SFRA newsletter

SFRA newsletter

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SFRA newsletter
Alternate Title:
Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
Science Fiction Research Association
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[Eugene, Ore
Science Fiction Research Association]
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Subjects / Keywords:
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 )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
serial ( sobekcm )


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University of South Florida Library
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S67-00057-n165-1989-03 ( USFLDC DOI )
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Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
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The SFRA Newsletter Published ten times a vear Iw The Science Fiction Research Associa tion. C:opyrightf'.' by the SFRA. Address editorial correspon dence to SFRA Newslcller. English Dept., Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. FL ::n,n I (Tel. 407-3()7-3838). Editor: Robert A. Collins: Associate Editor: Catherine Fischer: R('l'iCiv Editor: Rob Latham: Fillll Editor: Ted Krulik; Book Neil'S Editor: Martin A. Schneider: EditOlial Assistant: .Jeanette Lawson. Send changes of address to the Secretary. enquiries concerning subscriptions to the Treasurer, listed below. SFRA Executive Committee President Elizabeth Anne Hull Liberal Arts Division William Rainey Harper College Palatine. Illinois (J()067 Vice-President Neil Barron 1149 Lime Place Vista. California 1)2083 Secretary David G. Mead English Department Corpus Christi State University Corpus Christi. Texas 78412 Treasurer Thomas.J. Remington English Department University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, Iowa 5()() 14 Immediate Past President William H. Hardestv English Department Miami Universitv Oxford. Ohiu 45(l:''i() Past Presidents of SFRA Thomas D. Clare son (1970-76) Arthur o. Lewis,.Jr. (1977-78) .Joe De Bolt (1979-80) .J ames Gunn (1981-82) Patricia S. Warrick (1983-84) Donald M. Hassler (J985-8() Past EditOl'S of the Newsletter Fred Lerner (1971-74) Beverly Friend (1974-78) Roald Tweet (1978-81) Elizabeth Anne Hull (1981-84) Richard W. Miller (1984-87) Pilgl'im Award Winners .J. O. Bailey (1970) Marjorie Hope Nicolson (1971) .J ulius Kagarlitski (1972) .I ack Williamson ( 1(73) I. F. Clarke (1974) Dam()n Knight (1975) .I ames G unn ( 1(76) Thomas D. Clareson (1977) Brian W. Aldiss (1978) Dark() Suvin (1979) Peter Nicholls (1980) Sam Moskowitz (1981 ) Neil Barron (1982) H. Bruce Franklin (1983) Everett Bleiler (1984) Samuel R. Delany (19R5) Gt:nrgt: Slusser (1 <)R6) Ciary K. Wolfe (1987) Joanna Russ (L()88)


SFRA Newsletter, No, 165, March 1989 President's Column The Executive Committee has now had its first formal meeting with the new officers. and I'm pleased to report that. although it was a long. intense, and \'ery tiring weekend. it was also \'ery productive. and we all left for home with lists of to pursue in the coming months, Among many other items of 11lIsiness. we ha\'e decided that certain projects can best he accomplished thwugh committees charged with and dedicated to specific tasks, The Pilgrim Award Committee had already been named by Bill Hardesty while he was still President. The members (in alphabdical order) are Brian Attebery. Adam Frisch .Joan Gurdon. and Veronica Hollinger. (They will choose their chairperson among themselves,) Please send your ITcommendations with supporting ration ale if at all possible) to anyone of the members as quickly as (lo,'isible: their decision is due to me by the first of April in order to allow time to invite the winner to the annual meeting to accept. Pursuant to TVlarly Greenberg's report as outgoing vicepresident. wc are forming a committee to pursue the goal of instituting a new award of SFRA. this one for the hest single article of the year. This is conceived of as an award that young as \vell as mature ,'icholars might aspire to (and gd recognition for). in contrast to the Pilgrim Award. \vhich would almost always be earned too late in anyone\ C

SFRA Newsletter, No. 165. March 1989 millee for a change in the we kit that it would be in order to create a standing commillee to review the Bylaws periodically and make reports for rccommcnded changcs, if any. atthc annual mecting. This commillee should represcnt various distributions of our mcmbership, including factors such as geography, sex. academic rank, non-academic interests in SFRA, etc. I will bc contacting comc of you, but if you fed that you belong to a segment of our membcrship that deservcs representation (and you are willing to ser\,e). please let mc hear from you. Please read the minutes of the EC meeting, which should be ready for the next newsleller, for a full report. Meanwhile, remember our membership slogan: Each onc bring one amI bring him or her with you to thc annual meeting. Sec you there! ElizaiJcth Alllle Hlill Crawford Award Winner Winner of the 19:-l9 Crawford Award for the Best New Fantasy Writer is Michaela Roessner, for her nm'Cl. rValkaiJolit IVomall (Bantam Books). Runners-up include Le\vis Shiner, for Descrted Cities of thc Hcart (Doubleday); Melanic Rawn for Dragon Plince (DAW Books); Elizabeth Moon for Shecpj'al7llc/,'s Dallghter (Baen Books) and Mary Tannen for Second Sight (Alfred A. Knopr). The Award Commillee, chaired by Len Hatfield of VPI, included "first fantasy" novels by previously established writcrs among the four d07en titles considcrcd. Call For Papers Special Issue, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts Gucst Editors Michael Larsen and Gordon E. Slcthaug arc secking papers on the subject, "Recent Expressions of the Double Motif in Litnaturc and Film," for a special issuc nfJolll'l1al of tllC Fantastic ill the A/'ts. They arc seeking completed essays on thc llouble or doppelgii.nger in world literature and film from the 1960s to the present. Papers may focus nn singlc works or authors. national or regional trends. cnmparati\'e studies. and/ll1' theoretical The editll1's arc particularly desirous of essays that cover new ground. Contributors should be familiar with the theoretical literature cnnccrning: the double motif (Kepler. M iller. Rogers) and to make clear what "doubleness" means in the context of the essay. Submissions follow MLA style. be done on wmdprocess(lrs using IBM compatihle disk.'" and include self-addressed cl1\'Clopc. Please include two copies of your essay. Rcturn postagc is not


SFRA News/etter, No. 165. March 1989 necessary. Send essays to Prof. Michael Larsen, English Dept.. Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. CANADA B3H 3C3: or to Prof. Gordon E. Slethaugh, English Dept.. Uni\'ersity of Waterloo, Waterloo, Onatrio, CANADA N2L 3GL. Deadline is June i. 1989. Changes of Address Please note new address for Harry Harrison: 6 Shelbourne Court. Shelbourne Road, Dublin 4. IRELAND. Charles Elkins gotmovcd somehow (in our records, not in lifc) to Idaho (via a scrambled zip code) without en:r leaving Florida. He can still be found at: Dean's Oflice. Arts & Sciences. Florida International Uni\'er sity, Miami, FL 33181. IN. B. I By Neil Barron My notice in the November issue brought responses from Dave Mead. Robin Roberts. Mack Hassler. Tom Remington. Alan Elms. Curt Smith and Ev Bleiler. Seyeral supplied lists such as contributor lists to volumes they edited. My for these names. but many more are needed if we arc to n:juvenate the SFRA with new blood. A 14c: postcard \vill do, with the names of anyone interested in al/." aspect of fantasic literature and film. not SF alone. Please send names now to Neil Barron. 114Y Lime Place. Vista. CA lJ2mn. By The Gross. Gore Journals Spurt That's the accurate hanner in an article in the weekly news m,lga/ine il/sighl 113 Feb .. 19W), p.5()I. These arc the shilling shockers of today. but abundantly illustrated (if that is the word) in li\'ing color. stills from the special effects merchants of the slice and dice films. FangOlia. published to times yearly, is the oldest. with the largest circulation (25().UU(): a companion bimonthly launched last year. (JorcZOI/C. is en:n bloodier. if thars possihle. Michael J. \Veldon. author of The Ps."cholwnic En cyclopedia o( Fi/m (1<)03). recently began his own fan/inc. PIYc!wlfOnic Video. Fredric Wertham. where arc you when we nccd you? New Nuke SocietJ The second issue of Nue/car TeXIS COl/ICXIS (Spring 1 ()St appeared in January. and is equally rich in information (Sec SFR-l ;\Inrs/cII('/" No. 1(,0. p.27. for the scope of these hi-annual hulletins). List August. II'


SFRA News/etter, No. 165. March 1989 scholars organizeJ the International Society for the Study of Nuclear Texts & Contexts (ISSNTC) anJ Ill:W members are solicited. 1 Dues are $5 U.S., $() e1se\vhere, $3 stuJent send them to William J. Seheiek, Treasurer, English Dept.. Parlin Hall 10K University of Texas. Austin, TX 7871211641. Although the first two issues of the journal were free, you must be a member to get future issues. A membership is inexpensive anJ likely to be rewarding. Recent and Forthcoming Books REFERENCE BrO\\'n, Charles N. & William Contento, comps. Scicncc Fiction, Funtasy & Hormr: 1987 (January: reviewed in #1()4): 1984 (March): 1988 (June). All Locus Press. (bibliographies) Burgess, Michael. RcfiTcncc Guidc to ScicnCe' Fiction and Fantasy. Libraries Unlimited. winter. Jaffery. Sheldon. The Arkham House Companion. Starmont. spring. Jones, Stephen & Kim Newman. Horror: I()() Best Books. Carroll & Graf, Dec. 1988. (reviewed in this issue) HISTORY & CRITICISM Asimov, Isaac. Asimo\' 's Cialax\': Rcflections on Scicnce Fiction .J anuary. (66 pieces from IASFI\!) Delany. Samuel R. The Straits 1!f'Mcssina. Serconia, winter. (essays) Franklin, H. Bruce. IVaI' Stan: The SUjJell\'cupon and the Amcficun Im agination. Oxford. 19SH. (sec issue # 161, p. 2() Langford, Michelle K .. ed. Contours oIthc Fantastic. Greenwood. (Essays from the Hth [CFA) Le Goff,.J acques. The ;\fcdicmllmagina/ion. U niv. of Chicago Press. Dec. 1988. Le Guill. Ursula K. Dancing at the Edge I!f'the If'()f'/d. Grive, January ( essays) Molson, Francis J. Childrcn's Faf//lf.\y. Starmont. January. Moorcock. Michael. IVi:arlby and l!'ils Romunce: A oJ Epic Fantasy. Gollancz. 1987. now distr. by DU\'iJ & Charles. N. Pomfret. VT. (reviewed in # 1 (J3) Nikolajeva. Maria. Magic Code: Use or Magical Pa((ems ill Faf1lc/.\y for Childrell. Almqvist & WikselL distr. By Rowman & Littlefield. NJ, IlJKK. Pierce. John .I. 1I'71ell II(JlM I'/ell's Collide. Greenwood. 3rd of.) vol. history/analysis of SF. Reed. Toni. DI'III()II-Lo\'cf:\ anclthcir Victillls ill British Fiction. Ulli\.


SFRA News/etter, No. 165. March 1989 of KY. Dec. 1988. Schweitzer. Darrell, cd. Discol'('/ing Classic HOlTor Fiction I. Starmonl. sprIng. Slusser. George E. & Eric S. Rabkin. cds. Aiindscapcs: Thc Geographies of Imagilled Worlds. Southern Illinois, January. (Eaton Conference papers) Wolf, Leonard. HOImr: A Conlloisseur's Guide to Literature alld Film. Facts on File, February. Wuckel, Dieter & Bruce Cassidy. The Illustrated History ofScicnce Fiction. Crossroad/U ngar /('ont in u u m. win tn. AUTHOR STUDIES (Asimov) Hassler. Donald. Jsaac Asi17lOl'. Starmont, spring. (Baum) Snow, .lack. 1'.1' 1,1110 in 0:. Peter BellIick. winter. (Bradbury) Touponce, William F. Rar BradIJllI'). Starmonl. winter. (Carroll) Clark, Beverly Lyon. L('Il'is Carroll. Starmont. winter. (Dick) Rickman, Gregg. Philip K. Dick: A Lire. Fragments West, 3rd of 3 vols. ( __ ) Sutin, Larry. Dil'ine Jnl'a,lions:"-I L(re orPhilip K. Dick. Harmony, winter. (King) Blue, Tyson. The Unsccn King. Starmont, winter. ( __ ) Herron, Don, eel. Reign of Fcar: The Te17'Or of Stcphen King. Underwood/Miller. (988. $75 ltd .. slipcased ed. (20 essays/articles) ( __ ) Magistrale. Anthony, The Moral li)rages of Stcphcn King. Starmont, spring. ( __ ) Magistrale. Anthony. "Thc Shining" Reat/a. Starmonl. spring. (Koontz) Munster. Bill. The /(oont: Chronicles. Starmonl. winter. (Lem) Davis. J. Stllni51CllI' LCIII. Starmpnl. summer. (Lovecraft) Cannon, Peter. LUI'('cra/i. Twayne. summer. (Merritt) Faust. Ronald. A. i\fC17ift. Starmont. summer. (Shelley) Sunstein. Emily W. i\Iil11' Shellcy: Romance and Rcality. Lillie Brown, January. (Vonnegul) Broer. Lawrence R. Sanity Pl('{1: Schizophrenia in thc NOl'ds of KI/11 I-'(I/lnegul. lIMI Research, winter. (Wells) Draper. Michael. H.G. lI'c'll.l". SI. r'vtartin's. No\,. 1988. ILLUSTRATION Hickman, Stephen. The Art or Stephen Hickll/all. Donning. spring .I ones, Stephen. cd. Clil'c Barker's SI/{/t/OIl's ill Edell. U nderwoodiMiller. spring. 7


SFRA Newsletter, No. 165. March 1989 FILM Ackerman, Forrest J. [Untitled Book on Metropolis]. O'Raghailligh Ltd. Douglas, Drake. H017ors.'. Viking/Overlook, fall. Farmer, Donald, cd. Splatter Timcs Alltho{ogl'. Fantaco, winter. Flynn, John L. Cincmatic Nightmares: The [11mpil'c in Film and Telelision. Wind River, distr. by Kampman, March. Ellison, Harlan. Harlan Ellison's IVatchillg. U nderwood/Miller, winter. Kagan, Norman. 171/; Cincma (It' Stall/('.I' KubJick. Rev. ed. Crossword, April. Lucasfilm. Thc AI1 of Wi/lOl\'. Ballantine, postponed. Searles, Baird. Films of Scicnce Fictioll alld Falltmy. Abrams, Nov. 1988. (reviewed in this issue) Recent and forthcoming books from Burgo Press. [Box 2845, San Ber nadino, CA ()2406.] All available in trade paper and hardcover edi tions: SiegeL Mark. Hugo GCl7lsbacli: Father Modcm Science Fictioll, with EssGI's all Frallk HcrbC/1 alld Bram Stoker. 1988. Clarke, Boden & James Hopkins. 17,e [+ol'k of IVilliam F. Nolall: All Anllotated Bibliogm/Jh." alld Guide. L 988. (reviewed in this issue) Reginald, R. & Daryl F. Mallell. Sciellce Fictioll alld FalltasyAII'l/I'ds. 2nd ed., spring. Cox, Greg. 17,C Y;'allsylvallia Library: A COIlSIIIIlCI'\ Guide to HlIllpire Fictioll. Spring. Wilson, Colin. Sj)cakillg. Winter. Forthcoming ill BOI'go's TNnk of .. series are volumes clevoted to Colin Wilson, Brian Aldiss, Reginald Brelnor, Chad Oliver. Ian Watson, Pamela Sargent. Dean Ing .lack Dann, and Ross Rocklynn. In the Essays Oil Fantastic Literature series: Ray BmdlJlll'y: Dramatist and 17,e Poisoll Maidcll alld thc Grellt Bitch. In the Milford authors series: .fer:,' Kosillski and At IH)IIc's Door Brief Announcement: NEXUS 'iN -A CONFERENCE ON SCIENCE FICTION AND SCIENCE FACT. will meet April 27-30 at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Colorado. Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker is Ray Bradbury. Other Ciuests include Joe Haldeman. David Brin, Octavia BUller. Aeeomodations al the Colorado Springs Marriott. Registration fcc $50. Write Capt. Carmen Alatorre, Assistant Prof.. Dept. of English. USAFA. C< >.


SFRA Newsletter, No. 165. March 1989 IFeedbacij P.O.'d at Pilgrims, Promised Land Editor: I've hesitated to make noise within the SFRA, since I'm a freeloader and should not have as much to say as the generous people who pay my way. But I'm beginning to change my mind. I'm astonished to see that Neil Barron is the only person with the guts to criticize the ridiculous Pilgrim Award of last year, even though I am sure that many others fecI the same way. As I do. This is not a question of male versus female as Ms. Hollinger seems to think. The award, as I understand it, is supposed to be for scholarship, since this is a research association, not for prominence as a writer of fiction or ideological leader or role model. The present award is completely unfair to women who have contributed to scholarship. (Patricia Warrick comes to mind for one.) This all raises the question of hmv judges gl:l selected. Second Point. I would like to add a little about the Gunn encyclopedia, unless everyone is fed up with the subject. I do not know \vhether this has heen the case with other contributors, but the editors at Promised Land/Viking \viped their smudgy fingers on my two contributions. In my article "Pseudoscience" among other gaffes the editors ha\"e added material about Isaac Asimov in the first part and about John W. Campbell in the latter part. These additions do not repesent my point of \iew. The editors also dropped foreign language that I am now stuck with several incorrect My second article ''Ancestors of Science Fiction" is not quite so badly mangled, but again I am credilLd with opinions I do not ha\"e: in one instance, where my copy reael "Jules Verne's ri1rage (0 (1/1' Moon and Arol/nd thc Mool1 ... then established the hard science-fiction novel," the printed text reaels "It was Jules Verne's rc/rage (0 tl/e Mool1 andAw/ll1d the Moon ... that genuinely established the novel." I don't know how one genuinely something as opposed, I suppose, to falsely estahlishes, but it is a statement with which I do not agree. I am also carried as referring to "Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac." I eln not blame Jim Gunn for since we settled on the copy. The only other persons responsihle can be the edit\)rs at Pnllllised Lanel. Needless to say Promised Land/Viking did not ask me whether the changes and aduitions were acceptable. Is this enough crabbing for one letter? EIc/"('(t F Bleil{'/" l)


SFRA Newsletter, No. 165, March 1989 /Reviewsl lEd. Note: The abridgement of last month's newsletter forced me to cut the review of Ganlner Dozois' )2(//"s Best SF I promised in the December issue; that revie\ .... appears here. At the moment, we are holding review essays on.r.G. Ballard, .lames Tiptree, and the cyberpunks; these will begin to appear as soon as we return to our larger formal. Rob Latham] Non-Fiction A Bright Dawn on the Rue Jules Verne Evans, Artlml' B. Jllles [''(:l7le Rediscovered: Didacticism and the Scielltific NOl'eI. Greenwood, Westport, CT, 1l)S8, 216p. $37.95 he. 0-313-26076-1. [Contributions to the Study of World Literature. # 27] The author. an assistant professor of Romance Languages at DePauw University, has done some very thorough research and has produced an admirable piece of scholarship in this volume. Besides ample footnotes at the end of each chapter. and a good index. he provides twenty-five pages of bibliography, in which the original French texts of Verne's many koyages e.rtraordinaires are carefully related to their translated titles in English and to their many reprints. (This is not as simple a task as it might seem, as the entry on Verne in Peter Nicholls' Science Fiction Encyclopedia shows: calling the author's literary career "a bibliographic nightmare," the entry lists only first translations, not venturing further into the "jungle" of pirated editions and variant titles.) Evans also cites numerous critical studies of Verne, along with other relevant work. To a great extent. this work is in French: Evans correctly notes that the paucity of Verne commentary in English is surprising when one considers the importance commonly assigned his fiction in the development of imaginative literature. H.G. Wells and .Jules Verne have often been called the dual fathers of science fiction, yet Wells' writings have proc.luced a great dealmlll'e commentary over the years. One reason for this has been that Wells oIlers more intricately and clearly developed political and social thought for critics to engage though, as Evans inc.licates, there is plenty of such thought in Verne's fiction. hut it is often only implicit. Evans offers yet another reason why less attention has been paid to Verne than his writings warrant, and that is the poor, sometimes even repellent translations of his works into English. Since I had hU'gely read Verne only in the original. I had missed that factor. but Evans gives many (()


SFRA News/etter, No. 165, March 19a9 convincing examples of the distorted translations which have created an image of Verne as fusty, awkward. ami quaint or archaic. A significant question, then. is why thesc translations have generally been so poor. and it is difficult not to conclude that the traditional low regard in which the literary establishment has held imaginative writings of Verne's sort led to the assignment of second-rate translators to do the work. Another problem which has perhaps adversely affected Verne's critical reception is the didacticism of his stories. a quality freely acknowledged by Evans. Part One of his book takes up the "educational project" which the Extraordi11ary constituted, Part Two considers their ideology. and Part Three analvzes the didactic discourse of Verne's novels. books were intended cspecially for young people though many older folks enjoy them -and nineteenth cent ury literature for the young tended often to be didactic. This was much less likely to stir resentment then than now, for the legacy of t\ventieth century modcrnism has been to inculcate an "art for art's sakc" aesthetic. Thus, from the IIJ3()'s on. the Vernian didacticism made his works appear old-fashioned. This. plus thc often juvenilizing effects of Hollywood's treatmcnts of Verne's gavc further encouragement to intellectual snobs to pigeon-hole Verne and put him down. Some of Evans' approaches to a better understanding of Verne are less thorough than others. He makes only limited use of biography and moderate use of historical background. but gives much attention to epis temological and semiotic analyses of Verne's narratives. These have merit. but the analysis is quite intricate and will be hard for somc students to follow. though readers interested in advanced philosophy and logic will handle thcse sections readily. In gellnaL Evans succeeds admirably in telling what the Extraordinary I/i)ragcs do and how they do it. Especially fine is Evans' treatment of how Verne made his stories' e\'cnts and situations credible and persuasive. Verne's fiction is based Oil science (lI' Oil what was thought by him to he reasonable extrapolation from known science. very seldom resorting to fantastic projections. As Evans says. there arc no space warps. time warps. or mind warps. Much of the fiction resembles travelogue, with places and creatures of a recognizable. earthly sort. Verne's monsters are likely to be. for example. an octopus or gigantic fish. Alternating in a believable fashion between the known and the unknown. Vernc's narratives usc ordinary context and cleverly wrought everyday pattcrns to induce the reader to accept the unusual. Frequently the narrator expresses his un willingness to believe the improbable situations he then proceeds to infer and demonstrate their credibility. Sometimes the narration becomes a dialogue bet ween a scientist and his pupil, a perfect vehicle II


SFRA Newsletter, No. 165, March 1989 for conveying didactic points. This approach fitted in with Verne's publisher's requirement that his texts contribute to scientific pedagogy by making science more appealing to young people. This Verne did by portraying heroes who conquer or unveil nature through science. Following French utopian thinker Henri de Saint -Simon, Verne shows worldly success deriving from education and talent, hard work and integrity, rather than from aristocratic birth or leisurely speculation. As Evans notes, though Verne occasionally uses a Romantic clement in his stories. he never expands his narrative world or milieu in the manner of the Romantics: rather, he constricts and encloses it. designing it as a comfortable. controllable space -a submarine, a cave, a rocket, or a balloon. Verne thus appeals to the classically calm scientific temperament even as his tales explore the most imaginative terrains. Evans says that Verne's didacticism may preclude his being called the father of SF, but does not altogether justify that statement. He does feel that modern SF has aided science, as the Vernian stories were meant to do. On the concluding page of this volume, he cites as germane a passage from Alvin Tomer's 1970 hook Flltllre Shock, which recommends SF for its mindstretching effects. Thus, says Tomer, our children should be reading Arthur C. Clarke, William Tenn. Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and Robert Sheckley to help them in imaginative exploration of the "jungle of political. social, psychological, and ethical issues" which they will enter as adults. One feels that Verne would be content to have the discussion of his work end on that note. Evans' book is a major. original contribution to an improved understanding of .Ju\t;s Verne, and it helps us to comprehend better the SF of our own time. It may be profitably cited in future arguments as tLl the nature and parameters of science fiction. Frallk H. Ii/eker "Best" Is Most Unusual Jones, Stephen and Kim Newman, cds. H017'Or: 100 Best Books. Carroll and Graf, NY. 1988, 256p. $15.95 he. 0-88J84417-9. "Best" is one of those words that tends to provoke an argument when it is used to streamline a body of literature. Docs "best" mean best-writ ten? most imaginative? most important? When applied to the literature of horror, each of these definitions conceivably could produce a different list of 100 "best" titles. Editors Jones and Newman have sidestepped this problem of definition by asking one hundred of today's top horror profes sionals tn write a brief essay on "his or her favourite book:' Their criterion for selection is thus unassailable: vou can't claim that somconc's "favourite" title is wrung (although you can claim that there's a difference 12


SFRA Newsletter, No. 165, March 1989 between "favourite" and "best"). Even granting this criterion, there still had to be some collusion between the editors and essay-writers in order to make this the "genuinely representative, though eclectic and controversial selection" it is. It's hard to believe some of the books selected arc truly favorites, rather than titles that were included to achieve a certain balance. If this is the case. then one might question the absence of some notable names (Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walter de la Marc, William Faulkner. Theodore Sturgeon, Charles Beaumont). But then, no two genre experts arc going to produce the same "best books" list, and much of the enjoyment of a volume like this comes from seeing how others' tastes deviate from one's own. HOImr: JOO Best Books opens with Clive Barker's essay on Marlowe's Renaissance masterpiece The Traf,rical History oj D,: Faustus ("one of the most important roads in all fantastic fiction ... that of a trip taken into forbidden territory at the risk of insanity or death") and ends with Jack Sullivan's appraisal of Ramsey Campbell's 1987 collection Dark Feasts ("Campbell is a master of capturing [the modernJ world and the myriad ways it makes us feel vulnerable"). Titles selected from the intervening 400 years can be divided into three roughly equal groups: classic horror fiction, pulp and postwar horror fiction, and contemporary horror fiction (beginning with William Peter Blatty's Tht Exorcist [1971]). Most of the contemporary titles stand in the shadows cast by the classics. Richard Laymon's The Cel/ar ( 1(85) and Charles L. Grant's The Pet (1986) are certainly enjoyable 11l1\'e Is. but should they rank on the same list that includes.l. Sheridan Le Ell1U's Vllele Silas (lS65), M.R .lames' Ghost Stories oj an Antiquary (1904). and Algernon Blackwood's .lohll Silence (1908) -or even such contemporary classics as Stephen King's The Shinillg (1977) 'and Peter Strauh's Ghost Story (1979)? This book shows that we still lack the necessary for jUdging which books produced within the last twenty years arc important additions to the horror canon. Among the best essays arc those written to justify the selection of genre-bending titIes (Herman Meh'ille's T7lc COllfidcllce Mall [18571. Walter van Tilburg Clark's Ti'ack the Cat [1949J, .Ierzy Kosinski's T7le Paillted Bird [1965]) and cross-over SF titles (Philip K. Dick's The T71/'('e Stigmata oj Palm('/' EhiJitch [ 19651. J.G. Ballard's T7lc Crystal/h)J'/d [ 19661, Tim Powers' T71C Al1ubis Gates I }l)81]). Uuite often, entries say as much about the writer as they do ahout his or her subject (Douglas Winter on .Ioseph Conrad's HeaJ1 oj Darkl1ess [18()<}j, Steve Rasnic Tcm on Franz Kafka's T7ll' Tiial [19171, .Ioe Haldeman on William Golding's Lord Flics [1954]). Master anthologists Hugh Lamb, Peter Haining and Dadd Hartwell all have chosen to write on thaI underrated invention nftwentieth


SFRA News/etter, No. 165, March 1989 century publishing, the horror anthology, and both Dennis Etchison (on Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His GUll (19591) and Harlan Ellison (on Clark Ashton Smith's Out of Space and Time [1942]) use their allotted space to deliver eloquent pleas for better and less genre-conscious writing. Though far from definitive, this book covers a lot of ground. Its multiple-author format offers a challenging palimpsest of perspectives that is much more rewarding than the single viewpoint on display in recent "best 100" book lists for fantasy and science fiction. -Stefall Dziel7liallowicz Compendium of CreatUl-es Critiqued Kinnal'd, Roy. Beasts and Behemoths: PrehistOlic Creatures ill fhe M(JI'ics. Scarecrow Press, Metuchen. N.J., 1988, 179p. $22.50 hc. 0-8108-2062-5. Although he provides credits, synopses, and critical commentary on thirty-sLx films featuring prehistoric animals, Kinnard limits his already narrow subject. He dislikes the Japanese giant monster films and discusses only two of them (Godzilla [1(54) and Rodan (1956)), omitting such important titles as MOfhra (1961). He omits all animated films, such as Geltie the Dinosaur and Fantasia (1941). Only a single paragraph is devoted to Onc Million B. C. (1940; remade as One Million B. C. in 1966), perhaps the most famous cavemen-vs.-dinosaurs film. Kinnard discusses an obscure 1952 film 771e Jungle, which featured prehistoric mammals but not dinosaurs, but omits Quest for Fire (1982) and Clan of the Cave Bear (1987), which included mammoths and saber-tooth tigers. Kinnard is a reliable guide to the many American films of the 1950's about dinosaurs rampaging through t he modern world and is well-informed about special effects, which provide the main interest in most of these films. Still, Beasts and Behemoths should be supplemented by two books by fan-author Donald Glut, whose heavily illustrated Dinosaur Scrapbook (1980) describes the animated films Kinnard overlooks, as well as dinosaurs on TV, and whose Classic lI-/ol'ie Monsters (1978) has an informative chaptcr on Japanese monster movies. Michael Klossner A Glimpse Into Le Guin's "Carrier Bag" Le Guin, Ursula K. Dancing at {he Edge ofthc World: 77lOUghts on H0rds, Women, Places. Grove Press, NY, 1989, 320p. $19.95 hc. 0-8021-1105-X. This collection of thirty-two essays and talks and seventeen hook reviews shows the directions Ursula Le Guin's thought has taken since her 1979 collection The Language of the Night. The earlier volume's focus on depth psychology (specifically the theories of J ung), Taoism, and fairy tales shifts in the second book toward feminist theory and practice, 14


SFRA News/etter, No, 165, March 1989 cultural criticism, and anthropology (including especially an interest in traditional American Indian cultures), This is a shift that has been renected in her fiction, and readers of her SF and fantasy will thus find this volume useful and illuminating, Perhaps the most noticeable thread running through this collection is Le Guin's exploration of feminist literary theory. The LeJt Halld oj Dar/(Iless (1967) and 77,C Tombs oJAIl/all (1971) displayed a fairly sophisticated awareness of feminist issues relatively early in her career. But near the beginning of this collection, Lc Guin underlines changes in her point of view by reprinting "Is Gender Necessary?" not exactly as it appears in 77,C Lallguagc (lJthc Night, but with clearly marked interpolations in which "an aging, angry woman" debates with and qualifies the opinions of her younger self. The "new" Le Guin believes that homosexuality would have been as natural as heterosexuality tn her Gethenians, understands more fully than before why war would have been difficult for a bisexual species to wage, and is much more wary of the sexism built into English that forced her to usc masculine pronouns when writing about her dual-gendered characters. Le Guin's feminist pieces range over se\-craltopics. On a practicalle\'el, she writes about family planning. confessing her own illegal abortion (in "The Princess") in a moving argument for abortion rights. The trend in these pieces which cover a twelve-year period of thinking and writing -is toward an ever wider range of reference in feminist theory and anthropology. It is possible that a spark was set off \\!hen Le Guin spoke at a 1979 University of Chicago conference on narrative. where she heard some of the foremost contemporary literary theorists (Wayne Booth, Jacques Derrida. Julia Kristeva) and. as she admits. eame away not a little befuddled. A year later, she was sharing "Some Thoughts on Narrati\'e" that include speculation on differences between "masculine" and "feminine" narration. By 1

SFRA News/etter, No, 165, March 1989 and "The Fisherwoman's Daughter." Her "carrier bag theory" distin guishes bet\veen a masculine, Aristotelean plot, which she associates with a hunter's spear aimed at a target, and a feminine plot, which she as sociates with containers. "a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us," Novels, she says, seem particularly well suited to being carrier bags, a point she has herself demonstrated in her brillianL-lhmys COllling HOlllc (1985). That she turns to hunters and gatherers fm the crucial metaphors to describe her plot forms is. of no accident. A second major stimulus to Le Guin's intellectual life in the last decade has been the work of her parents, Alfred and Theodora Kroeber, on now extinct Indian tribes. The book's title comes from the single remaining line of a Costanoan song, "Dancing on the brink of the world." Rereading and thinking through her parents' and their associates' \vork. and especially remembering her mother. have moved Le Guin into increasingly sophisticated meditations about how culture may be organized to rel1ectthc Taoist ideals that remain important to her. In her consideration of utopias, ''A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be.' she describes a good place to be: a socicty lvitlt a IllOdest stmlda,.d of lil'ing, conscrratin' of natllral ,.esources, with a 10l1' constantfe/1ility rate and a political life based lI]Jon consent; a society that has lIIade a successful mh1lJtation to its en1'ironment and has leamed to li1'e 11'ithollt destroying itsclf or the pcople n('xt doO/: The California Indian tribes her parents studied reveall11uch about how to embody these ideals in a living culture, and Ahravs COllling Home is, at least in part, an attempt to imagine such a culture in a real, practical future. Le Guin makes clear in this and other essays that one essential feature of such a culture is its rcfusalto become patriarchal. This collection also displays a lively interest in current issues and art forms, Le Guin writes ahout the TV adaptation of The Lathe oI Heal'el1 (novel 197 J; filmed 19.')0), about the problems and promises of aging, about the value of railroads and of the blindness of a society that continues to subsidize more wasteful forms of transportation, Her discussions of science fiction and her reviews of works by C.S. Lewis, Doris Lessing, John Gardner. Menyn Peake. and Italo Calvino, among others. reveal a dis criminating and thoughtful reader of recent fantastic literature. In sum, this is an always interesting and frequently challenging collection which will prove especially valuable to admirers of Le Guin's fiction. since it will send them back to her novels. stories. and poems with a fresh awareness of the passions behind them. Tel7" Heller


SFRA News/etter, No. 165, March 1989 A Model of Intelligent Criticism Levy, Maurice. Lavecraji, a Sfll((V ill the falltastic. Trans. S.T. Joshi. Wayne State University Press, Detroit. MI. 1988, 147p. $29.95 hc. O-S143-1955-6. $12.50 trade pb. -1956-4. Maurice Levy, who teaches literature at the University of Toulouse, has written a considerable amount of literary criticism and history, including a study of English Gothic fiction. This study of Lllvecraft is a 1972 revision of his 1969 doctoral dissertation, in t urn revised by S.T. Joshi, the foremost Lovecraft scholar writing today. Joshi restored some of the dissertation's notes and a bit of the text, and added some notes and corrections of his own, along with a chronology of Lovecraft's fiction and a primary and secondary bibliography. Lcvy admires Lovecraft's f1awed art more than the man. The biographical chapter, written before L. Sprague de Camp's 1975 biography, con firms that HPL was, as Levy says, a man without hope, one who rejected traditional religious belief amI was left with total nihilism in which humans are powerful playthings of pitiless, toUdly inhuman creatures. Chapters explore Loveerafl's effcctiYL? usc of dwellings and landscapes, his metamorphoses of space ("Only when the familiar selling collapses can the fantastic adventure begin"), his pantheon of truly alien monsters owing nothing to traditional mythologies, his dread of the subterranean (to enter the depths is both to enter the psyche and to regress in time; HPL never looks forward, as SF writers typically do, only back into blackness), and perhaps most notably the recurrent theme of corrupted blood, which HPL. son of a paretic father and an insane mother, knew all too well. In the chapter titled "Clhulhu, Lcvy makes an important pointto distinguish HPLS work from SF: In sciencc fiction tales lite COSIIIOS is ({ \irgin space, a spacc tv be conquered, a place afsublilllation; tillle is tilllc 10 COIIIC. III Lmccraji. space is perceived as a mid, a dcplh; lilllC, as the 1II.\'lhical tilllC or beginllings. And in the depths or tilllC, at Ihe otlter end a/lltc COSIIIOS, lzo170rlurks. Levy also notes throughout HPLs \vritings the dreamlike (oneiric) quality of the recurrent images -spiral staircases, labyrinths, caves, tunnels dark depths into which the dreamer enters or is drawn. This is especially evident in The Drcalll-Quesl 0/ VnknOlI'1I Kadath (1943). LovecrafCs dreams shaped his so-called Cthulhu Mythos, a myth of monstrous creation which "gives depth and efficiency to thc fantastic." For Lovecraft thc j(lIltastic is at once an el'llsioll alld Ihc lIIobilization or allguish. 11 restores III all 's sellse of the sacrcd and tlte sacrilc,r.,rious; it abol'c all gil'cs 17


SFRA News/etter, No. 165, March 1989 back to him his lost depth .... IT/he modem myths of the 111'11' It'orld ... are swIace my(hs f/or Ithich j LOl"ecmJt substitllleti (he Ctlllllhu Mvthos. Joshi, in his 191-\1 exhaustive bibliography devoted to H PL, refers to this study as "Still perhaps the finest critical study of Lovecraft." After reading this very readable and exceptionally well-documented translation, I'm inclined to agree. The only other work known to me that comes close is Donald R. Burleson's H.P. LopecraJI: A Oitiwl SI1{((1' (1983), which is more valuable to the neophyte because of its many plot summaries, which Le\)"s much shorter work omits. An essential work for anyone interested in Lovecraft and a model of intelligent criticism. Neil Bwroll Portrait of the Artist as a Con-Man Miller, Russell. Bare-Faccd Messiah: The 1iuc Slory 0/ L. ROil Hubbard. Henry Holt, NY, 390p. $19.95 he. 0-8050-0654-0. In his autobiography The Pulp JUllgle (1967), Frank Gruber recalled a 1937 bull session among members of the American Fiction Guild at which L. Ron Hubbard was being his usual garrulous self. Gruber sat quietly, tallying the years it would have taken for Hubbard to amass all the exploits he boasted of to his colleagues, and then interjected, "Ron, you're 84 years old, aren't you?" The twenty-si;'{-year-old Hubbard was mortified: it was one of the first times anyone had dared to call his bluff. It may also have been one of the last. Fifty years latcr, a former mcmber of the Church of Scientology, reflecting on its founder's demand for blind obedience to his whims, told Russell Miller, "It was not really possible to qucstion what was going on. To question anything Hubbard did or said was an offense. and you never knew if you would be reported." Bare-Faced AIessiah is the story of a man who began his public life trying to induce the willing suspension of disbelief in others and cnded up intimidating them into accepting his e\cry word as gospel. By presentihg the facts of Hubbard's life as he grows fr0111 a coddled only child into one of John W. Campbell's top writers at Astoulldillg and UllkIlOlVIl, as he "discovers" Dianetics in 1950 and founds the Church of Scientology three years later, as he becomes a latter-day man without a country sailing the seas in scarch of a port that will harbor him and his religion -and by contrasting these events with the diverse fictions Hubbard created to earn his bread and gild his shadicr activities, Russell Miller has painted a portrait of the artist as a con-man that is by turns amusing and frightening. If we are to belicve Miller, Hubbard's tall talc-telling began at the age of thirteen and never stopped. The young man seized on every opportunity for self-aggrandizement. from school field trips to military (despite


SFRA News/etter, No. 165, March 1989 his later claims of glory, Hubbard never left the mainland during World War II), and he never lacked for eager listeners. He constantly revised and embellished his past. which proved to be good basic training for a youth spent grinding out copy for the pulps (considerably less than the tens of millions of words credited to him). Although much of his fiction was routine, Hubbard was a hit with the readers and could ask for high pay rates. He was to satirize himself openly in his novel 0pCll"liter ill the Sky (1940) as an author who thought of himself as God. But when he developed godlike aspirations in real life, he found himself out of his depth. Hubbard's first articles on Dianetics, published in Astoullding, attracted many followers, among them his fellow authors including A.E. Van VagI, who halted a successful writing career to become a Dianetics "auditor." But Hubbard hadn't counted on other auditors specifically. the IRS, the CIA and the FBI -intruding into his fantasies, and since he couldn't write them out of the story. he developed more and more elaborate ruses for avoiding them, eventually incorporating his venture as the Church of Scientology for tax purposes. As the doings of the church grew more insular and secretive. Hubbard grew more paranoid, spinning bizarre conspiracy theories that finally pointed to those most devoted to him. "A writer spends so many hours inventing adventures for his fictional characters that he sometimes confuses fiction and fact." Frank Gruber has mused. As Miller reconstructs them. Hubbard's final years form a grotesque study of a man who had come to believe in his own hack science fiction. Miller's account is obviously one-sided. The only people who would talk to him were Hubbard's estranged family members and former Scien tologists, many of wh'ol11 had axes to grind. But if Bare-Faced Messiah is "pathography," the evidence Miller cites to support his claims -ranging from newspaper stories to government records to letters and personal diaries (the publication of which resulted in a brief lawsuit against Miller for copyright infringemenl) -is haru tn argue with. The one thing Miller does not attempt is an explanation for why so many people willingly fell under Hubbard's spell. Until sOl11eone dnes, "the true story of L. Ron Hubbard" remains incomplete. Stefan D:i('mianOll"icz Coffee Table Film Book Searles, Baird. Films Science Fiction lIlld Fallla.lY. Abrams. NY, lYH8. 240p. $39.95 hc. 0-8109-0922-7. Searles' book describes 282 films which compares quite unfavorably with Peter Nicholls' H'cllid u.( Fantastic Films ( 1984). which discussed 7()(). 19


SFRA News/etter, No. 165, March 1989 Searles includes a few dozen horror films he considers SF (e.g., Frmlkellsfeill [1931]) or dark fantasy (e.g., Dracula [1933]) but omits dozens of important horror titles: Nicholls' book, on the other hand, gave equal attention to SF. fantasy, and horror. Searles does include several animated films and marginal fantasy films not found in Nicholls, but even here his coverage is inconsistent: he includes an obscure leprechaun movie and two little-rememhered mermaid films from the 40's but omits both Darby o 'Gill alld the LillIe People (1958) and Splash (1984). Nicholls provided more filmographic information and a much more perceptive text; Searles' comments are often more descriptive than critical. The only reasons to acquire Searles' work are the approximately 300 illustrations, most of which are well-chosen and beautifully reproduced (though several stills from color films are printed in black-and-white) and many of which are unfamiliar. Michael Klossller The Father of Modern SF Siegel, Mark. Hugo Gemsback: Father of Modem Sciellce Fictioll, 11'ifh Essays Oil Frallk Her!Jcl1 alld Brain Stoker. Borgo Press, San Bernadino, CA, 1988, 96p. Trade pb. [price not listedj 0-89370-274-9.IMilford Snies, #45] The four-page introduction to this little book is one of its more interesting parts because in it the author puts himself at odds with much of what is happening today in the world of academic criticism, saying that "To be a literary scholar of the first rank in J 987 means to write primarily about criticism, about other scholars' rhetorical blindspots and conceptual limitations." Rejecting this sort of \vriting as unrclated either to literature or the world, Siegel asserts his helief in a literary scholarship which is "an attempt to understand as many aspects of literal ure as possible; it ought to be a reactioll to t he work of literat urc and not a preemption of the work itself." The essays which follow (each preceded by a chronology of the author and capped by a selected bibliography) arc tOW;\' de force of such "reactionary" criticism. The monograph on Hugo Gernback is a classic piece of historical criticism which first presents the facts of Ciernshack biography and then uses those facts to argue that he ought to be more widely recognized for the role he played in the early development of science fiction. Siegel gives a balanced presentation, conceding Gcrnsback's weaknesses, especially as a writer of fiction, but simultaneously demonstrating the contribution both his ideas and his editorial policies made to the philosophy underlying the genre. The nexl essay, "The Ecology or Politics and the of Ecology in 20


SFRA Newsletter, No. 165, March 1989 Frank Herbert's DlIlle.' explores the political and social ideas supporting Herbert's world. Sicgel sees contrasting social policies as central to the structure of the novel: the ecologically exploitative Empire opposes the Fremen, who work toward an ecological equilibrium. Every party in the work atlempts to control the environmcnt, but the hero Paul Atreides, because of his superior knowledge. is better able to do so than others. Yet the very effort at control enters the ecological equation. so ultimately no absolute control is possible. The final essay. "Carnal Knowledge: Draclila as Anti-Quest," unites Joseph Campbell's archetypal plot pattern with Freudian psychology to explicate the significance of Bram Stoker's Draclila. Siegel argues that the characters who seek to kill Dracula are half-persons who ought to be seeking psychological completion hut ultimately rduse to do so. Stoker "see ks to placate and reassure. not to expose and comlemn" the psychological fragmentation of Victorian society. Many who teach literature will. no doubt, be inclined to sympathize with Siegel's attit ude toward modern criticism, which often docs little to make literary works seem interesting or attractive. His essays are a timely reminder that the older, estahlished critical methods are not outmoded, that displaying the accessible ideas contained in particular works is still a valuable exercise. However, his essays fail in what I regard as one of the salient aspects of criticism: they do not move me to go back and reread the works themselves. Nonetheless, this is a useful little collection. which is recommended particularly for ul1llcrgraduate libraries. RobcI1 Reilll' Fiction Hard SF by Women Bolton, Johanna M. 171C AliCll Withill. Ballantine/Del Rey, NY, January 1989, 277p. $3.50 ph. 0-345-35541-5. Zeddies, Ann Tonsol'. Dc(/thgiJi. Ballantine/Del Rey, NY. 32IJp. $3.95 ph. 0-345-35092-8. Once women didn't write SF, or pretended they didn't. Then they made a place for themselves in fantasy and children's literature. Now women write every sort of SF. from sword and snrCl:ry to space opera. Some write it better than others. Johanna Bolton and Ann Zeddies have both produced first novels which can be considered hard SF. Their books have many elements in common: an innocent tribal society wiped out by a casual act of genocide, a vengeful survivor. a not entirely human telepathic superman. and sym21


SFRA Newsletter, No. 165, March 1989 pathetic female characters who gradually become disillusioned with their society and begin to work against it. In both books the characters are caught up in the violent action of an endless war against a faceless enemy in which their own government plays a dubious rule. Both echo American involvement in Vietnam and Central America. The style and substance of the books are quite different, however. Bolton's novel is a straightforward and rather oldfashioned space opera. The conflict of the usual Earth Federation versus the evil Proxima Empire produces the usual space battles fought with standard gadgetry. War tactics are an unlikely combination of laser and shoot -'em-up boarding parties. The protagonist. Winter, is a female version of the usual tough. laconic spaceship captain, though I rather liked her sidekick, the ship's doctor. The plot seems contrived to yield the m,Lximum amount of action with the minimum of motivation. On the whole irs not a bad read, but the narrative is unsophisticated and the ending completely predict able. Ann Tensor Zeddies has produced a book which is far morc vivid and absorbing. hut also less satisfactory. The first section of her story is a beautifully imagined tale of the growing up of a young man in a tribe of horsemen and \varriors, whose customs. beliefs and music are described in 10\'ing detail. Then, just as we have become interested in these people, the entin: tribe is suddenly wiped out and the protagonist, the only 'iurvivor, finds himself a soldier in an endless war fought with modern weapons. Despite his primitive background. he adapts with amazing speed, switching from bow-and-arrow to automatic rifle without difficulty. Zeddies writes exciting battle scenes and creates characters whom we come to believe in even while finding their continued survival highly improbable. The hero undergoes an incredible variety of dangers, becoming more and more superhuman as the plot becomes more and more convoluted. I cannot accuse it of heing predictable, however. I kept waiting for the denouement to explain everything. and when the book ended with loose ends everywhere, I felt frustrated and annoyed. Zecldies is a very promising writer indeed, with an excellent style and an ability to depict vivid scenes peopled with vivid characters. I hope in her nexl book she will work (lut a plot that makes sense it's the only thing lacking to make her a successful writer. Lyl/I/ F Williams Tis fOI' Tealjerker Bradbury, Ray. Thc TOI'Il/Jcc COI/Iector. Knopf. NY. L9K8, 275p. $17.95 he. 0-J()4-54 70V). Ray Bradbury once wrote a story ahout a boy who never grows ..,..,


SFRA Newsletter, No. 165, March 1989 physically old, t:\"en though he maturt:s inside. Over the years Bradbury has become a reversed image of that character. Even though his hair has gone white, his stories still gush with the same boyish enthusiasm that fueled his writing forty years ago, and their weepy nostalgia amounts to a refusal to acknowledge how much science fiction and fantasy or, for that maller, the world have changed since his youth. Tht: tales that make up this book may span five decades, but all exude the unmistakeable aroma of dandelion wint:, vintage J939. Reading 771C Tuyn!Jee COIm'11Ior is like taking a guided tour wilh Bradbury through his childhood homt:. Echoes and memories abound: "The Tombstone," a trademark story from his Weird Tales days, transplants a s)'mbol of GOlhic horrnr into the American heartland: "West of October" reunites the family of lovable monsters whose affairs Ihe author chronicled in "Uncle Einar" and "Homecoming": "The Love Affair" is something of an outtake from The /l/mtian Chronicles (1 (50): "At Midnight, in the Month of.J une" is a direct sequel to a Dandelion fFinc (1957) story called "The Whole Town is Sleeping." and "The Last Circus" is yet anolher chapler in the life of thaI n(1\"e\'s hero. Douglas Spalding. Two stories recall Bradbury's "Irish Period": "One for His Lordship. amI One for the Road" is part of the Anthem Sprinters cycle. and "Banshee" is a thinly disguised anecdote (which has been dramatized on the syndi cated TV series Ray Bradbltry Thcater) of the author's experience \vith .J ohn Huston during t he filming of Moll." Dick (J 95()). In all of these tales. the fantastic element is so marginal that one queslions whether anything out of the ordinary happens at all. As always with Bradbury. it's impossible to separate the hanality of the fantastic from the wondrousness of the everyday. A certain sameness to these tales makes reading more than a few at a timt: unwisc. Father-figures seem to take O\'er e\'cry onc: the lime Ira\'ClIer of the tille slory is looked on as a father to his er" (a story which borrows heavily from Graham Greene's J 9.:J.O novel 771C p()J\'('/' awllhe Glory): Colonel Slones leel, of "Colonel Slonesleel's Home-made Truly Egyptian Mummy," is a mysterious surrogate falher who sl imulatcs Ihe young aUlhor's imagina tion. Throughout the colleelion. hlood always proves thicker than water. At the same time, though, it's leal'S Ihal really cement Ihe lies thaI hind his characters to one another. There's enough crying in these tales for love, for loss, for jusl heing alive 10 put a sentimental novelisl 10 shame. It would be easy 10 criticize 771C Torllllcc COlll'CClOr for Ihis slreak of mawkishness. hUI afterwards you'd proh

SFRA Newsletter, No. 165, March 1989 a quaint, beloved uncle. Stefan DzicmianOlvicz Island of the Damned Brunner, John. Children of the Thunder. Ballantine/Del Rey, NY,.J anuary 1989, 340p. $4.S0 pb. 0-34S-31378-X. If this is your first Brunner novel, you'll probably be very impressed with its connection to the real concerns of our time: pollution, the failure of democracy. the omnipresence of domestic police and intelligence agency suppression of news and "radicals," the intrusion into personal privacy made possible by computers, the rise of the violent pro-military right. and the coercive self-righteousness of evangelical Christianity. Brunner is a particular master of the layered situation, demonstrating by a mixture of domestic detail, news stories. rumors, and the substance of his central plot a cohesive picture of a world in turmoil that is only a few days in the future. If. on the other hand, you have already read some of Brunner's powerful earlier novels such as Stalld Oil Zallzihar (P)(i8). The Shccp Look Up (1972), or the Shockw{l\'e Ridcr (1975) you will find Children of thc 77ll/nder to be familiar in method and unfortunately given to telegraphing most of its plot direction. But there are some notable differences from earlier Brunner here and, combined with a stunning ending, these make ChildrclI of the 77lunder another fine book by one of the first -rank writers of contemporary SF. Set in a collapsing post-Thatcher England of bigotry, poverty and violence, the novel tells of a science reporter who unearths the existence of a group of children created by artisem from a single father. They are in their early teens and share certain exceptional powers which they are discovering and finetuning throughout the novel. While the reader guesses carlyon that the reporter will catch up with the children at the climax of the story, the true shock of the book lies in the intensity of Brunner's condemnation of the world as man has made it in these closing years of the twentieth century. Whereas 77lc Shockwavc Rider showed a calculated willingness to accept the possibility of change, this novel engages the costs of change by offering a damning judgment on those of us who are rapidly making a filthy. collapsing world ruled by greed, power and inequality. In Peter Levin, the reporter. Brunner has created an everyman figure for our time and set the stage for a consideration of the failure of good intentions. To the truism that the young havc always judged their ciders harshly Brunner adds the dnublc stin!,!er that. in our time. their verdict may be wholly just and that the outcome of their \engeal1ce is a consum24


SFRA Newsletter, No. 165, March 1989 mation devoutly to be wished. AlI of this is offered in a novel \vhich moves wonderfulIy well towards an exciting finish. Child,.cn or Ihe Tlll/lldcr is a good, thought-provoking read. [Ed. Note: It is interesting to ohserve that J.G. Ballard's new short novel, Running J,Vild (1988). explores much the same theme as Brunner's. leading the SF reader to suspect that contcmporary England is a place of the direst forebodings.] Jane Doe, Alien Douglas, Carole Nelson, COlln/er Probe. TOR. NY. November 1988. 344p. $17.()5 he. 0-312-93102-6. A psychiatrist in acute emergencies. Kevin Blake has a most unusual patient. Known only as Jane Doe. she is an amnesia victim with powerful telekinetic abilities and the power to manipulate her metabolism. In fac!' she is a probe. cloned by visiting aliens years before and recently returned to earth, who is seeking to glean information which will eventually be retrieved when her memories are accessed by the aliens. However. she has malfunctioned and is now operating on her own. Blake promptly falls in love with her and the two fincl themselves fleeing from an obscure but ruthless government agency interested in the military applications of Jane's abilities. This agency enlists the aid of one Eric Nordstrom. a twisted former classmate of Blake's who now practices a psychiatry of evil. COIlIllC,. Probe is not predictahle. Carnie Nelson Douglas introduces plot twists that are inventive and surprising, yet in the novel's context plausible. Blake and .J ane find that they are pursued not only by the government, but also by the aliens. who are equally determined to regain or eliminate their failed unit. It is in the depiction of the development of this "unit" that Douglas shows her nair for excellent characterization. At first an incomplete personality,.J ane grows and fills out in response to her environment; she is the ultimate innocent, exposed to danger and human corruption. yet emerging stronger from her tests. Sometimes the story falters. as when Blake. while hypnotizing .Jane, makes casual comments which the suhject could interpret as suggestions. Such rough edges notwithstanding. Cowlfer Pro/Jc is an enjoyable. im'en tive work. JalJlcs P. 11 bbal1clh 25


SFRA Newsletter, No. 165, March 1989 Year's Best Dowis, Gardner, cd. n,l' }t'ar's Best Scicnce Fiction: FiJih Alllll/al Collec tioll. Sl. Martin's, NY, 678p. $12.95 trade pb. 0-312-01854-1. Even before Terry Carr's death brought an abrupt halt to his excellent series of "Year's Best" anthologies, it was steadily becoming clear that the annual gathering of SF stories edited by Gardner Dozois was the finest on the market. Now, it doesn't even have competition to speak of, Donald Wollheim's yearly gleanings for DAW being so slim as to constitute less than one-fourth of this volume's total. Like Dowis himself. this hook is huge, and it would be hard for it not to feature at least some of 191-1Ts best SF stories among its twentyeight selections, covering nearly 7()O pages and over a quarter of a million words. Dowis is an ideal editor for such a series, since he not only reads almost all the short fiction published in the genre but has as well a sharp and discriminating eye (as a glance at the contents of any issue of Isaac Asilllol'\ SF Magazille, which he also edits, will show). His fifth annual collection is the best yel. Still, one can quibble with some of his choices. Robert Silverberg probably should have been represented with "The Secret Sharer," a provocative rewriting of the Joseph Conrad story of the same name, rather than with the slick, cyberpunkish "The Pardoner's Tale." Kim Stanley Robinson's novella "Mother Goddess of the World" is a very good story, but not the equal of his other big '';',7 title "The Blind Geometer," which won a Nebula Award. Dozois omits other tales which have since gone on to win awards Lawrence WallEvans' "Why I Left Harry's All-Night Hamburgers," the Hugo-winner for best short story, being perhaps the most glaring absentee. But it is probably unfair to arraign the editor using Nebula and H ugn listings he did not have the leisure to consult when this volume, and even with the omissions Dowis has managed tn glean several titles that eventually did cop major awards. Ursula K. Le Guin's "Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight," for example, took both the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards for best nllye!ellc; it is a sharply honed examination of cultural roots that is as fine as anything Le Guin has wrillen in the shorter forms. Kate Wilhelm's fascinating "Forever Yours, Anna," the Nebula-winning short story of 191-17, is destined to become a classic of time-travel literature. Pat I'vI urphy's "Rachel in Loye," a delightfully ironic and touching story of the love life of a brain-boosted chimpanzee, won the Nebula Award I'm best noyelelte of 1987. It beat out in the process Bruce Sterling's stunning "Flowers of Edo" perhaps more for political reasons (Sterling's rude cyberpunk polemics ha\'ing alienated a large portion of the SFWA) than for its ohyious merits, since "Flowers" I think, not only a beller story


SFRA News/etter, No. 165, March 1989 but also the best entry in this volume. Set in the past century. it is a tale of "first contact" between a proud but superstitious people (the Japanese) and their powerful, progressive invaders (the modern West): deeply researched and hauntingly wrillen. "Flowers of Edo" is a complex study of the relationship of the past to the fut ure which becomes. by a bold twist. a meditation on the relationship of science fiction to fantasy. And speaking of that relationship. it is prelly obvious that coveragc of the genre was affected by the "first annual" publication of SI. Martin's new companion volume The kar's Best Fantasy, edited hy Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling [see I'(view in # 163 Ed.]. Though the lists of recommended additional titles that cap each volumc have several crossover entries. the Le Guin is the only story to appear in both books (which makes sense. givcn that this author was the only one to place ncar the top of both the science fiction and fantasy "All-Time Greatest Writers" polls conducted recently by LOCllS magazine). The divvying up of genre territory between the two annuals is rather arbitrary. as might be expected. There arc few traditional hard SF stories in the Dowis. and few genuine high fantasies in the Datlow anel Windling. but a great numher of what can only bc called imaginative or speculati\'c fictions in each. Dowis includes Lucius Shcpard's "Shadcs;' a story cited on Datlow and Windling's "Honorable Mentions" list. but those cditors gel for their volume Shepard's "Delta Sly Honey" -a much finer story. and no more or less clearly "fantastic." (One final interesting. though perhaps irrelevant. statistic: Dozois selects eleven stories from his own magazine. and four from Datlow's competing Oll/ni: DatlO\v and Windling choose four from Oll/ni and two from Dowis' IASFM.) Both Lucius Shepard stories appeared originally in Jack and Jeanne van Buren Dann's 19S7 original anthol(lgy of Vietnam SF III the Field of Fire. a book Dowis rightly idcntifies in his introductory "Summation" as a "landmark." So. appropriately. his vulume features. in addition to the Shepard story. another tale culled rrol11 that collection. Bruce McAllister's "Dream Baby." This scaring nove\elle tells of the U.S. military'S exploitation or individuals with "special" powers. and of one young woman's revenge: it is a tributc to McAllister's storytelling skills that it is narrated so powerfully one nC\'er rcally has time to consider how fundamentally unbelievable its central situation is. For another perspective on exploitative Amcrica. there is Orson Scnll Card's "Amcrica": this story deals not with the legacy or Vietnam hut \vith our tragic Indian heritage, ending on a note or hope that smacks or wish-fulfillment but is nonetheless inspiriting. There arc many more tales here. too many to do justice tu them all. There arc excellent works hy K,II'l'n .loy Fowler. Ian Watson. Octa\'ia E. 27


SFRA Newsletter, No. 165, March 1989 Butler. and Howard Waldrop. and two wild excursions into the mintl of Neal Barrett,.Ir. Not a single story here is less than competent, fully half are superb, and more than a hantlful arc brilliant. Buy this book. -Judilh Calion A Tantalizing Aura of Mystery Harris, Ra),lllolHl. Shad(}ll"s In/ilc SIIII. Ace, New York, December L9SS. 230p. $1.50 pb. 1-2. The Revenants are a group of human star sailors who returned to the solar system some centuries ago. They [ought ami tlcfeatetl a kintl of artificial intelligence. named I'vleqmat. which controlled everyt hing in the system. Since then, the Revenants have lived in the Hypaethra. nine space habitats orbiting the sun. The Firin, a raee of allliroitls created by Meqmat. have struck a tleal with Volshev. Despot of Gheo and ruler of the Hypaethra, by which they will retain control of the planet Veii in exchange for a periodic tribute payable in goods. Risha Skorb, an avid social climber in the ceremonious and stratified society of the Hypaethra. falls in love with Seren of Khryasha. When he flees to Veii, accused of murtln, the Firin will only admit one person to bring him to justice. Risha volunteers to pursue and punish him, and so embarks on a series of adventures which force hcr to come to terms with an entirely new culture's strange politics anti mores. Essentially alone. she must learn to trust her own abilities and instincts. But she is caught up in a web of manipulation, a power struggle between Volshev and the Firin which far exceeds her comprehension. This is a novel which evokes the "sense of wontler" so often cited as a prime characteristic of science fiction. Thrce tlifferent societies arc dcpicted here, two of thcm (Hypaethra and Veii) described with a very convincing richness of detail; the Firin. not so fully developed. maintain a tantalizing aura of mystery (especially with respect to their motivations). Another mystery involves the unsolvetl muruer anu the tangle of political intrigue surrounding it. The action is and a well-controlled suspense keeps the reader's mind engaged throughout. Yet action is nut all. Risha is hut one member of a cast of interesting and well tleveloped characters. The novel elicits empathy for her desires. doubts. fears. for her lows and hatreds. The way she grows from a rather superficial person into a woman capable \)f love and sufrering is very convincingly done. SIll/dOlI'S or (he 1I'7/ile 5,"1111 is a fine book which both fans and critics ought to enjoy. Ro/J('!1 Rcill\'


SFRA News/etter, No. 165, March 1989 Dick Award Nominee Smith, D. Alexander. Rendczl'Olis. Ace, NY, 1988. 2R()p. $3.50 ph. 0-44171354-8. Rendezl'OliS starts out with quite a few strikes against it in any bid for serious critical attention. First, it's a to a novel published sen:ral years ago, lIfarathon. which, even if it did make Loclis magazine's best first novels list, is nmv both long out of print and largely forgotten. Second, it's a paperback with a murky, generic space-opera cover of the sort not likely to attract a literate audience. Finally, it begins vcry much in mcdias res, with little attempt to explain the action that has gone before. When the book arrived in the mail, one of several dozen paperbacks 1 was supposed to read as a Philip K. Dick Award judge Iflll' a full listing of Dick nominees. see last month's issue -ELI.]. I considered skipping it. I'm very glad I didn 't, however, because RClldczl'Olis. as it t urns out, is one of the halfdozen finest paperback SF novels of 1988. As the book opens, the starship Opel! Palm has been in transit for seven years and has gone far beyond the borders of charted human space. Four of its crew arc dead. Both the ship's captain and its powerful AI seem dangerously unstable. The ship's mission is to act as emissary to the alien Cygnans, who have also sent a starship to the distant. neutral rendezvous point in deep space. There is great distrust on both sides. due to events which took place ill the first volume. Smith provides us here with a stripped down version of a classic SF scenario. Representatives of two species. meeting for the first time. isolated and under great stress, must o\'ercome basic misconceptions and deal with radical differences in thought and technology if interstellar disaster is to be avoided. The author's human and AI characters are \vcll developed, but his triumph lies in his aliens. The bluebears, as the crew of 0]1('11 Palm call them. are both decidedly inhuman and totally believahle. Vaguely bearlike. both violent and loving. using smell as their primary sense. they have separate personalities and yct can merge into a group mind with a consciousness and moral imperative distinctly different from that of its individual memhers. Smith sketches the histmy and culture of the bluebears with a deft hand. At times hi;, aliens recall those of Da\'id Brin. though Smith's, I helie\e. are heller de\eloped. In many nlJ\ds of this sort. it is left for the humans to unravel an alien mystery. but in RC1IdcZI'OliS both races must learn and grow if a compromise is to be reached. R(,1It/eZl'OliS is a fine novel which deserves to be \videly read. To quote the evaluation of Eleanor Amason. one of this year's Dick Award judges. the book "has scope and strangeness, good aliens. a guod moral. and


SFRA News/etter, No. 165, March 1989 sweetness -an underrated quality in this truly terrihle century." Michad M. LeI'\' Delirious Alternate History Somtow, S.P. Aqlli/a and Ihe Sphinx. Ballantine/Del Rey, December 1988, 242p. $3.95 lb. U-345-34791-9. [The Aqlli/iad, vol. 3] Although he has ably shown, in such ,\forks as Starship and Haikll (198]) and the Inqllestor series (1982 '85: partially revised '86), an ability to create serious and thought!)I"o\'oking science fiction. S.P. Somtow (aka Somtow Sucharitkul) seems most at home writing satire and parody. His humorous !Ila/l1rorltf ( 1 ()SI: revised '84) is without a doubt his best loved work and his currentAqlliliad series (Alllli/a and the 5phill.Y follows Aqlli/a in the NCII' IHuid [1983: ['Cvised '88] anel A lIlli/a and the Iron Horse 11988]) may be his most successful. nlc A{lIi/iacf is set in a madcap alternate uni"erse where Rome conquered North America and Lakota Sioux have become valued if some\vhat eccentric citizens of the Empire. Telegraph poles stretch across Europe. though between them arc strung no wires: instead, atop each pole is a chained slave with a small fire who sends Native American-style smoke signals. The Emperor Trajan's orgies feat ure such American delicacies as potatii, tom at ii, the meat of "giant chickens." and aqua cocacola, and Romans of North American background sport names like Equus Insanus and Taurus Sedentarius. In Aqui/a and the Iron Horse the entire world was threatened by the dread Time Criminal, an alien who looks like a green pig, and, at the close of that noveL earth had been kidnapped and shunted into some interdimensional "holding universe." Now. in Aqlli/a and the Sphinx, a variety of odd Roman and Native American heroes must defeat the Time Criminal and return earth to its normal universe before it is destroyed. Their many eccentric advent ures related in chapters with titles like "V0l11itorium Encounters," "The Incredible Shrinking Sasquatch," and ':.\ Man Called Equus" include dust-ups with flying pyramids, dinosaurs. a very unusual sphinx. and a number or totally crazy time travellers, aliens, and poets. Although Aqlli/a anci the Sphinx stands fairly well on its own, it might be a good idea to read the earlier books in the series first. Some people like this kinu of insanity, others don't. SOl11tow does it as well as anyone in the business. Long may he rave. Michael AI. L(w What Comes After Utopia? Swigart. Rob. Portal: A Data.l/wee RC/li('\'o/. St. Martin\, NY. 1 9 88, 34()p. $18.()5 he. 3()


SFRA News/etter, No. 165, March 1989 Gyges, a manned interstellar probe sent to hI Cygni in 2004 A.D., inexplicably abandons its mission ami returns to earth in 21O(i, only to uiscover the planet uevoiu of human life. As the AI Noues of the long dormant global computer and communications net awaken to the unnameu astronaut/narrator's fumbling queries, the events that comprise the central story of this quasi-epistolary novel unfolu through a series of increasingly complex uataretrievals by a story-telling Al nameu Homer. As the WoridNet amI Homer struggle to reconstruct and explain the history of the "Migration," we learn the story of Peter Devore '5 perfection of a radical psionic technology of self which liberates humankind from the stultifying constraints of a nearutopian world muer (as well as spacetimc itself!) and takes everyone into the "Realm," a set of multi-uimcnsional alternative universes. We also learn why Gyges has returned, witnessing the maturation of a machine intelligence as Homer struggles to com prehend Dcvore's -and humanity's -transformation anu to deal with its own newfound independence. Portal may remind long-time SF readers of a number of classic w\lfks Simak's "Desertion" (l94()). Clarke's Childhood's End (1953), Brunner's Stand 011 Zal1::iiJar (1%8), among others but. happily, Swigart's novel stands on its own merits, with a fruitful narrative style and provocative ideas. The technological and scientific uevelopments S\vigart projects are acceptable, if not entirely plausible (e.g., unexplained "fields" abound, and the treatment of psionics seems dubious in places); the future changes are consistent and support the development of the novel's speculations about the relation of mind to matter, the evolution of our species. and the place of intelligence in the cosmos. The reOexive com plexity of the narrative will ddight devotees of post modernism. who will find this book not only provocative science fiction but insightful commentary on the writing and reading of fiction. -Dal"idMcad .11


SFRA Newsletter No. 165 Robert A. Collins, Editor English Department Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL 33431 Nonprofit Orgunizution U. S. POSTAGE PAID BOCA RATON, FLORIDA Permit No. 77 DATED MATERIAL PLEASE DO NOT DELAY


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