SFRA newsletter

SFRA newsletter

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SFRA newsletter
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Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
Science Fiction Research Association
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[Eugene, Ore
Science Fiction Research Association]
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Science fiction -- History and criticism ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- History and criticism -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Science fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
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Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
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c October, 1988
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x History and criticism
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History and criticism
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Book reviews
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Book reviews
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The SFRA Newsletter Published ten times a year hy The Science Fiction Research Associa tion. Copyright 1988 by the SFRA. Address editorial correspondence to SFRA Newsletter, English Dept., Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Editor: Robert A. Collins; Associate Editor: Catherim: Fischer; RCl'iclV Editor: Rob Latham; Film Editor: Ted Krulik: Book NelVs Editor: Martin A. Schneider; Editmial Assistant: Jeanette Lawson. Semi changes of address to the Secretary, enquiries concerning subscriptions to the Treasurer, listed below. SFRA Executive Committee President William H. Hardesty, III English Department Miami University Oxford, OH 45056 Vice-President Martin H. (ireenbcrg College of Community Sciences Univ. of Wisconsin-Green Bay Green Bay, WI 54302 SecrehllY Elizabeth Anne Hull Liheral Arts Division William Rainey Harper College Palatine, IL 60067 Treasurer Charlotte P. Donsky 1265 South Clay Denver, CO 80219 Immediate Past President Donald M. Hassler English Department Kent State University Kent, OH 44242 Past P,esidents of SFRA Thomas D. Clare son (1970-76) Arthur o. Lewis, Jr. (1977-78) Joe De Bolt (1979-80) James Gunn (1981-82) Patricia S. Warrick (1983-84) Donald M. Hassler (1985-86) Pust Editors of the Newsletter Fred Lerner (1971-74) Beverly Friend (1974-78) Roald Tweet (1978-81) Elizabeth Anne Hull (1981-84) Richard w. Miller (1984-87) Pilg"im Award Winne,'s .I. o. Bailey (1970) Marjorie Hope Nicolson (1971) Julius Kagarlitski (1972) .lack Williamson (1973) I. F. Clarke (1974) Damon Knight (1975) James Gunn (1976) Thomas D. Clareson (1977) Brian W. Aldiss (1978) Darko Suvin (1979) Peter Nicholls (l980) Sam Moskowitz (1981) Neil Barron (1982) H. Bruce Franklin (1983) Everell Bleiler (1984) Samuel R. Delany (1985) George Slusser (1986) Gary K. Wolfe (1987) Joanna Russ (1988)


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October, 1988 President's Message: Harlan Ellison and Robert A. Collins YOU all know by reading the NClrs/eller that Bob Collins' account of Harlan Ellison's address at the Ninth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts last March has been controversial. I'm writing to restate SFRA's position and to add my own opinion about Mr. Ellison's au dress. As you must have gathered, Messrs. Collins and Ellison are not friends: therefore, their perceptions of events may differ. I have no personal knowledge of their interactions, but I suspect that they influence both men's present responses. Mr. Collins reported on ICFA in the April/May NClvs/ellcr. Mr. Ellison's recollection of events uiffers in a number of respects. In the News/etler Mr. Collins reported what he heard. saw, and experienced at ICF A. What he reported was not only at ouds with Mr. Ellison's own view of events, but also differed from the recollection of several other attendees. To represent these perspectives. Mr. Collins printed two letters from members presenting opposing viewpoints. He then replied to them at length. Not having attended the ICF A. I can't comment on one of the issues, Mr. Ellison's participation in panels or on his contributions to the conference organization, structure and tone. I ha\'e, however, listened to a tape of Mr. Ellison's keynote address, which Mr. Collins characterized unfavorably. In my opinion irs a wilty. fiery speech. Called "Condemneu to thc Gulag," it appears to be in part impromptu and always passionate. growing out of Mr. Ellison's long (and deeply) held convictions about the status of the writer who chooses to \\fork in SF. a form too often dismissed by "serious" academic and media critics. On the tape, the audience reac tion sounds strong and favorable. This is my view, not SFRA's. In reviewing Mr. Ellison unfavorably, Mr. Collins was giving his vie\\' point--again, not the official one of SFRA (nor necessarily that of any of its other memhers). However. Mr. Collins' review may have had unfortunate consequences. Mr. Ellison believes that the unfavorable NCII'slell('l' account of his participation in ICFA has cost him a speaking engagement and possibly


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October, 1988 endangered others. If that's the case, it's truly regrcllable and certainly inappropriate. Let me propose an analogy. A book review may lead a given reader not to read a certain volume--thatmay even be one purpose of the review. But the review is one person's opinion: even the most hostile opinion shouldn't be taken by anyone to imply that further works by the same author shouldn't be published. To apply my analogy: that Bob Collins didn't respond favorably to Harlan Ellison's talk at ICFA doesn't imply that SFRA thinks Mr. Ellison should not be allowed to speak. I would hope that no one would conclude that we're in the business of promoting or condemning any individual. There is no official SFRA opinion of Harlan Ellsion--or Bob Collins, or Bill Hardesty. Nor should there be. Bill Hardesty Fantasy and Postmodernism The Winter issue (No.4) of the iOlll7lal aJthe Fantastic in the A,1s is a special numbn, devoted to exploring the relationship between genre fan tasy and the "post modern" movement in literature and critical theory. Guest Editor Lance Olsen, of the University of Kentucky, remarks: "1 think we have a groundbreaking issue here -opening up a whole new area of discourse among those interested in fantasy." Included are: Lance Olsen, "Overture: What Was Postmodernism" Peter Malekin, "The Deeentered Absolute: Significance in the Postmodern Fantastic" Ralph Yarrow, "Putting a Red Nose on the Texts: Post modernism, the Fantastic, and Play" Veronica Hollinger', "Theater for the Fin-du-Millenium: Playing (at) the End" Patt"ick MUl'phy, "De/Reconstructing the '1': PostFANTASTICmod ernist Poetry" Rob Latham, "There's No Place Like Home: Simulating Postmodern America in THe Wizard oj (}z and BIlle Velvet" Dorothy Joiner, "Fictional Cultures in Postmodern Art" William M. Schuyler, Jr"" "Deconstructing Deconstruction: Chimeras of Form and Content in Samuel R. Delany" Douglas Fowler', "Mill hauser, Suskil1l1 and the Post modern" Rob Latham, "Coda: Criticism in the Age of Borges" The special issue is due out in January .TFA comes with membership in IAFA; single issues are $6 each. Write M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 80 Business Park Drive, Armonk, NY 10504. 4


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October, 1988 POINT OF VIEW PROBLEMS: A Conversation with Karen Joy Fowler Conducted by Earl Ingersoll and Nancy Kress In )9g5, Karen .Joy Fowler burst upon the science fiction scene with three stories in Isaac AsimOl"s SF Magazine, one in 77,e Magazinc oj Fantasy and Science Fiction, and one which was featured in the first volume of L. Ron HlIbbard Presents H'iitln oj the FWl/re. The next year saw several more appear, and by the end of 19R6 Fowler had enough material to pub lish her first collection,Altiflcial Things [Bantam/SpectraJ, a volume which won high praise from writers as diverse as Orson Scott Card, Kim Stan ley Robinson. and Lucius Shepard. In 1987, she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer; her '87 short story "The Faithful Companion at Forty" was nominated for a Nebula Award and selected for publication in Gardner Dowis' }'car's Best Sci{'//ce Fiction [Fifth An nual Collection, St. Martin's, 19881. She currently holds a fellowship in fic tion from the National Endowment for the Arts and has recently sold her first novel. Despite this rapid success. there has been. in some circles, controver sy as to whether Karen .loy Fowler is a science fiction writer at all. Her stories, though they often feature alien beings and other recognizable icons of the genre. tend to focus on ordinary people and to usc the tradi tional material of SF more for its metaphorical suggestiveness than for its scientific or sociological import. To readers steeped in American SF tlf the 40's and 50's, Fowler's stories always seem slightly off, as if the genre's classic settings and props have been skewed somehow. Her work raises point-of-view prohlems, forcing the reader to ask herself: what is an SF story? what should one expect whcn reading an SF story? how much thematic ambiguity can the genre tolerate before a story stops being SF and becomes something else, like a dream or a parable? Actually, there is a fairly long tradition in SF of this kind of writ ing, running from Cordwainer Smith to R.A. Lafferty to Michael Bishop; these writers. for all that they differed one [rom another, have shared a restlessness with the field's conservative quality, an impulse to shake up and open up the genre.


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October, 1988 If one can, without contradiction, speak of a tradition of individualism, then that is the one to which Karen Joy Fowler belongs. She also belongs to the growing rank of women SF writers ami, like many of her contemporaries, is concerned with the implications of gender -both thematically (as in the question: can SF provide models to study sexual difference?) and professionally (as in: what docs it mean to be a woman SF writer?). Her story "The View from Venus", which appears in A/1Ulcial 771inRs, offers a kind of metafictional comment on these concerns: a simple human relationship, having become the object of study for alien anthropology students in a class in "Comparative Romance I," yields up wide-ranging conclusions about sexual politics -conclusions which would probably not be possible with a more realistic treatment of the situa tion. The SFnal angle --the viewpoint of the Venusian anthropologists throws the mundane relationship into stark relief, making the familiar it self seem strange and alien. This story also testifies to Fowler's unconven tional use of SF material: the aliens, which would be the likely point of focus for most SF writers, instead serve to bring a common human situa tion into sharper focus; their rationale is not scientific (in li!l:ral fact, as far as we know, no life is possible on Venus), but metaphorical. The following conversation with Karen .loy Fowler took place July 20, 1985, while she was a guest of the Writers Forum at SUNY, Brockport. Speaking with her were Nancy Kress, winner of a Ncbula Award in 1985 for her short story "Out of All Them Bright Stars" and the author of four novels, most recently All Alicll LiRlrtl Arbor House, 1988J, and Earl Inger soll, editor of the forthcoming collection of conversations with writers of fantasy and science fiction, SF Talk. The discussion followed a reading given by Fuwler of her story "Lily Red:' which has since appeared in Isaac Asimol"s SF Magazine for July, 1988. Ingersoll: I'm struck by the qualities in t he story you just read that remind me more of "mainstream" fiction than SF, and I'd like to ask you a two pronged question. First, what do you see as the difference between so called "mainstream" fiction and SF? and second, what appeals to you especially in SF? Fowler: I'm asked this question frequently because J think people have the same response to my work that you have just expressed. Sometimes when I'm asked this question by science fictioll writers, it has a nasty, ac cusatory tone, like "You calltlris science fiction?", to which I generally respond, "I'm sorry" ILaughterJ But the truth is, I guess, that these ques tiolls don't interest me the way they seem to interest other people. As a working science fiction writer, I don't say to myself, "Now I'm going to 6


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October, 1988 write a science fiction story and, therefore, I must follow certain rules, or ] will have cheated in some way." ] sit down to write a story, and] love the freedom that science fiction offers me to leave reality and say what J want to say with any tools] want to use. ] don't draw the same kind of distinc tion I'm beginning to understand other people do, I'm unusual in the field in that I didn't read science fiction as an adoles cent. People who have done that are imprinted forever in some way which those of us who didn't can never quite share. What I read, and very late in my life, were children's books. Most of them, the classics of children's literature, are quite fantastical-The Wind in the Hl[//mvs, even Dr. Seuss. I could make a good case for Bartha/ameli' and the Oob/ecl( as a solid piece of science fiction. So I didn't make those kinds of distinctions myself -sCience fiction versus mainstream -and J don't think about them when I'm working. I think about them now as I'm trying to defend myself. Ingersoll: So you feel you're in a sense fitting into a kind of "mainstream"? Stephen R. Donaldson says that epic fan tasy, which he writes, is closer to what has been mainstream for centuries and that what we take to be mainstream -"realistic" fiction -is really a very recent development. Karen Joy Fowler "I am obsessively concemed i1l my work and in my life witll tile diffiClllty that me1l a1ld wome1l have ill talking with each other.,. Ife are aliell to each other ill a 1Iumber of ways. [Ors01l Scott Card] says we're always talki1lg about people from other coulltries w!te1l we llse aliells; I tltillk t!tat we [wome1l] are always talkillg abollt tile otlter sex .... Fowler: Well, I see myself as picking. among the aiLernatives open to me, the one that offers the most freedom as a \'iriter -which is nut "mainstream." I feel that "mainstream" is narrow and more restrictive, and that science fiction is more open, more generous. People may argue a great deal about whether I belong in the field or not, but they publish me and they pay mc. This is acceptance enough for me. 7


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October, 1988 Kress: You came to writing fairly late. Why did you start writing when you did? Fowler: This is an answer you're probably not going to believe, but I think it's the most truthful one I can give you, even though it may seem to trivial ize that decision. I didn't write as a child, although I wrote wonderful let ters. People always have loved receiving my letters --this is the only effort I ever made at writing. I saw myself as a dancer. 1 trained to be a dancer, hut 1 was never a very good dancer --never. Not even at my peak was I ever a very good dancer. When I had children I stopped dancing for quite awhile, and I went back, as they grew older, to find that although I had never been very good, now I was dreadful. And the other people in my classes were about sixteen years old, and I was quite a bit past sixteen. It was just an extremely depressing thing I did once a week --watching people younger and more talented getting better and better while I got worse and worse. So I decided to stop dancing; but I had two small children and I did not at all want to giye up the one evening a week I had free. The creative writing class was offered at the same time as the dance class, so I switched. Kress: I think that's a lI'olldcI.fll/ story. But so many people take creative writing classes and they don't become professionals. There was more to it than that ... ? Fowler: Well, I turned out to be rather good at it. I brought in my first efforts, and even my first efforts were applauded in a way I'd certainly never been applauded in my dance class, where they were always saying to me, "Leji foot, Karen, lcft foot." ILaughterl Ingel'soll: How long have you been writing? Fowler: I've been writing since my son went into the first grade and he's now going into the seventh grade, so about six years. Kress: You might talk, in connection with your son's going into first grade, about the trajectories that the lives of women artists take, working around their children, and about how these differ from those of male artists. One of your persistent themes is the relationship between the sexes: you have a lot of stories in which male-female relationships are pivotal. Do you feel that women writers and men writers write different kinds of fiction? Fowler: I do. I was recently on a science fiction panel with a number of 8


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October, 1988 other science fiction writers, discussing sexism and feminism in science fiction. I was one of the last to speak, and so I came late in the introductions; but a number of people who went before me -all male --had offered the fairly comfortable thesis that, after the early days of science fic tion which everybody agrees were nasty to women, we were entering a sort of brave new era in which the common humanity men and women share was heing expressed. J don't share that opinion. I don't think my opinion is a particularly unpleasant one, although it sounds unpleasant to some peopk. J think that what we arc seeing in our own field, and possibly in literature at large, is a great division between women's literature and men's literature. I don't think that they necessarily resemble each other in many ways, I think that we are seeing women's literature get SO/1/C more attention and gain SO/1/C validity that it didn't have, but I don't think we're working toward a fusion. In our own field, I think the cyberpunk movement is an absolutely male phenomenon, although I know you're going to teII me that there are women who write it and I concede this, But I still feel that among the readership and among the writers, this is, in general, a male moycment. And it's not being identified as such, but rather as thc direction the field of science fiction ought to take. I don't think women are writing the same kind of thing. generally speaking, or reading it. And I'm hopeful about this, because I feel that communication between the sexes can only be improved by an honest recognition that we arc I/ot very similar in many ways. As we begin to learn about each other more honestly, I hope there will be an improvement. KI'ess: In what specific ways does male-written science fiction differ from that written by women? Fowler: The most obvious difference, of course, is the technological level. There are a number of possible explanations as to why men seem not only to be better at the hard technological science fiction but just more interested in it as readers as well. ithink that what women want to read about is the relationship between people, amI that's probably true in any field of literature. It's not that we're uninterested in technological uevelopment or that these other questions seem trivial, but they're of secondary importance. Ingersoll: Do you think this is the result of acculturation: lillie boys being raised with trucks and lillie girls with dolls? Fowlel': Partly due to having my own children and seeing some of my brave 9


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October, 1988 new experiments at nonsexist parenting blow up in my face, and partly by reading the literature we write, I believe that the profound biological dif ferences between the sexes result in profound psychological differences. I think this is more obvious as we recover more women's literature. I recently finished Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar's NOTtoll Allthol Og\' 's Literatllte. It made me feel like part of the human race to sec that women writing one hundred, two hundred years ago fell many of the things that I feel, things that I don't sec reOected in the male literature I have studied. K .. ess: You've said that it was a challenge to writers of both sexes to create believable female characters. And thinking over your work, the viewpoint characters are nearly always female. Fowlel': Almost always. I do have exceptions. K .. ess: Yeah, likt: Tonto, tht: viewpoint character in "The Faithful Companion at Forty." Fowle .. : He hardly counts. Kress: In fact, he does hardly count, given the role he plays with the Lone Rangt:r, which is almost the traditional female role. But what I wanted to ask you was, Why do you think it's especially challenging for /Joth sexes to create believable female charactns? Fowle .. : .I ust because we've all grown up reading believable male charac tns. Women, as well as mt:n, have grown up without reading believahle female characters. Ursula LeGuin tells a very interesting story. Her mother was talking about her work -fairly early on, I assume --and asked Ursula, "Why don't you ever have female protagonists? Why don't you have female viewpoint characters?" And she said, "I don't know how to do that. I've never seen that dont:." Inge .. soll: So it's lack of models? Fowle .. : I think so. In order to create a female character, a woman really has to look at herself more closely than a male writer trying to create a male character has to look at himself, because she has nothing else to go on, really, because many of the models that do appear in fiction are mis leading or inaccurate. It's a constant theme among feminists who read people like Hemingway and Fitzgerald and find them bewildering. 10


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October, 1988 Women just don't understand their kmale characters at all! Kress: Which science fiction writers do you feel succeed in creating helievable female characters? Fowler: Well, of course, I think many of the women do. We do ul timately have ourselves to draw upon, and the men do not. Kress: Perhaps I should ask you what male science fiction writers create believable female chara(.' ters? "YOll [the writer] are making statements ill YOllr work. There i.s a message there. }'Oll call not avoid it. That being tlte case, YOIl shollid kllow the message YOll are 0fferillg alld YOll shollid believe ill it. I limit this to the elldillgs of stories ... it is fiction after all ... YOll're tellillg lie after lie bllt ollly ill the service of the filial tmth .... Fowler: I think that Bruce McAllister does an outstanding joh with his female characters. I have not read his novel Dreumbabv yet, hut the short story which generated it ["Dream Baby", in JII the Field of Fire, eds. Jack and Jeanne van Buren Dann. TOR, j(87) has a female point of view character who is very believable. Even better is the female voice in the short story "When the Fathers Go." What's particularly courageous is that Bruce uses these female voices to look at female issues. They're not just women involved in experiences of the sort the male writer may have shared; they're women involn:d in specifically female experiences. Last year at Sycamore Hill I issued a challenge to the men there to find for me, somewhere in their work, a scene in which they showed two women talking together without a male observer. James Patrick Kelly [author, with John Kessel, of Freedom B('(1ch, 1985] said that he had a mother and daughter scene. but he was unhappy with it for some reason I don't remember. He went home and wrote a story entitled "Faith" which con tains such a scene. It's not been published yet, but I've read it and I think it's right on the mark. Inger'soll: I'd like to ask you about your story "Face Value" [collected in AI1ijlciai TIlillgs), which I found fascinating. I was especially interested in the characterization of the woman in the story, Hesper, and her concern with privacy, with a separateness of self. I'd like to hear you talk about that story. Fowler': I think that I am obsessively concerned, in my work and in my lik, 1 j


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October, 1988 with the difficulty men and womcn have in talking with each other. I do think that I am not an angry person about this, and that I believe efforts are being made on both sides; and yet I'm not satisfied with the results. What I wanted to do in that story was to talk about this problem of com munication, using the aliens as the counterpart, as the culture in which communication is perfect and instant, and to suggest, of course, that we are alien to each other in a number of ways. I think it's quite possible to read most of science fiction that uses aliens and to argue that what is being talked about is the opposite sex. I think that I heard Orson Scott Card say that we're always talking about people from other countries when we use aliens; I think also we're always talking about the other sex. The reaction to that story has been illuminating to me, because I was trying to write a very generous story, a story that was entirely sympathetic to the man. My own vision of the story is that this fairly nice, fairly decent, fairly hard-working man is trapped forever on a planet with a demanding, unbalanced woman, and I felt thc sympathetic weight of the story fell on him. Now, many people have come up to me since and said, "That sweet, caring woman -how could shc havc married such a cold, predictable man?" I guess I have to take responsibility for that response. Perhaps the effort was not as genuine as I was telling myself it was. [Laughtl'rJ Ingersoll: I think it was genuine. Perhaps because privacy is very impor tant to me, I felt very strongly Hester's sense that there was very little of her self left, dealing with these aliens that had no need for privacy or self but seemed to thrive on this sort of herd mentality. Fowll'r: I also think the aliens in that story arc meant to be children to a certain extent. KJ'l'ss: Are these themes in the novel you just finished? Fowll'I': These are themes I cannot amid, try as I will. In the novel, the main point-of-view characters are three men and a woman. The woman is a particularly angry suffragist, so that although her sections are fairly short, I gct to put all those feelings into those scctions, and thcn I feel fair ly rested and I can go on and do the male points of view. Krl'ss: You said a "suffragist." The story takes placc in the nineteenth cen t til')"? Fowll'I': Yes, it takes placcs in 1873. Certainly these thcmes are part of the story, but I don't think that they're as central as in many of my stories. 12


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October, 1988 There are many racial themes which I think are given equal weight. Ingersoll: I'm interested in your sense, after you've written a story, of going back as a reader and dealing with the reactions of the rest of us as readers. I'd be interested in the reactions to Lily at the end of the story you read tonight, "Lily Red." Fowler: That story came out fairly recently, so I haven't gOllen many reader reactions. I've gotten writer reactions to it. I workshopped it at a workshop Nancy and I go to every year -Sycamore Hill. That was the story I took last year. I was very pleased by the reactions to it. for a number of reasons. It seemed to me, as \\ie went around the table and people spoke about my story, that rather than talk about technical sorts nf issues -how] might have written it beller, which sections bogged down. etc. the energy of the discussion was given over to an argument about what the story meal/t and who \Vas the hero of the story and what was happening in the story. It had vastly different interpretations. Kress: ] can vouch for the fact that the arguing went on long past the critiquing session. Little knots of people on the porch --and again, especially the female writers -continued to argue it all through lunch and dinner. Fowler: Well, I missed joining the female \\iriters because as I tried to leaYe the critiquing room Lewis Shiner lauthor of Frollfera, Baen, and Desel1ed Cities o(the Heal1, Doubleday, \988) said to me, "Scoll Card and ] are I/O/ done with your story yet. SIT DOWN!" So I had to wait while Scott Card and Lew Shiner decided the direction science fiction nught to he taking -using my story as the Yehicle --while I missed lunch. Kress: Did you get to contribute an opinion? Fowlet': No, I did not. Inget'soll: I'm interested in hearing: about the disagreement over the story. Fowler: There was a lot of disagreement over the character of the husband: was he really a cold-blooded, unfeeling creep? Kress: Since he has only one line in the story, there is very lillie evidence from which to judge. Fowler: Of course, a lot or this depends on how sympathetic you feel Lily is. If you like her a great deaL you tend not to like her husband. If you feel.


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October, 1988 in fact. that she is really a very unpleasant woman, then you're more sympathetic toward her husband. I'm always pleased about thaLI don't think that it's ever clear, particularly in marriages, who the good guy is and who the had guy is. There's always evidence for both sides. So I felt the story was successful. Ingersoll: That's the way I felt -that it didn't have to be an either/or. I felt sympathy toward Lily, I could understand where she Vias coming from and what she was going through, but I had the sense, at the end of the story, that even she realized she was using her husband for a kind of self justification. Fowle.': Yes. Good. Ingersoll: In a sense, when she came hack she needed him to say very lit tle to her and to go hack to his hook. If he had gotten up and started an argument or begun to make passionate love to her, she would have been undone, because she needs to keep the various parts of her experience in separate compartments. I was struck by how soon it is after she makes love tothe Indian, whl) may be a god, that she begins to withdraw. And the lan guage at the end, particularly as she gets near her home, gets more "public," almost as though she needs to talk out this need to "get tough" again, because love is after all dangerous and involves terrible risks. Par don my long dissertation! Fowler: That was the other controversial element in the story --how we ought to view this encounter she had with the Indian in the ca\e. Jack McDevill[author of The Hercl/les Tex/, Ace, 19H(ij at least felt that she had slept with the god and that sht: should see this as an ennobling experience. Of course, whether or not he's a god is problematical. And I think the reason it's problematical is that I ncver felt it made a difference. It seems to me that all those Chcek stories in which women sleep \vith gods and then get to be cows for,the rest of their lives -it \vouldn't comfort me to know that the man who did this to me was a god! [Laughte"J It makes no difference in the encl. Kress: It didn't comfort Lily either. Whieh is your favorite of your short stories? Fowler: I think that my favorite ... I like three of them. Can [ have thrce favorites? The story ['m proudest of is "Lellers from Home," which appears in the Vietnam anthology Ill/he Ficlds of Fire I cds. Jack and Jeanne 14


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October, 1988 van Buren Dann, TOR, 1987]. It saddens me to think that this story is going to disappear completely because it's not in my book and it's not in any of the "Best of the Year" collections. Kress: I don't think the anthology will disappear, though. That was a yery important anthology. Fowler: "The Faithful Companion at Forty" is also a very important story tome. Kress: That was your Nebula nominee. Fowler: Yes. And I like one of the stories that appears in AT1i(icial 171illRs and has appeared nowhere else, "The View from Venus," which I think is so hysterically funny that I can hard ly read it myself without enjoying myself more than the writer is en titled to. "( thillk you have to walk a very fille lille betweell takillg yourself too seriously alld 1I0t takillg yourself seriollsly ellollgh. When you begin, .. 110 aile takes you seriollsly alld you have to provide your ownfeefillg that YOll arc a writer, Later it's a great dallger that YOll get so much outside support YOll take yourselffar too seriollsly"" Inget'soll: One of the stories that I was hoping you would mention was "The Lake Was Full of Artificial Things." Fowler: Did you like that? Inget'soll: I thought it was a great story! You seem to reyeal so much in the central relationship, and so economically. Fowlet': I'm glad that you liked it. I feel that's one 1 can offer as actual science fiction when I'm cornered. I can say, "I do too, I do too write science fiction. Look, there is a machine in this story!" Kt'ess: In class this morning, when we were talking about the endings of stories, you said you thought it was very important that writers have a moral stake in their endings. Could you explain what that meant? Fowler: I know I'm a fanatic on this issue, I know I'm entirely un reasonable, but I really do believe this very strongly. You are making state ments in your work. There is a message there. You cannot avoid it. That IS


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October, 1988 heing the case, you should know the message you are offering and you should believe in it. I limit this to the endings of stories because I believe very much that in getting to the ending you tell all kinds of lies. It is fic tion, after all. You're telling lie after lie after lie but only in the service of the final truth that you're going to leave us with at the end. Ingersoll: And yet the endings of your stories are very open. Fowler: Well, you see, I don't know what I think about anything! lLaughter] Kress: She has a strong moral faith in openness. Ingersoll: In fact, your endings send me back to the story, in somewhat the same way the endings of Joyce's DllblillcrS stories do. Fowler: I guess what's difficult for me in believing this and being a writer is that I don't believe in resolution. I don't believe that life offers us resolu tion, and therefore I find it very hard to pull it off in my fiction in a way I can believe in. Ingersoll: I'm working on a collection of interviews with Margaret Atwood, and she says she likes to have the reader participate in the ending of the story, take part in the creative process of resolving the story. What do you think about that? Fowlcl': I think that's lovely. I'll use that explanation in the future. One of the things Lewis Shiner complained about in "Lily Red" was the ending. He felt the woman had a clear choice to make, and we didn't get to sec what the choice was. Furthermore, we had no way of ever guess ing what the choice was --there was no way to read the story and to k/loW what happened next. And he felt because of that the character didn't grow, which he felt was required in fiction. Ingersoll: Doesn't that seem rather dense? Fowler: I thought it was an interesting point. I went home and thought a long time about whether I have a responsibility in my stories to let you know what's going to happen next. For me, the choice Lily has to make is such a difficult one that it would trivialize it to have her make it. I want the reader to see how difficult this decision is, how unappealing the various options before her are, and therefore /lot to choose one and /lot to 16


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October, 1988 telegraph to the reader what choice I feel she would make. Ingersoll: I think it's naive to ask for that kind of resolution. I mean, after all, how many of us do make those sorts of choices in our own lives? Un less we're Frieda Weekley who throws over marriage and family to run off with D.H. Lawrence! Kress: I don't think the story that doesn't indicate what final choice is made is necessarily "female," though. One of my very favorite stories in science fiction is Frederik Pohl's and C.M. Kornbluth's "The Meeting" IHugo-awanl short story, 19731, in which the parents of a chilu who is brain-damageu must make the decision of whether to have the brain of a normal child, who has been killed in a car accident, transplanted into their son's body or to keep the child the way he is. The story ends with the father picking up the phone; you are not told what the decision is. And for the very same reason: it is so very painful. So it seems to me that not only is this a legitimate literary technique but it's not one that is necessarily re lated to your sex. It's one that writers certainly ought to have open to them, and readers ought to accept that this is what the story says. Ingersoll: This is what J finu surprising about your SF, Karen. As I was telling Nan recently, I've been sort of programmed to read SF as though it were a Sherlock Holmes story on the assumption that, by the end of it, all the questions are going to be answereu and all the strings neatly tied together. Your stories sometimes set up a tension for me as a reader. I feel I've got to pay a great deal of attention because the story is going to open out at the end into a highly poetic statement. Which leads me to another question: do you also write poetry? Fowle .. : Yes, and ifI've had any real training as a writer it's been in poetry and not in fiction. Ingersoll: Have you published? Fowlel': I've puhlished some, which really says nothing. Anyone can pub lish poetry; there are thousanus of little markets for poetry. I uo fed, however, that my poetry is good. I'm prouu of it. Anu I think my connec tion to science fiction is, in fact, a poetic one. I don't have the scientific background, but J can't resist the metaphorical possibilities of robots anu aliens and the things they can be used to say in stories. Ingersoll: And the sensitivity to ... 17


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October, 1988 Fowler: Oh yes, we poets are sensitive types. [Laughter] Ingel'soll: I meant to say, your stories have the sense of openness that I as sociate wiLh poeLic staLement. KI'ess: In atltlition to teaching here this week at SUNY Brockport, you've taught at Clarion, which is probably the preeminent science fiction writers' workshop for aspiring hopefuls. There's a controversy that goes on among science fiction writers as to wheLher writing can aCLually be Laught. What tlo you see as the value of workshops to aspiring wriLers? Fowler: I think that while it's probably Lrue Lhat writing cannot be taught, a gootl teacher can prevent you from making tleratlful mistakes. Your writ ing certainly can improve. No one can help you wiLh the creative process itself, bUL they can help you with the editing process, and that's noL a trivial thing. So you go to writing workshops to learn what can be taught and you are on your own with what can't be taught. Kress: Then you woultl recommentl writing workshops to young writers? Fowlel': They have certainly been valuable to me. I tell myself -anti T real ize there's no evidence to support this -that I would have eventually stumbled upon most of the things that teachers have taught me. But they shortenetl the process so much that it seems to me time anti money well spent to have somebody tell me in two weeks what it probably woultl have taken me five years to tliscover on my own. KI'ess: Then let me ask you this: if you had to give one piece of advice to young writing hopefuls, what would it be? Fowler: I think you have to learn to walk a very fine line between taking yourself too seriously and not taking yourself seriously enough. When you begin, it's a problem because no one takes you seriously and you have to provide. all alone and with no support, your own feeling that you are a writer. Later on, if you start to sell and become successful, it's a great danger that you will get so much support from the outside that you begin to take yourself far too seriously. Kress: Do you think this has happenetl to some people in our field? Fowler: Oh no, not in aliI' field! I Laughter] But I feel that you have to find the appropriate balance that works in your life, where you get the chance to work and your work is treated like I'cal work and not like a little hobby 18


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October, 1988 you're doing, but where you don't become obnoxious and overbearing and incredibly boring about it. My way of doing this is to have friends who are writers but also to be careful to have friends who are not writers at all, who will have absolutely no patience with you when you say, "I'm having point of view problems," but will say, "Who cares?" Which is, in fact, the way the world at large feels about your point of view problems! Weedbacij Ideology vs. Objectivity Editor: I'd like to raise a couple of points about your September issue. Before I do, let me say how much I'm enjoying the SFRA Newsletter, which com bines the emotional immediacy (and occasional rancor) of a fanzine with more substantive literary and academic concerns. First, for me, reading M.H.P. Rosenbaum's essay (obituary?) on Robert Heinlein was an experience analogous in a vastly lesser degree -to Rosenbaum's experience reading Heinlein: a combination of furious exasperation, frustration, and respect. After uttering the ritual excoria tion of Ideology, Rosenbaum does justice to Heinlein's creation of a "world of peace and love, justice and mercy, true authority and true freedom." Second, I am glad that Rosemary Arhur wrote to comment on what I also thought was Ka Tresca's overly long philippic against Marleen Barr's book [in SFRA Nell'sletter # 157J. Ms. Tresca's denunciation seemed ex cessive in tone, as ideological attacks so often are. My third point concerns Rob Latham's evisceration of .lames (Junn's SF encyclopedia. As a review article, and an exhaustive one at that, it jus tifies its length, Nevertheless I'd like to point out that the critic who criticizes another critic for public displays of ideology while not openly rcvealing his own seems implicitly to lay a misleading claim to objectivity. (To put my money where my mouth is, here's a thumbnail sketch of my own ideology: disillusioned late-sixties liberal feminist.) As a contributor and (apparently) a listed writer in this book. I'd like to complain that M r. Latham joins the illustrious throng (including The New York Times) that has spelled my name wrong! There is no "e" in Shwartz! I guess I'll have to write more and better so people will remem ber. 19


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October, 1988 I'd also like to take issue with Mr. Latham's disapproval of commis sioning critical essays from practicing SF writers "because Sf writers have obvious professional interests in the promotion of their native materia\." Mr. Latham, have you cver seen a tenure examination or the way that professional critics jockey for pride of place'? I'll grant you: that rhetori cal question was a dirty trick, but onc thing seems axiomatic to me --allY writer will boost her own work. As one of the practicing writers indirectly mentioned (as well as a former acadcmic and active critic and editor), I find this statement of territoriality delivered under the guise of objec tivity quite disturbing. It seems to me that fiction writers working as critics bring an intimate and inside knowledge of the writcr's craft to their critical work; ajudicious reader can distinguish between good analytical work and self-aggrandize ment. English literature has a tradition of author/critics, including Samuel Johnson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and T.S. Eliot. If, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, ''I'm no Tom Eliot," nevertheless I still think that critical work is tno varied to be restricted to an academic (or journalistic) mandarinate. At the ]l)R6 Worldcon, I read a paper for .loe Sanders in which I sug gcsted that SF criticism needed to analyze, rather than merely condemn, the prevalence of conservative, libertarian, and other-than-New-Left ideologies in SF. Judging from the Newsletter, I think that this topic is still important. As regards fiction writers functioning as critics, Judith Tarr and] are writing critical and metacritical articles as well as conducting discussion groups on the subject. We'd be happy to invite interested parties to join in. Do any SFRAns have an intcrcst in taking up either topic, at least in formally, at the ICF J\ in March ]lIS()'? Plcasc let me know. --Sllsall S/llvm1z I Ms. S/Il\"m1z (please forgive the earlier mispelling), I would like to clarify a few points you raise in your letter. I n the first place, as regards ideology, my point in criticizing Gunn for ideological bias was not to suggest that some superhuman standard of objectivity should be or even could be maintained by an encyclopedia editor; as I said in my review, "the tradi tional notion of the encyclopedia as a purely neutral catalogue of data is largely a myth, and ... any process of selection implies criteria of evalua tion which are open to debate." But] do believe that, again quoting, "one ought still to expect some degree of editorial sensitivity to the dangers im plicit in this scenario," I felt that Gunn really did not show anything like this sort of sensitivity. As for Gunn's commissioning of SF writers to provide theme essays for his book, my complaint was twofold: one, the obvious danger of self promotion; and two, the writer's tendency to vent a narrow ideology, Fur20


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October, 1988 ther, r believe the two problems arc linked, as may he shown by one egregious example from Gunn's volume: Poul Anderson's essay on "Alien Worlds." Since Amlcrson is a hard SF writer, he belkves that the criteria for worldbuilding must be culled from the natural sciences and that any alien world which seems to violate known scientific law is an obvious failure; thus, several important SF works, like Frank Herbert's Dlllle, are criticized for being scientifically incredible, while metaphorical uses of alien worlds are preempted [rom serious discussion altogether. And since Anderson believes he has himself succeeded at creating authentic alien worlds, he cites his own works (including such minor titles as 77le Mall HIlIO COll1!tS) many times. A critic who is not an SF writer may still. of course, have axes to grind, but it is more likely that such a person would at least attempt a more neutral discussion of the Fmiel,\' oj J\'ays aliell lI'orlds have ill SF --including, of course, the tradition of rigorous scien tific depiction. I should say, though, that my remarks in this context should not be read, as Ms. Shwartz seems to read them, to imply a critical "territoriality," a prosciption against criticism written by practicing SF writers. I think that Samuel R. Delany may be the best SF critic around, but it is impossible to read his work without recognizing his personal ideological animus and r believe such an animus should be suppressed (as far as is humanly pos sible) in an encyclopedia, which generally aims at reportage more than ex plicit evaluation. It is the I'elllle of the essays, in my view, that makes their authorship by SF writers inappropriate. --Rob LathamJ A 'Thank You' From Mr. Mabe Editor: Thanks for the copies of the SFRA Nelllsletter. Your defense of my ar ticle INo. 158, pp. 18-19J is right on the money. Ellison's supporters apparently have not read the article, but take all Jailh what he says I said and did. In addition to the larger issues (Ellison's determination to control what's said about him, not to mention his hypocrisy in publicly vilifying someone in the most personal and demeaning terms while pretending to carry the banner for sensitivity, humanitarianism, and common sense), there is the simple fact that much of what he said about me, the article, and the media in general, is simply Ilollllie. CI,a/me\, /lfa/Je Fl. lallderdale Nell's/Sllll-S('fllillcl 21


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 U. S. Commercial Releases October Paperbacks: ANTHONY, PIERS. Beillga Grcell IIfother, Book 5 of Incarnations ofImmortality. $4.95. Del Rey, previously a Del Rey he. Fantasy. ---------. The first four books in thc Incarnations of Immortality series, reissued by Del Rcy: Oil a Pale HOI:l"e, $3.95; BeadllX all HOll1xlass, $3.95; Hirth a Tallgled Skeill, $3.95; and Hlre/dillg a Red Sword, $4.50. ---------. Heavell Cell/. $4.50. Avon Books. Fantasy. ---------. Vale of the [/oice. $3.95. Avon reissue. Fantasy. ASH, CONSTANCE. The Horse Girl. $3.50. Ace Books. Fantasy. BARKER, CLIVE. Weaveworld. $4.95. Pocket Books, previously a Poseiden hc. Horror. BENFORD, GREGOR Y. Great Sky Ril'er. $4.50. Bantam/Spectra, pre viouslya Bantam hc. SF. BRADLEY, MARtON ZIMMER. The Fall of Atlalltis. $2.95. Baen reis sue. Fantasy. CHALKER, JACK L. War of the Madstrom, Book III of Changewinds series. $3.95. Ace Books. Fantasy. CHERR YH, C. .r. Allgel with the SIvaI'd. $3.50. DA W Books. Fantasy. ---------, cd. Merol'illgell NiX/liS #4: Smllggler's Gold. $3.50. DA W Books. Fantasy --shared world anthology. ---------, cd. J\1erol'illgclI Nights # 1-4, reissued by DA W: Festival Mooll, $3.50; Feper Seasoll, $3.50; and Trollhled Waters, $3.50. ('LA YTON, .10. Shadow of the Wm711aster. $3.95. DAW Books. SF. COOK, GLEN. Cold Copper Tem:L $3.50. Signet. Fantasy. ---------. Sweet Sill'er B/lies. $3.50. Signet reissue. Fantasy. ---------. Biller Gold Hem1s. $3.50. Signet reissue. Fantasy. De WEESE, GENE. Star Trek #42: The Filial Ne.u/s. $3.95. Pocket Books. SF. FAULCON, ROBERT. Night Hlilltet #6: The Labylillth. $2.95. Charter Books. Horror. FAUST, JOE CLIFFORD. 77le Compally Mall. $3.95. Del Rey. Sf. ---------. A Death of HOllor. $3.50. Del Rey reissue. SF. FORSTCHEN, WILLIAM R. The Assassill Gambit, Book II of The Gamester Wars. $3.95. Del Rey. SF. ---------. The Alexmuliiall Rillg, Book I of The Gamester Wars. Del Rey reissue. SF. GADALLAH, LESLIE. 77le Loremasters. $3.50. Del Rey. SF. 22


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 GALIN, MITCHELL and TOM ALLEN, eds. Talcsji"Vm the Dmk Sidc: Vol. I. $3.50. Berkley. Horror -collection. GATES, R. PATRICK. Fear. $3.95. Onyx Books. Horror. GOLDlN,STEPHEN. 77,c StOl)'tcllcr alld tIll' Jail 11 Vol.lI of The Parsina Saga. $3.95. Bantam/Spectra. Fantasy. GOLDlN,STEPHEN and MARY MASON. Jade Darcyalld the Affair of HOllar, Book One in The Rehumanization of Jade Darcy. $3.50. Signet. SF. GOLDSTEIN, LISA.A l\laskforthe Gelleral. $3.95. Bantam/Spectra, pre viouslya Bantam he. SF. GRIFFEN, P. M. Star Commalldos: Missioll Ulldergroulld. $3.50. Ace Books. HA WKE, SIMON. 77ll'Dracula Caper, #8 in the Time Wars series. $3.50. Ace Books. SF. JONES, DIANA WYNNE. Witch Week. $2.95. Alfred A. Knopf. Y A. KUBE-McDOWELL, MICHAEL P.Altemities. $3.95. Ace Books. SF. LAUMER, KEITH. Retief alld the Pmlgalactic Pageallt of Pulclllilllde. $2.95. Baen reissue. SF. MOON, ELIZABETH. Dil'idcd Allegiallce, The Deed of Paksenarrion, Book II. $3.95. Baen Books. Fantasy. PAINE, MICHAEL. Cities of the Dead. $3.50. Charter Books. Horror. PA YNE, BERNAL c., .J R. E.\pe/imellt ill Tenor. $2.75. Archway Books, previously a Houghton Mifflin release. YA -SF. RANDLE, KEVIN and ROBERT CORNETT. Remember Gettysburg!. $3.50. Charter Books. Fantasy. RICE, ANNE. Illte/view with a Vampire. $4.95. Ballantine reissue. Horror. ---------. 77lc Vampire Lestat. $4.50. Ballantine reissue. Horror. RUSE, GARY ALAN. Death HUllt 011 a Dying Plallct. $3.95. Signet. SF. SCHMIDT, STANLEY, ed. UnkllOJI'/I. $3.50. Bacn Books. Fantasy -collection from Ullkllown magazine. SCOTT, MELISSA and LISA A. BARNETT. 77,e AmlOr of Ligllt. $3.95. Baen Books. Fantasy. SHIRLEY, JOHN. 77ll' Blackhole of Carcosa. $2.95. St. Martin's Press. SF. SPINRAD, NORMAN. Other Amc/icas. $3.95. Bantam/Spectra. SF -collection. SWYCAFFER, JEFFERSON. v(l.mgc of the Plalletslayer, Book II of the Concordat series. $3.50. New Infinities. SF. WAGNER, KARL EDWARD. 77,l' Ycar's Best HOiTOr StOlies: XVI. $3.95. DA W Books. Horror --anthology. WILLARD, NANCY. 77lillgs Illvisible to Sec. $3.95. Bantam/Spectra. 23


SFAA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 Reprinted from Bantam he. Fantasy. ZAHN, TIMMOTHY. Deadmall Switch. $3.95. Baen Books. SF. ZELAZNY, ROGER. 17le Last Defellder of Camelot. $3.50. Avon reis sue. SF --collection. ZIMMER, PAUL EDWIN and JON DeCLES.Blood of the Mllir. $3.50. Avon Books. Fantasy. September Paperbacks: .JONES, JOHN G. 17le SlIjJ(,17Ultliral. $4.1)5. Tudor Publishing. Horror. Trade Books: ASHERMAN,ALLAN. 17leStar Trek 17Ult Nel'er Was. $7.95 trade paper. Pocket Books. SF -collection of unused scripts. ASIMOV, ISAAC. Azazel. $16.95 hc. Doubleday/Foundation. Fantasy-Collection. November 19H8. BANKS, LYNNE REID. 171C Fairy Rebel. $12.95 he. Doubleday. YA -Fantasy. October 1988. BEAR, GREG. Etc17lily, sequel to EOIl. $J(i.Y5 hc. Warncr. SF. October 3,19H8. BRADLEY, MARION ZIMMER. 171C Fir('bralld. $8.95 trade paper. Pocket Books, previously a Simon & Schuster hc. Fantasy. October 1988. CORMIER, ROBERT. Fade. $15.Y5 hc. Delacorte Press. SF. November 1,198H. COVILLE, BRUCE, ed. 17rc UIlico17l TreasllI),. $14.95 hc. Doubleday. Y A --Fantasy Anthology. September 1988. DE HAVEN, TOM.Joe Gosh. $1:\95 hc. Walker & Co. YA -SF Adventure. October 1, 1988. DICKINSON, PETER. Merlill Drcams. $19.95. Delacorte Press. YA fantasy collection. November I, 1 Y88. ELLISON, HARLAN. AIlf.,'ly Calldl'. $17.95 he. Houghton Mifflin. Short Fiction Collection. October 27. 1988. FRANKLIN, H. BR UCE. r,Var Stl11:'i: 171C SlIpeIWcapoll alld the AmeJiC1111 imagillatioll. Oxford Univ. Press. Nonfiction. October, 1988. GRANT, CHARLES, cd. 17le Bcst of Shadows. $]5.95 he. Doubleday/Foundation. Horror --anthology. October 17, 19H8. HERBERT, NICK. Faster Thml Light: SlIperlllmillal Loopholes ill Physics. $J8.95 he. NAL. Science. November 1988. LEVACK, DANIEL .I. H., annotated by MARK WILLARD. DllIlemastcr: A Frallk Her/)C!1 Bibliography. $45.00 he. Meckler Corp. 24


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 Bibliography. October 5, 1988. LUCASFILM LTD. The Alt of $30.00 he. Del Rey. Fantasy. MA YHAR, ARDA TH.A Place of Sill'er Silellce. $15.95 he. Walker & Co. Fantasy. November I, 1988. McCAFFREY, ANNE. DragOflsdawll. $18.95 hc. Del Rey. Fantasy. MOORCOCK, MICHAEL. "'fizardlyalld Wild ROl7lallce. $24.95 he. Gol lancz. Non-fiction. October 1, 1988. PRESTON, RICHARD. Fiw Light: 77le Search for the Edge of the UIli!'erse. $8.95 trade paper [rom the Atlantic Monthly Press hc. NAL/Plume. Science. November 1988. ROVIN, JEFF. The Ellcyclopedia of SlIpelvillaills. $19.95 trade paper. Facts on File, Inc. October 31, 1988. SARGENT, PAMELA. VellllS of ShadolVs. $19.95 hc. Doublcday/Foundation. SF. Novemner 1988. SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM, illustrated by CHARLES VESS. A Midsllml7ler'S Night's Dreal7l. $9.95 trade. Donning Co. Fantasy classic -Graphic "Novel." SPARK, MU RIEL. Mal)' Shel(\'. $8.95 trade paper. NALIMeridian. Biog raphy. October 1988. STUART, RICK and JOHN TERRA. Star Trek: 77le Next Gelleratioll: Officer's Mallllal. $15.00 trade paper. FASA Co. SF. WAUGH, GREENBERG and McSHERRY, eds. Yallkee Witches. $10.95 trade paper. Lance Tapley. Horror. October 31,1988. WEA VER, TOM. Illtell'iews with "B" SF alld HOlmr Movie Makers. $29.95 he. Non-fiction. October 1988. WENDELL. LEILAH. 771e Book Azrad: All 1111imate F.I1COll11ter with the Allgel of Death. $8.95 traJe paper. Westgate Press. 1988. WILSON, ROBERT ANTON. Schrodillger's Cat Tlilog)'. $10.95 traJe paper. Dell Books. Science Fantasy. November 1, 1988. YARBRO, CHELSEA QUINN. 01lsader's TOIICh, segucltoA Flame ill Byzalltillm. $18.95 he. Tor Books. Horror. October l7, 1988. YO LEN, JANE. Sister Light, Sister Dark. $16.95 he. Tor Books. Fantasy. October 18, 1988. --Maltill A. Schlleider 25


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 By Neil Barron For Star Wars huffs and belligerents, Oxford Uniwrsity Press released this month a major background study: War Stars: The Slipenveapoll afld the AI7lClicafl Imagiflatiofl, by Rutgers Professor (and Eaton Award winner) H. BRUCE FRANKLIN 1272p., 3U illos, $22.95, -505295-11. Franklin covers two centuries of popular "future-war" literature, demonstrating its intimate link with American social and military history, and tracing the largely dominant cultural belief that "miraculous new weapons will somehow end war and bring global triumph to American ideals." More than two hundred movies, novels and stories which directly inlluencedlater decision-making (including a pre-war prediction that America would win World War II with atomic bombs and estahlish a Pax Americana like the IlJ46 Baruch pian) arc examined. According to the jacket blurb, "this ground-breaking volume provides a new perspective on the debate over nuclear weapons, defense policy, and the future of the earth." George Easterhrook, a contributing editor of The Atlafltic MOfltll(V, presented a uscful14-page survey, "Arc We Alone?," in the August issue. Like the researchers involved involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), his conclusions are tentative indeed, in contrast to the confident dogmatism characteristic of much SF. [See also Richrd Preston's Light, under Trade books, ahove.] An August reprint worth calling attention to is Overlook Press's The Ci0l71lCflghast Tlilogy, a ] ,000 page omnibus volullle which is a real hargain at $25. It combines the three separatc volumcs Overlook issued in 1983, and includes Peake's black and white drawings and an intro by Anthony Burgess. The most recent issue of Leland Sapiro's Riverside QlIaJ1er(1' was dated March, \lJ8S, No. 30, and received in .I uly. Sapiro teaches college math, last I knew, and has an address m:w to me: Box 464, Waco, TX 76703. Begun in 1%4, RQ has been very erratic, though il was a three time Hugo nominee in the late 60s. This issue contains an article on heroism in SF, a 1986 conversation with Connie Willis, thoughts on the anima led movie version of The Last Ullicol7l, a profile of Carleton Morse, writer of the old radio shows I Lope a l\Zl'stel)' and OIlC Mall's Fal71i(l', and poems, letters, clc. $2, or $6/4 issues. Necronomicon Press, which specializes in Lovecraft and related


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 material, rdeaseu four new titles over the summer, two of them by Clark Ashton Smith: Nos(algia of (he Unknown: 77le Complc(e Prose Puetry, edited by Marc & Susan Michauu, Steve Behrenus anu S. T. Joshi, $4.95, and Mons(erofthe Prophecy, a reprint which "restores J400 worus" cut by Weird Tales, anu includes a synopsis for a sequel which Smith l1l:vcr wrote. Othcr titles are Arthur Machen's Elcllsinia and Bcncath (he Barley ($2.85), reprinting a poetry eycle dating back to 1881, and the essay Smith publishcu 50 years later about writing it; and Ellropean Glimpses, a rewrit ing of Sonia Greene's diary of a trip to Europe in 1932 by HPL himself -introduction by S. T. Joshi, $2.50. Three titles by Clark Ashton Smith have been reissued: Mother of Toads, 77lC Dlvellcr in the Gll((, ($2.50 each) anu 77le Vallllsofthe Yoh-Vombis ($3.50). lUI Lockwood St., Wcst Warwick, RI02893. Recent and Forthcoming Books REFERENCE Brown, Charles N., and William Contento. Science Fiction, Fantasy and HOImr: 1987. October, Locus Press, $36. A checklist of tilles for the year. Collins, Robert A. and Rob Latham. Science Fic(ion and Fantasy Book Rel'iew Annllal. October, Meckler Corp., $W. Surveys anu bibliographies of Non-fiction, Science Fiction. Fantasy and Horror, plus 600 individual reviews of importanttitlcs, alphabetically arrangeu, plus title index. HISTORY & CRITICISM Alhinski, Nan Bowman. Womcn's Utopias in Nineteenth and Twen(icth Cen(l/I)' Fiction. Routledge, J Y88 ..95. Paper. Aldiss, Brian & David Wingrove. T,il/ion YearSprce. Paladin, U.K., 1988. Trade papcr cd., rcviseu, correcteu, some additional material. Asimov, Isaac. Asimol"s Gala.\y: Reflcctions on Science Fiction. Doublcuay, January 1989, $17.95. 6(; editorial essays from IASFM. Barller, Martha. 771e Way to Ground Zero: 7711' Atomic Bomb in Amclican Scicnce Fit'fion. 1l)88, Greenwood Press. Dalby, Richard and Rosemary PaI'uoe, cds. Ghosts & Scholars. Inner Traditions Crucible, U .K., 1988. Du Pont, Dcnise, ed. JYomcn of Vision. December. 1988, Sl. Martin's. Original essays on SF by Le Gyuin, Tiptree, etc. Herron, Don. ed. Reign of Fear.' 771e Tm'or of Stephen King. Septemher 1988, Underwood/Miller, Limited (SOil copy) edition, $75. 20 essays hy various hands. Schweitzer, Darrell, ed. Discol'eling Classic HOlmr Fictioll!. Spring J l)89. 27


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 Starmont. Suvin, Darko. PositiollS lll/d SlIppositiol/s il/ Sciel/ce Fictioll. September F)8S, Kent State UP, $26. Theoretical essays, plus examinatiuns uf Asimuv, Lc Guin, Dick, Yefremov, the Strugatskys, Lem, Brauns. AUTHOR STUDIES Allcn William Rodney, ed. COllversations ,vith K1lI1 Vall II egl/t September, 1(}88, Univ. Press of Mississippi. Kern Gary, cd. Zamyatil/ 's WE: A Collectioll of Ojtieal Essays, 1988, Ardis, $25 he, $11.50 paper. Siegel, Mark. Hugo Gel7lsback: Father of Modem Science ietion, with Es says on Frank Herbel1 and Bram Stoker. 1988, Borgu, $7.95, paper. Magistrale, Anthony, cd. "The Shil/ing" Reader. Spring 1(}89, Starmont. Lerner, Fred, cd. A Sill'er/ock Companion: the and I-Forks of Jolm NI'CI:L 1988, Niekas Publications [RFD 2, Box 16, Center Har bor, NH 032261, 52p., $9.45 postpaid. Sunstcin, Emily W. Mm)' ""ollstonecraft Shelley: Romance al/d Reality. January 1(}89, Lillie Brown FILM Asherman, Allan, 77lC Star Trek 77Ult Never Was. October, 1988, Pocket Books. Lucasfilm. 77re AI1 of'Villall'. October, Ballantine/Del Rey. McCarty, John and Mark Thomas McGee. 77re Little Shop of Book. August 1988, St. Mmtin's. McGee, Mark. Roger COI71lan. 1988, McFarland, $24.95. Rcemes, Dana M. Directed by Jack Al7lold. 1988, McFarlalld, $24.95. ILLUSTRATION Jones, Stephen. Clive Balker's Shadows ill Eden. September 1988, Under wood/Miller. Petersen, Sandy, Tom Sullivan and Lynn Willis. Petersen's Field GI/ide to Ctllllflrll MOllsters.1988, Chaosiulll [Box 6302, Albany, CA 9470(.ij, 64p., $15.95 paper. Robertson, Bruce. Falltasy A11. August, 1988, Writer's Digest. Wood, Robin. 77re People of Pel7l. October 1988, Donning Slarblaze. Zelazny, Roger. Roger ZelazllY's Visllal Guide to Castle Amber. November 1988, Avon. 28


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 IReviewsl Non-fiction Highly Readable Memoirs Anthony, Piers. Bio of al/ Ogre: TIIC Autobiography of Piers AI/thol/)' to Age 50. Ace, NY, May 1988, 294p. $17.95 hc. 0-441-00224-5. In a response to my 1983 Starmont House study, Piers Anthony wrote that it is difficult for readers who have not known him since childhood to spot many of the private themes he explores in his novels. Bio qf all Ogre in part resolves that problem by providing background to episodes in Anthony's early life that echo throughout his fiction. Not a rigidly documented autobiography (Anthony notes that he carefully avoided referring to his voluminous diaries). Bio q( all OR/'e concentrates instead on episodes and impressions organized into five parts corresponding to the five decades of Anthony's life through 1984, with seven appendices, in cluding a hibliography of books published during his first fifty years; un fortunately, there is no index to the novels and stories as they are mentioned throughout the text. Anthony's episodic approach results in a highly readable book, even if one flawed by occasional lapses in chronology, consistency, and tone. Anthony may springboard from a reminiscence into an apologia for his philosophy of life, the tone becoming at times irritating as the author defends himself, his writing, and his reputation. There are extendetl dis cussions of contractual squabbles with puhlishers and editors. of more general connicts with family and neighbors. and of tleeply felt social and ethical beliefs that reflect on Anthony's life and (more to the point perhaps) on the characters anti situations he has created in his fictions. If there is any single lack in Bio oiall Ogre, it would be that Anthony chooses to focus more on philosophy than fiction. While he mentions his major novels and series, he gives lillie specific information about many of them. The Xanth books receive a separate chapter, but discussion of most of the other books is crowded into another. "Novels," which presents a great deal of information on publishing difficulties and reprint histories. Anthony's fans will enjoy and appreciate the many personal and literary insights scattered throughout this \'olume; his uetractors may well be put off by its tone. Yet that may he part of Anthony's purpose in focusing on the image of himself as an "ogre" -as one who will stand up and fight anyone, anywhere, at any time, to defend what he believes is right. Since 29


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 many of his characters seem rellections of earlier versions of Piers Anthony as he has perceived himself over the years, Bio alml Ogre ultimately does help define what Anthony has achieved in his fiction. --Mic"ael R. Collings Two Bibliography Updates Hall. Hal W. Sciellce Fiction and Fantasy Book Review Index, valllme 16, 1985. Author, 3()08 Mcadow Oaks Lane, Bryan, TX 77802, August 1988, 69p. $8.50 pb, stapled. 0-935064-20-6. Borgo Press, Box 2845, San Bernadino, CA 92406. $22.95 he. 0-89370-531-4. Hall's huge two-volume reference index [see SFRA Newsletter #151, along with review immediately bdowl occupied much of his time and ddayed his annual book review indcxcs, three cumulations of which Gale Research has published (including more than 44,000 citations), the last ending with 1984 reviews. The present volume indexes reviews published mostly in 1 <)85: 3935 reviews of 1787 books in about fifty general magazines, library and book trade journals, academic publications, fan zines, and in one French and one German magazine. The introduction says the bibliographic information about the reviewed books isn't provided in the annuals, only in the cumulations; but not so it's all here, and wisely so. The computer sortings have a few glitches. Kim Newman's entries are separated, for some reason. The title index, at last, indexes numerals/years (e.g., 1984) as if spelled out. Cross-references from pseudonyms are sometimes provided, but not always: Jay Ramsey isn't cross-referenced to Ramsey Campbell, for example. Alternate titles aren't always picked up in the title indcx (e.g. Phil Hardy'sAlII1II1IJilm en cvclopcdia). I'd recommend that Hall include the dates/volume-issue numbcrs of the indexed issucs in the magazinc directory, which would add one page. A subject index to non-fiction books might add two to three pages. I n generaL though, the inrol'lnation is quite accurate and complete. Volume 17, covering mostly 1986 reviews, should appear by winter lY88/89, and volume 18 by summer of '89, thus making the annual reasonably current. --Neil Bal1'01I Hall. Hal W. & Jan Swanbeck, comps. Scicllce Fictioll alld Falltasy Re seare" Illdex, volume 7. Borgo Press, Box 2845, San Bernadino, CA 92406, 1Y88, 197p. $24.95 he. 0-805-6103-3. This is the first annual supplement to Hall's 1878-1985 t\lio-volume index Isee SFRA Newsletter # lSI] and emphasizes 198() publications, although many from earlier years arc incluJed. This roughly corresponds to Marshall B. Tymn's year's scholarship bibliography for 1986, in the fall 30


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 1987 issue of Extrapolatioll; however, unlike Tymn, Hall indexes the con tents of many large reference books, such as E.F. Bleiler's SlIpema/lIral Fictioll W,iters and Curtis Smith's Twelltieth-Cell/lIIY Sciellce-Fictioll H-'Jiters, thus greatly increasing not only the length but also the depth and specificity of his index. Tymn provided brief descriptive annotations for many entries; Hall provides none, except implicitly by his subject index (121 pages). Hall's subject index contains about 300 headings, including authors as subjects: Tymn used broader groupings: bibliography and reference, history and criticism, author studies, writing and publishing, film and TV, art and artists, and teaching resources. Checking the two indexes against one another reveals many unique entries in each. Hall indexes the field's two major news magazines, LoclIS and SF Chrollicle, along with some newspapers and other sources Tymn ignores. I'd like to see in both a bare bones listing (author/title/year) of all books indexed and all journals regularly indexed and specific issues covered by the bibliography. Also useful would be a short union list of North American and British libraries holding fanzine collections to simplify inter-library borrowing. Hall no longer sells the research index, and Borgo issues it only as a hardcover for the library market. Considering its price, a handful of libraries will want to place a standing order at a 10% discount. A trille ex pensive for individuals, who may have to seule for the more widely avail able Tymn bibliography. --Neil Ba/1'(J/l Solid but Unoriginal Mackey, Douglas A. Philip K. Dick. Twayne/G.K. HaiL Boston, 1988, 157p. $19.95 hc. 0-8057-7515-3. In this book critic Douglas A. Mackey undertakes the formidable task of dealing with Philip K. Dick's large body of fiction in 157 pages. Given this limitation, Mackey can do lillie more than summarize, and this he does quite effectively, in a crisp, straightforward prose style. However, to treat an author as prolific as Dick with such brevity risks distortion. The first of the seven chapters gives a biography of Dick's life so brief that it occasionally seems inaccurate. For instance, it implies that Dick and his mother first moved from Chicago to the Berkeley area when he was nine years old. Actually they moved there when he was a year old, wenl to Washington, DC when he was six, and after a few years returned to the San Francisco area. The study is organized chronologically, with a separate chapter given to the fiction written in each of the decades from the 50's through the 80's. One chapter is also given to the mainstream novels. Mackey summarizes 31


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 the plots and comments on the themes of forty-five novels and at least twenty short stories and in this task he is generally accurate. The length of the treatment given each novel varies slightly according to Mackey's judgment about its worth. For instance, major novels like TIle Mall ill the HiRh Castle and 77le TIlree Stigmata of Palmer EldJitch merit five pages, while a trille like TIle Gallymcde TakcO\'C/" receives only one page. Short stories at best rate one paragraph, and occasionally two or three stories must share space in a single paragraph. At the end of his review of a novel Mackey often quotcs in a short paragraph the evaluation of the novel writ ten by another critic, Footnotes accompany each chapter. The primary bibliography at the end of the book cites Dick's fiction (both published and unpublished), and a seven-page bibliography of secondary sources --books, interviews, and articles --follows, The volume is indexed, although the index consists chiefly of proper names and titles. I am in agreement with Mackey'S hriefjudgments about the important themes and ideas in Dick's fiction; his conclusions closely follow those I expressed in my reccnt Mind ill Motioll. Mackey'S list of Dick's outstand ing novels also matchcs mine. Granted, the nature of the Twayne Author Series discourages original critical hut one docs wish that on at least some occasions Mackey had been willing to develop his own opinions about individual works rather than routinely using a brief quote frol11 another critic's assessment. This book is useful primarily as a reference for the reader who wants a quick reminder or the plot of a Dick novel or for a critic who needs a bibliography of primary and secondary works on Dick. The reader who wants a penetrating exploration of DiLk's complex ideas and literary tech niques willnced to turn to other studies. --PatJicia Wal7ick Artists Finally Get TheilDue Weinberg, Robert, ed. A Bingraphical Dicti()lwry of Sciellce Fictioll alld Fallla,IY Al1ists. Greenwood, Westport, CT, 1988, 346p. $49.95 he. 0-31324149-2. Until recently, fantasy and science fiction artists received little recog nition for the important role they have played in the evolution of the gen res, There arc references to the belter-known artists in the encyclopedias ofPder Nicholls and Donald Tuck, and there have been several illustrated histories of F/Sf, but straight biographical information on the artists them selves has been meager, Considering the highly "visual" nature of imagina tive fiction, and its association (for hetter or for worse) with a particular look --the awesome inventions of Frank R. Paul on the early covers of 32


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 Amazing StOlics, the nudes of Margaret Brundage on Weird Tales, the BEMs of Earl Bergey, the stunning sword-and-surcery figures of Frank Frazella --this is a surprising oversight, one that Rubert Weinberg has set out to COrI'ect in this valuable reference source. The 279 alphabetical entries cover a very broad and representative range: the early French imaginative artist Albert Rohida and his contem pOl'aries, Leon Benell ami Edward Riou, who both illustrated Verne's nuvels; pulp era artists as diverse as J. Allen St. John, Elliull Dold, Edd Cartier, Virgil Finlay, Hannes Bok, Hubert Rogers. Leo Morey, John Newton Howill and others, who worked for duzens of genre pulps; postwar artists like Ed Emshwiller, Jack Gaughan ancl Frank Kelly Freas, who were among the first to make a living at fantastic illustration, amI Chesley Bonestell and Richard M. Powers, whose sophisticated work hdped catapult fantastic art out of the pulp style; and modern artists such as Frank Frazelta, Boris Vallejo, Jell Jones, Rowena Morrill, Michael Whelan .I.K.Poller and Carl Lundgren. Artists who have worked mostly outside the genres but who have produced occasional, striking work within them -Gervasio Gallardo and Joseph M ugnaini, among others -are also recognized. And, of course, there are listings for the many artists whose work is stylistically familiar to many readers but whose names have remained obscure over the years. Weinberg and several collaborators have packed each entry with infor mation on training, inOuences and first sales, personal anecdotes, discus sions of technique, and fair critical appraisals. In a comprehensive introductory essay. Weinberg traces the histmy of fantastic illustration from the mid-nineteenth cent ury to the present, focusing in particular on the impact that magazine chains, the paperback publishing boom, and the recent phenomenon of artists incorporating themselves as collage in dustries. has had upon it. There is no other book like this currently avail able, and it is certain to he a standard reference for years to come. --Stefan DziemimlOlricz Whose Sexist Blinders? Yntema, Sharon. /\Io1'(, T7wn 100: Women Science Fiction Wlil(n. The Crossing Press, Box 1048, Freedom, CA 95018, August 1988, 193p. $3<).95 he. 0-89594-301-8. Crossing is a feminist/leshian press, and this reference book reflects that orientation strongly. Yntema's introduction notes: "I veered

SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 list of books (SF and other), short fiction, essays, and occasional citations to secondary literature. (There is also an appendix listing 170 additional writers and their hooks; this appendLx includes authors about whom there was little biographical information available, and may thus be a trille suspect.) Many of the authors write mostly fantasy or mixt ures of fantasy and SF, in spite of the book's title. The emphasis in the descriptions is on the degree of feminist sensibility present (or absent). The authors range from the well-known to the decidedly (deservedly?) obscure. with many of the latter included "to give room and opportunity to those whose con tribution is as yet minimal hut potentially strong." An appendix lists recommended SF by women; in many cases, it would seem that the only merit of these works is the gender of their authors. One of the eight appendices lists resources used to compile this work, such as Marleen Barr's FUlure Females (198]), which Yntema describes as "an excellent study of women and science fiction," even though she ad mits to "a hesitation about [the book's1 format" in that "nine of [its115 ar ticles were written by men." Yntema does go on to add that "the articles, themselves. are relatively well-balanced and thought -provoking" --a comment which may win a prize as the most back-handed compliment of the year. Charles Platt's Dream Makers II (1983) is "not particularly recom mended due to the sexist blinders of the editor." Y ntema should seek out Platt's implicit rejoinder to this criticism in the "revised" hardcover com pilation. Dream Makers (Ungar, 1987). which reprints twenty-rive inter view/profiles, only one of them by a female author (Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree, Jr.). Whether gender should be the has is ror recommending writers or their works is a matter of opinion. 1 think it shouldn't, whieh is why I dissent from the most recent Pilgrim Award, an example of sexism at its most regrettahle. But apart rrom Y ntema's editorial criteria, what can be said for this fairly pricey bio-bibliography? Not much. Curtis Smith's Twelltieth-Cellllll)' Sciellcc-Fictioll (1986), the obvious source for much ofY ntema's information, provides reasonably current biocritical and bih liographic information ror more than 600 writers, seventy-three or them female by my count, and all the important reminist ones. The profiles in Smith arc also more substantive and better balanced. Many of the critical books listed in Yntema's appendix H, such as Barr's, are much better choices to understand feminist SF or feminism and SF than her own book is. A weak choice, even for larger libraries. --Neil BaTTOIl 34


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 Fiction Incarnations Revised Anthony, Piers. For LOl'e of Evil. Morrow, NY, November 1988, 312p. $17.95 hc. U-688-0821 1-4. IIf1cal7lafiof1s of 1/1l/1l0l1alit)', #71 This series was originally projected to consist of only five books, but second thoughts by Ihe author expanded Ihe plan to seven. The final volume is scheduled for the fall of 1989. Each book has dealt with a different Incarnation (Death, Time, Fate, War, and Nature). Their collective struggle with Satan forms the major thrust of the stories, which are set in a universe similar to ours but where magic works. This volume deals with Satan, the Incarnation of Evil him self, and necessarily incorporatcs the threads of the othcr five plot lines. The story covers a broad temporal span, from the early thirteenth century 10 presenttil11es, and Anthony tries to set a hurried pace; but the need 10 fill new readers in to the major plot elements from previous volumes makes it rough going at times. In spite of this, and of Ihe predictable outcome, the slory keeps one's allention. As in the earlicr books. a human is forced hy circumstance to assume an Incarnation. In this case, a basically "good" man becomes Satan and learns that Evil may be employed as another aspect of good; although he himself is damned and must perform evil deeds, he may stilL by those ac tions, change Ihe mortal world for the beller. Looked at through the eyes of Satan in this book, episodcs from the other volumes take on new meaning. Although there is a hea,-,y dose of "message" in these books, it is at tractively packaged. --WD. StCI'CIlS Flawed EfTOlt by Promising Author Barnes, John. Si" of Oligi'" Congdon & Weed, NY, 1988, 269p. $15.95 hc. 0-86553-195-1. [Introduction by Isaac Asimov] Barnes is a Montana writer who has contributed stories to the major science fiction periodicals. He is also author of a competent earlier hard SF novel, 77zc Mall H110 Pulled DOlVll the Sky. While he can build to an occasional dramatic clim,L,{ that excites even the most jaded SF reader, and while he shows some descriptive originality and a potcntial for provocative thought, his characters and narrative situations are so trite and stereotypical that it is difficult to become very interested in what hap pens. Too many potentially interesling concepts are also tossed about 3)


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 without allowing for adequate development. Barnes introduces a fictional milieu where a number of intriguing religious and philosophical ideas promise to be explored. Too bad they never really arc! Will controversy between world religions (in this case, Christianity and Islam) and between religions and atheistic philosophicalpolitical systems (communism) continue in space? How will these religions and philosophies seck to perpetuate their beliefs through space exploration? When intelligent aliens of other biologies, ecologies, and cultures embrace world religions, how will dogmas. rites, and sins be n.:defined? What changes in thinking must take place before aliens be comc mullahs, rabbis, bishops, and martrysaints? What meanings will still reside in religious events of earth history, when rememben.:d on dis tant planets? These are mallers for an Anthony Buucher, an Arthur C. Clarke, or a Walter M. Miller! Barnes shows skill when he begins to create new linguistic systems and when he composes new sexual hahits and dietary arrangements for alien species. On Randall. his imaginary planet, exploring humans discover three intdligent species, "wingpcrsons," ahanclpersons," and "handsnakes." These unite to form interdependent triune beings. Marriage is certainly different on Randall. But Barnes's narrative seeks first of all to explore imaginatively the basic question of how life originates and may spread throughout the universe. All science fiction readers know the questions. Can life begin on one planet and move to another'? Have spores been carried to Earth by comet tails? May lifeless planets be seeded by refuse left by interplanetary visitors? Not surprisingly, a brief, rcadable introduction by Isaac Asimov, which distills the current scientific thinking and imagina tive speculation on the subject. is the best thing in the book. However, Barnes's own dramatically speculative answer to these questions throws considerations of sin and salvation into some sort of pcrspective and makcs reading the book worthwhile. In short, despite its limitations, this is a bettcr than average scicnce fiction novel by a writer who shows some promise. --Allell Phv-Olsell Living in a "Phil Dick Wodd" Bishop, Michael. UIlic017l MOlllllaill. Arbor House/Morrow, NY, May 1988. 352p. $17.95 he. 0-87795-953-6. Michael Bishup has written novels in thematic pairs before -as with the Nebula Award-winning No Encmy Bill Time (1982) and Allcienl of Days (1986) -and it's interesting to pair his latest novel with last year's Philip K. Dick homage, 17ze Secrct Ascellsion.Ascensioll was set in a Dick36


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 ian alternate America redeemed by the basic goodness of Bishop's characters in that paranoid world. UlliCOl71 MOlllltaill is, but for its unicorns and Amerindian spirits, sct in a modern, discouraged America. Yet in a telling exchange, a character posits that we all now live in a "Phil Dick world." For this gay protagonist, Bo, AIDS has caused "a major reality disjuncture" that has thrown America into the helplessness of a new dark age and destroyed the rightness he felt in his life as a homosexual. The major characters arc all in some way disempowered and divorced from human support: dying Bo's parents disown him; Lihhy, who takes him in, has divorced her immature husband, and is displaced by time from the (;0'5 of her youth; her ranchhand, Sam Coldpony, must reconnect with the wife and now ncar-grown daughter he deserted long ago: his daughter Paisley seeks not only her father but abo a way to bring her I ndian heritage into a larger human context. And there are the unicorns Libby and Sam see around Libby's ranch, mysterious animals with one clear attribute: like Bo, they arc dying. Further links are emphasized: the snowcamoullaged unicorns are, of course, cold ponies. When Paisley, growing into her new role as a shaman, helps Bo hang on long enough to die in the support of loved ones and community, circles close and healing begins. It's a tricky job Bishop'S set himself. Unicorns, degraded and cutesy in 80's eyes, are Bishop's metaphor for America's perception of gays and of Indians, groups oversimplified and so dismissed by many. The challenge is to strip away glitzy stereotype and give them all back their inherent dig nity as fellow creatures and people; he largely succeeds, though ar chetypes still occasionally overwhelm. (Bo, adman as well as rather campy gay, can be off-puttingly arch at times -a natural enough defense mechanism in a dying man; however, Libby responds in kind, and the two go on for chapters being arch together.) I wasn't convinced by a romantic element introduced late on, nor was I ever fully clear on how the In dian spirit world combined with Dickian alternate reality. A subtheme ex ploring the problematic horder between sympathetic publicity and ex ploitation is strong's possible Bishop may have tried to jug gle one too many balls to keep them all in the air at the same time. We'll undoubtedly be seeing a lot more works about both AIDS and the continuing heritage of the 60's. but few of them written by a Michael Bishop, who can envision the same drunken ranchers given to cracking casual nasty jokes about condoms spontaneously all deciding lo visit dying Bo in a show of good-natured support. A writer with such a clear view of humanity'S weaknesses and such loving optimism about its strengths deserves any reader's attention. --1II011ha SOllkllp 37


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 Intriguing, If Flawed, Alternative History Bisson, Tt'ITY. Fire 011 the 1I101/1/taill. Arbor House/Morrow, NY, July 1988, jlJ2p. $15.95 he. 1-55710-014-4. Terry Bisson's thinl novel, ami seconu in SF, will not, I fear, reach the heights of his fantasy Talki1lg Mall, which was nominateu for the 1986 Worlu Fantasy Award. Fire 01/ the Moltl/wil/ is an alternative history, in part movingly written, but too often undramatic and with some subgeneric flaws. Bisson takes as his departure point a vaguely familiar event in U.S. his tory: John Brown's unsuccessful abolitionist raiu on Harper's Ferry in 1859, which resulteu in his capt un: (by a young Robert E. Lee), trial, con viction, anu execution. What most of us don't know, as Bisson points out in his brief preface, is that Brown had originally planned the raid for July 4, with black activist Harriet Tubman as seeond-in-commanu. Tubman's illness forceu postponement, and her absence, aecoruing to Bisson, left Brown without a genius strategist who might have avoiued the blunuers that doomed the expedition. Bisson's novel explores the alternative his tory that might have been, hau Tubman participateu in the raiu as planneu. The events at Harper's Ferry are vicweu from three aspects: first, the musings of Yasmin Odunga, a scientist of the Marxist Nova Africa (our South), wiuow of a heroic cosmonaut, who in 11)59 is uelivering the papers of an ancestor who was present at the Brown-Tubman raid and took part in the subsequent victorious war against the white South; second, the reminiscences of that ancestor, Dr. Abraham, willeu to his descendants In he delivered to the National Revolutionary Park on the centenary of Brown's raid; and thiru, a packet of letters written by a maverick abolitionist Virginian whose fait; bounu him, briefly, both to the runaway slave who would become Dr. Abraham anu to the great Brown himself. Of the three, intermLxed in Van Vogtian style, Dr. Abraham's manuscript is by far the most interesting uocumenl. Through his eyes, initially as a twelve-year-old slave, we learn of the events that gave birth to a proud, progressive nation. The letters of the Virginian, Dr. Thomas Hunter, are also fascinating in their own way, especially one in which he uescribes a speech by Freuerick Douglass shortly after the Brown-Tubman victory at Harper's Ferry. Dramatically, Yasmin's story, the frame upon which the other two are dependent, is least engaging. She is still troubled by the death of her husband in space, anu the eve of the lanuing of the second Nova African Mars mission exacerbates her emotional uifficuities. Hcr teenage uaughtcr, Harriet, ucmonstrates throughout the 1959 sections a great deal more maturity than ones her successful-scientist mother. Compareu to the har3B


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 rowing experiences of Doctors Abraham and Hunter, Yasmin's problems seem tame and a bit neurotic. My reservations about the novel, however, have more to do with its use of the alternative history (AH) formal. Preeminently among SF subgen res, AH presents itself as realistic fiction of the continuum it portrays. The great difficulty in writing it has to do not so much with making the departure point convincing as it does with accounting for the subsequent changes in history without seeming to transgress the requirements of realistic fiction (for example, would a realistic novel in our own continuum, in \vhich the protagonist takes a flight from New York to Dallas, include a brief history of the development of jet transportation?). Bisson success fully portrays the early years of the victorious revolution, though I have a few cavils even here. The best AH presen'Cs true history whL'l'C possible; thus, the prospcct of Robert E. Lee, defeated by the Brown-Tubman for ces, acting like an eighteenth century Ll. Calley rings false even to onc who docs not share Lee's vaunted sense of honor and duty. (Bisson really has it out for Lee: in reference to an AH published in Yasmin's con tinuum, in which Brown is executed and our Civil War happens, Lee still gets painted as a rotter.) And the idea thaI, following the initial slave/abolitionist victories, the Chinese in California would rise in solidarity seems very unlikely, a gross misreading of the cultural values o[ the past. Further, the history of the world proceeding from the successful found ing of Nova Africa is inadequate. The triumph of Marxism in the South is reasonably accounted for, and the brief references to Nova Africa's assis tance in liberating Ireland in 1885 make sense, but there is too much in the new modern world for which eyen the historiugraphically astute reader needs explanation. I am willing to believe in a black Africa that leads the world in scientific advances and cultural sophistication, but the few cryptic references Bisson makes do not account [or its development (lut of the true t85lJ Africa, in which colonialism was already closing an iron fist around any possible self-determination. I trust that Bisson had worked out his alternative] lJSlJ in great detail and that the exigencies of publishing forced him to make cuts thatlcave too many unanswered ques tions. I hope he didn't think" It's 111.1' alternative present and I can assume as much historical difference as I wan!." That would he unfair, as well as stretching Henry James's stricture to readers about granting the author his/her dOllllcC too far. Nevertheless, I didn't begrudge my time reading the novel. Bisson is potentially a major talent, and even his partial succes ses are worthy of investigation. --Bill Collills .W


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 Another Cherr),h Triumph Cherr),h, c.J. (\'/1'1'11. Warner. NY, 19S8, ()88p. $18.Y5 hc. 0-446-51428-4. C..I. Cherryh is one of SF's most prolific ami well-respected writers. She has a range that is astonishing: in a number of series she has demonstrated mastery of a variely of genres in fantastic literature, rang ing from fantasy to hard science fiction. Her achievements have been recognized by her peers and fans with .I.W. Campbell, Hugo and Nebula awards. At present, she has approximately thirty books in print, not in chiding her new graphic novel series created with .lane Fancher. That series in itself is worthy of discussion since it indicates Cherryh's openness to innovation: the author docs not repeat herself, but looks for new forms, new styles -such as the graphic novel, a narrative series of illustra tions something like a comic book. While Cherryh never simply repeats herself, she docs utilize series formats and her novels do deploy the vision of a roughly consistent future universe. (\'lcel1 is the latest entry in the series that began with the Hugo award winning novel. DOl1'l1bclol1' Slalioll (1YSl). In that first book, Chcrryh chronicled the dissolution of a vast space empire, focusing on the pivotal role played by space stations in the shifting of (1mver from Earth to the merchanters who ply wares from station to station. planct to planet. In that novel, Cherryh also highlighted the troubling relationship of humans and azi, artificially created humans; a subplot focused on a female captain and her abuse of an azi male. DOl\'llbcloll' SIl/liol1 was an exciting and well-written space opcra, enlivcned by thematic richness and careful characterization. Next in the series. Merchalller's Luck (1982), dealt only peripherally with the first volume's major themes, but the third book, F0I1y Thol/salld ill (JehCIIIlG (1983), returned focus to the human-ali relationships. In this novel, an earthlike planet seeded by the Union with a colony, was then abandoned. After the Lechnological supports vanished. the descendants of the azi inhabitants proved superior, in adapting to the planet, to the colony'S humans. or "born men." The colony itself was divided into two groups, one led by a violent young male and another by an intelligent and inquisitive young woman. In the end, it was the "cali hans" -the planet's large. sentient but extremely alien, dinosaur-like natives -who resolved the conl1icl in I'm'or of the woman. The novel concluded as humans from the competing Alliance made contact with the remnants of the colony. This brief review of the series does not, of course. do it justice. It docs, however, highlight some of Cherryh's major themes: women and power. 40


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 the alienating qualities of space, anu the problem of artificially createu humans. It also uemonstrates the ways in which (rlcCll can be seen as the culmination of the series. At almost 70() pages, it is certainly the longest book, anu its length is one inuieation of Cherryh's ambition. Another is the novel's very title, for through it Cherryh inuicates that her suhject is the whole culture of Cyteen, a world uominated by its monopoly on the creation of artificial humans -a technology mueh in demand in time of war, but one also feareu and resenteu. Cyteen has the largest concent ra tion of human population and it is also the site of the Union government. The Reseune laboratory on Cyteen has the ability to regenerate or clone humans, a process performed only with a very few important anu extremely intelligent individuals. One such indiviuual, Ariane Emory, prO\'iues the center of the novel. Like the spaceship captain of Do Ii 'IlbelOlI' Sialion, Ariane is an extremely powerful woman. As shc cxplains to her done, through her actions she has changeu the human race. Also like that captain, she has bizarre anu unnamed sexual practices that involve the abuse of a young male. The relationship between Ariane, her male lover, her lover's azi, anu her own clone proviue a turbulent plot, a plot complicateu by political infighting on Cytecn anu also between Cyteen anu other worlus. When the seeuing of Gehenna is discovered, it also becomes a political issue. Against this space operatic background, Cherryh offers compelling examinations of character. For example, there is her careful and cOI1\'incing depiction of the psychological paralysis of the young male, Justin, and Grant, his azi. Will they be able to break free of the past? Will they es tablish a positive relationship with the clone Ariane? Will Ariane's clone go insane as others have in the same situation? (Fortunately for the reader, Cherryh manages to make Ariane's clone far more appealing than her sauistic original.) These issues of character drive Cherryh 's tlH:matie concerns: for the clone Ariane and for Grant, questions of iuentity are paramount. In (\'feen, Cherryh raises again the question first raised in mouern science fiction by Mary Shelley: what does it mean to be human? And she addresses the question on two levels: inuividually, through Ariane and Grant: and generally, through the dispersal of humans throughout space. For what is the human race? Can it continue to exist even when divideu by vast areas of space and affected by contact with aliens and by the creation of artificial humans? This ambitious theme threaus through a narrative intersperseu with excerpts from textbooks on future war, genetic engineering, and, finally, an interview \vith Ariane number one, all of it contributing tn the depiction of a complex and believable culture. While the novel might have been edited more carefully to be a little shorter, this is a relatively minor com41


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 plaint about another triumph in C..I. Cherryh's line career. --Robin RobcI1s The FailUl'e of Heroism Frost. Gregory. Relllsce/a. Ace, NY, 19RR, 278p. $3.50pb. 0441-7B50-S. Gregory Frost's Tain told the story of the great caule raid of Connacht, when Maeve stole the Brown Bull of Cuailnge from Ulster to prove that she was more powerful than her husband Ailell and Cu Chulainn rose to glory as the greatest champion in all of Eire. Relllsce/a chronicles the feasts and minor skirmishes hy which the heroes of Ulster anti Connacht keep the feud alive and try to spice up lire in peace-time. It is also the story of how Cu Chula inn discovers that in killing orr most of Ulster's enemies he has destroyed his own reason for living. Celt ic mythology grew out of a society at once sophisticated and violent, and it is clear that Frost has really done his homework on it. He also has the skill to make its moral assumptions surriciently real so that eu Chulainn's killing a boy who refuses to reveal his name is shocking only hecause the boy turns out to be Cu Chulainn's son. Frost takes a wonder fully matter-or-fact attitude towards the supernatural, treating Cu Chulainn's battle transrormations and brushes with gods and the sllee as the man himselr treats them: as part of being a hero, no more remarkable than a good reasl. This lowkey approach to the subject worked very well in Tain, which was about heroism, but is not as effective in RCl1lsccla, which is about thc failure of heroism. In Tain, the heroes of Connacht and Ulster boasted, drank, fought, and slew with the innocent enjoyment of men doing what they were horn to do. Frost's easy, idiomatic prose conveyed both the innocence and the en joyment and helped make an essentially archaic psychology accessible to the motlern reader. RClIlsccla is a darker book, concerned with doubt and decadence al1l110ss of purpose, and complex subjects like these just can't be described in the same straightforwartl manner as a haltle or a feast. When Cu Chulainn broods or Fand yearns over him, the emotions fall nat. But it's also true that the rights are epic and the magic eerie. And the characters are most alive when they are engaged with one or the other. --De/ia Shel71ll1n The New H.A.R.L.LE. Gerl'old. David. When H..A.R.L.l.E. Was Olle (Release 2.0). Bantam/Spectra, NY, July 2R7p. $3.95 ph. 0-S53-36465-6. H.A.R.L.I.E., Davitl (Jerrold's sentient computer, first appeared in a series of short stories in Ga/axy magazine; these were expanded into a novel in 1(>72. In that novel H.A.R.L.I.E. and his mentor David Auberson 42


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 search for love and the purpose of the human race while the hoard of directors of Stellar American debate wht:ther to fund H.A.R.L.I.E.'s proposal to build a Graphic Omniscient Device (G.O.D. Machine) or to cut corporate losses and pull H .A.R.L.I.E.'s plug. Now comes a completely revised version of the novel: the plot remains essentially the same. hut the dialoguc -especially the exchanges between Auberson and his cybcr netic charge -has been extensively rewritten, down to the words under lying the acronym that gives the computer its name. H.A.R.L.I.E.'s growing awareness, motivation, and insights into human behavior remain the strongest aspects of this work. However, the essen tial flaws of the original have not been appreciably corrected. The plot is still too loosely structured and the personalities of everyone hut H.A.R.L.I.E. too weakly developed. (Jerrold's ability to write dialogue has improved, but the love that develops between Auberson and a woman named Annie still reads like adolescent groping. The relationships among the characters are generally unrealistic and unsatisfying. If H.A.R.L.I.E. has always becn one of your favorite sentient computers or if you want to make H.A.R.L.I.E.'s acquaintance, read this new vcrsion of his story. However, the tale or Mike in Rohert A. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mis/ress remains a much more engaging fictional account of the computer as intelligent life form. --Agatha Taom/ina Pulp SF Throwback Hilll, Christophel'. Anachronisms. 5t. Martin's, NY, 1988, 304p. $17.95 hc. 0-312-U1721J-4. Christopher Hinz's sccond novel is the kiml of predictable high-tech adevnture story in which lengthy discussions of fictional hardware in variably precede lurid episodes involving the use or failure of that equip ment. In spite of the injection of liberal uoses of sex and violence, it's a throwback to the more embarrassing side of the SF pulp tntuition. The plot involves a woman with psionic powers who is auded at the last moment to the crew of an exploratory vessel assigneu to investigate a life form on an obscure planet. The story proceeds like an inf'crior rewriting of the film Aliel/, with the life form invading the spaceship, taking over the computer, and "psionically" manipulating members of the crew into mayhem and murder. The other clements of the story arc also familiar: a certain paranoia about the motives of the corporation that owns the star ship, a cyborg who is suspected of complicity in the whole affair, and a ship's computer anu security system beyond the cre\v's control. Such formulaic fiction should at least freshen up the old stereotypes and finu a few new plot twists, but in Anachronisms, Hinz manages to do


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 neither. The level of writing is competent hut fails to engage the reader on novelistic terms. The book has the quality of an early 70's made-for TY movie, jumping quickly from segment to segment, but unfortunately is unrelieved by commercial breaks or the ability to change channels. --PeterC Hall The Northern Thing Well Done King, Bemard. Vargr-!lfooll. Sl. Martin's, NY, June 1988, 244p. $16.95 hc. 11-312-U 1 g44-4. Bernard King's Vmgr-J1dooll is a sequel to his successr ul Starkadder (1987) and follows the adventures of Hather Lambisson, who was both a companion to Starkaddcr as well as an element in the fulfillment of Starkadder's death prophecy. Vargr-!lfool/ is as good a novel as Stadwddel' and shows King to be a fantasy writer in control of his medium and his source material. King's novels take place in the last days of Sweden's Dark Ages as the old Norse gods arc losing ground and the Christian religion is beginning to move in; but according to King's evocation of this period, the gods, the norna, and the dwarves are very active participants in the unfolding events. And this results in the novel's only serious problem. The human figures are caught up in the plots of the supernatural figures and seem to be "fated" to carry those plots llUt. King's use of "fate" here seems more Mediterranean than Scandinavian; it is certainly more binding than the "fate" portrayed by the BeowlIlf poet. Beyond this cavil, King's Vargr-Mooll (like Starkaddcr hefore it) is solidly in the tradition of H. Rider Haggard's Eric Briglrtcycs and E.R. Eddison's StyriJiom tlze Strollg, both in its usc of traditional Norse myths and legends and as an evocation of the late Viking Age in Scandinavia. In the latter regard, King's usc of words like "niddering," his depiction of the inlluence of Scandinavian women, and his descriptions of such rituals as the sacrifice to Odin are all culturally accurate. Vargr-!lfool/ is, thus, both mY1hoiogically and historically solidly grounded and well-developed: and if a number of the second rank characters are not as fully drawn as they might be, Vargr-!IIooll is, after all, primarily an adventure novel. --c. lV: SlIllivall 1Il Entertaining Romp LUI)oIT, RicluII'd A, Galaxy's Elld. Ace, NY, August 1988, 236p. $3.50 pb 0-441-27284-3. This sequel to SlIll'S Elld (I YR() features all of Lupofrs favorite obses sions. As in TIlc Tlilllzc Mall (1 Y7(i), the hero is a superman (in the vein of 44


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 A.E. van Vogt. nnt Philip K. Dick). struggling to discover the limits of his powers. Lupoff also returns to medieval Japanese culture (explored more closely in Sword oJthe Demoll, 11>77) as well as U.S. popular culture of the llJ40's (last seen in Circl/mpolar!, 1985, and its sequel). It is the year 20CJ1, and Earth is in its death throes. Once again cyborg superman Daniel Kitajima and his boss/chief antagonist Osvaldo Muguahe tour Earth and its L-5 space colonies, trying to avoid the advancing doom. In this novel, Lupoff plays with space as well as time: much of the story is set in the 40's, and there are scenes in a 1920's elementary school which explain what rea/(\' happens when your first -grade teacher is an alien. Gala.\y's Elld is an entertaining romp. but also clearly the mid dle volume of a trilogy, and thus to be avoided until such time as Lupoff delivers the linal volume. --Maltill Wooster Curious Stories McGrath, Patrick. Blood alld Water alld Other Tales. Poseidon, NY, 1988, 192p. $15.95 hc. 0-671-64405-X. The thirteen tales in Patrick McGrath's first book have been callell "horror stories," but "curious stories" might be a better description: one is a delicate psychological fantasy, another is a crime story with the sophis tication one associates with Cornell Woolrich's fiction, two are morbillly amusing parables on nuclear war, another pair are perverse comedies. In all these tales, as in those that do qualify as horror stories, the reader is ever aware of an author tinkering with tradition to subvert expectations. "Marmilion," for example. is a Gothic story in which a woman drawn to the ruins of a southern plantation traces the decline of its former mvners; the skeleton in the closet that turns up at the end is inevitable, but it can be taken as either a confirmation or a refutation of the history she has pieced togetlllT. I n "Blood Disease." a story of unsuspecting travelers who walk into a town of vampires, rescuers arrive a moment too latc to save the waylaid family, cl1lling a Wilkie Collins-style mystery with a smirk out of Saki. The standard gruesome tale of the disembodied hand turns into bawdy farce when it involves the "Hand of a Wanker," or chronic masturbator, and the dark secret harbored by a man in "The Skewer" is of secondary consequence to the way his guilt is manifested: as a race of tiny psychoanalysts who hounll him to his death. To say that McGrath's stories are triumphs of style over substance is not to diminish his talents. He has a fondness for Victorian pastiche rendered in a dignified, almost stately, style, and one comes away from his stories admiring his skillful etching of characters more than one does the


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 meager plots those characters arc caught up in. For those who appreciate how a story is told as much as what it tells, McGrath is someone to keep an eye on. --SeeJall Dzi{,lIlial101ricz Tribute to Terry Carr Meachum, Beth, ed. Teny's Ulliverse. TOR, NY, June J'188, 234p. $Hi.'15 hc. U-312-'13U58-5. When Terry Carr died last year. science fiction lost perhaps its best editor since .John W. Campbell. Through his Ace Specials series or paper back originals, Carr was responsible for the publication of many of the best novels of the last three decaues, among them Ursula LeGuin's TIre Lefe Halld oj Darklless, Alexei Pan shin's Rife of Passage, Roger Zelazny'S Isle ehe Dead, anu, more recently, William Gibson's NCU/'(IlIlaflccr. In the 70's anu 80's his Ullil'crse series of original anthologies published some of the best short fiction of Robert Silverberg, Gregory Benford, Eugar Pangborn, and numerous others. Carr himself wrote relatively lillie. though one novel, Cirque (1977), and a hanuful of short stories remain memorable Tel7y's was designed with two purposes in minu: first, to serve as a memorial to Carr, and second, to help payoff some of the bills left upon his death. The writers represented here, in fact, contributed their work without payment, all royalties to be passed on to Carr's widow. Unfortunately, although this is a solid anthology and would make a competent addition to the Ullil'erse series, relatively few of the stories are up to Carr's highest standard. The best piece in the book by far is Robert Silverherg's "House of Bones," a touching portrayal of a time traveller stranded among our prehistoric ancestors and forceu to make a life for himself there. Other strong stories include Kate Wilhelm's "Isosceles," a realistic, non-SF story of a marriage gone bad; Kim Stanley Robinson's "The Lunatics," a power ful but fragmented account of the revolt of a lunar penal colony; and R.A. Lafferty'S "Le Hot Spot" which, like all of that author's best work, is es sentially intlescribable. Also featured are minor hut enjoyable pieces by LeGuin, Zelazny, and Gene Wolfe. Less successful but of some interest are a story by Gregory Benford, \vhich reads like an out-take from last year's novel Greae Sky Ril'er, and an excerpt from Fritz Leiber's new Faffhrd and the Grey Mouser novel, which reads like something out of TIlc Seory vI (). The only pieces which fail completely are a largely incomprehensible story by Carter Scholtz and a tale by Michael Swanwick which portrays King


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 Arthur's son Mordred as a kind of immortal, pro-environmentalist cyherpunk. The hook ends on a high point and a low point. The high point is the reprinting of 1968's "The Dance of the Changer and the Three," perhaps Terry Carr's best short story and one of the finest portrayals ever of alien intelligence. The low point is a Harlan Ellison essay which, typically, masquerades as an obituary, but which is primarily about Ellison himself and why he couldn't finish a story hy this anthology's deadline. TCI7)"s Univcrse is a good book by most standards, and should be read. It disappoints only to the extent that it doesn't represent the absolute best of which most of its contributors are capable, a standard which Carr, if he were still alive, would certainly have insisted they achieve. --Michael AI. LCli' Mayan Mythology Nonfood, Warren. Tl1lc Jagllar. Bantam/Spectra, NY, 1988, 324p. $3.95 pb. 0-553-27127-X. It is refreshing to read a fantasy novel based on non-European mythol ogy for a change. In this book, Warren Norwood turns the Matan Popol into a modern adventure story. His hero, an Irish-Hispanic government worker, learns from a mysterious stranger that he is "True Jaguar," descendant of Mayan kings and destined to save the world from an approaching comet on a collison course with earth. When he rejects this in vitation to heroism ami reports the encounter to his employer, he is subjected to six months of brutal interrogation by the CIA, IRS, FBI, and NASA under the direction of an unbelievably stupid and malicious inquisitor. This ordeal is essentially irrelevant to the story exccptthat it makes our protagonist angry enough to co-operate with the two Maya who kidnap him and become his companions, leading him to an ancient pueblo and then down into the underworld of Mayan legend. There he gradually over comes his doubts as they cross rivers of blood and pus and encounter the evil Lords of Xibalba: Thirteen Death, Bloody Claws, Skull Scepter, and so on. The heroes are aided by Left-Handed Hummingbird, Jambiya the Wicked, and other mythological creatures as they challenge the Lords in a series of ball games. Norwood dearly knows a good deal ahout Mesoamerican culture and the Anasazi ruins of the Southwest. Unfortunately, the various parts of his story don't hang together well, the hero's repetitions struggles become monotonous, and at the end it is quite undear how his actions have led to the deslruction of the comet in the realtime world. Neverlheless, I recol1l47


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 mend the book to readers who would like to explore an area of fantasy which has not yet become a cliche. --Lyllll F. IVillia17ls Rock Solid Hm-d SF Preuss. Paul. Stmfire. TOR, NY, 1988, 311lp. $17.95 he. 0312-93056-9. During the last decade, Paul Preuss has established himself as one of the best writers of hard science fiction. Dealing with fields of science as diverse as particle physics (Bro/(ell lYH3) and genetic engineering (HI/mall Em)/', I (85), his recent novels have reOected his strong interest in the process of science and the mindset of the scientist. His latest book shares these concerns. Story of a space expedition that runs into uisaster, Stmfire gives us heroism anchoreu in technical ue\ail and rigorous scientific extrapolation. It's a tale that one of John W. Campbell's stable of writers might have written. At the heginning, protagonist Travis becomes the first astronaut to bail llut of orbit in an emergency re-entry pod. But Travis' gung-ho, cowboy attituue doesn't mesh well with the NASA bureaucracy, and he is grounueu. He pursues dual careers as space scientist and incipient alcoholic. The combination of the lucky discovery of a sun-grazing asteroid and some well-placed family connections gives Travis the chance to join the test Ilight of Starfire, the first fusion-powered spaceship. Starfire has been schcduled for a mission around the sun, a perfect opportunity to rendezvous with the newly discovered asteroiu. But, predictably, disaster strikes. Preuss develops the backgrounu capably anu in some detail. His descriptions of the NASA bureaucracy are particularly well done, and his technical extrapolations are always neatly integratcd into the story. Also, Travis' character is subtly shaded. and Preuss draws an inten:sting paral lel between his addiction to alcohol and his addiction to adrenalin, the need to prove himself the best. The only part of the novel that doesn't work is Travis' family background, which is too reminiscent of the prime-time soap Dallas to be convincing. That complaint asiue, though, StCll.firc is entertaining, convincing, and in the end even moving hanl science fiction. --Keith So/trs Thoughful Dystopia TUl'Iler, George. D/'()l\'llillg T()WC1:L Arbor House/Morrow, NY, Septem ber 1<)88, 318p. $18.95 hc. 1-557Hl-038-l.lFirst published in Australia & Great Britain as Thc Sea alld SlImmC1', 19871 While George Turner is a well-established, award-winning novelist anu reviewer in Australia, few of his works have appeared in the U.S. In 1979, 48


SFRA Newsletter, No. 161, October 1988 Pocket Books publishcd BclOl'cd 501/ (1978), his first science fiction novel and the first volumc of his Ethical Culture series, and Terry Carr praised it as one of the hest five SF novels of the year. However, the next two tit les in the series remain unavailable herc: Val/cglOl)' (1981) and Ycsterday's Mcn (IY83). The American publication of Drowning prohahly results in part from the book's winning the second annllal Arthur l'.l'larke award, the first having gone to Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale. The award was well-deservcd; Turner has writtcn a complex, intelligent, and moving novel. The story begins circa 3000 A.D. An actor/playwright has come to the ruins of Melbourne to learn from a university scholar more about the sociopolitical conditions prevalent there a thousand years before, since he plans to write and act in a play about that period, As he talks with the scholar and then reads her historical no\'el, his own culture patiently and fairly securely awaits the planet's entry into a new ice age. During the previous millenium, the greenhousc effect had brought about global l1ood ing, inundating Melbourne along with most other coastal cities, and generally inlcnsifying the havoc otherwise wrought by the excesses and short-sightedness of the industrial age. In her novel, the scholar has tried to come to an understanding of the "summer people" who managed somehow to preserve humanity while failing utterly to cope with the natural and social disasters they had unleashed. The story of the actor/writer frames the scholar's novel: his reading of that work convinces him that he cannot, in the simplification and exaggeration of drama, capture the complexity of humanity at that moment in history, and the scholar's novel is left to stand as the more appropriate attempt. This novel-within-a-novel focuses on a few historical characters: a family, a leader of the unemployed, and several powerful people. All are trying to cope with events that threaten to reduce humanity to barbarism. There is virtually no work, most services being performed mechanically. Onc tenth of the citizens support the rest, who live on welfare, and those who work (sweet) rigidly separate themselves from those who don't (swill). Government housing is grossly overcrowded, divided up into selfgovern ing and minimally serviced enclaves of high-rises. Alison Conway's family suffers the transition from sweet toward swill when her husband loses his job and kills himself. Her two bright sons are able to find secure niches for themselves among the employed, while she must turn for love and support to Billy Kovacs, the ruthless boss of a high-rise. The novel details an abortive attempt to control the reproduction of the swill. Throughout. various potential villains appear that reveal nne of Turner's underlying themes: there are few, if any, real villains, The govern ment officials who undertake the secret sterilization experiment. and Billy 49


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 Kovacs and the other government officials who abort it, are all trying to do what they hope will he best in a situation that is seemingly heyond human remedy. This theme appears most starkly when Billy brutally beats a soldier whn knows the last piece of information needed to uncover the plot. The soldier wants to help Billy, but has a conditioned block against doing so. He willingly accepts the beating to break the conditioning, while Billy is sickened by what he must do. The effect of this scene reverberates throughout nove!. infusing power into the confrontation between Billy ami the instigator of the sterilization plo\. Dr()lmiTlg TOIrers is a sobering talc, moving not only becausc Turner has convincingly and vividly extrapolated from current trends nor simply hecallse he has produced an ahsorbing plot, but also because he has created deep and sensitive portraits of a number of characters struggling, at cross purposes, to make good lives in a time of chaos. Though critics have compart.:d him to both ()rwdl and H uxiey, Turlll:r seems more the formcr in this book. Orwell did not invcnt /984 but rathcr projected a ver sion of Stalinist Russia ovcr the entire world. For his own part. Turner en visions a future that is an extension of our present, with increasing economic and social gulfs dividing rich from poor and an environment swooning under the greenhouse effect. then imagines how the capitalist welfare statc might cope. DrOlvTliTlg TO\rC1"S is fine dystopian speculation and a major book by any standards. -Te17l' Heller Vintage Vinge Vinge, Joan D .. Catspall'. Warner Books, NY, September 1988, 392p. $17.95 he. 0-44(1-S L1t)(J-2. Cat, the protagonist of .loan D. Vinge's newest nove!. is a half-human, half-Hydran "psion," or telcpath. Like most psions, he has been despised and oppressed since birth by the human Fetkration which has nearly obliterated Hydran civilization. When he first appeared in Vinge's "young adult" novd Psioll in 1982, Cat-whose name derives from his quasi-feline Hydran eyes and features -escaped the gulter and learned to control his mental powers but lost them when he killed (quite heroically) a fellow psion. Rewarded with cash and a clean record by the Federation he saved, hut still a racial pariah, the now psi-less Cat must learn to live as a normal "deadhead" in a hostile culture. Nearly penniless and without prospects at thc beginning of Catspall', Cat is coerced by Centauri, one or the interstellar corporations which dominate the Federation, to become a psionic bodyguard for Federation politico Elnear taMing, beloved aunt or Cat's mentor Jule taMing. His dormant psi powers stimulated by drugs, he is intended to serve as an un50


SFRA News/etter, No. 161, October 1988 willing tool in a number of plots amI power plays aimed at enlarging 0:11tauri control over the Federation's Securitv Council. Cal's involvement with the taMing family and Federation politics, and his developing sclf awareness and humanity, constitute the major action of the novel. The range of themes in Catspall' is impressive and significant, as is the rich humanity of the sizable cast of characters. Indeed, characters who at first seem melodramatic soon develop real psychological depth and cred ibility. The book is a complex, thoughtful combination of BildillKsrolllllll and action advcnture, with a persuasively drawn hero operating in a richly figured, believable scene. ea/spaw is recommended, cspecially to those who have already read PS;OIl. though it should be mentioned that the se quel is more obviously geared for an adult audience. --Dm';d Mead 51


SFRA Newsletter No. 161 Robert A. Collins, Editor English Department Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL 33432 Non Profit Organization U. S. POSTAGE PAID BOCA RATON, FLORIDA Permit No. 77 DATED MATERIAL PLEASE DO NOT DELAY


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