SFRA newsletter

SFRA newsletter

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SFRA newsletter
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Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
Science Fiction Research Association
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Science Fiction Research Association]
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Science fiction -- History and criticism ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- History and criticism -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Science fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
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.'ev",';/etter, No, 172, November, 1989 The SFRA Newsletter Published ten times a year for the Science Fiction Research Association by Alan Newcomer, Hypatia Press, Eugene, Oregon. Copyright @ 1989 by the SFRA Editorial correspondence: Betsy Hartst, Editor, SFRA Newsletter, Arts, Communications, & Social Science Division, Kishwaukee College, Malta, II 60150. (Tel. 815-825-2086). Send changes of address and/or inquiries concerning subscriptions to the Treasurer, listed below. SFRA Executive Committee President Elizabeth Anne Hull Liberal Arts Division William Rainey Harper College Palatine, Illinois 60067 Vice-President Neil Barron 1149 Lime Place Vista, California 92083 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 50614 Immediate Past President William H, Hardesty English Department Miami University Oxford, Ohio 45056 2 Past Presidents of SFRA Thomas D. Clareson (1970-76) Arthur O. Lewis, Jr. (1977-78) Joe De Bolt (1979-80) James Gunn (1981-82) Patricia S. Warrick (1983-84) Donald M. Hassler (1985-86) Past Editors of the Newsletter Fred Lerner (1971-74) Beverly Friend (1974-78) Roald Tweet (1978-81) Elizabeth Anne Hull (1981-84) Richard W. Miller (1984-87) Robert A. Collins (1987-89) Pilgrim Award Winners J.O. Bailey (1970) Marjorie Hope Nicolson (1971) Julius Kagarlitski (1972) Jack Williamson (1973) I.F. Clarke (1974) Damon Knight (1975) James Gunn ((1976) Thomas D. Clareson (1977) Brian W. Aldiss (1978) Darko Suvin (1979) Peter Nicholls (1980) Sam,Moskowitz (1981) Neil Barron (1982) H. Bruce Franklin (1983) Everett Bleiler (1984) Samuel R. Delany (1985) George Slusser (1986) Gary K. Wolfe (1987) Joanna Russ (1988) Ursula K. Le Guin (1989)


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 President's Message UPS AND DOWNS If you were one of the lucky ones who attended the 1989 annual meeting (or if you read the minutes carefully) you'll already know that SFRA is planning to sponsor a new award in 1990. Our Pilgrim rewards lifetime achievements; the new one is to be timely, recognizing the best scholarly article on SF published in the previous calendar year. The idea of the award was one whose time had clearly come, but what we lacked was a name for it. There were many suggestions, but it was not until I was out at JPL for the Voyager" flyby of Neptune that the name for the new award came to me in a flash. It will be called: The Pioneer! The next problem was to find the right jury for the award, and that is now solved, too. I am very pleased to announce the composition of the first Pioneer Committee: Lynn Williams (chair), Takayuki Tatsumi, and Russell Letson. The committee will deliberate by mail and the winner will be announced to the membership at the Pilgrim Awards ceremony at the Annual Meeting, which will be in Long Beach the last weekend in June 1990. To make the award truly recognize excellence, we all must help. It is especially important that members nominate articles worthy of considera tion published in journals other than Extrapolation, Science-Fiction Studies, and Foundation. If you have read a deserving article that might be over looked, please send copies of it to all three committee members. The winner of the award will be encouraged to attend the meeting to accept In person the Pioneer certificate just prior to the awarding of the Pilgrim at the banquet. That's the good news. On a less happy subject, I have been corresponding with John T. Hubbell, Director of the Kent State University Press, which publishes Extrapolation. The Executive Committee discus sions at the annual meeting spent considerable time on the topiC of Kent State UP's publication agreement. This must be signed (they say) by every contributor to Extrapolation, and in effect it requires that the writer of articles they publish must relinquish reprint rights to KSUP, except as they choose to revert rights to the author. Even the privilege of using an article in a collection of one's own work is restricted; it will be granted only upon written applica tion, and all other uses are controlled completely by the KSUP. This means that the writer himself or herself of an article published in Extrapolation cannot grant permission to reprint it to anyone. What's more, Kent State University Press may grant such permission even if the author orthe author's heirs would prefer it not be republished. 3


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 I have pointed out to John Hubbell that their contract Is not In the spirit of the "new" copyright laws (in effect for over a decade now)--which have done much to protect the rights of the writer and give the writer any benefits which may come from the writer's efforts during his/her lifetime. John Hubbell's response Is, first, that the press has to reclaim its expenses in its publishing venture somehow, whereas scholars are not supposed to be paid for publishing In any other coin than as part of their academic respon sibilities--and, second, other prestigious university presses have similar contracts anyway. I do not consider this latter argument justifiable. The fact that other presses may make similar demands of academic writers cannot persuade an open mind that the practice is morally right. It is true that some SFRA members are paid by their institutions to publish, but many are not, of course. Many members do not occupy an academic appointment and some of us teach for colleges or universities which do not prize publishing particularly or do not consider SF criticism as academic activity. In short, writing scholarly articles is often a labor of love, time consuming for very little, if any, material reward. Certainly we show our dedication to scholarship when we allow a journal such as Extrapolation to publish our original work without being paid in anything other than copies of the journal. And I can hardly believe that the journals count on reprint income to balance their deficits. The dollar amount involved in reprints is surely not a sizable sum, for all the authors together. But there is a moral question here. A creator is entitled to own his or her creation. Whatever money the writing earns, that income should properly go to the person who put months of thought, inspiration, and sweat into the writing. For SFRA this point may be especially true, especially if we hope to encourage some of our author-members to contribute to the journals. But it should hold valid for all writers, no matter how they earn most of their living. Ultimately, my point boils down to this: writers deserve the principal benefit from and control over their own work. The copyright laws now recognize this and we scholars, like any other writers, should be encouraged to assert our own case. : How can we do this? We have financial constraints of our own, heaven knows, and we cannot "secede" from all academic publishers. 4


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Scholars need the Journals to print their articles; In fact, all writers need publishers. But we can certainly let our views be heard, first by presenting the justice of our case to the press that holds the power. I urge each of you to write to John Hubbell at KSUP (Kent, OH 44242-0001) and ask him to reconsider. I don't suppose any single letter will change his mind. Certainly mine have not; his last communication to me simply thanked me for my letter and added: "I have reconsidered and do not expect to change the publication agreement In the foreseeable future." But a few dozen such letters might be more persuasive. Let's try to change his mind, since right is on our side. --Elizabeth Anne Hull --President N B_, by Neil Barron The following are additional titles to the list of 1989 recent and forthcom ing non-fiction books. Books known to have been published have a (P) following the price. Recent and Forthcoming Books History & Criticism Huntington, John. Rationalizing Genius: Ideological Strategies in the American Science Fiction Short Story. Rutgers. November. Author Studies [Doyle]. Doyle, Arthur Conan. Memories and Adventures, Oxford, July. Reprint of 1924 autobiography. Film & TV Cinebooks. Fantasy and Science Fiction Films. November The Horror Film: A Guide to More than 700 Films on --'V""i"d'e-oc-a sseUe (P). Gross, Edward. Trek: The Lost Years. Pioneer Books. 5


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 _...---,-__ The Making of the Next Generation. Pioneer Books. Jones, Terry. Eric the Viking, The Screenplay, Applause Theater Books. Mank, Greg. Karloff & Lugosi: The Story of a Collaboration, with a Complete Filmography of Their Films Together. McFarland, Sep tember. Powers, Tom. Horror Movies. Lerner Books, July (young Adult). Yule, Andrew. The Un-Making of Baron Munchausen. Applause Theater Books. Van Hise, James. Batmania. Pioneer Books. Heinlein Redux Due in January from Ballantine, $19.95, is Grumbles from the Grave, edited by Virginia Heinlein. Working from notes and letters assembled since the 1960s for a posthumous work of this sort, the material is grouped into chapters such as "About Writing Methods and Cutting," "Fan Mail and Other Time Wasters," etc. Most of the letters are between RAH and his long-time agent, Lurton Blassingame. According to PW, 3 November 1989, p. 55, Ballantine will also reissue Red Planet and The Puppet Masters but "with previously expurgated sexual, political and religious references." Locus noted (November) that Stranger from a Strange Land will be reissued in an unexpurgated edition, adding 50,000 words to the original 160,000 word version. Heinlein cut the book himself but was very unhappy about it. Other Heinlein books will be reprinted with texts conforming to Heinlein's inten tions. Logorrhea triumphs! Essays and Studies to Focus on SF Essays and Studies is an annual published by the venerable English Association, London. The 1990 volume will be edited by Tom A. Shippey, professor of English at the University of Leeds and will feature seven articles: Bob Crossley (U. Mass., Boston): "In the Palace of Green Porcelain: Artifacts from the Museum of SF." John Christie (Leeds): "Man, Machine and Narrativity: John Crowley's Engine Summer" Alan Elms (U. Cal., Davis): "Origins of the Underpeople: 6


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Cats, Kuomintang and Cardwalner Smith." John Huntington (U. Illinois, Chicago): "Newness, Neuromancer,and the End of Narrative." Walter Meyers (N. Carolina State): "The Language and Languages of SF." Tom Shippey (Leeds): "The Fall of America in SF." Alistair Spark (King Alfred's College, Winchester): "The Art of Future War: Starship Troopers". If the articles are as good as the one by Alan Elms, who sent me an advance copy, the issue will be very good indeed. The annual is published by John Murray, London, and distributed in the U.S. by Humanities Press, N.J. Shippey noted without comment in his letter that "SF is not something I'm allowed to teach professionally over here." Tree and Leaf Addendum Richard C. West offers one addendum to the non-fiction book lists In the September issue, #170. "The new release of J.R.R. Tolkien's Tree and Leaf from Houghton Mifflin last July does indeed reprint the 1964 edition, but it does more than that. It also features the complete text of the final version of "Mythopoeia," a long poem that before this has been published only in fragments here and there and never in its entirety. I specify that this is one version only of the poem because Christopher Tolkien makes it clear, in a new introduction he contributes tothis edition, that "Mythopoeia" exists in a number of versions. This edition is important, not onlyfor providing a "new" poem by Tolkien, but one In which he expresses at length his ideas about myth. Tolkienists will want this edition of Tree and Leaf." July Paperbacks Omission Harry Harrison notes one omission in the July Paperbacks listing, Issue 169: Harrison, Harry. Return to Eden. $4.95. Bantam/Spectra. This is the first paperback edition of the final volume in the West of Eden trilogy. H.P. Lovecraft Centennial Conference To mark H.P. Lovecraft's centennial on 20 August 1990, the John Hay Library announces a series of events, presented free of charge, and aimed at as wide an audience as possible, in honor of the great author of horror and fantasy. Early plans for programs feature series of panels, experts from around the world, a major exhibition of Lovecraft manuscripts, books, and associated items, an art exhibit featuring works influenced by Lovecraft, as 7


SFRA News/etter, No. 172, November, 1989 well as walking tours by Henry LP. Beckwith, author of Lovecraft's Providence Donald M. Grant, 1986). Send all Inquiries for Information care of Ne cronomicon Press, 101 Lockwood Street, West Warwick, Rhode Island 02893. Necronomlcon Press has listed several new publications for Fall 1989 release: Robert E. Howard: Selected Letters 1923-1930, edited by Glenn Lord with Rusty Burke and S. T. Joshi. $9.95; Clark Ashton Smith: The Hashish-Eater, illustrated by Robert H. Knox, $4.95' Lovecraft Studies 19/ 20, 10th Anniversary Double Issue, edited by S. T. Joshi, $8.95; Studies in Weird Fiction 6, edited by S. T. Joshi, $4.50; and Klarkash-Ton: The Journal of Smith Studies 1, edited by Steve Behrends, $4.50. Pulphouse Publishing has issued their first catalog. The Catalog includes listings for Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine, Axolotl Press, The Convention Series, Author's Choice Monthly, plus hardback books from Zeising Press, Dark Harvest, Donald Grant, Weird Tales, and many others. Featured in the Axolotl Press forthcoming novellas are Solip:System by Walter Jon Williams, a direct sequel to Hardwired; Apartheid, Super strings, and Mordecai Thubana by Michael Bishop, with an introduction by Lewis Shiner; Westlin Wind by Charles de Lint is a companion piece to Ascian In Rose which uses characters first introduced in his Moonheart; and a short story collection, Axolotl Special, featuring stories by Lucius Shepard, Michael Shea and Jessica Amanda Salmonson, with Introductions by John Kessel, Bruce Sterling, and Thomas Ligotti. For a copy of The Catalog, contact Pulphouse Publishing, Box 1227, Eugene, Oregon 97440, or phone (503)344-6742. One of the features of "The Williamson Year," is the JACK WILLIAMSON SCIENCE FICTION LIBRARY which "spans the development of mod ern science fiction." This Williamson LIbrary has over 10,000 cataloged volumes, 300 magazine titles, private papers from Jack Williamson, Edmond Hamilton, Leigh Brackett, Piers Anthony, James Blish, Forrest J. Ackerman, Thomas Clareson, some SFWA presidential files, 21 years of copy edited typescripts from Analog, a complete set of DAW books, brochures, graph ics, memorabilia, close to 500 oral history recordings, unbroken runs of all major U.S. and foreign pulps from Astounding/Analog to Wonderstories, the peripherals or ephemerals such as Jungle. Stories, Weird Tales and Cosmic, Extrapolation and other critical Journals, and hundreds of the elusively difficult to collect fanzines. Open 45 hours per week, the Library offers hands on use to fans and scholars alike, interlibrary loan for research purposes, and copies within donor and copyright guidelines. Contact M. J. Walker at THE WILLIAMSON LIBRARY, ENMU, for additional information. 8


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 John Huntington's new book, Rationalizing Genius: Ideological Strategies in the American Science Fiction Short Story, makes an impor tant contribution to the understanding of some methodological problems involved in studying any noncanonic literature. Using the Science Fiction Hall of Fame as the basis for defining the core set of popular SF texts, he explores the relationship of socially based criticism to criticism intent on appreciation of a I iterary work. H is first two chapters make explicit issues that have not been addressed in SF criticism and have rarely been approached in other studies of noncanonic art. Huntington also analyzes how SF stories negotiate specific difficulties intrinsic to the ideology of technocracy; the place of genius in society; the sacrifices necessitated by technological rationality; the challenge women pose to technocracy; the fascination with aliens and monsters; and the claim of SF to foresee the future and to be the literature of modernity. His extended analyses of 26 of SF's most popular and enduring stories should arouse considerable discussion and interest both inside and outside the SF community. --Neil Barron REVIEW-ARTICLE RESPONSE The Other Side by Joanna Russ Dear Editors, Sarah LeFanu's Feminism and Science Fiction may not be the kind of book Rob Latham wants Lefanu to write but I believe it is, nonetheless, a good and important book. Lefanu has written a book not about feminism but a search for the possibilities of feminism in science fiction. The book feminism. Perhaps Latham's hostility to the work springs from his lack of acquaintance with the last twenty years of feminist theory in the U.S. and elsewhere. This is knowledge rarely found in the academy. Acceptance there of the French school of Psychoanalyse et Politique and associated work oriented towards Freud and Lacan omits most of French feminism (which is quite different from the kind popularized here in the academy) and almost all of the rich tradition originating outside the academy in the iast two decades of U.S. and British writing. Some other questions Latham's review suggests: 9


SFRA News/etter, No. 172, November, 1989 What's wrong with eclectism:? Criticism isn't a science, nor does it proceed by everyone's accepting certain basic principles and reasoning deductively therefrom. Why demand a definition of "science fiction"? Genres always have clear, pointable-at corners and fuzzy boundaries. In the absence of any kind of comprehensive account of women's writing in English of the last two centuries--all we have had Is pounds of criticism applied to a penn'orth of canon--should we trust anything besides the kind of particular readings Lefanu does so well? There is such a long tradition of women's work and there are some pioneers--see, for example, Susan Koppelman's work. Although Lathan praises Lefanu for her particular readings, he also accuses her of "unsubstantiated claims," "accusations," "sneering," and "smugness." It is true that Lefanu does not soothe or flatter--she is angry at men as a privileged class and makes no bones about it--but her anger does not necessarily impugn the truth of her generalizations. That science fiction has been a male preserve since the 1920s is hardly a debatable statement. And I join Lefanu in much of her anger, and her cynicism about the sudden popularity of female heroes In male writer's science fiction. Why is The Handmaid's Tale a "major" work? Despite my admiration for Atwood's other work, I find this novel thin and evasive, lacking In economic plausibility and without any of the political history we have every right to demand of a dystopia. Swastika Night Is much better science fiction and hence a much better book, but it certainly isn't part of the U.S. tradition of science fiction, which grew out of the pulps, and which was joined by British science fiction only after World War II. Why include Margaret St. Clair, Shirley Jackson or Miriam Allen de Ford as feminist writers? One might make a case for Shirley Jackson as a writer who depicts the female situation but feminism is surely more self conscious and politically explicit than this. Why not include "minor" fiction, like Marlon Zimmer Bradley's if it suits one's critical purpose? Bradley is a very popular writer whose work has certainly influenced readers. She has written at least one explicitly feminist statement, The Shattered Chain, which was part of the mini-explosion of explicitly feminist science fiction in the U.S. during the 1970s. Other books include Suzy Charnas's Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines, my 10


SFRA News/etter, No. 172, November, 7989 own The Female Man, Alice Sheldon's "Houston, Houston, Do You Read" and "The Women Men Don't See" (and possibly a few others like "Mama Come Home"), LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness, Sally Gearhart's The Wanderground, Delany's Triton, and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time. Piercy and I and Charnas and I have corresponded, as have I and Delany; Bradley named one of the characters In her book after one other the characters in mine; Alice Sheldon and I also corresponded (until her death); Piercy read all the other books; and everybody read everybody. Both by her intention--we all, as far as I know, made our intentions very clear--Bradley belongs in this group. (I think she and I did write a few letters to each other but I can't find them.) I was one of the people who read Gearhart's early stories and urged her to write more. (I even sent a geschrel to LeG uin, about which she was remarkably patient!) I hope Lathan's review will not keep anyone who is teaching women's studies, science fiction or women's literature from getting and using Lefanu's very good book. --Joanna Russ *A fan fiction has grown up about her invented world, Darkover, which has produced some originally-fan, now-professional, writers. 11


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Science Fiction Literature: A General Studies Course at Simon Bolivar University Caracas, Venezuela by Ingrid Kreksch* Although SF literature is considered to be rather elitist in our Latin American countries, we in Venezuela have taught a course on this subject at our university for some years. This has been possible thanks to the philosophy of the University founders who encourage the formation of "integral professionals," thus fostering activities not directly linked to the technical careers offered. To this end a Department for General Studies (Humanities) was set up with a Dean who is in charge of coordinating subjects extending from psychology and literature to languages and music. The course which I propose to discuss Is called "Science Fiction Worlds." This class has been offered for almost three years, first by its creator, Professor John Meehan, and later by me. As it is organized now, the course is trimestral, worth three credits and meets three hours per week. Its main objectives are: 1. To raise the level of a student's oral and written English as well as to diversify his active/passive vocabulary. 2. To acquaint the student with SF literature through the study of texts from a representative selection of authors. 3. To study the history and background of this literary genre. 4. To promote an awareness of the mechanism of creation and stylistics in literature. 5. To foster student creativity as to the possibility of designing and developing novel technological contrivances. 6. To sharpen the awareness of sociological backgrounds presented in the different texts (utopias, dystopias, etc.) Through these objectives the students should be able to acquire a degree of understanding of literary criticism, and at the same time, develop a critical approach vis a vis the technology they will be producing/working with when they have graduated. 12


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Some activities implemented in class to fulfill these objectives are: I. An oral introduction giving an historical background of the develop ment of SF as a literary genre. the stages of its development, its principle authors and major distinctions between Sf and fantasy literature. 2. An introduction into text analysis placing emphasis on the following aspects: The approach: Differentiate if the short story Is a "what If" kind, a "utopia kind," or a "dystopia"kind of plot (Asimov,AsimoY on Science Fiction). The content-plot: The description of the events narrated. The technology: The description of the technological devices de scribed in the short story. The characters: Studies of the physical and psychological character istics of human or alien characters. The point of view: Discover the point of view or voice which narrates the story with a view to understanding the Implications of understanding the author's choice. Style: The close scrutiny of the type of language used, etc. Texts The discussion of texts about SF. Aliens: The detailed analysis of aliens, classifying them according to their own characteristics. Films: The discussion of films based on SF literature, taking into account the characters, the plot and its variations compared with the original story, and the influence of the visual effects, the music and sound technology. This course is organized in such a way that the students gradually pass from a passive to an active role, starting with information which is given to them by the professor, on to later analyzing SF by themselves, and then syn thesizing the components to make up their own stories. By the end of the term they are able to write their own short stories. In this way SF stops being just another kind of literature for our students since they start linking it to the high-tech they work with daily and in this way our University honors its motto: THE UNIVERSITY OF THE FUTURE. [Professor Ingrid Kreksch is a graduate from Universidad Central de Venezuela and now teaches German, English, and French as well as Sf literature at Universidad Simon Bolivar. Ed.] 13


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Conferences SFRA XXI Conference The annual meeting of the Science Fiction Research Association will be held at the Hyatt Edgewater Hotel in Long Beach, California, June 28 to July I, 1990. Theme of this 21 st annual conference Is: SF in the FutureThere and Back Again with SFRA XXI. Proposals for sections on all topics are welcomed, as are proposals for individual papers.. Participants are sought for panels and sections concerned with SF in the future and with SF in film and television. Proposals (not to exceed one page) should be sent by January 15, 1990 to: Christine and Peter Lowentrout, SFRA XXI Conference Co-Directors, 1017 Seal Way. Seal Beach, CA 90740, or by phone, (213) 4314483. Full conference details will be In future issues. One of the first panels to be organized for the SFRA conference is Muriel Becker's, titled "New Lamps for Old: Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction." Thematically, this session will consider questions such as these: What has happened to young adult fantasy and science fiction since the early years? How does it differ from many of the materials of twenty, thirty, or forty years ago? Contact Muriel Becker, 60 Crane Street, Caldwell, New Jersey 07006 if you would like to participate in this panel. Society for Utopian Studies The fifteenth annual meeting of the Society for Utopian Studies will be held in Lexington, Kentucky at the Hyatt Regency Hotel from November 15-18, 1990. The Society is an international, interdisciplinary organization devoted to the study of both literary and experimental utopias. If you wish to organize a panel or give a paper, please contact our program chair no later than June I, 1990. Send proposals to: Dr. Susan Matarese, Dept., of Political Science, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, or phone 502) 588-6831. New Utopian Journal A new journal, Utopian Studies, the official journal of the Society for Utopian Studies has just been established. This interdisciplinary journal, published twice yearly, will replace a series of proceedings from the annual conferences and will incorporate Utopus Discovered, the previous newsletter for the association. The journal will publish articles in English and English translations of articles submitted in French, German, and Italian, plus a substantial number of book reviews. Submissions, inquiries, and books for review should be sent to: Lyman Tower Sargent, Editor, Utopian Studies, Dept. of Political Science, Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, MO 631214469. 14


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 SteliarCon XV The Science Fiction Fantasy Federation, supported by the Student Government of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will hold SteliarCon XV on April 6-8, 1990,at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, North Carolina. For Information, write: SteliarCon XV, Science Fiction Federation, Box 4, Elliott University Center, UNCG, Greensboro, NC27412. China Research Center Recently a research center for science fiction has been established in the Foreign Languages Dept., Hangzhou University, Zhejiang, People's Republic of China. It is the first research center for SF that has been developed in China. The aim and object Is to promote the writing and study of SF as a literary genre in China; to promote Chinese translation of foreign SF stories, novelettes, nouvelles, and novels as well as academic works about SF; and to promote the exchange and friendship between SF writers, editors, scholars, and publishers in China and their counterparts in other parts of the world. The center is also preparing for the publication of an SF maQazine, which will be the first of its kind in China. In its early stage, the magazine will mainly be devoted to Chinese translations of foreign SF short stories, novelettes, nouvelles, and novels in installments. Later,lt will include famous SF novels from various countries, with emphasis upon present-day works. SF writers, editors, publishers are welcome to send their published works, both old and new, to the center, including SF magazines of various kinds. If works are translated and published, the center will send them a copy of the Chinese translation of their works. They also solicit SF works and back-number magazines from SF fans, collectors as well as various institutions in every part ofthe world. Those who donate books and magazines wi. receive books ard magazines published by the center. Address inquiries or submissions to: Guo Jianzhong, Director of China Research Center for Science Fiction, Foreign Languages Dept., Hangzhou University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, People's Republic of China. 15


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Deryni Archives: The Magazine Oeryni fans of Katherine Kurtz may now order a copy of Oeryni Archives: The Magazine, Vol. 13. After a three years suspension of publication, Yvonne John and Mary Greeley have announced resumption of the magazine with a 40-page Issue. The introduction to this Issue Is by Katherine Kurtz who describes her new home In Ireland. The rest of the magazine contains stories and poems, wbile art work highlights this two color issue. The price is still $3.75 per issue. Back Issues of vol umes 1-12 are stili available, at a reduced rate of $3.00 per issue. Order directly from Oeryni Archives" The Magazine, % Yvonne John, 518 Springhill Circle, Naperville, II. 60563. (For overseas airmail, add $2.00 to your order.) Mythopoeic Society Award Winners Michael Bishop's novel Unicorn Mountain has won the 1989 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. The Return of the Shadow, volume six in a series of J.R.R. Tolkien's manuscripts edited by his son, ChristopherTolkien, is the winnerof the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award. Both awards are presented for achieve ment in fantasy by the Mythopoeic Society, an international organization devoted to the enjoyment and study of fantasy literature founded by Glen Goodknight in 1967. The winners were announced at Mythcon XX in Vancouver, B.C. on July 30. Award nominees are juried by a committee of society members. Four other finalists in the fantasy fiction category were The Last Coin by James Blaylock, Walkabout Woman by Michaela Roessner, The Nightengale by Kara Dalkey, and Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card. For more information about the Mythopoeic Society, write to PO Box 6707, Altadena, California 91001. --Mike Glyer 16


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Editorial Stubbed Toes, a Few Bruises The first issue, # 171, gave me some stubbed toes and a few bruises, but I'm an optimist--it could have been worse. And now I have a a girl to help with the keyboarding; so things are looking up. What has been wonderful about this issue, #172,is that there are some familiar things to do, regular columns, but there are also two new voices. One is from our 1988 Pilgrim winner, Joanna Russ, who has a cogent response to Rob Latham's earlier review of Sarah Lefanu's Feminism and Science Fiction. See also Pauline Morgan's review of this same book in this issue. The other new voice is one from a Venezuelan professor, Ingrid Kreksch, who sent her report at Tom Remington's urging. Most of you know that there are several countries outside the United States who have SFRA members. Professor Kreksch's comments prompted a question in my mind. What's going on in the classrooms of other countries? Is it possible to teach courses in SF and fantasy? If so, what things are considered? Send me information about your courses and I'll share it In the Newsletter. In Issue 171, two addresses in the Directory Update were Incomplete. An errata sheet was enclosed with your issue, but to provide back-up for that sheet, the addresses are: David John Wingrove, 47 Farlelgh Road, Stoke Newington, London N16 71D U.K.; and Donald and Elsie Wolheim, 6617 Clyde Street, Rego Park, NY 11374-5141. I am looking for the current address of Patricia A. Wilson, formerly of 277 Centennial St., Regina, Sk 54S 6W3 Canada. Her #171 Newsletter was returned by the post office since there was no forwarding address. An interesting anecdote from David A. Wilson, Black Mountain, NC .. was passed along to me in the editorial change. David Wilson writes, "I was in our mall bookstore and overheard a customer complaining about a book he had recently bought from the science fiction section. He was very upset with the copycat story plots, especially the way E.E. "Doc" Smith had borrowed so heavily from Star Trek." He adds, "Is nothing sacred?" --Betsy Hartst 17


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 SFRA Market Survey June 1989 I n spring 19891 sent a questionnaire to 22 American book publishers which have regularly published books about fantastic literature or film, such as Starmont House, or have occasionally published such books, such as Oxford University Press. Nine replied. I sent a similar questionnaire to 21 U.S., British and Australian journals, most of which specialize in fantastic literature or film; 18 replied. Their replies, plus other information I gathered, are the basis for this market survey. I. Book Markets My critical surveys of nonfiction books with fantastic literature, film and illustration were published in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review Annuals (Meckler) covering the years 1987 and 1988. The bibliography in the 1987 survey listed 102 books, including several booklet-length works, from U.S. and British publishers--specialty (fan-oriented), trade, library-oriented and university presses. The 1988 bibliography listed 116 titles. The range was wide, from quickly forgettable popular books to the heaviest of academic fare. The market, then, is relatively broad if not very deep, and many of the publishers in the bibliographies were not among those I wrote for this survey. I am nevertheless listing many ofthem here, for they may be receptive to an occasional proposal if they think it would fit into their publishing program. My surveys in the Meckler annuals and my annotations in the third edition (1 987) of Anatomy of Wonder provide more details about several hundred books. Each winter R.R. Bowker publishes the Literary Market Place, a comprehensive directory of American publishing which, among other things, lists all the major publishers and their staff, which will provide you with current addresses, telephone numbers and the names of many of the editors who handle acquisitions. An oversize and relatively expensive paperback, the LMP is found in most medium or large libraries, which can often provide needed information by telephone. Because of the many mergers in recent years, be sure to use the latest edition of the LMP. Also watch the SFRA Newsletter for occasional announcements that contributors are wanted, typically for reference works with many contributors. The publishers volume of the annual Books in Print lists the names and addresses of thousands of publishers, including the many toll-free 800 numbers of the larger publishers, from which you can sometimes obtain the names of key people to write (some 800 numbers are strictly for ordering, however). When no specific individual's name is shown in the following listings, I suggest you head your envelope and cover letter "Acquisitions Editor." Proposals should be 1-3 pp., double-spaced, plus a relatively brief cover letter. The proposal might be an annotated table of contents, although the exact format you adopt is not important. What is important is that the publishers have a clear and fairly detailed idea of the contents of your proposed book, its organization, etc. 18


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Many book publishers use outside readers to evaluate proposals, which is why a definite reply may take several months. You should anticipate the type of questions evaluators are asked to answer and incorporate the answers in your proposal. Two key questions deal with the market and the competition. For what audience(s) is your book intended--fellow scholars, a lay jscholar audience, or a popular audience? The library market is a key one for almost all publishers of nonfiction. Indicate the type of libraries most likely to be interested--Iarge academic, academic and public, etc. Although every book is unique, you should stress the distinctive features of your proposed book. A study of, say, the fiction of Mack Reynolds may well be the first such book, but the market is likely to be a trifle limited. A study of Le Guin will have broader appeal, but there are other books about her competing for scarce dollars. Those books should be identified, and how your proposed book differs or Is superior should be clearly stated. If your book needs illustrations, be explicit--line drawings, halftones, color plates, etc. --as these may greatly increase the cost of the book and thus red uce its likely market, or eliminate the possibility of publication altogether. If you can, provide an estimate of the total probable length of the typescript and how many months it will take you to provide a final MS from the date of signing of a contract. This is no place to go into contracts, negotiations with publishers, etc. Selections from the "Agent's Corner" series by Richard Curtis in Locus since 1980 were published as How to be Your Own Literary Agent, (Houghton Mifflin, 1983), and in Beyond the Bestseller (NAL, 1989). There is a lot of food for thought In his outspoken remarks. A few general points should be noted. Advances against future royalties, when provided, are usually very small. Royalties are usually 10% of sales, either figured on the list or the billed (net, discounted) price, and are usually paid twice yearly. Since sales of most nonfiction books about SF/fantasy are likely to be modest--500-3000 copies is a reasonable range--don't expect to retire any time soon on your royalties. If you're a contributor to an edited work, you'll receive a flatfee and no copyrightto your contribution(s); this is called "work for hire". I strongly urge you to collect at least half your fee when you agree to contribute, the balance to be paid upon receipt of a satisfactory manuscript. For convenience I'm grouping likely or possible publishers in five categories. An asterisk denotes those I suggest you consider first. Specialty Publishers These are small, sometimes one-person operations. Typically undercapitalized, they publish few books (one every year or two), spend relatively little to promote them, and often aim more at a fannish than a scholarly audience. Advent: Publisher, Box A3228, Chicago, IL 60690 Criticism, history and reference. The three volume Tuck encyclopedia is the best known. 19


SFRA News/etter, No. 172, November, 1989 Serconia Press, Box 1786, Seattle, WA 98111 Jerry Kaufman/Donald Keller. History, criticism, essay collections, emphasizing SF or fantasy. Two Aldiss collections, plus John Clute's essays. A spare time operation. Trade Publishers Carroll & Graf, 260 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10001 Mostly mass market fiction reprints, generally of good quality. Have co published with Xanadu, UK, three "100 best books" fantastic fiction guides. Crossroad/Continuum, 300 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10017 The uneven Critical Encounters series has induded author monographs and essay collections. SF and fantasy, as well as detective fiction criticism. Formerly Frederick Ungar, whose name is now a subsidiary imprint. Routledge, Chapman & Hall, 29 W. 35th St., New York, NY 100012291 An Anglo-American publisher which has apparently absorbed Methuen. Routledge is the imprint typically used for SF/fantasy criticism, mostly British in origin. *St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010 Fiction and nonfiction, the latter often of British origin and Co-published with UK publishers. Most books are trade, but some originate in the scholarly /professional books division and are aimed mostly at the library market. Don't overlook other possible trade publishers, such as Harper & Row, Doubleday, Charles Scribner's and similar firms which have occasionally published SF/fantasy criticism and reference books. Library-Oriented Publishers The library market is a critical one for almost every publisher of hardcover nonfiction (and fiction as well), but some firms market exclusively to libraries, especially expensive reference books. American Library Association, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611 An occasional reference book, mostly bibliographies or indexes, whose quality has left a lot to be desired. *Borgo Press, Box 2845, San Bernardino, CA 92406 Robert Reginald, the bibliographer/librarian, operates this press, which began with some of the first SF author monographs in the continuing Milford series, Popular Writers ofToday. The firm's scope is much broadertoday. "We are moving toward primarily reference books on specific genres, movements, or authors (particularly modern authors), in the fields of SF, horror, fantasy, mystery and detective fiction, and westerns." R.R.Bowker, 245 W. 17th St., New York, NY 10011 The prinCipal publisher for the American book trade (Publishers 20


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Weekly, etc.) and for libraries (Library Journal, many books). Mostly reference works; best known for my Anatomy of Wonder and Tymn's Horror Literature and Fantasy Literature. Facts on File, 460 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016 This firm is also a trade publisher and could be located equally well in that category. The books dealing with fantastic literature or film have been very uneven, aimed more at a popular audience. Leonard Wolf's Horror (1989) is a better quality example. Gale Research, Book Tower, Detroit, MI48226 Expensive reference books, such as the Reginald bibliographies and the Hal Hall book review and reference indexes. *Garland Publishing, Inc., 136 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016 Phyllis Korper jGary Kuris. I nterested in history j criticism, essay collections, bibliographies, indexes, all aspects of fantastic literature. Publisher of my reader guides to fantasy and horror literature. *Greenwood Press, 88 Post Road W., Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881 Marilyn Brownstein, Editor. A large scholarly publisher whose series, Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction, had about three dozen volumes by early 1989, including history, criticism, conference proceedings and occasional author studies. A few other Greenwood monographic series have included studies of fantastic literature and film The Contributions series editor is Marshall Tymn, but proposals should be sent to Brownstein. *McFarland & Co., Publishers, Box 611, Jefferson, NC 28640 Robert Franklin, President. Interested in all types of works, from reference to author and film director studies, fantastic literature and film. Has published a number of studies of B movie figures, and had some strength in the filmjTV area, although the quality of the works has been variable. Meckler Corp., 11 Ferry Lane West, Westport, CT 06880 Anthony Abbott. Interested in all types of books, SF, fantasy and horror literature, excluding film. Publishes the Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review Annual and partially underwrites production costs of the SFRA Newsletter. Has acquired rights to the author bibliographies from Underwood Miller. Scarecrow Press, Box 4167, Metuchen, NJ 08840 Norman Horrocks. Interested in history/criticism, bibliographies and indexes, any aspect of fantastic literature. Heavy emphasis on library science and reference books for libraries. *Starmont House, Inc., Box 851 Mercer Island, WA 98040 Ted Dikty, owner. Best known for the Starmont Reader Guides, author monographs of varying lengths with a semi-standardized format. SF, fantasy and horror authors have been the subjects of these guides, which tend to praise their subjects indiscriminately. Roger Schlobin is the series editor, but proposals should be sent to Dikty. Starmont also issues books in other series, including some reference works. Inadequately promotes books. Twayne Publishers, 70 Lincoln St., Boston MA 02111 Liz Traynor, Assistant Editor. Best known for the monographs in the U.S. Author Series (TUSAS) and English Author Series (TEAS), usually consensus overviews of older and contemporary authors, some of them SF 21


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 and fantasy writers. Usually fairly reliable surveys of their subjects. Twayne is a subsidiary of G.K. Hall, which earlier published a number of important (but now dated) author bibliographies and stil publishes an occasional reference work. Monographs sought on Sturgeon, Zelazny, post-1975 Vonnegut and L. Ron Hubbard. *UMI Research Press, 300 N. Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48106 Susan L. Rutledge, Acquisitions Editor. The publishing emphasis is on the arts and humanities. Earlier titles were doctoral dissertations. The Studies in Speculative Fiction series, originally edited by Robert Scholes, is now edited by Eric S. Rabkin. Its scope is wide--studies of almost any type of work or any type of fantastic or utopian literature or film will be considered. The prices tend to be a bit high because of the short print runs. University Presses Their books can range from narrowly focused studies appealing only to specialists to semi-popular works with relatively broad appeal which are sold in bookstores at full trade discount. A huge firm like Oxford University Press publishes hundreds of trade books. Few university presses have a strength in fantastic literature but many have occaslonallypublished works of InterestCalifornia, Columbia, Cambridge, Georgia, Harvard, MIT, Princeton and Yale. Listed below are those few with an apparent continuing commitment to fantastic literature. *Bowling Green University Popular Press, Bowling Green, OH 43403 Ray B. Browne, editor. Simultaneous hardcover and trade paper editions in the field of popular culture (Brown edits the Journal of Popular Culture), emphasizing hIstory and criticism. *Kent State University Press, Kent, OH 44242 Jeanne West, editor. The publisher of Extrapolation is most interested in history and criticism, particularly studies with new information and/or a thesis to develop, such as Gary Wolfe's The Known and the Unknown (1979); no essay collections as a rule. Oxford University Press, 200 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016 Published four monographs in the defunct Science Fiction Writers series and has published other valuable works, such as H. Bruce Franklin's War Stars (1988). *Southern Illinois University Press, Box 3697, Carbondale, IL 62901 Robert S. Phillips. Best known for the Eaton conference series of papers. Interested in history/criticism and author studies. Textbook Publishers Although almost any book can be used in a classroom, textbooks are specifically designed for such use and normally have a critical apparatus accompanying the text--questions, notes, suggestions for further reading, 22


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 etc. Muriel R. Becker's chapter in the third edition of my Anatomy of Wonder provides a thorough survey of all print and AjV materials issued by late 1986. There are many text publishers or text divisions of larger trade publishers like Harcourt or Houghton Mifflin. Some specialize in the el-hi market, others in the college market. Gunn's The Road to Science Fiction (A V, 1977-82) was an unusual example of a mass market anthology well-adapted to classroom use but is unfortunately out of print. The Cliffs Notes and Monarch series provide elementary introductions and glosses. II. Periodicals Most of these specialize in fantastic literature or film. A few more general magazines are listed at the end. You may also wish "to browse through Bill Katz's Magazines for Libraries (5th ed, 1986; 6th ed, 1989), a standard reference/selection tool available in most libraries. The Tymn and Hall indexes to the secondary literature reveal that articles/essays appear in many out of the way journals besides the core ones listed below. Several times yearly the monthly Science Fiction Chronicle (Box 2730, Brooklyn, NY 11202-0056) publishes a market report for books and magazines, mostly for fiction but occasionally including nonfiction. The monthly Locus (Box 13305, Oakland, Ca 94661) less systematically includes market Information. The Books Received bibliographies list U.S. and British books, including nonfiction, which might suggest prospects for your proposals. The basic editorial guidelines are much the same for most journals: double-spaced text in black ink on letter-sized white paper, 1 to 1 1/2 inch margins, using a clear, dark ribbon (dot matrix printed originals are often fairly light and can be darkened when photocopied). If you submit your text in electronic format, inquire to insure that your diskette will be usable/ compatible by the publisher. Include return postage or international card for the editor's reply. Most journals prefer end notes rather than footnotes. Follow the journal's style sheet, if any, or the latest MLA style sheet. An abstract is useful with the article/essay or could be included with a letter of query. Unless otherwise indicated, these guidelines apply to all publications; only one copy of the MS need be submitted; submissions are not refereed; copyright is in author's name; accepted submissions, aside from copies of the issue, as noted. Australian Science Fiction Review. Ebony Books, GPO Box 1294K, Melbourne, Victoria 3001, Australia. Ed. by SF Collective (Jenny & Russell Blackford, John Foyster, Yvonne Rousseau, Janeen Webb). 4 issues/year. 35-40 pages/issue. Circ. 250. Sample, U.S.$4. SF criticism and review journal for both academic and general readers, including discussion of related mainstream fiction, literary theory, philosophy of science, future studies. About four articles per issue, 3000-6000 words, 7 book reviews, 8002000 words, letters. Interviews and film criticism infrequent but welcomed. Reporting time, 4 weeks; to publication, 6 months. One copy of issue and following two issues provided contributors. 23


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Cinefantastique. ed. by Frederick S. Clarke. Box 270, Oak Park, IL 60303. 5 issues/year. Circ. 21,000. Sample issue free to SFRA members. About 60-90 pages/issue (occasional double Issues). Many color and b&w illustrations and printed on quality stock. Comprehensive, detailed coverage of all types of fantastic cinema, a typical issue contains four major articles, 2500-10.000 words, about 20 shorter pieces, Including news, 150-1000 words, an occasional retrospective essay with filmography, film reviews (500-1500 words). No book or record reviews. Four week average reporting time; 2+ months to publication. Payment on publication, $.05/word. Several copies furnished contributor. Query first. Particularly desired are articles covering films In production, in U.S. or abroad. Extrapolation, ed. by Thomas D. Clareson & Donald M. Hassler. Hassler, English Dept, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242. 4 Issues/year. 90-100 pages/issue. Circ. 1000. Sample, $5. The oldest and probably best known academic journal contains 6-8 articles/essays 3000-4000 words, one bibliographic essay, 4500 words, every four Issues, and five book reviews averaging 1500 words per issue. Two copies of MS required. Follow MLA parenthetical style. Reporting time, 8 weeks; to publication, 12 months. 6 copies furnished. Fantasy Commentator, ed. by A. Langley Searles, 48 Highland Circle, Bronxville NY 10778-5909. Formerly annual, g0ing to semi-annual in 1989. About 76 pages/issue (8 1 /2X11, offset from typescript). Circ.500. Sample, $2. 3-5 articles, 3000 words and up (much longer articles have appeared serially), emphasizing history of SF and fantasy; 2-6 book reviews, 700-3000 words, both current and older titles worthy of reemphasis; 2-5 poems, 50 lines or fewer, with sonnets favored; letters welcomed. Aimed at serious readers, but clarity and avoidance of academic jargon essential. Query only if contribution is more than 7000 words. See sample issue for preferred style. Contents copyrighted in editor's name, but individual copyrights given (contributor must apply for copyright directly). Reporting time 1-2 weeks; 3-12 months to publication. Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction, ed. by Edward James. Science Fiction Foundation, Polytechnic of East London, Longbridge Rd, Dagengam, RM8 2AS, England. 3 issUes(year. 104 pages/issue. Circ. c. 1000. Sample, $6. Serious articles on al aspects of SF, and occasionally fantasy, written for both general and academic readers. Five or six articles, 5000-6000 words typically, but has run 15-20,000 word articles. Occasional film reviews. poetry. Many book reviews (10 +), 1000-3000 words (John Clute, reviews editor). Many letters. Not refereed but all pieces reviewed by at least two editors. Reporting time, 3-4 weeks; up to 6 monthsfor publication. 2 copies of issue furnished contributors. 24


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Journey ofthe Fantastic in the Arts, ed. by Carl B. Yoke. 1157Temple Trail, Stow, OH 44224. 4 issuesfyear (5 in 1990). 96 + pages/issue. Circ. est. 300. Sample, $6. The newest of the academic journals and the one with the widest coverage, including all types of fantastic literature, drama, music and art. Issues typically average about 30,000 words, comprised of about six articles, 3500-5000 words, and occasional bibliographic essays and interviews. Some special topic issues. Query recommended. Three copies of MS required. New MLA style sheet. Refereed. Reporting time, 12 + weeks. Lovecraft Studies, ed. by S.T. JoshI. Necronomicon Press, 101 Lockwood St., West Warwick, RI 02893. Semi annual. 40 pages/issue. Circ. 500. Sample, $4.50. Scholarly studies on the life, work and thought of H.P. Lovecraft; secondarily, studies on Lovecraft's relations with his predecessors and contemporaries; and studies on Lovecraft's influence on later writers (query first on last category). Typical issue contains five articles, 1000-8000 words, three book reviews, 500-1500 words, brief notes. One copy of MS. MLA style sheet. Copyright with journal for one year, reverting to author. Reporting time, 3 weeks; to publication, 6 months. 2 copies furnished. The New York Review of Science Fiction, Dragon Press, Box 78, Pleasantville, NY 10570. Kathryn Cramer, features editor; David G. Hartwell, reviews editor; Susan Palwick, short fiction editor. Monthly. 24 pages/issue. Circ. 1000. Sample, $2.50. Reviews and essays on SF, fantasy and horror literature. About five articles, 1000 + words, 8-10 book reviews, 500 + words. Query first. One copy (print or Macintosh MS Word diskette). Reporting time, 2-5 weeks; 1-3 months to publication. $10/review; $25/essay. Riverside Quarterly, ed. by Leland Sapiro, Box 464, Waco, TX 76703. Irregular. 64 pages/issue. Circ. 1100. Sample, $2. Scope includes both SF and fantasy, mostly modern (say 1950+ ), with occasional looks back. 3-5 book reviews, 2-4 film reviews, 10-12 poems, under 50 lines, 15-20 illustrations, occasional fiction under 3500 words. One copy of MS; examine sample issue for style. Reporting time, one week; to publication, 12 months. 4 copies furnished. Science Fiction: A Review of Speculative Literature, ed. by Van Ikin, English Dept. University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA 6009.3 issues/ year, 28-36 pages/issue. Circ.1500. Sample, Aus$7. Emphasis on literary SF, chiefly 20th century and by living authors. Typical Issue has two articles, 1500-3000 words, and occasional interview, about ten reviews, 400-1200 words, with audience ranging from general readers to academics. Submit 2 copies of MS. Refereed. Reporting time, 10 weeks; 12-15 months to publication. 3 copies furnished. 25


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Science-Fiction Studies, ed. by Robert M. Philmus & Charles Elkins. English Dept, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal, Canada H4B IR6. 3 issues/year, 120 pages/issue. Circ. 1000. Sample, U.S.$4. History and criticism of SF and utopian fiction, excluding fantasy except for comparison ... Essays should make some general (and preferably theoretical) pOint, though those more narrowly focused will be considered for the Notes section." Rigorously academic, a typical issue includes six articles, 3200-7500 words, about ten book reviews (commissioned), 5003000 words, occasional bibliographic essays and interviews, and shorter articles called Notes, 1000-3500 words. Two copies of MS diskette OK but inquire for details, follOWing house style sheet (request). Refereed. Reporting time 6-8 weeks, 3-6 months to publication. Potential contributors should familiarize themselves with journal. Approximately 20 free offprints. Thrust-Science Fiction & Fantasy Review, ed. by D. Douglas Fratz, 8217 Langport Terrace, Gaithersburg, MD 20877. Quarterly. 32 pages/ issue. Circ. 1800. Sample, $2.50. Hugo-nominated review magazine aimed at knowledgeable readers, fans, professionals. About four articles, 3000-SOOO words, one interview, 3000-5000, 20 book reviews, 100-600, occasional film reviews, 100-600, illustrations, 1/10 page to full page. Request editorial guidelines with SASE. Reporting time, 4-6 weeks; 2-6 months to publication. $.Ol/word on publication, one copy furnished. Studies in Weird Fiction, ed. by S.T. Joshi. Necronomicon Press, 101 Lockwood St., West Warrick, RI 02893. Semi-annual. 40 pages/issue. Circ. 500. Sample, $4.50. "Scholarly studies on weird fiction (horror, supernatural, fantasy) subsequent to Poe, including such writers as Arthur Machen, Lord Dunsany, Algernon Blackwood, Ambrose Bierce, Shirley Jackson, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, T.E.D. Klein, etc.; also theoretical studies on the nature and parameters of weird fiction." Five articles, 10008000 words, four book reviews, 500-1500 words, three brief notes, 250-500 words. MLA style sheet. Copyright with journal for one year, reverting to author. Reporting time, 3 weeks; 6 months to publication. 2 copies furnished. Compare Lovecraft Studies, above, from same publisher. College English ed. by James C. Raymond. National Council for Teachers of English, 1111 Kenyon Rd., Urbana, IL 61801. 8 issues/year. English instructors, the scholarly articles emphasize pedagogy, comparative literature and critical theory. Four articles, about 30 pages average, 1-2 commissioned book reviews, 10 pages, poetry, 8 pages, and letters. Two copies of MS; MLA style sheet. Refereed. Reporting time, 3-4 months; to publication, 6 months. 2 copies furnished. 26


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Journal of Modern Literature, ed. by Morton P. Levitt, 921 Anderson Hall, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122. 3 issues/year. 160 pages/ issue (occasional double issues). Circ.2000. Sample, $5. Scholarly articles on mostly 20th century literature/authors. 12 articles, averaging 20 pages; book reviews, 250 words. Queryfirst. Refereed. Reportingtime8-12weeks; 2 years to publication. 3 copies furnished contributor. Journal of Popular Culture, ed. by Ray B. Browne. Popular Culture Center, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43402. Quarterly. 180 pages/issue. Circ.3000. Sample, $5. All aspects of popular culture are considered--print, entertainment, hobbies, sports, etc. Articles average about 15 pages (roughly 6000 words). Request style sheet. Refereed. Reporting time, 6 weeks; to publication 18 months. 25 offprints. Modern Fiction Studies, ed. by William T. Stafford, English Dept., Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907. Quarterly. 200-275 pages/ issue. Circ. 3800. "Devoted to criticism, scholarship and bibliography of fiction in all modern languages since about 1880. The Spring and Autumn issues are special numbers concerned with Individual writers or special topics. The SUmmer and Winter issues are general numbers on various writers and subjects." 4-8 articles, 4000-7000 words, notes & discussion, 500-4000 words, one bibliographic essay (in special numbers). 4000-7000 words, occasional interviews, 4000-7000 words, 100-150 commissioned book reviews, 500 words. Two copies of MS; MLA Style sheet. copyright by Purdue University Foundation, but permission to reprint granted to author. Reporting time, 2-4 months; 6-18 months to publication. Two copies and 40 offprints furnished. --Neil Barron 27


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 REVIEWS Non-Fiction America as Gothic Horror Show Gross, Louis S. Redefining the American Gothic: From "Wieland" to "Day of the Dead." UMI Research Press, 1989. 112 p. $18.95. ISBN 08357-1901-4. In his vast essay Love and Death in the American Novel (Criterion, 1960; rev. Stein & Day, 1966), Leslie Fiedler argues that the Gothic mode is central to American fiction, which he describes as "a literature of horror for boys." For Louis S. Gross, the Gothic is "as much a mode of perception as it is a mode of representation." Gross argues that American Gothicistslargely individuals from marginalized social groups of" 'marginal' figures in the dominant culture" that he identifies as responsible for most American Gothic texts: women, gays, and minorities (Indians and blacks), showing in each case how these writers foregrounded American cultural anxieties by projection onto the monstrous Other. Thus, for example, the Dark Woman in such stories as Edgar Allan Poe's "Ligeia" (1838) functions as "an iconographic inscription of patriarchal ambivalence towards women." Gross first shows how Charles Brockden Brown in Wieland (1796) and Henry James in "the Jolly Corner" (1905) used the Gothic mode to contravene the conventional early American myth of the New World an New Eden: America as a place of benevolent transformation and redefinition of the self. Then (in his least persuasive chapter), Gross extends the idea of Gothic as historical critique to two American historical romances, Esther Forbes' A Mirror for Witches (1928) and James Fennimore Cooper's Lionel Lincoln (1825). in the latter work, for example, Gross interprets the (personal) crisis of identity of Cooper's young, naive Gothic hero as a metaphor for a (national) crisis of American identity. One of the greatest strengths of Redefining the American Gothic is its intelligent eclecticism. In his chapter on women in American Gothic fiction, for example, Gross chooses as one of his texts for analysis Oliver Wendell Holmes' Elsie Venner (1861). Turning how the Gothic's fore grounding of "perverse" sexual relationships, Gross discusses not only Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839) but also Nathaniel Haw thorne's "Alice Doane's Appeal" (1835) and John Rechy's City of Night (1963). And as examples of the minority as Other he considers the mulatto Dianthe Lusk in Pauline Hopkins' Of One Blood; orthe Hidden Self (19023) and Roi, the central character of Imamu Amiri Baraka's The System of Dante's Hell (1975). 28


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Gross is at his best on "the natural heir to the Gothic tradition," the American horror film. His chapter "Freeze Frames" contains a spirited and stimulating analysis of the subversive juxtaposition in American horror films of (culturally defined) normality and the extravagantly monstrous. Drawing power from American fears that remain repressed in mainstream art, such films as Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and George Romero's zombie trilogy reconfigure that idyll of American Domesticity, the modern bourgeois family, into a breeding ground for monsters. Although Gross' remarks often call to mind those of Robin Wood (e.g., Chaps. 5 and 6 of Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan (Columbia University Press, 1986)), his observations contain much that is original. Indeed, Gross' ideas are so provocative and well-reasoned that one wishes he had elaborated them In a wider context. As it stands, this important though brief contribution to the short list of scholarly works on Gothicism in American fiction should be read in conjunction with Fiedler's book, the relevant chapters of Stephen King's Danse Macabre (Everest House, 1981), and Donald A. Ringe's critical history American Gothic: Imagination and Reason in Nineteenth-Century Fiction (Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1982). At its best, Redefining the American Gothic suggests why the Gothic vision of the nightmare of history mode was and remains central to American fiction. --Michael A. Morrison Women Author's Impact on SF Lefanu, Sarah. In the Chinks of the World Machine: Feminism in Science Fiction. The Women's Press, London, March 1988, 224 p., 5.95L ISBN 0-7043-4092-5. Once SF was regarded, in some quarters, as the male equivalent of women's romance fiction. This may have been true in the 1950's but since then SF has matured and female writers are accepted proponents of the genre. The feminist movement has tried to claim many of them. In In the Chinks of the World Machine, Sarah Lefanu has examined the contribution women have made in the science fiction field and the extent to which the themes they have explored could only have been tackled by them. The book is divided into two parts. In the first part each chapter looks at an idea, such as Utopias, Dystopias, Amazons or Matriarchal Societies and considers and compares a number of works dealing with it (the extensive bibliography at the end of the volume shows how thorough Lefanu has been in her research). The second part discusses in more detail the work of four prominent women writers and there seems to be a progression in her choice. The first is James Tiptree Jr. Even with the kind of analysis Lefanu subjects her work to, she fails to make a case for Tiptree as a feminist writer. Le Guin, the second of her authors, also cannot be easily committed to this group. Her writing is powerful; she deals with important issues but not always from the 29


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 female perspective; her societies cannot always be regarded as feminist creations. She chooses the best means that are necessary to make her point. Suzy McKee Charnas is more clearly a feminist writer in hertwo novels Walk to the end of the World and Motherlines though her other books are less positively so. At the far end of the spectrum is Joanna Russ, the fourth author discussed. Her work is so intrinsically tied to the condition of womanhood and cannot really be classed as anything but feminist. What Lefanu has shown by her exploration Is that women writers have much to offer SF, and some of it could only be produced from the female imagination but the importance of this book is probably the analysis of the four target writers. --Pauline Morgan Uneven Critical Glimpses of Neglected Writers Schweitzer, Darrell, eel. Discovering Modem Horror Fiction II. Stannont House, 1988. 169 p. $9.95 pb. ISBN 0-916732-93. In his introduction to Discovering Modern Horror Fiction II editor Darrell Schweitzer declares his agreeably modest conception for this series: "[I]t is useful to think of the Discovering Modern Horror series as typical volumes of Stephen King criticism--only about everybody else .... Laudable goals indeed--but their realization by Schweitzer's diverse contributors has produced a volume that is both important and frustrating. Actually, a few of the four reprints and 12 original essays in Discovering Modern Horror Fiction II are quite a bit better than typical Stephen King criticism. Schweitzer leads with an excellent analysis by Bernadette Bosky of Peter Straub's horror fiction, from Julia (1979) through Floating Dragon (1983), that illuminates matters of structure and influence in the intricate novels of this writer, one of many who have not received the critical attention their work deserves. Also excellent are reprinted essays by T.E.D. Klein on Ramsey Campbell and by Campbell of James Herbert. In his 1986 defense of Herbert's novels, Campbell notes their distinctively British attitude towards class and then coherently, if briefly, sketches Herbert's growth from The Rats (1974) through Domain (1984). Klein's chatty "appreciation" of Campbell's short fiction is invaluable for its close analysis of fictional tech niques Campbell developed in his ground-breaking collection Demons by Daylight (1973). Unfortunately but unavoidably, this essay, originally pub lished in 1974, is critically dated--as Campbell's recent 25-year retrospective Dark Feasts (London: Robinson, 1987) shows, his themes and techniques have evolved far beyond those of that early breakthrough book. But the finest essay here is Steve Eng's look at "Three Poets of Horror: Tierney, Breiding, and Brennan" --a contentious, insightful examina tion that begins to redress the almost total critical neglect of horror poetry. Laced with Eng's strong (anti-modernist) aesthetic views, this essay com30


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 prises a pocket history of supernatural verse and substantial analyses of the strengths (and weaknesses--Eng is nothing if not opinionated) of the poetry of Richard L. Tierney, G. Sutton Breiding, and Joseph Payne Brennan. Eng's thoughtful commentary Is sure to make lovers of the supernatural eager to seek out the works of these three poets and may even provoke some to reconsider the place of verse In the literature of horror. Other essayists in this volume consider many a worthy writer: Fritz Leiber, Robert Aickman, Michael McDowell, Robert Bloch, David Case, Charles L. Grant, Joseph Payne Brennan, Michael Shea, John Collier, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Peter Tremayne. But the quality oftheir essays is uneven--and generally low. Indeed, it's a pity that editor Schweitzer did not demand of his other writers the qualities that Inform his own essay (here reprinted) on Ray Bradbury's horror fiction. Schweitzer carefully situates Bradbury's works in the context of 20th-century pulp American horror fiction, balances appropriately brief plot sketches with critical commen tary, and is judicious with both praise and faultfinding. Too many other contributors simply plod through one plot summary after another, then terminate their ramblings with vague but hyperbolic paroxysms of praise. Still, even the weakest of these essays contains useful nuggets of information. And, because the writers considered herein have been so neglected, readers, scholars, and libraries with a serious Interest in mod ern horror fiction will definitely want this volume (and its predecessor: Starmont House, 1985). One hopes that Schweitzer's series will continue (Starmont House has also announced a series on "Classic Horror Fiction") and that he will secure more essays that do justice to the fiction they discuss. --Michael A. Morrison I FICTION I British SF Magazine Clute, John; Pringle, David; and Ounsley, Simon. Editors Interzone: the Third Anthology. Simon & Schuster UK, London, October 1988. 181 p. 10.95L hc. ISBN 0-671-69944-X. Interzone. the magazine, has gained a reputation for publishing bizarre/difficult/pretentious/innovative stories--take your pick of the ad jectives. It is a worthy successor to New Worlds which older readers will remember. The selection in this anthology represents Interzone's best and are all fine examples of the craft of writing. A wide range of subjects and styles are present within these pages, from the Victorian feel of "The 31


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Only One" by David S. Garnett to the far future jargon of "Krash-Bangg Joe and the Pineal-Zen Equation" by Eric Brown. There is dark fantasy from Kim Newman in "The Next-But-One Man", and more traditional SF in Pat Murphy's "His Vegetable Wife". There are famous names and newcomers worth watching. If you are wondering whether to take out a subscription a support Britain's only real SF magazine, try this first, it is an excellent taster. --Pauline Morgan Where is the Plot? D'Ammassa, Don, Blood Beast. Pinnacle, NY, Oct. 1988, 384 p., $3.95, ISBN 1-55817-096-0. Blood Beast opens in Managansett, Rhode Island in 1933, with a very eccentric man decorating his very strange house with a very grotesque gargoyle. An "accidental" death that occurs during the installation of the statue proves the first of many blood offerings the beast will exact from Managansett residents over the next 50 years. This pretty much describes everything that happens in Blood Beast. It is not enough to sustain a novel nearly 400 pages long, but Don D'Am massa seems to know this. Working a variation on the usual monster story formula, he purposely keeps the gargoyle a shadowy presence for most of the book. His real concern is the emotionally-twisted men and women who fall under the statue's evil influence. Although they commit acts of cruelty and violence at the gargoyle's silent bidding, their behavior is not at all inconsis tent with their thoroughly rotten personalities. they are the true monsters. Blood Beast is as much a character study as a supernatural horror story, which means its success depends on solid character development. Unfortunately, this is not one of D'Ammassa's strengths. His characters don't develop so much as they enlarge: nasty little kids grow into bigger, nastier adults; sweet little kids grow into wimpy adults who make perfect fist fodder for their nasty counterparts. This is adequate for advancing the story, but it makes for very tedious reading. Even D'Ammassa seems to be aware of these deficiencies of style, for we are ever aware of him tinkering behind the scenes to make his story work. Playing the role of intrusive narrator, he frontloads his chapters with information that ought to emerge gradually through interaction between his characters. Also, he can't resist commenting on events to set the proper tone, often with amusing results. For example, when a mean kid ties firecrackers to the backs of frogs and sets them off toward a lake, D'Am massa writes: "None of them made it, of course; they carried their fates with them, as we all do in one fashion or another." Readers in search of an actual plot for Blood Beast must wait until the last chapter, where it's revealed that all the bad characters have been engaged unwittingly in a contest to see who is the nastiest. The "winner" is 32


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 then absorbed by the gargoyle, which promptly goes on a rampage to kill the few remaining good characters whom the bad ones missed. That sums up this book perfectly: a long prelude to an anti-climax. --Richard Michaels Teen-Age Vampire Engstrom, Elizabeth, Black Ambrosia. Tor, NY, March 1988, pb, 341p., $3.95, ISBN 0-812-51751-2. While it does not take an entirely original approach to the vampire story, Elizabeth Engstrom's Black Ambrosia does take liberties with the conventional vampire story format, and forthe most part it succeeds. Engstrom'svampire is Angelina Watson, a teen-ager who develops her predatory instincts while drifting from town to town. In each place, she stays Just long enough to learn something new about her nature or until suspicion makes it necessary for her to move on. Herfirst feeding, a potential rapist, she justifies as self-defense. But shortly thereafter, she becomes the aggressor, butchering even those people whom she befriends when her needs dictate. By the time she accepts her vampirism, two people in her life have set it on course towards the story's inevitable climax: an anima figure who instructs Angelina in the use of her vampire abilities, and Boyd Turner, a near-lover who recognizes Angelina for what she is and stalks her from town to town. Narrated mostly in the first person, as though It were a personal diary, Black Ambrosia recalls earlier sympathetic portrayals of the vampire such as Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire and Robert Alckman's "Page's from a Young Girl's Notebook." But the vampire story to which it is most akin is George Romero's 1977 film Martin, in which an adolescent male's bloodthirsty urges are more likely a consequence of emotional disturbance than of any supernatural agency. No climactic moment heralds Angelina's vampirism. Her hunger, which develops shortly after the death of her beloved mother, seems as much emotional as physical. Indeed, until her habits become pathological, each of her kills can be seen as fulfilling some need for intimacy or sexual longing. Her diary entries even conjure the vision of a high school girl sorting out her feelings as she ponders her first romances. Although strained by the end of the novel, Engstrom's efforts to sustain the uncertaintyofwhether Angelina's vampirism is genuine or merely a psychological aberration gives the narrative a powerful tension, even as Angelina's kills begin to blend with one another and lose their individual significance. One would expect Angelina to be the most compelling figure in the book, and she is, partly because Engstrom fails to supply the reader with anyone to rival her in interest. Even Boyd, who is seen as having unique a relationship with Angelina because he alone can kill her, keeps a low profile, appearing only in short annotations at the end of Angelina's diary entries. This is an inherent problem of first person narratives, though, and Engstrom must be credited with avoiding many of its potential complications. A marked 33


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 improvement over her 1986 novel, When Darkness Loves Us, Black Ambrosia is a better-than-average novel written by steadily growing writer. --Richard Michaels Locus of Horror Fowler, Christopher, City Jitters. Dell, NY, August 1988,208 p., pb, $3.50,0-440-20115-2-350. Fowler, Christopher, More City Jitters. Dell, NY, September 1988, 208 p., pb, $3.50, 0-440-20146-2-350. Fowler, Christopher, Roofworld. Ballantine, NY, September 1988,333 p., pb, $7.95, 0-345-35701-9. Although not written to integrate as a single unit, Christopher Fowler's two short fiction collections and first novel are bound together by a common theme: the modern city as a locus of horror. The stories in City Jitters and More City Jitters do fit together because Fowler plugs them into the same narrative frame: Andrew Norris, en route from England to the Florida Keys, is stranded between flights and forced to endure a layover in New York City. In City Jitters, he spends the hellish sort of night out-of-towners rue: panhandlers pester him, cab drivers take him (metaphorically) for a ride and hookers roll him. His experiences serve as brief seriocomic interludes separating the "city jitters," longer stories that each of his misfortunes suggests. The structure of City Jitters calls to mind Amicus horror film "anthologies" such as Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1964) and Torture Garden (1967). Were Amicus still producing such movies, the collection would be tailor-made for adaptation: in one story, the ramps of an inescap able parking garage lead to Hell; in another, a video game takes over a man's mind; yet another involves a psychotic cabbie. Fowler works out each tale's premise with a minimum of character development and atmosphere. Only "Vanishing Acts," a ghost story in which two schoolboys stumble upon a haunted strip joint, is memorable. If City Jitters reminds readers of a movie, More City Jitters will remind them of a comic book. In this "sequel," Fowler strands Norris on a broken elevator with an assortment of messengers, yuppie businessmen and liberated women. The tales their conversations give rise to read like updates of the ghastly revenge stories that once graced the pages of Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror: in one, three spurned women dispatch their sexist employer; in another, a health and exercise nut is done in by his athletic equipment. The characters in these stories are no more than caricatures, and Fowler's glibness fails to bring them to life. Roofworld is the more compelling of Fowler's three books. It proposes that a small society of men and women unable to adjust to normal life in contemporary London have taken to inhabiting the city rooftops. 34


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Rappelling up the sides of buildings when no one Is looking and sliding along wires stretched between skyscrapers, they live like latter-day Tarzans in the urban jungle. What Fowler's novel lacks in credibility, it makes up for in pacing. Roofworld is a suspense thriller in which two factions of the rooftop societyone composed of determined roof dwellers dedicated to the preservation of their world, the other a band of petty criminals who do the bidding of a megalomaniacal leader--fight a turf battle hundreds of feet above the city streets. It moves briskly, provides the reader with a number of interesting characters and is full of (literally) cliffhanging scenes. Yet one wishes that Fowler had developed the roofworld as more than just a high-altitude setting for a gang war. He never gives the reader a very good idea of what life aboveground is like or how roofworld dwellers manage to survive. He Introduces several interesting Ideas that would have given the book more substance--the roofworlders can tap Into the computer banks of the city's greediest corporations whenever they need money; the "good" roofworlders embrace solid working class values while the "bad" roofworlders are made up of junkies, skinheads, streetpunks and hooligansbut never develops them. Roofworld is an entertaining novel, but one puts it down feeling it could have been better. --Richard Michaels Historical Romance Herbert, Kathleen. Bride of the Spear. Bodley Head, London June 1988. 297 p., 11.95L hc, ISBN 0-370-31195-7. I cannot vouch forthe historical accuracy of this book (I have been told that its predecessors Queen of the Lightning and Ghost in Sunlight leave a lot to be desired in this area) but it is a fast moving, enjoyable tale. It is not strictly fantasy but belongs to that ever-increasing group of novels set in post-Roman Britain during the period when Christianity was gradually supplanting the old Druidic religion. This story concerns Taniu, the daughter of Loth king of Lothian, and the bid of Owain, heir to Cumbria, to win her as his wife. She is reluctant towed a man she has never met and claims that she would rather live in a pigsty than be forced into marriage. What she does not know is that her stepmother has already used her in a pagan rite to ensure her own fertility and Taniu's fear stems partly from these dimly remembered events. In many ways this is a historical romance though many of the characters actually existed. It is not touched with legend in the same way as Diana Paxon's The White Raven, a novel set in roughly the same period and based on the story of Tristan and Isolde. Though there are many similar ingredients, Paxon's novel is the more powerful and magical story. --Pauline Morgan 35


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Parasitic Horror Laymon, Richard, Flesh. Tor, NY, Oct. 1988, 407p., $3.95,ISBNO-81252110-2. By the time I was 50 pages into Flesh, I was sure Richard Laymon had written a satire. A sort of malefic hookworm is terrorizing a small college town, burrowing through its victim's flesh, taking over their brains and using their bodies to commit wanton carnage. All the while this goes on, the only concern in the minds of the potential victims is who to take to bed. As the scenes of preand post-coital mutilation piled up, I kept waiting for Laymon to develop his novel Into a camp version of Friday the 13th for the college crowd. But after awhile, I realized that Laymon wasn't joking. Bedhopping and brain eating (the monster's favorite form of sustenance) are all Flesh has to offer, and Laymon means for the readerto take it seriously. Never have sex and death, the staples of schlock horror, been so ill-used. To its credit, Flesh is a page-turner, but for all the wrong reasons. It is woefully short on details, like where it takes place and where its monster comes from. Laymon achieves a modicum of suspense by killing off major characters, thereby showing that no one Is safe from the monster's preda tions. However, his characters are so underdeveloped (except for their sex drives) that their deaths barely make an impact on the reader's emotions. We merely marvel at their capacity for stepping stupidly into every trap set for them. Even the mood of paranoia a story like this should generate--the monster could be anyone--is dissipated. Laymon plots so methodically that it's easy to predict who will become the next vessel for the monster. The plot of Flesh begs comparison to a number of precursors, ranging from Heinlein's The Puppet Masters (1951) to the 1987 film The Hidden--but there is none. Where these variations on the theme of "para site" horror are inspired, Laymon's novel is merely insipid. --Richard Michaels Another Vis Saga Lee, Tanith, The White Serpent NY: DAW Books, 1988; ISBN 0-88677267-2; paperback, $3.95. Tanith Lee's The White Serpent is set in the Vis universe already in The Storm Lord and Anackire. Here Lee continues the saga of that many raced world with its moving patterns of light and dark peoples, forever at odds, forever fascinated by one another. Its gladiator-hero, Rheger, descen dent of priests and kings, lives a century after the era of the first two novels. The balance achieved at the end of Anackire has de-stabilized, and racial strife grows again in Vis. The structure of the novel is the stately dance of women's lives around the meteoric career of its hero. It is the women who create and carry 36


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 this saga of Vis; their characters live more vividly than the hero they bear and destroy. Patient Tibo, Rheger's mother, is a study in bare-bones survival. Panduv, the fire-dancer, lives by art and wit, crafting a life of her own from violent reversals of fortune. Aztira, the psychically gifted "white witch," learns the use of power through her abuse of It. Uke most of Lee's fantasies, this novel Is dense and heaviiy wrought, playing out its themes on several levels. Lee has the ability to transport the reader to worlds as fantastic as any conceived by H. Rider Haggard, and to do it in far more literary style. Her fantasy has a firm grounding in the human realities of pain, blood, food and sex--nobody achieves easy victories in Lee's gut-level worlds--not even a hero " the endeavors of some genius artisan," a hero who is a sculptor himself. Sexual ity is integral to the novels Lee has set In Vis, for the sexuality of the characters facilitates racial mixing, blurring the edges of Visian hatred. Also, sexual choices drive and limit the lives of the women. Lee's scenes of love or lust are richly rendered, but unlike similar episodes in the work of such writers as Janet E. Morris or Philip Jose Farmer, they exist not to arouse or titillate the reader, but to give a fuller dimension to the characters' pavane of life and death, its measure struck, after all by lust. This novel, like the others in its group, portrays an heroic quest, Rheger's pursuit ofthe almost supernatural Aztira. It begins with a birth, and ends with one, and the getting of both children occurs in scenes intended to provide parentheses around the story, which seems to be an interlude in the bloody wars of Vis. The ending leads on, the stage set for further conflicts, with tenuous links now forged to Lee's earliest full-length work, The Birthgrave. As always, Lee's fantasy is well worth reading, and bears re reading; The White Serpent is recommended, and may easily be read outside the context of its series. --Lillian Heldreth Plot Cliches, but Marvelous Kilworth, Garry. Cloudrock. Unwin Hyman, London, May 1988. Hc. 11.95 L. 160p. ISBN 0-04-440166-3. It is said that there are no really new ideas in SF, and that originality must be found in the combination and treatment of plot cloches. Garry Kiiworth shows this to be true in Cloudrock by taking themes of Romeo and Juliet and of rebels escaping from a society with which they disagree, and by making an extremely powerful story out of the combination. Cloud rock is a small plateau balanced on a pillar. It is inhabited by deceptively primitive people who practice both marriage within the family and cannibalism. They kill any imperfect babies by tossing them over the edge of the world--except for one crippled child who is allowed to grow up, who is a non-person, ignored by everybody, and who narrates this marvelous short novel. --Chris Morgan 37


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Hope for Planet Pioneers Mann, Philip. Pioneers. Gollancz, london, July 1988, 320 p. 11.95 l. hc. ISBN 0-575-04281-8. Pioneers begins slowly, almost gently, with the waking of Angelo and Ariadne from suspended animation. They are a Rescue Team sent out from Earth to collect and return the pioneers, men and women who went ahead to prepare new planets for mankind to colonize. But the people never followed and the population of Earth Is now in crisis. They need the skills and undamaged genes of those who left. But the Teams are gone so long each time that the only unchanging things in their lives are the other Rescue Teams. Angelo and Ariadne are artificial people and unable to reproduce. Their spaceships are becoming increasingly difficult to repair and a number of Teams have been lost. The world they return to Is increasingly bleak. Philip Mann has used so many familiar SF ideas that it is surprising that there isn't more of a sense of deja vu. It is a measure of his skill that elements such as cloning, genetic engineering and regeneration are mixed so smoothly with the themes of prejudice, dying civilizations and the ultimate quest. Even the slow build-up is not distracting as it reveals the background little by little. This may be due to the choice of narrator, Angelo, who as a genetic construct convinces the reader that his kind who have no status or accepted existence as real people by humans, are caring, sympathetic individuals deserving of a future. Ultimately this is a novel about hope. The problem is not to succumb to the pressures and to keep fighting. --Pauline Morgan Scaffold of a Story March, Melisand, The Site. St. Martin's, NY, 1988, 306 p., hc, $17.95, ISBN 0-312-01512-7. It may seem unusual to complain that a horror novel's characters are too strong, but such is the case with The Site. Melisand March invests so much space to developing backgrounds and personalities for her characters that the plot they are caught up in remains underarticulated. That's unfortunate, too, because March's plot has much potential. "The site" is 277 Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan, a location that has evolved from private residence to prime business real estate in only a few decades. In 1961 Valerie Harris, who grew up in a building on the site, prepares to move with her business into the new skyscraper taking its place. She witnesses the death of a workman helping with the construction and this initiates her 16-year obsession with 277 Park Avenue and the series of unusual phenomena associated with it. First, she finds that an unusual number of people who lived in or were connected with the bUilding--among them architect Stanford White and President John F. Kennedy--died unusual deaths. Over the years, she notes parallel death patterns among other former site dwellers. Gradually, she comes to believe that a preternatural force is at large and that she is its potential victim. 38


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 What is this force and why is it murdering former tenants of 277 Park Avenue? March implies that the site is the locus for elemental forces in the water and rocks beneath New York City that do not take kindly to those who fail to show them respect. In other words, The Site pits a harmonic convergence of natural forces against man and his contrivances. The idea of Manhattan serving as the battleground between the New Age mysticism and Industrial Age pragmatism is intriguing, but March never develops it beyond this initial stage. Instead, she dwells far too long on the details of Valerie's spinster life and the life of Jennifer Cunningham, daughter of one of Valerie's former lovers. Jennifer, it turns out, Is a potential victim because she is the daughter that Valerie and someone else associated with the site never had. When Valerie realizes this, she does everything within her power to extricate Jenniferfrom a love triangle (itself a suggestive mystic symbol) with two men who are also connected with the site. But, again, rather than develop the complex potential of this subplot, March buries her story under an avalanche of unnecessary background. She works so hard to make her characters appear ordinary folk that the reader can barely appreciate the extraordinary situation in which they are trapped. Small wonder that she resorts to a cheap shock ending. It's as though March herself is admitting that the solid foundation of The Site has given rise to a mere scaffold of a story. --Richard Michaels The Image of the Beast Masterton, Graham. Mirror. Tor, April, 1988. 440 p. $18.95. ISBN 0-31293077-1. Mirror exemplifies what's wrong with a lot of modern horror fiction Masterton's idea, though hardly original, is serviceable enough: a man : acquires a mirror that's actually a gateway to another world (c.f., Henry S. ; Whitehead's "The Trap," 1932) and inadvertently enables Its denizens to enter in contemporary Hollywood, where screenwriter Martin Williams is trying to hawk his script for a big-budget musical about a golden-haired child star of the 1930s known as N'Boofuls'. Martin Is having no luck at all because, as a prospective producer tells him, "Boofuls is one of those code words in Hollywood that immediately make people's brains go blank, like Charles Manson." As Martin knows and Hollywood would like to forget, one Saturday in 1939 I ittle eight -year -old Boofuls was hacked to pieces (211 pieces, to be precise) by his grandmother. Martin isn't just interested in Boofuls; he's obsessed. So when an elderly Hollywood matron offers for sale the mirror that used to reside over Boofuls' fireplace, "the very mirror that watched him die," Martin can't resist. Ignoring muttered warnings from his landlord Mr. Capelli, Martin hauls the :huge mirror home to his apartment--and Strange Things start to happen. So far so good. Through a series of effectively understated scenes iearly in the book, Masterton builds an atmosphere of eerie menace. Martin lsees, in the mirror, a child's ball bouncing through an open door behind him, Ibut there is no ball in the room. Mr. Capelli's grandson Emilio report stalking 39


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 to a boy inthe mirror. Alone in his apartment at night, Martin hears a child's cry, and later, strange whispers. A cat owned by Martin's friend Ramone disappears into the mirror. And so forth. Through it all, Martin grows increasingly agitated, as events aggravate his neurotic fear of helplessness. These scenes work even though they're not very well written, Masterton seems to assume his readers are idiots--he spells out every plot device at least twice and, irritatingly, italicizes every scare line, lest we miss printed In Still, for about 100 pages, we're with him: we empathize with Martin, feel the creepy ambience, and eagerly await the return of little Boofuls. Then the gore starts to fly. An evil twin of Ramone's cat escapes the mirror world and savages Martin. When he investigates the history of the mirror and the death of its owner, every person Martin talks to dies a horrible death. Although Masterton continues to lay on effective fissions--like the ghostly tale Martin hears at the Sisters of Mercy hospital, where Boofuls' grandmother was brought after she killed him--he follows every such scene with either an extravagant effects-filled monster attack (Ramone's cat returns as a snake-like shape shifter) or a lovingly described. wholly gratuitous, gore choked death (the physician who attended Boofuls' granny cuts off a rather important part of his anatomy). Very few writers can handle this sort of material effectively (John Skipp and Craig Spector, Joe R. Lansdale, Robert R. McCammon, one or two others); in Masterton's hands, these scenes are too long, too graphic, and wholly discordant. They repeatedly shatter whatever mood the novel has evoked. As the pages pass, Masterton compounds and confuses his story: introducing satan-worship; ladling in some flabby metaphysics about the world beyond the mirror; and, worst of all, bringing Boofuls himself on-stage, a move that reduces the book's essential ghost to an insufferable little brat. The hysteria escalates and the ante rises until we finally learn that, once again, the world is threatened by The Apocalypse: "We're talking about plague and war and famine and destruction," a priest tells a dubious Martin, "we're talking about the world torn from pole to pole." It's all too much. Mirror is shot through with nifty ideas, and underneath its excess there appears to be a good, scary ghost story. What a pity Masterton chose not to tell it. --Michael A. Morrison Exploration of Fear Stableford, Brian, The Empire of Fear. Simon & Schuster, London, 1988, 390 p., hc, 11.95, ISBN 0-671-69945-8. There are vampires in The Empire of Fear, but calling Brim Stableford's superb novel a vampire story would be a little like calling Mary Shelley's Frankenstein a monster story. As its title alludes, the book is concerned with fear--political fear, social fear, fear of the unknown and the superstitions it gives rise to. The vampire story serves as an ingenious context for Stableford's exploration of these fears and their significance for humanity. The Empire of Fear opens in an alternate 17th century England that differs from our own in one major way: its royalty and ruling elite are 40


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 vampires. Not the shadowy vampires of Gothic horror, but shrEMd Madliavellian powerbrokers who control men through political terrorism. Mortals who attempt to overthrow the vampire overlords are subjected to horrible tortures and deaths (which really are no different from the inquisitorial brutalities inflicted in our own Elizabethan Age). While men fear and revile the vampires for their cruelty, they envy them their immortality. Thus, the relationship Stableford explores here is less one of the natural and the supernatural, than of the privileged and the oppressed. Humans hope to destroy the vampires, but more than anything else they long to become their equals. The means to achieve this goal may lie within Noell Cordery's reach. Trained as a scientist, Cordery believes that vampirism can be explained physiologically. With the help of a primitive microscope, he hopes to debunk superstitions surrounding the vampires and prove that their condition is caused by a blood-borne or sexually-transmitted disease. But Cordery's research endangers his life and he is forced to flee to Africa. It is in the long section of the novel set in Africa that the symbolic Import of Cordery's battle with the vampires--literally, the battle between scientific rationalism and medieval superstition--makes itself fully known. In Africa, Cordery encounters a primitive society where vampires are less feared than revered. Their role in their culture supports Cordery's belief that the intrinsic difference between mortals and vampires is a slight one that the European vampires have manipulated to their political advantage. Here, too, Cordery notes that the insularity of the vampire society is gradually undermining it. It is time for the superstitions surrounding the mythic vampire to give way to informed knowledge, and so It is here, in the heart of African darkness, that Cordery finds the SCIentific proof he has been seeking. Sketching in Stableford's novel at this great length does not rob it either of its power or surprises. The Empire of Fear is a serious and well thought out mquiry Into man's Instinctive drive to mythologize what he fears. At the same time, it Is a sweeping historical saga, filled with intriguing characters and adventures that span several continents and centuries. Only in the African section does the novel bog dQlNTl, but Stableford's anthropological perspective on African culture, like his command of European history, is always fascinating. The Empire of Fear is also rich with literary alluslon--to LeFanu's "Carmilla," Stoker's Dracula and even Shakespeare's sonnets--and for a good reason. Stableford means for his novel to reflect metafictionally on the way in which myth and legend inform literature. I n an epilogue that brings his novel up to 1983, he presents a world in which all but a few human beings have converted themselves into vampires. There is no scientific reason to explain why some people cannot be "cured" of their mortality, just as there is no definitive understanding of the causes of cancer or AIDS. By linking the fear of the unknown that underlies the classical vampire myth with fear of the unknown that arises from the of our contemporary scientific understanding, Stableford suggests that for every fear man learns to conquer, a new one will emerge to take its place. Far from driving the last nail in the coffin of the vampire story, then, The Empire of Fear is proof itself that Man will always make myths and tell stories in order to come to terms with the vast darkness surrounding his small circle of enlightened wisdom. --Richard Michaels 41


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Hell Hath no Limits, Nor is Circumscribed Straczynski, J. Michael. Demon Night. E.P. Dutton, 1988. 340 p. $18.95. ISBN 0-525-24646-0. The story J. Michael Straczynskl tells In this, his first novel, Is unexceptional: a young man (Eric Langren) is compelled (by recurrent nightmares of his father's death) th return to the Insular small town of his youth (Dredmouth Point, Maine) where he discovers his mission in life: to confront an ancient evil (the II Allies of the Night") that threatens the town and the world beyond it. Almost immediately upon arriving in town, he meets a plucky young woman (Liz Chasen, a writer working on a book about Maine villages) who will help him best the Forces of Evil. The locus of evil In Demon Night is in the nearby Indian Caves. Soon after returning to The Point, Eric finds himself both drawn to and repelled by these caves--the very caves where, years earlier, he was found after an automobile accident that killed his parents; the very caves that his father, with his dying breath, warned Eric to watch. While he investigates, a pattern of strange incidents accumulates throughout the town: a rash of Peeping Tom complaints; terrible dreams accompanied by violent headaches; inexplicable movements by a crucifix in St. Benedict's, the local Gothic pile; and so forth. There is about all this the aura of predictability: you know Eric and Liz will become lovers, you know the hard-nosed, suspicious town constable T om Crandall will arrest Eric at a crucial moment; and you know Eric will ultimately overcome his reluctance, go th the caves, and take up the cudgels against Evil. Yet Demon Night Is worth like many a fine novel, what makes it exceptional is not the tale but the telling. Straczynski is at his best in the early chapters. He vividly evokes the gray, craggy Maine coastline from which the Point reaches into Machias Bay "like a bony, pointing finger" and sketches a large cast of secondary characters, the townsfolk, whose lives will be altered (or, as the case may be, terminated) by the conflict to come. Granted, the town and most of Its denizens are stereotypes, rendering of Dredmouth Point In Demon Night is as convincing as King's of Castle Rock in The Dead Zone (1979), and his management of the people of the Point considerably more able than King's of the people of Haven, Maine in The Tommyknockers (1987). After this leisurely opening, Straczynski's plot gets rolling, and here his pacing and atmospheric prose create several suspenseful, scary scenesan accomplishment that should be noted by the myriad of recent first novelists who have failed to do so. First, Straczynski keeps us off balance: not every character in apparent jeopardy is, in fact, attacked, so we can't predict what will happen next. Second, Straczynski knows the power of restraint: even when describing an autopsy, he shows us enough to evoke the scene in our minds but not enough to dampen (or repel) our imagination. He is less successful, however, at integrating into this long, multi character novel a potentially powerful historical theme (the influence of the past) embodied in an archaeological mystery concerning a small Indian tribe, the Algonquins, that once occupied the area near the Point. American Indian mythology can be used to great effect in horror fiction--as Thomas Monteleone proved in Night Things (1980), Graham Masterton in The 42


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 Manitou (1976), and Craig Kee Strete in any number of novels and short stories. But Straczynski tends to over-explain the mythic apparatus behind the phenomena; worse, its power is sapped during his long, predictably flashy finale in which tried-and-true cinematic effects supplant subtlety and nuance, bringing Demon Night to a close rather less Impressive than its opening. Still, Demon Night is an intelligently crafted, Involving novel that raises not only shivers but also Interesting theological Issues. Long after the slam-bang finale is over, the reader mayfind himself wondering if, lust maybe, "there [were] great forces in the world long before there were men to name them." --Michael A. Morrison Modern Babylon Watson, Ian. Whores of Babylon. Paladin (Grafton), London, July 1988. Pb 3.95L 302p. ISBN 0-586-08773-7. The Americans of almost the year 2000 have rebuilt the ancient city of Babylon in the Arizona Desert, peopling it with Americans who pretend to be Babylonians. All technology is forgotten (welf, almost all) and it is a serious offense to refer to it. The plot tells of two young Americans, Alex and Deborah, arriving in Babylon, and shows how they fare. Deborah becomes first a whore and then the bride of a god; Alex Is sold as a slave. But all is not as it seems: Babylon is a complex city and Alex is soon involved in several strange intrigues. It gradually becomes evident (to the reader) that the title of the novel (and much else besides) is symbolic. This is another outstandingly original book from one of SF's greatest innovators. --Chris Morgan Read with Care Watson, Ian. The Fire Worm. Gollancz, London, June 1988. hc. 10.95L 207p. ISBN 0-575-04300-8. With a breathtaking blend of SF, Fantasyand horror, this is Watson's strongest, most original novel so far. A near-future psychiatrist, Dr. John Cunningham, hypnotizes his patients to discover how their past lives have upset their present ones. His alter ego, Jack Cannon, writes horror novels, and is now working on one called The Fire Worm, based on experiences related by a current patient. There are long digressions into the past--to the 1940's, the 1840's, the 1300's--which seem irrelevant and too full of detail until they suddenly dovetail into place in a complex jigsaw puzzle of past, present, future, reality, fantasy, and symbolism. Some readers will find the north-east of England dialect passages hard (this English reviewer did!). Other readers may be nauseated by certain scenes. But the novel itself dances ever on, weaving a contorted, compelling spell. Watson has certainly researched well, though exactly how much of his historical data are true is impossible to say. It's a tour de force for those with strong stomachs. --Chris Morgan 43


SFRA News/etter, No. 172, November,1g89 Hopeless and Worthless Collide Wright, Stephen, M31: A Family Romance. Harmony Books, NY, 1988, 214 p., hc, $17.95, ISBN 0-517-56869-1. Though set In an unspecified corner of the American heartland, Stephen Wright's novel M31: A Family Romance Is about as far out on the fringe as one can get. Its central characters, a husband and wife known only as Dot and Dash, believe they are descendants of extraterrestrials from the Galaxy M31. While they await retrieval by "the Occupants," they travel around the country, serving as distinguished guests at UFO conventions and on radio and television talk shows. Meanwhile, back at the abandoned church that serves as a home base, their family drifts aimlessly. Dallas, the destructive oldest son, guzzles beer and taunts his younger brother Edsel. Anorexic Maryse nurses her newborn child with weight-loss formulas and shares room with her sister Trinity in "the Object," a space ship mock-up that dominates the main room of the dwelling. Zoe, a child given to fits that her parents interpret as communications from M31, walks around perpetually in a protective football helmet. These characters may sound like refugees from a John Irving novel, but the paths they tread cut straight through Stephen King territory. The arrival of Beale, a follower who worships Dash with messianic fervor, and Gwen, who believes she was once abducted for a saucer ride, proves the catalyst for a Gothic nightmare. Dallas murders Beale. Dash rapes Gwen. Left with no means of escape, Gwen is absorbed into the family. The book climaxes with a road trip in which the family never reaches its destinationeach member merely spins off into his or her own little orbit. Superficially, M31: A Family Romance can be read as a dark satire on flying saucer watching and other fonns of sanctioned fanaticism. However, Wright's parable cuts to deeper strata. Dot and Dash stand as the ultimate flotsam of the counterculture, parents who have rejected societal norms but failed to replace them with a stable alternative. Their family is the consequence of their decision: lacking any sort of instilled values, they are frightening in their utter lack of purpose. But equally as frightening is the panorama of middle America that circumscribes this family. The landscape of M31: A Family Romance resembles the rural landscapes of Bobbie Ann Mason seen at night, under a glaring neon bulb that illuminates every filthy crevice. All it has to offer are television soap operas, Seven-Elevens and the tinny music of Vic and the Vectors. It is a land where a short beer run leads to rumination on how the American road has become a repository of "truck exhaust and sticky clothes and pavement glare and humid nights and cramped seats and perverts with b.o. and clogged toilets and greasy milk and piles of metal and glass buckled and splintered from sea to shining sea, temporary roadside shrines spontaneously erected in daily numbers duly noted and recorded as sacrifice to the spirit of good motoring that kept America on wheels." Small wonder that when pondering his reasons for coming to see Dot and Dash, Beale reflects on how his "faith in a country as big as dreams had dwindled to the 44


SFRA Newsletter, No. 172, November, 1989 hope the raw sun wouldn't find you in a ditch, hot wind from highballing semis blowing cinder dust and ragged litter over your oddly humped back." At the heart of Wright's novel is a critique of a country that has failed to supply this family with anything solid to believe in outside its deformed self. Not exactly a horror novel, and not quite mainstream fiction, M31: A Family Romance is a morbid story of what happens when the hopeless collides with the worthless. The coupling that follows breeds strange monsters for a new American frontier. --Richard Michaels I YOUNG ADULT I Dick's SF for Children Dick, Philip K. Nick and the Glimmung. Gollancz, London, June 1988. He. 7.95L 141p. ISBN 0-575-04307-5 Written in 1966 though not published until now, this is an SF novel for children. Its great strength is the simple, fast-paced style, with an opening problem and its zany solution stated In the first paragraph: Nick (aged perhaps ten) has a pet cat; pets are not allowed on Earth in this future (1992!); therefore Nick, his parents and the cat are emigrating to an extra-solar planet. Most of the action takes place there, on Plowman's Planet, where the family encounters a large variety of alien creatures (all of which speak English and most of which threaten in a humorous way). The novel's only serious drawback is its setting being designated as 1992. For students of Dick's work it's fascinating to see so many of the author's trademarks intact in this simplified version of his adult novels. The Everyman figure of Nick defies authority figures (especially the anti-pet man), is forced to weigh up conflicting advice solemnly given by different 9roups of nearly omniscient aliens, and has to face danger in order to achIeve his goal. There's even a "book of changes" here, not actually the I Ching but a small oracular volume which gives vague propheCies, urxlating itself every time it is opened. Accompanying the fast and furious action are suitably comic illustrations by Paul Demeyer. --Chris Morgan 45


SFRA Newsletter No. 172 Betsy Hartst, Editor Arts, Communications & Social Science Division Kishwaukee College Malta,IL60150 DATED MATERIAL PLEASE DO NOT DELAY Non-Profit Organi:z.:ion U.S. POSTAGE PAID Permit NO.3 MALTA,IL


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