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- Subjects / Keywords:
- Science fiction -- History and criticism -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- History and criticism -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Science fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
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#262 Jan,-Feb, 200J Editor: Christine Mains Manacing Editor: Janice M. Bogstad Nonfiction Reviews: Ed McKnight Fiction Reviews: Philip Snyder The SFRAReview (ISSN 1068-395X) is published six times a year by the Science Fiction Research As sociation (SFRA) and distributed to SFRA members. Indi ... idu3.1 iswes are not for sale; however, starting with issue #256, all issues will be published to SFRA's website no less than two months after paper publication. For information about the SFRA and its benefits, see the de scription at the back of this issue. For a membership application, contact SFRA Treasurer Dave Mead or get one from the SFRA website: . SFRA would like to thank the University ofWisconsin-Eau Claire for its assistance in producing the Review. SUBMISSIONS The SFRAReview encourages all submis sions, including essays, review essays that cover several related texts, and inter views. If you would like to review non fiction or fiction, please contact the respective editor and/or email sfraJeview@yahoo.com. Christine Mains, Editor Box 66024 Caigary,AB T2N I N4 Janice M. Bogstad, Managing Editor 239 Broadway St. Eau Claire, WI 54703-5553 Ed McKnight, Nonfiction Editor I 13 Cannon Lane Taylors SC 29687 Philip Snyder, Fiction Editor 109 Northumberland Road Rochester NY 14618 1M ... HIS ISSUE: SFRA Business President's Message .2 Minutes of the Executive Meeting Features Interview with Greg Bear 6 Approaches to PerdIdo Street StatIon: I Just Like Monsters 7 PSS and the Edge of the Fantastic PSS: Interpretive Strategies Needed Non Fiction Reviews Gothic Writers 14 IJ Man Who Could Work Miracles I 5 H.G. Wells on Film 16 Tomorrow Now I 7 At Millennium's End 18 Fiction Reviews American Fantasy Tradition I Shortcut In Time .21 Explorer .2.2 Futures: Four Novellas .2J Guardian .25 Humans .26 Conquistador .26 Sword of the Rightful King 27
( ) Pioneer 10 The Pioneer 10 spacecraft, initially launched on May 2, 1972 and slated to operate for 21 months, is believed to have finally ceased operations. Pioneer 10 was the first man-made object to pass through the asteroid belt and obtain close up photographs of Jupi ter. In 1983, it became the first man-made object to pass beyond the orbit of Pluto. Officially retired in 1997, the probe continued to transmit telemetry until April 27, 2002. Its most recent signal was picked up on January 22 by JPL's Deep Space Networks. Subse quent attempts to retrieve a signal have failed. Skylark Award Winners The Skylark Award, presented an nually at Boskone to recognize sig nificant contributions to science fiction, was given to Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden. Officially known as the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, the Skylark has been presented since 1966 when it was presented to Frederik Pohl. Other winners have included Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson, and Tom Doherty. Nebula Ballot Released The SFWA has announced the final Nebula Award ballot. The Nebula Award is decided by the active membership of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. This year's award will be presented during the Nebula Weekend, April 18-20, in Philadel phia. The major nominees are: NOVEL: Eskridge, Solitaire; Gaiman, American Gods; Le Guin, The Other SFRA President's Ifessalle Peter Brigg It will be my honour to serve as your president for the next two years and a pleasure to speak to you through this Review column. I hope you will speak back, telling what the Association ought to be doing, fixing, and planning. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org but it would be even better to develop a Letters to the Editor page in the Review so that thoughts can be widely shared and debated. Our new Editor is Christine Mains (email@example.com), replacing the long-serving Shelley Rodrigo Blanchard (to whom we all extend immense grati tude) who needs her time for her Ph.D. thesis. Janice Bogstad is in the final stages of clearing with her institution their cooperation in printing and posting the Review, which means she will become Managing Editor. Like every SFRA President for the last little while I am determined to get the Review back on schedule. The Executive has decided to come to the membership at the June conference with a proposal that the Revielv become quarterly instead of six times yearly. There is plenty of time to debate this in these pages and on the listserv. Unlike public politicians, who either quit or run wild once elected, I intend to keep to what I proposed in my Candidate's Statement. We need new blood, and my Conference Programme Committee, Christine Mains and Doug Barbour, already have eleven graduate student submissions for Guelph. We will have a special cut-rate registration for first conference attendees, and it is hoped that will become a standard procedure for our fuhlre conferences. I also urge everyone of you to send names to Janice Bogstad, our new Vice President, so she can personally canvass people to join SFRA. Our numbers rose by a packedphone-booth-fulllast year but Dave Mead, our treasure of a Treasurer, tells me that we are off to a very good start this year. Should you have forgotten to renew, please do it now. In my other hat, as Conference Chair for Guelph, I can tell you things are going well. We got our sizable Canadian government grant, so our guests can come from afar. Our slate of guests, led by Geoff Ryman, is in the Call for Papers at . We already have over 50 papers. Looking to the future, Beverly Friend and Betty .[\nn Hull plan to do Chicago in 2004 and your Executive has selected Dave Mead and Peter Lowentrout to do Las Vegas in 2005. I\1ike Levy pushed SFRA ahead on a munber of fronts and our Associa tion owes him an enormous vote of thanks. And I thank him just about every day because as Past President he is being consulted a great deal. I hope I can keep on pushing, and with your help we will get where we think we ought to be, which is probably different in the minds of each of us. The miracle is the Asso ciation itself. Ifinutes 01 Exec Board Conlerence Call Warren Rochelle Call to Order: The Business Meeting/Conference Call was called to order at 2 p.m. EST. 19/01/03 PRESIDENT'S ANNOUNCEMENTS 1) Peter announced that Gary \Y/estfahl has been awarded the Pilgrim Award. )
( 2) The Pioneer Award is under discussion (committee: Philip Snyder, Pavel Frelich, and Paul Kincade). 3) Carolyn Wendell will manage the Clareson Award this year. 4) Joan Gordon will manage the Graduate Paper Award Committee again this year. 5) Michael Levy will handle the Mary Kay Bray Award this year. OFFICERS' REPORTS WEB MASTER'S REPORT: PETER SANDS As Peter had to leave early, his report was given at tllls time. He noted the site has easy-to-update files and that he will be culling old fues. The 257-58 Review issues are now up on the site in PDF format (256 to follow shortly). There was discussion of the listserv and its value as a recruitment tool. Peter Brigg noted there were 230 of 278 members on email. Peter Sands was thanked for IllS work and effort on behalf of the SFRA. PAST PRESIDENT: MICHAEL LEVY Michael described his role as to provide Peter with wise counsel and to conduct the elections. At present, he is passing on facts and figures to Peter and infornling him of nliscellaneous duties. One item of unfinished business is the new SFRA logo. Michael contacted Michael Brown, an artist suggested by War ren, but there has been no follow-up by either Michael. l\1ichael offered to send Brown's phone number to Peter, but after some discussion, it was decided that Warren should contact him, as they are personal friends. There was discussion of to whether or not there should be a deadline given for the logo project, and the creation of new letterhead stationery. The latter cannot be done until tl1e editorship of tl1e Review is settled. DaviJ noteJ this could be done easily. There was also discussion of how much should be paid for tl1e logo, as Brown never gave a specific fee. Peter suggested $200. Two other items of unfitllshed busi ness are the upconllng conferences and the issues with the Review, botl1 of which are on the agenda for today. PRESIDENT: PETER BRIGG. Peter said at present he has no report, but he is actively conferring witl1 Michael about IllS duties. He made the arrangements for tllls phone call. VICE PRESIDENT'S REPORT: JANICE BOGSTAD. The Vice President's major concern is membership recruitment. Jatllce has established a fue of people to recruit and will begin tlus on January 26. There was discussion of the need to recruit younger members. Jatuce noted the number of writing-for-pay opportwllties that become available to association members would be a good recruiting tool. Peter noted the memberslup in creased from 273 to 278 after Ius catnpaign last year and tl1at we all should be on the lookout for new members. Michael Levy commented tl1at tl1e Graduate Paper Award has also helped in recruitment. David will send Jatuce a list of people who have not yet renewed tl1eir memberslllps. Peter Brigg also noted the Vice President is in charge of the website and that anyone who has an article in the journals needs to be checked to see if he or she is a member or not. SECRETARY'S REPORT: WAIUmN ROCHELLE. The job of the Secretary is to record the nunutes of the Executive Board at the conference call meeting and at tl1e conference and to record the nlinutes of the genera minute. The Secretary, in cooperation with the Treasurer, ( Wind; Metzger. Picoverse; Mieville. Perdido Street Station; Swanwick. Bones of the Earth. NOVELLA: Castro. "Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl's"; Chwedyk. "Bronte's Egg"; Duncan."The Chief Designer"; Finlay. "The Political Officer"; Sparhawk. "Magic's Price". NOVELETTE: Bell."The Pagodas of Ciboure"; Bowes. "The Ferryman's Wife"; Chiang. "Hell is the Absence of God"; Frost. "Madonna of the Maquiladora"; Steele. "The Days Between"; Stross. "Lobsters". SHORT STORY: Emshwiller. "Creature"; Ford. "Creation"; Lindholm, "Cut"; McDevitt. "Nothing Ever Happens in Rock City"; Pratt, "Little Gods"; Swanwick. "The Dog Said Bow-Wow". Pilgrim Award Gary Westfahl will receive this year's Pilgrim Award to honor a lifetime of contributions to science fiction and fantasy scholarship. The award will be presented at the annual SFRA Conference to be held this year at the University of Guelph June 26-29. BSFA Nominees The British Science Fiction Asso ciation has announced the nomi nees for this year's BSFA Awards, the winners to be announced at Seacon 03 in Hinckley, Leicestershire on April 18-21. 2003.: NOVEL: Castles Made of Sand, Jones; Effendi: The Second Arabesk, Grimwood; Ught, Harrison; The Scar, Mieville; The Separation, Priest; The Years of Rice and Salt, Robinson. SHORT FICTION: Coraline, Gaiman; Five British Dinosaurs, Swanwick; IfUons Could Speak, Park; Router, Stross; Singleton. Egan; Voice of Steel, McMullen. )
( ) Clarion South Staff Additions The Clarion South Writers Workshop. to be held in Brisbane. Austrlia in Jan/Feb 2004. has announced that Tor Books editor David Hartwell. Australian author Kim Wilkins. and Canadian author Nalo Hopkinson will join Terry Dowling. Lusy Sussex and Jack Dann on the Clarion South fac ulty. World Fantasy Judges The judges for the World Fantasy Award have been announced. This year's judges include Justin Ackroyd. Les Edwards. Laura Anne Gilman. Lawrence Evans. and Jane Yolen. Judges should receive cop ies of works for consideration before June I. The awards will be presented at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington. D.C. on November 2. Arthur C. Clarke Finalists The finalists for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. honoring books published in the UK. have been announced: KiI'n People. Brin; Light. Harrison; The Scar. Mieville; The Separation. Priest; Speed of Dark. Moon; The Years of Rice and Salt. Robinson. Ursula K. Le Guin Named SFWA Grand Master SFWA President Sharon Lee has announced that Ursula K. Le Guin will be named SFWA Grand Master during this year's Nebula Weekend (April 18-19) in Phila delphia. PA. Ms. Le Guin is the twentieth author to be honored as Grand Master. The selection was made by the SFWA sends out renewal letters to the membership, once in the fall, and again, as a follow-up, to those who did not respond in the fall, in the late spring. Second reminder letters need to go out in the late spring of 2003. Copies of the minutes go to the Board and a more polished version to the Review. Dave Mead noted there was a good response to the fall letters, with 12 new members and a total of 205 members at present. The listserv and the letter both helped. TREASURER'S REPORT: DAVID MEAD. SFRA is in good financial shape at present, with $25, 787.74 in savings, which earned $387 in interest, and approximately $22,000 in checking. He will send out a projected 2003 budget soon and has almost finished with the 2002 accounting. The income for 2002 was $27, 842, including interest, plus $1600 from the Atlanta world SF meeting. $1000 was spent as seed money for New Lanark; the same amount has gone to Guelph. It is generally expected that seed money will be returned. P. Brigg to request an accounting from New Lanark. Present projected 2003 expenses are $26,867.50, but this will change due to Review and Directory costs. At present 2003 is $500 budgeted in the red, but things are expected to balance out. Peter noted the constitution permits 60 days to fl11alize last year's accounting. $1000 in royalties is expected from the SFRA anthologies. Dave also noted that last year SFRA spent $2157 to subsidize travel to New Lanark for students, foreign members, and junior faculty. Most grants were $200-400. $3000 was allocated to pay airfare for Joan Slonczewski for New Lanark; she was, however, not able to attend. Dave paid a late filing penalty with the IRS. Tlus will not happen again. SFRA REVIEW EDITORS' REPORT: CHRISTINE MAINS AND SHELLEY RODRIGO BLANCHARD. Due to confusion with the time of the meeting Shelley did not partici pate. Christine Mains has taken over as Co-Editor from Barbara Lucas, Witll responsibility for content, including CFP's, news information, and layout. She is not responsible for printing and distribution. A double issue, #259-260 Ouly, L\Ugust, September, October 2002) is currently at the printers under Shelley's care .. The nonfiction reviews had to be recollected, causing some delay. Shelley will see to the printing of #261 (November/December 2002). Nonfiction re views are still needed from Ed McKnight and will be sent to Christine ASAP. Peter called attention to the need to find a replacement for Shelley. Mike has been in touch with Helen Thompson, who is not a member but is on the listserv; but is still uncertain as to whether or not Thompson will be able to take over. Peter will follow up with Thompson. There was a discussion of the Review's expenses and other issues, such as the difficulty in getting material otller tlIan book reviews. The need for stability in the production/mailing position was stressed, as well as the need to find someone soon to take over from Shelley for #262 and thereafter. Janice volunteered to investigate the possibility of handling the printing and mailing through her school, Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The Directory is also to be produced by Christine. lYfike raised tl1e question of cutting back the Review to a quarterly. Christine said the editors would appreciate quarterly status. L\fter discussion of the pros and cons of turning the Review into a quarterly, Mike Levy made a motion to revise the by-laws to make the Review quarterly, date to be annolU1ced by the editors. Dave seconded tl1e motion and it \vill be presented to the general memberslup at the annual conference. The Board felt that tlus action would make tl1e Review more timely, alleviate some of the burden on the editors, alleviate continuity problems, and )
( reduce mailing costs. OLD BUSINESS There was a reconsideration of the development of online journals in the field. The SFRA Review is now online on the website, with the entire issue online 2 months after publication. SFRA has no control over Extrapolation, SF Studies, and Fowldation, other than the pressure that its captive subscriptions might be able to exert. It was felt that online journals would only access parts of the membership of SFRA at this time. NEW BUSINESS: CONFERENCES SFRA 2003: Guelph: Peter reported the conference planning is well advanced and that he is waiting for a government grant before information packets on lodging, etc. go out. He is planning on a prelinllnary program to go out in late February or March. Christine reported that she has sent out a new CFP and that there are already 50 papers, including 16 graduate students. This nwnber is higher than usual. It is planned for the conference to begin on a Thursday, with Friday afternoon set for a trip into Toronto, and the regular schedule to be reswned on Saturday and Sunday. The general meeting will be on Sunday. Peter said the list of writers remains the same and noted there will be a virtual reality interactive 3-D program available. Mike noted that the writers are not doing enough and feel left alone too much. They should be put on panels and sessions. Dave suggested they be included in the CFP; which they were. Peter is aware of the problem. Mike asked about the official date of the conference, so members could begin pricing airline tickets. Peter replied that it is JWle 26-29, with the possibility of lodging on the night of the 25th for early arrivals. SFRA 2004: Chicago Chicago with Beverly Friend and Betty AIUl HuII is definite and dates will be ftnalized in February. Connie Willis is to be the Guest of Honor. 2005 Conference contenders: Las Vegas, Lublin, Poland, College Station, Texas, & Brisbane, Australia. After a discussion which focussed on the ratio of meetings in North America to those held elsewhere given that over 80% of tile membership is North American, Las Vegas was chosen (l\fead and Lowentrout), with a recommendation that the 2005-2006 executive seriously consider another conference outside of North America in 2006. The contenders for an offshore 2006 conference are Lublin, Poland (pavel Frelich) and possibly Brisbane, Australia .. ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned at approximately 4:20 p.m. ACTIONS ARISING: 1) Peter will send Carolyn Wendell a letter regarding the Clareson Award. 2) Warren wiII contact ivIichael Brown regarding a new logo for SFRA. 3) Dave will send Jan a list of members who have not renewed. 4) Dave will Peter needs a signature card for the SFRA account. 5) Dave will send Jan letterhead stationery. 6) Peter will confirm Shelley will be responsible for SFRA Review #261. 7) Peter will establish who will fill ShelIey's position as Co-editor of the Review. 8) Jan wiII investigate the possibilities of getting printing and mailing done at her school, \V'isconsin-Eau Claire. 9) Pavel Frelich wiII be notified of the Board's consideration of the sites of upcoming conferences. ( 5) Board of Directors, in conjunction with the living past presidents of SFWA. Philip K. Dick Nominations The judges for the Philip K. Dick Award have announced this year's nominations.The award, which rec ognizes excellence in paperback original publishing, will be presented on April 18 at Norwescon 26 in Seattle/Tacoma. This year's judges include Nalo Hopkinson, Michael Blumlein, Shelley Rodrigo Blanchard, Donna McMahon, and Lois Tilton. Nominees are: Empire of Bones, Williams; Leviathan Three, ed by VanderMeer and Aguirre; Maximum Ice, Kenyon; The Mount, Emshwiller; Report to the Men's Club, Emshwiller; The Scar, Mieville; Warchild, Lowachee. Recent & Forthcoming Books: Banker,Ashok. Stephen King. Simon & Schuster Pocket Essentials, May 03. Barr, Marleen. Envisioning the Future: Science Fiction and the Next Millennium. University Press of New England/Wesleyan, Oct 03. Benford, Gregory. Beyond Human: The New World of Cyborgs and Androids. TV Books, Mar 03. Bowker, Gordon. George Orwell: A RefIective Biography. Time Warner/Little Brown UK, Jun 03. Bukatman, Scott. Matters of Gravity: Special Effects and Supermen in the Twentieth Century. Duke, Jul 03. Carrere, Emmanuel. I Am Alive and You Are Dead: The Strange Ufe and Times of Philip K Dick. Holt! Metropolitan, Jul 03. Carroll, Lewis. Lewis Carroll's /1-)
( ) lustrated Letters. MacMillan/Pan. Nov 03. Carter. Lin. A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings. Orion/Gollancz. Oct 03. Collings. Michael R. Horror Plum'd: An International Stephen King Bibliography and Guide. 1960-2000. Overlook Connection Press. Jan 03. Edwards. Justin D. Gothic Passages: Racial Ambiguity and the American Gothic. University of Iowa Press. Jan 03. Foster. Robert. The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth. Ballantine Del Rey. Oct 03. Gilmour. David. The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling. Farrar Straus Giroux. Jun 03. Haber. Karen. Exploring the Matrix: Visions of the Cyber Future. St. Martins. May 03. Hitchens. Christopher. Why Orwell Matters. Penguin UK. Jun 03. Kilgore. De Witt Douglas. Astrofuturism: Science. Race. and Visions of Utopia in Space. Uni versity of Pennsylvania Press. Jun 03. Lee. Gwen. and Doris Elain Sauter. What If Our World is Their Heaven? The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick. Overlook Press. Jan 03. Little. Denise and Laura Hayden. The Official Nora Roberts Com panion. Berkley. Oct 03. Lucas. Scott. George Orwell and the Betrayal ofDissent.Verso.Jun 03. Mann. George. The Gollancz Encyclopedia of SF Technology. Orion/ Gollancz. Oct 03. Murray. Nicholas. Aldous Huxley: A Biography. St. Martin's. Mar 03. Olson. Paul A. The Kingdom of Science: Literary Utopianism and British Eduction, 1612-1870. UniverSity of Nebraska An Inter"iew With Crell Bear by Michael levy ML: Your Nebula Award-winning DARWIN'S RADIO (1999) and its current sequel, DARWIN'S CHILDREN, postulate the sudden evolution of a new form of hwnanity. Can you explain how this occurs? GB: In DARWIN'S RADIO, an ancient retrovirus becomes infectious and transfers genes which trigger a new kind of birth-a speciation event. For centuries and possibly thousands of years, the hwnan gene pool has been accu mulating subtle changes and trying them out piecemeal on the hwnan population. But after this "proof of concept" phase, the modifications are expressed all at once, and the result is hundreds of thousands of New Children. Some call tllem Virus children, a pejorative. ML: To what extent has the work of Stephen Jay Gould (and his theory that evolutionary changes can occur with great suddenness, ie, punctuated equi libriwn) influence these novels? GB: The work of Gould and Niles Eldredge helped kick my thinking into high gear. PWlCtuated equilibriwn implies a kind of long-term storage of mutations, genetic changes; either that, or rapid expression of newly created genetic combinations. What mechanisms could allow these libraries of genes to accwnulate, and what could trigger their expression? In fact, bacteria use a system of viral transfer of genes to mutate their populations on a large scale. What if hwnans were capable of doing the same tlling? Such an event has not happened in hwnan history. We would not understand what was occurring; it could scare the hell out of us. l\1L: The New Children in your novel not only speak as we do, but usc at least three other forms of communication that hwnans either don't have or have on only the crudest level. Could you describe them? GB: In addition to early speech, the new Children have a specialized tongue modification that allows them to voice two streams oflanguage at once. They have glands behind their cars that can produce scents both commwlica tive of mood and capable of subtle and not-so-subtle persuasion. (fo hwnans, tlus sometimes smells like chocolate.) Also, they have more control of iris and pupil expression, and their checks and in some cases clun and brows are equipped with melanophores-freckles that they can control. Their facial muscles are more highly developed. In short, they are lugh-bandwidth communications wizards. Their brains arc not necessarily larger or more complicated tllan ours, however. I'vIL: Many SF novels (from van Vogt's SLAN to Kuttner's MUTANT to Kress's BEGGARS IN SPAIN) that have described the evolution or genetic engineering of new forms of htunanity, have asswned that the old and the new will inevitably come into conflict. Am I right that you share this asswnption? \X'hy? GB: I-Itunan conflict is prevalent even when we all share a remarkably uniform genotype. \X'e fight over skin color, so it seems natural that more defi nite differences would generate conflict. Still, these New Cluldren remain our offspring-the operant word is children. The conflict becomes not just potentially genocidal, but Biblical-do we sacrifice our own children just because we fear they will replace us? l\IL: From BLOOD MUSIC (1985) to TI-IE FORGE OF GOD (1987) to ETERNITY (1988) to your most recent novels, you've shown an ongoing interest in what might be called the apocalyptic future (ie., futures in which humatuty is eitller destroyed or in danger of being transformed beyond )
( all recogrution). Why do such things interest you? GB: Big changes generate big emotions, and big emotions make for exciting and compelling stories. When everything is on the line, we strip ourselves to our bare essentials and examine our lives-and possibly our deaths-with an incredible clarity we never get when we lock ourselves into drawing rooms and garden parties. ML: Much of your recent work, including VITALS (2002) and the two DARWIN books, has been positioned somewhere between traditional SF and the medical thriller a la Michael Crichton or Robin Cook. How would you compare your books to theirs? How do your books differ from theirs? GB: I've long been a fan of Crichton's better novels and movies (he's one of my son's favorite authors), and would certainly love to have his audi ence. The major difference between us is in complexity of concept and execu tion. Crichton has a marvelous simplicity of story and expression that often translates almost directly into tlle screenplay. For me, believability of both char acters and ideas is paramount. My ideas must be worked out with complete conviction on tlle world stage. My self-described "crackpot" tlleory of evolu tion, for example, is turning out to be prescient. It may be close to tlle truth. And in the end, my books are about change-real change, not tllrill-rides you can later walk away from. As well, my view of the future is a little more hopeful-I know that technology brings both changes and problems, but I do not condemn technology for that. Change is inevitable. It's our nature to grow and change. As individuals, we either adapt or we die. The species goes on with or without us, and somehow muddles through. ML: Will there be a third book in the DARWIN series, one in which Stella and her baby take stage center? (Alternately, what can you tell us about your next novel?) GB: The next novel is a bit of a breather from biology and genetics-it's a high-tech ghost story involving the telecom industry. I'm having a ball writing it-changes of pace are good for me. lllat said, Stella Nova is coming back to continue her story-and she's bringing along her son, a second generation Shevite. I'll need a couple of years to do the research and find out what sort of biologi cal and political developments will benefit from my gadfly point of view. APPROACHING PERDIDO STREET STATION .Just Like Monsters China Mieville I've never believed there's a firewall between fantasy, science fiction and supernatural horror. That's one of the reasons I'm very interested in the IFeird Tales writers like Lovecraft, who are difficult to pigeonhole in those terms. His work, like that of William Hope Hodgson, David Lindsay, Visiak, and others, exists at the intersection of those tluee genres. I find that genre-bending very inspiring: it's one reason I prefer the term 'Weird Fiction' to either 'SF' or 'fan tasy'. That's the tradition I consider myself writing in. What interests me about the fantastic aesthetic at its best, as with Surre alism, is its radicalism it has a combative and subversive relationship with reality. It creatively alienates the reader, which throws the everyday into ques tion. I've always been unsatisfied witll post-Tolkien genre fantasy because it de ploys that aesthetic for completely the opposite reason: it takes Tolkien at his word when he says the ftll1ction of fantasy is 'consolation' -so mollycoddling the reader becomes a point of principle. That's why so much 'fantasy' is not fantastic at all-instead, it's about the repetition of a set of cliches. This ( Press. Jan 03. Palmer. Christopher. Philip K. Dick and the Postmodern. Liverpool University Press. Jun 03. Phillips-Summers. Diana. Vampires: A Bloodthirsty History in Art and Uterature. Astrolog, Aug 03. Pipes, Daniel. The RushdieAffair:The Novel, theAyatollah, and the West. Transaction. Apr 03. Pratchett. Terry and Stephen Briggs. The New Discworld Com panion. Orion/Gollancz. Oct 03. Pringle, David. Fantasy: The Defini tive Illustrated Guide. Carlton, Feb 03. Schacker, Jennifer. National Dreams: The Remaking of Fairy Tales in Nineteenth-Century England. Uni versity of Pennsylvania Press, Mar 03. Shippey, Tom. The Road to Middleearth, Revised and Expanded Edition. Houghton Mifflin/Mariner, May 03. Simpson. M.J. Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams. Hodder & Stoughton. Mar 03. Spurling, Hilary. The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonja Orwell. Counterpoint, Jan 03. Tofts, Darren, Annemarie Jonson & Alessio Cavallaro. Prefiguring Cyberculture: An Intellectual History. MIT Press, May 03. Wisker. Gina. Angela Carter: A Beginner's Guide. Hodder & Stoughton Educational, Feb 03. Yeffeth, Glenn. Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Discuss Their Favorite Television Show. Benbella Books, Sep 03. Yeffeth, Glenn. Taking the Red Pill: Science. Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix. Benbella Books, Apr 03. )
(8 ) ( CfP: WHAT: Cities of the Mind WHERE: U of Toronto, Canada WHEN: 23-24 Jan 2004 TOPICS: The discursive construction of cities, communities, and individuals in cultural texts and critical theory. Papers that oppose the privileging of the urban are also invited. We welcome papers from all disciplinary approaches and addressing all historical periods, with a focus on new researchers and innovative research. Suggested topics, which by no means cover all areas of interest to the conference, might include: utopian/science fictional/speculative citiesfthe post-city; alienation and displace ment; sacred/lost/mythic cities. SUBMISSIONS: 500 word abstract for a 20 minute paper, no email attachments please. DEADLINE: May I, 2003 cr::NllC[<:ctl-e_rril:>. For updates please see: WHAT: Victorian "Freaks":A Col lection of Essays TOPICS: The Nineteenth-Century is noted for its strict notions of the normative and its anxieties about difference."Freaks" and various kinds of freak shows proliferated in this climate. Not only is freakishness associated with what seems odd or fanciful, but also with a "turn of the mind," rebel lion, or critique. This collection aims to explore various disruptions caused by or creating "freak ishness" as it relates to social is sues and social change. We invite paper proposals that explore escapism is the opposite of real escape its 'consolatory' impulse is highly ideological, making the fantastic unable to engage with reality on any cri tical level. When I was writing Perdido Street Statiol/, I wanted to create a secondary world that deliberately inverted as many of those tropes as possible. So for example, Tolkien and his heirs write fantasy set in Feudalism Lite, so the politi cal economy of New Crobuzon is brutal and capitalist. Tolkien uses race in essentialist fashion elves and dwarfs and orcs are defined by their race. In my world, though people are perceived in certain ways because of their race there are racist stereotypes, in other words those stereotypes are no more true than in real life. I come out of a pulp tradition, and I know my job is to tell a story that keeps readers turning pages. But obviously it makes the book more interesting (for me and hopefully the reader), it gives the book texture if I examine certain themes as part of that. I've been a socialist activist for some years, and the concerns which inform that political and theoretical position are very visible in the book. Traditional fantasy is often conservative by default, in that it eulogises hierarchical pre-modern social forms, basing itself not on real feudalism, but on feudalism's highly spurious image of itself, in which social conflict is completely pathologised. That's why the fantasy trope of 'dark invaders' is so strong because social problems are seen as stemming from olltside. If you refuse to base your fantasy on those generic cliches, then you can immediately posit social conflict as il/tegral to a political economic system. Questions of political and economic exploitation and oppression are central to the social landscape of New Crobuzon. Although the novel is struc tured around a pretty traditional monster-hunt, it's crucial to PSS that it takes place against a backdrop of political repression and economic exploitation. That raises questions like racism, sexism, homophobia and, most centrally, class politics, predicated on class exploitation. There are a few specific political references: for example, the fact that there is a dock strike in the city is a riff on the long-lasting strike at the Liverpool Docks. In more general terms, I made the political and economic powers-that be as much the villains of the piece as the criminals they're in league with. That's fun and polemical (and heartfelt), but not particularly radical in itself: it's a pretty standard cultural riff even of Hollywood films that the government is in league with big business. But in other ways a more systematic politics informs things. So for example, there's a section where I describe the social base of the fascist Three Quills Party in terms of an embattled-feeling petty bourgeoisie. That derives from my (socialist) analysis of the social base of fascism as par ticularly concentrated around small shopkeepers, managers, small business people, etc, during economic difficulties. Now, obviously the reader doesn't have to agree with that, or even notice it, but i) it allows me to examine certain political ideas, and ii) it gives tl1e city a complexity and social conflict which is more 'realistic'. There are loads of references to books in PSS (sometl1ing which is taken even further in the next book, The Scar). In particular, M. John Harrison's T 'irico/ll;IIl, books provide a framing reference, and several names for areas. I also drew a lot from bestiaries, both folkloric and fantasy gaming (there are plenty of other RPG references, particularly the mercenaries Isaac hires). I love creating monsters, which is why most of those in PSS are either riffs on slightly more arcane mytllOlogies than those usually plundered or are entirely cre-)
( ated. While writing, I did quite a lot of little bits of research on vari-ous aspects of the world -on steam engines, early railways, urban geography, that sort of thing. I didn't do any real scientific research it's not that kind of SE In the very loosest terms, though, crisis theory draws on unified field theory, and marries it with ideas of dialectical logic taken from classical Marxism. Like Derkhan, I'm involved with a radical newspaper, and the quotes from RJII/agate RalJlpallt were an affectionate pastiche of that polemical style. Apart from the politics, though, I'm not conscious of my own biography intruding thematically into the book. However, I'm also conscious of how dumb I can be about things like that. I grew up in a single parent family with my mother and sister, and after my first book Killg Rat came out, many people pointed out to me how much of it was obsessed with notions of missing fatherhood. And I swear I hadn't noticed at all. Perdido Street Station and the Edge 01 the Fantastic Farah Mendlesohn [This article is part of a larger work, the outline of which can be found in the forthcoming article, "Towards a Taxonomy of Fantasy", JFA 13.2 ] China Mieville's grolU1d-breaking text Perdido Street Statioll (PSS) walks a tightrope between sf and fantasy. I don't intend to argue here into which cat egory the book falls, but rather to explore the strategies by which l\1ieville main tains this tension. Superficially PSS is a clearcut fantasy novel: its most obvious referent is to Gormenghast which is itself significant to my argument, but it is also positioned in part as a homage to M. John Harrison's Vincol/im!l. In that simple statement I have encapsulated the major dichotomy of the label "fantasy" because neither of the texts to which I have just referred contain magic. But, like PSS, both could, and have been, considered to be science fiction. PSS is considered a fantasy because it contains magic (and because Mieville has said it is); Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is a scientist working within a fantastical world. However it is precisely his status, his choice of label, the means by which he proceeds and the way in which tills is described wlllch has led some (the Arthur C. Clarke judges in 2001 for example) to claim PSS for science fiction. Isaac calls himself a scientist (or thaumaturge), is regarded by most as such, works with machinery which he wlderstands to be mechalllcal, regards tile world as essentially mechanical and proceeds by the scientific method to the point of abandoning his "wllversal theory" when it becomes clear tllat such a tIling is unscientific. In his portrayal of a scientist at work, Mieville matches the facility displayed in McAuley'S hard sf novel, Secret oj Life. Perdido Street Statioll "is all about wlderstanding the world as a set of instructions the world must adhere to". (Clute, Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, 2003) It adheres rigorously to its internal pseudoscience. Yet tllere is acknowledged magic in the way the slake-moths feed off individual intelligence, magic in the creation of the Remade, and magic that enables the Garuda to take flight. There is a point at which sf relics so much on wave and point that it might as well be fantasy. John Meaney's Paradox fits tills category. Ostensibly a hard sf novel, the changes in the world are wrought by writing mathematical logic in the air with a sort of laser pointer. There may be space ships and an artificial world in this novel, but in my mind it's still fantasy because the drive of the novel is towards a magical solution. In contrast Perdido Street Statiol/, written and published as an wlabashed fantasy novel, posits a world with inherently ( 9) the intersections between freakishness and the discourses of gender. race. class. sexu ality. empire. to name a few. Pos sible paper topics might include. but are not limited to: poverty and freakishness; imperialism and freakishness; race and freakishness; gender and/or sexual anomolies; drug freaks; vampirism and other horrors; monstrosity; psychoanalysis and mental freakishness; transgendering; medicalization; criminalization SUBMISSION: 200-400 word abstracts DEADLINE: May 15. 2003 CONTACT: Dr. Marlene Tromp, Women's Studies and English, Dension University, Granville, OH 43023 WHAT: New Myths? Science Fic tion, Fantasy and Horror WHO: The Fifth Annual Conference of the Department of Arts and Media WHERE: Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College. High Wycombe, UK WHEN: 3 May 2003 TOPICS: Science Fiction is not about the future but reflects, via analogies, metaphors and allego ries, our fears and dreams about the present. Fantasy is not escap ism, but a rewriting of our past and of our present. Horror shows us what we have (barely) survived, and our current nightmares. These genres rewrite and interrogate old myths. and offer us up new myths to guide us. to warn us. to amuse us, to scare us. Some of these myths merely confirm what we al ready know, some of them expose the ideology we weren't previously aware of, some of them offer us future possibilities and some of them ... well, you tell us. )
elO ) ( SUBMISSIONS: ab-stracts of 200 words for 20 minute papers to Dr Andrew M Butler. 028. Department of Arts and Media. Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College. High Wycombe. HP II 2JZ. UK or to DEADLINE: March 30th 2003. WHAT: Author Study: The Cherryh Odyssey WHO: Editor: Edward Carmien. Wilds ide Press WHEN: Publication Date: Summer 2004 TOPICS: In 1971. DAW books hit the publishing scene. Five years later. they published Gate of Ivrel. c.J. Cherryh?s first published novel. Five years after that. I 3 Cherryh novels had seen print. firmly establishing her as a writer of substance and imagination. To day she has published more than 70 books. and her works are rou tinely translated into several lan guages for international publica tion. Editor Edward Carmien in conjunction with publisher John Betancourt of Wilds ide Press seeks submissions for an anthol ogy of non-fiction articles and es says about c.J. Cherryh. her work. her career. and her place in the pantheon of fantasy and science fiction publishing and fandom. SUBMISSIONS: 2.000-8.000 words. written and formatted in MLA format (double-spaced. typed. citation format). and sent to the address below. PreViously published material is acceptable .. Manuscripts will not be returned. Wilds ide Press acqUires non-exclusive anthology rights to include the works in all editions of this book. Individual copyrights are re tained by the author. CONTACT: Edward logical physical rules, and in which investigation and testing are the primary drive. As well as being in some sense a definition of sf itself, this helps to avoid some of the embarrassing stereotypes of character to which fantasy falls prey. For example, China has written that he had to rethink the cactus people when he realised that there was no earthly reason why they had to be good with plants--humans aren't all good with animals after all. But more to the point, the result is tllat magic is subsumed into a context in which we have a scientist who explores his world wiiliin a scientific paradigm which can be tested through experimentation. His "universal ilieory", essentially an element of fantasy, comes under pressure from tlle "real" world. And while ilie slake moili thread wiiliin Perdido Street Station is clearly fantastical in its intrusion of wrongness and ilie sense of a world under pressure from ilie fantastic, botll Isaac and Lin (the Khepri) are engaged in a classic science fiction plot in which it is their experi mentation which brings catastrophe and which must be resolved (however partially) by essentially material means, leading not to tlle return of normality, but to an expansion of knowledge bought at a price too bitter to bear. Aliliough tllis is only one element of the book, the paradigm it estab lishes permeates tlle consideration of human/garuda flight, which is explored first through anatomy and only later via manipulation of ilie physical universe; where ilie devil might actually "be", anotller dimension apparently; and our understanding of ilie Remade, who are physically ratller tllaIl magically dam aged even though tllat physics is not ours. It is quite possible, therefore, to argue tllat PSS is not a faIItasy, but all alternative world sf novel. The same might also be true of Titlls Croall aIld Cormel/ghast, all interpretation validated when Titus leaves Gormenghast for our world. ViriCOlli"," wiili its clear establishing shots of a far flung future built on tlle ruins of a high tech empire (a trope Mieville introduces into Tbe Scar), also bids fair for tlle category of science fiction. However, the debate about content is essentially a quest for plot tokens. The key to understaIlding what tllese texts achieve in holding tlle precarious tension between sf and fantasy is in tlleir narrative rhetoric and structure. Struc turally, eacll one of tllese texts is essentially estranging. Estrallgillg fantasy, a sub genre of faIltasy whicll I have described elsewhere ("Towards a Ta.xonomy of Pantasy",]FA 2.003) misdirects our gaze from what is fantastic to the reader, to that whicll is fantastic to the illbabitallfs of the lIarrative is vital to the genre border land. Mieville, Peake and Harrison all employ tlle baroque style to acllieve this. Estrangement shapes tlle mode of description aIld seems to be essential to the "tone" or what Mieville memorably described as the "thing-iliing" of faIltasy (COlljllllCtiollS panel, ICFA 2.3, 2.002.). Mieville's tap root texts, Titlls Croall, and T '-incolli"," both share with Perdido Street Statioll ilie ability to employ the baroque to infuse the everyday Witll tlle sense of the faIltastic, to enhaIlCe the ordinary, filtering the blur of the every day through ilie sharp purple distortion of a mi lorraine, so tllat we are alerted to tlle fantastic not through tlle awe and amaze ment characteristic of demanded reader response in either illtmsioll fantasy (such as horror) or portd! fantasy (any portal, utopia or quest fantasy), but because that which is taken for granted by the protagonists is frequently marked by all ordi nariness of description \vhich contrasts with the absurdity (to our eyes) of what is being described. ("Towards a Ta.xonomy of Fantasy", ]FA, 2.003) A very simple ex;mlple is tlle following description of a cab raIlk, ordinary in tlle eyes of the protagonist: Cabs waited all along the iron fence. A massive variety. Two-wheelers, four \\heclers. pulled by horses, by sneering pterabirds, by steam-wheezing constructs on caterpillar treads ... here and there by Remade, miserable men )
( and women both cabdriver and cab. (Ch2) This is the first time we meet the Remade. Aware of rickshaw pullers in other countries it is easy to be diverted by the pterabirds away from what is being described because there is no amazement at the sight, no indulgent de scription of men and women whose bodies have been forced into the shape of cabs, with metal or flesh extensions. That comes later, here Lin expresses only familiar pity. In contrast, the ordinary, the outlines of the city or of a building, are expressed with baroque wonder: New Crobuzon was a city unconvinced by gravity. Aerostats oozed from cloud to cloud above it like slugs on cabbages. Militia pods streaked through the heart of the city to its oudands, dle held them twanging and vibrating like guitar strings hundreds of feet 111 the alr. (Ch.6) Similarly, in Titlls Groall the presentation of dle absurd as commonplace, the intense descriptions of dle makers of painted statues, dle inceSSallt and ob sessive mapping of dle cas de leaves us continually off balance as for the referent, only to find it absurd yet taken for granted by dle texts mhabltants. Viricolli",,, proceeds differently: an anti-quest, its baroque language poises both reader alld plot forever on dIe edge of dle fantastic, expectant and In looking for the fantastic we look always in dle wrong direction, expect111g and being presented only widl a weary alld degraded sense of ThIs IS a falltastic which is built on dle ruins of our expectations (Clute, Bnttsh SF panel, ICFA 23). In Perdido Street Statioll, Mieville employs bodl techniques, "remi..xing" (Buder, British SF panel, ICFA 23) the baroque misdirection of Peake Wldl the disillusioned fmltastic of Harrison. Our gaze is directed to the greenhouse pIle of the cactus people which is perfecdy ordinary-it is only the Crystal Palace writ large, already rusted and degraded, whole panels of glass and a source of resenttnent for younger members of dle cactus commwllty-while the vile wonders of dIe remade skulk at dle edge of our vision. \\1e wait for Isaac to develop his wlifying dleory, only to see it dashed in the reality of the politics of his world and the forced understanding of Garuda's crime: Our expectation of scientific alld falltastical wonders are.buned under dle rums of New Crobuzon's vicious repression alld a post-herote age. PSS warns us bodl of dlis remixing and dle baroque estrangement which will be a?opted in its opening pages. The entrance of dle Garuda into dIe city dIe won ders of the city radler than dIe wondrous nature of dIe Garuda. should. dIe narrative dwell, at dlat point, on what dIe Garuda knows? TIllS novel mIght have tumed into a portal fantasy had Mieville so chosen; we might have through dle Garuda's negotiation of this "Emtasy land", each descnb.ed widl the painstaking blandness of a travelogue ItS quest, but m stead we are immediately forced into an inverSIOn 11l wlllch dIe Garuda comes spectator, not actor, a role which is emphasised in the closure 111 which dIe Garuda walks away from the city changed in ways he dId not deSIre, forced to accept a different reality, in a section which appears to mimic (and comment upon) the opening of the novel. That dlis the of Delany's Dl;algrell is presumably not accidental, and the 111 em ployed is also central to that novel. AldlOugh Dl;algt1!ll IS usually as science fiction it is similarly a transverse text and uses as Its plot dm"er dIe Idea of mis-interpretation/ reinterpretation, a dleme which while not central to PSS structures dIe relationship between Isaac and dIe Garuda. ( II) Cannien.WCC of Rider Un iversity. 101 Walnut Lane. Princeton, NJ 08902, WHAT: Popular Cultures/Cultures of the Popular: 1870-1945 TOPICS: From the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century critical judgements about popular culture remained extremely diverse; theorists both celebrated the emergence and preservation of popular cultural forms and lamented the rise of new market-driven cultural com modities. Perhaps because of such diversity, there are areas in which a thorough assessment of the re lationships within and between these positions remains to be done. Popular culture was itself extremely diverse and develop ments in critical studies have helped to produce a more detailed picture of the fonns that popular culture took at that time. Recent work in nineteenth century and modernist studies has also begun to question the degree to which 'high' and 'low' literary forms re mained separate during this pe riod. Nevertheless, the interaction between and within these different cultural modes is still requires further elaboration. The English Literature Group at the Univer sity of Hertfordshire is launching a series of research seminars intended to explore the questions around popular culture and theories of the popular during this period. A selection of papers from this series will be published in the journal Critical Survey. SUBMISSIONS: abstracts approxi mately 500 words in length, should be sent to Liam Connell DEADLINE: I st September )
( ) 2003. CONTACT: Dr liam Connell. Department of Humanities. Univer sity of Hertfordshire. Wall Hall. Watford Campus. Aldenham.WD25 8AT INFORMATION: WHAT: A Commonwealth of Sci ence Fiction WHO: The Science Fiction Foundation WHERE: University of liverpool WHEN: August 5-8. 2004 TOPICS: GoH: Damien Broderick. Nalo Hopkinson. Jon Courtenay Grimwood SUBMISSIONS: Proposals to INFORMATION: WHAT: First International Doris Lessing Conference WHERE: New Orleans WHEN: April 1-4 2004 TOPICS: "Doris Lessing's Economies: Negotiating Exchange" Pro posals are invited for papers on the notion of exchange or other economic aspects of Doris Lessing's fiction and/or nonfiction. Potential topics might include the exchange of commodities. language. affect. or ideas; circulation and consumption; avarice and altruism; symbolic exchange; the ethics of exchange. SUBMISSIONS: 1-2 page propos als to Cynthia Port. Department of English.University of Pennsylvania.Philadelphia. PA 19104. or send an email to: DEADLINE: September 15. 2003 Csicery-Ronayargues that "The sublime is a response to an imaginative shock, the complex recoil and recuperation of consciousness cop ing with objects too great to be encompassed. The grotesque, on the other hand, is a quality usually attributed to objects, the strange conflation of dispar ate elements not found in nature." (SFS, 29.86, p.71). Ptrdido Street Statioll, osten sibly a fantasy novel, yet seems an exemplar for what Csicery-Ronay is here describing; it combines the imaginative shock of flight, of the universal theory and crisis energy, and the wonder and beauty of dlaumaturgy, combined with dle recoil when we see dle Remade and the Construct Council. It embodies the grotesque both in its manifest "excess of the organic" (Csicery-Ronay, p. 82) and in its insistence that dle very consequence of dle sense of wonder-unqualified admiration for science and technology-is dle grotesque manifested in ap plication and consequence. Like GOnJJellghast and ViriCOllilllll, Perdido S tmet S tatioll functions most fully as the classic illllJJersive fantasy ("Towards a Ta..'wnomy of Fantasy",]FA 2003). As readers we sit at the back of the narrator's mind, watching dle action without explanation. R.1ther than be instructed in the world around us by an ignorant narrator (as in dle classic portal fantasy) we must negotiate the world through dle eyes of someone who takes it for granted. This is the case even when what dle protagonist (Isaac) is seeing is strange and new to him: it is easy to miss the point that there is a difference between meeting somedling utterly strange, and meeting somedling dlat one knows exists, so that while dle wild Garuda is for eign to Isaac, it is not a fantastic possibility which he needs explained: he has context and history behind his curiosity. Similarly, his wlderstandingof dle slake modls is couched in terms of the possible, not dle fantastical. Isaac is, to use Clute's term, competent in his world. The sense of wrongness is naturalised. \,
( cept the novel as sf; by mixing the tropes and rhetoric of fantasy against the rules and expectations of science fiction Mieville forces us to ac tively decode the text as we go. We cannot fall back on cosy genre tradition. Citations: Csicery-Ronay, Jr., Istvan, "On the Grotesque in Science Ficton" (SFS, Vol. 29, no. 86) pp. 71-99. Mieville, China, Conjunctions Panel, ICFA 23 Oute, John, Conjunctions Panel, ICFA 23 Butler, Andrew M., British SF Panel, ICFA 23 Mendlesohn, Farah, "Towards A Ta.xonomy of Fantasy",]FA 13.2. Perdido Street Station: Interpreti"e Stratellies "eeded Kenneth Andrews [Editor'S Note: The following has been copied with tile author's permis sion from a posting to SFRA-L dated 15 May, 2001. Now tllat semester is over and I have been restored to SFRA-L, I thought tllat I would start a discussion of China Mieville's Perdido Street Station, which I've just finished. (1) Pre-industrial, industrial, or pos t-industrial? Post-colonial? Wherever tllis planet is, it is not Eartll, nor are tile inhabitants descen dants of Eartlliings/Earthers (as far as I can tell). Mieville describes tile land scape witil great relish. (He has a tiling for "snot" and industrial degradation.) It is botil post-industrial (tile weather machines no longer work and no one knows how to repair them) and pre-industrial/medieval (single-shot flintlock guns; guilds). One character has a repeating rifle at tlle end, which causes great sur prise. There are dirigibles, advanced biotechnology, but apparently no tele phones or long-range communication devices, or television, radio. The khepri (intelligent bugs -or at least tile females are intelligent) fled their homeland centuries before (perhaps due to an infestation of slate-moths, altilough the reason is never given). They are refugees, despised, ghettoized. (The "mad scientist" who unleases tile slake-moths is tile lover of Linn, a female khepri. Having sex witll a bug is likely to cause most readers to tllink about tlleir attitudes towards "disapproved" forms of sexuality.) (2) "By tlle power of my mind I set tllese tllings in motion." My favorite line from tile original movie version of DWle. Magic and technology converge humans use spells. l\fachines augment telepathic powers. (I'm a fan of stories Witll telepatllY.) In fact, tlle main point of tile novel (or so it seems to me) is machine intelligence versus kinds of intelligence. (The sentient garbage dump the Construct CounclI, I believe -is aware, intelligent, and linked to madlines elsewhere in tile city. However, its intelligence is mechanical, cold, unfeeling, even "cruel.") The \V'eaver represents what? The animal mind? Surface intelligence witllOut '1ay ers" like id, ego, superego. The slake-moths represent what? Insatiable desires? TIle crisis engine links \\!eaver and human togetller to defeat the motlls, overwhelming tlleir desires witll more "nutrient" than they can .absorb. (The crisis engine reminds me of tile Augmentor 111 Ursula Lc Gum s novel The Latlle of Heaven. 1\150, I just re-read Zelazny's The Dream Maker, which also has a machine to permit tlle psychologist to enter the mind of his (""___ 1 WHAT: The Graduate Student Forum of The South At lantic Modern Language Association TOPICS: the importance of Heroes and Heroines in Contemporary Literature. Topics may include but are not limited to: an emergence of African-American heroes and heroines, the cultural significance of heroes & heroines in contemporary America and the world, connections between mythology and contemporary literature. Other topics and abstracts are also encouraged. SUBMISSIONS: send abstracts of approximately 500 words to: or DEADLINE: June I, 2003. WHO: &.:Ampersand: The Joumal of the Department of Compara tive Literature at NYU WHAT: Small Worlds. Large Worlds. Other Worlds ... TOPICS: New worlds. old worlds. third worlds. first worlds. art worlds. Disney worlds. wide worlds. monadic worlds. multiple worlds. possible worlds. language worldsall worlds. Is literature anything but a depiction or evo cation of some world? Is the po litical anything but a statement on how the spatial and material world ought to be controlled. di Vided. described. inscribed? Can we not think of history as a nar rative of men and women imposing their visions of the world upon the world itself? Beyond literature. beyond nations. beyond theory. beyond language. beyond history. there is world. Yet the concept of world is a problem on all of these levels-a source of conflict in all of these worlds. Ampersand )
('-1_4 _____ ) ( is looking for papers on the subject of world. Submitters are welcome to construe world as empire, world as globalization, to understand world as a question of space, to envision it in terms of middle passages, discov eries of new worlds, assimilation and hybridization. Theories of world, histories involving the dis coveries of worlds, stories treating events altering the world, all involve the expression of world. Minor worlds are as welcome as major worlds, possible worlds, impossible worlds, heterotopias, and utopias, all are welcome. DEADLINE: May 20, 2003 WHAT: Unstable Realities, Un stable Identities WHERE: Saint Louis University Madrid Campus, Avda del Valle, 34 28003 Madrid Spain WHEN: Friday, June 20 Saturday, 21,2003 TOPICS: Possible areas for discus sion include (but are not limited to): staging (un)reality; identities and/at war; pre/post-colonial iden tification; fragmenting the real; power relationships; identity construction and disintegration (from a wide variety of perspectives); voicing/censoring the self; fantasy and form; dreamscapes; literature and philosophy; identity and bor derlands; emerging individual or communal identities; split identi ties; intersubjectivity; genre-bend ing and hybridity. Keynote speaker: TBA SUBMISSIONS: 2S0-word ab stracts for twenty-minute papers by email (no attachments. please) to the conference organizers. David Leal Cobos and Amanda Springs at or DEADLINE: April 30. 2003 patient.) (3) The social and political critique. The government is oppressive (secret police, torture, Remade graft ing non-human parts on criminals and political dissidents as pwushment). Ultimately the government of New Crobuzon is at fault. The slake-moths produce an addictive narcotic of great street value. The government allows their scientists to breed the moths, but lose control of them when they escape. The slake-moths feed on the troubled "dreams" of the populace. Except for one slip up (a sentimental farewell on the part of an interest ing but minor character at the end), the novel is quite hard-edged. (It has more than its share of "dei ex-machina" appearances of the \Veaver, and an "urban legend" mentioned early in the novel is an important, but rather inexplicable, character in the end.) Other ideas anyone? NONFICTION REVIEW Cothic Writers Stephen M. Davis Thomson, Douglas H.,jack G. Voller, and Frederick S. Frank, eds. Gothic IVnlerr: A Critical alld Bibliographical G"ide. (2002) Greenwood Press, Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881. pages, hardcover, price. ISBN: 0-313-30500-5. The editors of this work are correct in stating that "the database of Gothic fiction and criticism has proliferated almost exponentially since the great revival in GOdlic studies commenced in the late 1950's" (i.,,). Part of this expan sion, however-at least in this annotated bibliographical/ condensed critical guide-seems to stem from a rather generous interpretation of the term "Gothic." My first reservation, in glancing through dlis book, was the choice of represented audlors. For while dIe term Godlic is frequently applied to works which merely attempt to instill a sense of ominous and indefinable terror, even widlOut tlle medieval setting of dIe true Godlic novel, the editors of Gothic IFn"ters have added a rather odd mi." of audlOrs to dIe logical extension that writers like H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King provide. It seems more logical to me, for instance, to dlink of Toni Morrison as an audlOr who has written some passages dlat share elements widl Godlic work, radler dIan devoting a David Dudley essay to an audlOr who has only one entry, Beloved, listed in his Princi pal Godlic \Vorks section. And if F1annery O'Connor is a major Gothic figure, shouldn't Carson I,,!cCuller's Ballad of the Sad Cafe warrant her inclusion? Again, where is Shirley jackson? Charles Williams? BOtll are fully capable of providing hauntings and real moments of horror in dleir major works. Even dIe japanese gain hvo entries in Gothic ll?iiterr, widl essays on Ueda Akinari and Izumi Kyoka. \\'11iIe tlle editors make plausible cases for \-iewing these two audlors as "Gothi cists," the reader may start to suspect d13t some editorial choices have been made to expand the territory dlat GOdlic specialists have to draw on, and to gi\'e some ed1l1ic diversity to dIe Gotllic. To the editors' credit, they are sensi tive to this possible conclusion, and dley attempt to cowHer it by arguing that the Gothic is "not so much ... a genre as a literary 'inlpulse' or mode of percep tion \\'ith broad dissemination abroad and beyond any defined period" (xviii). I\[y second reservation with Gothic IFriler:f is dIe editors' prefatory state ment that tlle), seek to make their work useful to dIe widest nUlge of applica tions. "whether dle user is an undergraduate seeking a promising topic for a )
( term paper, a well-published academic seeking to stay abreast of contemporary developments in Gothic studies, or simply a curious reader perhaps delving into the Gothic for the first time .... (LX). This, I think, is too much akin to the elixirs of the mid-nineteenth century, certified to cure com plaints of the kidneys, lungs, and epilepsy. The bibliographies are certainly reason able places for a researcher to start, and the annotations do provide valuable assistance to the scholar who needs to know quickly whether or not a major critical work still holds value. My own major interest here, HP. Lovecraft, is adequately if breezily dealt with by the prolific S.T. Joshi; the bibliography sup plied is a beginning, but the scholar venturing into this territory for the first time would like to know, I imagine, that De Camp's Biograpl!J has an uneven reputation and cannot always be relied upon for its academic rigor. I found the critical discussions in the fifty or so "author-specific discus sions" by twelve contributors to be quite helpful in furthering the editors' goal of treating the Gothic as more of an impulse and perception than a movement set in time and place. And while I might not ever come to view Margaret Atwood as a neo-Gothicist, Carol Margaret Davison makes a worthy attempt at explaining Sll/facil1g as a Gothic novel in which "the Canadian wildemess replaces the European castle as the site of the protagonist's exploration of her psychic clos ets" (28). Stephen King is dealt witll competently by Tony Magistrale, who traces King's novels from the time when his female characters were "patronizingly restrictive and frequently negative" (218) to tlle novels after and including Misery, in which King finds "a new significance for women cllaracters, an intense scrutiny provided to tlle roles of writer and reader" (219). Less satisfying is Marie IVIulvey-Roberts' treatment of Mary Shelley's Frallke/lsteill. Here, Mulvey-Roberts summarizes the monster's rationale for turning on Victor Frankenstein: "Beset with loneliness and despair, tlle created tums against the creator in a reenactment of tlle Fall" (393). Of course, tlle relation ship between monster and Frankenstein bears no resemblance to tllat of God and Adam. The latter's relationship is rooted in trust, even when that trust is broken, while tlle monster attempts to place demands on his creator, saying, "What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate; I demand a creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself" (Shelley 129). It would be inconceivable for Adam to command his creator in sucll a manner. And, of course, if tlle two relation ships are completely different, tllere can be no parallel in Frallkel/steill to dle Fall. If dlere is any Biblical parallel, surely the monster makes a much better Lucifer--noble, vengeful, powerful, and able to say, "I will cause fear; and chiefly towards you my arch-enemy, because my creator, do I swear inextinguishable hatred" (Shelley 129). So, my sense is dlat dlis guidebook is useful, dlOUgll uneven, and that it will prove of more use to an upper-level undergraduate, or perhaps a graduate student in need of a work mapping out the Godlic through its brief critical surveys and annotated bibliographies. NONFICTION REVIEW 'I'he "'an Who Could Work "'iracles Jeff Prickman Wells, H G. Mull l17ho Could /FOlk Miracles. Eel. Leon Stoyer. (2003) Vol. 8 of The H. C. IFe!/J. McFarland & Company, Inc. (www.mcfariandpub.com)Box611.Jefferson.NC 28640. 142 p. hardcover, $49.50. (800) 253-2187. ( 15) WHAT: I st Global Conference Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture, Cyberpunk and Science Fiction WHERE: Prague, Czech RepubliC WHEN: II to 13 August 2003 TOPICS: Marking the launch of a new annual conference, research and publication series, this inter diSciplinary and multi-diSciplinary project aims to explore what it is to be human and the nature of human community in cyberculture, cyberspace and science fiction. Papers, short papers, and workshops are invited on issues related to any of the follOWing themes: the relationship between cyberculture, cyberspace and science fiction; science fiction and cyberpunk as a medium for exploring the nature of persons; the syn ergy of humans and technology; bodies in cyberculture; from apes to androids; gender and cyberspace:; virtual worlds and home worlds; artificial intelligence; artificial life; elections, protest and war in cyberspace; nationality and nationalism in cyberculture; reli gion and spirituality in cyberculture, science fiction and cyberpunk; utopias vs. dystopias; SUBMISSIONS: 300 word abstracts to Christopher Macallister, University of Kent at Canterbury andRob Fisher, < firstname.lastname@example.org> as an email attachment in Word. WordPerfect or RTF; abstracts can also be submitted in the body of the email text rather than as an attachment. DEADLINE: May 9, 2003 for pro posals, July I I, 2003 for full drafts INFORMATION: )
( ) The Mall Who COIlId Work Miracles. Dir. Lothar Mendes. Perf Roland Young, Ralph Richardson, and Joan Gardner. London Film, 1937. VHS videotape from Vintage Oassics (MGM), 2000. Volume 8 of Leon Stover's series The Annotated H. G. IV'elLr features, to quote from the book's subtitle, The 1936 New York First Edition of the script for the 1937 film Man IV'ho Could IV'ork Miracles. Stover's interpretation of Wells' adaptation of a much shorter 1898 tale (included as an appendix) is consistent with the assured and assertive tone of Volume 5 The IV'ar of The (for my review see SFRA Review #256). The Introduction explains how Miracles connects to other writings by \,(HIs, and stands in contrast, as the light-hearted "companion film;' to his somber and serious Thillgs 10 Come (1936). Both movies were produced by Alexander Korda, who gave Wells a great deal of influence in their scope and vision. Stover ends the Introduction in his typical acerbic style, furthering his argument that Wells based all his works, including Miracles, on his hope for a future World State run by those who know better than their fellow citizens: "Wellsian lesson: the common man is no damn good: untrustworthy, unreliable, ignorant and foolishly selfish. Democracy is unten able" (S). Stover's annotations advance his clainl tllat Miracles shows what happens when common people have too much power. Mr. Fotheringay, the main character, suddenly finds himself with the ability to summon, create, and destroy anything-to perform "miracles." Eventually he gives in to his urges to do as he pleases, with catastrophic results. Stover comments, "What more can be expected of the common man, ludicrous when empowered" (79fn). Beyond his provoca tive reading, Stover also offers convincing explanations of The Three Riders who frame the film, and how they tie to the Hindu trinity throughout the plot. Besides including the original short story, the Appendices contain the thematically related Wells stories ''1\ Vision of Judgment" (1899), "Under The Knife" (1896), and his 1931 radio speech "If I Were Dictator of the World." A brief bibliography and index are also present. While this slim volume is an absolute must for Wells aficionados, I doubt anyone else will find it essential on its own. However, if used in conjunction with tlle film, the book becomes an invaluable, if pricey, resource. Any college course on science fiction, utopi:U1 studies, or philosophy could find Man Who Could IPork Miracles a fun vehicle for student consider ation of the delights and drawbacks to absolute power. Aside from a bit of cheesiness in execution, the movie holds up well enough, and provides a pathway to many other relevant works on similar themes for a course syllabus. NONFICTION REVIEW H.G. Wells on Film Arthur O. lewis Smith, Don G. H. G. IFef/s 011 Film: Tbe Utopian Nightmare. (2003) McFarland & Company, Inc. (www.mcfariandpub.com)Box611.Jefferson.NC 28640. 197 pages, hardcover, $39.95. ISBN 0-7864-1058-2. (800) 2532187. I-I. G Wells was a major influence in literature, education, and political thinking. He used his fiction as a way to propound his theories about how to create a more perfect world, and, when that world failed to come about, he fell into a trough of despair. Where his early writings had been for the most part optimistic about the ability of humanity to educate itself to overcome its problems, in his later years he despaired about the future and his writings reflected mat pessinllstic view. l11is book demonstrates that the movies adapted from his writings were designed for an audience tllat, for the most part, would not have understood tlle true purposes of his work. As Smith points out, ... for most of his life, Wells overestimated humanity as a species" (186). According to this book tllere have been 38 adaptations of Wells' works to film. Smith has seen all but six mat have been lost-in some cases with little beyond the title and a few posters. His format first presents a synopsis of the novel (15) or short story (6). The coverage of each film begins witll a complete list of credits, followed by a synopsis of the film, discussions, in turn, of thc adaptation, production and marketing, strengths, weaknesses, and, finally a rating from none (for the lost films) to four. TIle adaptation is "a comparison of Wells' literary work and the film adaptation" (2), and production and marketing includcs a look at the careers of directors, writers, producers, and actors involved in the film. Smith does not c,oaluatc cach film as :U1 adaptation of tlle original work, preferring to judge it "on its aesthetic )
( ( qualities alone" (3). An excellent annotated bibliography and a thorough index provide furdler information. Most often filmed---or, better, adapted to film-have been The Illvisible Mall with ten, not counting HolilJuJ Mall (2002), followed by The Islalld 0/ Doctor Monau with five. Smidl is careful in his ratings: only The Illvisible Mall (1933) rates a "four" and is characterized as "a motion picture classic-gripping and haunting" (67). Thillgs to Come (1936) rates "duee and a half" and is named ... the greatest science fiction fum of the thirties and forties." (179). He is sometimes scathing in his condemnation of others: "inescapable boredom" (41); "avoids any contact widl Wells' ideas" (118); "a comic book version" (121); "a shameless exploitation film" (182). Although The lJlalld 0/ Lost Souls (1933) rates a three and a half, we are told dlat ... the message sent by the film is the polar opposite of that sent by Wells' book" (28). Smith does not attempt to examine the numerous movie and TV works that owe something to the imagination of Wells. Sucll a task would have more dIan doubled the size of dlis study. There have been many, even some credited adaptations like the syndicated IFar 0/ the If70rlds series of 1988-1990. The Time Machille had only one movie version that could be covered in this book (anodler appeared only last year), but its unacknowledged progeny are many, as in the TV series The Time TWlIlel (1966-67), Tillle Expl7!Ss (1970), and numerous science fiction movies involving tinle travel. (Smith mentions two SUcll in which \\1ells hinlself is a character, the movie Time after Time, 1979, and an episode of the TV series Time Cop.) Smith concludes that "cinema has probably betrayed \,\lells more than it has any other important audlOr" (182), but wisely points out that writers should not be judged on films adapted from their works. He does great service for dIOse of us who love both books and movies, through this excellent study of the coming together of a great writer and dIOse from another medium who admire his words but do not understand his ideas. NONFICTION REVIEW 'romorrow IIow Jeff Prickman Sterling, Bruce. TOllJorrollJ Noll': EIIl'iJiolling The lVe:.:t Ff!J' lean. (2002) Random House (www.atrandom.com) 305 p. + Index. $24.95 hardcover. ISBN 0679463224. Bruce Sterling's TOlJJorrolll Noll' casts a wide net in many mind-boggling directions concerning future society and technology, yet maintains a consistent dleme dIroUgllOut, namely, "dIe trudl is often fantastic. If science fiction has any truly profound insigllt to offer us, it's dlat existence really is weird. Hwuan ideas of 'normality' are always merely local :md temporal" (271-272). Sterling deftly supports his claim dIroUgllOut, creating a provocative and fun read, despite his con clusion that hunIanity is The SLxdl Great Extinction. The result is a non-fiction book that will appeal to many, from all types of readers to teachers in search of compelling course material. Sterling's strategy for organizing the book's chapters around dIe "seven ages" from Jacques' "All the world's a stage" argunIent in William Shakespeare's As You Like It (1600) initially surprised me, particularly in light of tlle daunting scope of the Emisiollillg The Next FifIY year.r subtitle. However, Shakespeare's ages make sense duoughout (witll tlle pos sible exception of "Stage 5: The Justice''), and Sterling fills TOllJorroJP NOJP widl many references to classical myths and figures, from Cassandra to Croesus. These references to tlle past are no accident, for as Sterling stresses early in the Introduction, pondering tlle future always involves the past and present: "Futurism is an art of re-perception" (xii). He takes full advantage of his status as a Founding Cyberpunk to illustrate how even dIe edgy science fiction he staunchly advocated was barely ahead of the curve: "Cyberpunk involved a lyrical statement of dIe undlinkable (in the mid-1980s): dlat someday dlere would be a world rather like dIe late 1990s .... Cyberpunks valorized tllings that earned a shrug for tlleir corniness fifteen years later" (xvi0. Quite a contrast to his bold Pret1Ce in the AlirrorJhadeJ (1986) anthology he edited, but do Sterling's novels from Lrlallds III Tbe Nel (1988) through Zeitgeist (2000) really seem "futuristic" now? Nonetlleless, Sterling's non-fiction predictions in TOIJJOrrolll NOlll are sobering. In "Stage 1: The Infant" he downplays fears of widespread genetic engineering and human cloning (including imagining an embittered cloned child as an adult), instead concentrating on biotech, specifically germs, as key. Sterling entertainingly addresses a reader of dIe future, )
( ) stating "Germs cause you no fear, bewilderment, or disgust .... Your body contains millions of microbes, altered to do your will" (15). Applications of genetics for "healing and farming" will matter much more than attempts to make super-people. The prospect of biomedically engineered so-called "posthumans" arises again in "Stage 7: Mere Oblivion," in effect bringing Tomorrow NOIv's focus full circle. Sterling cites supermodels and wrestlers as cultural prototypes for future self-sculpturing He concedes, "People will be given what they want. Tomorrow's end users/consumers will not be given what their doctors or their pastors think is good for them .... The 'posthuman' necessarily means a redefinition of what it means to be alive" (292). His argument for why the elderly will be the prime "adapters" of extended life technology is convincing. Ultimately, it is impossible to do justice to the wide range of compelling topics that fall between Stages 1 and 7, but unforgettable examples are: why Artificial Intelligence will not happen; education and stable employment as we know them arc over; new technologies from cell phones to software are made to simultaneously create infinite dependency yet delib erately built with flaws to guarantee the need for upgrading; Islamic terrorism may not be a significant threat; global warming is very real, analogous to cigarette smoking, and much of the damage has already been done; so great is the technosocial change now happening in the early 21,t-cen tury that each year is a belle epoque. Another appealing aspect of TOlJlorrow NOIv is the sprinkling of autobiography Sterling adds throughout, including thoughts on his daughter'S birth, his family history, how he becanle a science fiction writer, and musing on being sought for memberships on corporate boards despite being a self-described cyberpunk bohemian goth who still dresses like a grad student. Finally, for those who are fans of Sterling's science fiction, the real treat in Tomorrow Now is "Stage 4: The Soldier," a fifty-three-page romp through who the real threats to the New World Order are. Sterling's genuine enthusiasm for his subject-media savvy self-made drug lords/politicians from Chechnya to Serbia to Turkey, who live fast but don't die right away-is infectious. The tales of these three men's lives are given a rendering equivalent to any novella. Worth the price of admission alone, til is eye-opening expose on how economic and political power really work is all the more stunning upon realizing that here Sterling writes the fantastic truth about today, now. NONFICTION REVIEW At Millennium's End Ed McKnight Boon, Kevin Alexander (Ed.) Ar MillellllilllJl's End: New Essqys 011 the lV-ork of 10lrt VOllllegllt. (2001) State University of New York Press (www.sunypress.com)90StateStreet.Suite 700, Albany, NY 12207. xii + 204 pages; paperback, $18.95, ISBN 0-7914-4930-0; hardcover, $54.50, ISBN 0-7914-4929-7. In his introduction to fIr Millcl/mill/l's E"d' Nell) Essqys 011 the lV-ork of 10lrt VOIlIlegllt, Kevin Alexander Boon writes that the title of tllis book is based on a coincidence. ''As it happened, Kurt Vonnegut's career as a novelist and the millen nium came to an end around the same time. Vonnegut reached what he called the 'coda on my career' just as time's odometer was getting ready to roll over to 2000." In recognition of this fact, Boon has collected tile work of eleven different critics, fucusing on various aspects of Vonnegut's career, from his essays and short stories to his novels, as well as the surprising number of films based on those stories and novels. Two essays in particular investigate the complex relationship between science and Vonnegut's fiction. In "You Cannot \\lin, You Cannot Break Even, You Cannot Get out of the Game: Kurt Vonnegut and the Notion of Progress," Donald E. Morse argues that it is Vonnegut's own scientific background that enables hinl to employ science itself (specifi cally the laws of tllermodrnamics) against tile scientific "my til of progress"-the notion tllat science and technology will always provide the answer to all human problems. In "Quantum Leaps in tile Vonnegut Mindfield;' Loree Rackstraw examines the relationship between quantum physics and tile "mytllic" worldview of Vonnegut's novels, especially SlallghterhO/(Je Fil'c. Rackstraw (curiously, the only female contributor to the book--is Vonnegut a gender-specific interest?) sees the Tralfamadorean vie\\' of time as an endless chain of eternal moments to mirror bOtll tile mytllic tinle-sense of Joseph Campbell and the picture of time emerging out of quantum physics, Ubiquitous Vonnegut scholar Jerome Klinkowitz examines tile author's too-often ignored contributions to the essay form in "Vonne,l,'Ut the Essayist." Klinkowitz points out that, even after Vonnegut had made a name for )
( ( himself as a novelist, he continued to practice the essay form that had been his bread and butter in his days as a journalist and technical writer. Vonnegut's motivation for this, Klinkowitz argues, is his "commitment to the great social issues of his day." He makes special note of the notorious Neu) York Times Book RevieJl) essay on "Science Fiction," in which Vonnegut argues that when SF advocates try to include SUdl writers as Leo Tolstoy and Franz Kafka in their clan it is as ridiculous as Vonnegut claiming that everyone of note belonged to his own fraternity, Delta Upsilon. Klinkowitz even points out the logical fallacy-the "excluded middle"-in Vonnegut's conclusion that "Kafka would have been a desper ately unhappy D. u." In "Kurt Vonnegut: Ludic Luddite," Hartley S. Spatt examines the apparent contradiction between Vonnegut's artistic playfulness and the earnestness of his struggle against the dehumanizing effects of modern tedmology. "Vonnegut's work is always marked by a deep ambivalence about tlle Luddite impulse," writes Spatt. There's no denying Vonnegut's distrust of the madlinery that led to Auschwitz and Hiroshima, but "the smashing of all machines might take one back not to a pastoral world of peace and plenty but to a world of slavery, violence, and inequity." Many have seen Vonnegut's career as a movement from satire to absurdity, from a sincere attempt to change the world to a hopeless acceptance tllat it cannot be changed. Spatt interprets this transition in a more positive light, as a waning of the Luddite impulse to destroy and the emergence of the more playful, Ludic impulse for laughter in the face of pain: "To destroy in rage is to destroy utterly; but to destroy in laughter is to cleanse tlle world and let joy back in." Mother Night and Cat's Cradle are not only two of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut novels, they are two of my favorite novels, period. In "Apocalyptic Grumbling: Postmodern Humanism in the Work of Kurt Vonnegut," Todd E. Davis performs the remarkable feat of explaining to me exactly why I like them so mudl. Even more remarkably, he does tllis by placing them in tlle context of the work of the postmodernist French philosopher Jean-Fran<;:ois Lyotard. In Davis's view (and, now, my own) Vonnegut cowlters tlle modernist metanarratives of manifest destiny, scientific progress, religious triumphalism-and even liberal humanism-with the provisional petite histories of postmodernist fiction. The lesson to be drawn from botll Jl.1ofber Nigbt and Cat's Cradle is tllat "the fictions we construct, even if tlleir constructedness is exposed, still do as much harn1 as tllOse that are hidden, and for tllat reason Vonnegut urges us to choose those narratives that are 'harmless'." In the most straightforwardly-titled essay in the book, "Vonnegut Films;' Boon teams with David Pringle to view the growing body of Vonnegut works that have been translated into cinematic language, including the comparatively recent Mother Night (starring Nick Nolte and directed by Keith Gordon) and Breakfast of Champiolls (starring-and pro duced by-Bruce Willis, and directed by Alan Rudolph). Their overall assessment of tlle various attempts to film Vonnegut's work is sharply negative; only George Roy Hill's 1972 Slaugbterbouse Fiz'e persuades Boon and Pringle that Vonnegut can ever be successfully adapted to film. The book is rounded out by Lawrence R. Broer's comparison of Kurt Vonnegut and Ernest Hemingway in "Vonnegut's Goodbye: Kurt Senior, Hemingway, and I
(20 ) ( these authors were born and bred in the United States. w.P. Kinsella, a Canadian, is included, as his "Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa" is inarguably American in theme and content; Edgar Allan Poe, on the other hand, is not included as Thomsen feels that his work is more representative of the European paradigm. Defining and legitimating a national literary tradition of the fantastic that is distinct from fairy tales and Tolkienesque quests is Thomsen's chief con cern. In doing so, he follows in the footsteps of mainstream critics in tracing the roots of American literature in frontier encounters and democracy born of revolution. The anthology is divided into three sections. The first, titled "Folk, Tall, and Weird Tales," contains works that might be considered fables or legends, similar in form, Thomsen notes, to tales of the fairy folk in European tradition, or tlle beast fables of Aesop, albeit witll an American flavor. These are tales tllat could be told around the campfire: the earlier folk or tall tales, often set in tlle American frontier, and the later weird tales that shift the wildness of the now-settled frontier to the civilized regions. The stories in this section range from Rip Van Winkle and Uncle Remus to Lovecraft's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and R. A. Lafferty's" Narrow Valley." Many of these stories center on the larger-than-life American hero, a character more mundane and down-to-earth than the wizards and heroes of the European tradition, and thus, in Thomsen's view, easier for the reader to identify witll. The second section, "Fantastic Americana," features stories tllat Thomsen sees as a counterpart to the Arthurian mythos; just as British history is reflected in Arthurian fantasy, the events of American history, in particular the Civil War, playa large part in tales by Henry James, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Stephen Vincent Benet, Avram Davidson, Henry Kuttner, Orson Scott Card and Harlan Ellison. Thomsen seems to argue that the American tradition is superior to the Arthurian tradition in part because of the shorter historical timespan; keeping within the "bounds of recorded history" provides more credibility and less susceptibility to tlle distorting "extremes of magic and mysticism" (23). The opposite could easily be arf,lued, that access to several centuries of history allows for more mythic energy; certainly it seems odd to dismiss works of fantasy on the grounds that tlley are too fantastic. But Thomsen's argument about the differences between American and British fantasy is most thought-provoking when he discusses this section of his anthology, reflecting his interest in tlle intersections of history and fantasy; his resume includes editing, witll Martin H. Greenberg, a number of alternate history anthologies, in addition to Shado1/Js of Bille & Grq)': ]"be Civil War lf7ritings of Ambrose Bierce. "Lands of Enchantment and Everyday Life," the third section, proves to be something of a catch-all; the focus is on the American spirit, which could encompass many of the stories included elsewhere in the anthology. There's a wide range of stories here, from Stockton's "The Griffin and the Minor Canon" and Theodore Sturgeon's "Slow Sculpture" to Harlan Ellison's "Paladin of the Lost Hour," Ray Bradbury's "The Black Ferris," and Stephen ln't You Come Out Tonight," Louisa May Alcott's "Rosy's Journey, and Kate Chopin's "l\la'amc Pelagie," ,lllOng otllers. The question is, however, what course this antllOlogy would be )
( ( most suited for. The focus is too narrowly American for a general course in fantasy, but too narrowly fantastic to work in an American literature course. As it stands, The AmenCall Fallta.[J Traditioll seems more likely to appeal to the general reader than to the scllOlar or teacher. FICTION REVIEW A Shortcut in I'ime Stephen M. Davis Dickinson, Charles. A ShortCllt ill Tillie. New York: Forge, 2.003. Hardcover, 288 pages, $24.95. ISBN 0-765-305798 Euclid, Illinois is an ordinary town with one particularly hair-raising feature; it comes widl a series of "perp walks:' walks that are perpendicular to the main streets, and dlat were installed by a previous mayor to get him more quickly to his regular rendezvous with a lover. \X/hile dley would be nodling more than a curiosity in any other town, in Euclid, they have an extraordinary attribute: "they were unexpected and subversive in a playful way. They sliced through what ordinarily was hidden" (22), and in certain circumstances, they can transport town residents forwards and bach.-wards duough time. The novelist's protagonist, Josh Winkler, is an artist with a minor amount of talent and the major advantage of a wife who is a successful pediatrician. He discovers the time-altering uses of the perp walks while being cllased on his bicycle by a large dog. Completely by accident, Winkler manages to transport himself fifteen minutes into dIe past, a feat no one else believes and which, unsurprisingly, leads his wife, Flo, to have him tested for a brain tunlor. The main complication of the novel is \\!inkler's attempts to help a teenager, Constance Morceau, return to her proper time-1908. As the plot unfolds, Winkler and Morceau learn from microfilm records that her beau, Dash Buckley, will be lynched by a mob dlat is partly convinced he has had something to do with Morceau's disappeanUlce, but more incensed by dIe rumor dlat he is part Negro. Finally, \\!inkler's own daughter, Penny, is whisked into dIe past, and \Xlinkler discovers dlrough old orphanage records that she has traveled to 1918. To make matters worse, he learns that she is destined to die in dIe influenza pandemic in November of tllat year. He must f11ld dIe medlOd to move to her time-a method dlat up to dlen had been sheer accident on dIe part of the perp walk's time travelers. The novel is well-written stylistically, widl nice touches of humor and a plot dlat kept me moving duough tlle chapters, especially near dIe last dlird of dle book, when the complications begin to resolve dlemselves. I was, dlOugh, disappointed in Dickinson's characterizations: frankly, by dIe end of the novel, I discovered dlat I cared very little for any of the characters Dickinson had created. Josh \\/inkler is a decent enough fellow, but his wife's reaction to his plight--even if it were the madness that she quite rightfully dlinks it to be-comes off as bodl frantic and frigid. We grow to like Constance Morceau less and less as we learn more about her, and Penny, while being a pretty realistic depiction of a teenaged girl going dlfough typical late-teen self-absorption, comes off even in her major scene of pure altruism as being a rather heavily-growlded narcissist. It may be tllat dIe "altemate-universe/ timeline" that Dickinson introduces late in dIe novel simply kills his ability to smooth off some of dIe unattractive edges of his characters with late reflection and redemption. For when \\!inkler makes his return to his tinle from 1918, dIe plot does not find its fruition in a world where what was wrong (dIe accidental brain damage of Winkler's brodler; the fragmentation of Winkler's marriage to Flo) is made right, but to a Euclid in which Winkler is married to a woman who had not previously been introduced, and still has a brodler with many of dIe sanle problems dlat he had struggled with as a brain-damaged street-person. I wlderstand that Dickinson may well have wished to avoid writing a "pat" time-travel s tory in the vein of dIe Buck to tbe FJltllre series, but what we as readers are left widl is tlle sense dlat we've been cheated out of a satisfying resolution. So, while the novel certainly contains both hWll0r and some smart writing, I found the resolution and the characters themselves unappealing and unattractive. )
( 4 ) FICTION REVIEW Explorer Warren G. Rochelle Cherryh, C. J. Explonr. New York: DAW Books, 2002. 408 pages, uncorrected proofs, $23.95. ISBN 0-7564-0086-For C.J. Chenyh fans, the universe of the Foreigner series is familiar territory and they will feel quite at home in Explorer, the culminating book in the second trilogy in the series. For those just tuning in, a quick historical review is in order. Some two hundred years have passed since the lost human stars hip Phoenix left Alpha Station in orbit around the world of the alien atevi. The human colonists didn't maintain the station; instead they chose planetside life. The War of the Landing followed and subsequentIy a carefully constructed plan for co-existence: humans were allowed to settle on tIle island of Mospheira, in exchange for gradually introducing the atevi to their superior technology. To maintain communications with the "brilliant but volatile atevi," "a single highly trained diplomat, the paidhi" was sent to live in atevi territol}', as liaison and intennediary between the two species. The main character of Cherryh's series is the current paidhi, Bren Cameron, who began his service in the court of the most powerful atevi, the ruler of the Western Association, Tabini-aiji. Ten years prior to Explorer the Phoenix retumed, fleeing, according to Ramirez, its senior captain, hostile aliens who destroyed another ship-built station and seeking refuge. On his deathbed, Ramirez tells the whole story: Reunion Station wasn't destroyed, just damaged, and there may be survivors there, facing the aliens, survivors who have friends and family on the Phoenix. The crew forces the ship to undertake a rescue operation, and Bren is sent to represent Tabini, along with Tabini's grandmother, Ilsidi, the aiji dowager, a cunning and wily woman, Tabini's son and heir, as well as representatives of Mospheira. Explorer s story begins a year after tIlis voyage, as the Phoenix is approaching Reunion Station. There is indeed an alien ship there, but Reunion doesn't exactIy welcome tIle ship with open anns and it seems that maybe tIle humans were the aggressors and not the aliens. Bren's talents as a diplomat and linguist are sorely tested in tIlis latest addition to tIle Foreigner universe, another talc of First Contact-the ongoing story of the humans and tIle atevi, and tIlis new species, the kyo. Cherryh, who is noted for her clear. crisp, and well-written brilliant creations of richly detailed alien cultures and of potential human cultures, does not disappoint here. Her use of political intrigue and plain old-fasllioned human greed, stupidity, and arrogance, and plain old-fashioned human integrity, bravery, and kindness is just as deft, as is her keen awareness of human anthropology and sociology. She again provides a fascinating answer to the perennial question of science fiction: what does it mean to be human in an alien universe. Although by now Cherryh's readers know the atevi, they remain no less alien and the puzzle of understanding them remains an ongoing one: how would we interact with a species without a concept of friendship, that only tIlinks in tenns of association? What can we learn about being human when humans are persistently the true Other? And like the preceding novels in tIle series, Explorer is a personal story as well, as Bren continues to struggle with the demands of llis job and tIlOse of llis family. Here, I tIlink, is one ofChenyh's greatest strengths as a writer: the careful and sure weaving of tIle personal and public to create a sustained believable whole world populated by characters for whom the readers come to care. I can easily see how E'(plorer and the other titles in the Foreigner series could be used in an anthropology or sociology class, let alone a science fiction class. They could also be used in a course tllat focused on cultural studies. I had thought to close this review by describing Explorer as a successful series culnlination, after all, tIle humans and atevi finally seem to realize that they have a shared home, regardless of origin. But, tllen as I was writing tIlis review, I read in the Februal}' 2003 Loclis tIlat Chenyh has just turned in "untitled volumes 7, 8, and 9 in her Foreigner series to Betsy Wollheim at DAW"-so stay tuned for a continued rich exploration of the human condition in an alien universe. Recommended. )
( FICTION REVIEW Futures: Four Ifo"ellas Janice M. Bogstad ( Peter Crowther, ed. FI/tllres. FOl/r Novellas. New York: Warner, 2001. Paperback, 365 pages, $6.99. ISBN 0-44661062-3. Each of the four writers represented in dlis anthology has produced major works of fiction over dle past ten years, and I MEAN major. Hamilton and Ba.xter have eadl produced series of books in excess of 800 pages each and McAuley and McDonald, whose individual volumes are more modest in length, neverdleless have an impressive number to dleir credit. Peter Crowdler's short introduction alerts us to the fact dlat this is the second in a proposed series of and1010gies showcasing the work of major British writers and, having read radler more Hamilton and Baxter dlan McAuley and McDonald (although I've read one or two of dle shorter novels of dlese writers), I can attest dlat dlese novellas are excellent examples of dleir work and thus will serve as a good introduction to those readers wondering whether to invest tinle and money in the extensive corpus. While all four works were riveting (not just interesting, and not at all predictable), I had a favorite, Ian McDonald's Tendeleo's story, which is a Disch-like take on dle alien invasion stOIY 11lis preference surprised me first as McDonald is the author widl whom I anl dle least familiar. He uses first personal narrative to create and intimate and immediate connec tion between reader and character. And dle primary dlaracter, Tendeleo tells most of dle story. She is a young black woman from Gichichi, a small Kikuyu dlage. Her father is a Olristian minister widl five churdles and she paints an early childhood which is idyllic in its simplicity but also stark in it's appearances of poverty. Her voice of matter of fact tenacity is tenderly rendered even to dle point where she suryi\-es the dislocation of her family in dle face of alien invasion, becoming a prostitute and engaging in other unsa\-ory acti\;ties. Regardless of these formidable challenges to body and soul, she meets dle love of her life, whose yoice takes oyer the story for a while. Then they are, of course, parted, as he's a scientist from the '\V'est' sent to study the aliens. \\'llen his team lem-es, he has to leave Tendeleo. For agonizing years dley are apart, and then reunited to decode the mystery of the alien inyasion that transfornls humanity. McDonald's deft use of altemate voices and refusal to ignore the deprivation, to \\'hich social dislocation subjects human populations, makes this story both scientific and social on a very believable register. I\[y second favorite is H;mlilton's Watching Trees Grow, which is literally a detective story spanning the years 1832 to 2038. em-ering such a vast expansive of tinle would be an enviable literary accomplishment even in a much longer work, but H;ill1ilton pulls it off while writing in dle first person narrative voice of one man. Interspersed widl dle tale of a murder over genetically designed privilege, he creates a world which is recognizably grown out of our own and in which certain families have been genetically engineer long life. Beginning dleir project in the 19th century, dley are able to select and mate individuals to produce a hardy breed. But genetic selection also negatively affects dleir moral system (which accommodates arranged marriage, engendering children, questionable han dling of other people less genetically blessed). TIlat he pulls off a dlfonologically long story with a very complex plot and with a conventional mystery center is noiliing less than amazing and will encourage me to tackle his 1000 page tomes sitting on the shelf at home. I also enjoyed Ba.xter's \;rtual-reality-god story, "Reality Dust," especially for one of its hapless protagonists, a yOWlg woman who must cope with wlannounced virtual reality, and widlOut her memory. A combination of relendess drive and a moral system which requires she assist others saves her and this odlerwise typically grim narrative. I don't mean to ignore McAuley'S excellent "Making History," a far future talc of love, deception and intrigue. Again a first person narrative, it takes dle manipulation of males by females to a crafted extreme. A young man tells dle story of Demi Lacombe who appears sweet and innocent but is also determined to pursue her ecological agenda no matter who she has to control in order to succeed. This is ALSO a sort of mystery story, a medical mystery conceming pheromones and male hormones where Hamilton's concerned genetics. I cannot help but comment that dlese are allmalc writers who have been supposedly chosen for dleir hard-science stories. Indeed dlese stories deal widl biological and social sciences, but who of us has not heard dlat biologically based stories written by women described as, therefore, not hard science fiction. After all, women writers who write on biology are just pursuing their natural affinity for dle body over the mind, right? Nuff said. TIle stories are good for what iliey do but only Baxter's is not based in a biological and social truth and his is a virtual one which many biological metaphors. In addition to containing excellently written, dlOught provoking stories, dlis anthology represents a compact )
(24 ) ( introduction to the writing of some contemporary hot properties and is thus useful for advising the reader if they want to pursue more works by these authors. Wearing my librarian hat, I would recommend it to a reader who enjoyed cerebral, if not necessarily hard-science, science fiction before I would recommend they start with the authors' novels, which can be complex and in some cases, massive, rambling works. In addition, since they are novellas instead of short stories, they DO introduce the authors' writing styles in their novels and thus do a service to readers looking for new interests. FICTION REVIEW Guardian Matthew Wolf-Meyer Joe Haldeman, Gllardian. New York: Ace, 2002. 240 pages, $22.95 hardcover. ISBN: 0-441-00977-8. If one agrees with Thomas Disch's definition of science fiction as the literature of hoaxes, then G1Iardiall might be the ideal novel to explore such an idea. Whereas Disch draws his examples from the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, and is limited to the short story/novella, Haldeman extrapolates the concept of the hoax to novel length, and while it might fail to convince the savvy science fiction reader, if placed in a classroom on Victorian or Early American literature (with the copyright date blocked out or ignored), the unsuspecting student might be duped into believing that this novel is no contemporary artifact, but the work of the nineteenth century (although more deceptive packaging is also in order). Guardian, surprisingly, is a novel set in 1800s America, spanning approximately 20 years, and is written in a careful and convincing pastiche of the work of that era. It concerns the life of Rosa Coleman, her rather terrible marriage, and her eventual escape from the tyranny of such with her teenage son in tow to the American west of Kansas, and eventually Alaska. Science fiction? Not especially so, although Rosa Coleman's eventual abduction by aliens and reality shifting might be more than the delusions of a hysterical mind, making Gllardiall science fiction of a very interesting sort. Inasmuch as this might be the SF novel that Jane Austen would have written with its attention to domestic minutia somehow it is still utterly compelling And this, I imagine, is what Haldeman's intention is in writing a novel, which, in many respects, is his most "mainstream." By no means is Gllardian a "scientific romance" in the Wellsian sense, sharing Victorian Age sensibilities with an awe of the possibilities of science and technology: If anything, Guardiall is rather Luddite in its thematic resolution, which does share some elements of Wells' conception of the possible dangers inherent in technological progression, but differs in that, for Haldeman (and this may actually be a congealing theme in his work), humanity will find its peace through technology that it ultimately rescinds tllat technology will help us attain a plateau, and once tllat position is reached, we will, in our wisdom, abandon technology to history. Because of its genre-splitting, Gllardian is an interesting novel, but it may have difficulty in finding an appropriate audience. Many SF readers may be disappointed by how non-science fictional tllis novel is, and witll its lack of "gosh wow" tedlllology, aliens, and crises, but tllOse with a predilection for tlle novels of tlle New Wave writers, as well as those who are interested in the potential of SF, should be very interested in tlle ways in which Haldeman bends the genre to fit his needs. It should be evident by now tl1at Haldeman is a master of form (each new novel tends to exacerbate the tenuous stylistic relationships between the oeuvre as a whole), and within SF, witll its seeming increasing emphasis on generic prose to match its generic elements, that tl1is is an increasing rarity. There is something very satisfying in simply reading Haldeman's work, reading his prose, and understanding his craft. For tllOse who are new to Haldeman's work, tl1is may not be the best place to start -at least in terms of understanding his work as a whole -but for those tl1at are familiar with Haldeman and are willing to take a step forward, or away from SF proper, Gllardiall should provide anlple pleasure. The question that remains for me tllOugh, beyond tlle formalist aspects of the novel, is tlle teleological purpose of the aliens, of the epon)1110US Guardians. The Guardian tl1at appears in the novel states tl1at the preservation of life is his duty that he stri\'es for the most humane reality, in whid1 tlle greatest anlOunt of life is preserved, Without giving away the ending, it should be noted that this project is wldercut by statements from the Guardiilll tl1at all possible realities co exist: If the reality shifting that Rosa does only meilllS tl1at she moves into a new reality, tl1at her life and sanity are pre served, then life continues in her "home" reality, witl1 all its tragic consequence. The only life truly spared is Rosa's, altllOugh Rosa, in recounting her experience, would have us believe that it wasn't sinlply her, but possibly all life on Earth-and this may simply be her naIve philoso-scientific view. The more I contemplate the end of Guardian, the more I am )
( ( 25) inclined to think of Rosa's narrative as a hysterical one Qoaded with all the Freudian connotations of that gendered term, as the evidence of the novel supports), rather than thinking it the deceptions of the Guardian or the sloppy work of Haldeman. This novel is, ultimately, one that should raise a number of questions not only for the reader, but of novel, and of the genre of science fiction itsel Guardian, like much of Haldeman's work, is more complex than it might initially appear, and should prove interesting for years to come. FICTION REVIEW Humans Warren G. Rochelle Sawyer, Robert J. Hllmalls. New York: Tor Books, 2003. Hardcover, 384 pages, $24.95. [Reviewed in advance uncorrected proofs.] ISBN 0-312-87691-2. Panter Boddit, a Neanderthal physicist who first appeared in Sa"Ter's 2002 novel, Hominids, is back. His adven tures continue in Humans, SawTer's sequel to Hominids, the second novel in his Neanderthal Parall3-,( trilogy. Panter, working on an experiment widl his man-mate, i\dikor, accidentally opened a portal to a world where Neanderthals are extinct and Gliksins are the dominant intelligent hominid species. Or, in other words, our world-we are the Gliksins. In Humans Panter returns, not just to explore our uni,erse, but also to resume and explore a relationship widl York Univer sity geneticist Mary Vaughan. A cultural exdlange is initiated ben\'een dIe two uni\-erses, with Neanderdlal sdlOlars coming to teach us such aspects of dleir world as how their Companion implants work (devices which record every activity of an individual, thereby making almost all crime impossible), their genetics, their literature, their research in stem-cell technol ogy and artificial intelligence. i\nd our br:mch of humanity sends people to the Neanderthal world. It is this cultural interaction that is the crux of Humans, and the questions raised by the juxtapositions of nvo very different belief systems, both "morally yalid." Sawye. presents this jlL'(taposition and interaction on both personal and public levels, such as Mary and Panter's growing relationship and the speedl by the Neanderdlal anlbassador to the UN. The novel dlUS becomes both a IO\-e story and ;U1 e.\.-plor.ltion of metaphysics and philosophy, as Sawyer examines "some of the deeply-rooted assumptions of contemporary human cidization" (back cover). Humans is essentially a novel of big ideas, asking such questions, according to Sawyer in an inten-iew in the February 2003 issue of Locus, as "\Xlhere do we come from? \Vhy are we here? \'Olere are \\'e going?" (93). Yet, Sawyer asserts in dIe sanle interview, Humans is hard science fiction, as ilie scientific "wlderpinning" is quantum physics, Howe\-er. the core issue is not so mudl the physics, but "whedler or not there is someiliing quantally significant about human consciousness" (94). \Vhat did cause dIe Great Leap Forward Cro-magnons made forty dlOusand years ago? \\11;11 would ha\'e happened if it had been the Neanderdlals who had leaped forward and not us? "Quantum physics," Sawyer argues, "is perhaps the best thing dlat happened to science fiction writers in decades, because it gives us a framework in which we can explore metaphysical and moral questions" and still have a scien tific con text (94). The key moral question or questions that dominate Humans comes in dIe thought-experiment Sawyer sets up by creating a culture "dlat had [not] given up on religion, outgrown its creation myths, but one where such dlings had never occurred to them, that had looked out into the world and saw the randomness and the anlOrality (not inlmorality but amorality, the lack of a moral structure), and just said: that's the way it is'" (94). After all, Sawyer contends, "orga nized religion has been the most evil force in human history" (94). For the Neanderilials, dIe afterlife is nonsense, as well as all iliat comes with such a belief. And yet, even at i\fary's insistence, Ponter cannot bring himself to challenge the beliefs of iliose praying for their dead at the Vietnanl \X'ar I\femorial, beliefs dlat include the certainty they will see dleir loved ones in dIe afterlife. SUdl cultural juxtapositions fuel the creative tension that drives the noveL As are Panter and Mary, the reader is challenged to dli.nk about what he or she believes and why. The utopian impulse of Hominids is also still here, but it is more ambiguous. Yes, in many ways, the Neanderdlal world comes off as dle better alternative, but not always. Saw-yer not only wanted to "reflect on what is wrong with our culture, but also on what dle greatness of our culture is, and why it is important dlat we don't allow ourselves to be wiped out by a few malcontents. The greatness is that thing dlat drove us out of Olduvai Gorge, up into Europe, over dIe ocean i.nto NardI America, out to dle moon ... And," Ole hopes] ... to Mars" (94). The Neanderthals have yet to go into )
(26 ) ( space. In my review of Hominids, I said I could see that novel being used in a utopian literature course or to represent the utopian subgenre in a science fiction course, and, obviously anthro and sociology courses. I stilI would argue this for Humans, but I would also argue this novel could be used in a religion or philosophy course. Its examining and questioning such issues as our belief systems, organized religion, and ecological responsibility allows for many teaching possibilities. I am eager to see where Sawyer takes this story in the concluding volume, Hybrids. Recommended. FICTION REVIEW Conquistador David Mead Stirling, S.M. COllquistador. ROC Books: New York, February 2003. 439 pp. $23.95, he. ISBN 0-451-45908-3 [Reviewed in uncorrected page proofs] In 2002, S.M. Stirling published a very interesting altemate-history adventure, The Peshawar Lallcers, which was set in a world where fragments of a great asteroid fell across the northem hemisphere in 1878, creating catastrophic climatic effects world-wide (four years of a sort of "nuclear winter") and destroying most of north America. His most recent novel is another alternate-history, equally delightful, set in California-as-we-know-it, and in a wonderfully unmolested alternate Califomia where, for various historical reasons having to do with Alexander the Great, Europeans have never come. Never, that is, until John Rolfe, descendent of that Rolfe who colonized Virginia, creates in 1946 a gate between the two very-parallel worlds, and with his comrades from the war in the Pacific claims this new America as the Commonwealth of New Virginia, using the gold and silver of "SecondSide" Califomia to fund a very carefully planned colonization scheme. Some 65 years later, in 2009, Tom Christiansen, an officer of the California Fish and Game Commission, raids a smuggling operation in Los Angeles, and discovers a hoard of elephant and walrus ivory, tiger and sea otter pelts, and a living California Condor of utterly unknown origin. The mystery leads Tom to Rolfe l'vfining and Minerals and it also leads Adrienne Rolfe to him. Adrienne, a Gate Security Officer from SecondSide, tries to deflect the FirstSide investiga tion, but political macllinations on her side of the Gate force her to kidnap Tom and his partner Tully to the SecondSide, scene of most of the action of the novel. Tom Christiansen and S.M. Stirling owe a lot to H. Beam Piper's great stories of Calvin Morrison, who be comes Lord Kalvan in an alternate feudal version of Pennsylvania. Like Calvin, Tom is a cop, and both are very competent, physically fit and militarily capable. Indeed, Stirling is quite open about his indebtedness (and homage) to Piper, L. Sprague Dc Can1p, and Kenneth Bulmer, among others; at one point, Christiansen finds a whole shelf of alternate-history SF in Adrienne's library. Tom is a very engaging protagonist, as is Adrienne (although some may object to the ruthlessness of her patriotism). COllquistador is, first and foremost, a rousing adventure story, and isn't intended to be political parable or allegory. But it does treat a number of provocative moral and political issues that the trope of parallel-worlds makes possible, perhaps even inevitable. Provocative issues of colonial conquest and imperial expansion, the ecological consequences of colonial expansion, and the relations of the imperial conquistadors to the native inhabitants, are explored, although not exhaustively or preacllily, and they are integral to the adventure plot and the romance between Tom and Adrienne. One of the most delightful parts of tills excellent adventure is the lyrical descriptions of unspoiled SecondSide California. It's clear that Stirling has done a great deal of researcl1 into California's history and geography, and fallen in love with that lost beauty. "nlere are passages of almost hymn-like praise to the glorious Nature that was and is no more, at least here ;U1d now on FirstSide. I recommend this novel quite heartily, although I will be interested to hear what others say about Christiansen's acceptance of SccondSide. as well as the portrait of the native peoples of Mexico and California. By the way, one great altemate-reality story Stirling doesn't mention is Jack Vance's "Rumfuddle;' whicl1 also ex plores ecological themes and the morality of cross-world exploitation. )
( ( FICTION REVIEW Sword 01 the Rillhtlu' Hinll Christine Mains Yolen, Jane. Sword of the RightfuL Killg: A NoveL of Killg ArtIJllr. New York: Harcourt, 2003. Hardcover, 368 pages, $17.00. ISBN 0-15-202527-8. The Matter of Britain has provided an enduring literary source over the centuries, with the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table being refashioned, in whole or in part, to articulate changing societal concems. Certainly many authors of contemporary fantasy have felt compelled to work with this material, as have writers for chil dren and young adults, no doubt drawn by the appeal of exciting adventures but also, at least partly, by the opportunity to explore the metaphoric journey of hero into king, of child into adult One of the latest additions to the subgenre of Arthurian fantasy is a young adult work by award-winning author Jane Yolen, an author of thoughtful and well-crafted fantasy for adult readers although the bulk of her writing consists of stories crafted for a younger audience. Sword of a RightfuL King is set in the early days of Arthur's reign, when he and his companions are only a few years older than Yolen's intended audience. Newly crowned by .:'.ferlinnus but unaware of his true parentage, Arthur, like many of his subjects, doubts his ability to unite the warring factions of Britain, led by the sorceress Morgause. Arguing that truth is a matter of perception, that if Arthur is percei\-ed by the people to be the rightful king, dlen he would be dlat king in reality, Merlinnus creates dle test of kingship Ithat only Arthur, with dle help of magic, will be able to pass: dle sword in the stone that only the rightful king can draw. Yolen's tale dlUs questions the natwrc of kingship. \\hat makes a rightful king? Is it inheritance? No, since only Merlinnus is aware that Arthur is dle true heir. I:: it G.lw.une. struggling to break free of his modler's obsession widl gaining the throne for her own sons, belie\-es. clut "hlng;hjp should be about strength, not blood; about power, not birthright" (13). Certainly ArdlUr demonstrate> rtis pln-si,,::cll prlOwe,,'. but that is not enough to prove his kingship to all of his subjects. Is it, radler, dle ability to command rcsF"tcc? :\r-tlmr seems to inspire loy-alty in almos t c\-eryone he meets, even the selfish and spoiled Agrm-aine, through ;ill underst;m.img of ;lJr.d concern for others. In dlis story, as in many works of young adult fantasy, kingship should be underst.;:>,o,J JS snnbolic cof ::dlho('"d!. of the kind of person that a teenager should aspire to become. Or radler, the kind of man thcH a bCly sh(mJd ::DC'w uF DlI b,ec<',rne. !:i.)r this is undeniably a tale, not one of the many recent Ariliurian fantasies to be told h1:-m .1 f"nul" nnrF("inr. Of '."luly 1\\"1.) female characters, one is portrayed as spiteful and selfish, a b:1d mother, :mJ the 0ther is ,h:'lt ,,,'\en l"
Science Fiction Research Association www.s'ra.ora The SFRA is the oldest professional organization for the study of science fIction and fantasy literature and fdm. Founded in 1970, the SFRA was organized to improve 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 membership are people from many countries-students, teachers, professors, librarians, futurologists, readers, authors, booksellers, editors, publishers, archivists, and scholars in many disciplines. Academic affiliation is not a requirement for membership. Visit the SFRA Website at . For a membership application, contact the SFRA Treasurer or see the website. SFRA Benefits Extrapolatwn. Four issues per year. The oldest scholarly journal in the fIeld, with critical, historical, and bibliographical articles, book reviews, letters, occasional special topic issues, and an annual index. Scimce-Fiction Studies. Three issues per year. This scholarly journal includes critical, historical, and bibliographical articles, review articles, reviews, notes, letters, international coverage, and an annual index. SFRA Annllal Directory. One issue per year. Members' names, addresses, phone, e-mail addresses, and special interests. FRA Revitw. Six issues per year. This newsletter/journal includes extensive book reviews of both nonfIction and fIction, review articles, listings of new and forthcoming books, and letters. The Reviewalso prints news about SFRA internal affairs, ?lIs for papers, updates on works in progress, and an annual index. SFRA Optional Benefits FOllndation. Discounted subscription rate for SFRA members. Three issues per year. British scholarly journal, with critical, historical, and bibliographical articles, reviews, and letters. Add to dues: $30 surface; $36 airmail. The New York Ret/iew o/Science Fiction. Discounted subscription rate for SFRA members. Twelve issues per year. Reviews and features. Add to dues: $26 domestic; $35 domestic first class; $28 domestic institutional; $32 Canada; $40 UK& Europe; $42 PacifIc&Australia SFRA Listserv. The SFRA Listserv allows users with e-mail accounts to post e-mails to all subscribers of the listserv, round-robin style. It is used by SFRA members to discuss topics and news of interest to the SF community. To sign on to the listserv or to obtain further information, contact the list manager, Len HatfIeld, at orden.hatfIeld@vt.edu>. He will subscribe you. An e-mail sent automatically to new subscribers gives more information about the list. SFRA Executive Committee President Secretary Warren Rochelle Peter Brigg #120 Budgell Terrace Toronto, Ontario M6S 184, Canada Vice President Janice Bogstad 239 Broadway St. Eau Claire, WI 54703-5553 < email@example.com> 2111 Cowan Blvd. #16C Fredericksburg, VA 22401-1076 #262 Treasurer David Mead Arts and Humanities Texas A&M Univ.-Corpus Cristi 6300 Ocean Drive Corpus Christi, TX 78412 Immediate Past President Michael M. Levy Department of English University of Wisconsin -Stout Menomonie, WI 54751 firstname.lastname@example.org>
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