|USFDC Home||| RSS|
This item is only available as the following downloads:
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
record xmlns http:www.loc.govMARC21slim xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govstandardsmarcxmlschemaMARC21slim.xsd
leader nam a22 u 4500
controlfield tag 008 c19929999oru 000 0 eng d
datafield ind1 8 ind2 024
subfield code a S67-00009-n244-2000-01_02
n No. 244 (January/February, 2000)
1 3 246
Science Fiction Research Association review
Eugene, Ore. :
b Science Fiction Research Association
c January/February, 2000
Place of publication varies.
x History and criticism
History and criticism.
Science Fiction Research Association.
t SFRA Review
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
mods:mods xmlns:mods http:www.loc.govmodsv3 xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govmodsv3mods-3-1.xsd
mods:relatedItem type host
mods:identifier issn 1068-395Xmods:part
mods:detail issue mods:number 244series Year mods:caption 20002000Month February2Day 11mods:originInfo mods:dateIssued iso8601 2000-02-01
(oetlitorJ." Haren Hellekson Craia Jacobsen Honlidion ilerielYs Etltior: Neil Barron fiction ilerielYs Etltior: Craia Jacobsen Etlilona/ Assistant: ,.jHany Johnson The SFRAReview (ISSN 1068-395X) is published six times a year by the Science Fiction Research Association (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. For a membership application, contact SFRA Treasurer Michael M. Levy or get one from the SFRA website:
COMING SOON TO THE SFRAREvIEW Past President Joan Gordon has agreed to edit an occasional series on SF criticism. Each series entry will focus on a single kind of criticismpostmodernism, feminism, queer theory, or whatever else joan finds interesting. If you're interested in contributing, please contact joan. Her contact information is on the last page of the SFRAREVIEW. APPROACHING SLATE FOR 2000 The following titles were selected by the SFRAREVIEW editors for the Approaching series. This series provides teaching tools for each text, and we hope all members will consider contributing something! You need not use a text in a SF class; comments on texts used in any kind of course are welcome. For 2000, we are focusing on very recent SF, and we want as much discussion and debate as we can get January/February: Timescape, by Gregory Benford March/April: China Mountain Zhang, by Maureen McHugh Mayljune: Snow Crash, by Neil Stephenson July/August The Children Star, by joan Slonczewski September/October: Feersum Endjinn, by lain M. Banks November/December: Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler Please send your contributions (short study guides, links to URLs, essay questions for student papers, 500word essays on your approach, ten questions for class discussion, or anything you like) by the 15th of the first cover month (that is, copy for January/February was due january /5).The SFRAREVIEW editors will remind the membership with a call for submissions on the SFRA listserv a few weeks before the due date. VICE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE Qo 7'0 Adam frisch The splendors of the firmament of time May be eclipsed, but are extinguished not; Like stars to their appointed height they climb ... So go to Cleveland. -Percy Shelley, ''Adonais,'' In the summer of 1980-0r some such date in what now seems a former life-I read my very first SFRA paper at Lake Tahoe. I had spent a lot of the previous April and May closely rereading and analyzing Fred PoW's first Heechee novel, Gateway, in an effort to evaluate its artistic success and to speculate on the direction the entire series would "have to" head. I was too inexperienced to know (although I had my suspicions) that the 3:30-4:30 Saturday afternoon slot to which I had been assigned (by myself-no fellow panelists) would not be a prime-time draw, competing as it did with casinos, getting dressed for the Pilgrim dinner, and naps. At 3:35, the only ones in the presentation room were myself and my wife Jeanne, both of whom had already read the damn paper. But as I finished my second glass of ice water and stood up to depart, into the room suddenly walked Jim Gunn, Jack Williamson, David Samuelson and Fred PoW himself, four huge names in the SF field that even new hatchlings like myself recognized on sight. Impressed and terrorized, I immediately drank a third glass of ice water and then sputtered through my paper, especially the ending where I had jauntily predicted that the Heechee prayer fans scattered all over Gateway would certainly turn out to be the alien instruction and communication devices everyone in the novel had been searching for. (It's funny in retrospect how much false confidence a New Criticism approach will instill in a disciple.) Well, I want you to know that these four gentlemen could not have been kinder in their responses. Fred confirmed that in Bryond the Blue Event Horizon, which he had just turned in before corning to the conference, the prayer fans functioned much as I had predicted ("Yes!'), Jack said he'd found several of my comparisons to other SF works intelligent and thought-provoking, Jim suggested several modifications based upon ways that real-life writers often work, and David praised several of my literary allusions Qncluding my phrase "legless in Gateway," a bad parody of Milton's "eyeless in Gaza" that Jeanne, after I explained what I had done, claimed no one would ever get in a billion trillion years-again: Yes!,). As I left the room after the discussion somewhat hurriedly (recall those glasses of ice water), all four of these hllge lIames, who had much better things to do on a late Saturday afternoon at Lake Tahoe than sit through yet another paper session, thanked me for my insights and wished me continued success in my future as an SF critic. Since then, I have read a few papers and heard many more papers at SFRA conferences in both good time slots and bad time slots, but the collegiality and congeniality I discovered at my Lake Tahoe session have never diminished. This year SFRA meets in Cleveland from June 28 to July 2. Once again, you will be offered professional and personal opportunities that extend far beyond views of the Lake Erie shoreline. You'll be able to meet and chat informally with intelligent people who are actually excited about what they're reading and who will always treat you cordially, as a colleague rather than as a potential competitor. You'll meet several people who really do understand the Appendix in Crypiollomicoll. Whether or not you have time to prepare a presentation yourself, you will find it fascinating to hear occasional exchanges between a critic and the author herself or himself-a challenge no Homeric or Shakespearean scholar has ever faced. You'll have the chance to buy a drink for a writer your students or friends have actually heard of. (Maybe even Fred or Jack or Jim or David!) And best of all, you will be able to tell the organization's vice president
in person all the wonderful teaching and research tools the SFRA's Webpage could contain if only that officer would stop basking in past glories and get to work. Make plans now to see all these splendors uneclipsed. Plan now to go to Cleveland. IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE Ar NLA Joan Almost the only science fiction presence this year at MLA was the two year-old discussion group section on science fiction, fantasy, and utopian literature. As scholars of SF, we at SFRA should make every effort to keep this section thriving. MLA is a wonderful place to find active young scholars, not just a repository for the establishment. Encouragement of and participa tion in this MLA section can only help SFRA. This year I chaired the discussion group's paper session, its topic "Going Postal: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation." The three papers were lively and thought-provoking, and they covered new territory. Rob Latham's paper was called "Back to the Future: Steampunks and Other Decadents." He offered readings of Richard Calder's Dead Bqys, Dead Girls, and Dead Things as examples of texts that recontextualize postmodernist issues and cultural experiences in revived or transformed Victorian settings (think also of Sterling's Difference Ellgille, Stephenson's Diamolld Age). In these texts, the radical rupture associated with the advent of the postmodern era is read back into earlier periods, a practice Rob analyzed in terms of its literary aesthetics and cultural politics. Tom Bredehoft discussed "Postgendered Bodies in Jonathan Lethem's Novels." He examined Lethem's use of the ungendered or degendered body as a figure for the articulation of cultural anxieties centered on the perceived decoupling of bodies from gender. He argued that Lethem's novels explore possible masculine responses to the loss of gender, exposing how masculine anxieties reflect masculine investment in the current gender system. Marleen Barr's paper was "We're at the Start of a New Ball Game and That's Why We're All Real Nervous: Or Cloning-Technological Cognition Reflects Estrangement From Women." She considered how technological cognition mirrors cultural estrangement, particularly for women, and how cloning's advent reflects the desire to replicate men and eradicate women. Discussing three cloning stories-Le Guin's "Nine Lives," Coupland's "Clone, Clone on the Range," and Varley's "Lollipop and the Tar Baby"-she established connections among the three cloning stories, the media's response to Dolly the cloned sheep, and her own feminist viewpoint. Our session was quite fine, if I do say so, with a lively discussion following. And at the business meeting afterward, there was lots of energy and willingness to help. Next year's MLA will be in Washington, D.c., and our topic will be "Race and the Fantastic," the session chaired by Alcena Rogan, another SFRA member. So submit a proposal, come to the session, and show your support for SF. And then, afterward, we can go see the space window at the National Cathedral. APPROACHING GREGORY BENFORD AN INrERVIEW' W'lrH QREQORY BENFORD Iwanger Gregory Benford, a hard SF writer, has a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, and is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine. He began writing before he completed his Ph.D. and We will no longer print extremely lengthy line-by-line analyses of the text We will publish these on the SFRA's Website instead, or we will link to your site. We hope to recycle some Approaching features into a feature on the SFRA's Website called Course in a Box. We want all tried-and-true materials relevant to teaching a SF course or a particular book to be just a mouse click away. MEMBER UPDATES Paul Alkon is studying Winston Churchill's imaginative ffction. Kenneth Andrews is working on a number of essays on such subjects as personality disorder in SF, the ambivalent attitudes towards homosexuality in the ffction of Theodore Sturgeon, and historical ffrstcontact narratives and their SF counterparts Marcia Blackburn's dissertation is entitled "A Social Architectonics of Science Fiction Film Design." Russell Blackford is editing a special issue of Foundation related to Aussiecon 3. He is also writing articles on postulated technologies and associated legal and philosophical issues. Janice Bogstad is working on papers entitled "lain BanksTechnoffx Fiction: SF and Non-SF" and "Sheri Tepper's MetaphoriC Ute ralizations." She has a sabbatical for fall 2000 and will be working on parallels between nineteenth-and twentieth-century immigrant women's ffction in the Midwest Shelley Rodrigo Blanchard is writing a response to Carl Freeman's recent award-winning essay on SF fflm. Her topic is the feminist genealogy of cyborgs (visual). Patricia A. Ciuffreda is developing a historical survey of SF course.
Jane Donawerth is working on an essay on body parts in women's SF. Alan C. Elms notes that he's still at work on his biography of Paul M.A. Unebarger (aka Cordwainer Smith). Langdon Elsbree is working on various essays on rites in Sturgeon's More than Human. Richard Erlich is revising his Le Guin manuscript He is also updating his "C/ockworks:A Ust ofWorks Useful for the Study of the Human-Machine Interface in SF." Pavel Frelik is ffnishing up his doctoral dissertation on the technophobic imagination in postmodern SF and the ways in which it is expressed in the narratives of the last fffteen years. Former SFRA President Joan Gordon is still keeping her hand in. Gordon reports that she is coediting, with Veronica Hollinger, a volume of SF criticism tentatively called Edging Into the Future: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation. Rose Gray reports that she's working on a thesis on time travel at the University of North London. Hal Hall is moving his Science Fiction Research Index to the Web in a searchable form. He's also considering moving his Book Review Citation Index there too. William H. Hardesty is writing a book-length study of alternate history. He's also working on articles on lain M. Banks's Culture series. Mavis Haut is at work abridging her Tanith Lee manuscript, which failed to appear before the closure of Borgo Press. Karen Hellekson delivered copy for her book on the alternative history to Kent State University Press in January. Phil Kaveny is working on a paper entitled "e. S. LewisWorldWar I Experiences:What the Letters won second place in a magazine contest for his story "Stand-In" (1965). His first novel was Deeper than the Darkness (1970), which was revised as The Stars in Shroud (1978). Well-received works by Benford include Great River (1987) and Tides of Light (1989). Timescape (1980) was also a big success; it won the Nebula and the John W Campbell Memorial awards. The message of Timescape-of the hope and futility of changing the future-is also linked to Benford's interest in the genre of the alternate history. Benford has coedited some anthologies with Martin Harry Greenberg, including Hitler Victorious (1986), What Might Have Been? VoL 1: Alternate Empires (1989), and its sequels, Alternate Heroes (1989) and Alternate Wars (1991). The novel Timescape lent its name to a publishing imprint that lasted only four years, from 1981 to 1984, but during that time, Timescape Books published many important works of literary SF. Benford has also written under the name Sterling Blake. David Swanger: Start with the Foundation series. Some years back in an interview in Dreammakers with Charles Platt, you indicated that you thought the Foundation series as it stood was markedly implausible. You then said in the afterword to Foundation's Fear, the first book in the new trilogy, the one that you wrote, that you felt compelled to do it. What did you see as the main implausible factors in the original trilogies and how did you try to make them more plausible? Gregory Benford: I thought the idea of a psychohistory proceeding from the kinetic theory of gases was implausible, but in Foundation's Fear, I replaced it with chaos theory and the idea of social forms to which history would return in a cyclic fashion face-to-face with social variables; in other words, I try to incorporate what we believe to be true complex, dynamical systems-now, [that's] as far as we understand them, which is still not very much. I was still drawn by that age-old dream that there might be a scientific way to predict large scale in behavior. In fact, strangely enough, such a theory appears more plausible now then it did at the time of Asimov's height because we do know that, for example, the nation's state system has self-organized itself over the last five hundred years to minimize slowly the affects of warfare. That's a recent outcome and that's an imperial outcome; that is, the amplitude in the frequency of wars has generally declined steadily for five hundred years, and therefore, it appears that the nation's state system is a self learning system with a memory longer than that of any human. That's the characteristic I brought out in Foundation's Fear, and I think it holds some ultimate long-term hope for the entire union social system. We do have institutional learning that may be not fully comprehended by any person, and therefore it constitutes a category of social knowledge that we can glimpse through its effects but not actually know fully consciously, which is an almost creepy affect, science fictional effect. Also, by the way, a sort of Southern effect means that tradition can be deposited and held at a level that is higher than the individual mind. Swanger: Had you read the work of F. A. Hiack in this respect? Benford: I know Hiack; he's of course talking about self-organization of large, typically market systems, and I believe he's the greatest economic intellect of the twentieth century because in the midst of the great socialist age, in fact the second World War, he understood the coming death of socialist systems and predicted it-an astonishing prediction that nobody much noticed at the time. So yes, I try to incorporate his self-organization principles, and indeed we can look forward to their being embraced even more in the next century, not just in the markets but in many other areas of social endeavors, even government. Swanger: He then suggested that things such as customs and languages had knowledge, although this knowledge may not necessarily be available to the people who spoke or performed them as a result of some sort of historical selection.
Benford: Yes, I believe that that's true and that these are large-scale memes while not being metamemes in the sense that the humanists use the term. A metameme is a meme about memes. Of course what we're talking about here is a metameme. That is, this conversation is a metameme, is a theory of memes. That's why [Hiack is] such a great thinker: he was the first to glimpse that unlike the Marxian attitude of history of carrying forward with its own momentum, there are levels of social knowl edge that don't express eternal loss but rather eternal memes about human behavior. A great leader, so to speak, is just one who perhaps intuits these grand ideas better than ordinary people without necessarily being able to express everything that he intuits. Swanger: You've said you were attempting to write a more purely science fictional form of techno thrillers, feeling that they might be tapping an audience that would be receptive to science fiction but hadn't really found its way to it. Could you elaborate on that, please? Benford: That agenda may have failed. I began it with Timescape without having the ideology attached. The idea was that the typical techno thriller is antiscience in the sense that science provides a threat or disaster and the characters dance around this. I was more interested in a thriller that came from new discoveries in science that might be threatening but were more awe aspiring and just plain interesting than threatening. I used this agenda in my novel Chiller, written under the pseudonym Sterling Blake. It worked well, but in Chiller, which I hoped really would be a breakout novel, the publisher, Phantom, simply undercut the promotion of the book; it never had a chance to compete with others of that kind in the mainstream audience. Chiller is about cryonics. It is set in the present, with a jump into the future toward the end of the book. Lou Aronica, at Phantom, had left four months before the book appeared and the woman who replaced him yanked all support for it, causing me to leave Phantom. She then destroyed most of the SF program there in a very short order. So it's been a lot of bad luck. I'm not giving up on it, but I'm changing my strategies a bit. I think it's still up to us to take science fiction as we perceive it and try to propagate it into the mainstream-not just through movies but also through novels that can penetrate the conceits and preconceptions of a larger mainstream audience. Alas, this is seldom done, and when it is, say with Neil Stephenson's book, Cryptonomicon, which is now on the New York Times bestseller list, position fifteen, the word SF is quickly stripped away from it as soon as it becomes successful. Swanger: In the past few years within the SF community, there's been a resurgence of hard SF, not only in America but also in Britain. Do you have any ideas, broadly, on why this might be in this decade of revival and why Britain is enjoying such a renaissance? Benford: We forgot that Arthur Clarke is British because he's so transatlantic, but I like the smoldering hard SF tradition in the u.K. breaking out again in Steve Baxter, Paul McAuley, and Peter Hamilton. It parallels the rise of hard SF, yet again in the U.S., which has actually been going on pretty steadily-so much so that it's like the background weather now for twenty years. I can remember in the 1970s when a hard SF novel was cause for some notice because there were few of them, but now there's a good hard SF novel every couple of months. I think it's good because I believe in playing tennis with the net, and we need to keep the level of what I'll call "woo-woo science" in science fiction at a minimum, because at our periphery, there is the swamp of UFO-ology, New Ageism, and vast audiences of the gullible. We do not want to have our cause besmirched by association with them and making the distinction between scrupulous thinking about the future, though imagina tive, and idle-brained acceptance of the easy explanations in the present is critical. Swanger: It seems to me that one of the difficulties is that science fiction is trying to find a way of thinking about the future-a way of from the Wheaton College Wade Collection Tell Us about Military Metaphors in His Fiction." He's also studying the impact of the Internet on the undergraduate curriculum, particularly in teaching SF. Fiona Kelleghan is preparing annotated bibliographies of the work of Mike Resnick,jonathan Lethem, Alfred Bester, and PaulWilliams.A busy woman, she's also working on a history of Entwhistle Books and writing two SF novels. New member Paul Kincaid is writing a history of British SF. Jeff King is compiling an SF quotebook.. Sandra Lindow is writing an essay on Lois McMaster Bujold and moral development Javier Martinez is currently revising his dissertation, 'The Construction of Race and the Representation of Ethnic Difference in American and British SF," for publication. Norma Nelida Dangla of Argentina reports that she's working on a Ph.D. in modern languages; her research subject is comparison of Argentine and American SF writers regarding periods and subject treatment in relation to cultural differences Jody Lynn Nye has a new fantasy novel coming out entitled License Invoked. Domna Pastourmatzi of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece, suggests that the SFRA show official support for scholarly SF conferences outside the United States. New member Emily E. Pullins is working on a dissertation in agronomiC science while "secretly" amassing a collection ofbiolagroleco horror fiction for a future project Eric Rabkin reports that he's working on a genre evolution project and invites people to check it out at his home page at
Robin Roberts is writing an essay on women scientists in popular culture; she's also working on SF in multimedia. Warren G. Rochelle is revising an essay on the fantastic in the fiction of Fred Chappell. Kenneth Roemer is working on the topic of utopian audiences and how readers place nowhere. Patrick Sharp is working on nuclear apocalypse narratives in American culture. Steven Silver's new e-mail address is
has some things to say. They are largely ignored, which bothers me-Delany, for example. Russ has fallen silent. The hard SF-nics who are not just wrapped up in space games and so forth, people like Greg Bear, are trying to figure out what's going to come next in terms of real concepts, not just technological outcomes. For example, his novel Darwin's Radio, which expresses a theory of biology that may turn out to be fundamentally wrong but that implies a great deal of elements of it are true. That is why it's an adventurous kind of writing, and I would like to see more of it. Swanger: What would you say is the primary lesson that is being ignored of the New Wave that we should be paying more attention to? Benford: Consensus reality is never governed purely by the majority vote. That I say is a great lesson of the New Wave. The testing of the boundaries of our perception of reality is still a very big business-that is, it should be. You see this in fllms that predictably use virtual reality as a way of questioning the imperial ground of what I would call folk psychology. That's some heavy-duty stuff, and it was all implied back during the New Wave, although they didn't have the tools like virtual reality to talk about it as we do now. Swanger: Shifting focus again slightly, your next published book, The Martian Race, is your rather late entry into what seems to have been the prominent feature of '90s: SF Martian novels. Could you tell us how yours differs from the others? Also, why Mars, and why now? Benford: Because NASA has no place to go that's exciting except Mars. Adding a wing to the space station, going back to the Moon, building a bigger telescope in orbit will not excite anyone on the street. Mars is a Rorschach test for our idea of human expansion in the next century. Will it be spatial? or conceptual? or neither? perhaps social? I wanted to cut through my problem with all the Mars novels: they seem to be too easy. Mars is going to be very hard to explore, and going there will be the only way to answer fundamental questions of scientific value. Primarily, did life evolve? has it sustained? You can't do this with robots, no matter what the robot faction says. Calling down a thermal vent and exploring for anaerobes that have been there four billion years is beyond the ability of machines. Only by sending humans can we take humanity along in the fundamental sense. So it's a way of keeping the idea of a frontier foremost in the human imagination. There are other things we can do in the next century that will open up the human perception of possibility, and if we don't do that as a society, the advanced nations are in danger of ossifying; we will all watch the twenty-first century on Tv. Swanger: Let me touch on your Galactic Center novels for a moment. Up until the 1940s, the depiction of machines and mechanized intelligences in science fiction was generally negative. After Asimov's laws of robotics, things got more positive. Clarke, a big influence on you, once said that we had nothing to fear from intelligent machines, only unintelligent ones like bulky outboard motors, but in the Galactic Center novels, you have the human race reduced to vermin finding whatever niche it can in a universe dominated by mechanized intelligences that bear us no love. Why do you think this is a more likely outcome than Clarke's? Benford: Because there is no inherent limitation on the intelligence and craftiness of machines, plus they will be qualitatively different intelligences and subject to the same Darwinian selection that we have been. This means that they will inevitably be competitors on the galactic stage. All these novels are a way of discussing the competition we will face right here with our machines on a scale of a few hundred years. I was very aware that I was projecting a conflict I think is inevitable within several centuries onto a larger space, where I can put more action and background into it. Particularly, within a century, most of humanity will have been turned out of their jobs unless they're in tl1e service industry because manufacturing and a lot of management will be better handled by machines. This will mean unbelievable plenitude, but PROJECTS SFRA SHOULD UNDERTAKE Marcia Blackburn suggests that SFRA should provide fellowship support for graduate students. William H. Hardesty recommends that someone write an official history of the SFRA. Kevin Mulcahy suggests that the SFRA sponsor publication of classic works of SF now out of print, perhaps doing this through electronic publishing. CALL FOR PAPERS AND ABSTRACTS What: Biotechnological and Medical Themes in Science Fiction When: October 18-21, 200 I. Where: Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece. Guests: Greg Bear (guest writer); Susan M. Squier (guest scholar, Penn State University). Topics: examine the ways in which science fiction writers (rom various parts of the world (re)present, evaluate, affirm, and/or challenge in their texts the biotechnological, genetic, and medical achievements of the second half of the twentieth century; explore the attitudes, values, perspectives, ideological and political stances of science fiction writers as expressed in their imaginary societies. Texts will be in Greek and English. Written SF, SF cinema, SF television series, SF theater may all be examined. Send:Abstracts (300-500 words) and proposals for panels by air mail. Please include title, name, mailing address, phone number, a brief CV ( 1-2 pages), and e-mail address to the chair of the conference. Deadline: March 31,200 I. Contact Information: Domna Pastourmatzi, Department of
American Uterature and Culture, School o( English,Aristotie University,Thessaloniki 54006, Greece; Phone: +30 31 9974 64;(ax: +3031 99 7432; e-mail:
what has it gotten wrong? Benford: It's gotten the promise right, though both the promise and even the premise are questionable. Nanotech may never be a major force precisely because it operates only one or two orders of magnitude below biotech, which has been shaped by evolution for over three billion years to be rapacious. Nanotech may simply build structures larger than its inherent scale and become food for many biological organisms that are better able to compete in this world than manufactured smaller technologies. There's the ever-present possibility that nanotech will only be useful on the nanometer scale and cannot affect matters larger than that because it will compete with a biology that has its own way of doing things and lots more evolutionary engineering at work. The best thing science fiction can do is express reserva tions and imagine the limitations of nanotechnology. What I just said is, I think, a major limitation which could be true, but it's also true that what some writers like about nanotech is that you can do just about any damn thing with it. That's also a ticket to disaster, because a technology without any visible constraints is too easy. You can do anything. It's hard to get narrative suspense out of a technology that is truly universal. We need to do a lot more thinking, and luckily a lot of it is being done in a laboratory. Next century will be dominated by biotech more than nanotech just because we need robust structures and biology intercepts the fundamental issues of who we are and how we reproduce, how we think of ourselves as masters of our own genetic fate. These are not going to be nanotech issues, or at least not as how they are presently conceived. You don't need nanotech to do biological engineering of DNA, for example. It's certainly true, though, that some things like cryonics probably can't happen unless nanotech, at extreme low temperatures, can work. Therefore, we may have to wait centu ries before repair of frozen people is reliable. This means that cryonics organizations have to be extremely stable-not a trait they have demonstrated so far, and they have to be in for a haul longer than, say, the East India Trading Company. Survival of such institutions is difficult to foresee. The book I published about this general problem, Deep Time, makes the point that from antiquity, we got no museums and no libraries, though those were the most honored and favored methods of transferring information, aside from monuments. We got very few monuments out of antiquity, and many of them completely stripped, like the Cheops pyramid. Conveying long-term informa tion and purpose is far harder than it looks. We have institutions that have been around a long time. Their general thrust may seem the same, but in their particular details, they are greatly altered-for example, the Catholic church and China. Both are very long-lived, but who would argue that the China of today very much resembles the China of the Ming dynasty? Or that the Catholic church's purposes and larger actions are those of St. John? No, that's just not so! They've changed so much that they're almost unrecognized. Great ideas move us greatly and we invest blood and treasure in them, but they are as ephemeral as our bodies-just a little more long-lived. Swanger: One of the themes in Deep Time is what to do with radioac tive wastes that we've accumulated. Though SF is a proverbial crowd of future thinkers, there's been very little SF about this problem, even though one of the few things we know defmitely about the future is that this stuff will be around indefinitely. Why is that? Benford: I recall Terry Carr's story, "Ozymandias," which combines both cryonics and problem of long-term storage, but you're right generally. Swanger: There's also "Dragons of Spring," by Robert Reed; that's the only other one I can think of. Benford: That's right! That was a novelette wasn't it? I remember reading it some years ago. It's because it's hard to see the dramatic implica tions. My working group was commanded by Congress to think ahead ten thousand years. As a task, it appears almost impossible. We suggested a number of long-term markers, knowing that no such marker has have picked the ten best science of the twentieth century based on their responses to a notice in the August 1999 progress report The top ten list, in order of votes: o The Day the Earth Stood Still ( 195 I) 0200 I:A Space Odyssey (1968) oBlade Runner (1982) oForbidden Planet (1956) oAliens (1986) oClose Encounters of the Third Kind ( 1977) o The War of the Worlds (1953) oDark City (1998) oGattaca (1997) -The Thing (1951) STUDY GUIDE AVAILABLE Joan Slonczewski, SFRA member and author of The Children Star, reports that a study guide is available for this text at
Chicon is the 58th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), to be held August 31-September 4, 2000, in Chicago, III. Guests of honor are Ben Bova (author), Bob Eggleton (artist), and Jim Baen (editor). Fan guests are Bob and Anne Passovoy. Toastmaster is Harry Turtledove. For much more information, see Chicon's Web page at
Cassutt, Michael. "Interview: Gregory Benford." Future Life 24 (February 1981): 40-42. Chauvin, Cy. "Interview with Greg Benford." (ypher 5 Ouly 1971): 25-36. Currey, L. W "Work in Progress: Gregory Benford." New York Review rf Science Fiction 5 Oanuary 1989): 22. "Dell Settles with Benford and Others." Locus 15, no. 3 (March 1982): 3. Elliot, J. M. "Gregory Benford: A Scientist Looks at Science Fiction." In Science Fiction Voices #3, edited by J. M. Elliot, pp 44-52. San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1980. [An earlier version appeared in Gali/eo in 1978.] Finch, Sheila. "Oath of Fealty: No Thud, Some Blunders." Science Fiction Review 14, no. 4 (November 1985): 28-30. Forshaw, Barry. "Freighting It In: Gregory Benford Interviewed." Intelzolle 102 (December 1995): 27-29. Freedman, Carl. "Remembering the Future: Science and Positivism from Isaac Asimov to Gregory Benford." Extrapolatioll 39, no. 2 (summer 1998): 128-38. "Gregory (Albert) Benford, 1941-." In Contemporary Literary Criticism, volume 52, edited by Daniel G. Marowski, pp. 58-77. Detroit, Mich.: Gale, 1989. "Gregory Benford: Cross-Talk." Locus 31, no. 5 (November 1993): 4, 68. "Gregory Benford: The Odyssey Galactic." Locus 25, no. 2 (August 1990): 43, 64. "Gregory Benford: Shoulder to the Ground." Locus 20, no. 9 (September 1987): 5, 65-66. Harrison, Harry. "Benford, Wolfe, Silverberg ... and Literature." FantaD' Review 8, no. 7 Ouly 1985): 33. Herbert, Rosemary. Visions." Publishers Weekfy 229, no. 21 (May 23, 1986): 42-46. ''Major Deals for Major Authors." Science Fictioll Chronicle 7, no. 8 (May 1986): 1,4. McCaffery, Larry. Interview with Gregory Benford." In Across the Wounded Galaxies, edited by Larry McCaffery, pp. 9-30. Urbana: Univer sity of Illinois Press, 1990. McLellan, Dennis. "The Forward Thinker: Gregory Benford." Los Angeles (Calif) Times, September 25,1994, p. El. ---. "Science Fiction, Full of Fact: Surfer-Astrophysicist Explains the Galaxy for the Rest of Us." Sail Francisco (Calif) Chronicle, October 30, 1994. [Cited from the Internet Edition.] "Money, Money, Money." Locus 19, no. 4 (April 1986): 7. "New Benford Novel Sold." Locus 15, no. 4 (April 1982): 3. Nicholas, Joseph. "Future Is All We've Got Left: Gregory Benford Inter viewed." Vector 111 (1982): 6-14. Platt, Charles. "Gregory Benford." In: Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fictioll, pp. 251-59. New York: Berkley, 1980. Preuss, Paul. "Loopholes in the Net: Ruminations on Hard SF; Fun'ous Gulf by Gregory Benford." New York RevieJIJ rf Science Fiction 75 (November 1994: 1, 1O-1l. Pringle, David. "Timescape by Gregory Benford (1980)." In Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels, pp. 199-200. New York: Carroll and Graf, 1985. Robbins, Gary. "Odyssey of Fact and Fiction." Santa Ana (Calif) Orange COlln1)1 Register, May 22, 1990. In NelvsBank: Names ill the NeJlJS 165 (1990): F7-F8. Samuelson, D. N. "From Aliens to Alienation: Gregory Benford's Variations on a Theme." Foundation 14 (September 1978): 5-19. ---. "In the Ocean of Night." In Survry rf Science Fiction Literature, volume 3, edited by Frank N. Magill, pp. 1026-30. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1979. Schweitzer, Darrell. "Interview: Gregory Benford." Eternity Science Fiction 1, no. 2 (1980): 22-25. Paper Proposal: For a paper proposal, send a 250-word abstract (Maximum 20-minute reading time for the pnished paper.) Please include the presentation title, your name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address. Receipt of proposal will be conprmed bye-mail. Panel Proposal: For a panel proposal, send a panel name and a 250-word abstract Please include the panel title, the panel chair (who may be one or more of the presenters), mailing address, phone number, and email address of each presenter. Receipt of proposal will be confirmed bye-mail. Panels at recent SFRA conferences have considered the Year's Best Fiction,Alternative Futures and Counterfactual History, Teaching Science Fiction, and Stanley Kubrick's Legacy. Contact: Joe Sanders, English Department, Lakeland Community College, 7700 Clocktower Drive, Kirtland, OH 44094; (440) 953-7215
UPDATE FOR CANTICLE STUDY GUIDE Paul Brians writes: No sooner did my study guide for A Canticle for Leibowitz appear in the SFRAREvlEW than I received a note from Neil Barron reminding me that Riddley Walker is in fact back in print in a wonderful edition (a copy of which is on my bookshelf [see SFRAREvlEW #243 for ordering information.Eds.]) and a long list of suggested emendations and additions from Steven A. Schoenig, Sj., whose profound knowledge of Church Latin and ritual has led me to extensively rework much of the guide. So if you like the looks of what you've seen in the SFRAREvIEW, check out the revised version now available at
SF. I recommend this anthology to anyone interested in diversity and breaking the barriers among genres. A satisfying read at a reasonable price. NONFICTION REVIEW OF rHE 1 OrH Neil Barron Robinson, Frank M. Science Fiction of the 20th Century: An Illustrated History. Collectors Press Box 230986, Portland, OR 97281, October 1999.256 p. $59.95. ISBN 0-188054-29-8; $89.95, 2000 copy edition in die-cut presentation box with grommeted aluminum faceplate, -30-1. Orders to (800) 423-1848. Also distributed by Universe Publishing through St. Martin's Press. Robinson (1926) bought his first SF magazine at 13 and as been a writer since the 1950s for Science Digest and men's magazines, as well as for SF magazines. His most recent fiction is the SF thriller, Waiting (1999). Collectors Press issued in 1998 his Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Maga zines (reviewed in SFRAReview #237), which relied heavily on his very large collection of near-mint pulps, just as this new history does. Coffee table books tend to be oversize and heavily illustrated, the quintessential characteristics of this history, which is 10 by 13 inches with an embossed, foiled jacket over a blue cloth binding. Drive Communications, New York, designed the book, and it was printed in Hong Kong. I'd guess the text, including the hundreds of captions, occupies about one-third of the 256 pages. Almost all illustrations are in color and include reproductions of the covers of 242 magazine issues, 47 paperbacks, 89 hardcovers, and 45 film related illustrations. Robinson's account is largely chronological, beginning with the boys' papers, dime novels, and general fiction magazines such as Argosy and All Story. The "scientific fiction" August 1923 issue at Uncle Hugo's Science and Invention is shown. Chapters are devoted to Amazing, Gernsback's "wonder" pulps Astounding/Analog, other early pulps (notably Weird Tales), The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction/Galaxy / Asimov's, more recent pulps, oversize SF magazines from the 1970s and later, including a survey of British magazines, from Scoops to Interzone. Paperbacks and hardcovers each get a chapter, "Future Dreams" is devoted to film, and the afterword, "The Death of Science Fiction?," is answered this way: "The critics are right. / The Science Fiction Century is dying. / Welcome to the Science Fiction Millen nium." The minimal bibliography is supplemented by a list of dealers and the addresses of currently published magazines. The 2-page index is adequate. Robinson's text is almost entirely descriptive, neither critical nor analytical, and the book is little more than an extended, colorful, and moder ately expensive exercise in nostalgia, eye candy for fans, neophytes, and collectors, actual or wannabe. This isn't the first such history. Easily the best earlier similar history is James Gunn's Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction (prentice-Hall, 1975,256 pp., 9 by 12 inches). Gunn (1923) provides a readable and thorough historical analysis of the scientific, social and philosophical influences that shaped SF. The illustrations (the many color ones are on coated stock, and a few show huckster rooms and costumes) genuinely illustrate rather than being mostly decorative. The several hundred black-and-white author photos are a time machine all by themselves and may make you wistful over your vanished youth. The detailed index adds to the history's reference value. David A. Kyle (1919), a First Fandom member, wrote A Pictorial History of Science Fiction (Hamlyn, London, 1976, 173 pp., 91/4 by 13 inches). Its coverage extends further back than Robinson, and many of its illustrations, including many interiors, are essays on science images, suggested links, and pretty much anything else you can think of. We are looking for content and suggestions for several new sections. Please send in notices of your current scholarship. We'd like to know what people are working on and where those inquiries are taking them. You can send in short items describing current projects or announcing recent publications. You can send in new bibliographic information, particularly of rare, unknown, or new science fiction and critical materials. And you can send in commentary on each others' notes. If you have something you're working on and you'd like to tell us about it, or you have something that is too short for traditional publication, please let us consider it for publication on the official Website of SFRA. Please send items to Peter at
updates, fiction and nonfiction book reviews, and occasional long essays on a topic o( SF interest We also publish the Approaching series, (ocusing on a single SF text, which has proved wildly popular with the membership.And 2000 will see the first (ew installments o(Joan Gordon's series on SF criticism (see separate blurb in this issue). The work published in the SFRAREVIEW is not peer-reViewed; the editors make all decisions about what appears in these pages, and they welcome unsolicited material (as well as feedback about what the membership likes and doesn't like). Please feel (ree to send essays on any SF topic that interests you to coeditors Karen Hellekson and Craig Jacobsen (or consideration (or publication.The general editorial e-mail address for inquiries and submissions is
which persists even in the gloomiest visions of global disaster." The forms that apocalypse can take are manifold: plague or bacterio logical warfare, comments on collision courses with Earth, takeover by a more evolutionarily fit species, ecological catastrophe, invaders from another planet or another dimension, the death of the sun, or imaginary war (the chapters are arranged by such themes). Since 1945, of course, the favored form of destruction has been atomic, although this was anticipated by The Invisible Ray (1936) and the influential Things to Come, the first ftlm to introduce the post-Holocaust world to flim. American ftlms used patriotism to justify the necessity of dropping bombs on the enemy. Japanese flims forced viewers to consider the victims. By the end of the cold war, nuclear apocalypses were replaced by other catastrophes: genocidal plaques, the melting of the polar ice caps, alien invasion, ecological collapse or rogue asteroids. Newman concludes that "cataclysmic finales" have always been a staple of stories, well before the invention of cinema. But only since 1945 have we lived with the real "possibil ity of imminent doom," and that idea permeates flim since then. "That the medium, and humanity, can survive so much fictional carnage suggests something about the indomitability of our spirits, or the callousness that has been necessary in order to make it through the millennium." NONFICTION REVIEW rRANSFORNArlONS OF UrOPIA herett f. Bleiler (Second opinion of Transformations of Utopia: Changing Vzews of the Perfect Society. Original review in SFRAREVIEw #242, p. 31, by Ed McKnight.) Slusser, George, Paul Alkon, Roger Gaillard, and Daniele Chatelain, eds. Transformations of Utopia: Changing Views of the Perfect Society. AMS Press, 56 E 13th Street, New York, NY 10003-4686, April 1999. xxiv + 342 p. $64.50. ISBN 0-404-64255-1. The definition of utopian studies followed in these papers is very wide, encompassing classical literary utopias such as More's Utopia and Campanella's City of the Sun, utopianism in political thought and manifesta tion, feminine generation of utopias, dystopian thought concerning the USSR, travel as an utopian experience, advertising as proposing utopian delights, the Club Med, cryonics, the role of the unconscious in utopian thought, and the relations of science fiction to the utopia. The level of the volume is high, and it is difficult to single out individual papers as outstanding. Among the papers that I found most interesting were Alessa John's consideration of the difference between male-originating and female-originating utopian schemes in eighteenth-century England (although her breakdown fails a little with Defoe's imaginary society and Robert Drury's pirate state in Madagascar); Arthur Evans's interpretation of Verne's transpor tational devices as utopian loci; George Slusser's discussion of cryonics as a utopian purpose; Paul Alkon's analysis of the role of calendars in utopian societies, both fictional and historical; Edward James's insight that perfection in a society is itself imperfection; and Roger Bozzetto's description of the life and works of Louise Michel, a late nineteenth-century French anarchist and writer of utopias. These are solid papers. Gary Westfahl's "Gadgetry, Government, Genetics and God: The Forms of Science Fiction Utopia" is especially stimulating, although I would not agree with all his conclusions. Westfahl makes the unusual and currently unfashionable point that there are fundamental incompatibilities between SF and the utopia. Along the way he introduces two new concepts, the "pointopia," or a situation where "brightness" conceals imperfection behind it; and the "anthropia," or a utopia that operates not primarily by changing the SFRAREvIEw's style, which follows Chicago 14. Book review editors may edit (sometimes quite painfully) for length and content Authors do not see page proofs. Deadlines for each SFRAREvlEw are the 15th of the first cover month Uanuary 15 for january/February, for instance). RECENT AND FORTHCOMING NONFICTION [* denotes book to be reviewed] Guida, Fred. A Christmas Carol and Its Adaptations: A Critical Examination of Dickens's Story and Its Productions on Screen and Television. Mcfarland, November 1999. Kovacs, Lee. The Haunted Screen: Ghosts in Literature and Film. McFarland, Oaober 1999. joslin, Lyndon W Count Dracula Goes to the Movies: Stoker's Novel Adapted, 1922-1995. McFarland, September 1999. Muir,john Kenneth. A Critical History of "Doctor Who" on Television. McFarland, Fall 1999. Coville, Gary and Patrick Lucanio.jack the Ripper: His Life and Crimes in Popular Entertainment. McFarland,july 1999. Rickels, LaurenceA. The Vampire Lectures. University of Minnesota, fall 1999. *Metcalf, Eugene, and Frank Maresca. Ray Gun. Fotofolio, December 1999. *Wells, H. G. When the Sleeper Wakes; a critical text of the 1899 New York and London first edition, with an introduction and appendices, ed. Leon Stover. McFarland, March 2000. Fenner, Cathy and Arnie, eds. Spectrum 6:The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. Underwood, November 1999. Gwinn, Beth, and Stanley Wiater. Dark Dreamers: Portraits of Fear. Underwood, Oaober 2000.
*Flieger, Verlyn, and Carl E. Hosteffer, eds. Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-Earth. Greenwood, February 2000. *Leeds, Marc, and Peter J. Reed, eds. Kurt Vonnegut: Images and Representations. Greenwood, March 2000. *Westfahl, Gary. Science Fiction, Children's Literature, and Popular Culture: Coming of Age in Fantasyland. Greenwood, May 2000. *Clark, George, and DanielTimmons, ed. J. R. R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances: Views of Middle-Earth. Greenwood, july 2000. *Broderick, Damien. Transrealist Fiction: Writing in the Slipstream of Science. Greenwood,August 2000. *Merrill, Hugh. The Red Hot Typewriter:The Life of John D. MacDonald. St Martin's! Minotaur, March 2000. Hillyer, Vincent Vampires: Myths and Realities. Transylvania Press, October 1999. Davidson, Keay. Carl Sagan:A Life. Wiley, November 1999. Daniel, Estelle. The Art of Gormenghast:The Making of a Television Fantasy. HarperCollins Entertainment (UK),january 2000. Lewis, C. S. Collected Letters, Vol. I: Family Letters, 1905-1931. HarperCollins (UK), March 2000. Winter, Doug. Clive Barker:The Dark Fantastic. HarperCoilins (UK), September 2000. Frank,Jane and Howard. The Frank Collection. Paper Tiger (UK), October 1999. Friedman, Michael jan. "Star Trek": New Worlds, New Civilizations. Pocket Books, fall 1999; nineteen artists illustrate Star Trek worlds. jude, Dick. Fantasy Art Masters: The Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Artists Show How They Work. WatsonGuptill, fall 1999. Lancaster, Kurt Warlocks and Warpdrive: Contemporary Fantasy Entertainments the social constitution but creating radically new mankind. This said, despite the interest and quality oJ many of the individual papers within their own frame of reference, I must object strongly to the theoretical basis behind this conference (and many other modern studies). As can be seen from the hodgepodge of topics listed above, from social change to advertising to cryonics to Club Med, the concept of utopia (eutopia) has been diluted to include almost anything that involves or promises amelioration or even change-literary, mass cultural, political, economic, sexual, and so on. U this reasoning is carried a step farther to its logical end, it would seem that everything is now utopian: if it hopes for something better, eutopia; if, it fears something worse, dystopia; if it maintains status quo, either eutopia as not needing change or dystopia as eluding change. And since everything is utopian, nothing is utopian. All cultural history is now a study of utopianism, since little or nothing is written or done without affect of some sort. Admitteelly there is a tiny drop of perception in the position of the present volume (and comparable modern studies), but it involves watering down many phenomena that are strong enough in themselves. At this point I am not sure whether the general feeling is that SF is swallowed by utopia or that utopia is a vague special case in SF. I think it is time to go back to the old concept of literary utopia as a field of study in itself and let the political scientists and sociologists worry about manifesta tions in the everyday world. After all, when we discuss science fiction, we i don't include speculation about theoretical or applied science in real life. NONFICTION REVIEW ON HORROR Neil Barron Fonseca, Anthony J., and June Michele Pulliam. Hooked on Horror: A Guide to Reading Interests in Horror Fiction. Libraries Unlimited, Box 6633, Englewood, CO 80155-6633, October 1999. xxiii + 332 p. $55. ISBN 1-56308-671-9. Orders to (800) 237-6124. Popular fiction has always presented problems for public libraries (most academic libraries buy little of it). In the United States alone, more than 6000 original (not reprinted or reissued) fiction books are published yearly, from the most forgettable formula fiction to equally forgettable "serious" fiction. No single magazine reviews that many books of all types each year. Works of established popular authors are widely if uncritically reviewed, but most fiction gets little or no review space. Because most public libraries are demand driven, literary merit, however measured, has little to do with what fiction is acquired. For category and genre fiction in particular (fantastic, mysteries, westerns, romances, etc.), general review media such as PW and Library Journal are of very limited help, since they review only about 5% to 15% of books in such categories-and they too often ignore the best work. Even if those selecting fiction had more knowl edge and better selection tools, budgets are always limited. But even if budgets were "adequate" and selection more informed, a sort of Gresham's law operates to emasculate fiction collections. Because there is only so much shelving for fiction-and every other subject-weeding must be continuous to maintain the collection at roughly the same size. Circulation (recorded use = popularity) is the variable that determines whether fiction is retained or discarded. (Some more enlightened systems have a policy of reviewing the last copy of little-used older fiction and retaining works judged better in a central archival collection.) My experience suggests that there is little effort expended to build well-rounded fiction collections, especially of category fiction. Purchase of older fiction, in or out of print, via retrospective selection is uncommon. The unstated assumption is that, aside from a few "classics," any 200 to 500 titles is about equal to any other 200 to 500 titles. Weeding
practices will ensure that little fiction is older than, say, ten years. Use almost always declines with age, and usage is the key factor in retention. This book reflects these dismal facts. Books in the publisher's "Genreflecting Advisory Series," now totaling seven titles, attempt to provide librarians with guides to genre fiction generally (Genreflecting by series editor Diana Tixier Herald) or specific genres, like Herald's Fluent in Fantasy (reviewed in SFRAReview #243), so that librarians can provide reader advisory and reference help. The librarian-authors of this guide, at the state library of Louisiana and Louisiana State University, respectively, begin by claiming that Hooked on Horror "is an in-depth treatment of the horror genre" and that it "provides the reader with a more complete list of anno tated novels, collections by single authors, and anthologies by diverse hands than currently exists anywhere else." The first claim is badly overstated, the second flat wrong. Their methodology undermines the entire book: "We began with books currently in print and tried to be all-inclusive in this category. If it was in print, we ... annotated it," with an arbitrary cutoff of books published since 1994. They claim they tried to balance their selection of recent books with "classics," but the result is grossly imbalanced. Few titles from the "classic" gothic are present, and only a hopelessly inadequate sampling before 1950 is present. There are no books by E. F. Benson, Bierce, Blackwood, Dumas, Ewers, Henry James, Machen, ,Onions, Radcliffe, or Wakefield. Bradbury is represented by a weak 1996 collection, not, say, Dark Carnival or The Stories of Ray Bradbury. There's no Ellison, Jack Finney, Alan Ryan, or Karl Edward Wagner. The worst books of authors compete for space with their best, most evident in the chapter devoted to "notable and important horror-fiction authors": Campbell, King, Koontz, Levin, Rice, Simmons and Straub, and hacks like Bentley Little and John Saul. The reason for this is given in the introduction: "it is not the purpose of this book to evaluate the works included in it. This book is merely a descriptive list of available titles in print and titles that can be made available through interlibrary loan and other resource sharing." If they had been even moderately selective, they could have covered the limited amount of quality horror for young adults, such as books by Joan Aiken and Robert Westall, without long lists of junk books by R. L. Stine, simply because they were in print. Chapters with annotations are devoted to anthologies (44), collections (32), with 14 chapters listing books by themes, plus one devoted to the nine "notable" authors mentioned earlier. I counted about 750 works of annotated fiction, well below the "some 1,000 titles" mentioned on page xi. This is also below the number in my now out of print Horror Literature (1990), which has about 800 fiction annotations, evaluating close to a thousand books. My current guide, Fantasy and Horror (reviewed in SFRAReview #243) has similar but up-to-date coverage of horror fiction. And if you merely want some guidance to current category fiction, the annual What Do I Read Next? volumes (Gale, 1990) survey 200 or more books in each of the six catego ries (nine beginning in 2000 in semiannual volumes), one of them horror fiction. The author/ title/ city /publisher/year/ pagination information is followed by a purely descriptive plot summary, sequels, similar books, and suggested subject headings. Selected thematic fllms are described, and each author lists his or her favorite "picks." Because the chapters group books by theme, even though a subject/theme index is provided, a lot of space is wasted with cross-references. The concluding chapters survey works of history and criticism (but no biographical or author studies), magazines, reference sources, organizations, major horror awards, a publisher listing, and a list of thirteen Websites. The authors and publisher call this a guide. It's not: guides lead; this follows. with Interoctive and Virtual Environments. Mcfarland, fall 1999. *Tiptree,James. Meet Me at Infinity. Tor, February 2000. Assembles 8 uncollected stories and 35 uncollected nonfiction pieces, plus a chronological bibliography. Cox, Steve, and Howard Frank. Dreaming of Jeannie: TV's Prime Time in a Bottle. St Martin's/Griffin, March 2000; nostalgiC survey of this 1965-70 TV fantasy series. Clark, I. F. British Future Fiction, 1700-1914. 8 vols. Pickering and Chatto Pubs (21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC I A 2TH); Ashgate Publishing Company, Old Post Rd, Brookfield, a 05036-9704), March 2000. Originally described in SFRAREvIEw#238, p. 20. Facsimile reprints with new general and individual introductions. /$795 through February 2000; /$880 thereafter. U.S. orders to (800) 535-9544; information at
from Texas, Zimbabwe, and Virginia, including a very funny Navaho artist sculpture of a cowboy riding a space ship; a New Orleans artist's "Lust in Space," and a great "Intergalactic Cruiser" by Michigan's Sonny Dalton, which combines a Harley-Davidson muffler with keys from musical instruments. Worth a look. BEYOND 2000 RADIO SERIES UPDATE Neil Barron writes: Last April's issue (SFRAREVIEW#239) had information on the series of twenty-six one-hour dramatizations of SF stories to be broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR) stations beginning the first week of April 2000.Approximately thirtynine programs are being recorded, but not all will be broadcast All will be released in longer versions on cassettes by Dove Audio, with the first cassette, about four hours (several stories), to be released in May 2000. The added length will partly consist of longer introductions by Harlan Ellison, who's hosting the series and will be one of the performers in some programs. The producer/director is Yuri Rasovsky, whose Website,
NONFICTION REVIEW $PIRlr"AL EXPLORArlON Johan Heje Perrakis, Phyllis Sternberg, ed. Spiritual Exploration in the Works of Doris Lessing. Greenwood Press, 88 Post Road W, Westport, CT 06881, April 1999. xv + 165 p. $55. ISBN 0-313-30568-4. Orders to (800) 225-5800. These nine essays approach their somewhat elusive subject from various positions in what Perrakis terms "the theoretical milieu." Naturally, the focus is mainly on Lessing's post-1969 works, when in The Four-Gated City, the last of five novels in her Martha Quest sequence, she moved from what, perhaps deceptively, had been conceived as social realism and traditional Bildungsroman into the realm of psychic experiences, in tune with R. D. Laing's theories, and apocalyptic visions of the future. It is divided into three parts, with the essays in part 3 providing the most interesting overview of some major themes in Lessing's works. The authors share not only academic competence but an obvious, in some cases bordering on fannish, enthusiasm. In part 1, the concept of spiritual evolution is applied to the personal lives of characters in two of Lessing's novels. Virginia Tiger comments critically on the taboo surrounding the physical aging of women in our culture and deals with the reversal of-a recurrent Lessing theme-the (surrogate) mother-daughter roles in The Diaries of Jane Somers (1984). Earl G. Ingersoll examines gender relations in The Marriage between Zones Three, Four and Five, the second volume in the Canopus in Argos quintet of "space fiction" parables (1979-83). He points out that this novel is as much about the reciprocal spiritual education of the male and the female protagonist as about the conflict between them. In part 2, the perspective is widened. Nancy Topping Bazin traces suggestions of a holistic utopian vision through Btiefing for a Descent into Hell (1971), The Summer before the Dark (1973) and the social and cultural breakdown depicted in The Memoirs of a Survivor (1974), dealing rather light-footedly along the way with the complex issue of the influence of Sufi mysticism on Lessing's writings. Debrah Raschke examines "cabalistic" garden images in The Memoirs of a Survivor, demonstrates their inspiration from Eliot's The Waste Land, and argues against seeing Lessing's vision as a simple, binary, inner-versus-outer-world dichotomy. Cherry Clayton writes about The Four-Gated City, the turning point in Lessing's oeuvre, where "the whole Western enterprise of scientific rationality" is called into question. Jeannette Webber analyzes some of the complexities of Shikasta, first in the Canopus in Argos sequence. To her Lessing is not only a Cassandra, crying doom, which has been the role cast for her by some critics, but a sibyl envisioning, albeit in riddles, rebirth on the other side of apocalypse. For Part 3, Perrakis has provided a well-documented analysis of Lessing's latest novel Love, Again (1995) based on an examination of the image of the whirlpool (self-absorption and self-destruction) and the fountain (self-clarification). The imagery is traced back to the space fiction sequence and is related to psychoanalysis and Sufi holism in uneasy conjunction. Melanie Hunter and Darby McIntosh use chaos theory as a frame of refer ence and see, somewhat abstractly, "pressure of forces" as a unifying theme in Lessing's work. Finally, Josna E. Rege, more clearly and convincingly, summa rizes its "constants" as well as the evolution it has undergone over fifty years in her essay on Lessing's "Expanding Universe." Very pertinently, she empha sizes Lessing's abiding commitment to "reasoned thought." A book of obvious interest to Lessing students, other readers familiar with Lessing, and graduate library collections. Scientist and Write Science Fiction (Baen Books, November 1999,367 pp., $22, ISBN 0-671-57836-7), presumably to help the scientifically challenged. The book grew out of a series of 1998 seminars, and parts have appeared as articles. The survey emphaSizes the hard sciences: physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, space ffight, computers, nanotechnology, chaos theory, cyborgs, as well as fringe areas like paranormal powers, cold fusion, etc., although none of these topics are treated in any detail. Implicit in his argument (and in most SF) is the assumption, for example, that there is (other) intelligent life in the universe and that we will eventually communicate with it, an assumption that a writer like Stanislaw Lem speCifically repudiates. It is also examined in detail in Joel Achenbach's Captured by Aliens: The Search for Life and Truth in a Very Large Universe (Simon and Schuster, November), to be reviewed. How important science is in SF is problematical. Consider three writers a half-century apart Burroughs wrote fantasies about an imaginary Barsoom early in the century. The Mars in Bradbury's Martian Chronicles bore little relationship to the planet known at midcentury. Robinson's multicolor Mars series at century's end would presumably meet Sheffield's approval. Will the presence or absence of "science" affect which author is likely to be read in another half century? SPACE AVAILABLE Send us your announcements, news items, calls for papers and other information that you think would be of interest to SFRA members. Remember, we also print letters to the editor.
NONFICTION REVIEW READINQS Robert O'Connor Byron, Glennis, and David Punter, eds. Spectral Readings: Towards a Gothic Geography. St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010, November 1999. x + 256 p. $55. ISBN 0-312-22223-8. London: Macmillan, 1999. Spectral Readings is the second volume of essays developed from presentations made before the International Gothic Association. The first, Gothic Origins and Innovations (1994), edited by Allan L. Smith and Victor Sage, included papers delivered in 1991 at the University of East Anglia, while this volume selects from the second conference, hosted in 1995 by the home institution of the editors, the University of Sterling. Punter, a prominent gothicist since the publication in 1980 of his Marxist study, The Literature of Terror, and Byron, a specialist in women's literature and Dracula studies, have done an able job of selecting, introducing, and organizing the thirteen conference papers, which vary widely in subject matter and critical approach. Although the book's subtitle metaphor of geographic placement provides a rationale for drawing together the essays, these largely miscellaneous studies, focusing on content as diverse as The Federalist Papers and the fiction of Daphe du Maurier, are most significant as a representative sample of contemporary gothic theory and its textual application. Typical of the book's more abstruse material is Fred Botting's "The Gothic Production of the Uncon scious," a discussion that begins with an account of the influence of Frances Power Cobbe's "Unconscious Cerebration, a Psychological Study" on Stoker's Dracula and broadens into an analysis, with frequent references to Freud, Lacan, Foucault, and Derrida, of gothicism's place in the invention of the unconscious. Although readers not conversant with recent critical jargon will likely be puzzled by parts of Botting's argument, the initiated will find the essay consistently illuminating. Still challenging but more accessible is William Veeder's "The Nurture of the Gothic," a study grounded in the psychoanalytic technique of D. W Winnicott. Veeder argues that "Gothic can help heal the wounds of repression by putting into play what silencing, denial, and infantilisation tried to police." Veeder's establishment of a historical context for his discussion and his application of his claims to several classic works of gothic fiction make this a thoroughly convincing and potentially influential essay. Also connecting gothicism with repression is Robert Mighall's "'A Pestilence which Walketh in Darkness': Diag nosing the Victorian Vampire," my personal favorite. An exercise in astute cultural archaeology, Mighall's essay examines the Victorian dread of Onanism and shows an undeniable association between the era's assumptions about the debilitat ing physical, psychological, and spiritual effects of masturbation and the literary representation of vampirism. One needn't be steeped in the arcana of contemporary literary theory to be enlightened (and amused) by Mighall's revela tions. Spectral Readings is an admirable collection that bodes well for its series, and I look forward to the third volume, to be drawn from papers presented at the 1999 conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and to later volumes. This book is most valuable for the academic specialist wishing to keep current on gothic methodology, but also contains selections worth the attention of the nonacademic horror enthusiast. NONFICTION REVIEW AND linda Urman Stocker, Jack H., ed. Chemistry and Science Fiction. American Chemical Society, 1155 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036, January 1999. xxii + 292 p. $29.95 trade paper. ISBN 0-8412-3248-2. Orders to (800) 4459714. The seventeen chapters that comprise this book, an outgrowth of the April 1992 symposium of the American Chemical Society, contain a full range of perspectives about science fiction. The contributors examine the relationship between chemistry and SF in the broadest possible sense: chemistry as a way of thinking about the world and SF as a genre including Sherlock Holmes as well as Star Trek. Almost every conceivable point of view is represented in the chapters, from critical examination of how chemistry is used-and misused-in SF, to scientists' personal favorites and recommendations. As an overview, Connie Wilson's "Science in Science Fiction: A Writer's Perspective" is a fine explanation of the relationship of fiction to science.
She discusses the way SF uses science in stories: "as subject, as plot, as setting or background, and as a metaphor." Only three short stories are included. Two parodies of chemical scholarship require graduate work in the sciences for complete enjoyment. But Asimov's "Pate de Foie Gras" is accessible to anyone who ever wondered if a goose could really lay golden eggs. The editor has a chapter with color reproductions on glossy stock of eight SF magazine covers, with comments. The real meat of the book comes from the consideration of how science can use SF. Scientists of every field mention SF as a source of wonder, a reason to become involved in the scientific way of looking at the world. Science educators today can use the same techniques to attract, intrigue, and involve their students. Stocker discusses chemistry teachers who asked their students for anthropomorphic metaphors to explain their learning: "Think about molecules as people. Think about a chemical reaction between two molecules as an interaction between two humans. Think molecular structure as human motivation. Write a metaphor in which molecules take on human characteristics." Although no great SF was written in the class, the students showed greater understanding and involvement in the subject. Those looking for chemical bloopers from Star Trek will find them, but the real thrust of the book has more to do with how educators can use SF than whether Data really understands the use of DNA. The book clearly achieves Stocker's goals: "To share an enthusiasm, to make a few recommendations, and to persuade a few readers to stretch their minds and think in some unorthodox categories." NONFICTION REVIEW IN rHE A#ilAIN fdra Bogle Sand, Karen and Marietta Frank. Back in the Spaceship Again: Juvenile Science Fiction Series Since 1945. Greenwood Press, Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881, 1999. x + 152 p. $55. ISBN 03-3-30192-1. Orders to (800) 225-5800. Sands and Frank state their intention as "to take a critical look at juvenile science fiction series since 1945 through their history, themes, settings, characters, and construction," with emphasis upon books published in the United States. An introduction describes the pioneer series, those begun in the 1940s: Rick Brant, Tom Swift Jr., Lucky Starr, Winston SF, with mention of works by Heinlein, Norton, Pohl/Williamson, and MacGregor, which form less clearly defined series. In each case, one or two representative books are discussed in detail, with some description of the series as a whole. The introduction ends by rebutting Moskowitz's indictment of such works as "popular entertainment" that "offer[s] nothing" to SF in general. The authors quote critics who say that the series "offered known authors an avenue for recognition and income" and provided heroes in the Joseph Campbell pattern; other critics note that children identify easily with the heroes and thus "experience competence and independence." Chapters 2-8 cover more recent series by topic: robots, androids, and artificial intelligence; animals; female characters; humor; scientific knowledge; utopias and dystopias; and aliens. They follow the same outline, discussing individual books as representative of the type, and applying critical principles. Covering the topic is more important than emphasizing quality titles. The same book or series shows up in multiple chapters. The volume ends with a 22-page annotated bibliography and an 18-page bibliography, which repeats many of the same works but includes seven pages of critical sources. The volume is indexed by author and series, but rarely by subject. I can't tell if this book is intended for teachers who wish to become acquainted with the subject, for librarians as a guide to buying and weeding, or for SF scholars. Teachers would be ill served by its lack of selectivity, librarians by there being more information jumbled together than they would probably have time to look for, and scholars by the acknowl edgment that ''We are sure there are series and titles we have missed." In his review of Sullivan's Young Adult Science Fiction (SFRAReview #241, pp. 44-45), Edgar Chapman mentions the lack of attention paid to this age group. Sands and Frank's book provides a useful list of works and some interesting comparisons. It should prove useful for large collections, but the more theoretical essays in Sullivan's book are more useful if only one volume on the topic is to be purchased.
NONFICTION REVIEW SEXUAL I!;ENERArltlNS Eisenhour Roberts, Robin. Sexual Generations: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and Gender. University of Illinois Press, 1325 S Oak St., Champaign, IL 61820, October 1999. x + 208 p. $32.95. ISBN 0-252-02455-9; $15.95 trade paper, -06810-6. Star Trek, in all its incarnations, has aroused passion and devotion to an unprecedented extent-from the letter campaign that saved the original series from cancellation after its second year through the volumes of fan-written fiction, to the conventions of pointy-eared or bumpy-headed costumed Trekkers. In books and articles, both scholarly and popular, authors have attempted to analyze and explicate this phenomenon. Two of the best of these are Camille Bacon-Smith's Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth and Textual Poachers by Henry Jenkins. Sexual Generations is a new and worthwhile addition. Roberts examines in detail several of the episodes of the seven-year run of Star Trek: The Next Generation, drawing primarily on the French feminists Julia Kristeva, Helene Cixous, and Catherine Clement, as well as Darko Suvin's theories of cognitive estrangement. She examines Star Trek's treatment of the female alien, women rulers, and perfect mates, then goes on to discuss the broader topics of race, reproductive politics and rape as they relate to gender issues. In her examination of the gender issues in such episodes as "Conspiracy," "The Perfect Mate," "Loud as a Whisper," and "Code of Honor," Roberts looks not only at the dialogue but the visual choices and how these relate to the messages being presented. Camera focus, costuming, and casting are all considered, as they must be in a visual medium. If there's a problem with this study, it's the suggestion that Star Trek's creators intentionally included instances of male bias and sexual inequality in order to point out fundamental flaws in our present-day culture. This is what a devotee of the series would like to believe and is a product of its overall excellence. Fans, especially female fans, want Star Trek to be better than it is, to reflect the equally presented as a natural part of the future, not the reality of the present. But Star Trek is very much a product of its own time, and the glimmers of utopia we see only add to the frustration of such episodes as One," "Code of Honor," or "The Perfect Mate." For every woman shown as a captain or an admiral in Starfleet, there are women who exist only to reflect the male view, one of the worst examples being Keiko O'Brien, whose marriage changed her from a scientist to a housekeeping mother. While as a female fan I can love it for what it promised, I'm still deeply disappointed and frustrated by what Star Trek too often delivers. As Roberts herself writes: Star Trek: the Next Generation differs from the original series in a change in the famous voice-over-'to boldly go where no one has gone before' instead of 'where no man has gone before'-The Next Generation fails to do so." In this instance she is writing about a conservative attitude toward abortion and a woman's choices, but the same could apply to many of the issues she raises as they apply to the depiction of women, both alien and human. As in her discussion of the woman ruler, Roberts points out that in the episodes she examines, "Sexual politics is played out through the narrative of heterosexual romance. All three episodes reveal that Star Trek: The Next Generation goes where science fiction has gone before: to a denigration of femininity through the figure of the woman ruler." Whether Star Trek's producers and writers are using the device of a SF series to "explore gender and science, woman and language, and the definition of difference" or are simply creating entertainment that reflects our own cultural biases, the issues raised in this book, and on the show itself, are certainly valid and offer a rich field for discus sion. NONFICTION REVIEW I!;REErINQS Gary Westfahl Clarke, Arthur C. Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!: Collected Essays 1934-1998, ed. by Ian T. Macauley. St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10010, August 1999. xvii + 558 p. $35. ISBN 0-312-19893-0. One can criticize this collection for any number of reasons. As others have noted, the title is misleading: this book does not collect all of Clarke's innumerable essays (which would be impossible in a single volume), and it features many items-such as book reviews, speeches, a press release, introductions, excerpts from nonfiction books, even a chapter from a novel-that cannot be reasonably characterized as "essays." One can argue about its selections: some of Clarke's most striking essays, like "Invisible Men, and Other Prodigies" (in Profiles of the Future) and "The Poetry of
Space (in 1984: Spring-A Choice of Futures) are not included, although other materials, such as his anec dotes about diving experiences, might have been profitably omitted. The presentation of bibliographical data is erratic: readers are told that "The Colors of Infinity" was a lecture given in 1989, but not that the text was barbarously edited or that the complete (and infinitely better) text appeared as an appendix to The Ghost from the Grand Banks. Finally, for a book from a major publisher, the editing is embarrassingly ragged. At some points, to distinguish Clarke's added comments from his original text (as I eventually deduced), some one strangely decided to leave the new passages unjustified, which looks jarringly unprofessional, instead of simply employing a different font. There are also many typos, especially in the first 200 pages. Since Clarke himself reviewed the transcript of an interview I was editing and noted two spelling errors, I know that this indifference to accuracy is not Clarke'S, but somebody during the production process did him a disservice. Still, none of these flaws really matter, for this remains a book to treasure because of its author. It not only brings back some out-of-print items but includes a large amount of previously unreprinted material, ranging from early reviews to recent articles. In the chronological progression of chapters, one can fruitfully observe the development of Clarke's underrated prose style, as he advances from a certain degree of awkwardness and hesitancy in early years to the crisp, confident clarity of his mature voice. And introductory passages and some essays provide new glimpses of Clarke's personal life, making this, along with The View from Serendip and Astounding Days, another one of his semiautobiographical books. Perhaps of greatest interest are the materials from the 1980s and 1990s, for they collectively strike me as excerpts from a forthcoming book that Clarke may never write, epitomizing his current view of the universe and humanity's place in it. Taking the long view, as is his specialty, Clarke continues to envision a growing human presence in space, even if it does not occur as quickly as he once hoped; his immediate concern is watching out for asteroids or comets that might strike the Earth with devastating consequences. Constantly attracted by new ideas, he is one of the few people who recognize that fractal mathematics is a stunning, revolutionary advance that will completely alter the way we view all aspects of our existence, and he is further excited about new theories raising the possibility of extracting energy from the essence of space itself. Although Clarke's concluding chronology of the twenty-first century, which appeared on the Internet, has so far attracted the most attention, a more thoughtful discussion of the future occurs elsewhere, in "For Cherene, Tamar, and Melinda," where Clarke describes with quiet intelligence, optimism, and eloquence "the better world of the next century" to three girls who Jive in his house. It is a remarkable performance from a man, now in his eighties, who long ago composed his own fitting epitaph: "He never grew up, but he never stopped growing." NONFICTION REVIEW RAY#;". Neil Barron MetCalf, Eugene w., and Frank Maresca. Ray Gun. Fotofolio, 561 Broadway, New York, NY 10016, December 1999.114 p. $19.95. ISBN 1-58418-004-8. Orders to (800) 955-3686. Almost all SF histories quite reasonably focus on the fiction. The 1928 appearance of Anthony "Buck" Rogers in Amazing is noted, but his significance is slighted because Phil Nowlan wrote little other SF. But Rogers became an enormously popular figure during his more than 40 years in a comic strip, a radio adaptation from 1932 to 1947, in movies, and later on Tv. It's no accident that the phrase, "that Buck Rogers stuff," became almost a cliche, usually dismissive. The popularity of Buck Rogers encouraged the Daisy Mfg. Co., a well-known maker of BB guns, to introduce the first metal toy ray guns, beginning with the XZ-31 Rocket Pistol. A holster and helmet soon followed, along with a new model XZ-38 Disintegrator, a XZ-35 Rocket Pistol, and in 1936, the XZ-44 Liquid Helium Water Pistol. The U-235 Atomic Pistol naturally appeared after the war, and Daisy was joined by many other manufacturers here and abroad. Toys like these, first in metal, then in plastic, populated the childhoods of millions for decades, here and abroad. The early TV series, Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, alone led to 135 products bearing its name. Metcalf specializes in the fields of American art and material culture. Maresca is a New York collector and dealer in "outsider" and self-taught art. Their collaboration should be gleefully welcomed, especially by those who missed Zap! Ray Gun Classics (Chronicle, 1991,95 pp., out of print) by Leslie Singer, who also assisted with this new survey. Both books are arranged chronologically, and the artifacts-guns, badges, advertising, ftlm posters, etc.-are beautifully photographed. I thought Dixie Knight's work for the Singer book couldn't be bettered, but Charles Bechtold's work is fully her equal. There's naturally some overlap, but not as much as I expected. Both books have excellent short bibliogra phies. I've never seriously and systematically collected anything, but seeing these glorious specimens, I'm certainly tempted. Check out Metcalf's Website,
NONFICTION REVIEW John Huntington Wells, H. G. Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought. Dover, 31 E 2nd St, Mineola, NY 11501, July 1999. xvii + 179 p. $9.95, trade paper. ISBN 0-48640673-3. Dover has performed a great service by reprinting this influential and stimulating book. It remains a founding text of modern forecasting and is often cited, however briefly, at the beginning of prophetic books addressing investors, decisionmakers, and business planners. Anticipations was first printed in serial and book form in 1901. This reprint of the 1902 second revised edition has Well's own preface to the 1914 edition and a fine short introduction by Martin Gardner. The legend about how Beatrice and Sidney Webb, after reading the book, made a project of meeting Wells and persuading him to engage in the activities of the Fabian Society has wide currency. To be sure, at this point in his career, a half-decade after The Time Machine, and with The Island of Doctor Moreau, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and When the Sleeper Wakes also behind him, Wells was very much in vogue. But Anticipations aspires to an authority quite different from that of the author of scientific romances. This is the first full statement of Wells in his guise as the scientifically knowledgeable social philosopher, who to this point has appeared only in scattered essays. One sees here the early development of idJas that will dominate his thought for the next 45 years: first, the necessity for a world state, and second, the natural growth of a new class of educated, enlightened, civic-minded engineers who will gradually render civilization "sane," an idea he later developed as the Samurai in A Modern Utopia (1905) and as The Open Conspiracy (1928). Yet, it's one of the paradoxes of success that of all Wells's important works, Anticipations has been for the last half century one of the most difficult to locate. It's hard now to recreate the extraordinary experience of the first readers of Anticipations. The book begins with the kind of detailed mechanical speculation that would fuel SF for the next 50 years, and that in itself would have startled and attracted attention in 1901. Among later SF writers it is this beginning, a meditation on transportation and the demographics of the future, that is most often remembered. But the book, as it proceeds, dares to push into areas and to argue positions that are beyond anything the opening chapters seem to promise. More than most of his recent epigones, Wells focuses on the social implications of the mechanical possibilities he imagines and advocates a set of moral positions that are even today-perhaps especially today, with our century of knowledge of how some of these ideas have been abused-shocking. He is not shy about contemplating, optimistically and without viciousness, a world that accepts abortion, genocide, and euthanasia. To his vision of social development he brings a knowledge of Darwin and Huxley's evolutionary biology, but unlike the social Darwinists, who saw in the idea of the survival of the fittest a self-satisfied justification of the status quo, he finds in the study of nature the inevitability of profound, possibly revolutionary change. As he often does in the early scientific romances, he envisions death and ruthless violence as the prime agents of the evolutionary process. [Writing in 1941, Orwell (born 1903), remarked: "Back in the nineteen-hundreds it was a wonderful experience for a boy to discover H. G. Wells. There you were, in a world of pedants, clergymen and golfers, with your future employers exhorting you to 'get on or get out', your parents systematically warping your sexual life, and your schoolmasters sniggering over their Latin tags; and here was this wonderful man who could tell you about the inhabitants of the planets and the bottom of the sea, and who knew that the future was not going to be what respectable people imagined." -Ed.] NONFICTION REVIEW A ro rHE Terry Heller Punter, David. A Companion to the Gothic. Basil Blackwell, 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148-5018, January 2000. xx + 323 p., $99.95. ISBN 0-631-20620-5. Orders to (800) 216-2522. The jacket says the collection is "designed to become the standard reference work for scholars and students." However, the writing is above all but the most advanced undergraduates, and this is not a glossary or encyclopedia like Mulvey-Roberts, The Handbook to Gothic Literature (1998, reviewed in SFRAReview #237) or Frank's The First Gotrucs (1987, recommended in SFRAReview #237). Still, Punter offers a valuable survey for graduate students and specialists, and it should find its way into college and university libraries with generous budgets.
The collection offers a survey of current thinking about gothic writing, with twenty-four essays by wellestablished scholars. Punter's introduction specifies two purposes: "to introduce the reader to Gothic writing over the last two hundred years" and "to present some of the most significant and interesting contemporary approaches to the Gothic." Though the essays discuss approaches to gothic writing, Punter affirms that they do not define the gothic, in part because like other major cultural phenomena, what we call gothic writing proves too various to catch in a formula, and in part because a main theme of the gothic has been the haunted, uncanny nature of all knowledge. Punter divides the subject into five parts. Three essays on gothic backgrounds look at the intellectual, historical, and literary origins of gothic writing. Five essays examine major British writers of the "first flowering": Radcliffe, Lewis, Mary Shelley, Scott, Hogg, Maturin, and Le Fanu. Eight essays on "Nineteenthand Twentieth-Century Transmutations" survey topics such as nineteenth-century American gothic, gothic of the 1890s, ghost stories, vampire stories, and gothic film. Three essays on theory and genre provide overviews of gothic criticism and discussions of psychoanalysis and the gothic and comic gothic. The remaining five pieces in "The Continuing Debate" explore more contemporary perspectives-for example, how critics handle gothic heroines, queerness and the gothic in Stephen King's The Shining, and magical realism. Glimpses of two essays can indicate some strengths and weaknesses. Allan Lloyd-Smith's survey of nineteenth century American gothic rounds up the usual suspects from Brockden Brown and Washington Irving through Poe, Melville, James, and Dickinson, and he gives interesting attention to Harriet Beecher Stowe. He argues that the character istic features of American gothic arise from "the frontier, the Puritan legacy, race and political utopianism." Given these themes, it may seem curious that he ignores captivity narratives and slave narratives, both of which have received considerable recent attention, notably in Christopher Castiglia's impressive Bound and Determined (Chicago, 1996). Each essay ends with a bibliography, and some include suggestions for further reading. Lloyd Smith's lists include nothing published after 1993, which is unfortunate in a field that is getting such intense attention from scholars. Familiar ity with Robert K. Martin and Eric Savoy's collection, American Gothic (Iowa 1998), for example, might have strength ened this essay. Chris Baldick and Robert Mighall "make the fur fly" in their survey I critique of gothic criticism. They contend that much gothic criticism is ridiculously ahistorical. For example, late Victorian horror fiction cannot be an index to wide spread bourgeois anxieties of the period-as is widely believed-because of the generic obligation of gothic to produce fear: "One might with equally misplaced confidence cite Punch to establish the widespread cheerfulness and levity of Victorian culture." To me it appears they are burning a straw man, but I have to confess limited knowledge in this area. This essay is a useful look at gothic criticism, and it should stir some controversy. These samples illustrate two important things about this collection. Though it purports to be a "companion" to the gothic, it really combines survey with criticism. while it may not be exactly what we usually think of as reference text, still it is worth reading as a part of the rich contemporary discussion of gothic writing. NONFICTION REVIEW FHE NOON ANg rHE W'EsrERN INAClINArlON l. Scott L. Montgomery. The Moon and the Western Imagination. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1230 N Park Avenue, Suite 102, Tucson, AZ 85719, October 1999. xiii + 265 p. $35. ISBN 0-8165-1711-8. The closest and most familiar of objects in our night sky, the Moon, fascinates us. Earthbound perceptions of lunar landscapes for many centuries resulted from both careful observation and carefree fantasy; Scott Montgomery presents both views in his thoughtful and ambitious study. Briefly surveying classical and medieval conceptions as expressed in literary texts, scientific investigation, and artistic expression, Montgomery next analyzes telescopically enhanced studies. He delves then into a detailed explication of the mapping of the Moon's features during the Age of Exploration. His book opens and closes with closely argued comparisons between the naming of the new moons discovered in the space age and the naming of earthly lands as part of the West's earlier colonization of the New World. Our geocentric position, Copernicus notwithstanding, has never shifted, Montgomery claims. We project upon the Moon our own familiar names and mythos. Through legendary tales and then direct magnification, observers began to construct a terrestrially familiar frame in which to view the Moon's images. James van Eyck's painting "The Crucifixion" (1400-25) portrays accurately the "first naked-eye drawing of the lunar surface." Thomas Harriot, chronicler of the Virginia coast, next investigated the realms opened by Galileo's invention. In 1609, Harriot drew the first telescopic sketch of the lunar surface. Imagined voyages of the Moon between 1600 and 1650 borrowed visions from three sources: Galileo's Stdenils mmcius, fantasy-utopian literature, and colonial accounts such as Harriot's own Eneft and True Report. Kepler,Jonson, Francis Godwin, and Cyrano de Bergerac all updated classical models imaginatively, making the Moon a funhouse
mirror to reflect Earth's spectacles. de Bergerac's key influence, Pierre Gassendi, worked as a pioneer mapper of the lunar surface, extending terrestrial conquest of the Moon while the West sought to control closer, if no less exotic, terrain. Selenographers from Galileo through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries receive close attention in Montgomery's later chapters. For European sensibilities, Earth's neighbor served as an "historical sponge"; no longer "a philosophical object, ripe with essence, the Moon had been transformed, once and for all, into a solid alter ego of Earth." When men finally planted feet and flags on its surface, the true lunar landscape loomed: "a wholly alien, distant place, unlike anything found in the terrestrial domain." Long linked to classical analogies as "an isle of the blest"; a mountainous realm; a call to humility; a mirror; rag of flame; a crystal ball: the Moon inspired the earliest literary voyages into space. What humans envisioned on Earth, they invent for the Moon; so have we in the West "colonized over the centuries by assumptions of terrestrial realities" its reflected surface. Even as scientific fact conquers past fiction, future fiction emerges to reclaim its lunar plot. "Our first and nearest vision in the heavens shall always be our closest compan ion," concludes Montgomery. Newer moons have been christened with names designating many of our planet's cultures and traditions. Our original Moon, however, bears the imprint of seventeenth-century politics and European science. By focusing on this period, Montgomery's panoramic title appears to promise more than his book's details deliver. Still, his preface makes clear his intentions. Montgomery's densely argued, succinctly rendered concentration upon cartographical concerns may leave casual inquirers overwhelmed. Yet this determined scholarship provides investigators of our astronomical heritage with concise coverage of an often overlooked topic. The Moon will remain, as Montgomery explains, "a historical document of the age that 'discovered' it." Like the Americas, the lunar land now bears the names and myths of the older lands by whose power it was commemorated, plotted, and claimed by its ambitious, curious terrestrial neighbors. This text features fourteen photos and 122 line drawings. [Moon fanciers should consider acquiring the four-volume boxed set, The Moon Box (Chronicle Books, 1995, $29.95), edited l?Y John Miller and Tim Smith. The volumes contain fiction, folklore, poetry, an entire volume devoted to werewolf stories, and proto-SF, such as Lepler's Somnium, Cyrano de Bergerac's Journey to the Moon, Lucian's The True History, and Baron Munchausen's A Second Trip to the Moon. -Ed] NONFICTION REVIEW rARZAN FOREVER Michael Orth Taliaferro, John. Tarzan Forever: The Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Creator of Tarzan. Scribner, April 1999. 367 p. $30. ISBN 0-684-83359-X. By this time, most of us have seen plenty of publicity for Disney's new animated Tarzan movie. Coordinated with the release of the film comes a new biography of Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB), the man who created Tarzan. It is more than just studio publicity. Tarzan Forever stands on its own as the best biography so far of ERB. Anyone who remembers ERB as only the creator of Tarzan may want to look at his first story, Princess rif Mars (1912), which brought SF ideas to the American mass audience. Today The Land that Time Forgot still appears on TV screens, and other ERB adventures, such as Slvords rif Mars (1933), depend even more on SF ideas, which spaceships, computers, and biological engineering. Stories like these establish ERB's pioneer role in "scientification" in the early twentieth century. Taliaferro begins his story by introducing the traditional ERB, modest and sensible. "If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor," he wrote, and at least partly believed. After that, Taliaferro leads us sensibly along a chronological track, venturing few opinions and falling into few absurdities. ERB would havc understood thoroughly and approved of his biographer's straightforward approach. He once complained about rcvicwers of his own books who looked for literary qualities they did not find: "the purpose of the work being reviewed should be thoroughly understood by the reviewer," and in Tarzan Forever, Taliaferro offers the facts and mostly leaves the analysis for someone else. ERB's muddled ideas about evolution and eugenics and a few other obvious topics get appropriate attention, but Taliaferro carefully avoids deep waters. And what of the (small) dark side of ERB? Not much. Taliaferro adds little. to previous explorations of ERB's simple racism, though he makes it clear that ERB's prejudices were conventional and halfhearted. We learn about no new scandals or revelations, unless ERB's anti-Semitism and wartime Jap bashing surprise you. Taliaferro's Burroughs is just Normal Bean Burroughs, man of his times. The theme of Tarzan FOre1Jeris familiar and sad. ERB liked being a writer but hated the sort of writer he had to
be. "I could write faster ifI enjoyed it more," he wrote one impatient editor. He spent most of his life trying to escape Tarzan, and yet Tarzan was the only character most readers cared to read about. He could never learn how to write a different kind of story, and his failure rankled. Like a good journalist (former Los Angeles bureau editor for Newsweek), Taliaferro always identifies the who, what, when, and where in detail, though he seldom worries about the why. So if you want to know who cooked ERB's dinner on any date (and ERB seldom cooked his own), this is the place to look. If you want a brief and pithy plot summary of IJana of Gatholor any other ERB story, this is the book. But if you want ideas about Tarzan as an expression and contributing cause of America's love affair with Nature (called "environment" in the language of the lesser apes), try another book. We already have several biographies of ERB. Taliaferro covers the same ground as his predecessors and does not quarrel with them, so what does he add? Clear and accurate detail. For readers who want to know everything about ERB's business deals or all about every family vacation he took, here's your book. However, the price of free use of the fIle cabinets at ERB Inc. may have been a caution about writing anything very critical--or even anything speculativeabout dear old Granddad. ERB Inc. fiercely protects its public image, and now Disney has its interest in keeping the creator of Tarzan uncontroversial too. There is another biography possible, a biography of ERB's imagination, but this Taliaferro chooses not to offer. This is not a scholarly book. It has a decent index and ends with 15 pages of bibliography, but most of the sources offer general background rather than specific annotations. ERB might like that. Despite Tarzan's fame, ERB resisted becoming a public personality and he guarded his privacy behind a screen of modesty. Tarzan Forever is a solid biography, and though Taliaferro is suspicious of dreams, its limitations of vision are ERB's own and thus appropriate in a sympathetic biographer. FICTION REVIEW rHE #/;",DE Michael Levy VanderMeer, Jeff. The Hoegbotton Guide to "The Early History of Ambergris" by Duncan Shriek. Westborough, Mass.: Necropolitan Press, 1999. 84 p. $7.99, chapbook. Orders to Jeffrey Thomas, Pub lisher, Necropolitan Press, 65 South Street, Westborough, MA 01581-1628; (508) 898-2448;
Science Fiction Research Association The SFRA is the oldest professional or ganization for the study of science fiction and fantasy literature and film. Founded in 1970, the SFRA was organized to im prove classroom teaching; to encourage and assist scholarship; and to evaluate and publicize new books and magazines deal ing with fantastic literature and film, teaching methods and materials, and allied media performances. Among the mem bership are people from many countriesstudents, teachers, professors, librarians, futurologists, readers, authors, booksell ers, editors, publishers, archivists, and scholars in many disciplines. Academic affiliation is not a requirement for member ship. Visit the SFRA Website at