories that "the prac tices of literature signify inseparably ftom their social and cultural context," Burwell examines the relationships between narrative form, point of view, and the social discourses within the novels. Burwell begins by providing a theoretical overview of the "utopian logics" in social theory and discourse created by Marxists, black civil rights leaders, radical feminists, and African American feminists and notes the challenge to the concept of the unitary subject in postmodern theory and the development of queer theory. Burwell then backs up in time, analyzing Thomas More's Utopia and other tradi tional utopias by B. F. Skinner and William Morris, which show utopian societies maintaining social harmony by repressing the individual subject and by forgetting the past. Burwell then analyzes a 1970s separatist utopia, The Wanderground, by Gearhart, which presents a society of women who exist on the margins of a male-dominated city. Burwell critiques the extent to which this nartative's utopian society of women maintains their collective identity by remembering the threat posed by men, specifically rape, and their own vulnerability to violation. Burwell compares Russ' The Femak Man and Butler's Patternmaster se ries, both of which focus on linking contemporary and imagined societies to high light social change and female agency. Both writers create narrative perspectives that denaturalize individual and collective identity. Burwell argues that Russ ad dresses the contradiction between society's construction of "man," "woman," and "human/mankind" and deconsttucrs them through the focus on the individual pro tagonist and that Butler's characters exist within multiple subject positions that re sult in alienation ftom the ideology of anyone ideology or community. Next, Burwell analyzes Piercy's Woman on the Edge o/Time, which also constructs a female protagonist who exists in her own contemporary society and learns of its relationship to a utopian future and her own agency in helping to cre ate that future. Finally, Burwell examines Wittig's use oflanguage in her fiction as part of a strategy for resistance. Acknowledging critics who have complained that Wittig's work essentializes the "lesbian" as a singular and reified category, Burwell argues that Wittig's use of language in her novels "utopiannizes" and "universalizes" the marginalized point of view, and this effort has the power to disrupt and denatu ralize, thus challenging and not just replacing the "dominant" perspectives. on the SFRA listserv into a penn anent resource for members. Robert O'Connor suggests a video archive of interviews with sdence fiction writers and journal editors. Domna Pastourmatzi would like to see an SFRA or other international SF conference in Thessaloniki Greece, and offers to help organize this conference. David Samuelson would like SFRA to help to reprint or keep in print books with strong patential for dassroom use Note: These suggestions would make great subjects for Let ters to the Editors.. --==-I I -== CALL FOR PROPOSALS: MIA 1999 IN CHICAGO "Going Postal: Sdence Fiction and C0ntemporary Cultural Transfonnation" Modem Language Association Conference in Chicago, December, 1999 Session description: Postmodem, post colonial, poststructuralist, postfeminist: A session on ways in which sdence ffction deals with contemporary social, rultural, and technological transfonnotions, ruptures, and gaps. Types of submissions preferred: air stracts of 500 words or less Deadline for responses: March 15, 1999 Contact infonnation (new email): Joan Gordon, email@example.com -Peter Fitting )
RECENT AND FORTHCOMING BOOKS Collins, Paul, ed. The MUP Encyclope dia of Australian Science Fiction, and Fantasy. Melbourne UP, summer I 998. Aus$3 9. 95 hardcover, $29.95 paper; available from Paul and Co., Box 442, Concord, MA 01742, 978!369-3049; inquire for dollar cost Hoban, Russell. Riddley Walker. Indiana UP, summer 1998. Expanded edition with afterword, notes, gfossary Brooks, Terry. The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference. Writer's Digest, fall 1998 Dick, Steven J. Life on Other Worlds: The Twentieth Century Extra terrestrial Life Debate. Cam bridge UP, fall 1998 Wagner, Jon, and Jan Lundgren. Deep Space and Sacred Time: Star Trek in the American Mythos. Praeger, fall 1998 Bleiler, Everett F., and Richard J. Science-Fiction: The Gernsback Years. Kent State UP, August 1998. 768 p. $65. ISBN 0-87338-604-3. Described in issue 229!230 Niccol, Andrew, and Peter Weir. The Truman Show: The Shooting Script. Newmarket Press, August 1998 Paglia, Camille. The Birds. BFlllndiana UP, August I 998 Price, Michael, and George E. Turner. Forgotten Horrors. Midnight Marquee Press, August 1998 Ragin, Michael. Independence Day. BFIIlndiana UP, August 1998 Hertenstein, Mike. The Double Vision of Star Trek. Cornerstone Press, September 1998 Kinnard, Roy. Science Fiction Serials: A Critical Filmography of the ( Analysis of These Feminist Views of SF I find all three of these critical works interesting, well grounded, and chal lenging and would recommend all of them for anyone who is interested in bringing feminist SF into their classroom or who is interested in building a library of femi nist criticism of SF. I would also recommend assigning the books themselves in classes that incorporate theory, criticism, and literature, although I would consider them for different classes. Roberts "alternative history" would be a good addition to any SF course, undergraduate or graduate, with its chronological structure and em rhasis on feminist SF as grounded in tradition and developing over time, rather than consisting of a few "exceptional texts" produced by writers who are anomalous in the predominantly male domain of SF. I also enjoyed her intention to cross liter ary and theoretical boundaries. Her discussion of the pulp magazine covers and of writers not always considered "high" enough for literary analysis, feminist or otherwise, are a good example of her work in this area. Wolmark's Alien and Others would be a strong addition to a graduate course; I see the strengths of this work as predominantly in the in-depth discussion of some of her writers, her choice of works not always considered by feminists (I've read a good many articles on McInryre's Dreamsnake, for example, but have heard little or no critical mention of her Star Trek novels), and her awareness of a mixed audience. Wolmark provides clear summaries and overviews of theoretical works that readers not familiar with the originals could easily comprehend as they read her analysis. The overall effect of both Roberts' and Wolmark's choices is to blur the boundary between "feminist" and "not feminist" by showing a variety of feminist choices made by writers. Burwell's work on utopias, Notes on Nowhere, is the most challenging in terms of its theoretical apparatus: Burwell assumes readers are familiar with utopian criticism, Marxist and new historicist theories, and more; I would probably assign this work in a class setting where I could count on the students (graduate or other wise) having that familiarity. Her focus is more narrow, but I found her reading of feminist utopias as situated within the context of social theory and discourse cre ated by various marginalized groups to be an exciting one and well worth the anen tion it takes to read it. FEATURE INTERVIE..;VV ...... __ Itt:11():tHtiti:!_ Michael M. Levy Joan Slonczewski, author of A Door into Ocean, The Wail around Eden, Daughter of Elysium, and, most recently, The Children Star, is one of the most important writers to have entered the field of speculative fiction in the past two dec ades. Her literate and thoughtful hard science fiction focuses on issues of social jus tice and peace, ecology, feminism, gender, and religion and invites comparison with the work of writers as diverse as Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, and Kim Stanley Robinson. Slonczewski also has a strong connection to the Science Fiction Research Association, of which she is a longtime member. Her popular-science lec tures at our annual conferences are always a high point, and her work has played a featured role in any number of scholarly papers presented at those conferences. Some of the following information on Slonczewski's life and career was gathered from standard reference resources and some of it from the author's Website: This iorerview was conducted via the Iorernet in late June 1998. Slonczewski was born in 1956 and attended Bryn Mawr College, where
she graduated magna cum laude in biology. She received her PhD from Yale in 1982, with a dissertation entitled "Regulation and Sensing of Bacterial pH in Escherichia coli." She did a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania from 1982 to 1984 on a National Institutes of Health Research Service Award. doing research on leukocyte chemotaxis. She then accepted a post at Kenyon College. where she is currently an associate professor in the Department of Biology. She teaches molecu lar biology and microbiology and continues to do original and important research on her dissertation topic. pH stress in the bacterium E. coli, with numerous publi cations in the Journal of Bacteriology and elsewhere. In 1990-1991. she held a National Science Foundation Visiting Professorship at Princeton University. Beyond pure research. Slonczewski has also been active as an administrator and in the field of science education. She served as chair of her department for three years and is currently Director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Un dergraduate Biological Sciences Educacion program. Science Division. at Kenyon. Among other activities. she has also served as volunteer Director of Elementary School Science Month and Elementary School Scientists programs for grades K-6 at fourteen elementary and middle schools in Knox County. Ohio. Slonczewski has also won numerous awards both for her research and for her extracurricular activi ties in support of science education. Oh. yes-and in her spare time she writes science fiction! Her first novel, published in 1980. is the now-Iong-out-of-print Still Forms on Foxfield. In this thoughtful planetary adventure. Quaker colonists on an alien world have achieved a successful relationship with their planet's peaceful na tive intelligences. but. a century later. find it much more difficult to renew contact with representatives of a new. aggressive civilization on Earth. Slonczewski's second novel. A Door into Ocean. was published to great acclaim in 1986. Set on the water world of Shora. it features a pacifist civilization of women biologists who have radi cally transformed their planet through genetic engineering. A sequel. Daughter of Elysium. appeared in 1993 and concerns the consequences of. among other things. radically extended human lifespan and the development of full-blown machine in telligence. A third volume in the sequence. The Children Star, was published as a serial in Analog beginning in April 1998. A hardcover edition from Tor will appear in September. Another novel, The Wall around Eden (I989), is set in a small postnuclear holocaust, largely Quaker community that has been preserved from de struction by an enigmatic and almost entirely uncommunicative alien race. The Children Star is set some twO hundred years after Daughter of Elysium, largely on the planet Prokaryon, a world whose ecology is so poisonous to humans that they have to undergo intensive gene therapy in order to colonize the planet. Under pressure on one side from the citizens ofL'li. a world that suffers from ex treme overpopulation, and on the other side from an avaricious capitalist out to create his own private empire, the council that governs human space is considering the terraforming ofProkaryon. This process would wipe out the planet's native life forms, including, perhaps, the mysterious, perhaps mythical intelligent species that seems to have tailored [he planet to its own purposes. It would also uproot the hu man colonists who have gone through [he painful process of adapting their own bodies to Prokaryon's ecology. The novel centers on one of these colonies. a relig ious order known as the Spirit Callers, the members of which have devoted them selves [0 taking care of orphaned L'liite children. One of the things that has always marked Slonczewski's fiction as unusual is the detailed use she makes of her ov,,"D scientific research, and this is particularly true in The Children Star, which devotes a fair amount of space to bacteriology and related topics. I began the interview with questions about Slonczewski's leadership role in her field and her current scientific work in progress. 31 Hard Science Fiction Cliff hangers; with an oppencflX on the 37 serials with slight sdence fiction content McFarland, September 1998 Moran, Sarah. Alien Art: Extraterres trial Expressions on Earth. Quadrillion Publishing, September 1998. Intra by von Daniken. For believers Mulvey-Roberts, Marie, ed. The Handbook to Gothic Literature. New York UP, September 1998 Presnell, Don, and Marty McGee. A Critical History of Television's Twilight Zone, 1959-1964. McFarland, September 1998 Tracy, Kathleen. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Unofficial Companion. Renaissance Books, Sep tember 1998 Turner, James, ed. Eternal Lovecraft; The Persistence of HPL in Popular Culture. Golden Gryphon Press, September 1998 Wallerstein, Immanuel. Utopistics: or, Historical Choices of the Twenty-First Century. New Press, September 1998 Cooke, Nathalie. Margaret Atwood: A Biography. ECW Press, October 1998 Dundes, Alan, ed. The Vampire: A Casebook. U of Wisconsin, Octo ber 1998 Genge, N. The Buffy Chronicles: The Unofficial Companion to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Three Rivers Press, October 1998 Hershenson, Bruce, and Richard Allen, eds. Horror Movie Posters. B. Hershenson. Box 874, West Plains, MO 65776, October 1998 Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. 2d ed. Visible Ink Press, Octo ber 1998 )
Ramsland, Katherine. Piercing the Darkness: Undercover wnh Vampires in America Today. HarperPrism, October 1998 Riley, Michaela. Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L Frank Baum. UP of Kansas, October 1998. Reprint of 1997 edition Sansweet, Stephen j. The Star Wars Encyclopedia. Ballantine Del Rey, October 1998 Daniels, Les. Superman: The Complete History; the Life and Times of the Man of Steel. Chronicle Books, November 1998 Rodley, Chris. Lynch on Lynch. Faber, November 1998 Fulton, Roger, and john Betancaurt The Sci-Fi Channel Encyclopedia of TV Science Fiction. Warner Aspect, December 1998 Skelton, Scott Rod Serling's Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour. Syracuse UP, December I 998 Zipes, jack. When Dreams Come True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition. Routledge, january 1999 -Neil Barron CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS If you've taught or researched joanna Russ's The Female Man, the Review needs you! Contribute your observations, suggestions, analyses, insights, strategies, experiences, and cautions about the book. If you have amassed any bibliographiC information (annotated or not), please consider contributing that as well to our "Approaching The Female Man" feature, scheduled to appear in the April issue of the SFRA Review. E LnIJ: Weren't you at one time an officer in your professional organization? Sloncuwski: I chaired Division K Microbial Biochemistry for the Ameri can Society of Microbiology. I also founded the biennial Gordon Conference on Microbial Stress Response. Microbial stress is a big field now because microbes can survive incredibly extreme environments, such as Mars-like environments, or the concentrated acid of a human stomach. The dreaded E. coli 0157 is an exception ;Jly stress-resistant bug; that's why it lasts long enough to transmit outside the body. LnIJ: I believe you're currenrly on sabbatical-what will you be doing with your time? Sloncuwski: I will be at the U niversiry of Maryland at Baltimore, study ing acid resistance genes in Proteus, a kidney pathogen, and in Helicobacter pylori, the infamous cause of gastric ulcers. LnIJ: Can you tell us something about your family? Sloncuwski: My husband stayed home with our two boys for eight years (like Blackbear in Daughter of Elysium). He is a professor of Classics (ancient Greek and Latin) at Kenyon and recenrly has taught full time. That's one reason why a lot of G reek stuff, e:;pecially Plato, ends up in my books. Our boys are ages 15 and 11. The two children in Daughter of Elysium were a pretry accurate representation of them, as of six years ago. Levy: I've already listed your five novels, but you've also published one short stoty in Analog. How did that come about? Sloncuwski: The story is "Microbe," from the August 1995 issue of Analog. Lois McMaster Bujold encouraged me to do it and I've always admired Stan Schmidt, so I was thrilled when he accepted it. I don't know why I haven't done other short stories; mainly, I love character development, which is hard to do in a tew pages. LnIJ: I think that I read "Microbe," but I don't remember it well. Is it set on Prokaryon? Is it part of the novel? Sloncuwski: "Microbe" was set on Prokaryon. It showed the first human conract with the planet-and a problem with pesky microbes. The Children Star takes place several decades later, after humans have figured out how to live there (though not how to produce children successfUlly). LnIJ: Your being a Quaker is important to your fiction and worth mentioning, I think. To what extenr do your religious beliefs inform your science fic tion? To [wh,u) extent, for example, are the Sharers of A Door into Ocean and its st:quels Quakers? The Spirit Callers of The Children Star? How do the three groups difTt:r philosophically? Sloncuwski: Quakerism formed the cenrral focus of my early books. Quakerism has been important to me for two reasons. It provided a way of worship in the Christian tradition that was compatible with my understanding of experi mental science ,lOd my insistence on universalism-beliefs that would translate to Alpha Cemauri someday. It also provided a source of action to overcome the spec ters of violence that surround us, particularly (until recently) the nuclear holocaust. Tht: Sharers have a lot in common with Quakers, particularly in the dy namic of their "meetings." Their mode of resistance is largely Gandhian. But their
traditions and language are unique; the Sharer language is something I made up, actually based on the principle of physics that every force has an opposite and equal force. I was actually surprised to see how far this principle could go. There must be a real language somewhere that works this way. The Spirit Callers are less well defined. In The Children Star, I envisioned them as similar to Catholics, as experienced by my children in the Catholic school they have attended. The idea of scientists as all atheists is an untrue stereorype. Many scientists are devout believers; some (outside of biol ogy) are even creationists! (Not that this is a good thing.) All great world religions have produced great scientists. Even if they were burned at the stake, you still have to give their religion credit for educating them in the first place. Levy: A Door into Ocean won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Have you received any other awards or award nominations for your fiction? Slonczewski: A Door into Ocean won the Campbell and was the first winner written by a woman. Still Forms on Foxfield was nominated for the Prometheus Award. I think all my books should be up for the Prometheus Award, because they all deal with rebels for freedom, one way or another. Levy: Correct me if I'm wrong, but my impression is that the Prometheus Award is not simply given to a book that promotes freedom, but one that specifically promotes the Libertarian version thereof. My first reaction is that Libertarianism and the kind of strong communitarianism that I tend to connect with the Sociery of Friends would seem to be at very different places on the political/social spectrum. Slonczewski: This is a matter of opinion. I see Quakers as highly independent-minded, whereas the libertarians in the novels of, say, L. Neil Smith are a lot more social than they may sometimes admit. I think Neil agrees, since (to the best of my recollection) he nominated Still Forms for the award! Levy: You've been referred to as a feminist SF writer on any number of occasions, primarily, perhaps, because of the gender-related issues tied to the cultures of Shora, Bronze Sky, and Valedon in A Door into Ocean and Daughter of Elysium. How would you characterize your own attitude towards gender issues? To what extent does feminism inform your science fiction? Slonczewski: A dictionary ddlnes feminism as "promoting rights for women." So of course all my work is feminist. But I have always found it more effective to promote women indirectly, by showing women in strong roles, rather than by preaching. It disturbs me to see well-known feminist writers who preach feminism overtly, yet show women undergoing absolute degradation. [Margaret Arwood's] The Handmaid's Tale is a good example; I dissected this case for the Kenyon Review. In my books, I show women doing strong things and succeeding, with attractive, strong men supporting them. The women don't al ways have to be beautiful to succeed, professionally and romantically. The main scientist in The Children Star is an explicitly ugly woman. I was pleased when the July-August Analog illustration showed this correctly. I also get impatient with the treatment of sexuality in science fiction. SF is way ahead in accepting gay and lesbian sto ries, but it's always that, a gay or lesbian story. "Heterosexual" books like [Kim Stanley Robinson's] Red Mars avoid sexual diver sity (sorry; I assign Red Mars regularly in my SF [and] Biology course, so I feel entitled to quibble now and then). In my books, I just show characters just doing their job who happen to be gay or lesbian. In my next book, The Carrier, all the characters are openly bisexual, because that is where I believe society is headed. I'll be interested to see reactions to that. Levy: You're one of a small number of science fiction writers who is not only trained in science but actively doing scien tific research (one thinks of Gregory Benford, Catherine Asaro, Geoff Landis). To what extent does your research affect your fic tion? Slonczewski: My research merges with my writing all the time. Because I spend so much time researching bacteria in new environments, I was bound to write .l book eventually about microbes. (Thi; comes up early in The Children Star so it's not giving much away.) The mechanisms of biology help me envision new environments such as the cellular cities of Elysium, whose structure is based on the organellar structure of a cell. It also helps me imagine nanotechnology how it will really be, which is getting more biological all the time. Look at Teramac, a computer [built by Hewlett-Packard] made to contain hundreds of thousands of errors, and get around them! The significance is (a) computers can be built faster, cheaper, and smaller than ever dreamed; (b) the operating w
Slonc:uwski: Science fiction writing helps me develop new questions in science research. It makes me more venrure some; I have always sought out new ideas and techniques, instead of spending my whole career on one gene, as a number of my colleagues do. SF writing has certainly influenced my religious views. It has provided a way of "working out" deep and troubling ques [ions. In Daughter of Elysium. the character Isabel essentially puts God on trial, like someone in a concentration camp: How could You let this happen? I received a letter from a minister who said this book helped him through the death of his father. Lroy: The Children Star takes place in the S;L-ne universe as Door and Daughter, but rwo hundred years after the latter. Elysians and sentient machines being very long lived, some of the same people are still running around, however. How has the civilization of the Fold changed over that rwo hundred years? Obviously the situation with sentient machines has changed things a lor. Sloncuwski: I did not go into this overtly, but it's clear that the Elysian world view has developed problems. In Daugh ter of Elysium, the Elysians forbid suicide: a strong statement affirming the value oflife, but also masking the hidden terrors of medical failure and aging. Two hundred years later, their position is reversed; suicide is actually encouraged as a way out. This shift was probably enhanced by the Elysian feelings of inferiority in comparison with the incredibly capable Sentients (intelligent machines). I fear that American society is headed the same way. Lroy: The plight of the L'liites and their grossly overpopulated planet is nothing new in the series, but in The Children Star that problem, and the moral issues connected with it, move to center stage. As someone who responds in almost knee-jerk fashion ro pleas for money from CARE and UNICEF ro feed the starving millions of East Africa, I found the novel bringing up all sortS of questions that I've asked myself. What is ro be done? Does keeping the starving millions alive help anything in the long run? To what extent are the people responsible for their own problems and ro what extent are the religious and economic forces of the West responsible? ... Ohviously, the possibility of large-scale emigration from L'1i ro Prokaryon is something of a red herring so far as solutions go, si nce no amount of emigration is actually going ro relieve the population pressure, even once the problem of Prokatyon's poisons is One of your characters, the sentient machine Mother Artemis, actually wonders if it might be better to let the L'liites ,t.lrve .lOd die from the plague. How do you feel about this situation? Should Elysium and Valedon (or for that matter, the United States) allow refugees in even if it means potentially lowering the domestic standard ofliving? Sloncuwski: You're right, this question moved ro center stage in my thinking. It should have been there all along, but the nuclear threat overshadowed it in the '70s and '80s. It's really a lifeboat question, isn't it, and there is no universal answer. i-.lother Artemis, in ne Children Star, answers it by telling Rod that it is selfish of him ro expect God ro let him save an entire world; he must be content ro save children one at a time. (He later gets his wish, of course, though not the way he expected.) Quakers take this view. The American Friends Service Committee has taken this approach for years. For instance, the AFSC will go iato a destitute village and give them one pregnant cow. The milk from the cow serves the whole village and provides enough income to avoid daughters being sold ro the cities. As the village builds on their capital, they give the first calf back to AFSC, who sends it on ro another village. One village at a time looks a lot more hopeful than trying ro solve the whole world. InterestinglY, former President Carter promotes the same view with Habitat for Humanity--one house at a time. Lroy: If this isn't roo personal, ro what extent did your son's recent serious health problems affect the writing of The Children Star? Sloncuwski: My son had a "benign" brain tumor removed rwo years ago. He is now fine, except for permanent vision loss. He Ius just enough vision in one eye ro use a computer, and does great with that. His vision loss somewhat influenced the fin.1I lju,lfter of The ChiUren Star-, the sccoes where characters have visions inside their heads. My next book, The Carrier, is full of LlI1t,lstic things about [he brain, including a woman who sees a fourth primary color. I.roy: Where did you get the idea for the triple-stranded DNA that exists in all Prokaryon life forms? Is this possible? Sloncuwski: Th,u's what Stan [Schmidt] asked when I first submitted "Microbe." He said something to this effect "I'll puhlish it, if triplex DNA really exists." Actually, triplex structure has been crystallized since the early days of discovery of D\iA. Today, triplex DNA is incredibly interesting to pharmaceutical companies because it provides a possible mechanism for turning ofr C.lnccr genes. Lroy: Speaking of the scientists working to uncover the "hidden masters" of Prokaryon, Sarai, the renegade Sharer, says, "They c,tli themselves scientists. yet all they want ro prove is that some great father rules the world arrer all." To what extent are we to ,lcCept S,lrai as your mouthpiece here? Many feminists of the more extreme sort have actually argued that there's something (
innately sexist and patriarchal about scientific knowledge. Since you're a working scientist (and so is Sarai, for that matter). it's obvious that you don't believe this, but do you see something innately patriarchal about how science is done? Slonczewski: All my characters represent views th .. t I've held in one situation or another, even the worst of them. I can argue [the villainous capitalist] Nibur's case very seriously; in fact, I took it straight out of a well-known antienvironmentalist philosopher, Charles Rubin ([my character's] name is his, spelled backward). What Sarai is getting at is that, ironically, scientists who claim ro seek open-ended knowledge onen succumb to the temptation to re-create top-down patriarchal structures. Let's face it, patriarchy is attractive; we all like to feel like a two-year-old, swept up high in the air by a loving father. When Watson and Crick invented the Master Molecule idea, the idea of ON A con trolling everything dominated the field, despite contrary evidence, for three decades. But this tendency is not inevitable. Today, we seem to have gone in the reverse direction, finding evidence that everything controls everything. We know more than we used to; whether we know "deeper" is not clear. Levy: Environmental concerns have always been central to your books, and in The Children Star, it seems ro me [that] you pose a pretty straightfotward (if painfUl) question. Is human life innately more valuable than other life forms, particularly if they're nonsentient? What do you believe? The basic plot in which a soulless corporation is out to despoil a beautifUl alien world, but sees their efforts thwarted when human beings who love the planet are able to prove that an indigenous life form is sentient, is not exactly a new one, although it's obviously a plot worthy of any number of variations. I wonder, though, what happens when we throw out the sentient life forms? If Prokaryon does not in fact have hidden masters, would it still be immoral to "boil off" the planet to provide room for L'li's sick and starving millions? Slonczewski: Good questions. It's never stopped us before. The "green hills of England" all used to be forest. What do you think? Speaking of Prokaryon, the Elysian leader Verid says, "What does it do to the soul of the person who destroys it?" Levy: Why do your sentient machines have gender? How do they acquire it? Slonczewski: Why do humans have gender? How do humans acquire it? Many people still believe that the only "biological" function of sex and gender is procreation. They ignore a quiet revo lution in primate biology. Primatologists find that sexual behavior in primates, especially human's closest relatives, has a lot more to do with social cooperation-sexual contact serves like a handshake. to forge all kinds of bonds within a group. A lot of evidence suggests that humans are designed this way too. If sex were just for procreation, why do human females become more sexually capable after they get pregnant? Still, I don't know that I buy the idea of gendered machine intelligences as you present it. Gender, although partiallya social construct and certainly something that has more flexibility than traditionalists like to admit does, it seems to me, has some basis in biology. It is, at least in part, our response to hormones, genes, whatever. Anyone who has tried ro raise Baby X, that is, a boy or girl baby without any gender coding, quickly finds out that that coding is there anyway and it's there before the child is old enough to be influenced by the outside world-at least, that's my experience. I can see human beings imposing gender on AIs as, ro some extent. we are already doing with computer voices for own convenience and comfort, but I don't know that I believe that it's something an AI would come up with or desire on its own. Slonczewski: This one is hard to address because you could write a whole shelf fUll of books on it. Nobody has the last word. My own opinion (just that. opinion) is based on the physiological and genetic perspective that a remarkably small number of genes actually determines male versus female development; and that statistical measures show that differences between the sexes are generally far smaller than the range of individual variation. For instance, the difference between average heights of male and female is smaller than the standard deviation for either sex. Other traits, such as various forms of intelligence or skill, show far tinier differences, if any. This is why I think that as reproduction becomes increasingly mechanized and decoupled nom sexu ality, our sexual "vic la difference" will rely less on gender and more on individual diversity. Nonetheless, I think that intelligent robots will "choose" gender identification mainly for linguistic reasons. So long as they inhabit a culture and language in which people are designated by gender, they will prefer to be he or she rather than "it." I know this is a big argument in the feminist community and cettain writers have done a lot with inventing nongendered pro nouns, but I haven't yet found a way that "works" for me. My own preference is ro stick with he or she for now and be radical on other issues-like portraying heroic female scientists who actually do something. hypothesis is that as actual procreation becomes increasingly mechanized (better birth contro!' in vitro fertilization, test-tube babies, etc.), human sexuality will increasingly become a matter of choice and character. In the future, we will all be bisexual (if we aren't already). But even so, it will always be more interesting to have a gender, even an ambiguous one. than to be "it." If humans feel this way, I'm sure that machines will too. The obvious question. will they have sex with us?-I ducked that for the past two books-I will face it in The Carrier. )
Lroy: Will The Carrier be set in the same universe as The Children Star? Sloncuwski: The Carrier is set on Valedon and Elysium, about twemy years after The Children Star. The microbes of The Children Star have now spread [0 the cities, in a more dangerous (and seducdve) form. Sort oflike the way coca leafhas emerging in the cities as crack cocaine. But with a twist. I wish I could say more now, but let's wait until The Children Star has gonen read. Joan Slonczewski's The Children Star has appeared as a serial in Analog and was published by Tor (ISBN 0-312-867166) in September 1998. See the July 1998 (#234) issue of the SFRA Review for Mike Levy's review of the book. Joan Gordon's FICTION REVIEVV __ ./:iI1:ii!]ilj:lj"'i_ Joan Gordon Sloncz.cwski, Joan. The Children Star. New York: Tor, 1998.352 pages, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 0-312-86716-6. The Children Star takes place in the same universe as Joan Slonczewski's earlier novels A Door into Ocean (1986) and Daughter of Elysium (1993): that is, the same imagined future his[Ory, the same ethical issues, and the same concerns with ecology, child development, and biological speculation. Like the previous novels, plot and character sometimes creak, but the thought experi ments-philosophical and scientific-sing. The plot of The Children Star traces the colonization of a planet whose ecology is [Oxic to humans. Because children can be more easily "life-shaped," or genetically engineered to live on Prokaryon, the planet has been populated primarily by children, sen tient machines that care for them, and a few humans, all members of a religion called the Spirit Sharers. Because the climate and flora of the planet are so regimented, there is much speculation among the colonists and scientists about the presence of "hidden masters," or intelligent native life. Meanwhile, a power-hungry Elysian seeks complete control of the planet in order to terraform it for human colonists and [0 mine it for valuable mineral deposits. The peaceful religious colonists and scientific investigators must find proof of intelligem life in order to save the planet. The characters include Brother Rhodolite, a human priest of the Spirit Sharers, a reclusive and somewhat paranoid Sharer (see A Door into Octan) and the power-mad Elysian (see Daughters of Elysium). Although all these characters and more are given motives and character traits. they are more servicable than vivid. But they serve beautifully vivid ideas. and this is truly a novel of ideas. The conflict between terraforming (here referred to by some as ecocide) and lifeforming as ways to colonize a planet is rich not only in its speculations about the future but also for its implications in the postcolonial debate between adapting oneself to the "new" land or adapting the new land to oneself-going na tive versus converting the heathen. or total immersion versus bilingual education. The speculations about sentiem versus "stable" machines have implications for issues about workers' freedom and justice. The scientific speculations about the planet and its poten tial intelligem life seem very fresh and original, a world of ring-shaped organisms and microbial intelligence, carefully developed, clearly explained. and as fascinating as Slonczewski's science presentations, given most years at the annual SFRA conference and always a highlight. Slonczewski is a significant voice in SF because she combines hard biological science speculation with a variety of philo sophical concerns-feminist, pacifist, egalitarian, ecological, spirirual, and bioethical-in work that enriches and emertains. The FICTION REVI EVV .... __ IIW: (.j: 'S) J:i iii j;' :1: (Wi:'; i j:_ Sandra Lindow Harpman, Jacqueline. I Who Have Never Known Men. Translated &om the French by Roz Schwartz. New York: Avon Eos, 1998.206 pages, paper, $3.99, ISBN 0-380-73181-9. Recalling Camus and Kafka far more than the work of genre SF writers. Jacqueline Harprnan's near-future extraterrestrial dystopia I Who Have Never Known i\1en explores human alienation and the attempt to create meaning from absurd, inhumane situa tions. Harpman. a French psychoanalyst, writes. like Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood, from outside the SF community. There is an absence of the traditional SF tropes. Much in the novel seems allegorical and reminiscent of Camus's The Stranger and Kafka's The Penal Colony. (
I Who Have Never Known Men focuses on the philosophical problems of estrangement, suffering, and nihilism. Nihilists believe that ultimately there is no meaning to existence. There is no God to provide purpose for our lives, nor is there any other basis for knowledge or truth. In the novel, a female child is the youngest of a group of forty women confined to a cage in an underground bunker. The child has no name. None of the women has any clear knowledge of how or why they were confined. All were ordinary women-wives and pink-collar workers. None knew each other from before or can think of any reason why they were imprisoned. They are not criminals, revolutionaries, or even established professionals. All have confused memories of social chaos followed by an abrupt change that included a long time of being drugged, then a slow return to rationality in their place of imprisonment. The women believe that the child was included by mistake. At first the child seems autistic, a true blank slate. She knows nothing, cannot remember love or family or a time before her imprisonment. The guards do not allow the women to touch the child or each other. Any show of strong emotion is cause for punishment. The guards have whips with which they are vety skilled. Nurture is unavail able; nutrition is insufficient. Thus, the child grows up lacking sexual development, angty, biner, and estranged from touch and all emotional anachments. Harpman, however, does not stop, as a nihilist might, in binerness and alienation. During the course of the novel, the child matures intellecrually and creates meaning for herself, though understandably in a fragmentary way. Connections are eventu ally formed with the other women. When one day a siren sounds and the guards suddenly and inexplicably run off, leaving the cage door open, the women go in search of others. During their difficult and ultimately fruitless trek across an empty but benign world, relationships and leadership develop. Midway through the narrative, the viewpoint character writes, "Looking back now, I can say that, quite simply, we found ourselves immersed even more deeply in the absurd." Slowly they realize they have merely escaped to a larger prison. Nevertheless, they strive to hold onto their humanity, educating the child, protecting the elderly, and caring for the sick. I am reminded of Nevil Shute's novel A Town Like Alice (1950), which a forced march of women imprisoned by the Japanese during World War II. In an increasingly hopeless situation, memories are shared, friendships are forged, and hopelessness is averted. In Shute's novel, one woman endangers herself and others by keeping and hiding a journal of their experiences. Meaning is created out of horror for the women because they are able to maintain their humanity toward each other. Documenting the triumph of human dignity creates a kind of transcendence for those involved. Likewise, Harpman's narrator is evenrually able to read and write well enough to write her memoirs, the sole historical record of their captivity. Kafka suggests that valid literary achievement is humanity's only positive hope. By detailed description of our futile anempts to unravel meaning in absurdity, a kind of personal meaning is ultimately created. Harpman's message is intrinsically feminist. From the beginning, the imprisoned women are ordinary, civilized women who put considerable emphasis on manners, the little niceties that distinguish them from their guards. Later, in the absence of authority, no great evil, no Lord of the Flies conflict, ever develops within the linle community. Not much happens. They do not give up or give in to wholesale despair. Dorothy, one of the older women, suggests, "Let's organize our life, let's not waste our thoughts." The women keep busy, living and dying with as much dignity as possible. As they travel across the barren plain that is their world, they mark the sites that they explore: ... Anthea suggested a cross with a circle above it. "That will let them know that we are women. What else do we need?" "There could be other women," said Greta, "let's add something, and as we don't know anything, neither where we are, nor why, nor where we're going, let's add a question mark." The symbolism of this quotation suggests the continued search for meaning, the existential position: "We are because we continue to question who we are." Eventually, they all die except the narrator, the youngest of them, but even though community dies, new personal insights continue to give her pleasure. In the end, she concludes, "in the absurd world in which I lived and still do live, was happiness." For the reader, if not the narrator, there is a kind of symbolic solution to the mystety of the women's imprisonment. In the end, it seems to be a kind of failed intergalactic experiment, a misunderstanding, a bureaucratic snafu. The narrator finds a bus carry ing the still orderly corpses of the guards. They seem to have all died suddenly and simultaneously. She realizes, "They had been guards of the absurd, ensuring that orders were carried out whose purpose they were unaware of, themselves having to submit to in comprehensible rules. and perhaps they had no more idea of our identity than we did of theirs. Death had taken them by surprise." Each carries a bag of identiC'll personal gear, including a single book, A Condensed Gardening Handbook. Is the capture and impris onment of the women a failed attempt at e..xtraterrestrial gardening? They are, in fact, planted in bunkers, holes in the ground. Were they mistaken for roses that could be grafted onto a new host and transplanted into a new soil? Is it all a linguistic problem, a mistranslation of the relationship berween guards and gardening? Eventually the narrator finds a house equipped for a kind of master gardener with a full library of classics and many scien-)
rinc books, including An Elementary Treatise on Astronautics. No one has ever lived there. The nihilist would find this fitting, saying thar there is no master gardener and God is, as the narrator suggests, a mere product of humanity's "vivid imagination." Harpman's merapeuric answer is a kind of existential affirmation. The narrator moves into me house and continues her education through the books she nnds in the library. Though gardening is impossible in the poor soil of that world, through me wider community of Earth's finest literature, she becomes the careful gardener of her own soul. It is here that she writes her narrative, here that she in rends to end her days. Though rhe narrator has, like many autistic individuals, never found comfort in touch and never known the joys of human sexuality, in the end I conclude mat humanity itself is based on something else, perhaps an awareness, an affirmation F C T C> N REV E VV LnlAIHAIl 2 Michael M. Levy Vander Meer, Jeff, and Rose Secrest, eds. Lroiathan 2. The Legacy ofBoccaccio. Tallahassee, FL: Ministry of Whimsy Press, 1998. 183 pages, paper, $10.95, ISBN 1-890464-03-1. To order, write to Ministry of Whimsy Press, P.O. Box 4248, Tallahassee, FL 32315. Last year, JdfVander Meer's Ministry of Whimsy Press published Stepan Chapman's novel The Troika, which became rhe first small-press novel ever to carry off one of science fiction's major prizes, the Philip K. Dick Award. Now the Ministry is hack with the second anthology in its Leviathan series. Subtitled "The Legacy of Boccaccio" because it contains four novellas, the story length ar which that early master of prose fiction excelled, Leviathan 2 features highly literate fiction by Chapman, rising gt:nre stars Richard Calder and L. Timmel Duchamp, and one writer heretofore unknown to me, Rhys Hughes. Filling our the book is an introductory essay on the historj of the novella by David Pringle as well as brief, occasionally rather silly interviews with the four fiction writers conducted by Vander Meer. Opening Leviathan 2 in spectacular fashion, "Lost in Cathay" by Richard Calder (of Dead Girls notoriety) features that :lUthor's usual mix of gorgeous, overhe:lted language, wild invention, and sadomasochistic sexual perversity. Set in what may be eirher an alternate universe or simply the twenty-first century (or perhaps both-I'm not really sure), the tale features a seven-foot-rall zombie with a talent for astral projection who mayor may not be a veteran of the war in Vietnam. I don't pretend to have been able to make much sense of Calder's story, but it's a wild ride and worth reading purely on the level of its prose. Rhys Hughes's "The Darktree Wheel" is an equally surreal bur considerably easier to understand tale of a superannuated highwayman named Robin Darktree, who is a likeable enough bloke and somewhat sentimental for all that he makes his living through crime. Poor Robin, however, finds himself a victim of progress as more and more of his previous clientele take the rrain, thereby avoiding his toll. Fleeing England, Darktree undergoes a very strange sea voyage, a bout of time travel, and a series of increasingly wacky adventures, maintaining throughout his travails an almost Candide-like innocence before coming full circle in a denouement straight out of "All You Zombies-". Duchamp's "Portrait of the Artist as a Middle-Aged Woman" is an affecting tale only mildly fantastic but, one suspects, intensely autobiographical, at least on a spiritual level, abour a painter and sculptor who refuses to sell or even show her work. Alone in a large old house, she practices her art, transforms herself into Crow Woman, and holds conversations with Gertrude Stein. ( The final piece in Leviathan 2, Stepan Chapman's "Minutes of the Last Meeting," is, in my opinion, a real masterpiece, yet another story worthy of awards consideration. The tale is set in 1917 in an alternate-universe Tsarist Russia that features an engaging mixture of primitive and futuristic technology. As the tsar's personal train, protected by radar and anti-aircraft missiles, labors through the mountains, Mikhail Bakunin lies in wait, ready to blow up me rails. Aboard the train, the physician Osrrokov, the tsarina's lover, prepares to operate on the tsar's dying, hemophiliac son Alexius using intelligent nanobots. The AI th,lt manages the tsar's secret police watches everyone and everything through a web of microscopic cameras; it wonders why it's feeling depressed. Meanwhile, an Irish expatriate physicist named Dunleavy worries that the tsar's not-yet-tested nuclear weap ons may ignite the atmosphere and bring an end to all life on Earth. Although unlikely to appeal to aficionados of lightweight fantasy adventure or mindless military sci-fi, Leviathan 2 will provide the discerning reader of speculative fiction with a considerable quantity of sophisticated literary pleasure. If you're famil iar with and appreciate the work of Calder, Chapman, or Duchamp, you'll find them here at the top of their form. If you like Gene Wolfe, you'll probably like Leviathan 2 as well.
FICTION REVIEVV __ ljij(Ji)"'i:ijzqt_ Sue Surovo Danvers, Dennis. Circuit of Heavm. New York: Avon, 1998. 373 pages, hardcover, $14.00 ($19.00 Canada), ISBN 0-380-97447-9. Danvers is showing his versatility and maturing as a writer. Circuit of Heavm is much more complex but just as much fun as his first book, Wilderness, a coming-of-age stoty with a twist (the main character was a woman werewolf). His second novel, Tirm and Time Again, was a generally unsatisfYing sinister gothic romance. Danvers switches genres again with Circuit of Heaven, and this time he puts all the pieces together. There's something for everyone: adventure, romance, mystery, SF, and, especially, believable, sympathetic, memorable characters. This can be read as a light mystery or as a deeper reflection about the future ofhwnanity. In the late twenty-first century, most of the world's 12 million people have chosen to download their consciousness into the Bin. The Bin has all the positives of life without any of the problems. One can still enjoy the pleasures of a hot-fudge sundae without gaining the weight. There is no crime, aging, or death. But 2.5 million people are still on the outside: members of religious sects, the criminally insane, or those who are simply suspicious of paradise. A decision to live in the Bin is permanent, since bodies are cremated, but one can visit for a limited period of time without causing damage. Nemo (short for Newman) has chosen not to go into the Bin. He visits his parents there as infrequently as possible. They are pressuring him to join them. During one visit he meets Justine and falls in love. He now questions his resolve to stay out of the Bin. Who is Justine really? Can they find a way for her to go back to the outside? What are the real pros and cons of the Bin? What are the political factions really up to? Who is the man who created the Bin and what is his role now? Answering these complications and ethical dilemmas as the story unravels is a lot of fun. At the same time we're rooting for Nemo and Justine to get together. From the packaging, I expected another "jack yourself into the net" cyberpunk novel. I was in for a surprise. This has all the technology of cyberpunk without the cold, dystopic feel of much of it. There is a COntrast between the "perfect" world of the Bin and life on the outside, which is as dangerous and sparse as it is in any end-of-civilization book. The humanity of the characters, combined with a many-layered but fast-paced plot, give the story a warmth that transcends the sometimes bleak serring. The setting is futuristic, but the issues are universal. This isn't a heavy book. It can be read as a good yarn but there are also many issues that, if revealed, would ruin the sur prises in the story. These surprises provide opportunity for deeper thought and would be good for discussions. All the loose ends are tied up into a satisfYing conclusion even though there is a teaser for a possible sequel. CircuitofHeavm might not appeal to someone who is distracted by the futuristic setting (someone not used to reading SF), but for the SF fan it's a must. It is one of the best new SF books I've read this year. Danvers is an author to watch. FICTION REVI EVV ..... __ IiM'''!i'i-'j!U_ Sue Surovo Hegland, Jean. Into the Forest. Corvallis, OR: Calyx Books, 1996.241 pages, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 0-934971-50-1; paper, $13.95, ISBN 0-934971-49-8. New York: Bantam, 1996. Hardcover, $21.95 (Canada $29.95), ISBN 0-553-10668-6. Jean Hegland has potential. This first novel has an easy, conversational writing style that draws the reader into the story. There are elements that are well done. Some aspects of the two main characters are well drawn. There are, however, some huge gaps that strain credibiliry. Many times throughout I commented, "I can' t believe they're doing this!" Many of the larger issues were the ones with the least satisfactory resolutions. The jacket cover compares this novel to The Handmaid's Tale or The Golden Notebook. I don't see it. This appears to be marketed as a "women's book." One endorser asks, "Would we make the same choices? Could we?" My answer is, "I hope not!" Hegland begins her story with a society in the midst of a vaguely defined political and social collapse. The main charac ters are two girls in their late teens living with their father in a remote part of northern California. Over many months, the family goes into town weekly for supplies and socializing, each time asking, "When will the power be on again?" This naivete be comes annoying to the reader. )
There is linle preparation for surviving into the future. The girls each have their own future goals (ballet, Harvard), which they obsessively pursue even when their own survival is in the balance. This makes for some of the story's more interesting idiosyncrasies. (I give the author credit for searnlessly weaving entries from the encyclopedia into the text!) The main reason given for their unpreparedness is the death of their mother. I don't think so. A grieving father would start taking responsibility for his offspring a bit sooner than this man did. The author engaged me enough that I kept reading, expecting that the various motivations and problems would be solved in a more believable way. Maybe I've read too many survival stories, but the skills that these girls/women develop seem too little and toO late to give them what they need in to face these obstacles. For this very reason, it might be an interesting book to discuss with young adults. The unresolved questions I had were: How prepared would teenagers be to deal with their own survival in the event of world collapse? What would the average teen do in this situation? I suspect that it would be something quite different from what these two did. That was my biggest complaint: The characters' responses were not convincing. If these girls were to go "into the forest," they'd be dead in no time! It's a romantic concept that could have worked if the story had developed differently. The author has the abiliry to tell and a story and involve the reader. I hope that her next novel will be more realistic with believable motivations and actions. Arthur O. Lewis Harrison, M. John. Signs of Lift. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996. 251 pages, advance uncorrected proofs, hardcover, $21.95, ISBN 0-312-15656-1. This is a profoundly puzzling, occasionally irritating, always interesting novel that begins in the recent past and ends in the very near future. Because the present merges almost imperceptibly into the future and because that process is part of the attraction of this work, no reviewer should divulge much of the plot. For that matter, although it almost entirely misses the point, the plot could easily be described as boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl, and-in the tragic version-boy loses girl again. Cettainly, this nar rative by Mick "China" Rose of his troubled relationships with the love of his life Isobel Avens, his best friend Choe Ashton, and with lesser characters such as "investor" Ed Cesniak, Choe's "friend" Christiana Spede, and geneticist-businessman Brian Alexander often seems no more than that. But it only seems so, for this is a many-layered investigation of the human soul in the wasteland of modern sociery. The China-Isobel relationship is a tormented one from its beginnings, China eventually deeply in love, Isobel never completely committed. Together they enjoy abundant sex, laugh, philosophize, travel, and even keep house, but in the end, Isobel's consuming passion to fly and China's inability to separate himself from Choe pull them apart. China makes money and loses it, frequently in partnership with Choe, in one shady deal or another. When Isobelleaves China for Brian, China's feeble effort to replace her with Christiana is unsuccessful. Nor is Choe's constant reminder-when he is not racing all over Europe-that he always thought Isobel was wrong for China of much help. Isobel's call brings China back to her, to a woman vastly changed but still un willing to give him the love he needs, though he cares for her devotedly in her time of need. It is at this point that the hints that have appeared throughout the first three-quarters of the book begin to make sense, but to say more would be to spoil things for the reader. Suffice it to say that what has happened to Isobel stretches the imagination ahead a few years to a not-implausible scientific and technological breakthrough. That the treatment she undergoes has succeeded so well that it must be reversed is both ironic and appropriate. Harrison is a brilliant writer, in many ways reminiscent of the American Beats or the British Angry Young Men of the '60s. He fills this book with perceptive descriptions of people, the environment, the seedy world of shady business, sex, and drugs, and, above all. the despair of lives without purpose. He writes of music and flowers, of great art and biochemical nuclear waste, of the attractions of fast cars and restless wanderings, of wide-ranging thoughts and activities, victories and failures, life itself, all contribut ing to the reader's emotional involvement in this unsettling narrative. The language sounds authentic both for the chief characters and for the population on the ftinges of their consciousness. In one respect, however, it is overdone: Granted the frequency of sexual episodes, especially between China and Isobel. and the need for a verb that describes them, there seems less reason for that word in all its verbal, adjectival, adverbial, and expletive variations to appear so often e1sewhere--out of the sexual context and perhaps the most often-used terms in the entire book. ( Harrison gets inside his characters' minds almost as if he had already lived through the near future that he describes. In Edward Bellamy's Looking BackWtlrd, 2000-1887, there is a discussion of novels that had been produced in this new utopian society. Several Bellanw admirers later wrote novels in imitation of those described. For me, Signs of Life is such a novel, one that makes
FICTIC>N REVIEVV __ '.Jl1ij:\iijtj;O;M:t1_ Rosemary Gray Wright, Ronald. A Scimtific Romanu. London: Anchor, 1998.320 pages, hardcover, $23.00 ISBN 1862-300194. A fictional tale of travel into the future: That describes both the story by Ronald Wright and The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (1895), upon which it is based. Both are described as a scientific romance, and here, we can take the word "romance" literally. In Wells's book, the time travelers' love was found in the future. In Wright's book, his love is already dead. Nevertheless, the discovery of a time machine---ostensibly built by a scientific colleague and mistress ofH. G. Wells's--enables the hero, one David Lambert, to go forward to the year 2005. To tell you any more would be to spoil the mystery, and as we all know, the essential ingredients for any good story are love, religion, and a little bit of mystery. The story is very well written, with an unlikely but stimulating plot, the first-person narrative being written by the time traveler. There are frequent allusions to historical events, films, and literary texts or paraphrases of them, for example, "A life nasty, British, and likely short," and a whole paragraph devoted to different sayings about time: "Time is the great devourer" (Ovid). Time is treated in a linear fashion, with a traditional view that what has been is fixed and immutable. While this lends rather a downbeat view to the ending, it is the journey that is important and what makes the book so interesting. A good read--do go out and buy it! Thomas J. Morrissey Kanaly, Michael. Virus Clans: A Story of Evolution. New York: Ace Books, 1998.312 pages, paper, $12.00, ISBN 0-441-00500-4. Michael Kanaly is a writer who thinks big. His compelling first novel, Thoughts of God (1997), posits that God is a dispassionate and not totally competent tinkerer whose lab book records the creator's puzzlement at the imperfections of creation. That novel has three narrative strains-God's terse notes; the main story, consciously echoing noir detective fiction; and elegant and poignant vignettes of the multiple hean-rending disasters that sentients suffer and perpetrate throughout the inhabited uni verse. The central questions of Thoughts of God-why are we at once so wonderful and so vicious, and is anyone in charge of this cosmic mess?-return in Virns Clans as Kanaly constructs a version of evolution in which viruses strewn across the galaxy in an ancient catastrophe become the more or less conscious agents of biological change on earth. Virns Clans consists of a presen t-time prologue, eighteen numbered chapters in which the plot unfolds as a flashback, and a host of unnumbered "molecules of time," passages reminiscent of the cosmic vignettes of Thoughts of God, in which we learn of the catalytic impact of alien viruses on the course of human development on Eanh. The hero, Dr. Gary Bracken, a researcher for a government subcontractor work ing on a project to develop a system of data storage using encoded protein molecules rather than silicon chips, stumbles upon and becomes obsessed with the realization that our DNA appears to be governed by viruses that communicate with one another. Predictably, Bracken is consumed by his discovery, eventually losing his wife, job, and mind, and becoming anathema to a gov ernment determined to monopolize the terrible secret. Even Fox Mulder would think Bracken has it rough. From the "molecules of time," we learn that each quantum leap in human evolution has been scripted by viral visitors. At each successive stage, the new, improved humans exterminate last year's model. Kanaly puts Neanderthals in the line of ascent. Although this turns Out to be bad science based on recent DNA evidence, the author had no way of knowing it when he .was writing Virus Clans, and his peering into the consciousness of a soon-to-die Neanderthal girl is one of the book's emotional highlights. Virns Clans is a less successful novel than Thoughts of God, but it is by no means unsuccessful. Bracken's psychological trauma as he pursues his discovery against great odds and also experiences the early effects of humankind's next evolutionary leap is engaging and believable. The narrative and story are perhaps not as well crafred as those of Octavia Butler's virus-laden Clay's Ark. but they smack of shee: genius when compared with the scientific illiteracy and plot improbabilities of this year's virus infected X-Files film. Kanaly's interest in what makes humans tick drives his work and has led him into science fiction, a genre for which he was not necessarily aiming when he began Thoughts of God. His fresh, idiosyncratic approach make his novels worth reading. )
NON-FICTION REVIE ... VV ..... __ nnU'J;lUjIUal)':t.B Philip E Kaveny I have chosen to review these three small press items as a direct result of rolling conversation berween myself and author, critic, and editor Douglas Anderson, which took place behind a huckster table at Mythcon XIX at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, over a three-hour period in late July. (I hope to review one of Douglas' projects in a future SFRA Review.) Douglas and I are both extremely concerned about the impact that the economics of late rwentieth-century publishing and bookselling have had on smaller press run publications, making them less and less attractive to larger publishers. We are both concurrently outraged with the economics of chain bookstore distribution, which, with the demands for very deep dis counts and high rates of unsold, returned books makes the hardcover or even trade paperback efforts much less feasible than they were even a decade ago. The picture is even further darkened, according to Dr. Janice Bogstad, collection development librarian at the University ofWisconsin-Eau Claire, by steadily increasing the pressure placed on library collection development budgets in both academic and public libraries by demands to purchase electronic media. This results in even further shrinkage in collec tion development resources. Nevertheless, small press publishers bravely persist where the giants fear to tread, as exemplified by the following three items. Mosig, Yazan Dirk W. Mosig at Last: A Psychologist Looks at H. P. Lovecraft. West Warrick, RI: Mosig Necronomicon Press, 1997. 122 pages, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-940884-90-9. This is a very strange and in a sense almost wonderful item because of the latitude the author is granted to express himself. This collection of essays on H. P. Lovecrah were all written Dr. Yazan Dirk W. Mosig during the 1970s. It is strange on two counts: first, because of the nature of its subject, since it is about H. P. Lovecrah (1890---1937), and second, because it in cludes so much autobiographical material about Mosig, including testimonials from his daughter about what it meant to grow up "lovecraftian" in her father's household and tributes from a number of friends that allow us to share Mosig's obsession with Lovecraft and Lovecrah's world view and fictional universe as he understands them. However, the essays are not simply limited to things literary, since the collection includes some side trips into the darker recesses of Lovecrah fandom as it has existed over the last generation. Mosig himself, like so many of the Lovecraftians I have known, was bitten by Lovecraft: he read everything by Love craft he could get his hands on as he was growing up in Argentina in the 1950s. Perhaps his immigration to the United States in 1962 (where he completed his college education and finally a doctorate in psychology in the 1970s) only heightened his margi nalized perspective an outsider and strengthened his spiritual bonds with Lovecrah. Mosig writes with a refreshing clarity and verve lacking from so much academic writing. As I read his essays, I found myself cheerfully assuming the role of the resistant reader, arguing with some of his points and agreeing with many others. His biggest weakness is that some of the essays read almost like apologetics: He begs us to agree that Lovecrah is a great writer deserv ing to be recognized as one of the best in the world. I agree that Lovecrah is deserving of critical attention, and apparently others agree, as evidenced by my recent check of the Modern Language Association database, which indicated that there are now over 250 Lovecraft entries. However, because he is marginalized, as is his readership, Lovecrah probably better needs to be viewed (using Lem's words) "as a sociological, rather than literary, artifact." To Mosig's credit, he does not treat Lovecrah as a victim of a pathological condition but rather as an artist who is in a Jungian sense searching and succeeding in finding his creative voice. Perhaps Lovecrah is more like the protagonist in Kafka's The Hunger Artist than anything else in literature. I would highly recommend this collection of essays to the casual, curious, and dedicated Lovecrah readers. Cannon, Peter. The Chronology Out a/Time: Dates in the Fiction a/H. P. Lovecraft. West Warrick, RI: Necronomicon Press, 1997.36 pages, paper, $5.95, ISBN not listed. This is an example of an interesting little item that might easily fall through the cracks and be missed by all those who are not already aware of it. since it lacks an ISBN number, which makes it exceedingly difficult to access through normal book selling channels. It is .1 chronological, annotated list of every date the author could find that appears in Lovecrah's works. What is it good for? Peter Cannon asserts (and I think he's right) that Lovecrah becomes more and more considered in his use of time as his career progresses. particularly after the Great War. This assertion may help group Lovecraft with some of the other postGreat War writers, as Lovecraft evolves into a "Nco Realist," to quote the prominent Lovecraft scholar R. Elain Everts. E
In the final analysis, I would view the Chronology as a useful base upon which to build further work. This item is of less interest that Mosig at Last because it requires a level of interest on the part the reader that is clearly greater than casual. Verba, Joan Marrie. Boldiy Writing: A Trekker Fan anti Zine History, 1967-1987. Minnetonka, MN: FTL Publications, 1996. 101 pages, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-9653575-0-3. Now we move from the paralyzing darkness and pessimism of Lovecrafr's universe to the almost boundless energy of the final frontier. I met its author and publisher, Joan Marrie Verba, the last weekend in July at Diveresicon, a small science fiction convention in the Twin Cites. She was selling book bags with teddy bears on them and had a big pile of copies of Boldly Wnting sitting in front of her. This book contains a wealth of information on twenty years of Star Trek fanzine histoty and quite properly stops with the appearance of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987. Verba has written this year-by-year chronicle from an insider's per spective, since she devoted a great deal of time and energy to Star Trek. This book came about because she feels that those in volved in the production of hundreds of Star Trek fanzines during this twenty-year period deserve to be remembered. Verba is in a sense chronicling a world vety different from out own-not only the world of Star Trek but also the world of fanzine production. Things have changed a great deal in the small press and media world since the period of her study, many changes we take for granted. For example, now we take desktop publishing as a matter of course, but at least until the early 1980s, the most advanced production technology with a reasonable cost was offset mimeograph machines, and a self-correcting IBM Selectric was a major in investment in 1979. We also take for granted the almost total access we enjoy of primary sources through video, CDs, and the Internet, forgetting that it was not until the late 1970s that people could watch Star Trek in any thing but network syndication. This work is well written and simply fun to read in its own right; what's most fun is picking out our friend's names, as we note with interest how many later successful science fiction and fantasy writers got their start in the hundreds of Star Trek fanzines produced between 1967 and 1987. Boldly Writing also serves another (and in the long run, perhaps more important) function: it serves as a kind of catalog of what was produced in this area for the student of popular or print culture. In this sense, Boldly Writing is something that had to be done when it was so that the information would not become irretrievable for future scholars and other interested parties. NON-FICTION REVIE .. VV .... __ 'j:t;'ZOJg)Qj.";,,, H: ";0'_ Wendy Bousfield Clute, John, and John Grant, eds. The EncyclopedilZ of FantIZsJ. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997. $70.00, ISBN 0-312-15897-1. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy does everything that might reasonably be expected of a reference book-and much more! Since it became available last year, it has been one of the most useful literary encyclopedias in the reference collection of the library where I work. Its many single-author entries have enabled patrons to track down less well known contemporary fantasists. (Not the least im portant service performed by this work is to provide suggestions for further reading to those of us who are far less omnivorous in our reading than are its editors.) Many discussions of particular books are included in the author articles. Films are treated individually. There are substantial articles on types of films (FRANKENSTEIN MOVIES, KOLCHAK MOVIES, DRACUlA MOVIES); on television series (KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER, DARK SHADOWS); nonliterary genres (ROCK VIDEOS, COMICS, FANTASY ART); fantasy magazines (ISAAC ASIMOVS SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE, WEIRD TALES); and on the fantasy traditions of non-English speaking regions (POLAND, BLACK AFRICAN FANTASY, JAPAN). Besides carrying out the functions of a traditional encyclopedia, however, this work ambitiously essays a definition of fantasy. Clute and Grant's introduction describes fantasy as a "fuzzy set": something "which cannot be defined by its boundaries, but which can be understood through significant examples of what best represents it" (p. viii). To this end, the editors of this massive (1049 pages of small print) work organize entries around what they call a "motif tree." Embedded in articles on authors, films, illus trators, and genres are cross-:t:ferences to relevant motifs. The editors coin a richly metaphoric vocabulary to describe fantasy's constituent elements. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy studs entries with references to terms so provocative that I would defY anyone to read an article from beginning to end without being sidetracked. The discussion of CINDERELLA, for example, directs the reader to articles on DEBASEMENT, GLAMOUR, SPIRIT, )
FAIRY GODMOTHER, CHARLES PERRAULT, WALT DISNEY, RECOGNITION, STORY, UNDERLIER, TIME ABYSS, 1WICE-TOLD, and REVISIONIST-FANTASY. (There is, surprisingly, no reference from CINDERELLA to the article on STEP :v10THERS, though there is a reference from STEPMOTHERS to CINDERELLA.) The effect of these many cross-references is to make the reader approach articles as hypertext documents. It is virtually impossible to read any article without being drawn away by intriguing references, which, in rum, lead co other references. Despite attempts at approaching the encyclopedia systematically, I invariably ended up reading several entries before finishing the one I started with. The terms borrowed or coined by Clute and Grant co define elusive fantasy elements are both apt and evocative. A POL DER, for example, refers co a microcosm that maintains its status quo against the inimical reality of the outside world: the Shangri-la at Lost Horizon or the T oontown of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. "Polder" is the Dutch term for a tract of low-lying land reclaimed from a body of water and surrounded by dykes. MAGGOTS refer to the persistence of outmoded notions, such as sexist or racial -;rereotypes. TAPROOT TEXTS (for example, The Tempest or Goethe's Faust), written before fantasy emerged as a distinct genre, provide modern fantasy authors with many basic ideas. The Encyclopedia's conuibucors make no pretense of objectivity, freely offering subjective evaluations, many irritatingly dismissive. The entry on one of my favorite films, Beetlejuice, concludes that "although it couches almost all the right bases, [it] fi nally fails to satisfy." The discussion of HENRY JAMES focuses on "Turn of the Screw," concluding (wrongly, in my opinion) that ., most of HJ's other supernatural fiction is of less interest." Not surprisingly, there is considerable variation in the depth and seriousness with which authors are treated. Roz Kaveney's article on TIM POWERS is exceptionally complete and insightful. John Grant's treatment of STEPHEN KING is superficial, inaccurate, and patronizing. Although readers of the Encyclopedia will inevitably find fault with the way the contribucors dispense praise or blame, their very openness about their biases is far preferable to the false pose of objectivity assumed by most reference books. In such a massive effort, it is inevitable that certain copies are scanted or omitted. I was, however, surprised that the Ency clopedia makes few concessions co multiculturalism. I searched vain for articles on BLACKS, AFRICAN AMERICANS, or .-\FRO-AMERICANS. 0iATNE Nv1ERICANS do not appear. There is nothing under CHICANO, MEXICAN-AMERICAN, or HISPANIC. All these groups, of course, have rich fantasy traditions. There is nothing under DISABILITY or HANDICAP, nor under such specific disabilities as AuTISM or MENTAL RETARDATION, though wounded or disabled figures abound in fantasy. There are no entries for QUEER, HOMOSEXUAL, LESBIAN, GAY, TRANSGENDERED, or TRANSVESTITE. Lisa T utde's article on GENDER does not mention gay themes but focuses on contemporary fantasy writers' attempts to move away from the patriarchal model of the passive woman. Since gay characters appear so often in fantasy, the contributors cannot avoid dis cllssion of homosexualiry entirely, but they resort to quaint circumlocutions such as "love that dare not speak its name." Subsequent editions, I hope, will address these omissions. The shapers of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy have achieved extraordinary success in bringing order to the messy, protean field of tantasy. It is an outstanding reference cool and exhilarating reading. NON-FICTION REVIE.VV .... __ iiijtl);!jij;;!jU_ Solomon Davidoff ( Greenwald, Jeff. Future Perfect: How Star Trek Conquered Puma Earth. New York: Viking Penquin, 1998.273 pages, hardcover, $23.95, ISBN 0-670-87399-3. Like most readers, I tend to check out the back cover blurbs before reading a book. Since I know that most, if not all, of these comments are solicited with an added incentive (read: paycheck), I take them with a grain of salt. With Jeff Greenwald's Future Perfect. however, [ was later inclined to take the whole shaker. Not that the blurbs are taken from unknowns-far from it. Arthur C. Clarke needs no introduction. and Jeri Taylor is one of the cocreators of Star Trek: Voyager and is a more than credi ble source. The difficulry here is that they are both not only interviewed within the book but subjects of entire chapters. Consid ering the ego stroking this work offers them, I take their appreciation of the book to be only natural. Future Perfect purports to examine the mythology and phenomenon that Star Trek in all of its myriad forms has cre ated, and although this is done to a slight degree, on the whole I found the book to be insulting to the very fans that make up its definite market. It illustrates them as freaks to the outside world. The text is written with flair and talent, but it sickens the reader all the same. The brief moments of insight are lost in what appears as a look at the wild side of fandom written by an author who screams out to the world, "I like the show, but I'm not strange like them." The book is a collection of interviews between the author and key personnel behind the scenes of the Star Trek fran-
chise (with particular focus on the mm First Contact), many of the actors who have appeared in the last three series (only Leonard Nimoy, one of the classic Slur Trek actors, gives an interview), and a variety of fans and science/science fiction prates sionals, about what effect Star Trek has had on them and on the world. But al though the interviews occasionally suggest interesting topics of con'yersation. they frequently seem to focus on other issues, such as actress Kate Mulgrew's fre-quent questions of the author concerning his beverage preferences or the weight of Star Trek fandom. Despite this, there are some positive aspects to the book. The multiple sidebars, taken from newspaper articles and Web pages, offer an insightful cross section of commentary relating to Star Trek's effects on our world. Unfonunately, there is no commentary on this material. Some of the interviews also re veal interesting tidbits of idea and notion, but again, there is little follow-up. Future Perfect is, at heart, an excuse for an expense account and an excuse for the author to take a fanboy journey to meet his personal favorites. Tne social level is what this book, as an investigation into modern mythology, should have been about-and I hope that one day such a work is written. SFRA EXECU'I'IYE COMMlnEE President Joan Gordon 1 Tulip Lane Commack, NY 11725 Vice President Elizabeth Cummins Deparunenr of English University of Missouri--Rolla Rolla, MO 65401 Secretary Carolyn Wendell English Department Monroe Community College Rochester, NY 14623 Treasurer Michael M. Levy Deparunent of English University of Wisconsin--Stout Menomonie, WI 54751 firstname.lastname@example.org> Immediate Past President Joe Sanders 6354 Brooks Boulevard Mentor, OH 44060 For an application. contact SFRA Treasurer Michael M. Levy or get one from the SFRA Website. )
SCIEMCE FlnlOM RESEARCH ASSOCIA'IOM The SFRA is the oldest professional organization for the study of science fiction and fantasy literature and film. Founded in 1970, the SFRA was organized to improve class room teaching; to encourage and assist scholarship; and to evaluate and publicize new books and magazines dealing with fantastic literature and film, teaching methods and materials, and allied media performances. Among the membership are people from many countries---srudents, teachers, professors, librarians, futurologists, readers, amhors, booksellers, editors, publishers, archivists, and scholars in many disciplines. Aca demic affiliation is not a requirement for membership. Visit the SFRA Website at . An application for membership is avail able at rhis site. SFRA Benefits Four issues per year. The oldest schoiarly journal in the field, with critical, historical, and bibliographical arricles, book reviews, letters, occasional special topic issues. and an annual index. Scimre-Fiction Studies. Three issues per year. This scholarly journal includes critical, historical. and bibliographical ar ticles. review articles. reviews. notes, letters, international cO/erage. and an annual index. SFRA. Annual Directory. One issue per year. Members' names, addresses, phone, e-mail addresses, and special interests. ( SFIIA 1m do Craig Jacobsen 208 East Baseline Road #31 I Tempe. AZ 85283 Email: SFRAReview@aol.com SFRA Review. Six issues per year. This newsletter/journal in cludes extensive book reviews of both nonfiction and fic tion, review articles, listings of new and forthcoming books, and letters. The Review also prints news about SFRA internal affairs, calls for papers, updates on works in progress, and an annual index. SFRA Optional Benefits Foundation. Discounted subscription rate for SFRA members. Three issues per year. British scholarly journal, with criti cal, historical, and bibliographical articles, reviews, and letters. Add to dues: $27 surface; $30 airmail. The New York Review o/Science Fiction. Discounted subscrip tion rate for SFRA members. Twelve issues per year. Re views and features. Add to dues: $25 domestic; $34 do mestic first class; $27 domestic institutional; $28 Canada; $37 overseas. SFRA Listserv. The SFRA Listserv allows users with e-mail ac counts to post e-mails to all subscribers of the listserv, round-robin style. It is used by SFRA members to discuss topics and news of interest to the SF community. To sign on to the listserv or to obtain further information, contact the list manager, Len Hatfield, at email@example.com. edu> or firstname.lastname@example.org>. He will subscribe you. An e-mail sent automatically to new subscribers gives more information abom the list. U.S. POSTAGE PAID TEMPE, ARIZONA PERMIT NO. 45 ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED
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