SFRA review

SFRA review

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SFRA review
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Science Fiction Research Association review
Science Fiction Research Association
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Eugene, Ore
Science Fiction Research Association
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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 )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
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University of South Florida Library
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S67-00043-n282-2007-09_10_11 ( USFLDC DOI )
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#181 T Editor: Chrisiine Mains Hanaging Editor: Janice M. Bogsiad Nonfiction Reviews: Ed McKnighi fiction Reviews: Ed Carmien The SFRAReview (ISSN 1068-395X) is published four times a year by the Science Fiction Research As sociation (SFRA) and distributed to SFRA members. Individual issues are not for sale; however, starting with issue #256, all issues will be published to SFRA's website no less than 10 weeks after paper publication. For information about the SFRA and its benefits, see the description at the back of this issue. For a membership application, contact SFRA Treasurer Donald M. Hassler or get one from the SFRA website: . SFRA would like to thank the Univer sity of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for its as sistance in producing the SFRAReview. SUBMISSIONS The SFRAReviewencourages 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. Christine Mains, Editor Box 66024 Calgary,AB TIN 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 Ed Carmien, Fiction Editor 29 Sterling Road Princeton NJ 08540 Science Fiction Research Association SFIIA Re"ie. III ... HIS ISSUE: SFRA Business Editor's Message 3 President's Message 3 Non Fiction Reviews Counterfeit Worlds 4 E. T. Culture 5 Irwin Allen T.V. a Fiction Reviews Rash 8 Accidental Time Machine 8 Ivory 0 The Outback Stars 10 Futures from Nature II Merchant's War 12 Halting State 14 Ragamuffin I 5 Fiction Review-Essay Night watch I a


___ ) News Items: The following are the members for the SFRA awards committees: Pilgrim:Charies N. Brown (c); F. Brett Cox; Elizabeth Anne Hull Pioneer: Lisa Yaszek (c); Chrissie Mains; Larissa Koroleva C1areson: Bruce Rockwood (c); David Hartwell; Doug Davis Mary Kay Bray:Tom Morrissey (c); Ritch Calvin; Patrick Sharp Graduate Student Paper: Pau I Brians (c); Pawel Frelik;Jim Davis When Genres Collide: Selected Essays from the 37th Annual Meeting of the Science Fiction Research Association is now available for ordering at Amazon and other bookstores. ISBN-I 0: 097477093, ISBN-13: 978-097477096 The World Fantasy Awards were presented at World Fantasy Con in Saratoga Springs, New York. Life Achievement: Betty Ballantine and Diana Wynne Jones; Novel: Soldier of Sidon, by Gene Wolfe; Novella: "Botch Town," by Jeffrey Ford; Short Fiction: "Journey Into the King dom," by M. Rickert; Anthology: Salon Fantastique, edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Wind ling; Collec tion: Map of Dreams, by M. Rickert; Artist: Shaun Tan; Special Award, Professional: Ellen Asher; Special Award, Non-Professional: Gary K. Wolfe. The 2009 will take place in San Jose, California and 20 I 0 will be in Columbus, Ohio. The Aurora Awards, celebrating excellence in Canadian Science Fiction, were presented the weekend of October 19-21. Best Long-Form Work in English: Children of Chaos, by Dave Duncan; Best Long-Form Work in French: Reine de Memoire 4. La Princesse de Vengeance, by Due to the rapid decline of the U.S. dollar against the Euro, SFRA has had to switch its site for this coming summer's meeting. The 2008 SFRAAnnual Convention will be held Thursday, July 10th Sunday, July 13th in Lawrence, Kansas (about 50 miles west of Kansas City, Missouri, and home to the University of Kansas and The SFRA Archives) in conjunction with The Campbell Conference. Paper and panel proposals should be sent to Karen Hellekson at: karen Registration Fees and Lodging Costs were still being determined as this issue went to print, but they will certainly be reason able. Guest authors are also being con tacted and will shortly be announced. For up-to-the-date details, check the SFRA website at: v __________________________________ __


( SFRA BUSINESS tlessaae 'rom the EdHor Christine Mains What a strange feeling, to be working on my last ever issue of the SFRA RetieliA It's been a wonderful experience, and I'm reluctant, really, to let it go. But I know that the Review can only get better in the more than capable hands of Karen Hellekson and CraigJacobsen. I'll still be a part of SFRA, contributing reviews and attending confer ences (although, sadly, I won't be in Kansas in 2008, as the Dublin conference provided the perfect excuse for a visit to family in Britain). And I look forward to future opportunities to contribute to the association which has been so supportive and rewarding. Hanging around to talk to i\1ike Leyy and Phil Snyder after the business meeting in New Lanark was one of the best decisions I eyer made. SFRA BUSINESS tlessaae 'rom the President Adam Frisch If there is one thing I've learned during my first year as SFR.:\,s president, it's the amazing generosity of spirit that pervades our organization. Consider, for example, the quality work contributed during dle past half decade by SFRA Retielils Chrissie Mains, for whom this is her last issue as editor, as she heads out to a new academic job with-no doubt-twice as many student papers to be graded as existed five years ago in her entire known universe. Consider how quickly Karen Hellekson and CraigJacobsen have stepped forward to \'olunteer as Chrissie's successor-it still remains to be seen if only two people can do all the work Chrissie has been handling four times every year. Then consider all the work that continues to be volunteered in assembling and publishing dle Review by co editors Jan Bogstad, Ed Carmien, Ed i\fcKnight and Ritch Calvin. Go on to consider how graciously our Dublin Conference Group were willing to set aside several years of hard work when it became obvious that United States academics, especially dlose still in graduate school or beginning assistant professors, could no longer afford an overseas venue. ;\.nd then consider how quickly SFR.:\ mem bers of dle Campbell Conference, especially Jim Gunn and Chris i\fcKitterick, volunteered their site as an alternative, despite the considerable increase in work their organization would need to assume to host a "double" conference. ;\nd finally, consider how amazed I myself have been over dle past seyeral weeksand being an SF reader since childhood, I am not easily anlazed-with dle large number of reassuring emails SFR.:\,s membership has posted or sent me during the difficult times of giving up our dreams for a conference in Ireland, and dle huge number of email requests dlat my fellow officers, Lisa Yaszek, Mack Hassler, Shelley Rodrigo and Dave Mead, have processed and responded to widlin only a few hours---or in some cases, a few minutes! I have been, quite simply, O\-er whelmed by dlese multiple instances of help and kind-heartedness. A lot is being printed and televised recendy about dle emerging strengdl of the "millellllial generation," supposedly dle most self-centered, me-oriented group of people eyer to come to economic and political power. One nice tIling about being a member of SFRA. is that our organization obviously excludes those sort of folks from its membership. I hope to see many of you in Lawrence, Kansas, dlis coming July. ( Elisabeth Vonarburg; Best ShortForm Work in English: "Biding Time," by Robert J. Sawyer; Best Short-Form Work in French: "Le regard du trilobite," by Mario Tessier. The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts has an nounced the formation and presentation of the Jamie Bishop Memorial Award, presented for an essay about speculative fiction pub lished in a non-English language. The first winner, Carlos Abraham wrote the essay "Las utopias literarias argentinas en el periodo 1850-1950." The award is named for Jamie Bishop, son of SF author Michael Bishop, who died during the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007. The SunburstAward for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic was presented to Mark Frutkin for his novel Fabrizio's Return. The winner of the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, honoring speculative fiction on gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered themes, is Hal Duncan, for his novel Vellum. Doris Lessing has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her science fiction includes Memoirs of a Survivor and the Canopus in Argos se ries. Montreal is the site for 2009 Worldcon, which will be called Anticipation. Guests of Honor will include Neil Gaiman, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Taral Wayne, David Hartwell, Tom Doherty. Julie Czerneda is Master of Ceremonies. )


( Recent and Forthcoming Nonfic tion (Winter 2007) Easton. Lee and Randy Schroeder. The Influence of Imagination: Essays on Science Fiction and Fantasy as Agents of Social Change. McFarland. 2008. Kinnard. Roy. Science Fiction Serials: A Critical Filmography of the 3 I Hard SF Cliffhangers;With an Ap pendix of the 37 Serials with Slight SF Content. McFarland. 2008. Levine. Elana and Lisa Parks. Undead TV: Essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Duke UP, 2007. McCarty. Michael. Modern Mythmakers: Interviews with Horror, Science Fiction and FantasyWriters and Filmmakers. McFarland. 200S. Muir.John Kenneth.A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television. McFarland. 2007. Philmus. Robert M. Visions and ReVisions. (Re-)Constructing Science Fiction. Liverpool Up, 2006. Potter. Tiffany and C. W. Marshall. Cylons in America: Critical Studies of Battlestar Galactica. Continuum. 2008. Senn. Bryan and John Johnson. Fantastic Cinema Subject Guide:A Topical Index to 2,500 Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy Films. McFarland. 2008 Sharp. Patrick. Savage Perils: Racial Frontiers and Nuclear Apocalypse in American Culture. U of Okla homa P, 2007. Steiff. Josef and Tristan D. Tamplin. Battlestar Galactica and Philoso phy. Open Court. 2008. NONFICTION REVIEW Coun-cerlej-c Worlds David Gregory Robb, Brian J COHllteifeit Woddr: Philip K. Dick on Fibn. New York: Titan Books, 2006 (; 144 Southwark Street, London, UK). Paper bound, 320 pages, $19.95. ISBN: 1-84023-968-9. Here's a gift idea for your favorite Philip K Dick fan: the December 2007released 5-Disc Blade Rlln!1er DVD set, and a copy of tlus book. Be prepared, however, to watch your fan disappear into an orgy of cross-referencing, for hours on end. With entirely appropriate emphasis on Blade Runner/Do An droids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Brian J Robb has put together tile most complete description of tile various cinematic prill adaptations to date in COU/1-teifeit Woddr (title from a speech PIill gave about his own work in 1977). The book is definitely an interesting read, tllOugh prill scholars wiII have to wait for a more acadenlic treatment of tile subject. Robb starts off with a tllOrough, if somewhat sanitized, biographical sketch of prill, tllen proceeds with a comprehensive description of the media (including n: radio, and game) adaptations of Dick's works. There are three chapters on Blade Rumler, and chapters on each of the major filin adaptations, plus tile TV show TotalRecall2070. There are also chapters on "Unmade Projects," the unproduced Dick-penned screenplay adaptation of Ubik, and tlle French filin adaptation of the non-SF COlifessions of a Crap Artist. In an admirable attempt to stay ahead of the Prill-adaptation curve, Robb's nlid-2006-pub Iished book even includes material about the 2006-released film A Scallller DarklY and tile loose Dick adaptation that became Next in 2007. Robb's style, while verr readable, is much more Stadog (tile magazine is an important source for tlle book) tllan Stience Fiction Studies. That's not neces sarily a bad tlung: indeed, for a number of years in Ius teens and twenties, tills reviewer bought and devoured nearly every issue of Stmiog, and tllere is good infoffilation to be found there and in similar places. However, anyone looking for more mature analysis should look elsewhere. For example, WiII Brooker's The Blade Rllnner E ... perience: The Legary of a Stimce Fictioll Classic (\VaIlflower, 2006) is a great new collection of essays by mostly British scholars. Two earlier books are Paul S=on's 1996 Future Noir: The A1aking of Blade Runner and Judith Kerman's 1997 Retrr!fittillg Blade RlIIlIler: Isstles ill Ridley Scott's Blade Run ner and Philip K. Dick's Do "wdroids Dream of Electric Sheep? "wy acadenlic should be tipped off tllat this isn't a scholarly tome by the blurbs on tile back cover, not about the book but about prill, from Rolling StOlle, WTired, and Ben "\ffleck (Pqydmk). WIllie there is an extensive, if informal, Bibliography (good list of "Selected Websites"), tlle lack of an index, and, very troubling, any form of attribution or annotation at all, seriously limit use of tlle book beyond tile casual. Too, it's hard to expect hard-nosed, objective writing on tlle subject whcn the acknowledgmcnts include tllallks to Plill's daughters for "tlleir in ,aluable input and advice," as well as actor Peter \\1ellcr (Screamers), screenwriter Gary Goldman (Total Recall, MillO/ity Report) and director Richard Linklater (A Smllller Dark!;). On tile other hand, it's doubtful that an unconnected scholar with a hidden agenda could get the kind of access to those close to the projects, so you pays your money and you takes your choice. In any case, tllere are plenty of fun anecdotes and photos you won't find )


elsewhere; all in all, COllllteifeit Worm would absolutely make a good addition to any general personal or library collection, and is suitable for secondary-school or undergraduate classroom use. If you're a Dickhead, you should buy a copy. NONFICTION REVIEW E.'I. Culi:ure lincoln Geraghty Battaglia, Debbora (ed.). E. T. Culture: Allthropolo!!)' ill Outer spaces. Durham, London: Duke University Press (2005). 6 illustrations, ix + 281 pp. Paperback, $22.95. ISBN 0-8223-3621-9. E. T. Culture offers readers a fascinating insight into society's one unifying desire: to encounter and understand the unknown. Notions of otherness and the alien are central to the science fiction genre; the figure of the extra-terrestrial or E.T. is an embodiment of our culture's fear of and fascination for the alien encounter. Battaglia's collection serves as an investigation into how these familiar science fiction tropes can be found and recognised in the roots of our society. E. T. Culture is an anthropological study that examines notions of community and how the individual reacts to the wide and ever increasing changes within society such as new technologies, governmental control, and racial and ethnic difference. The alien is the one unifying figure that can encapsulate the anxieties and fears of us living in the modem world; our attitude and relationship with the otherworldly being is a mere representation of our own attitudes toward social change and upheaval. The book is divided into eight chapters, drawn together from se,-en aca demic experts from the fields of anthropology, information technology and linguistics, not the usual range of scholars that can be found in science fiction critical anthologies but nonetheless an intriguing selection that signals a trend towards science fiction scholarship's extended family. Chapters include Battaglia's own "Insiders' Voices in Outerspaces" which calls for a reappraisal of E.T. cul ture, to look deeper at ideas of community and the individual. Using the tools of the anthropologist, Battaglia asserts that it is the intention of the volume to "acknowledge subjects' own concerning what it is to be human ... [to] consider, on the one hand, our openness to foreignness within the social spaces we know or have thought we understood as home and, on the other hand, our ability to make sense of everyday lives in which we sometimes seem foreign to ourseh-es" (6). \Ve must not dismiss those defined as "other", those that believe in extra terrestrial life for example (measured to be about a third of North :\merica's population in 2000 according to Battaglia), since in their construction of commu nities and spaces through and in which they share and discuss their passion for E.T. culture they are redefining the creativity of social life and reimagining the global order (7). Two chapters that focus on the fan communities of Star Trek and ll(-GiOh best exemplify E.T. Culture's claims for a new approach to otherness and the alien. David Samuels examines constructed languages in society, the I-.Jingon Language from Star Trek being the most recent and media hyped example, and argues that people construct new languages and forn1S of speech and communi cation lines are drawn between communities that cloud our ,-ision of who our neighbors are. Learning Klingon sets one apart from those who do not know the language and sets one among a small group oflikeminded indiyiduals that ha,-e all made the decision to slowly detach from mainstream society and use the ( 5) CfPs: WHAT: Stirrings Still: The Interna tional Journal of Existential literature TOPICS: An upcoming issue devoted to the life and work of Kurt Vonnegut. In addition to critical es says on Vonnegut's fiction, we are interested in brief tribute essays in which the author reflects upon read ing/discovering/meeting Vonnegut SUBMISSIONS: Erik Grayson DEADLINE: Dec 15,2007. WHAT:Adaptations of Atwood WHO:ACCUTE WHEN: May 31-June 3,2008 WHERE:Vancouver, BC Canada TOPICS: Possibilities include, but are not limited to, stage, film, music, and visual arts. SUBMISSIONS: Completed copy of Info Sheet available at the website, plus 700 word abstract. DEADLINE: Jan. 3, 2008 CONTACT: Tomoko Kuribayashi INFO: accute.calConference.htm WHAT:Vonnegut Retrospective WHO:American LiteratureAssocia tion WHEN: May 22-25,2008 WHERE: San Francisco TOPICS:Since KurtVonnegut's death in April of 2007, the popular media has made numerous tributes and launched a few attacks. It seems time for a more scholarly retrospective on Vonnegut's life and work. This panel will explore Vonnegut's influence on contemporary literature as well as new directions forVonnegut criticism in the 21 st Century. Papers may address, but are not limited to, the follOWing topics:-Vonnegut and postmodernism-Neglected or


C,-6 __ overlooked works in the Vonnegut canon-The trajectory oNonnegut's career-Vonnegut as science fiction writer-Vonnegut's influence on other writers-Vonnegut and Abstract ExpressionismNonnegut as visual artist-Race/Gender in Vonnegufs work-Vonnegut as styl ist-Humor in Vonnegut-The po litical Vonnegut-Vonnegut in the 21 st Century SUBMISSIONS: Susan Farrell DEADLINE: Dec. 15, 2007 WHAT: Contemporary SF Dreams of Tomorrows WHEN: July 25-Aug 3, 2009 WHERE: Normandy, France TOPICS: As it appears, there have been no major scientific revolutions since the 1950s, and as the future offered by science fiction as hypoth eses has nearly become reality, it is indeed time to raise the following questions: does science fiction still have a future? What vision of a pos sible future can science fiction offer now? Submissions are encouraged in fields that include: film, visual and media studies, literature, science, communication, language studies, linguistics, women and gender studies, history, psychology, philosophy, religion, social sciences, cultural studies and popular culture. SUBMISSIONS: to all 3 organizers: . Pa pers in English will have to be given ahead of the conference so as to be translated for nonEnglish speak ers. DEADLINE: May I, 2008 IN FO: ( constructed Klingonlanguage and traditions to communicate identity. As society becomes all the more interconnected across national boarders through the Internet, learning and communicating in an alien tongue such as Klingon highlights the fractured nature of our world. It may be getting smaller but it has become so segmented and compartmentalised that we can only hope to understand those bits with which we are already familiar. Similarly, j\fizuko I to's "Intertextual Enterprises" contends that today's media spaces have grown so large and interconnected, drawing in new technolo gies that subvert the need for corporeal presence, that they have become akin to the otherworldliness of outerspace that place that kept us looking to the stars throughout the twentieth century. The children's fantasy trading card and com puter ganle, YII-Gi-Ob, offers "a world of fantasy made manifest through the workings of people, practices, technologies, and representations." Those that play the game are not ostensibly looking for truth or meaning in the modem world gone mad, but instead "see themselves constructing and perfoffi1ing alter native realities rather than questing for a greater truth 'out there'" (198). The "other", in quite interesting terms, is not something to be feared or even sought on the outside, but rather is something which should be constructed and imag ined on the inside. The ordinary is that which should be feared, the extraordinary or exotic is revered. Community, then, in both cases pulled out from the collection's diasporic subjects, is in a constant state of flux as individuals continue to shape and style their own relations to the world and dle other. The E.T. amongst us can be the grey skinned alien or the UFO endmsiast, but it can also be the card collector or Klingon convention attendee. Notions of otherness change as the tools with which we construct our own identities in a technological and global landscape also shift to accommodate difference. \X1e work to alienate ourselves and others by creating and sustaining new groups connected through cyberspace, yet in so doing we naturally become dlat which we most feared in dle first place: the alien. NONFICTION REVIEW Allen .064-.070 lincoln Geraghty Jon. In/Jin Alfell Tefezisioll Prodllctiolls, 1964-1970: A Critical HistOI)'. Jefferson, NC: l\IcFarland Publishers (2006). 18 illustrations, vi + 346pp. Hardback, $65. ISBN: 0-7864-2759-0. was no storyteller. .. he was into spectacle" (8). Jon Abbott's de scription of Irwin "\lIen appears blunt and yet it is a statement with which many would find hard to disagree. The creator of the renowned sixties pulp science fiction television shows T7tryage to tbe Bottom 0/ tbe Sea (1964-68), Lost in Space (1965-68), The Time TlIllnel (1966-67), and Lalld 0/ the Giants (1968-70) is seen by some critics as an aberration, someone always keen to aim for the fantasy and kid's TV audience rather than the perceived "serious and highbrow" audience who might ha,-e watched The Twilight ZOlle (1959-64), The Ollterlimits (1963-65), and Star Trek (1966-69). Yet is keen to point out from the very beginning of his work that there was space for both in the TV schedules, that audiences could handle political science fiction and colorful spectacle: "But when we need to escape from the misery of the news broadcasts, or the tyranny of historical or scientific fact, that is when the door to the wacky worlds of Irwin Allen and his )


( colleagues in sheer, unadulterated fantasy seems so inviting" (4). Invill Allen Tefezision Productions is both a critical examination of work and a reference book for the 274 episodes of ,-\lIen's four TV series. has clearly spent much of his time watching and rewatching episodes, trawling through papers and documents, and reading all there is to read on the subject to produce a quite exhaustive and thoughtful piece of historical scholarship .. The book is made up of trivia, comment, criticism, background, interviews, and information on episodes, writers, guest stars, directors, and actors in all four series. A comprehensive bibliography of further work and a thorough index complete the book valuable tools that no reference work should be without. McFarland, the publisher, seem to produce a lot of tills kind of scholarly reference material and they should be applauded for continuing to support such research. ,-\bbott's book is invaluable to every science fiction televi sion scholar, as it provides original and crucial insight into "cult" science fiction series and their production histories, often overlooked and vilified in previous scholarship. It is true that the genre has allowed space for both story and spectacle; Abbott uses the work of Georges Melies (regarded as one of the first filmmakers to experiment with screen science fiction) as an example of how the genre could be presented as a work of "showmanship and special effects" (1). Howeyer, many critics have disnUssed so-called "childish" science fiction Buck Rngers, Flash Gordon, Captain Video, "-\lIen's series etc. -as pure fantasy, products of an unscrupulous Hollywood industry that cared only for profits not politics. Yet what these criticisms often forget is tllat science fiction of this type filled a specific need and had a particular role in the survival and development of the science fiction genre on botll the big and small screens. WitilOut Flash Gordon serials in the 1940s, which enticed audiences to go to the cinema regularly, the genre may have died out and we nUght not have seen tile classic sci-fi films of the fifties such as IIIl'fJciers ji-om Mars (1953) or Forbidden Plam! (1956). Without Captaill 17icieo and the like on television in the early 1950s, which carved out a permanent place for science fiction in people's homes, we may never have felt the need or got the go ahead to produce The Twilight Zone and its progeny. Through the ever-developing television market, fixed on niche audiences and quality, short-run productions, science fiction has a defullte future. New viewing technologies, such as digital TV, TI\,O and satellite system where your TV can record progranlffies it feels you like, and tile fan oriented D\ TI box-set market where Irwin series can be bought and kept by enthusiasts and completists, ensure that tile genre has an evolving, cross-generational audience that revels in current and classic science fiction. \,\'itll technology tllat allows viewers to revisit and relive childhood series from TV history, as well as watch new series that consistently refer back to tile classics, science fiction television continues to do what the genre does best: nUx spectacle with political comment, entertainment Witll education. Irwin Allen's television productions in the 1960s should not be disnUssed as mere fluff; the fact that tlley have been and are being re-released and remade shows tlley have an audience tllat sees tllem as perhaps not only critically but also culturally important. Such importance cannot be O\'er looked since ,-\lIen's work is tile epitome of popular science fiction: it keeps tlle genre colorful and alive. ( WHAT: SF in British Film and TV WHO: 2008 Film and History Conference WHEN: Oct 30-Nov 2. 2008 WHERE: Chicago.IL TOPICS: How has British science fiction adapted to changes in the political and social climate or af fected national policy or civic char acter? How have SF films and television programs represented Britain's concerns about the present or future or about the use and per ception of history?What makes science fiction film and television in Britain distinctively"British"? Paper topics might include utopian and dystopian filmsfTV programs. future warfare. censorship. representation of non-human life forms. politics. the Cold War. science-fiction after 91 II. ethics and morals. representations of science and scientists. myths and legends. terrorism. early science fiction. adaptations. comedy. government and institutions. disasters. environment. gender. ethnicity. race. class. etc. SUBMISSIONS: 200 word proposal DEADLINE: May I. 2008 INFO: Directory Corrections: Marleen S. Barr 35 Park Avenue #17C New York. New York 10016 Mr. Bola King 6750 EI Colegio Road #439 Goleta. CA 931 17 Jari Kakela )


(8 ) ( FICTION REVIEW Rash Gail A. Bondi Hautman, Pete. &lsh. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. 249 pages, hard bound, $15.95. ISBN-13:978-0-6898(J801-6. \'\'ritten by award winning author Pete Hautman, &lsh, a young adult novel which takes places at the end of this century in the Safer States of America, has earned both a National Book Award and the 2006 Hal Clement "\ward for Best Young "1dul t Science Fiction. During a track event, Bo I\farsten commits several misdemeanors including verbal assault (name calling) and self neglect (failure to wear knee pad liners). TIle next day seyeral students at school break out in a rash and Bo is blamed. COll\icted for the misdemeanors, Bo is sent to a labor camp where he is coerced into playing the illegal sport of football. After obtaining an early release through the machinations of his "\1, Bo returns home to discover he has changed too much to live contentedly m a safe society. On the surface, this is a good book about a high school athlete. Hautman ably combines science fiction and sports to create a novel that will be especially attractive to this large demographic. Additionally, the author skillfully defines new terms within the context of his story, providing a pleasurable way to expand reading vocabulary. The novel's short chapters and continuous action will keep readers turning pages as they meet Pete and his friend, Rhino and his AI, Bork. Strong descriptive lanf.,'lJage gives the novel a feeling of immediacy and reality. More importantly, this novel could be a useful spring board for several important topics in social science classes. First, there is the issue of security ,"ersus civil rights. From here there are several good tie-ins to dle development and maintenance of a labor force. TIle book might also lead to discussions about diversity since Bo is on medication for anger management and Rhino is jailed for being fat. (It should be noted, however, dlat there are only two female characters in dlls novel, both of whom arc portrayed as com"entional and unsympathetic.) TIle AI will ignite dialog about dle definition of sentience as well as consideration of the near possibilities in hardware and software development. Finally, dle book naturally invites conversation about teml1work mld fair play. FICTION REVIEW ,.he Accjdeni:al Yjme Machjne Andrew M. Gordon I Ialdeman, Joe. The Aairleillai Time Machine. New York: Ace, 2007. 278 pp. Hardcover $23.95. ISBN: 978-0-44101-199-6 'file /lcdrlellIai Time Atachille is vintage Haldeman, providing what we expect from this veteran, award-wi1111ing SF writer: up-to-date scientific speculation; fertile imagination; a cynical, alienated young hero; a fast-moving plot loaded with dramatic twists and turns; rommlCe; political satire; mld wry wit. The device of time travel has been worked over and its conycntions codified by so mml)' authors that it is difficult to imagine a new approach. Haldemml's novelty is a machine that operates by gnl,"itons: "Casting about for some reasonably scientific mumbo jumbo to use for a time machine, I setded on gnl\'itons and string theory," he says in dle audlOr's note (277). Halfway through the writing, however, he found a scientific paper "which mdeed uses gravitons mld string theory to describe a time machine," which he believes proves dnt "if you wave your anns around hard enough, sometimes you can fly" (278) \nother innovation is that the protagonist was not building a time machine mld discovered only by accident that it disappeared when he pushed the reset button .. \ fe,\! experiments pro,'e dlat it leapfrogs forward in time by a factor of twelve with cach push of thc button: at first, only seconds, dlen minutes, next days, mld on to years mld soon, to centuries and eons. But each push is irreY(xable, for one can only jump forward. So he keeps leaping, hoping dlat at some point in dle far future he will meet someone who has a machine dlat goes backward and can return llim to his starting point. The story opcns at I\LI.T. (the university where Haldeman actually teaches) in the near future. I\fatt Fuller, a dropout )


( ( 9) from the Ph.D. program in physics, now works as a research assistant-basically a lab tech-at 1\U.T. \\'hen he loses both his girlfriend and his job and realizes his dissertation is a dead end, J\Iatt uses the machine to escape into the future. But once there, he lands behind bars facing serious charges, until a mystery man (could it be a future version of himself?) prO\"ides the million-dollar bail. After that, he is forced to keep jumping, as each stopping point up the line proves either disappointing or life-threatening. In the most developed and amusing future, "Jesus" (or perhaps a technological facsimile) has returned and estab lished a closed, fundamentalist religious state on dle eastern seaboard. This satirical "Christer" society is well realized, with M.LT. turned into the "Massachusetts Institute of Theosophy." Other futures are quickly sketched. Rather dlan tell you details and spoil the reading, suffice it that there are a variety of imagined futures for the Earth, from the supposedly utopian to the severely dystopian, and from the near future to far distant eons .. \long dle way, our hero picks up a companion, a nai\"e young woman who must learn fast as they leap into increasingly bizarre future scenarios. Naturally, a romance develops between the pair. Haldeman includes nods to his predecessors in the time travel genre, including the grandfather of it all, H.G. Wells. At one point, when the hero dons a skin-tight, futuristic outfit, "He looked like Buck Rogers with no airbrushing and a small beer belly" (229). In structure, dle book somewhat resembles The Forez"er an alienated young hero is dlrust forward in time, exposed to a series of near and then increasingly weird far future societies, and suffers the effects of "future shock." E.xcept for the fundamentalist American state, the story lacks dle barbed political implications of Forever War. Ne,"ertheless, The Accidental Time J\fachine makes for a fast and highly entertaining read. FICTION REVIEW Ivory: A Legend 0' Pasi and Fuiure Jason W. Ellis Resnick, Mike. h'01Y: A Legmd if Past alld Flltllre. "\mherst, NY: Promedleus Books, 2007. 322 pages, paperback, $15.00. ISBN 978-1-59102-546-7. }"1ike Resnick's novel, hOlY: A Legmd if Past alld Flltllre, is an impressive work of postcolonial SF set in a far-fuhlre, colonized galaxy that hinges on reclaiming lost cultural heritage dlrough dle rediscovery of dle famed I...:ilimanjaro Elephant tusks dating from dle late nineteendl century. It's about Duncan Rojas, a big game researcher and audlenticator, who's asked to locate the afore mentioned ivory-lost for millennia within dle spatial boundaries of dle 1\Wky Way-by Bukoba Mandaka, dle last of Earth's Maasai. The Maasai are a native .\frican edlllic group dlat maintains a semi-nomadic lifestyle in modern-day Kenya and nordlern Tanzania, and dley are well known for dleir bright red clodl tunics. Rojas quests for the tusks with the aid of his computer, which accesses information databases strewn across dle inhabited portions of the gala.xy (i.e., colonized and/or studied). Finally, Rojas makes an inductive leap locating dle tusks, and in turn, discovering dle ivory's historical significance. There are three significant elements dnt make IzOOI]' a postcolonial SF story beyond its being about the Maasai and their subjugation as colonial subjects, and they are: layered meanings in dle protagonists' names, dle colonized subject attempting to reclaim his people'S pre-colonial history in order to set right dle imposition of \\estern values on his earlier, unadulterated culture, and the knowledge/power dynamic signified by the extensive use of computer technology to (re)present dle past. Duncan Rojas is dle only first person narrator in dle story besides dle italicized and abbre,"iated ,'oice of the Kilimanj aro Elephant. Thus, Rojas is constructed as one who sees, but is not seen by others .. \lso, he lacks physical description from another character's point of view. However, his apparent transparency is made opaque by layered meanings packed in his name. First, Duncan is dle .\nglicized form of 'Donnchadll,' the Gaelic word for "brown warrior." His last nanle is of Spanish origin and derives from 'rojo,' which means red in relation to one's hair. His non-white first name COllllects him with Mandaka, and his last name juxtaposed ,vidl dle first marks hinl of anodler historically Othered group: dle Irish. 1\Iandaka's name takes a different vector dlaIl dnt of Rojas. Bukoba is the name of a TanZaIliaIl town on dle shore of dle colonial nanlcd Lake Victoria, aIld MaIldaka (which unavoidably begins widl dle Western 'man') is a TaI1ZaIliaIl city at the base of 1\Iount Kilimanjaro. Therefore, Bukoba J\IaIldaka's name is derived from places thus rooting his subjectivity with dle land of his ancestors in contrast to Rojas' physical or ethnic description without naming through place. )


( ) .\ second postcolonial aspect of the nO\-e1 has to do with l\1andaka's grasping for cultural subjectivity and heritage lost to the years under the pressure of colonial encroachments. TIle I<:ilimanjaro Elephant tusks signify the lost history of the \[aasai. They become tainted by European culture after a Maasai hacks off the tusks of the dead I-Glimanjaro Elephant in order to sell them to an .\frican slaver. The acceptance of the fetishization of commodities is the event that marks the decline of the ?\[aasai. Therefore, l\1andaka attempts to exorcise the cultural influence of the colonial power over the history of his people, but the success of his mission is largely one of peace of mind, because the imposed traces of European colonization are embedded within the future history of the l\1aasai \ final pos tcolonial element in [wry that deserves further attention is dle power/knowledge dynamic explicated by i\fichel Foucault and critically integrated into a theory of orientalism by Edward Said. The power/knowledge matrix is signified in Resnick's novel by the computer employed by Rojas to locate dle lost tusks. Rojas' computer, provided by his employer, has the ability to intelligendy search through an unimaginably vast number of databases. The computer, as mediator between a person and the knowledge contained in these databases, is the signifier of the power exercised over the colonized. i\[uch of the computer's searches involve tax records, which is another indication of the \Vestem colonial power exercising its might over the colonized through taxation .. \dditionally, the computer's reconstructions of the past (third person narration in the first nme chapters) are more detailed and factfiIIed dlan mere tax entries. Resnick even provides the reader with ;m analogy of dle computer's capabilities in the chapter, "The Graverobber." The archaelogist Boris Jablonski desires "the thrill of reconstructing the comprehensive whole of a civilization from the tiniest fragments." This archaeologi cal deduction relies on fragmentary information provided by artifacts and not the voices of the people from those civiliza ticms. Furthermore, dle "missing pieces" have to be filled in d1fough the lens of one's own cultural experience and subjectivity. Resnick contrasts this with dle last dlree chapters, "Himself," "The Maasai," and "Ivory," which give voice to the Other ,-ia .\hmdaka and the J(ilimanjaro Elephant. Therefore, the computer's imposition of power through its codification and analysis of stored knowledge signifies dle colonial oppressor studying and incorporating the native into dleir own narrative and thereby ob,-iating dle native's cultural narrative, but the author reveals a hidden power contained in the native subject with his oral history. SF readers as well as academics and libraries should seek out [wry. I highly recommend it for its enjoyable storyvel1ide as well as its critical aspects. This is dle kind of work dut bridges SF with other discourses such as postcolonialism. As a stand-alone work, it explores dle subjection of the Other to colonialism through a SF lens. Also, the novel would make a powerful and evocative addition to postcolonialism literature course syllabi combined widl other Africian postcolonial SF stories such as Ian I\!cDonald's Chaga saga: El'O/utioll's Shore (1995), Kirilrya (1998), and Tendefeo's Story (2000). Resnick's engagement of postcolonial issues of subjectivity and voice in Ivory, coupled with fun, future historical stories, raises the novel to a higher tier of SF worthy of further critical attention and a wide readership. FICTION REVIEW ,.he Ouiback Siars Edward Carmien i\!cDonald, Sandra. The Outback Stars. New York: Tor, 2007. 416 pp. hardcover, $25.95. E'Tn the blurb is enough to bring to mind that paragon of female space-opera ship officemess, Honor Harrington: "I .ieutenant Jodenny Scott is recovering from her last assignment, which resulted in the demise of her ship the Yangtze." 'Ille opening pages reinforce dle sensation: Scott is shown heroically fighting through dle pain of bums to help save those she can from the wreck of her first vessel. i\!c Donald cannily stops echoing \\'eber's omnipresent space hero after dle opening pages, although her ongoing efforts to bring discipline to tlle slm-enly department she's inherited will feel fanllliar during dle early chapters, and another echo retul11s later 111 the talc when she trains a poor officer into the beginnings of a good one. The Outbark Stars features a wonnholc-stylc FTL tnU1sportation system built by .\ncient .-\lien Others with accesses in space dut go from system to system containing ,"arious planets on which humanity has managed to build a collection of colonies. Eardl is 'debased,' dle future lingo for 'ecologically wrecked' (all the space ,-essels are named after Earth's ecological disasters), and there is a colony indcpendencc mO\'('ment in opposition to dle Space Team, Eardl gO\-ernment's space faring organization. )


( ( I I ) These rebels are blamed for the destruction of Lt. Scott's first vessel, and suspicion is rampant on her second, the Sea. As Scott settles into her new job she leams tile "\ral Sea is a troubled vessel. TIle military culture is decidedly "\ustralian and diverse, and tllere is tension belowdecks and in officer country. The overall setting of tile Sea blends ci"ilian and military social factors-Scott's military department, Underway Stores, hires civilians for paper-shuffling duties, and her job does not involve lobbing missiles at enemy ships-it involves supplying the needs of everyone on board, from food supplies for the kitchens and restaurants to coveralls for tile crew. There are no enemy fleets, and tile vessel Scott is assigned to is, like all tile ships mentioned, a freighter. No cmisers, battlecruisers, battleships, or dreadnoughts need apply. tours of duty are years-long, these huge vessels bring along tile equivalent of port towns that contain bars, restaurants, and all the conveniences of home for tile crew and civilian comple ment to enjoy. These civilians include military spouses, children, employees, and passengers going from point to point B. On the Aral Sea tllat includes a cadre of prisoners as well as a colony made up of "\ustralian natives govemed by an aboriginal Australian wise in tile ways of the Dreamtime. McDonald succeeds in crafting a miniature society tllat unites the traditional split between steely-jawed spacefaring captains with bomb-pumped lasers and terrestrial govemments. Military discipline still pertains, as evidenced by (Montague) Scott's struggle to maintain proper decorum around (Capulet) Sergeant Myell, her romantic (forbidden fruit) entanglement, and the Aral Sea is under overall military control. This is a real navy ship, howe,-er, so Lt. Scott has sundry otller duties, including committee work that will sound familiar to any member of a big corporation--or, it would seem, contemporary navy vessel. I\fcDonald works in a good number of twists and turns along tile way. Sgt. Myell, for example, has fleeting visions of an aboriginal shaman as he boards tile "\ral Sea, has an unsavory reputation, and an unfortunate conflict witll the bad lad gang of the vessel. Lt. Scott has an old flame from her destroyed vessel to contend with, along with disturbing memories of the explosive destmction of tile Yangtze and ongoing strife and mystery among tllOse under her command. The Outback Stars stands out in a field more accustomed to missile-slinging stories witll settings transplanted from terrestrial Earth into interstellar space. \Vhile tile wormhole-style FTL takes nearly all tile dmdgery out oflong distance space travel, there is plenty of real-life drudgery remaining, and tile details of this sort of Nav)' life provide a strong element of tile appeal of tlus book. l\[cDonald has plans for Lt. Scott, as tile final chapters of tile novel take great pains to forecast: shc qualifies to stand bridge watches, for example, and the colonial rebels make a brief appearance at tile very end of tile tale. There are echoes here of Cherryh (slup board life), \Veber (tough female leader instilling discipline in tllOse who need it), Bujold (secret agents!), Hunt (tllere is more out tllere in tile dark than we know), even Traviss (pollution bad!). "\lthough potentially unsatisfying for those looking for a clone of \Veber's Hornblower-in-space tales, l\[CDonald has produced an interesting tale a few course points off from tile more customary "\nglo-Sa.xons in Space one sees most often in military space opera. Lt. Scott is an interesting blend of professional officer, do-it-my-own-way leader, and soft-hearted romantic. McDonald does a great job of bringing ship-board life alive for her readers, and tile dash of adds flavor to the stew. FICTION REVIEW Fuiures 'rom lIaiure Jennifer Moorman Henry Gee, Ed. Futures from Nature: 100 Speculative Fictions from tile Pages of tile Leading Science Joumal. Ncw York: Tor, 2007.320 pages, harcover, $24.95. ISBN-lO: 0-7653-1805-9. A short phrase from Michael l\Ioorcock's brief bio in Flltllres ji-OIJ/ Natllre, tile fortllcoming hard SF anthology edited by Henry Gee, pretty well sums up a major misconception at the heart of tile book, one wluch continues to plague tile rcalms of academia and literary criticism: "SF and fantasy as well as more literary fiction." It is unclear whetller l\Ioorcock penned his own bio, or if Gee wrote it for him, but in any case tllis phrase is unwittingly telling it highlights tile sort of dichotomous attitude toward genre fiction that informs antllOlogies like tllis one (among other things). "\ltllOugh thc a,'erage bookstore provides countless exanlples of "literary" SF--of which I\Ioorcock's story in this collection, a short episode in the Jerry Comelius microversal tradition, surely would be one-I do not get the impression that the majority of tllese stories were chosen for tlleir literary merit. )


( ) i\ [os t anthologies tend to be uneven in one way or another, and Futllres from Natllre is no exception. In their original context, Nature magazine, these stories could provide a bit of novelty and a certain lively creativity; as thought exercises, dley generally succeed. Far too many, however, fail completely as narratives or utilize only such narrative force and fuematic resonance as can be provided through dry faux-histories of the future. \\lhile nearly all of dle stories are creative in terms of their premises andlor their visions of future technologies or scenarios, most of them lack the literary creativity and facility widllanguage necessary for truly inspired fiction writing. There are, however, a number of notable exceptions. A sentence from Benjan1in Rosenbaum's excellent story, "Falling," epitomizes the best of what this collection has to offer: "Tall, hook-nosed, dle fashionable whorls of pox and acne making constellations of his cheeks and chest, the glowing, formal tattoos of his committees and life brands adorning his massive triceps." \Vithout providing heavy-handed explication or unnecessary background information, Rosenbaum manages to convey more of interest about his vision of the (Russian Mafia inspired?) future in this one evocative sentence many of these authors do in the entirety of their stories. \Vith its narrative about a future in which intelligent mites control citizens' every move, and noncomformist individuals can inject themselves widl a designer virus in order to engage in such "anticontributive behavior" as "airsurfl11g," Rosenbaum's story addresses the conflict between the protection and productivity provided by state control and the individual drive for freedom mother highlight,James "-\lan Gardner's I Alnga, Vita Brevis," a humorous, Lem-esque tale, envisions supernovae and other celestial bodies and events as extraterres trial art forms, ultimately challenging the hubris of scientists in dleir attempts to understand and categorize the world of our experience. Two of dle best stories follow the same strain of speculation, the idea that plants can feel pain. One of fuese is i\[ike Resnick's "Great Unreported Discoveries No. 163," which explores the topic widl delicious irony. It may come as a surprise, however, dlat he is given a run for his money by an eleven-year-old girl-Ashley Pellegrino, "the daughter of a scientist." Her story, "Daddy's Slight Miscalculation," is amusing, well written, appropriate in scope, and effective-it is wonderfully creepy. Both of these stories raise questions about the ethics and significance of experimentation, environmen talism, and vegetarianism. 'l1lese stories and quite a few others in the anthology engage with a variety of ethical, technological, and philosophical concerns in productive, insightful ways. Stories of this lengdl-two to dlree pages-work best on a micro-level as, for instance, a conversation, an advertisement, an email, a single event. Many of these stories, however, approach their topics on a macro scale, attempting to summarize in 1400 words everyfuing that has happened between dle present day and fueir imagined futures-a tendency that lends a certain tedium to the narratives. Others reach in the opposite direction, toward a jargony ambi,l,JUity or outright opacity-far from providing too much information or summary, dlese stories are all but impenetrable to a layperson. Taken altogether, as a fiction anthology, separated from their original context, the majority of the stories ultimately fall flat. It does not help matters d1at the alphabetical organization of this collection is uninspired. It might have been more interesting to arrange them according to their dates of publication, or more interesting still to group them thematically. In light of Henry Gee's creative, Waitil1gfor Godot-inspired introduction, in which he acknowledges the blurry line dividing science from fiction, it seems a curious oversight. Ultimately, it might be fair to say d1at, with one hundred stories to choose from, there is somedling here for everyone. Fans of hard SF may find much to enjoy in this anfuology, assuming they would be willing in many cases to forgive clumsy, awkward dialogue and cliche-ridden prose; but for this reviewer the majority of the stories seem forced, rushed, or just plain dull. FICTION REVIEW ,.he Merchan-ts'War Rikk Mulligan Stross, Charles. The Mercbal1t's U 7ar. New York: Tor, 2007.336 pages, hardcover, $24.95. ISBN 0-765-31671-4 The Alercha/l/J' U7ar is fourth in Charles Stross's contemporary fantasy series, The Merchant Princes, following The ['ami!y Trade, The J-lidde/l FalJll/J', and Tbe Cia/l COIporate. This installment begins by resolving a cliffhanger for dle main protagonist, Mirriam Beckstein, aka Lady Helge, as she escapes a gunpowder plot and royal coup only to find herself trapped in the third parallel world of the series, New Britain. Once dlere her impetuousness almost leads to her deadl and she finds herself enmeshed in the plots of ideologues and revolutionaries as she attempts to escape authorities of multiple worlds and retum home to her Boston. The budding war in this third world between dle imperial powers of Britain and France, is )


( ( echoed by the coup-turned-civil war on the Clan's homeworld of Gruinmarkt, where the new regent is attempting to annihilate all worldwalkers and seize their lands in a carefully planned campaign that echoes both the Spanish Inquisition and Thirty Years War in style, if not substance. Back in ?\1ike Fleming, DR\, and reluctant agent proyocateur, does his best to act as a go-between for the Clan and his own bosses. Braided through these three narrati,-es are two Manhattan Projects as the Clan begins to systematically investigate its ability and to search for new worlds, eyen as US black-ops agencies attempt to copy that ability and synthesize a mechanism to use it on a much larger scale. Stross acknowledged his debt to Roger Zelazny in the first noyel of the series and the core of TIle i\!erchant Princcs saga remains a contemporary fantasy along the lines of the series. However, he has a hard time lea,-ing out science fiction as quantum computing and neurobiology, a betting pool on whether or not this is establishes Leyel IY multi,-erse cosmology theory, and an exploration of futuristic ruins by a MIT-trained Clan post-graduate round out the story. Gender remains central to the story in strong female characters and questions of arranged marriage and artificial insemination. Stross's contrasting of the roles and treatment of women, especially in a class-based environment that also suggests comparison of Western, or developed countries, to those with fewer resources. Both the mafia/cartel-like Clan and US agencies add the flavor of a Tom Clancy techno-thriller to the series, but Stross is not aboye wry humor or twist when frustrating thc competencies of trained agents and soldiers on all sides. TIle specific details of weapons and body armor, "box tails" and double-blinds, and quick disguise switches recur duough the novel and add both nuance and fun to dIe typical chase story. Where Zelazny incorporates jewelers rouge to replace impotent gunpowder on Stross shows dlat e,-en an early modem era musketeer can grasp dIe mechanics and strategy to use a hea,-y machine gun, or attempt to bring dmvn an "iIlr carriage" (ultra-light aircraft) radler than run from a "dragon." Bodl combat and intrigue are deftly hilllclled, but dIe most engaging aspect of dIe series is the discussion and elaboration of economics iIlld resources reminiscent of c.J Cherryh's Chanur series. Where Cherryh's space-faring economics incorporate uplift widl capitalism, Stross makes a point of engaging in critiques of mercantilism (in Gruinmarkt), robber-baron style capitalism (in New Britain), iIlld late-era capitalism in his United States. As a former tech journalist, Stross incorporates fanlliiar elements of the technology field, ,-enture capital, iIlld a developing information economy. Mirriam's plan to shift dIe C1i1l1S from drugs to information iIlld to modernize NC\\i Britain with older US patents can be considered as variants of contemporary arguments around dIe D:\!C\', intellectual property, and Creative Commons licensing. Those same plilllS suggest iIll indictment of US management and efforts to rebuild dIe economic infrastructures of Iraq and The Dr. James character, equal parts Snudl of the ?\!atri." and Dr. Strangelove, tells Fleming dnt "dus administration" is very concerned about oil in dIe "Texas" of Gruinmarkt; he stresses that dIe US needs "its" oil to maintain control and hegemony. Radler dIan negotiate widl iIllother "power" the ChUls are i.nlmediately brilllded as terrorists and iIll imminent due at-invoking comparisons to "\'fghanistilll iIlld Iraq, but espe cially in dus latest novel, Irilll. TIle Clan's fanlliy trade is predicated on heroin smuggling iIlld the "phantom drug network" of Fleming's Boston. In Gruinmarkt King Egon does not identify dIe fields of poppies by nanle, but his soldiers are ordered to bum dIem; the allusions to Afghillustan are clear. Madlias, dIe now deceased traitor to the Clans, plilllts a nuclear warhead somewhere in Boston as insurance against disappearing into an analogue for CanIp X-Ray, but Stross makes dIe point more dlilll once that plans are in process to take adVillltage of dIe explosion if it happens-against dIe C1i1l1 if possible, but Irilll or North odlerwise. Disappearing drug-runners cum "nuclear terrorists" provide justification for dIe executi,-e policies dlat liberally designate enemy combatilllts iIlld dlen subject dIem to abuse iIlld experimentation ,vithout e,-en dIe gloss of extra-dimen sional diplomacy. \Vhile dIe use of collar-bombs to force dIe world-walkers to act as mules, iIlld dleir inability to understand English should strike a nerve, a brief discussion of "tissue samples" raises dIe specter of Nazi canlps iIlld Tuskegee science programs. Economics iIlld politics dominate dlis ad,-enture story iIlld fenunist and post-feminist critiques are threaded dlrough different characters. Stross incorporates elements of social change but none are a silver bullet, nor is contemporary "\.merica a "best of all possible worlds" by iIlly stretch. TIlere is very Iitde script immunity in dIe series, iIlld :\!irriam might reasonabh' be expected to survive, but she will be a different person thilll the self-assured iIlld modern womilll of the first no,-el. The series would make an excellent addition to a library as contemporary fantasy ,-erging on alternate history, but as it truly needs to be read as a series it might be difficult to employ in iIll undergraduate course. -nlat said, a course with a focus on economy and politics that incorporated Marx, cultural dleory, or post-colonial studies would ha,-e a lot to consider using this serics as framework. )


( ) FICTION REVIEW State Bill Dynes Stross, Charles. Hafling State. New York: 2007.351 pages, cloth, $24.95. ISBN 978-0-441-01498-9. Ibe initial premise is immediately engaging: a cadre of Orcs, with a dragon along for fire-support, have broken into a bank and made off with a small fortune. That this has happens within a virtual-reality game called Avalon Four in near future Edinburgh is the first twist in Charles Stross' absorbing and inventive novel. Three very different characters, a Scottish policewoman, a forensic accountant, and a down-on-his-luck game designer, are drawn into the investigation to uncover the real criminals, not to mention the real crime, behind the VR attack. Part noir-thriIIer and part video-game walkthrough, Hafling .ltate is a smart, if occasionaIIy frustrating, adventure. Stross' fiction has ranged across a variety of SF modes, but in one sense he has been consistent his prose is always fast-paced, humorous, and difficult. This novel is no different in that regard. Each chapter foIIows one of the three protagonists, but the voice is second-person, giving the novel something of the feel of a turn-based RPG. Fortunately, the effect of this style isn't as disconcerting as it sounds. The second-person narrator is still free to delve into the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists, giving them some depth of characterization. It is probably not a surprise that the best deyeloped of the three is game designer Jack Reed, a fun combination of technical wizardry and social anxieties. Stross provides Reed with enough complexity to evade the worst of the uber-geek stereotypes, and when shadows from his past begin to impinge upon the investigation, he becomes the one character about whom the reader may genuinely be concerned. By contrast, neither police sergeant Sue Smith nor Elaine Barnaby, an auditor with a VR sword-fighting hobby, manages to develop into indiyiduals as complex or appealing. One advantage of the sequential pattern of the chapters, then, is that the reader can always be confident that Jack's turn wiII come around again soon. ,\nother clement that makes Stross' prose style challenging is his fascination with jargon. Each principal character has ,Ul idiosyncratic language that can become frustratingly dense. Reed's heavily technological vocabulary wiII probably be more familiar to science fiction readers, although some experience playing I\II\IORPGs or working as a systems analyst wiII help. Smith speaks a heavily inflected Scottish English frequently laced with police slang, and Barnaby's business-speak can be even more opaque at times. the im-estigation broadens to include corrupt business practices and international espionage, the layering of disparate yocabularies can become more distancing than the second-person voice. Yet tlus dense quality is also one source of the nm-el's appeal. The attentive reader is drawn gradually into the personal worlds of these characters, and when the inside jokes or private insights begin to come more naturally, the reward is a thoroughly engrossing read. Slale is Stross' entry in tlle ongoing fuss over "mundane" science fiction, and perhaps what makes it so much fun is the way lends support to both sides of that conflict. The novel does hold itself to tile strictures of Geoff Ryman's "Mundane I\LUlifesto" it is set in the very near future, witil no aliens, time warps, or intersteIIar travel to distract from the Scottish rain and the London account books. In an interview wi til John .\dams for Scifi.Com, Stross claims that the novel contains only "one piece of not-currently-existing tech." Perhaps tlle most fantastic aspect of tile novel, in fact, is til at it is set 111 2018. The information-saturated world these characters inhabit, witll online goggles and remote cars driven by outsourced techs in dist

( ( IS) much of the fun and inventiveness of the novel. Smith's glasses give her ready access to "Cop Space," where cascades of data are layered over the physical world around her. Barnaby takes time out from her investigation for a round of SPOOI-'::S, a real-time James Bond espionage game that sends her anonymous tasks for no discemable reason. :\gain and again, the interface between objective and subjective experience is exposed as unreliable and amorphous. The most poignant example of this is, interestingly, the least technological. When Reed's niece becomes a target of the enemies whom they are im"esti gating, Barnaby is confused by Reed's apparent lack of emotion, leading to a forceful revelation about Reed's relationship with his estranged family. Reality need not be manipulated by computers in order to be virtual. Proponents of the Mundane Manifesto will perhaps argue that virtual reality, because it is a legitimate technology today, easily fits within Ryman's ground rules. In the hands of a writer as inventive as Stross, however, its many permutations make a strong case that wonder a.nd desire remain crucial tools for science fiction. FICTION REVIEW RagamuHin Stacie L Hanes Buckell, Tobias. Ragamujjil1. New York: Tor, 2007.316 pages, hardcover, $24.95. ISBN 0-7653-1507-6. Tobias Buckell's second novel, Ragamllffin, is a far-future, postcolonial novel about guerrilla warfare in space and on far-flung chunks of rock-terraformed planets, reshaped asteroids, and aboard starships. It's got a layered, hierarchical structure that focuses on one or two solitary, quasi-immortal characters who are technologically enhanced, augmented human beings hundreds of years old-very much like the characters in \Vil McCarthy's To emsb tbe 1110011, or Heinlein's Fridqy. Sometimes the action highlights the separateness of these superhuman people, each of whom is capable of taking out entire squadrons of trained soldiers alone. But the two we meet, Nashara and Pepper, are both part of something larger. Each is part of a human resistance movement fighting against alien overlords who are willing to commit genocide to prevent human technology from running amok; finally, we learn that the resistance movements are not alone, and that some of the former alien overlords are themselves being wiped out by a still more powerful species. Part One of Ragamuffill is a guerilla-military, combat-intensive space opera with a complex cyberpunk flavor that runs for half the novel. The second half is divided into Part Two and Part Three; Part Two is a culture-clash, alien im-asion, fight and flight sequence with a hint of altemative history, and Part Three is the aftermath, in which the characters try to hang on to the tiger whose tail they'ye grabbed. N ashara dominates Part One. She seems to be a literary descendant of three canonical SF heroes: Heinlein's Friday; Lt. Ellen Ripley of the "\lien series; and Molly, the Steppin' Razor of \\'illiam Gibson's Sprawl stories. The novel begins with Nashara walking through a human reserYation on an alien world called _\stragalai, which is dominated by the doglike Galle, who keep indentured humans as pets. It's a cutthroat environment, through which Nashara moves as a covert operative in the pay of an insurgent group called the League of Human "\ffairs. 111e League has hired Nashara to assassinate a Galle; she completes her mission in the first fifteen pages, but those pages contain a full measure of border crossings, treachery, and sudden violence. "\fter dlat, Nashara is on dle run, escaping first to an orbital habitat that resembles bodl Gibson's Freeside space station and almost any of Heinlein's non-terrestrial em"ironments we see Nashara on dle run, stopping in a marketplace, where she tries to buy a ''laDlina'' ,-iewer before dle authorities catch up with her. But someone else finds her first. From a League operati,"e nanled Steyen, she leams that dle ticket to another planet that dle League promised her as part of her pay does not exist-she was meant to be caught, killed, and martyred. The League had hoped dlat Nashara's action against the Galle would provoke a widespread uprising against dlcm. Unlike Molly Millions, who is a mercenary "street sanmrai" by trade, for N ashara assassination was a despcrate bid to get off-planet. She tells Steven, "111at was a onetime thing, Steven. I was a desperate girl in a bad situation." In dlat, Nashara is a litde less like Molly than Friday, but in the sanle encounter, her em"ironment becomcs more like Gibson's cyberpunk Sprawl. The lanlina are layers of information, un"isible to dle naked eye, dlat are reminiscent of Gibson's cyberspace overlaid onto dle tangible world. Everything is tagged widl ulformation that can only be seen with a combina tion of hardware and software, and it is possible for people who know how to move widlin dle lamina, progranlming and manipulating it. )


( ) Ragamuffin and N ashara are especially interes ting in one particular, when considered alongside Friday, Ripley, and 1\[01ly. Nashara is a clone (originally of Pepper, a male character, in which she slighdy resembles Heinlein's Lazarus Long clones Laz and Lor) whose uterus has been remm'ed and replaced with computer hardware-she is carrying a payload of viral software, and therefore no longer has any option to bear children. Friday, on the other hand, spends her entire book wishing for family, especially children. Ripley has a child whom she leaves behind on Earth, who dies while Ripley is in suspended animation out in space; Ripley later fosters Newt, while Nashara rescues and protects two children who are being hunted by the alien SatrapI' on a space habitat where all of the other inhabitants have already been wiped out. Nashara and dle Caribbean Raga culture are something individual in a genre dlat can sometimes seem very pale. Unlike the arguable race of some of Heinlein's heroes, Nashara's race is stated and contextualized on the first page. She's got skin "as dark as the shadows" and hair that's "tight and curly, but shorn military short," and we see her walking through a place called Pitt's Cross, which Buckell writes, "consisted mainly of dle light-skinned." She is part of the sf bloodline that includes Gibson's Ras ta fari an characters in Neuromancer, but she's the main character, not a member of the supporting cast. Buckell sets dle novel amid a clash of cultures both human and alien, and plays the concept of how people of different cultures see each odler. The lamina can be culture-specific; the Raga have dleir own, almost everyone else has another sort, and the survivor of the habitat massacre, Kara, has her own private version. Everyone reads the lanlina as a matter of course, and as a consequence, they sometimes don't see what is in front of them: "the invisible killer staring right at her would see nothing of her, because he used dle lanlina too. [ ... J he got info from his fellow murderers through his aUb'111ented reality." In other words, agents of the genocidal Satrapy see only what dley are told to see. For readers who like insurrections, space battles, and tough women who are comfortable in their own skins-and can kick major tentacle-Ragamllffin is a sure bet. FICTION REVIEW-ESSAY IUah1:Wa1:ch Amy J. Ransom Lukyanenko, Sergei. Night Watl'h. Trans. Andrew Bromfield. New York: Miramax Books/Hyperion, 2006. 455 pages, trade paper, $13.95. ISBN 140135979-5 .-\Ithough labeled "Fiction/ Science Fiction" by its publisher, its cover art and blurbs reveal the true colors of Sergei Lukyanenko's Nigh! Watd) (Nochnoy Dozor, 1998), dle first volume of an urban fantasy trilogy set in contemporary i\[oscow. A well-known and prolific writer of Russian SF & F, Lukyanenko has explored a number of subgenres from space opera, to alternate history (I..::aplan 88, 93-94), to cyberpunk (GomeI440), aldlOugh little of this is available in English. This novel's translation can be traced directly to dle U. S. release on DVD of director Timur Bekmambetov's film interpretations of the series (Nochnoy dozor, 2004; Dnevnoy dozor, 2006). Night Watch approaches fantasy's traditional theme of the battle hetween good and evil from an intelligent, self-referential, arguably postmodem but ultimately humanist stand P01l1t. This element, coupled widl its running commentary on post-Soviet Russian society, offers much of interest to both scholars and students of popular genre literatures. TIle novel's title refers to an agency established to enforce adherence to "tlle Treaty," an agreement reached between the forces of Light and Dark in order to maintain a balance of power on Earth. Its protagonist, Night \Vatch agent Anton Gorodctsky, rcprcscnts a wonderfully sympathetic take on the detective figure as his novice blunders provide a forum for I .ukYiU1cnko's dark humor. Thc author also approaches tlle agency's handling of vampires, evil wizards, curses, and other manifcstations of thc Dark side in a tongue-in-cheek manner, allowing for a self-conscious revision of dlese timewom tropcs. Various confrontations between Night \,\'atch agents, Day Watch agents (tlleir Dark counterpart), and the fantastic hcings whose bcha,-ior they must regulate, lend forward momentum to the narrative, which includes some gripping action. Of grcater significance, perhaps, for the academic reader is tlle novel's approach to tlle problem of good versus evil, as this plays out bctween tlle oftcn bureaucratic agencies enforcing the Treaty. "\t once a comment upon the Cold \Var as mc;U1ingless stalemate, as well as an exploration of the need to move beyond it, Night [,f/'atch aligns itself perhaps with a gcneral moycmcnt in post-Sm'iet Russian SF obsen'ed by Vitelii Kaplan beginning in the early 1990s, in which "authors )


( ( 17) shifted their attention to the present-to the 'ordinary man' cast out of the former system of ethical coordinates into the jungle of the present" (90). While on the one hand, Gorodetsky is an "Everyman" continually grappling with his humanistic desire to do what is right and help others, balancing the immediate individual benefit of his actions against dle longterm needs of dle common good. On the other hand, he is technically not human, for dle Night \\'atch employs only "Others"-post-human beings with various "supernatural" powers. "\ldlOugh dle), live and intervene in human society, dle fact of dleir Odlerness must remain secret. In the novel, assessments of the accuracy or inaccuracy of human belief, the measures taken to ,-eil human memories of encounters widl Others, and Others' efforts to recruit humans with extraordinary abilities into dle forces of Dark or Light (abiding by or breaking the various rules of the Treaty regarding such action), all sen'e to historicize the fantastic and offer a meta-narrative commentary upon dle act of creating a fantastic text which re,-eals the changing shape of the genre's tropes. illustrative example of dlis occurs as attempts to help a teenager, Egor, who witnesses dle destruction of a vampire, experiencing it as something "just like in the movies" (75). TIle fearful youth actually consults his memory of vampire films for a means of protecting himself, adding his assessment of each film's "Dracula, Dead and Loving It. .. no, that was comedy. Once Bitten-absolute garbage ... (76). \",('hen Egor finally recalls dle traditional amulets of cross, garlic, and "poplar wood" (77), response revises dle traditional vampire story, mm-ing it into a contemporary context: "Oh, kid, if only everydling in dus world were dlat easy. Siker won't sa,-e you, or poplar wood, or the holy cross. It's life against death, love against hate ... and power against power, because power has no moral categories" (8-!85). TI1e problem of power is, of course, central to dle text's compelling philosophical engagement widl the battle between good and evil explored d1!ough its depiction as a stalemate regulated in a bureaucratic fashion. W1UIe d1e m-ert realpolitik message with which is indoctrinated as a member of dle Night Watch comes down to power, a utopian hope yet lingers. Indeed, intrigues to upset dle carefully regulated balance of power moti,-ate dle novel's plot, which maintains suspense as Gorodetsky must follow dle trail of clues dlat finally reveal at dle novel's conclusion just which side has broken the Treat)' to ilutiate a new battIe. In its utopian/ dystopian elements, Night Watd) weds itself to a long tradition of Soviet and Russian SF (a form apparendy defined much more broadly than here in dle U. S.) and sets up its rW111ing commentary upon Russian and world history. Contemplating dle possibility of war, Anton asks his partner, new revolution?" "\ representati,-e of dle part) line, she responds: "We didn't want dle last one. It was all supposed to happen almost completely without bloodshed. You understand: \Ve can win only d1!ough ordinary people. \"'('hen dley become enlightened, when dleir spirit is uplifted. Communism was a wonderfully well-calculated system [ .. .]" (398-9). Zabulon, a powerful Dark wizard, dlOugh, dlro,,'S back in the Light agents' face dle record of history, a record often consulted by anti-utopians from Orwell on: In dle last hundred years dle forces of Light have launched d1!ee global experiments. TIle revolution in Russia. TIle Second World War. "\nd now dlis project. [ ... ] Social models are developed dlat should eventually-at dle cost of massive upheavals and immense bloodshed--create dle ideal societ)-. [ ... ] First dlere was internationalism and communism-dlOse didn't work. TIlen there was national socialism .. \nodler mistake? You put your heads togedler and examined dle result. TIlen you sighed, wiped the slates clean, and started experimenting all over again. (410) \V'hat can dle fate of hWllanit) be, dle novel seems to suggest here, if it is dle very forces of Light repeatedly leading us to disaster? So closely tied to dle utopian projects of bodl dle Enlightenment and communisim, it is not surprising dlat dle history of science fiction and fantasy in Russia has been interpreted as following a cyclical pattern of boom and bust, widl its loss of dynamic force corresponding precisely with periods of greater state authoritarianism (Yershm-, Sm-in, Nudelman, Gomel, Heller). Clearly, Lukyanenko's work takes part in dle post-Sm-iet boom in SF, although, as in the West, '1lard" SF appears currendy overshadowed by fantasy, as Elana Gomel asserts (-B7). I hope that dle success of Lukyanenko's trilogy (Dt!)' Watch, 2006 and Twilight U7(}!ch, 2007 are also a,-ailable) will lead to the appearance of yet more Russian works 111 English. Certainly his translator, .. \ndrew Bromfield, has made an admirable contribution, facilitating access to Russian writers of genre and slipstream fiction, including dle historical mysteries of Boris .\kwun, dle satire of \ 1adinlir Yoinm;ch, and dle genre-bending works of Viktor Pclevin. Given recent trends in l\[oscow, such as the stoppage of Fl\[ broadcasts of BBC-Radio, dle unsolved murder of .. \nna Politkonkaya, and a number of "disappeared" journalists like l\[aksim .\[aximm-)


(18 ) ( in St. Petersburg, I wonder though if just as we become aware of it in the \Vest, Russian SF will face yet another downturn. 441. Works Cited: Gomel, Elana. "Science Fiction in Russia: From Utopia to New i\ge." Scimce Fictiol1 Studies 79 (1999): 435Heller, Leonid. "La science-fiction et Ie fantastique en litterature." LaQllil1zail1e litteraire 469 (1986): 17-19. I"'::aplan, Vitalii. Look Behind the Wall: A Topography of Contemporary Russian Science Fiction." Trans. Vladimir Talmy. RJlSsial1 SocialS cimce Retz"ellJ 44.2 (Mar-Apr 2003): 82-104. Nudelman, Rafael. "Soviet SF and Ideology of Soviet Society." Trans. Nadya Peterson. Scie!1ce Fictiol1 Studies 16.1 (1989): 38-52. Suvin, Darko. "The Utopian Tradition of Russian Science Fiction." Modem Lal1guage Relz"ellJ 66 (1971): 139-159. Yershov, Peter. Scimce Fictiol1 al1d Utopial1 Fal1ta!) in SOliet Literatllre. New York: 1954. )


( ("-___ 1 0.....,) It's time to renew your SFRA membership! And in case the current benefits (listed on the back page) aren't enough, effective in the 2008 membership year, SFRA members will be able to add an additional subscription. LoCUJ Magazine will be available to SFRA members at the fol lowing rates: US Periodical Rate: $30.60 for 6 issues; $54 for 12 issues; $97.20 for 24 issues. US First Class Rate: $36 for 6 issues; $61.80 for 12 issues; $111.60 for 24 issues. Canada and Mexico: $38.70 for 6 issues; $65.70 for 12 issues; $120.60 for 24 issues. International: $45 for 6 issues; $85.50 for 12 issues; $144 for 24 issues. )


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