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SFRA newsletter
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Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
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Science Fiction Research Association
Science Fiction Research Association
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Eugene, Ore
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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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usfldc doi - S67-00055-n163-1988-12
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SFRA Newsletter December 1988 No 163 In This Issue: Edito ri a l ( Co llin s) .......... A c -Track for Noreas c o n III ( C lar eso n) Comm e rci a l R e l e a ses ( S chn e iu e r ) Feedba ck: (Hollin ge r Pi e r ce, Gunn, Co llin s) REVlEWS:Non-Fiction: 3 4 5 7 Dohe rty, and Teen/)ies (La th a m ) ...... 13 Moo rcock Ulizardry and R o m a nce ... (de Wit) 1 5 S tanley Rel'enge o j'th e C r e atllr e F e atllr e s ( B a rr o n ) 17 W eave r fllfelv iews with "B" MOl'i e M a/a n (Kl oss n e r) 18 Fiction: A s h The H o rsegirl ( S h e rm a n ) 1 9 A s imov Azazel (Willi a m s) 20 Barker, C abal (Dz i emia n o wic z ) 2 0 Card, Tre a son (Colling s) 2 1 Carr, Rab elaisiall R e plise ( Sa nu e r s) 23 C r os s Pli son('/'s of Paradise (Lev y) 24 Datlow & Windling Year's Best Fantasy ( D z i emia n o wicz) 24 Elli so n Ang7)' C and y (So ukup ) 20 Fri esner, Dl1Iid's Bl oo d (Try f oros) 27 Harness, Kron o (Mead) 28 J e nnin gs, T o wel' t o the Sky ( L evy) 29 Kub e-McDowell, Alte mities ( B a rtt e r ) 30 L a nsdal e, TI,e Dlive-/n (Dz i e mian o wic z ) 31 M o r a n A nl/agedd o n Bllles, Em e rald Eyes, TI,e Ring ( L evy) 32 Ni g hb e rt Timelapse ( H ass ler ) 3 4 Sc h e nk Ste am Bird (Levy) 35 S chmidt Un/mown (Dz i emia n owic z ) 36 S k a l A ntib o dies (Dura n t) 37 Tiptree, Jr. Cl'VlVn of Stars (Dunn) 4 0 Wagn e r Best H o n o r (Dz i e mian owicz ) 24 W o lfe TIICreAr e D OOl:r (Gordo n ) .41 Y arbro, Cl1Isader's T o r c h (W y t c nbr ock ) 42 Y okn, Si s t e r Li ght, S i stel' Dark (Strain ) 4 3 Young Adult Fiction: C h a rn as, The Si/l'eI' G l o!'e ( Min gin) 4 4 M c Killip TIle C hangeling Sea (A tt e b e ry) 4 5 Poetry: Turner, Genesi s A n Epic Poem ( H eller) 4 6


The SFRA Newsletter Puhlished ten times a vear bv The Science Fiction Research Associa tion. Copyright f) 1988 by the SFRA. Address editorial correspon dence to SFRA Newsletter, English Dept .. Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. FL 33431. Editor: Robert A. Collins; Associate Editor: Catherine Fischer; RCl'iel\' Editor: Rob Latham; Film Editor: Ted Krulik; Book NCII's Editor: Marlin A. Schneider; EditOlial Assistant: .It:anette Lawson. Send changes of address to the Secretary, enquiries conccrning 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. Greenberg College of Community Sciences Univ. of Wisconsin-Green Bay Green Bay, WI 54302 Sect'etury Elizabeth Anne Hull Liberal Arts Division William Rainey Harper College Palatine, IL 60067 Treasurer Charlolle P. Donskv 1265 South Clay Denver. CO 80219 Immediute Past President Donald M. Hassler English Department Kent State Uni\'ersity Kent. OH 44242 Past Pt'esidents of SFRA Thomas D. Clareson (1970-7(i) Arthur O. Lewis, Jr. (1977-78) .Ioe De Bolt (1979-80) James Gunn (1981-82) Patricia S. Warrick (1983-84) Donald M. Hassler (1985-86) Pust Editors of the Newslettet Fred Lerner (l971-74) Beverly Friend (1974-78) Roald Tweet (1978-81) Elizabeth Anne Hull (1981-84) Richard W. Miller (1984-87) Pilgrim Award Winners .I. O. Bailey (1970) Marjorie Hope Nicolson (1971) Julius Kagarlitski (1972) .lack Williamson (1973) I. F. Clarke (1974) Damon Knight (1975) .lames Gunn (1976) Thomas D. Clareson (1977) Brian W. Aid iss (1978) Darko Suvin (1979) Peter Nicholls (1980) Sam Moskowitz (1981) Neil Barron (1982) H. Bruce Franklin (1983) En:rett Blt:iler (1984) Samuel R. Delany (llJ85) George Slusser ( J 986) Ciary K. Wolfe (1987) .Ioanna Russ (1988)


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 Editorial We Need A Publisher! When Falltas\' RCl'icl\' folded. the Executive Committee decided to accept my offer to edit the !\'('Il's/c((('I'. incorporating as many of the features, especially the reviews. of the defunct FR as possible. I have tried faithfully to do that, but it is now becoming apparent that costs arc going to destroy us unless we get help. You sec, the NClvs/clIa has never before had to pay commercial printing costs. Under previous editors. in-house means of reproduction mimeo. xerox. l11ultilith were subsidized by the university supporting the editor. so that printing cost to the SFRA was minimal. But the new N('Il's/c((a is at least four times as large as the old one too hig for such primitive reproduction methods and though it is typeset and formatted in-house. at 110 cost to the SFRA .. the need to usc commercial printers' for the final product (FAU has no print shop) has raised the cost (for printing and mailing) to about $600 per issue. For ten issues. that's $(1,000. and for the 300 current members of SFRA whose dues pay these costs. that's $2 pCI' issue, or $20 a year. Cost can be reduced (per member) by an aggressive membership campaign 500 members would pay only $12 a year. or $1.2() per issue. for the same product. So if you want the to continue. you need to help Neil Barron all you can with his membership drive. But what we really need is an angel -a university with on-campus printing facilities willing to print and mail the News/cller at cost. We here at FAU provide completely camera-ready copy. already pasted up into forms that can be shot with a single negative I'm offset printing. These forms can be shipped any\vherc in the country by overnight courier. The secretary provides self-stick labels for the mailing. which takes less than two hours to prepare. Any university willing to serve as publisher would get its name both on the masthead and on the return address of the mailer. and thus reap the fame and/or goodwill which such service must accrue. Can you interest your school in this painless way to acquire credit for an academic publication? If you (1\'ersee the process yourself. you could well add your name to the masthead as publisher's representati\e. We are certainly willing to share the glory (?) to help \vith the Why not take a copy of the to your dean. and/or your print shop. and test the waters'! The alternati\'e to finding an academic sponsor is, inevitably. a reduction in sile and frequency. RobCl1 ,..j. CO//if1S .'


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 Ac-Track for Noreascon III Will those persons from any discipline wishing to present papers on a suhject of their choosing at Noreascon III (August 31-Sept. 4,1(89) please write the academic programming committee before April 1. Contributors should plan a fifteen (15) minute paper. At present we are planning to schedule three papers per hour, with 15 minutes for discussion. These one-hour slots will be scattered throughout the convention schedule. Before April 1 each contrihutor submit to the committee: (a) Name, (b) Affiliation, (c) Address, (d) Title of Paper, and (e) a one paragraph abstract. Please send t his data to Dr. Elizabeth Gross, Academic Programming, Noreascon Ill, Box 46, M.l.T. Post Office, Cambridge, MA 02139. This will all()w us to evaluate the suitability of topics and to organize them as to themes. In addition, there will be a number of invited talks and panels. In dividuals who would like to suggest topics for these panels and/or the participants in them should write to Dr. Gross at the address above as soon as possible. TOIll ClareSOII Arkham House Titles For Sale The following Arkham House titles, all in in mint condition with dust wrapper, arc available from a private collector at $25 each. They include: Asquith, Cynthia, nlis MOItal Baker, Denys Val, The Face ill the Mi,TOr; Bond, Nelson, Nightmares and Daydreallls; Brennan, Joseph Payne, Stolies Darkness and Dread; Burks, Arthur J., Black Medicine; Campbell, Ramsey, Demons by Da\'ligh/; nle Inhabitants oj'the Lake; Copper, Basil, Frolll Evi/\ Pilloll': Derleth, August, Dark Things; Colonel Markesall and Less Pleasant People (with Mark Schorer); Grendon, Stephen, !If!: GeO/ge mId Other Odd Pen'OIls; Hodgson, William Hope, Cal7lacki, the Ghost Find('/'; Deep Helle/:): .I acobi, Carl, POItl'aits in Moon IWlt: Long, Frank B., The Rim oJthc Unknoll'n; Howard Phillips LOl'ecraJt: Drcamel' on the Night Side: Loyeeraft. H. P., TIle Horl'Or in the ilfuseum and Other R('l'isions; Selected Letters (five voluI11es):r/t The l\!oWllains oj Madncss and Other NOI'c/s; Thc Dunll'ich HOIml' and Othc/:); Dagon; Lovecraft, H. P. and August Derleth, TIlL' l+ClIcha.\' Out Of Time; Lumley, Brian, The Caller or the Black: Smith, Clark Ashton, Tllc Black Book (paperback, not published with dust Other Dimensions; Starret, Vincent. nlC QlIick and the Wakefield. H. R., Stray('l's .fi'Olll Shco/: Wandrei, Donald, The IH'iJ o( Easter Island; Strange Han'cst: Whitehead, Henry S., If'est India Lights ($5()); Wilkins-Freeman, Mary E., Collected (ilIOSI,llIO/ies. Write to Peter C. Merrill, 445 N. W. 11th St., Boca Raton, FL 4


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 Iv. S. Commercial Book Releasesl December Paperbacks: ADAMS, ROBERT. Of alld MOllsters, Castaways in Time #5. $3.95. Signet. Fantasy. ANDERSSON, DEAN. Raw Paill Max. $3.95. Popular Library. Horror. ASIMOY, ISAAC, MARTIN H. GREENBERG, and CHARLES G. WAUGH, ed. Isaac Asimov AJagical Worlds of Falltasy # 10: Ghosts. $4.50. Signet. Horror anthology. BAEN, .JIM, ed. New Destinies: vb/. VI. $3.50. Baen Books. SF collec tion. BRADLEY, MARION ZIMMER. City of Sorce,)" a Darkover novel. $3.95. DAW reissue. Fantasy. ------. 77,e Shattered Chaill, a Darkover novel. $3.95. DAW reissue. Fantasy. DRAKE, DAVID. Hammer's Sla111mCfs: At AllY P,ice. $3.50. Baen reissue. SF. DRAKE, DAVID and BILL FAWCETT, cd. COllter Attack: 77,e Fleet: Book 2. $3.95. Ace Books. SF Anthology. DUNCAN, DAVE. 77lC Destillyof the Sword, Book 3 of the Seventh Sword series. $3.95. Del Rcy. Fantasy. ------. 77lC Relllctallt SWOrdS/1lllll. Book 1. $3.50. Del Rey reissue. Fantasy. ------. 77lC Comillg of Wisdom. Book 2. $3.50. Del Rey reissue. Fantasy. ------. A Rose-Red City. $2.95. Del Rey reissue. Fanlasy. FORSTCHEN, WILLIAM R. and GREG MORRISON. 77le Crystal WanlO1:L $3.50. Avon. Fantasy. GREENBERG, MARTIN H., CHARLES G. WAUGH, and FRANK D. McSHERRY, JR., cds. Red .JlIck. $3.95. Horror Anthology or .I ack the Ripper tales. HARRIS, RAYMOND. Shadows of the Jl11ite SUIl. $3.50. Ace Books. Fantasy. KEITH, WILLIAM H., JR. Rellegadc's HOllOI'. $4.95. Fasa Books. SF. KIMBRIEL, KATHERINE ELiSKA. Fires (!( Nuala. $3.95. SF. MARTIN, GEORGE R. R., cd. Wild Cards I:' DOll'll alld Dim'. $4.50. SF -shared world anthology. MAY, JULIAN. 77lC Sll11'Cillallce. Vol. I of Inlervenlion. $4.()S. Del Rey.


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 originally a Houghton Mifflin he. SF. ------. Del Rey reissues The Saga of Pliocene Exile with new covers, $4.95 each: 771C Mally-C%rcd Lalld, 771e Goldcll Tore, 771e NOllbom Killg, and 771e Adl'crsmy. MILLER, CARL. Dragollbolllld. $3.50. Ace Books. Fantasy. MORRIS, JANET, creator. Hilr ill Hell, #10 in the Heroes in Hell series. $3.50. Baen Books. Fantasy -shared world anthology. NEWCOMER, ALAN BARD. Spell Singers. $3.50. DAW Books. Fantasy collection. RANDLE, KEVIN and ROBERT CORNETT. 77/C Alderbarall Campaign, sequel to Seeds of Hilr. $3.50. Ace Books. SF. RASMUSSEN, ALlS A. 77/C La/J.\'fillth Gate. $3.50. Baen Books. Fantasy. RAWN, MELANIE. Dragoll PliIlCC. $4.50. DAW Books. Fantasy. REEVES-STEVENS, GAR and JUDITH. Star 7J'ek #43: MeIllOl), Plillle. $3.95. Pocket Books. SF. SABERHAGEN, FRED. 771C IVlzite Bull. $3.95. Baen Books. SF. SERVICE, PAMEL F. TOlllomJlr's Magic. $2.95. Fawcell Books. YA Fantasy. SHEFFIELD, CHARLES. The Web Betweell the Worlds. $3.50. Aee Books reissue. SLONCZEWSKI, JOAN. Still FOl7l1s Oil Fw.field. $2.95. Avon Books reissue from Del Rey. SF. SMITH, L. NEIL. Taj7ak Lysandra, a new Tom Paine Maru adventure. $3.50. Avon Books. SF. SOMTOW, S. P. The Aquiliad: ['(II. Jll: Aquila alld the SphilLY. $3.95. Del Rey. Fantasy. ------. Del Rey is reissuing Vol.s I and II of The Aquiliad: Aqllila in the New [Vorld. $3.50. and AI/ui/a and the lroll Horse. $3.50. STRICKLAND, BRAD. ShadolVshOlV. $3.95. Signet. Horror. TEPPER, SHERI S. Afll/ialllle, the Afadal1le, and the Momelllmy Gods, book two in the Reverant series. $2.95. Ace Books. TILLEY, PATRICK. Cloud J}(/lTiur. $3.50. Bacn reissue. SF. VINICOFF, ERIC. Maiden Flight. $3.50. BaeH Books. SF. Trade Books: BOND. NANCY. Allother Shore. $14.95 hc. McElderry Books. YA Fantasy. DATLOW, ELLEN. Blood is Not Ellough: 17 St0l1es of I1llllpircs. $17.95 he. William Morrow. Horror collection. January 25,1989. EASTON, M. COLEMAN. Spilits ememalldHelll1h.$l(i.95he.Sl.


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 Martin's Press. Fantasy. January 3,1989. LACY, NORRIS .I., ed. & translator. Bcroll!: 7iistall. $22.00. Garland Publishing. Authorian Romance .I anuary 1989. LEIBER, FRITZ. The Knight ([Ilel Knlll'c oj SlIlords, a Fal1ud and Gray Mouser collection. $17.95 hc. William Morrow. Fantasy. Decemher 20,1988. NORTON, ANDRE. Mooll fl.fil7vr. $17.95 hc. St. Martin's Press. Fantasy. December 1988. ROSENBERG, JOEL. The J.fi1l7ior Lives, Guardians of the Flame #5. $17.95 hc. NAL Books. January 1989. SARGENT, PAMELA. !/elllls oj ShadOlvs, sequel to !/ellllS of Dreams. $19.95 hc. Doubleday. SF. Decemher 9, llJ88. IFeedbacij Pilgrim's Prog."ess Editor: As a member of the 1988 Pilgrim Award Committee. I would like to respond to Neil Barron's comment in the October newsletter (#lCll: p. 34) that the committee's decision to award the Pilgrim to .I oanna Russ was "an example of sexism at its most regrettable." I am speaking here for myself, by the way, and not for the other members of the committee. although I \'iould hope that they concur with my view of the situation. Mr. Barron may not be aware that, of the top five candidates nominated by members of the committee during the initial poll, three were women. This poll was taken before any consultation among the memhers had occurred. During subsequent consultatil)J1s. therefore. the memhers of the committee concurred in the choice of a woman for the 1988 Pilgrim Award because a majority of the members had already nominated out standing women for the award, indepeildently of the committe as a body. Supporting this agreement, of course, was our awareness that there were many women in the field whose work has been outstanding but that this reality was not rel1ccted in the list of Pilgrim Award winners chosen over the last seventeen years. It seemed quite reasonable to the committee to award the 1988 Pilgrim to a woman. provided that qualified women candidates were available. And. as our initial choices had alreaJy made dear to us, the difficulty was not in finding qualified candidates. but in choosing among such a large number of worthy possibilities. Is this how sexism works? 7


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 Looking over the list of Pilgrim Award winners since 1970, it seems to me that the one "criticism" which might be directed toward the 1988 committee is the fact that it \vas quite conscious of the sexual/political aspects of its decision, whereas a good number of the decisions made in previous years would presumably have been perceved as "natural," disin terested, and (at least on the level of sexual politics) non-political. This is, of course, a position with its own political ramifications. While I regret that Mr. Barron was offended by the committee's choice, I do not regret participating in a process which may have called attention to a situation which is always in need of our attention. -Verollica Hollillger Nit-Picking Editor: Rob Latham's review of James Gunn's encyclopedia (#160) reminds me of the sixth-century Christian in L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Dar/mess Fall who complains of persecution under the Gothic king: \Ve Orthodox are forced to stalld aroulld and watch Arialls alld alld Nestorialls alld .lev,s goillg about their busilless ullllloiested. as if they oWlled the COUll try. If that iSll't persecutioll. I'd like to kllow what is! There are problems with The Nell' EIlc,,'C/opeciia oj Sciellce Fiction, almost entirely the fault of Promised Land Productions and Viking Press for their insistence on media orientation at the sacrifice of comprehensive literary coverage. But aside from nit-picking (and you can always find nits; Nichol\s' encyclopcdia lacks (Illy dates for some prominent writers, for example), Latham's objection to Gunn's work is that it isn't ideological(v CO/Tect, not biased; to pretend that the Nichol\s encyclopedia, which certainly still remains the most comprehensive, was itself unbiased is absurd but for Latham. it had the C()/Tcct hias. Thoughtful readers should he ahle to filter out any biases in either encyclopedia, and in Latham's review. -10/111 1. Pierce I'm not going to repeat what I've said before about the issue of ideology versus objectivity in reference works. but I do want to indicate that the faults of Gunn's encyclopedia simply cannot be laid "almost entirely" at the doorstep of its packagers, publishers and promoters. It is hardly "nit-picking" to point out the volume's inconsistent bibliographical coverage and woeful\y inadequate cross-referencing, for examples faults for which the editor II/l/st, under any reasonahle criteria of scholarly evaluation, take the blame. Rob Latham]


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 The Last Word? Editor: Now I remember why I don't reply to reviews: the reviewer always has the last word, I had thought that in this case the SFRA NClvs{ellcr. published as it is for its members, might be an exception amI be as concerned with justice to its members as with defending its reviewers, but I was wrong the Newslctter even reprints reviews from elsewhere that agree, in some measure, with its reviewer. (Why not reprint reviews favorable to 77le Nel1' Ellcyclopedia orScicllce Fictioll from Isaac AsilllOl"s SF Magazille or 771e Milllleapolis 5;'arTiibltlle? Can we look forward to the reprinting of upcoming reviews from REB/Book/ist or Rm'e Rel'iCll's?) Surely "a very impressive piece of scholarship" needs no defense, and respect for your reviewer's judgment might well be measured against your respect for the judgment of the contributors to and the editors of the Ell cyclopedia or the writers of the lctkrs. I hope it is understood that I have not been complaining about an unfavorable review: I did not reply to Chow or to Fee\cy, superficial though their reading may have been, ami Neil has earned a right to his opinion, even though I might, in private, discuss with him some of the questions involved, But the number of letters to the newsletter copied to me on this issue (to which the writers without hesitation attached their names) suggests that the issue here is not of right or wrong, good or bad. but a difference of opinion about the field itself as well as the ethics of writing and publishing reviews, It isn't adequate to dismiss such differen ces of opinion as "first-fandom sense of loyalty" when referring to Sam Moskowitz's complaint, any more than it is adequate for the editor to express confidence in the reviewer: to do so is to express a lack of confidence in others that he may know as well. It seems more like choosing sides in a class war. Clearly experts in the field have differences about the nature of science fiction (l,nd fantasy, about the nature of reference works in the field, about the ethics or value of contributions to them by authors, and about a dozen or two other matters that need to be respected, not simply addressed as right or wrong, and the problem with Latham's review. perceived by the letter writers or sensed, was that it accepted as a maller of faith that truth was available and that Latham was the sole possessor of it. In the midst of concern about the lack of quality in SF scholarship, we should subject reviewing to the same scrutiny. Reviewing seems like such a simple act: match a skilled critic against a text and the result is objective appraisal, or truth. But authors (anel editors), if not reviewers, understand I)


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 that the nature of a review depends on who is given the work to review; equally skilled critics can come up with diametrically opposed reviews, and even the most trusted reference \vorks, or journals, sccm riddled with errors when they touch upon our own area of expertise. Objective ap praisal is an unobtainable ideal. This fact seems so obvious as to be hardly worth stating, but clearly Latham (and Feeley) have not learned the lesson that it teaches: a reviewer needs humility and the wisdom to recognize that he or she could be wrong. When one senses the desire to destroy respectable opposition one should suspect another motive than scholarly detachment and should inspect one's own reactions or even pass along the job of reviewing that particular work to someone more capable of handling it with more detachment. Latham (and Feeley) and I have different views about what a reference work ought to be. Latham (and Feeley) apparently believe in the myth of objectivity and that the farther from the crcative act one is the more objective and trustworthy the work is likely to be; I think objectivity is something one should strive for but rcalize is out of reach, and that a reference work ought to recruit the most informed people to deal with subjects they know best. Thus to believe that a critic's appraisal of an author is inhcrently more valid or useful or trustworthy than an author's appraisal of his or her own career is to ignore how critical appraisals may vary as well as the evidence of every author, who seldom finds appraisals (or reviews) consistent, insightful, or useful. The problem with replying to reviews is that in order to refute them one must first recreate their arguments and then demonstrate their fal lacies or inaccuracies or biases. Every original statement requires half a dozen in rehuttal, so that a point hy point response would be several times longer than the original. What might have been barely possible if published at the same time as the original review would even a month later try everyone's patience and interest, but in my letter, published belatedly in the November issue, I tried to respond to the critical issues, Latham's reply notwithstanding. Latham, on his side, chooses to ignore, among other matters, my questioning of his eagcrncss to speculate about the specific circumstances of the book. Such speculations, in particular the relationship between the associate editor and thc cditor, secm clearly unscholarly, and, as the NelVsletter editor knows and might well have so informed Latham, untrue as well. Latham, however, seems wiIIing to let the validity of his judgment stand or fall on the issue of authors contributing 10 encyclopedias. I wasn't going to reply 10 the citing (in Latham's response to Susan Shwartz's Idter) of Poul Andcrson's contribution of an essay on "Alien Worlds" as an egregious example of what he dislikes, because it secmcd like such a straw man, but since he has raised it again hc seems pleased wilh it. Let us use 10


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, Oecember 1988 this as an issue for the great SF classroom out there. Everyone who would rather reau an entry in an eneyclopeuia by Paul Anderson on Worlds" than one by Rob Latham (or another critic) that incluues "metaphorical uses," please raise your hand! Everyone who would like Poulto cite, among others, his own work as an example? Anyone who believes that Poul benefited in some material or immaterial way from contributing this essay? Or that the great body of Encyclopedia users will not profit from it? Well, let Latham have the last woru anulet the issue uie. It was never worth the time and trouble involved except as it touched upon principle. James GlIllll N ever Say Die [Eu. Note: I doubt that the issue is going to die it involves an irrecon cilable difference of opinion which, if my guess is correct, divides the scholar/members of the SFRA right uown the miudle. The issue, as I perceive it, is opposite interests ([Izd fil11ctions of allthon and critics, despite the fact that individuals may function in either capacity from time to time. This opposition is related in turn to something called the "intentional fallacy," a principle first taught by the "new critics," who revolutionized literary scholarship around the middle of this century by rejecting the biographical speculation which had served as the model for most criticism during the previous fifty years. and by turning toward that explication de te-rle which still dominates classroom technique today (though it has been challenged theoretically by Marxists. Structuralists, Deconstructionists, and the New Historicists, none of whom would condone a return to the "intentional fallacy," however). Since the old biographical criticism assumed that the author's inten tions were of paramount importance in interpreting a work. scholarship consisted of recreating the author's life, his/her experiences, beliefs. philosophy, etc., and interpreting his/her works accordingly. The entire bent of such scholarship was inevitably to inflate, through exposition. the reader's estimate of the author's accomplishment. (Consider the absurd veneration of Shakespeare by the Victorians.) In the process, the works themselves, as literary constructions. got scant attention. However, for the past thirty years responsible academic crit ics have devoted their attention more or less rigorously to the text. as rcad(n and not apologists for the author. The authors' unexpressed intentions. which must remain inaccessible to most readers in any case. despite the crforts of biographers, are considered irrelevant and any attemptHo interpret a passage by reference to such "intentions" are considered fallacious. II


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 On the other hand, the good reader must show a high level of skill in the nuances of language, a wide education in literature, history, art, etc. Intelligent reading is a high art in itself. But it is an art that remains aloof (even in Marxist, or Structuralist, or Deconstructionist readings) from the personal concerns of the author. Once the text is constructed the author's proprietary function ends. The meaning of that text belongs entirely to those who reconstruct it through the process of reading. An author, who feels that a rea<.ler/critic misun<.lerstands, may welcome a chance to explain. But while such explanation may help a few readers appreciate a text for the moment, it will not help in the long run if the text is deficient. Illtelligellt Clitia rcprcscllt illtelligellt rcaders, and it is the latter group who will ultimately decide the author's degree of accomplishment, and thus establish his/her reputation. Critics who latch closely onto friendships with authors to get an "inside track" on their thinking, and thus a favored place as explicators and apologists for their work, are undermining their own integrity as critics. Their sycophancy will secm fatuous in a few years. even if the writer involved proves to have an enduring appeal, and thus a permanently high reputation. Objectivity may be as Gunn says. "something that one should strive [or but realize is out of reach," but to paraphrase Robert Browning, "reaching is all" in this case. To give up the ideal is to consign criticism to the slime-pits of puffery, already morc than adequately staffed by the publishing houses. To answer Mr. Gunn's "classroom questions," then, I for one would rather read an ell cyclopedia article on "Alien Worlds" by a good Clitic, particularly if it discusses "metaphorical uses," which interest me more than the so-called "scientific" ones. I would not expect such a critic to refer to his own fiction, except briefly and in the most modest, deferential way, perhaps in a footnote. I do not believe Poul Anderson benefited from his contribution to the Encyclopedia, but I do believe the cause of "hard science fiction" was advanced to the detriment of other fiction employing "metaphorical uses." Thus I think the user of the Encyclopedia will be misled if he/she concludes (from the omission) that metaphorical uses (Michael Bishop's "Rogue Tomato," for example?) do not exist, or are not important. I am sure that Mr. Gunn expects the membership of the SFRA to raise hands unanimously in affirmation of hi" stance. But if "authors are the best sources" in all SF questions, one may indeed ask (with Mr. Latham) whether the SFRA itself is not a grotesque redundancy? -Robcl1 rl.. Collills J 12


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 IReviewsl [Ed. Note: Just in case you were wondering, the reason we haven't yet run reviews of the major '88 cyberpunk novels is that these books have been assigned for coverage in a substantial reviewarticle. Our next issue will carry this essay, which surveys, among other titles, William Gibson's Mona Lisa OverdTiI'e, Bruce Sterling'S Islands in the Net, John Shirley's A SpleTldid Chaos, and Richard Kadrey's l\fetrophage.] Non-Fiction Teenage Monsters Doherty, Thomas. TeeTlagel:\' alld TecnjJics: Thc .llllcnilization oj AmClicall Movies ill the 1950's. Unwin Hyman, Boston, MA, 1988, xi + 275p. $12.95 trade pb. 0-04-445140-7. [Media and Popular Culture #3J This volume provides a well-researched and engagingly written history of the 1950's "teen pic" the low-budget exploitation film aimed at a teenage audience. Doherty'S discussion is well grounded in sociological detail, offering a broad historical perspective on the development of an American youth culture. His analysis suggests that the 50's teenpie has been so seminal as to constitute, today, the basic palette of American cinema, whose dependence on a youth market Doherty claims has brought about a "juvenilization" of the medium. Allhe same time, the cinema has come to offer a locus of communal and ideological identification for the youth audience. Doherty'S study thus not only provides a useful account of the 50's teenpic, but also yields interesting conclusions about the contemporary American teenager as a cultural agent and the contemporary American film as an aesthetic and commercial entity. The interest of this volume for scholars of science fiction and fantasy lies in its discussion of 50's monster mo\ies. This discussion forms one part of a typology of the teenpic, which covers rock-and-roll movies, j.d. Uuvenile delinquent) movies, "clean" teenpics. and "weirdies." The weir dies, or horror teenpics, proved "the most prolific and durable of a1l50's exploitation cycles," spawning endless stories of petting couples waylaid by Martians. high school nerds turning into werewolves. mutant insects menacing cities, and the like. "'Weirdie' was inexact nomenclature for an offbeat science fiction. fantasy, monster. 7llmbie, and/or shock film. usually of marginal financing, fantastic content, and ridiculous title. Constrained only by budget and technology. the weirdies knew no bounds or


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 shame; not since the wild days of the one-reelers had American movies given vent to imaginations so unhinged by possibility." Doherty writes about these films with verve, and a kind of bemused nostalgia, detailing the social, sexuaL and tcchnological paranoia expressed in them. A very good brief sketch of the career of Samuel Z. Arkoff's American International Pictures illuminates the socioeconomic context of the weirdies' production and consumption. As Doherty shows, the importance of the weirdies never waned throughout the decade, even though the form went through some curious evolutions (from SF/monster movies to Hammer Films' neo-Gothic excesses to William Castle's gimmick-ridden clunkcrs); their abiding popularity paved the way for more "serious" horror and SF treatments like Psycho and D,: Stral1gelol'e. Given all this, it is easy for the reader to infer a continuity with contemporary trends in American cinema, and in his concluding chapter, "Back to the Future," Doherty stresses this con tinuity. Speaking of two of the most successful of current filmmakers, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, Doherty comments: "Only in a juvenilized industry could their special vision so dominate film culture, with so much of Hollywood following their lead. Material that in the late 1950's would have been the subject of a five-figure budget and eight-day shooting schedule is in the 1970's and 'SO's a bigbudget, saturation release, mainstream product." One result of this shifting of margin to center is "a new kind of calculated and consciously reflexive teen pic" which often infuses "teen material with a new sense of craft, power, and complexity." Examples range from 1984's quirky Night of the Comet to John Hughes' more polished comedies. Though he never cites her work, Doherty'S discussion establishes a suggestive dialogue with Vivian Sobchack's treatment of the same cultural terrain in Screellillg Space: 77le AIIlCliCail Sciellce Fictioll Film (Ungar, 1(87). Sobchack's analysis of the "Second Golden Age" of SF cinema initiated by Star Wars and Close EI1COllIllCI:S implies a radical break with 1950's SF/monster movies, a break which amounts to nothing less than a transvaluation of the medium. Doherty'S book, on the other hand, argues for a continuity, an improving technical treatment of shared values. By projecting genre films against the background of a developing teen cul ture, Doherty shows that the American SF movie can profitably be viewed in evolutionary terms. (His attention to viewer reception in a social context also corrects t he critical excesses of Pat rick Lucanio's groundless .J ungian reading of 50's monster movies 77lem or Us: .Arc!zctypall1l1elprctatiolls of Fijii!!s' .Aliell /1lI'([SiOIl Films I Indiana Up, 19871.) Doherty'S theoretical orientation is doggedly common-sensical which is to say it's occasionally naive, privileging allegedly "immutahle" 14


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 laws of aesthetic supply and demand in a purportedly open and unconst rained market. A dose of Frankfurt School pessimism might have added some spice to the mix; but really, it's hard to complain about a book sO packed full of juicy information and ideas. Doherty'S scholarship is remarkably diverse, covering everything from sober economics texts to articles on splatter movics featured in the pages of Heap\, Metal; he even held an interview with trash master Roger Corman. The volume is capped with a "Selected Filmography" which, with its listing of titles like Hot Rod Rumble and Creature with theAtom Bmin, is a lot of fun to browse through. Teenagers and Teenpics should be read alongside V. Vale and Andrea Juno's Strange Films (1986), which offers an avant garde approach to the exploitation genres and thus implicitly corrects Doherty's more middle-brow assumptions. But it should still definitely be read by anyone with even a passing interest in its subject. Rob Latham A Study in Idiosyncrasy Moorcock, Michael. Wizanliy and lVild Romance: A StU((v oj Epic Fan tasy, Gollancz, London, 1987 [Distributed in the USA by David &.. Charles, Inc .. North Pomfret, VT, October 1Y88j, 160p. $24.95 hc. 0-57504146-3. In his introduction, Michael Moorcock identifies epic fantasy as "a late development of that element of the Romantic Revival that began in 1762 with Macpherson's 'Ossian' cycle," and which continues through the present day, despite the attempt of "Victorian middle-class morality" to establish "realism" as the only respectable art form in the late nineteenth century. "Nonetheless, all the great nineteenth century realists introduced strong strains of romance into their work, and some of them, notably Flaubert with Salammbo and Meredith with The Shm'ing ql' Shagpat, produced gorgeous works of full-blooded and fantastic invention." As a species of Romance, epic fantasy reverses "the 'real' world of the social novel; the protagonists arc placed in landscapes directly reflecting the inner landscapes of their minds .... A good fantasy should be able to lead us to greater self-understanding .... Epic fantasy can offer a world of metaphor in which to explore the rich. hidden territorics lkep within us .... [Its] prime concern is not with character or narrative but with the evoca tion of strong, powerful images .... For MOOl'Cock, however. the Jill dc siec/c popular boom in fantasy fiction is less than a blessing. ''I'm chronically unable to enjoy formula fiction," he says, decrying the imitators ofTolkien and Robert E. Howard. ''A writer of fantasy must be judged by thc level of inwntive intensity at 15


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 which he or she works. Allegory can he nonexistent but a certain amount of conscious metaphor is always there. The writer who follows such originals without understanding this produces work which is at best superficially entertaining and at worst meaningless on any level generic dross." Moorcock distinguishes even the best "popular fantasy fiction" from the work of "originals" like Spenser and Ariosto, citing Palmerin of England and Amadis of GallI as examples of chivalric romances which were "to the public of the I(lth Century what Star HilI's, Jaws, King Kong and dinosaur and vampire movies are to the public of the 20th." These epic fantasies gave way in the 18th century to the Gothic, which "replaced chivalric notions with the ideals of the predominantly bourgeois audience." This evolution is continuous, Moorcock says, embracing SF as well: "the science fiction romance ... itself a branch of fabulous romantic fiction .. [willI leave its mark only on juvenile adventure stories and on the range of techniques available to the writer. ... Major sections of Moor(:ock's stutly are four: "The Exotic Landscape," "Heroes and Heroines," "Wit and Humour," and "Epic Pooh," Ex amples, good and bad, are drawn from dozens of authors, from William Morris to Patricia McKillip. Under the rubric "Heroes and Heroines," MOOl'Cock complains that too many epic fantasy protagonists, especially the Conan types, are culturally "infantile." Among the exceptions are Thomas Covenant least IStephen R.I Donaldson's characters are adults attempting to deal with atlult concerns"), the heroes of Thomas Burnett Swann (an author who "could still draw primitives who were neither na'ive nor emotionally coarse"), and Gene Wolfe's Severian, the Torturer (a protagonist sophisticated and fully realized). "Wit and Humour," which Moorcock finds essential for a mature fantasist, is discussed in James Branch Cabell (whose irony, like Kurt Vonnegut's, he finds too pervasive), Terry Pratchett, Mervyn Peake, and Fritz Leiber (singled out as the best American epic fantasist). Major polemics are reserved [or the final chapter, "Epic Pooh," which ridicules "the sort of prose most often identified with 'high' fantasy" as "the prose of the nursery room." Tolkien is the chief target here, along with fellow Inklings Charles Williams and C. S. Lewis. These writers, Moorcock says, are "soft ... they tell you comforting lies ... they take you to the edge of the Abyss and point out the excellent tea-garden at the bottom .... Both L. Frank Ballm and E. Nesbitt were more honest. he says. Alan Garner, Susan Cooper and LJ LeGuin are infinitely better. Richard Adams (whose Watership DOl I'll is characterized as "Poohfights back" and Shardik as "Martyred Pooh") is the worst. MOOl'Cock's study is heavy with long quotations (it probably could not Ih


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 have been published under American copyright laws) and yet it is curiously short on critical exposition. Much of the volume consists of the quotations, briefly introduced and often with little or no discussion afterwards. The topic (style, character. humour) is usually clear enough, but just how the quotations exemplify Moorcock's thesis must be entirely divined by the reader. I must confess I was unable to read many of these exempli as evidence for the author's general statements. The study thus merely illustrates what may be MoOt'cock's possibly idiosyncratic taste. As a writer of several dozen popular adult fantasies, Moorcock is entitled to express an "expert opinion," I suppose. But for academics or other critics much of the exposition remains unenlightening, and thus unconvincing as well. AdTian dc Wit Creature Features Stanley, John. Rcvenge oj the Creatllre Featllres MOFie Gllide. Third ed., revised. Creatures at Large Press [Box 687. Pacifica, CA 94044], 1988, xxiv + 420p. $11.95 trade pb. 0-940064-04-9. $40 hc. [signed, slipcased ed.], -05-7. If you had the time and could see at no charge all the 5UU + theatrical films currently distributed in the U.S. each year, how many would you see? 10% (one a week)? 20%'1 If you're John Stanley. you might try to see all the fantastic films, which means, inevitably, many of the worst films. Stanley hosted the last SL'I( years of a fourteen-year run of a popular "creature features" series on an Oakland, California TV station. Before the station cancelled it in 1985, the first two editions of this guide had been published (self-published in 1981. Warner Books in 1984, and again self-published in this third, revised, edition). Stanley recounts this history in his rambling, already dated introduction. The 1981 edition had 2753 film annotations. This one has about 4000. many new to this edition, others revised. Interspersed are several hundred studio shots. poster reproductions, and a number of drawings by Kenn Davis with captions taken from the films. The emphasis is on fantastic cinema, elastically interpreted: "The range of this book includes the obscure and esoteric as well as the popular, the foreign as well as the domestic, the cult as well as the popular." Stanley cheerfully admits that most of these films are schlock and usually says so in the annotations. which range from about twenty to 150 words and provide plot summary and partial credits. VC denotes that the film has been issued as a videocaselte, although few save specialty stores would be likely to stock many of these. Stanley has a lot of competition in the marketplace. He mentions 17


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 Leonard Maltin's TV Movies & Video Gl/ide (now an annual; Signet, October 1988) and Steven Scheuer's similar Movies 011 TI/, Danny Peary's Cllit AfOl'ies (1981, 1983) and Michael Weldon's The PsycllOtl"Onic En cyclopedia of FilII! (1983) are closer competitors. I selectively compared Stanley to Maltin and estimated that Maltin includes perhaps 70% of Stanley's films among the 18,000 described in the 1222 pages of solid text, What isn't in Maltin will interest only diehard devotees of late night fare. Frankly, I can think of better things to do in the dark, alone or otherwise. Neil Ban'oll Low-Budget Memories Weaver, Tom. bIte/views lVith "B" Science Fiction and HOImr MOFie II/akers: UlJiters, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup. McFarland [Box 611. Jefferson, N.C. 28640]. 1988, 413p. $29.95 he. 0-89950360-8. Except for American International Pictures' president Samuel Z. Arkoff and actress Beverly Garland, most of the twenty-nine film workers interviewed in this book are likely to be known only to erudite fans of 1950's low-budget genre movies. One interviewee admits "A lot of the movies I made were not released they escaped." Although only a few of the films discussed were important as individual works, taken together the 50's B movies were a significant part of popular culture, and as such deserving of this retrospective. Interviewer Tom Weaver's well-informed questions elicit articulate, nostalgic, anecdotal responses. In generaL the producers and directors have more of substance to say than the actors. Almost all of the inter viewees are proud of their work in B films and say they did the best they could with very limited resources. (An exception, producer Jerry Warren, admits he never worried about quality.) Most of the interviews are goodhumored, but a few revive old feuds; for example, both Curt Siodmak and Herbert L. Strock claim to have directed the still-watchable 1953 film The IIfagnetic Monster. Weaver's diplomatic questioning of an associate of the notorious Edward D. Wood, Jr. (Plall 9 froll! Outer Space, Glell or GIC:'Ilda?) is rewarded with a heartbreaking account of the tragic last years of Bela Lugosi. Most of the interviews collected here previously appeared in shorter form in fan magazines such as Starlog and FmlgOlia. There is little overlap bclween Weaver's work and either John Brosnan's The H017vr People (1976) or Michael Pitt's HOImr Film Stars (l981). Weaver's book is indexed and should be consulted by anyone interested in this colorful period in the history of genre filmmaking. Michael Klossner 18


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 Fiction A Girl's Best Friend Ash, Constance. The Horsegirt. Ace, NY, October 1988, 232p. $3.50 pb. 0-441-34275-2. [Ace Fantasy Special] A growing number of genuine horsewomen are writing fantasies ahout horses that are more substantial than an adolescent girl's dream of manes and tails and thundering hooves. Nancy Springer, R.A. MacAvoy, Joyce Ballou Gregorian, Mercedes Lackey, all use horses as important characters in their books, often endowing them with supernatural intelligence but without ever losing sight of the fact that they are also animals, sensitive to cold and sharp stones. It's taking a chance to give a magic symbol of strength and freedom a delicate stomach and a stubborn streak, but when it is done well it can give the symbol a new depth and immediacy. In her first novel, Constance Ash does it very well. TIle Horsegirl, as you may guess from the title, is a very horsey novel. It is set on a stud-farm, and much of the action consists of the details of caring for horses: grooming them, doctoring them, training them, cleaning up after them. This elaborate ritual of duty and self-discipline is the perfect training for the fiery young heroine Glennys, who must come to terms with her uncanny ability to hear the thoughts of her equine charges, as well as with her love for the farm's aristocratic owner. Horses and what they stand for are at the center of both the novel's plotlines. as they also provide a focus for the resentments of the poor Alamite farmers whose tithes support in luxury animals their religion teaches them are demons. The plots themselves are prelly standard: a political struggle between aristocracy and peasantry, and a gifted girl's coming of age. Yet the characters are anything but standard; with them as with her horses. Ash takes the chance of including all the stable liller. Glennys is not an easy character to like, being stubborn, temperamental, selfish, and not much interested in human beings. In short, Glennys is a lot like a horse, and therefore makes an utterly believable Stallion Oueen. The other characters are equally convincing: the Baron Fulk breeds children with the same cold practicality as he breeds warhorses. and the members of the Alamite community display the full spectrum of religious fanaticism. There is a sequel to Thc Horsegirt promised, and I look forward to it. -Delia Shcl7nan \9


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 Asimov's Demon Asimov, Isaac. Azazel. Doubleday/Foundation, NY, November 1988, 221p. $16.95 he. 0-385-2441O-X. During the past seven or eight years, the Good Doctor Asimov has on occasion rested his magnificent brain by dashing off amusing fantasies about his acquaintance, the freeloading George Butternut, and George's companion, a tiny demon named Azazel. The stories appeared first in 17ze Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, then in Isaac Asimol"s Science Fiction Magazine, and now in this volume. Each story is short, witty, dreadfully sexist, and essentially the same as any other. The pattern runs as follows: George talks Azazel into doing some sort of supernatural favor for a friend (grant beauty to an ugly young woman, suspend gravity for a taxi driver who wants to fly, change the luck of a jinxed person, etc.); however, the gift invariably brings comical disaster upon its recipient, to the regret of George and the confusion of Azazel, who finds human life contemptible and mystifying. Although I thought these stories were fun when I first encountered them in the SF magazines, I found them repetitious when collected together. I would recommend them. but I suggest they be read one at a time; they are too lightweight to stand up to any sort of intense scrutiny. Lynn F. Williams Saving the Best for Last Barker, Clive. Cabal. Poseidon, NY, 1988, 377p. $18.95 he. 0-671-62688-4. Clive Barker's Books Blood v7 has finally been published in America after a three-year wait, only it's not called either by its original British title or, as had been forecast by Poseidon (publishers of volumes IV and Vas, respectively, 17ze blhlll7lUn Condition and In the Flesh), The Life of Death. To capitalize on Barker's skyrocketing popularity this side of the Atlantic, Poseidon has decided to combine the four earlier novellas that made up the British edition with the title story, a new short novel which has appeared independently in Britain. This not only doubles the size of the volume, but also makes comparisons between the 1985 and 1988 Clive Barker inevitable. Three years wouldn't normally make much of a span in which to look for changes in an author's work, but in that time the feverishly prolific Barker wrote two major novels, and as 17ze Damnation Game (1l}85) and Ih'a1'ell'orld (1987) showed, the longer his stories run the more wrapped up Barker gets in the deVelopment of his characters allli their bizarre experiences, usually at the expense of the plot. "Cabal" displays the same trade-off. The story of a southwestern U.S. nereropolis called Midian, the 2ll


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 dead man Ileeing to it, his girlfriend's pursuit. and the different reasons why the living and the living dead of Midian want to prevent the couple's ever getting there, "Cabal" is built on several themes that keep reappearing in Barker's work: the equation of surfaces with masks, usually hiding a dreadful or marvelous (or both) dimension; the revelation that death is not an end but only a door into another existence governed by entirely different rules; the struggle between love and death for control of the human soul. Barker has packed this short novel so full of ideas and subplots that are never fully developed that one can hardly help but conclude he put everything down as fast as it came to him, with no real intention of tying it all together. Yet one doesn't come away from the story fee ling shortchanged. Although "Cabal" is a tale in search of a second half (which there is every indication Barker may eventually write), it's never less than engrossing, and for all its loose freight, it moves at an exhilirating speed. It is 1988 Barker near the top of his form. The four novellas, from 1985, are a mLxed bag. "The Last Illusion," with its cast of unlikely characters brought together to rescue a dead magician's soul from his Satanic debtors, can be read as a foreshadowing of the quest format of all three of Barker's novels. The straightforwardness of "How Spoiler's Bleed," a well-told if none-too-surprising tale of a native curse. is counterbalanced by the unexpected ironies of "The Life of Death," in which a woman who cannot bring life into the world brings death into it with as much gusto. "The Twilight at the Towers" is possibly Barker's most ingenious story, a Cold War spy caper that proves the perfect vehicle for his favorite mask metaphor. The subtlety with which Barker makes his point -that no matter which side one works for, blind obedience to an ideology makes one a captive and a victim -is a welcome contrast to his more overt and somewhat more strained political allegories, "In the Hills the Cities" and "Babel's Children." Readers who have not yet had the pleasure of reading this tale may well conclude that Barker's publishers have saved his best for last. Stefall Dzicl7lial101Vicz Treason Revisited Card, Orson Scott. ll'CaSOIl. Sl. Martin's, NY, 1988, 275p. $18.95 he. 0-312-02304-9. ll'Casoll is a revision of Card's second published novel A Plallet Called ll-eaSOIl (1979). Card writes that ll'caSOIl "was not an attempt to tell the story of Lanik Mueller as if I were writing it for the first time in 1988"; but Card does apply the expertise of a decade of storytelling to bring problematical portions of the original story more into line wit h his expand ing and maturing vision. 21


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 About ten percent of Ii"easoll is new. Chapter 1. for example, has been heavily revised, introducing more gradually the cruel, culturally myopic, sexist nation of Mueller. By means of this change, Card defuses several complaints lodged againstPlallct: that it was sexist; that Card's world (and by illogical and unfair implication, Card himself) reveled in gratuitious sex and violence; that the opening pages were particularly offensive. Such criticisms had confused the Kingdom of Mueller (only one of many states explored in the story) with the larger world of Treason, and the immature Lanik Mueller of Chapter 1 (who is, after all, a child of his culture) with Lanik as he emerges at the end of the tale; most unjustly of all, they drew inappropriate conclusions about Card as author conclusions which this revision is designed to dispel. In 7h:asoll, Card confronts and surmounts these critical challenges while remaining true to his original narrative. The new opening carefully differentiates between Lanik's culturally biased attitudes and his later, mature awareness of his own youthful flaws. Similarly, throughout the novel Card alters words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs to define more clearly Lanik's emerging role as warrior-savior whose painfully hard-won decisions release his world from millenia of ignorance and servitude. The story becomes smoother and the language more fluid, less inherently and extraneously controversial (iflkcrs, for example, replaces fliggcrs) and less ostensibly sexist (the founder of Schwartz becomes "she" rather than "he," suggesting new insights into Schwartz's accomodation to the harshness of life on Treason). In general, the story becomes more intent on com municating the essence of Lanik's experiences. What remains refined, polished, and directed -is the story of Lanik Mueller. One of Card's earliest heroic prototypes has been reshaped by the mind that subsequently developed Ender Wiggin and Alvin Miller, J r. The result is a novel that retains its original vigor and vision, while clearly profiting from eleven years of writing experience. Card's facility at sug gesting moral and spiritual values while remaining true to his imagined world is as impressive here as in his Ender novels or in the Tales of Alvin Maker. Readers coming to Timsofl for the first time will discover another of Card's strong central characters who must make crucial choices that forever alter himself and his world; readers already familiar with the novel will enjoy new moments of insight as subtle changes redefine, clarify, and enhance an already powerful story. Out of the reading emerges a new perception of Lanik Mueller and of Orson Scott Card. Michael R. Collings 22


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 Prelude to Foundation Carr, Jayge. Rabelaisiall Rep,lse. Doublcuay, NY, lY88, 192p. $12.95 he. 0-385-24436-3. Before upgrading its SF into the glossy Foundation line, Doubleday published books primarily for libraries on a subscription plan. They wcre readable, they were cheap, they were sturdy enough to last a few years, and they arrived on schedule every month. Occasionally, fresh work by explosive young talents such as Roger Zelazny or John Crowley showed up in Doubleday's monthly package; infrequently, the finely wrought efforts of a wounded rogue like Avram Davidson sneaked in. Generally, though, the publisher's minimal goals were satisfied by minimal books short, superficial productions that barely represented writers' abilities. Jayge Carr's "Jael the Navigator" series began with Narigator's Syndrome (originally published as Nal'igator's Sill drom e, a tribute to Doubleday's painstaking proofreading) in 1983; it has continued with The 1i"easure ill the HeaT1 o/the Maze (1985) anu the present volume. The series is set in a far future, with distant planets linked by traue but isolated enough to develop radically uifferent cultures. The planet Rabelais in particular respects no law or morality exccpt legal contracts: whatever a person agrees to by contract is permitted, though this leaves the mass of humans totally at the mercy of major contract holders. Carr tries to use this selling to test mankinu's capacity for depravity anu/or regeneration. The first book showed how twisted human relationships can become when only a few people have "rights." and the second described how major characters proved their ability to grow past their hangups. Rabelaisiall RepTise details a revolt and the beginning of social restructuring. Like the others in the series, this novel contains intriguing iueas. appealing characters. anu abundant action. It's not a bad book. But it's a long way from being a really good one. Carr settles for safe tricks most of the time. Jael, for example, is a brainy sex object who rouses lust in erelY human she meets; this isn't exploration of a liberated female character. it's just a device to manipulate other characters as needed. For that malleI'. descriptions of sexual torture are much more thorough than necessary to show how corrupt the Rabelaisian contract holders are or how terrinly they're punished; this isn't exploring the consequences of Rabelaisian society, it's just stroking the reader's prurience. There's enough vigor in Rabelaisiall Repllse to suggest that Carr can do better than the easy, formulaic exercises Doubleday used to produce. So perhaps the best thing to uo is note that this novel exists, anu hope that Carr will graduate to more ambitious work. -Joe Sanden 23


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 Welcome to Hotel Paradise Cross, Ronald Anthony. P,is()/Icn of Paradis'. Franklin Walls, NY, N()\"ember 1988, 26.1p. $17.Y5 hc. 0-53l-15ll83-6. Ronald Anthony Cross' first noveL of Paradise, bears some prelly impressive cover blurbs. Gregory Benford evidently liked the book. An anonymous reviewer for LOClls magazine speaks highly of the author's "comprehension of the macabre side of technology," though it isn't clear whether this novel is being referred to or, as seems more likely, an earlier puhlished story. No less a personage than Terry Carr compares Cross to R.A. Lafferty. It's a shame that good cover blurbs do not necessarily make a good novel. There is a touch of Lafferty here. particularly in the style. Cross uses Lafferty'S trick of juxtaposing formal and informal language in dialogue and, like that author, is fond of using euphcmisms for comic effect. He lacks Lafferty'S ear, however, and as often as not the language doesn't work. Morcover, the basic plot of P,isol/ers Paradise is one we've seen dozens of times before: low-tech barharians, trapped in a decaying high tech environment, struggle for survival. That this environment should be a gigantic, futuristic luxury hotel is a novel twist and docs provide Cross a number of funny ideas to play around with. I particularly liked the French robot waiter. who details in loving terms to any barbarian who enters its restaurant exactly what is on the menu, then offers equally elaborate apologies when it turns out that everything except soyhurgers is oul of siock. Mosl of the story, however, describes a series of violent or humorous confrontations which simply aren't very exciting or very funny. Heinlein's "Universe" (19-11), Aldiss' (19Y)), Daniel F. Galouye's Dmk Ul/iI'ers' (196]), and William Tenn's Of Men and MOllsters (1Y68) all do something very similar to what Cross is attempting here, and they all do it much better. The book also features a surprisingly unsuccessful cover painting by the (usually) very talented J .K. Poller. AIichael AI. Fantasy and Hon'or Annuals Datlow, Ellen and Terri Windling. cds. 77le }ear's Best Fal/tajY. A//II/la{ Collectiull. Sl. Martin's. NY. 1988. 491p. $12.95 trade pb. 0-312-I) 1852-5. Wagner, KaJ'l EdwUId. cd. 77lc }L'ar's Best HOImr Stmies XVI. DA W, NY, October 1988, 303p. $3.95 pb. 0-88(i77-3()()-8. Ht.:re arc two year's best round-ups. addressed to virtually the same readership. yet about as dil"ferent from each other as they could be. To


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 regular readers of fantasy and horror. this will come as no surprise: there are certainly enough good stories produced annually in both genres to fill at least two such volumes without any overlap (though Michael Shea's "Fat Face" appears in both). Butthe tlifference bctween the tables of contents is also proof that "best" is in the eye of the beholder. T7,e Year's BeSI Falllasy is an auspicious stat[ for what promises to be the first serious attempt to break the hammerlock DAW Books has had on fantasy and horror annuals for more than a uecade. Editors Datlow and Windling have mixed together a generous sampling of fantasy and horror, and have bracketed it with introductory summaries of the year's horror and fantasy in fiction and film. and an appendix of honorablc mentions. Most of their selections arc hard to argue with: Ursula LeGuin's Hugo-winning "Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight?" is as mar velous as any of her short fiction has ever been: George R.R. Martin's "The Pear-Shapeu Man" is possibly the creepiest story publisheu this year; and "Friend's Best Man", the World Fantasy Award-winner for best short story, is one of Jonathan CarroIrs near-perfect blends of fantasy and subtle horror. Three other stories nominated for 1988 World Fantasv Awards appear here, along with stories by many authors whose names one would expect to see in such a gathering of quality: Ramsey Campbell. Charles de Lint, Charles L. Grant, Jane Yolcn, Lisa TULlIe. Still, some of the selections seem to ha\'e been included more for the sake of representation than for actual merit. There's no supernatural element in Harlan Ellison's "Soft Monkey" or in Joe Haldeman's "DX" to justify their appearance in a volume of fantasy stories. Lucius Shepard is one of our best and most prolific new fantasy writers, but was there any reason to include. along with his fine story "Delta Sly Honey:' two minlll' poems? The inclusion of Edward Bryant's ''Author's Notes" is the most curious choice. These short anecuotes, originally interspersed between Bryant's contributions to NiKhl Visiolls [V (Dark Harvest. IY87; ed. Clive Barker), were a clever way of killing the dead space between individual stories, turning them into a single. reflective piece of fiction. Abstracted from this whole and run together. they kise their narrative power. (Bryant is also represented in the volume with an introductory essay on the year's horror and fantasy films.) While readers of T7lC Bcsl FalllaS\' will find the selections a fairl\' reliable measure of consensus tastes. any(;ne who dips regularly into Kat:1 Edward Wagner's }('ar's Best HOImr StOlics knows by now to expect the unexpected. In his introduction. Wagner notes that two stories from last year's volume went on to win World Fantasy Awards. proof that "your eye-strained editor is not alone in his judgments."' Yet it's precisely Wagner's singular and eclectic tastes that have made this series a sig-


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 nificant contribution to the fantasy field, a sort of "best of the ones you wouldn't find elsewhere" anthology. Although Wagner has culled from less obscure sources this year (some of which were obscure until the editor began combing them for his annual selections), there's still good variety: Jamesian horror by R. Chetv''Ynd Hayes, Leslie Halliwell, Sheila Hodgson, and J.E Kidd; Lovecraftian horror by Michael Shea; borderline science fiction by Brian Lumley; splatterpunk by Wayne Allen Sallee: and dark fantasy by Charles Grant and .lane Yolen. Familiar writers like Ramsey Campbell and Dennis Etchison are represented with provocative, unclassifiable stories; and with the inclusion of "Neighbourhood Watch." an outstanding horror story by young Australian science fiction writer Greg Egan, Wagner can be credited with at least one notable "discovery." It's unlikely that any of the stories in this collection will go on to win major awards, but on the whole the book is as satisfyingly diverse as Wagner's previous anthologies. Stefa1l Dziel1lia1lowicz [Ed. Note: Gardner Dozois' }ear\ Best Scie1lce Fictio1l: Fljih A1l1lllal Collectio1l, St. Martin's' companion volume to Datlow and Windling's anthology, will be reviewed next issue.] Angry Ellison Ellison, Harlan. A1lglY CalUZv. Houghton Mifflin, NY, October 1988, 324p. $18.95 he. 0-395-48307-7. So what does a writer of passion rail against when he's already taken on hate and love, bigotry, civil oppression, and most every infamy humans can inOict on other humans? when he's reached his fifties and middle age, where one's passions usually begin to fade? Death. Ellison's new collection, mostly containing stories written in this decade. starts with an essay that lists, down the pages' borders. everyone he knew who died in the two years before A1lgTV Cl1Iu(v was published. Between these daunting marginal cenotaphs run the author's intimate, angry, helpless reactions to death after death losses which he seems to take (as Ellison has always taken everything) as personal affronts, as challenges to a personal fight. The theme, along with the sense of personal outrage, continues throughout the book, in company with Ellison's whole emotional palette. The cinematic violence of "Soft Monkey" serves to highlight a gentle portrait of a confused baglady's nurturing love for her lost child. "Broken Glass" is a sharply effective tale of a victimized woman who fights hack


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 after a kind of psychic rape. The Hugo-winning "Paladin of the Lost Hour" (also scripted by Ellison for the TV series The Tlvi/ight ZOlle) is effectively melodramatic, not quite too sweet in its pairing of a sweet old white man and a kind, unhappy young black man (with the young man's crucial decision precisely opposite what it is in the television version, yet still "correct"). Other stories, though also concerned with death as a theme, are lighter: the extended comedy sketch of "Laugh Track." and (what I must confess was my favorite) the shaggy-dog combination of litcrit and redhots "Prince Myshkin, and Hold the Relish." In these stories, as ever, Ellison races along the cliff, seizing metaphors. riding them far over the edge, yet somehow managing to keep it all going and always with the rhetorical volume control turned up all the way (withered apples are "hideous and wrinkled as thalidomide babies"). Nineteen years separate "The Region Between" (garnished with the late Jack Gaughan's strong graphics, it's a fetching combination of 50's SF settings and 60's hallucinogenic language, but minor Ellison) and "The Function of Dream Sleep" (a mess as science fiction. but a good. tough. self-revelatory character study). In that time, the author hasn't lost one decibel on his howl of indignation. nor his willingness to go too far. Even (or especially) in its unevenness. this is vintage Ellison. a solid addition to his works; and the introductory essay is one of his strongest. -!l/altha Soukllp [Ed. Note: The introductory essay to Allgl)' Camzl' has been reprinted in a special issue, edited by Gary K. Wolfe, of TIle Joul7lal of the Fall/astir ill the Am (vol. 1, no. 3) devoted to the work of Ellison and Peter S. Beagle.] A Flavor of Conan Doyle Friesnel', Esther. Dl1lid's Blood. Signet. July 1988, 27Yp. $3.50 pb. 0-45115408-8. Esther Friesner has re-imagined Victorian England for her latest novel Dl1lid's Blood. This alternate Britain is ruled by magic, collected in the Rules Britannia and presided over by chief sorceress Queen Victoria. When the Rules are stolen by power-hungry Druids, Victoria seeks the help of master sleuth Brihtric Donne and his companion. Dr. John Weston (Friesner's version of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson). Dl1lid's Blood is a lot of fun. This Victoria is quite a lusty lady; and several of her most famous subjects make guest appearances along the way. The best character is the book's hero. John Weston. This incarnation of Watson is not a stuffy. bumbling sidekick, but a Pictish Prince cut off from his magical powers by a curse laid upon him by a disappointed lover. 27


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 Weston, true to form, does dder to the sleuthing superiority of Donne/Holmes, but it is still Weston who propels the plot and, eventually, saves the day. A flavor of Conan Doyle is imparted to the proceedings by means of chapter titles (for example, "The Nasty Story of the Crimson Leech and the Revolting Death of Hope the Banker"), w'hich, though they hinder the novel's flow somewhat, are generally enjoyable, as well as respectful to their source. There is a lot of humor in Dl1lid's Blood. and most of it works very well. Friesner manages to avoid the coyness that marred some of her other novels (A/listaplw alld His Wise Dog and Harlot's Ruse (both 1985), for examples). The humor hcre arises from character and situation. There is also a nice romantic subplot involving Watson with Victoria, and Donne with Ada Lovelace. In addition. there is a slam-bang ending at the tomb of the Baskervilles where Weston confronts the evil Druid Lord Kitchener. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I recommend it to Holmes fans, sorcery aficianados, and Victorian a huffs. -Lallrd All del' SOil This Myth Not a Hit Harness, Charles. Krollo. Franklin Watts, NY, November 1988, 202p. $16.95 hc. 0-531-15087-9. James Konteau, a veteran temporal explorer/engineer of the 27th century, founds stable colonies across eons of prehistory to relieve earth's burgeoning population. Exhausted by the stresses of time travel and depressed over his abandonment by his beloved wife Helen, Konteau uiscovers himself a pawn in the complex struggles between the Vyrs, malthusian theocrats who rule the scattered city-states and their transtem ponll colonial boros, anu the Temporal Council, a technocratic body supporting human expansion through temporal colonialism. A mysterious psychic warning propels Konteau into an auventure that not only takes him to Triassic Pangea to rescue a lost boro, but also involves him deeply in the most violent political conflict of his age the clash between those who worship and serve "Time as Eater of AII;' and those who would use technology to help Time bring an ever-greater humanity into being. The plot and many of the charactns of K1'0110 seem designed to fit the myth of Kronos and his edible but inuigestible Olympian children, not only to suggest that timcmyths may be garbled records of the actions of inrIuential timetravellers but also thal. through time travel (and despite its paradoxes), humanity can somehow redeem, or at least rescue, itself. Unfortunately. the exposition of antecedent events, culture, and motiva tion is so choppy and unpersuasivc that we hardly feel the significance or valiuity of these ideas. For example, while Konteau's civilization, risen


SFAA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 [rom the ashes o[ nuclear war, has the power to travel in time, to cross from Earth to Mars in [our hours, and to voyage to Centaurus, it cannnt mitigate the planet-wide blight o[ the nuclear "No" which, incidentally, has almost no impact on the surviving human polities -nor can the ruling Vyrs, who [or no explicable reason exhibit ncar-Roman decadence, determine their political behavior without the aid of computerized haruspica tion: the guts of timetravelling women are particularly illuminating, we are told. Although Harness tries to compose a culture and to give Konteau some complexity o[ character (mainly by occasional allusions to Norse myths, Eclgar Allan Poe, Ingmar Bergman's Thc Scvcllth Scal, and Coleridge), Krollo [ails as a novel o[ ideas, as a character-based examination of life in a technologically transformed world, and as hard SF. Its ruling concepts are scrambled where they are not nonsensical, its science is fantasy spun from the needs of plot, and its humanity is an ill-defined hodgepodge of insufficiently developed characters whose lives and relationships simply don't exist [or us. The choppy narrative and shallow character develop ment suggest this novel was rough-hewn from a much larger mass of text. Not recommended. David ii/cad Up the Rabbit Hole Jennings, Phillip C. TOlver to the Sky. Baen, NY, 1988, 316p. $3.50 pb. 0-671-65393-8. Reading Phil Jennings' first novel is very much like ingesting your first hallucinogen. On the one hand, there are wonders like nothing you've ever seen before. On the other hand, parts of the experience are not entirely pleasant. Exaltation and confusion alternate. Simply reading the words on the page can be a trip. Take the cluttered, telegraphic style o[ the cylx;r punks, mix in a dash of Somtow Sucharitkul at his most excessive, throw in a bunch o[ Alice-in-Wonderland-like nonsequiturs, add several dis tinctly different and very odd cultures, toss in a number of resurrected dead people, and you only have the recipe for this book'sfirstfcll'chaptcn. Confusing? Yes, indeed. Fun'? Definitely. Tower to the Sky does have a plot. In the year 3727, humanity has createu innumerable scientific marvels, colonized virtually all of the real estate in the solar system, and transformed itself into uozens of suhspecies. Human beings have not, however, gone to the stars because they have been forbidden to do so by the Gatekeepers, a mysterious alien race, part of a galaxy-spanning civilization which has quarantined our species. This static situation is upset when the Earth's long-lost, first interstellar probe returns, bearing startling news. That information is intercepted by the


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 handsome and charismatic Senator Ramnis. He, along with his troop of Souldancers, decides that enough is enough, that humanity has a right to the stars. But how to get there? The answer is Earthstalk, of course, the tower to the sky. Earthstalk is a truly marvelous extrapolation on the space elevator concept of Arthur C. Clarke and Charles Sheffield. No mere transportation device, Earthstalk is an actual building which reaches clear to gcosynchronous orbit. The largest manmade structure in history, its thousands of floors house hundreds of different cultures, and the building may just possibly be convertible into the largest spaceship in the universe. Towel' to the Sky is a book full of excesses. Some readers might find it annoying. An enormous number of major characters crowd its pages, appearing in different bodies at different times. Technological innovations spin dizzyingly past, enough for a half-dozen normal SF novels. Although invariably intriguing, these people and machines are often hard to keep straight because Jennings is simply not a visual writer. The effect can be maddening. It can also be exhilirating. Nancy Reagan would probably just say "No." Michael M. Fine SF Thriller Kube-McDowell, Michael P. Altemitics Ace, NY, October 1988, 384p. $3.95 pb. 0-441-01774-6. What would happen if our President knew (really Imelv) that other realities existed realities that apparently split off from "this one" around 1951 in some of which the United States enjoys a more favorable status in the world than it does in this one, and in which marvelous new inventions and social customs are available. What if he knew that people could travel from one "alternity" to another? Would he publicize the news, encourage inter-reality travel, and generally celebrate the occasion? Would he set out to gather information and inventions from these alter nate worlds to enhance our own? Or would he establish a super-secret government agency for transreality espionage and threaten Russia while planning a dimensional getaway for himself and a favored few if things don't work out well? The first breakthrough between alternities is made by a sexually twisted sociopath, and he apparently sets the moral tone for those who follow him. The relationship between the U.S. and Russia continues to be highly uncomfortable in all the alternities the scouts explore, but in some the balance of power remains with the U.S. \vhile in others, including the "Home Alternity" (which does not look exactly like "ours," though it certainly bears more similarities than I find comf()f(able), the U.S. has lost 30


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 ground; and the President counting on an escape hatch into another alternity decides to Do Something About It. The President is also a sociopath, though he covers this with charsima and political acumen. The story follows a number of well-drawn, if not always sympathetic, characters. The "runner" between alternities, Rayne Wallace, is in trouble professional and domestic from the moment we meet him. Not only does he work for a secretive and duplicitous agency, but his mysterious job causes enormous distress to his wife. The generally obtuse Rayne over and over misses opportunities to connect with her, and author Kube-McDowell shows a sensitive hand in depicting their mutual misery. President Robinson, who seems merely unpleasant at first, begins to grow like an evil fungus, infecting his ministers and friends. Gregory O'Neill, the Secretary of Defense, is an honest and ethical man, but not a heroic one, and the story of his neutralization provides a heavy dose of realpolitik. President Robinson's theory seems innocuous enough at first: America deserves respect. The problem emerges as we discover that, for Robinson, respect only comes in assorted nuclear sizes. Once he is assured of an escape route through other alternities, he finds the destruction of his country no reason to alter his schemes (even though the number of people who can escape apocalypse is extremely small): and he blackmails his cabinet with promises of safety for themselves and their families. What he does to the people who work for him and to the other alternities they alter is no concern of his but it is the concern of the book. Altel7lilies is a fine combination of science fiction and political thriller. By story's end, the various alternities have been sorted out (more or less), but a few problems remain: convolutions of plot that aren't adequately used or seem mechanical, like the "Thing in the Gate": confusion of characters' names (when we must keep track not only of a large cast in the Home Alternity, but of their analogs in other alternities, haying a Tackell and a Taskins, a Robinson and a Rodman makes for tough going). But I cared about those characters, especially Rayne Wallace and the people he touched. And I cared about the Home Alternity. even though it clearly isn't home to me. Kube-McDowell's writing is impressive. -i\fm1/za Bal1ter Joe-Bob Goes to Mars Lansdale, Joe R. n,e Dlil/e-Ill. Bantam/Spectra, NY, August 1988. 158p. $3.50 pb. 0-553-27481-3. If William Golding had wrillen Lord of the Flies after one Lone Star too many, he might have set it at the six-screen Orbit Drive-In rather than on a desert island. Instead of English schoolboys, he might have populated it with a Fridaynight crowd of good 01' boys amI girb who finds themsd31


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 ves cut off from the rest of the world after a comet buzzes by overhead. Instead of the "Beast," he might have created the Popcorn King two humans, fused together by a lightning bolt, who take over the Orbit's concession stand and insist that viewers of the All-Night Horror Show accept the splatter movies on the screen as reality. And the moral of his story might have been that when the chips are down, human nature ain't worth a warm Coca-Cola. What Golding might have done, .Ioe R. Lansdale has done. The question to be asked, however. is: should it have been done in the first place? If anyone could have gotten a yuck out of the vague idea behind this story that we're all actors from central casting in a low-budget movie being made by "B-string gods" -it is Lansdale, who has a healthy respect for the gruesome and a talent for making his redneck milieu seem so authentic that it leaves a drawl in your mouth. But as is clear from the subtitle of this book ("A B-Movie with Blood and Popcorn, Made in Texas"), Lansdale is trying to spoof splatter movies by writing one, and he only proves that what might have made good trashy fun on the big screen no plot, faceless characters, and a heavy hand on the ketchup bottle during the gross-out scenes falls flat on the printed page. If you're the type of person who could stand a Joe-Bob Briggs review that takes almost three hours to read, then I7le Drire-Ill is for you. If not, wait for the movie. -Stefall Dziemiallowicz Prolific and Promising New Writer Moran, Daniel Keys. I7ze AI71111geddon Billes. Bantam/Spectra, NY, April 1988, 205p. $3.50 pb. 0-553-27115-6. ----, __ Emerald Eves. Bantam/Spectra, NY, July 1988, 243p. $3.50 pb. 0-553-27347-7. -,----_-:-. I7lc Ring. Doubleday/Foundation, NY, October 1988, 467p. $19.95 hc. 0-385-24816-4. [Based on a screenplay by William Stewart and Joanne Nelsen.] In the elaborate "Dedication" to his second novel Emerald Eyes, Daniel Keys Moran states that Heinlein's I711! Mooll is a Harsh Mistress (1966) is his favorite novel, and he further praises a veritable host of science fiction and fantasy writers from Asimov to Tolkien for what they've taught him. Notably absent from his list, however, is A.E. Van Vogt, a writer of whose work Moran's is surprisingly reminiscent. Both authors feature frag mented, high-energy plots which roll right over logical inconsistencies at breakneck speed. Both are fascinated by charismatic leaclers and the Great Man theory of historical change. Finally, both have taken for their primary subject the evolution, particularly the psychic evolution, of 32


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 humankind. Moran's n/C A 171wgeddon Bllles, first in the "Tales of the Great Wheel of Existence," is a complex, improbable, but enormously exciting story (If time travel, multiple timelines, amI an attempt to change the past. J alian of the Fires is a barbarian huntress, a mutant living in a future North America which is only just beginning to recover from nuclear war. Stealing an alien time machine, she travels to Southern California in the year llJ6g in an altempt to stop Armageddon. There she meets the mysterious Georges Mordreaux, a 25(i-year-okl superman who has the rcmarkable ability to reverse entropy, both in his own body and in his surroundings. Using their unique talents, the two join forces in a secret, decades-long baltic to avoid the war they know is coming, even though their success may result in the elimination of the culture which brought J alian into existence. Emerald Eyes, although told in the same breathless, headlong style of its predecessor, begins a different series, the "Tales of the Continuing Time," The story concerns the creation of a race of telepaths and their struggle to maintain their existence in the face of almost o\'el'\ .... helming human hostility. Moran here combines a fair amount of hard-edged, cyberpunk-like extrapolation with a number of memorable characters in a novel which reads almost like an 80's update of Van Vogt's SIan (194()). The prolific Moran's third novel, The Ring, is in many ways his most ambitious. Loosely based upon, and enormously expanded from, a screenplay by William Stew'art and Joanne Nelsen (for a motion picture scheduled to start filming late in 1988), the book is nothing less than a science fiction recreation of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle. The gods and giants of Moran's tale, however, are the results of genetic engineering; the dwarf Alberich has become Cain, the Machiavellian human protagonist of the novel; and Siegfried has become Cain's adopted son, the heroic commander and fighter pilot Orion. The translation of a classic opera into SF terms takes a certain amount of nerve, and Moran also shows audacity in placing Cain, Orion and company in the same universe, albeit decades later, as the characters from nlC A 171 wgcddon Bllles. The descendants of Jalian's people from Moran's first novel are a minor presence on the fringes of The Ring's main action. As with Moran's earlier books, nlC Ring does suffer from loose plot threads. In Wagner's operas there is really no need to explain who the Rhine maidens are or how their magic works or why the Ring is innately worth striving for. In an SF novel, howcver, some explanation is in order. We're told that Cain steals the Ring of Light from the Sisterhood, who have left Earth in disgust over the planet's endemic violence and have set up their own isolated colony on anothcr world. But we're never really told what kind of power the Ring represents, why it is valuable, or how it is


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 related to the psychic powers of the godlike Rulers who have enslaved humanity for cent uries. Daniel Keys Moran has not yet produced a great novel, but each of his books is well worth reading despite its flaws. The author is a solid stylist and brings enormous energy and enthusiasm to his work. A sequel to Emerald E.l'es is due out in the spring of 1989. and I look forward to it. In the meantime. Moran dearly deserves consideration as a candidate for the John W. Campbell Award [or best new SF writer of the year. Michael M. LeI'\' The Comfortable Conservatism of Influence Nighbert, David. Tim elapse. St. Martin'S, NY, 1988, 294p. $17.95 he. 12-01835-5. The first-person narrator in David Nighbert's first novel sounds a little like Philip Dick's Rick Deckard, who. in turn, sounds to most of us like Joe Friday. In Timelapse. the tough speaker is a 29th century assassin; and since the genre is SF, the surrounding apparatus that he operates, or that operates him, is fantastic high-tech st uff including bio-engineering. What motivates this tough speaker is an assignment to kill one Tessarian, leader of the People's Revolutionary Empire and a continual threat to an Asil110vian federation called rather blandly the United Planets. The tough narrator is, also, driven by mysterious dreamlike images from his childhood which lead him to suspect that Tessarian may be, in fact, his father. The most interesting plot gimmick of the novel lies in the unraveling of a strange trick Tessarian has played on the narrator's mother. Apparently, he had indeed lusted to be the narrator's father. or the father of a sibling at least. But when he was rejected. Tessarian, already in cahoots with the mad inventor of a time machine, tricked the woman by sending his arch enemy back in time to fall in love with his own mother. In other words, the narrator finally tells us he has discovered who his father is: it is he himself. I seem to recall a pop song from about the Dragnet era called "I'm my Own Grandpa." We critics tend to read a lot these days about how genres repeat themselves, or how motifs and conventions replay to satisfy reader expec tations. Nighbert illustrates this thesis with his plundering of everyone from Dick to Gene Wolfe to Fred Pohl to Gregory Benford. The author is clearly well versed in the genre: the story even features a Grandpa George Wells who helps inventors on both sides perfect time travel. This dependence on earlier SF talents seems to have di!nmed Nighberrs O\\'n, breeding an innate conservatism in the narrative. At the end, the political


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 struggle and the technological speculation take a back seat to a Dickian twist, with the narrator emerging as an average mellsch who goes back in time to save himself (Deckard went back to his wife in DoAlldroids Dream of Elect/ic Sheep? [1968]). This is a clumsy, poorly-written book. It contains everything I should like, except skillful telling. Nighbert must improve markedly if he wants to write effective SF. Donald lIf. Hassler The Little Bomber That Could Schenk. Hilbert. Steam Bird. TOR, NY, August 1988, 213p. $3.50 pb. 0-812-55400-0. In the 1950's, Hilbert Schenk worked for Pratt and Whitney as a mechanical engineer and was involved in what could have been one of the most incredible military-industrial boondoggles in the history of our nation: the design of a nuclear-powered, steam-driven bomber. If it hadn't been for Splltnik and the American military'S consequent obsession with missiles, the damn thing might well have been built though its nuclear power plant would have been dangerously unstable, though merely warm ing up its engines would have contaminated both the plane and much of its airfield with radiation, though at top speed it would barely have been able to outrun a gooney bird. Steam Bird, a short novel which was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy mId Science Fiction in 1984, takes place in an alternate America where a number of steam-driven attack bombers \vere actually built and then, for several decades, pretty much forgotten. Serving at their base in northern Maine is quite understandably considered to be a dead end career-wise, so crew assignments for the never-llown bombers tend to attract only the most eccentric Air Force personnel, most of whom also just happen to be steam engine aficianados. Schenk's description of the planes and his detailed discussion of a variety of real and model steam locomotives is actually fairly interesting, but the rest of the book simply doesn't \vork. What we have here is a rather heavy-handed satire on military and governmental incompetence. The president of the lJ nited States and his advisors, both civilian and military, are, without exception, several bricks short of a load, and their madness is entirely predictable. The book, although supposedly describing a barely averted nuclear war, lacks tension as well as satiric bite. SrCllm Bird just doesn't lly. Included in this volume with Stcam Bird is Schenk's considerably more successful novella "Hurricane Claude." All in all, however, the book isn't worth the time. A better introduction to the author's work is a\'ailable in


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 his earlier novclsAt the Eye of the Oceall (1980) andA RoseforAl71raged don (IY82), or in his fine 1988 novel Chronosequence. Michael !II. Ln'l' A Taste of Unknown Schmidt, Stanley, ed. UllkIlOlVll. Baen. NY. October 1988, 30-lp: $3.50 pb. 0-671-69785-4. Whether the fantasy John W. Campbell published in Unknoll'll was actually better than the fiction that appeared in Weird Tales, Fantastic Adl'entures, and other pulp magazines of the time is a matter of personal taste. One thing everyone could agree on, though: Unknown stories were different. By encouraging his authors to shake off the shackles of the Gothic horror tradition and write fiction that took place in a modern world where the fantastic and the rational co-existed uneasily (and often quite comically), Campbell helped create a magazine that offered a genuine alternative to the general run of weird fiction turned out in the 30's and 40's. Ullknowll has since been recognized as a successful, if short-lived (it was killed by wartime paper shortages in 1943, after a four-year run), experiment that bridged the fantasy and science fiction genres and helped launch the careers of L. Sprague cle Camp, L. Ron Hubbard, Fritz Leiber, Theodore Sturgeon, Anthony Boucher, Henry Kuttner, and Lester Del Rey. Because Campbell was one of the few pulp editors to recognize that literate writing could carry a fantastic theme better than purple prose or graphic descriptions, UnlmOll'n brought a sophistication to modern fan tasy that is taken for granted today. The proof is in this collection of nine stories, all of which have held up well over the years. Though limited in his selections by the fact that much of Unknown's best work was of novel length, Stanley Schmidt (current editor of Campbell's Analog) has put together a surprisingly representative collection of some of the best the magazine had to offer. Two Unknown staples, the wish-fulfillment story and the deal-with-ademon story, are represented by, respective ly, St urge on's amusing ''A God a Garden" and Kuttner's sardonic "The Devil We Know." Boucher's "The Compleat Werewolf" ancl Del Rey's "Coppersmith" deal with another of UnlmOlVll's thematic trademarks the mythical creature trying to adapt to modern times while Fritz Leiber's "Smoke Ghost" updates a traditionalmonster hy placing it in a contemporary urhan setting. Then there are the unclassifiabie, offi.1cat tales for which the magazine is fondly n:memberecl: Fredric Brown's ''Angleworm,'' Malcolm Jameson's "Even the Angels," and de Camp's "Nothing in the Rules."' Se\'cral of these stories arc model'll fantasy classics. but some arc not that well known, and


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 at least one has never been reprinted before. Together in one book, they give a very good idea of what Ul1kl101I"1l was all about. Stefan Dzielllianoll'icz All That Science Fiction Crap Skal, David J. Antibodies. Congdon & Weed. NY, 1988, 16

SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 parati. (Edward Bryant. in his covcr blurb. says the book is "like a film by David Cronenberg": perhaps too much like recall Vic/codmmc?) Dubhed hy the media "antibodies" (get it? Anti-bodies. Ha-ha), they practice ritual abstinence (the non:\ being partly a bizarre diagnosis of such current maladies as anorexia). not to mention automutilation in anticipation of the eventual replacement of their fallihle body parts by superior prostheses surgical procedures conducted in conventionally "exotic" locales like Denmark. Switzerland, and Central America. Their cultic solidarity is enforced by a series of pirated videotapes, creepy slash-edited montages laced with subliminal messages. amI also by a cheesy sci-fi novel called Helcll Ketler ill Ollter Space, a kind of woman machine lovestorv. The science fiction theme is thus quite self-conscious and even affords Skal some (rather lame) metafictional twists, but alas the cultural diag nosis is nai've if not simple-minded. In Skal's view. the SF ethos is merely an adolescent control fantasy writ large: its alienated readers, "It]errified of sex but desperate for romance ... craving military structure in relation ships,., and yet, so vulnerable and afraid." take to worshipping the serenity and perfection of machines as compensation for their pitifulmundanity. (Isaac Asimov, in his introduction to the volume, wittily labels this syndrome "computer envy.") SF. for Skat is a symptom of the general malaise of the culture, not to mention dangerous propaganda for some bizarre utopia; a desperate ideological entrapment is enforced by the literature, with its ecstatic uepictions of human-machine interfaces "preferable to anything that could be achieved between standard men and women." Skal buttresses this diagnosis with extenued passages quoted from his fictional SF text: unfortunately. these passages, instead of lending depth and penetration to the analysis. merely serve to remind us that the surrounding material is also the stuff of a bad science fiction novel. Alltibodies is thus a self-mutilating work. its ersatz profunuities consistent-1y unuercut by its own pulp borrowings. As with much of the SF Skal skewers. the book's plot is ahsurdly schematic. its characters reduced to puppets of the author's apocalyptic psychobahble. One of the book's central figures is an arrogant cult deprogrammer, who uses his position (0 exploit his patients; similarly. the novel exploits its reaciers, offering them a jazzy SF plot while castigating them for their absorption in it. Skal brandishes all the genre hardware. meanwhile mourning its \"ery existence. (That Asimm', godfather of the SF rohot, should "present" the volume to an SF audience is thus perversely ironic.) At the encl. the cult de program mer cynically unleashes an AIDS-type virus upon the worlu. and we cannot help but feel that this cynicism taints the book's author as well.


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 "Born Meat, Die Meat" Skal seems to sneer at us, while at the same time heaping abuse on any hope for transcendence. Alltibodies may be a maddening book, but it is not an uninteresting one. Even while groaning at its unironic melodrama and bristling at its misap prehensions and distortions, the reader cannot help but feel a grudging admiration for its maniacal ambition. In 169 slim pages, Skaltakes on all comers: performance artists, Trekkies, the media circus, bored suburban housewives, the military-industrial complex. Like a paranoid nightmare, everything dovetails together: the performance artists, hypnotized by the media circus which has spawned the Trekkies and bored the hOllsewives, are manipulated by agents of the military-industrial complex toward some obscure technological apotheosis in "a conspiracy among the highest levels of corporate finance and government intelligence to turn people into computer components." This is the kind of wild vision only possible in science fiction, and despite Skal's selflacerating strictures, he is a classic science fiction writer, nurtured at Clarion, not to mention at the electric hearth of Gernshackian prophecy. Alllibodies uses dystopian speculation to subvertlltopian yearnings, yet those yearnings are embedded in its very fabric: they come part and parcel with the SF form. At one potent point, the hook's female protagonist. Diandra, dreams of attending Disneyland with her happy robot family, moving "along a predetermined track into a festi\"( em'ironmenl," serenaded by a chorus of ecstatic simulacra. This cozy fantasy is immedi ately undercut by irrepressible intimations of mortality ("Couldn't they see what was happening? How the /IIcal was everywhere, insinuating itself back into their perfect lives'!"); yet it is the original vision which lingers, like a radioactive shauow, speaking to us, if only in the form of uegraded kitsch, of a faultless future which we will always hope for but can never possess. Diandra bears the brunt of the SF paradox here. A visionary window dresser for a chic San Francisco emporium, she is famous for her "nightmare imagery of women mutating into refrigerators and food processors", "all that science fiction (.Tap" that enthralls the drifting, distracted masses. Yet she also dreams of creating a mechanical Madonna, thus endowing machinery with the most vital prerogative of life. At the end, Skal spitefully transforms her into a Typhoid Mary uispensing con tagion anu plague, but here the author's polemical purpose backfires on him, for Diandra infects us with her vision a doting humanization of the machine. Willy-nilly, SkaL with his SF hocus, becomes one with the fascinated media in his story, who ueploy their 0\\'11 electronic \viles to turn Diandra into a sci-fi celebrity, using "a clip from the Giorgio Morouer vCfsion of Metropolis, with the whot turning into a woman. Snap, crackle, .N


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 pop. Just like MTY." And Diandra, like Fritz Lang's great Black Maria, winks at us over Skat's shoulder as the author hustles her to her doom. -Jack Dllralll But Your Nightingale Songs Live On Tiptree, James, Jr. Croll'lI of Stars. TOR, NY. September 1988, 340p. $18.95 hc. 0-312-93105-0. This sixth (and, alas, probably final) collection of James Tiptree's (aka Alice Sheldon's) stories, all ofwhieh have been previously published, will be welcome to all of Tiptree's fans and essential for all students of her work. Most readers, however, will not find among its ten tales any gems to rank with "The Women Men Don't Sec," "The Screwfly Solution," or "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" No single story here quite contains that powerful Tiptree amalgam of horrific vision, humane concern, and droll. malicious mockery that made much of her short fiction from the 70's so memorable; but these and other Tiptree attributes arc present, in varying degrees, and these tales, with their broad variety of approaches, do carry forward Tiptree's investigation of her major concerns. As ever, the author writes of delicately constructed human illusions cracking open on the hard rocks of reality. and of fantastic worlds that are telling reflections of our own. with characters trapped in gender roles or otherwise living out rituals of massacre and self-destruction. The two earliestwritten stories, "Morality Meat" and a little nasty called "Last Night and Every Night," ring with a tone somewhere between righteous indignation and resigned disgust; while more recent tales, like "Our Resident Djinn" and "In the Midst of Life," grotesque comedies of the afterlife and the Christian/Miltonic mythos filtered through science and early SF cliches, suggest that Tiptree was moving resolutely toward the realization of one of her early literary pronouncements (quoted in Mark Siegle's Starmont volume devoted to her work): "If you can't laugh at it, what good is it?" At the same time, "Yanqui Doodle" is an angry, didactic, and all-too-realistic vision of the U.S.A. bogged down in a South American war which is turning into monsters those it does not turn into corpses. "Backward, Turn Backward" is the longest story here and perhaps the only outright failure: its wrestling with timetravel and the details of a near future seem labored, not lyrical, and kad to an attenuation of the charac teristic Tiptree Effect. But that effect is still well maintained in the fantasy "The Earth Doth Like a Snake Renew." in which an immensely wcalthy heiress scorns all human intercourse in order to bond directly with a living Earth she correctly perceives to be male. Here, as in all of Tiptree's best crforts, style is Ollt: w'ith substance. and the reader gropes for lInder4()


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 standing along with the protagonist, sharing in her rUlle awakenings and panicky realizations, experiencing vicariously many \'aricties of longing and pain, dreaming of a future of compassionate fulfillment but borne back ceaselessly into a present far less than ideal. Alii Sheldon, as she was known to her friends, was a person of great toughness and sensitivity. Her literary incarnation Jamcs Tiptree, .II'. will carry her vision into the future, a beckoning candle which an old, ex perienced hand shelters against the wind-blasted night. -TllOm Dunn A New Wolfe at the Door Wolfe, Gene. Tl,ere Are Doors. TOR, NY, November 1988, 313p. $17.95 he. 0-312-93099-2. Gene Wolfe's new novel Tllere Are avoids the dense allusion and metaphor of his more challenging work: 77,C Book of thc Nell' SlIn (198083, '88) or Soldier of the Mist (1986), for example. It gives the impression misleading, of course -of a straightforward, escapist work of science fantasy. The main character, Mr. Green, who isjust a bit peculiar, travels into an alternate world to find the woman he loves. Lara is a goddess, but also sometimes a living doll (her most charming avatar), a movie star, and a receptionist. Naturally, there is danger, mostly from a political activist and maniac named Mr. North: and there arc obstacles, among them mental hospitals and unexpected doors between worlds. Will Mr. Green find Lara? Will they live happily ever after? In his world or in hers? The chronologically linear plot, combined with relatively few characters, lots of dialogue and action sequences, and not much description allusive, metaphorical or otherwise gives this novel a surface acces sibility not always present in Wolfe's writing. One doesn't have to work too hard to grasp it. Or so one thinks. But this is Gene Wolfe, after all. To ignore Mr. Green's state of mind, for example, would be foolish: some, maybe most of the story could be explained by his depression and possible schizophrenia. Mr. Green and Mr. North are evocative names: Lara is a goddess. The thematic possibilities are many, all rich and suggestive: growth, death, faith, and the nature of femininity are being: explored here, as well as Wolfe's favorite issue the relationship between perception and reality. There is also some fine political satire. Because this is a novel by (rell(: Wolfe, our finest SF writer, it is beautifully written, elegantly structured, and controlled in e\'cry way. It is worth reading but also worth thinking ahout not tOl11ention heing worth that supreme readerly gesture: purchase ill hardcover. I still prefer the sumptuous metaphorical inventiveness of 771C Book (!t'thc NCII' 51/". Therc .+1


SFRA Newsletter, No. 163, December 1988 Are Doors is not so important a work, nor is it meant to be. It is an entertainment, but one written to Wolfe's high standard. With its appealing characters and accessible style, it may succeed with a broader audience than his more chaIlenging efforts have. -Joall Gordoll Unrelieved Ugliness \arbro. Chelsea Quinn. Cl1lsader's Torch. TOR, NY, October 1988, 451Jp. $18.95 he. ll-312-CJ3088-7. A tale of torrid passion, sadism, torture, ami political/religious intrigue, Chelsea Ouinn Yarbro's latest vampire novel Cl1lsader's Torch seems to have little to do with vampires. It is primarily a weIl-researched historical romance based in Europe and the Near East in the time of the Crusades in the 1100's. A sequel to A Flame ill Byzalltillm (1987), this novel continues the story of the vampire Olivia Clemens as she attempts to travel from Tyre, at the beginning of the crusade leu by Richaru Couer ue Lyon, to Rome, her native city. This novel is fuIl of grand scenes, exotic places, and colorful characters. Yet it is also rather dull. There are several possible reasons for this lack of spark. One is the length of the book; at almost 460 pages, the story is stretched out over far too much space, and comes to appear increasingly contriveu as the author throws obstacle after obstacle in her heroine's path. Olivia does, in fact, reach Romc on page 438, but by then she has faced so many excruciatingly difficult trials that this reader simply felt grateful for the enu of the book, rather than any relief inspired by the character's quest. Another reason for the book's dullness, and a major one, is the lack of completion of any of the stories of any of the characters except the heroine. At the end, Olivia's primary love interest, Sier Valence, is still rotting away of some undiscloseu disease in a hospice somewhere in the mountains of one of the many exotic places listed in the novel. (I say "Iisteu" because the descriptions of place are virtuaIly indistinguishable: all is dust. disease, war and corruption throughout the story.) What happens to his courtesan Joivita, who is last seen railing at her rapist cllusin for having killed her latest paramour, is never known: she simply disappears about one-third of the way through the story. What happens to the monk Eleus, who is tortured in one of the most graphic and stomachturning scenes I have ever read, is never revealed. Was this monk the one who betrayed the Christian cause tothe Isiamites, or was it some other by his name? And was the original betrayer really a traitor or simply a double-agent? Who knows? And what happens to Fealatic BClIvc1J and her knights Girait, her lover, and Sigfoit. till: lover of Olivia? Beuve1d's


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 story takes up almost one-quarter of the novel. but \\le never learn of the fate of herself or her knights. Do they reach Jerusalem to complete her penance? Do they return to her harsh and unforgiving husband? Docs Sigfoit ever return to Olivia? Had she made him into a vampire before he went? Sigfoit hints as much but we never know, nor uo we ever see him again. Olivia herself is enigmatic. She seems to have some kind of supernatural power, but she never uses it. She needs love as well as blood to survive. but the reason for this -and what happens to her when she does not get it is never made clear. In fact, her vampire habits are so unuerstated as to be almost nonexistent. Olivia is a single woman in a male-dominated. hostile worlu, simply seeking to get from Point A to Point B. That is the basis of the plot, anu it simply was not enough to keep this reauer interested for 460 pages. Furthermore. the story's continual violence. including detaileu uescriptions of torture and maiming, make this novel tough going for those who do not have a taste for unrelieved ugliness. -J.R. IVrlcllbroek Style and Elegance Yolen, Jane. Sister Light, Sister Dmk. TOR, NY, October \988, 244p. $16.45 he. 0-312-93091-7. This is an early installment in the story of .Ia-all-cnna (The Anna, or the White Queen), her sister Skada, and Carum Longbow characters some of us met when Jenna anu Skada were rescuing Carum from the uungeons of Lord Kalas in Jane Yolen's contribution to Jessica Amanua Salmonson's 1983 anthology Heroic Visioll.s. This story occurs a couple of decades earlier, as an adolescent, orphaned .Ienna is being trained as a hunter/warrior in a Hame of the mountain goddess Alta, in the land of Garunis. Carum Longbow appears halfway through, a sevenlcen-year-old younger son of a deposed king fleeing the usurper Lord Kalas (who otherwise does not appear in the story). Skadajoins the group only in the last forty pages. The book closes with .Icnna, Skada, and Petra, an adoles cent priestess-tobe to Alta, setting 011 on a pilgrimage to the other Hames of the goddess. By this point, the reader has guessed that .Ienna has a greater destiny than she herself knows, and will be expectantly awaiting the promised Book II in this series. Yolen writes, as she always has, with style anu elegance. Her publisher claims she has written over 100 books, mostly for young adults, and that this is only her second book for an adult audience, the first being Cards or Gli(j (1984). Well, maybe. It depends on your definitions. Some of us consider her Dragonfic1d and olher stOlies and Mer/in's Booke (14S()) equally suitable for adults as I'lli' younger readers. In any case. Sister


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 Light, Sister Dark is not likely to disappoint Yo!cn's fans. whatever their age. Between incidents of her story. Yolen inserts quotations from the historians, sociologists, and folklorists of a latlerday G arunis, thus shedding additional light on the country and its society. (This technique is commonplace in science fiction but Yolcn is one of the few writers to use it in fantasy.) Most of these quotations are rather heavy prose only occasionally lightened by a poem or a folk song. but their denseness serves an ironic purpose, contrasting the straightforward simplicity of the story with the complex interpretations of it offered by scholars of a later time. The result is a sophisticated and intriguing counterpoint. Sister Light, Sister Dark is an auspicious beginning for what may become an important new fantasy series. PallIa /If. Strain Young Adult Stone Hand in Silvel' Glove Charnas, Suzy McKee. The Silver Glove. Bantam/Starfire, NY, 1988, 162p. $15.95 he. 0-553-05470-8. Although it can be read alone without confusion, TIze Sih'e,. GIOI'e is a sequel to Charnas' TIle Bronze King (1985). (There is likely to be a third volume something about gold, no doubt.) The story tells of Valentine (Valor Valli) Marsh, daughter of a literary agent living on Manhattan's Upper West Side, who stumbles into adventures because sorcery runs in her family. Her Granny Gran, now in a rest home, is a sorceress, trained in Sorcery Hall, an other-plane Yale Club for wizards. A rogue wizard, Brightner, is scheming to capture human souls for usc as zombies in a far-off wizardly war: to this end. he has himself installed as a psychologist at Val's school, and he dates and bespells Val's mother. Val has only Gran, a few friends, a magic glove, and her own courage with which to fight back. TIle Silver G/OI'e is a young adult novel. Charnas' style is fluid and can be pleasant, and she is quite professional at moving a story along. How ever. she sometimes strains too hard to make Valli (who narrates the story) sound like a teenager, writing in a style and idiom that are often painful to read and that will doubtless age this book fairly quickly. Unfortunately. Charnas also seems to be writing for a market, rather than an audience. In this regarq, she does not measure up to her competition among other fantasy writers working for the same age group: Madeleine LEngle. Susan Cooper. Anne McCaffrey, or Lloyd Alexander. The Sill'a GI01'C lacks a depth of background and. therefore.


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 believability. We are presented with good and evil, but not with a framework on which to hang them: we arc given neither an invented world nor a pre-existing moral system. Without the sense and substance of a deeper world, and given the often mercilessly chatty and mundane style. the structure Charnas builds cannot support the weight of any real \vonder or magic. Some of the magic, such as a nying carpet ride, clinks very tinnily indeed. Sorcery Hall is an empty name. The Silver Glove is not provided with any provenance or explanation. other than some nebulous connection with Granny Gran. Even the real world isn't real enough: the story takes place in Manhattan. but could as wcll have been set in Philadel phia, or Omaha, or anywhere at aIL Vv'hat with the scant detail Cham as provides. By contrast, the scenes of evil wizard Brightner holding captured souls on a fantastic icc-skating rink arc rather powerfuL if only because they echo (consciously or not) Dante's portrait of the icy 1100r of Hell. Disturbing for other reasons is a passage that seems to treat teenage drug use as acceptable. To give the author the benefit of the doubt, perhaps Charnas misjudged the impression she would give and simply wanted to be "realistic": but the passage, as it stands. is repulsive. In her adult work, such as Dumthea Dreal1ls (IC}tl6), Cham as has shown herself capable of presenting both fantasy and the real world in full and believable detail. It's a pity she thought she couldn't do that in a YA non:l and has chosen instead to write down to her audience. Some teenagers may find this book a fairly pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. but they could as profitably be spent watching TV -rrlllial1l MinKin Challenging Adolescent Fantasy McKillip, Patricia. TI/e Changc/inK Sea. Atheneum. NY. 137p. $12.95 hc. 0-689-31436-1. Patricia McKillip has a knack for t uming adolescent daydreams intll elegant magical tales. Like her other fantasies. 77,C Changcling Sea seems formulaic wish-fulfillment at first but metamorphoses into a thought provoking and symbolinvoking st udy of idcntit y. imagination, and power. Thc characters of this short nmcl arc not as fully developed as McKillip's earlier dreamcrs and shape-changers. like Morgan nfHed. hut they arc clearly in thc same mold. The heroine is a combination or adolescent rebel and Cinderella. the hero a teenage girl's projection of a dark yct vulnerable prince. If the story went the dircction it seems likely to in the beginning. it wlluld be no more than a fairy talc \'ersion of a Harlequin romance. Luckily. McKillip has more artistic sense. Soon the prince is split into two characters. an unconyentillnal wizardjoins the cast.


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 and Peri, the floor-scrubbing heroine. takes charge of her own destiny. The outcome is not romance but reconciliation with the ocean that represents fate for each character: for Peri, with the drO\\!ning of her fisherman father: for Peri's mother. with her own survival: for both princes, with their destinies on land or in the undersea kingdom: and for the king their father, with the sea-goddess who was his lover. Along the way. Peri grows from neglected child to Iledgling magician. McKillip's stylistic habits will irritate some rcaders. Her usual mode of description involves taking a cliche and amplifying it: "Her hair, an awkward color somewhere between pale sand and silt, looked on most days ... as if she had stood on her hcad and used it for a mop." When the technique works, the familiar is renewed and refreshed by being literal ized: when it doesn't. we get baroque triteness, a plastic tiara encrusted withfazLl' per/es. I found that my own acceptance of thc style was directly related to my degree of involvemcnt in the story, so that a sentence that might have seemed precious early in the book became poignant by the end. The style will probably not bother McKillip's primary audience. The book is designed as a YA novel, and its language perfectly reflects adolescent romanticism even while guiding it into more challenging perspectives. Older readers will find themselves admiring McKillip's elegant way of subverting the conventions within which she has chosen to work. Bliall AlIcbelY Poetry A Vision of Diyine Order Turner. Frederick. Gellesis: All Epic Poem. Saybrook, Dallas, 1988,303p. $19.95 he. 0-9331171-24-B. $9.95 trade ph. -4. GCIlesis: All Epic Poem is Frederick Turner's second science fiction narrative poem, following TIle Nelv (Princeton, 1(85). As in the first, Turner has turned his considerable poetic gifts to a genre that has not been known for its great stylists. The result is an SF narrative of uncommon beauty and profundity. Divided into five acts, each with five scenes, the poem is ten thousand lines long. The first four acts tell of the transformation of Mars into a living planet fit for human habitation: thl: last act presl:nts a new revelation. as thl: Sybil, born on Mars. eluciuatl:s the view of cosmic order implicit in this successful act of creation. On the tcchnical level. the inspiration of Mars seems straightforward enough. Bio-enginl:l:rs of the twenty-first century devdup computer modds and DNA techniques that cnabk them


SFRA News/etter, No. 163, December 1988 to create and manipulate large-scale ecosystems. These skills allow them to reenact, within a single generation, the pattern of emergence of life of Earth. and also to tailor this pattern to the specific conditions of Mars. The truly complex part of the task involves the control of conflicting human desires and emotions. Chance Van Riebeck. a powerful bio-engineering magnate. begins the process of transforming Mars' landscape -a process that has become illegal under the leadership of Chance's wife, Gaea. who has left him to become head of the Ecotheist Church. Ecotheism preaches a doctrine of human passivity before nature; human action is said to corrupt the uivine purposes revealeu when nature is inuepenuent of human will. The conflict between Chance's corporation/movement and Gaea's church, which comes to dominate the Uniteu Nations worlu government, generates tension on many levels: familial, cultural, philosophical, national, and interplanetary. The first four acts of the poem work through these tensions and conflicts anu enu with the victory of Chance's followers. Mars becomes a new garden, tendcu anu ueveloped by innovative bio-engineers. Chance's great-granddaughter, Hermoine Mars. becomes Sybil. In Act Five, she reveals an ability to understand and articulate the inner workings of the cosmos. She has a vision of divine order in which the universc is the awakening of a goddess. Like a rose, the universe has been unfolding dialectically since the beginning of matter. Sybil herself is thc latest expression of the goddess' mo\"Cment toward self-consciousness. Though the action slows and thought takes over in Act Five, the poem holds interest as Turner reveals a noveL perhaps profound, way of concei\'ing the universe anu humanity'S place in it. One interesting idea is that the masculine is an alien extension of the fundamental feminine. the goddess' reaching for an opposition by which to finally know herself. Such iueas anu Act Five is packed with them -contribute to a stimulating uensity that compensates for the diminished dramatic tension. That this work is an epic poem ought not to alienate readers, for Turner writes iuiomatically and with fine clarity, becoming uifficult only when the ideas themselves are complex. Gellesis is as good a read as, say. Frank Herbert's DUlle (1965), and its poetic nature only contributes to its novelty and power. 1i.'171' Heller 47


SFRA Newsletter No. 163 Rohert 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 DELA Y

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SFRA newsletter.
n No. 163 (December, 1988)
1 3 246
Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
[Eugene, Ore. :
b Science Fiction Research Association]
c December, 1988
Place of publication varies.
Science fiction
x History and criticism
v Periodicals.
Fantasy fiction
History and criticism
Science fiction
Book reviews
Fantasy fiction
Book reviews
2 710
Science Fiction Research Association.
t SFRA Review
4 856