SFRA newsletter

SFRA newsletter

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SFRA newsletter
Alternate Title:
Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
Science Fiction Research Association
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[Eugene, Ore
Science Fiction Research Association]
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Subjects / Keywords:
Science fiction -- History and criticism ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- History and criticism -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Science fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
serial ( sobekcm )


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University of South Florida Library
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S67-00067-n175-1990-03 ( USFLDC DOI )
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2 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, Marcn, 7990 I 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 Harfst, 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 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. 175, March, 1990 3 President's Message TIME TO FISH OR CUT BAIT If you have not (yet) renewed your membership in SFRA, please do so now. (Please?) Every year we face the dilemma of when to stop sending the newsletter to late renewers who may really be nonrenewers. For various reasons we hate to cut off anyone who intends to renew. We know that some of our members, particularly those outside North America, may have received the renewal forms late due to surface mail delays, local mail strikes, or other delays beyond their or our control. And we value our international exchange of ideas. Then there is simple oversight. We're not all "absent-minded professors," but people do get preoccupied with personal and professional affairs. But we have to remain financially responsible, which means that we cannot subsidize the previous year's members with the dues of this year's members. So this is the deadline: your SFRA publications benefits package will cease with this issue unless your renewal is received before the next mailings go out. There's also the question of listings in the Directory. Our goal is to publish the Directory prior to the annual meeting in June, and we can only list those who have paid their dues before it goes to press. Obviously, it will be less useful to members as well as publishers or others who pay us to use the Directory if late-renewing members are omitted. In the past several years, the Executive Committee has decided to delay the publication of the Directory in order to include more of the members. But delay makes the Directory less useful also. So please renew now, while you're thinking about it. We don't want to lose touch with you. The greatest benefit of SFRA is the network of information we share. Here is good news for us. From Pierluigi and Betty Piazzi of Aleph Publishers, Sao Paulo, comes word that they will bring out their first sf book this fall (which, of course, is spring in the northern hemisphere). I've asked them to send a copy to the World SF special collection in the Spencer Library at the University of Kansas, for anyone interested in Portuguese-language sf. And on the subject of World SF, in my capacity as North American secretary for that organization, I've received an inquiry from Ralph Willing ham, a Ph.D. candidate writing a doctoral dissertation on "Science Fiction in the Theatre." He requests that anyone who has done any research on the


4 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 subject contact him at URH-719; 1010 West Green Street; Urbana, IL 61801 U.S.A. He is also interested in hearing from anyone who has written an sf play. As for writers of sf. still another inquiry, from Kevin D. Browne; 267 West 70th Street #5E; New York, NY 10023 U.S.A. (212) 721-9273, who is interested in finding a collaborator on a "highly unique, marketable short story collection." He adds: "I'm sure this could represent a strong oppor tunityfor someone affiliated with the Science Fiction Research Association." (I'd appreciate knowing how this turns out for anyone who pursues it.) A final note on the subject of renewals, and the particular problems of international members in countries where blocked currency or massive in flation rates make dues paying a severe problem. One solution has been for members who can afford to do so to "adopt" a member who needs dues sup port, similar to the programs to "adopt" children in third world countries. In fact, there are already several such arrangements in effect. It occurs to me, however, that some members who might be interested in subsidizing a deserving academic may not know of anyone personally who is in need. If the idea appeals to you, please let me know and I will make some suggestions. In the event there would be more volunteers than present candidates, a restricted fund could be established within the SFRA budget. --Elizabeth Anne Hull Science Fiction Research Association Annual Conference XXI "SF in the Future: There and Back Again with SFRA XXI" THE VENUE; SFRA XXI will meet June 28-July 1, 1990, at the Hyatt Edgewater Hotel in Long Beach, California. Located in the picturesque Long Beach Marina, the hotel is less than a five minute walk from dozens of restaurants and shops, two movie theaters, one of the best beaches in southern California, and the longest sport fishing pier on the West coast. Through Supershuttle, the hotel is inexpensively connected to the whole of the Southern California region. CONFERENCE FEES AND COSTS: Full conference membership will be $80 to June 14th, $85 thereafter, and includes the cost of the Pilgrim Award Banquet, conference trip, the nightly hospitality suite and other conference events to be announced. PLEASE NOTE: Those wishing to go on the conference trip (a visit to the full-scale mock-up of the Freedom space


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 5 station and then into LA to see the IMAX film "The Dream is Alive," shot "on orbit" bytheshuttle crews) must register by June 1 st. Daily memberships will be $20 ($5 high school students, $10 college undergrads). Banquet: $25. Conference trip: $25. Please help us plan accurately by registering early. The Hyatt Edgewater Hotel has offered us rates of $68 per day, single or double. The Hyatt has also offered to extend its conference rates for those who would like to stay on after the conference. BOOK DISPLAY: TocelebrateSFRA's "Coming of Age," Neil Barron will be organizing the book display this year with a special emphasis upon the "Highlights of SF scholarship, 1930s-1980s." We also expect to have a dealers' area, with a selection of new and used paperbacks. There will be a signing period for guest authors. THE PROGRAM: Sheila Finch, Richard Lupoff, Frederik Pohl, Lewis Shiner, Susan Shwartz, Jack Williamson, SF screenwriter Harry Kleiner, story editor Max Headroom, and writer Michael Cassutt will be among the SF professionals attending. We will be announcing others who will be in attendance as they give us definite commitments. We have received many paper, session and panel proposals, and though we are now a bit past the deadline for submissions we still have a few spaces left. The formal deadline for submission was January 15, 1990. We will make every effort to accommo date late submissions, but get those ideas to the Land of LA now! Send proposals to us at 1017 Seal Way, Seal Beach, CA 90740. --Christine and Peter Lowentrout ...--, N-. S--'. I Burroughs Bulletin Revived Vernon Coriell, 1918-1987, founded the Burroughs Bulletin in 1947 and kept it going for almost four decades. George McWhorter, Curator, The Burroughs Memorial Collection, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, has revived the journal as a quarterly, with new series issue I, January 1990 as the inaugural issue. It's typeset, printed on coated stock, 8 1/2 x II, with both color and monochrome illustrations and photos; $28/year (U.S.), $35 (foreign). This initial issue is heavily nostalgic. The color cover reproduces Frank Schoonover's cover of the first hardcover editions of The Princess of Mars (1917), and the first of the Bibliographer's Corner columns reproduces covers of nine foreign language editions, ranging from a decidedly 1920s Egyptian look in a German edition to a 1968 Japanese edition with Dejah Thoris's pneumatic charms prominent. Coriell's immense Burroughs collec tion will be sold this year; send want list or a check for a subscription to McWhorter.


6 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 JFA Special Issue on Film The summer 1989 (v.2, no. I) issue of the Journal of the Fantastic in theArts arrived in January 1990. Guest edited by Brooks Landon, it features a 33 page forum on SF film in which a variety of hands deal with Landon's question, "What do you see as the most important issues for SF film/video and/or SF film scholarship now facing us or likely to arise before the year 2000?" There are four essays dealing with film and video, reviews of two books about films, and an appreciation of Murray Tinkleman with four b&w reproductions. Members of the IAFA receive this quarterly as part of their membership: subscriptions are $20 (individuals), $25 (institutions) per year from Orion Publishing, 1401 North Salina St., Syracuse, NY 13208. From Bad to Worse That's the title of Richard Curtis's "Agent's Corner" column in the December Locus. The piece updates earlier columns and suggests the increasingly parlous position of the author, and not only because of the increasing number of mergers, acquisitions and similar takeovers. It ties in well with Hull's comments on Extrapolation's indefensible policies regard ing author rights. As David Hume said more than two centuries ago, it is very rare that freedom is lost all at once. --Neil Barron Current Projects of SFRA Members One of the blanks on the membership forms asks for information on current projects of SFRA members. The early responses have been exciting; I hope this sharing of information will be equally valuable to you. Perhaps you may discover common interests or you may have just that one missing bit of information that another person has been trying to locate and which you are willing to share. I will continue to list this information as it comes to me. (Ed.) Albinski, Nan: Biography of Lady Florence Dixie (1805-1905): journalist, traveller, novelist, feminist. Badley, Linda C.: Articles on Stephen King, "Female Gothics" and the "feminization" of horror; also a book on the "new horror" as a lit/film collaboration. Boss, Judith E.: Stylistic analysis of Kuttner and Moore stories for a scription attempt. Cannon, Peter: "Letters, Diaries, and Manuscripts" The Handwrit ten Word in Lovec raft an essay for an anthology of Lovecraft criticism to be published by Fairleigh Dickenson UP in honor of HPL's centenary in 1990. Clareson, Alice: With Tom, a critical study of John Wyndham.


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 7 Cornell, Marc: Eastern Philosophy and Science Fiction, Mimesis in Science Fiction. Dubeck, Leroy W.: I am training high school and middle school teachers to use science fiction films in their classrooms. Farmer, Philip Jose: A novel: Escape to Loki, to be followed by Red Ore's Rage, a novel. Hall, Hal W.: Cumulated BRI; Cumulated Research Index; Pilgrim booklet. Heje, Johan: Article/paper on Cordwainer Smith's subjects; text book/anthology on science fiction. Heller, Terry L.: Short fiction of Sarah Orne Jewett (not particularly related to fantasy or sf.) Hollinger, Veronica: Dissertation on the intersections of SF and postmodernism. Jaffery, Sheldon: Pictorial Guide to Pulp Magazines. Kerman, Judith B.: Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (In press). Kreksch, Ingrid: Course on SF; Research projects--SF vs. magic realism; SF topics vs. topics in universal literature. Lehman, Stephen: SF novel. Lewis, Arthur 0.: Utopia and history. Manlove, Colin N.: Christian Fantasy: From Dante to the Present Day; book currently being typed; mainly concerns Christian supernaturalist literature in relation to changing views of the imagination. Morrison, Michael A.: Two books, Horror in the Eighties; Physics as Metaphor in Contemporary American Fiction. Pedersen, Ellen M .. : Working on a phenomenological theory of translation, 'Intentional meaning and semantic space'. Empirical back ground will be translations of sf into Danish, my own, in particular. Tempo rarily affiliated with Center for Translation Science, CPH University.


8 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 Samuelson, Dave: Samuel R. Delany, for Twayne's US Authors. Peterkin, Gail Larsen: Upper Paleolithic Hunting Technology in SW France. Rockett, Will: Just finished a chapter on death in the cinema for a book (Charles Ress); beginning work on a monograph on same. Senatore, Margaret: Fiction into Film; Words in Your Ear (audio books). Tavares, Braulio F.: A collection of essays about fantastic literature and sf. Tolley, Michael J.: Commentary on Blake's Night Thoughts Illustra tions; A Blake variorum edition; an annotated bibliography of crime in Australian fiction; frequent reviews and articles on SF and Fantasy for Australian fanzines and journals. Williams, Lynn F.: Study of Women's Status in SF Utopias. Winnington, G. Peter: Bibliography of Mervyn Peake. ''I'd like to hear from anyone with additions to 'Peake in Print', including reviews of Peake, for a bibliography in preparation for Gosland." New Journal of SF Criticism Monad, a new journal of science fiction criticism, edited by Damon Knight, will be published on an irregular basis beginning in June 1990, by Pulphouse Publishing. Monad, according to Damon Knight, will be devoted to essays of the kind Ursula K. Le Guin talked about in her Pilgrim Award acceptance speech, "Spike the Canon": they will be essays by science fiction writers who do not reach for their guns when they hear the word "literature'" who do not consider themselves laborers in the baloney factory or missionaries for Star Wars; who are not fans, academics or anecdotalists; in short, in Ms. Le Guin's words, the journal will publish "discussion about what s.f. is and does, or of the difference between what it is and how it is perceived, or of the status of s.f. as a subject in academe or as a genre or mode of fiction." And, no doubt, much more. The journal will not publish book reviews, how-to articles, fiction, poetry, or market reports. Subscriptions are: Single issue--$5.00 ($6.00 foreign); Four issues--$IS.OO ($22.00 foreign). Order from Pulphouse Pub lishing, Box 1227, Eugene. OR 97440. --Hal Hall


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 9 Call For Papers CHIMERA I The organizers of CHIMERA, a small speculative fiction convention to be held for the first time this summer at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield, Schaumburg, Illinois, on July 20, 21, 22, 1990, have issued a call for papers. Critical papers on speculative fiction concerned with or related in some way to the work of the Guests of Honorwill receive preference. Author Guests of Honor will be Howard Waldrop and Connie Willis. Editor/Author Guest of Honor will be Gardner Dozois.Papers should not exceed 20 typed double spaced pages. Each paper should be submitted in quadruplicate, accompa nied by a cover letter, an abstract of approximately 250 words, and a self addressed stamped envelope. Papers must be submitted by May I, 1990. Mail to J.K. Stevenson, 7125 North Paulina, Chicago, Illinois 60626. Papers will be juried by a panel of scholars and critics in the field. To attend the conference, write to CHIMERA, 1016 Columbian, Oak Park, Illinois 60302. Send name, address, and check: $30 until March 31; $40 thereafter. Hotel room rates are $63 for single/double rooms, $69 for triple/ quadruple rooms, at Hyatt Regency Woodfield, 1000 East Golf Road, Schaum burg, 1160173. Telephone: 708/605-1234. Happenings --Lois Tilton Several very nice things have crossed my desk this month. Two new SFRA members, Jane Donawerth and Sam Umland, have both written and offered to join our reviewer cad reo Jane has a review in this issue and Sam will have one in the April issue. I would encourage other SFRA members to submit reviews, approximately 500 words. One of our international members, G. Peter Winnington, from Vaud, Switzerland, sent sample copies of his periodical, Peake Studies. The periodicals, published first in 1988, contain articles, critical reviews, news, and controversial views on Mervyn Peake's work, and his impact on other artists and writers. Mr. Winnington also calls for contributions to the periodical, "Send your ideas for articles, news, and views to the editor now. 6000 words is the recommended maximum for articles. Brief contributions are always welcome." For information, write him at: Les 3 Chasseurs, 1413 ORZENS, Vaud, Switzerland. The premier issue of the 14th Alternative, The Midwest Journal of Speculative Fiction, also arrived. The sub-heading on the banner features the legend behind the title: "Alternatives always exist ... whether they be in our dreams, or in the world we call 'What If?' Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, all are but alternatives to a world we carelessly call reality." The first issue of this new quarterly features news, reviews, interviews with Phyllis Eisenstein and Jack Darrow, stories by Tom Traub, Lois Tilton, Nick Pollotta, Fred Shepartz, Harold J. Gregg, and Jennifer Stevenson, and art by Todd Hamilton, Kurt Cagle, and Phil Foglio. It is a first-class magazine which should do very well. For a sample copy ($3.50) or a Contributor'S Guide giving further information on the publication, write Editor: Greg Heier, or Publisher: Thomas H. Nixon, Gate VI Publishing Company, P.O. Box 51, Elmhurst, Illinois, 60126-0051; phone (708) 833-3658. --Betsy Harfst


10 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 I Non-Fiction I An Essential Bibliography Brown, Charles N. & William G. Contento, eds. Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror: 1988; a comprehensive bibliography of books and short fiction published in the English language. Locus Press, Box 13305, Oakland, CA 13305, September 1989. viii+463p. $50+$3 postage. ISBN 0-9616629-6-4. This fourth Locus Press index is not only the longest to date (by 40 pages) but also has a new feature, Hal Hall's research index. To keep the length and cost of the annual within limits, the separate listing of original books has been dropped, which I judge no loss, since they've always been identified by an asterisk in the main (author) book list. Also omitted is the "subject" listing (34 pages in last year's annual), which listed all original works by type (novels, collections, etc). The statistical summaries provide all the information needed for most people, and the dropped listings won't be missed. The author and title lists comprise about a fourth of the book, with useful descriptive and occasionally evaluative notes included for almost all entries. The author/title story lists indexes all anthologies, collections and magazines and includes length and original source of reprinted stories. At 163 pages this is the longest section of the book. The contents section lists all anthologies, collections and magazines, again including original sources, and provides pagination. Hal Hall's 78 page index to the secondary literature lists the specialty magazines and issues indexed as well as book-length essay collections. Other sources--non-specialty magazines, news reports, etc--were of course indexed. The 1,801 items were indexed by 1,528 author and 2,800 + subject entries. Like the primary bibliography, this is largely limited to English language materials, although Quaber Merkur is indexed. I compared my bibliography of 1988 books, part of my survey of nonfiction for the 1989 Meckler annual, against Hall's listings and found too many omissions, including a few borderline titles I'd omitted. Part of this results from Hall's spring deadline, but only part. Where are Franklin's important War Stars, Sent's The Vampire in English Literature, Yoke's Phoe nix from the Ashes, for example? Inexplicably some books listed as fully analyzed (indexed) are not listed in the author/editor index, although their contents are indexed. It will be interesting to compare Hall's listing with the next installment of Tymn's year's scholarship in the Joumal of the Fantastic in the Arts. Borgo Press published in 1987 the first annual, supplementing the two volume Gale set covering 1878-1985 materials, and will eventually fill the gap with a final annual covering 1987 materials. All annuals pick up items missed, and a Gale cumulation is likely. The appendixes provide narrative and statistical summaries of books, magazines and films, recommended reading lists by Locus regulars,


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 11 a much expanded and welcome awards listing by Harlan McGhan, and a selective listing of publisher addresses. The Locus annuals are the closest thing we have, or are likely to have, to an official bibliography of English language primary and secondary literature of fantastic literature, and larger libraries, collectors, dealers and scholars will find them essential. --Neil Barron Utopian Essays Cummings, Michael S. and Nicholas D. Smith, eds. Utopian Studies II. University Press of America, Lanham, MD, 1989, 154p. $24.50 hc. ISBN 08191-7304-5. $12.75 pb. ISBN 0-8191-7305-3. This is the second volume of essays to be published by the Society for Utopian Studies from papers presented at its annual meetings. The sixteen papers included in this volume, of which three have been published elsewhere, are representatives of the 1983 and 1986 conferences of the Society. These essays are generally worthwhile and interesting for the critic interested in utopian matters, and they cover a wide range of issues. In short, there is something for everyone, even if one's field is not strictly literary. There are still problems with proofreading and production. For example, the essays don't use a consistent format for annotation, and the quality of the printing is generally only adequate--but these are really minor annoyances. Four of the essays are not on literary topics. Lyman Tower Sargent discusses religious--especially millennial--themes in some lesser-known, seventeenth-century texts. George Mariz concentrates on Utopian themes in the work of intellectual historian J.L. Hammond. Vincent Geoghagantakes on a similar theme in his essay "The Golden Age and Its Return in the Marxism of the Second International," in which he discusses the Marxist tendency to look to the past for utopia so that they don't commit the sin of looking to the future. But Marxists did have an idea of what the future should be like; Geoghagan observes that Engles, for example, "already has a vision of future society drawn from other sources and is merely casting around for evidence of its viability" in The Origin of the Family. Finally, Michael S. Cummings attempts to find utopian tendencies in Mill's On Uberty. Most of the essays have to do with literary matters, however, and mostly with individual works or at least individual authors. Three, however, do not. Michael Orth looks at the role of computers in recent utopias but barely has time to develop any ideas in seven pages. Naomi Jacobs examines how Le Guin and Lessing overcome the "narrative stasis" of the classic utopia in their "postdystopian utopias" [whatever that means]. And the editors have also included an essay by Carol Farley Kessler, but this essay from 1 983 has long since been superseded by her more complete and wide-ranging introduction to Daring to Dream, and one wonders why it has


12 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 been included here. The remainder of the essays are a mixed lot. They include Robert Shelton's Arthur O. Lewis Award-winning essay on Wells which helps to save The Wonderful Visit from complete obscurity. Gorman Beauchamp argues that Huxley satirized Wells in Brave New World. David Parsons argues persuasively that the experimental educational system at Dartington was a principal source for Huxley's Island. Erika Gottlieb argues that 1984 is not a defeatists'dystopia. Lise Leibacher-Ouvrard reconstructs the underlying prejudices in the supposedly egalitarian utopia L'Histoire des Severambes by Denis Veiras. Helen Kuryllo examines the utopian elements of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford. Michael S. Cummings' second entry in the volume, on the problems of the practical realization of Callenbach's Ectopia Emerging; he pOints out the danger of trying to portray the transition to the utopian state too "realistically," but the "lessons" he derives for practical utopians could really apply to any political action, not just practical-utopian action. Similarly, Denis Rohatyn makes some interesting observations about Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, but his comparison of dystopia to hell does not hold up. And Alex MacDonald's whimsical look at Alice in Wonderland as a utopian novel is sometimes amusing but too long. His real point, that we shouldn't equate utopian novels with real-life political action, is a controversial oneone, in fact, that I am not sure I agree with completely--but it is not enough to sustain ten pages, as long as any other essay in the collection. Utopian Studies II is recommended for the critic interested in utopias as well as for any who are interested in the individual texts discussed in the essays. My only caveat is that the form of the conference paper has limited the scope and depth of the essays, but with that in mind, it is good to see these essays find a wider audience than they got at the Utopian Studies Conference. --Douglas Stallings *** Reminder*** Remember to renew your SFRA membership. Science Fiction Research Association Annual Conference XXI "SF in the Future: There and Back Again with SFRA XXI" June 28-July I, 1990 Hyatt Edgewater Beach Hotel, Long Beach, California Don't delay. Make plans to attend. Send in your registration now.


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 13 Panshin Collaboration Panshin, Alexei and Cory. The World Beyond the Hill. Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence. Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles, November 1989, 685p. $29.95 hc. ISBN 0-87477-436-5. The first author of this book, Alexei Panshin, won a Hugo award for his excellent early study of Robert Heinlein, and is well known for his own science fiction writing and other works. Cory, his wife, has collaborated with him on three books of criticism. Her special interest in psychology and myth is amply reflected in this volume. We have here a history of SF in which the genre is related with imagination and insight to our culture in general. The authors tell us that SF has been effective as myth because it respects both the actual and the leading mode of our culture from 1685, noting that the last execution for witchcraft in England took place in that year. (One could object that the royal governor in Massachusetts allowed executions for this in the following decade.) The authors call the everyday world "Our Village" and speak often of transcendence--marvelous physical and mental powers--as belonging to "the world beyond the hill." After chronicling Verne, Poe, Wells, and many others they tell how "modern SF" began in 1928 with works of E.E. Smith, Jack Williamson, and Philip Nowlan. From the 1930's on, John Campbell, ed itor of Astounding from 1937 to 1971 groomed many fine, new SF writers. L. Sprague de Camp, A.E. van Vogt, Isaac Asimov, and others. His key role, and the ways the writers developed, are a most useful part ofthis book, told in considerable detail. Aptly enough herein, we are shown how psychoanalyst Carl Jung sought transcendence in the unconscious and in the expressions of non Western cultures. New psychologies altered SF, as did new physics. An incomplete index hinders the researcher here, as only SF authors and works are indexed--there is no citation of Jung or his chief works, for instance. The Panshins tell much of the "Golden Age of SF" --co-terminous with World War II--the ultimate promise in the better stories here being unlimited progress if we could change the way we think and keep flexible minds. The narrative ends with Asimov's "The Mule," and with the observa tion that Campbell had reached his limit in 1 945. After that, he is seen as unable to move on from transcendent science to "transcendent conscious ness." The authors concede, however, that various trivial occult-theme pieces have been confused with SF by some. Since this book ends in 1945, it is not yet the full history of SF that Brian Aldiss's Trillion Year Spree (Atheneum 1986) offers. One conjectures that a second volume may be forthcoming. The Panshin book is entirely readable, not requiring a college education or much knowledge of science. However, the less sophisticated reader might be misled occasionally by the authors' rather absolute statements. All in all, this is a very thoughtful work,


14 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 backed up by careful notes for each chapter. Its insights into the develop ment of many SF writers, and their personalities, are an especially valuable contribution. --Frank H. Tucker Vampire Motif in Literature Senf, Carol. The Vampire in Nineteenth-Century English Literature. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green state University Popular Press, 1988. 204p. $32.95 hc. ISBN 0-87972-424-2. $15.95 pb. ISBN 0-87972-425-0. Growing out of her dissertation and extensive subsequent research, Sent's study of the literary vampire in nineteenth and twentieth century literature is a solid and scholarly addition to the study ofthe vampire motif in literature. Beginning with a survey of twentieth century vampire stories and contrasting them with earlier works on the vampire, she defines the literary vampire and its characteristics. In a second introductory chapter, the vampire myth's background is sketched, and the gothic and realistic tradi tions in literature are briefly described, in anticipation of fuller development in subsequent chapters. The main body of the book is divided into sections that correspond to three types of vampire stories: (1) works in which a character is clearly identified as a vampire (e.g., The Vampyre, Varney the Vampire, and Dracula); (2) works in which significant characters have vampiric characteristics but are not proven to be vampires (Wuthering Heights, The Lady of the Shroud); (3) works in which the term "vampire" is used as a metaphor for human destructiveness in a way that indicates the author is aware of the literary vampire tradition (Jane Eyre, Bleak House, and Middlemarch). The concluding chapter describes the trends that affect the twentieth century literary vampire as a result of its ancestry. I n addition to the works cited above, Senf discusses in detail many little-known stories and novels that are seldom mentioned in other works on the subject. Sent's work has a decidedly feminist bent, a welcome addition to a field where significant female vampires have generally been ignored in favor of scholars playing homagetothe Count and his fellow noblemen. As she acknowledges, Sent's book is, in several ways, a social history--an examination of the relationship between literature and the culture that produces it; as a result her book will interest more than just the literary scholar or vampire enthusiast. She documents her findings with extensive footnotes which frequently add further explanations as well as document sources. Sent's book is absolutely essential for anyone interested in the nineteenth century literary tradition, in vampires, or in the changing roles of men and women in the last hundred years. My only objection is the absolutely awful Grand Guignol cover of a slavering vampire; it looks like a hack illustration for Varney the Vampire. Highly recommended for all serious collections. --Leonard G. Heldreth


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 15 Biography in a Classic Sense Sunstein, Emily W. Mary Shelley, Romance and Reality. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Toronto, London, 1989. xii+ 478p. $24.95 hc. ISBN 0316-82246-9. Mary Shelley studies flourished in the 1980's with an energy and achievement not equaled by the sum of all of that assembled in the interven ing years since her death in 1851. Works providing biographical information, alone, include the last of the volumes of Byron's Letters and Journals in 1982, and Shelley and His Circle in 1986; The Joumals of Mary Shelley, edited by Paula R. Feldman and Diana Scott-Kilvert, 2 vols., Oxford, 1987; TheLetlers of Mary WoIlstonecraIt Shelley, edited by Betty T. Bennett, 3 vols., Johns Hopkins, finished in 1988; and William St. Clair's The Godwins and the Shelleys: The Biographyofa Family, Norton, 1989. Emily Sunstein's book is the third of three biographies of Mary Shelley issued since 1987. It is also the most valuable, and likely to be for some time. Muriel Spark's 1987work, Mary Shelley (a revision of Spark's Child of Ught: A Reassessment of Mary Shelley, 1951) is pleasantly written, patronizing to Mary Shelley, and self admittedly limited: "It is not intended to be definitive and detailed; it is a survey with a minimum of footnotes." In addition, it is glib and too much enamored with Percy Bysshe. Anne K. Mellor's Mary Shelley: Her ute, Her Fiction, Her Monsters, 1988, is a well-informed, fascinating treatment of Shelley that is somewhat subverted by the propositions that make it fascinat ing. It is self-consciously feminist and deconstructionist, and erects itself upon the thesis that "We can never forget how much her desperate desire for a loving and supportive parent defined her character, shaped her fantasies, and produced her fictionalized idealizations of the bourgeois family .... The accounts of Shelley by Spark and Mellor are revisionist, and so is Sunstein's, but with a difference. Sunstein's is a biography exclusively and, perhaps, definitively--not a critical biography (where a writer's works are disproportionately interpreted to show the meaning of the rest ofthe writer's life and thoughts), nor is it biographical criticism (wherein the writer's life is in danger of being subsumed by a specious agenda--pity because the subject has not been given even the credit she does deserve, feminism, psychoanalytical theory of the family, etc.). Sunstein's Mary Shelley enjoys an incalculable advantage. In 1975 she published a biography of Mary's mother, A Different Face: The Life of Mary Wollstonecralt. She is superbly prepared to write the life of the only stellar English Romantic author for whom there is no complete or definitive biography; the only one, moreover, whose image has become clouded during the almost century and a half since herdeath .... Mary Shelley, a legend in her own time, came to be misunderstood, or belittled, or maligned in specious comparisons to Shelley. Her life has been collapsed into his. Neither her formative girlhood, nor her part of her union with Shelley, nor, most important her years from the age of twenty-five to fifty-three, have been thoroughly explored.


16 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 It Is Sunstein's life of Mary Shelley that we have wanted. It is biography in a classic sense. Its thesis is that she is a perennially interesting figure of the highest cultural importance, of great energy, talent, complexity, achievement and. after all, simple mortal ness, about whom we do not know nearly enough, and likely never will. Sunstein has had access to all of the known Mary Shelley papers, as well as the cooperation and help of the major Shelley and Godwin scholars. Her clear narrative supplies, above all, information. It is reassuringly patchy--fascinating reading, where we are constantly made aware as well of what is not known about Mary. The strength of the work is that Mary Shelley is allowed--required--to speak for herself. Sunstein discovers her. In so doing she raises to fresh and absolutely persuading significance several matters distorted or neglected in even the most recent works on her. 1) For the first time we have a factual account of all her life. We learn of the months and years that are not about Frankenstein, of life with Percy Bysshe, or a life as a woman in a persistently chauvinist nineteenth-century European culture. 2) We see her motherhood parenthood, the dedication and loyalty to her children, especially to Percy Florence, the only child (of at least six pregnancies) to grow to adulthood and survive her. We see Percy Florence through Mary's patience with and indulgence of him as she arranged her life to accommodate him. 3) We see the other loves of her life beyond the alternately impulsive foolishness and vaulting passion that she had with Percy Bysshe. The greatest of these were with Jane Williams and Aubrey Beauclerk, and we are given extended descriptions of both (Mellor alleges these relationships to interpret them without providing full accounts of them). 4) We see that she was a writer in the fullest sense. One of Sunstein's appendices provides a list of Mary's works that is certainly the fullest we have. Moreover, we see how she wrote: that, wherever she was, she wrote. Particular attention is given to the circumstances of the composition of each of the six novels after Frankenstein. Beyond this we learn in detail of Mary's own work as a biographer, and in this connection we are told of her extraordinary gift for languages. Besides middle and modern English, she had eventually a command of classical and modern Greek. classical Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Sunstein describes Mary's acqui sition and control of each of these languages. They redefine sensationally the texture and depth of her genius. Ultimately her "creative and scholarly works establish her as a major literary figure of the first half of the nineteenth century." Sunstein is humble, even as she describes a standard to which all biographers might aspire when she declares, Current studies of Mary Shelley, including this biography, will not be the final word, but they can be based on data that approach the complete, and without which human beings cannot be comprehended as they deserve, in all oftheir complexity, in the context of their times as well as their significance to our own. She. herself, achieves this standard. The book is for all. libraries. --John R. Pfeiffer


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 17 Old Zones and New Zicree, Marc Scott. The Twilight Zone Companion. 2nd edition. Bantam, NY, 1989. 466p. $12.95 pb. ISBN 0-553-34744-6. Most libraries with television collections probably already own the well-received 1982 first edition of Zicree's Companion. For each of the 156 episodes of the 1959-1964 anthology series, Zicree provides a synopsis, credits, at least one illustration, every word of Rod Serling's opening and closing narrations (which usually struck me as pompous, unnecessary and the weakest aspect of an exceptional series), an anecdotal account of production and a genuinely critical commentary. The Companion also includes biographical sketches of Serling, Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, the principal Twilight Zone writers. In the second edition, Zicree adds 18 pages covering the 1983 film Twilight Zone--the Movie, the second (1985-1987) network TV series and the third (1988-1989) syndicated series and finds all of them unworthy of the original. He examines the film in adequate detail, but he synopsizes only six of the new TV episodes. Most of this addendum is an analysis of what went wrong with these attempts to recreate the spirit of the old series. The new material in the Companion is of the same high quality as the 1982 edition, but since Zicree himself considers the 1980's Twilight Zone projects to be failures, there is little reason for libraries to replace the first edition with the second. Just as surely, anyone with an interest in fantastic media who does not own the Companion should acquire this expanded edition. --Michael Klossner I Fiction I Disappointing Epic Attanasio, A.A. The Last Legends of Earth. NY, Doubleday Foundation, September 1989. 482p. $18.95 hc ($24.95 Canada). ISBN 0-385-26392-9. I really liked A.A. Attanasio's first novel, Radix. A big, sprawling book full of unusual ideas and violent encounters, it had some rough edges--an overly complex plot, a style tending too much to the baroque--but it always held together, always delivered an emotional jolt. A lot of people evidently agreed with me. The book was nominated for a Nebula and Attanasio was immediately tagged as one of the young writers to watch in the 80's. Unfortunately, the science fiction novels that followed Radixfailed to live up to its promise. Both In Other Worlds and Arc of Dreams had their moments, but neither came close to the standard established by the author's first book. Wyvern, a historical fantasy published earlier this year has given Attanasio his best reviews since Radix, but the author's latest science fiction novel, The Last Legends of Earth, is another major disappointment. The book's basic premise is that two billion years from now, long


18 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 after our sun has gone nova, a superpowerful but not at all supernatural alien intelligence called the Rimstalker has somehow resurrected millions of human beings, placing them on the many inhabitable planets of a complex and entirely artificial double star system. The Rimstalker did not do this out of love of humanity, but rather to set a trap for its ancient enemies, the Zotl, horrible spider-like creatures who feed on the mental anguish of other sentient beings. Humanity, it seems, is a helpless pawn caught between indifferent, warring giants who can move from universe to universe almost without thought. Attanasio takes this heavily pulp-indebted plotline and applies to it the almost magical transformations of fractal mathematics and contempo rary multiplex cosmology. By doing this he gives an appearance of sophis tication to a basic premise that in and of itself would not be out of place in a story by E.E. Smith or H.P. Lovecraft. Indeed, Attanasio's Zotl and their human priests could well have been lifted directly from the pages of Weird Tales or the early Amazing Stories. The book's language, always stilted, occasionally becomes absolutely overblown and pulpish, as in the following examples: ''The smiting silence that ensued drove Fra Bathra backward over the acid-splotched colors of the nightmare boulevard until he came to the alcove of broken limbs where the other priests waited," or "Far down in the slime pits of Perdur, in the lightless marrow of the Dragon's Shank, the vats stewed their human parts in a lake of amino acids." There is a sense of wonder in The Last Legends of Earth. As one universe warped into another and physical laws changed in the most bizarre ways imaginable, I got caught up in the book over and over again. Every few pages, however, the purple prose, the awkward, almost cartoon-likecharac ters, and the sheer operatic pompousness of it all simply overwhelmed the special effects and, for me at least, the book fell apart. There are good things in The Last Legends of Earth and someone who isn't bothered by the style may well be able to read this book with pleasure. I can't recommend it though. --Michael M. Levy A Nice Reprint Dick, Philip K. Eye in the Sky. NY, Collier Nucleus, 1989. 255p. $4.50 pb. ISBN 0-02-031590-2. Six tourists visiting a particle-beam accelerator accidentally fall into the path of a particle beam and end up in worlds created in the minds of many of the characters. Among the worlds surveyed are a Communist world, a paranoid world, and a fundamentalist world. Will the characters escape? Dick's first major novel shows many of his obsessions, particularly about the nature of reality and God. But unlike his late 1960's novels, Dick here manages to keep his obsessions in check to produce an entertaining story. After 30 years, the ironic aspects of his novel stand out; the social


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 19 historian will find no better guide to the delusions of that era than reading Dick's works. Eye in the Sky is Dick's first major work, and it's nice to see the novel back in print. --Martin Morse Wooster A Flawed Sequel Downer, Ann. The Glass Salamander. Atheneum, NY, 1989. 216p. $13.95 hc. ISBN 0-689-31413-2. Ann Downer's second book, The Glass Salamander, is a sequel to The Spellkey(1987) and follows the main characters from that book as they are menaced by their old foe, the Necromancer. Caitlin and the Badger parted at the end of The Spellkey, she to return to the isle of Chameol to be trained in the magic arts and he to travel the world with Elric, his mentor, as a knight of Chameol. On Chameol, Caitlin gives birth to the Badger's son, Bram, who is soon stolen away and replaced with a goblin changeling baby. Caitlin sets out to find Bram on the quest which runs counterpoint to that of the Badger and Elric who trace the plague to the Necromancer while Caitlin seeks out Drusian, an ancient power, who has Bram and needs Caitlin to help her prepare for an ultimate and final confrontation with the Necromancer. While Downer's major characters are not as fully-developed as they might be, they are far from being cardboard cut-outs. And Downer makes up for any depth they lack by creating a large band of unusually interesting and differentiated secondary characters. Her plotting is somewhat less satisfy ing. She runs two and sometimes three plot lines simultaneously but leaves the reader in almost as much confusion as the characters. Then, at the end, some character (or two) must make a long speech which explains everything the other characters and the readers need to know. On the whole, Downer writes well and has a good sense of what fantasy is about, but The Glass Salamander, like The Spellkey, would be much better if the information was integrated throughout ratherthan dropped in, all at once, at the end --C.W. Sullivan III Where Angels Have Fun Treading Duncan, Dave. West of January. Ballantine Books (Del Rey), NY, August, 1989, 343p. $3.95 pb. ISBN 0-345-35836-8. Dave Duncan's sixth book takes place on a planet whose day is nearly 200 years long. Each of the world's habitats--ice, wetlands, plains, jungles, deserts--move slowly westward with the sun; their inhabitantsdescendants of colonists from earth--move with them. At the edge of advancing cold is a traveling settlement called "Heaven", whose inhabitants study what survives of the original colonist's knowledge. The best of them,


20 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 called "Angels", go out into the world to help its various peoples. The Angels divide the world geographically into 12 "months", the sun taking about 16 years to move through each one. Knobil, the book's narrator, was born west of January to a herdsman mother and an Angel father. Cast out shortly after puberty, he begins a series of picaresque adventures. He beds a lot of women, becomes a slave, is mutilated by the slavers, nearly tortured by silk growers, and finally, after living with nearly all the different peoples on the planet, learning their skills and habits, he reaches the Angels. He later returns to his own people in the plains, and in a reworking of one of Duncan's favorite themes, uses his learning and skills to reform the herders' barbaric culture. At the end of his long life he tells this story to young herdsmen setting out to be Angels. There's nothing extraordinarily new about this book, not even for Duncan, who worked with similar themes in his second novel, Shadow, and his DestinyoftfJeSwordtrilogy. Knobil is one more in his series of reluctant, self-depreciating heroes, more smart than powerful, more wry than inspiring. While Knobil may be believable as a cultural catalyst, he is initially not very convincing as a herdsman; he is not primitive enough for the culture. The middle of the story, particularly when he is a prisoner of the miner" Ants", drags a bit. His self-depreciation is obvious and unconvincing. And given the ecological limits of the plains, the empire he builds at the book's end is not fully believable. Some of the events that should register real emotion--the death of loved ones, Knobil's maiming--simplydo not have much impact; nordothey, or his accomplishment, bear much human meaning. His quick and easy transformation of the herders' culture fails to touch or inspire. However, like all Duncan's work, this story is engaging, quick moving, and fun. Knobil is likable; his telling of his life with an old man's ironic patience gives the story an extra dimension that's pleasantly memorable. There is far more intelligence, humanity, and maturity in Duncan's work than we have any right to expect in paperback originals, which, when not trash, often seem to be juveniles in disguise. For plain entertainment, and at least some thoughtfulness, West of January, as all of Duncan's work, is recom mended. --William Mingin Vanity, Vanity Earls, H. Clayton. Trying Times. NY: Vantage, 1989. 209p. $13.95 hc. ISBN 0-533-08395-8. Unlike most vanity press books, which could never have been published commercially in any time, place, or alternate universe, Trying Times might actually have made it into one of the old pulps. The editor undoubtedly would have wanted to throw in a pretty girl or two, and a few more gun battles, but the book's basic premise would probably have flown. Earls postulates the near-future discovery of time travel and an


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 21 attempt to send a man back to 1859 to save the life of a doctor who was murdered while on the verge of discovering a cure for cancer. Needless to say those involved fail to consider, as the book's dust jacket puts it, "the horrific consequences in the future of altering events in the past." The unlikelihood of a cure for cancer being discovered in the 19th century is the book's most obvious problem. Earls, who is employed in the manufacture of missile systems, seems to know his way around a lab so most of the engineering details are at least as believable as anything in, say, early Van Vogt. The book's other weaknesses, however, include an almost total lack of character development, a leaden sense of pacing, and untold pages of engineers either lecturing to each other or fraternizing with each other, mostly in cliches. As written, this book simply doesn't meet contemporary commercial publishing standards. If Earls could just invent a time machine, however, and send his manuscript back to, say, 1923 .... A sequel is promised. --Michael M. Levy Almost Classic Space Opera Farren, Mick. The Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys. Ballantine/DeIRey, NY, September 1989. 283p. $3.95 pb. ISBN 0-345035808-2. Thetitle is not,l fear, in grave disagreement with the tone and quality of this effort. Most of it is an almost classic rock-em sock-em Western dressed up in space with blasters, three hero types riding giant lizards, evil heavies and a super double scoop of sex, drugs and violence. So it will no doubt sell well and entertain somebody. There is, however, just a little bit to be said in favor of this item. To wit, it pictures a future world which has come apart into floating isolated chunks separated by "the nothings", a nice idea nicely worked out. It is also a real "end-of-the-world" novel and its conclusion will surprise most of its readers. It has good visualization, the action drives right along, and it will certainly satisfy any inner cravings for gore. But most interesting of all, and redolent in its way of some of Philip K. Dick's work, there is a faintly perceptible possibility of a real disjuncture between the tone and the inner meaning. The text plays with itself at times. It is occasionally spiced with cross references to seminal works of science fiction. It has real touches of satire on the various habitats the heroes wander through. It may have a hidden mataphysic. I don't recommend this one to you if you only read great books. But if you want to know what kind of novel an unrepentant 50' s rocker might write, try it. --Peter Brigg


22 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 Light Entertainment Faust. Joe Clifford. Desperate Measures. NY, Del Rey, July 1989, 245p. $3.95 pb. ISBN 0-345-35020-0. Angel's Luck, Book One. James May is a down-on-his luck starship captain faced with mounting bills who is given an unusual proposition--smuggle a load of meat across a solar system and he'll earn enough money to pay his debts and also be a rich man. But after he's hired a copilot who's faked his credentials, May's troubles begin, as his ship is captured, hijacked, repossessed, used by mercenaries in an improbable expedition, and hired to transport the brains of ten dead geniuses. This is a novel which continues the traditions of the Ace Doubles. Faust is a competent adventure writer who may some day be an important one. Desperate Measures is acceptable light entertainment. --Martin Morse Wooster Shorter SF and Fantasy Alive and Well Ferman, Edward L., ed. The Best from Fantasy & Science Fiction: A 40th Anniversary Anthology. St. Martin's Press, NY, October 12, 1989. 376p. $18.95 hc. ISBN 0-312-03293-5. This anthology appears just as Amazing Stories has been packed away in mothballs, at a time when publishers seem determined to have as little to do with short fiction as possible--Robert Silverberg's latest writing project is a novelization of Asimov's "Nightfall," of all things. Though the existing magazines may hang on, they appear to have become largely irrelevant in the economic/imaginative production of fantastic fiction. That's unfortunate. As The Best from F&SF shows, shorter SF and fantasy is alive and well, doing things that longer forms can't. If, for example, you thought that Lucius Shepard's "R & R" was more impressive before being incorporated into Life in Wartime, read his "Salvador" here. It gives a feverish glimpse of wartime hell, then stops. The reader is left to follow the unsettling line of development that Shepard begins. Yes __ .Not having to stretch itself through an unfolding plot, a short story can respect how unfinished and arbitrary "conclusions" actually are. That shows up here in Disch's "Urderstanding Human Behavior," Watson's "Slcm Birds," or Kress's "Out of All Them Bright Stars." Also, it's easier to maintain humor in shorter lengths, like Effinger's "The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything" or David's "While You're Up." Even somewhat longer stories are able to stop when the idea and the feeling do, like Le Guin's "Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight," Springer's "The Boy Who Plaited Manes," or Robinson's "Black Air." There are 11 more stories here, several of them as impressive as the ones I've mentioned. The book's title is somewhat misleading; it's not the best stories from all 40 years but rather a selection of stories since the most


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 23 recent Best from F&SF (1982). Still, you should look forthis installment of The Best. It will make you feel good about the vitality of recent short fiction, and it may encourage you to pay attention to the lively things still showing up in magazines. --Joe Sanders Reshaping Legends Finch, Sheila. Shaping the Dawn. Bantam Spectra, NY December 1989. 309p. $3.95 pb. ISBN 0-553-28287-5. Volume III of The ShaperExile finds the Biblists, a sect of genetically mutated zealots, heading toward the prison planet Beta Orbis IV in order to bring the vengeance of God upon the Venn scientists. On the planet, Rivi, half Rhodaru and half llian, plots to help her friend Geni pass his manhood trial of killing a karami in the desert. When she finds that he is using a farkiller against the beast instead of only his knife, she realizes that as a matter of honor he can now never choose her as his bride. Upon the death of her grandmother, Rivi leaves Lemek and sets out across the desert for Kerratash, and is herself attacked by a karami. Tagak, one of the last remaining Venn who has come to the desert land to help her creations, heals her wounds and sends her on to a desert village, where she falls in love with the young Zak. Upon Zak's death at the hands of Jaskath, High Priest of Lemek, Rivi leaves the village and first travels across the desert to Kerratash, and then on to Ilia employed as a servant. There she learns that the blue jewel she wears around her neck once belonged to the Liane Queen Sivell, and that she herself is the granddaughter of the last Liana Queen, Beryt, who is now living as an aesthetic in the coastal village of Donil's Bay. Fleeing the High Priest once more, Rivi is captured by the Biblists in order to sit in judgment for the last remaining Venn scientist, who is living alone with only his cyborg sea dragon for company. Although packed with one hair-raising dilemma after another, Shafr ing the Dawn seems only half the book it should be: important scenes flash by without proper treatment, and character after character are killed off even before they are fully developed. Also, Rivi remains annoyingly ignorant of her true blood line for most of the novel, creating a somewhat artificial air of suspense. Unfortunately, this book lacks the careful character and plot structuring that informed Vol ume II, a deficiency that cannot be overcome by Finch's painstaking portrait of the fallen Tia-ta-pel or by the string of coinci dences which seem to point toward a brighter future for the llian nation. --Joseph M. Dudley


24 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 Poland, Forever Frankowski, Leo. The CrossTime Engineer. Book one in the Adventures of Conrad Stargard. Ballantine, NY, 1986. 259p. $3.95 pb. ISBN 0-345-32762-4. Frankowski, Leo. The High-Tech Knight. Book Two in the Adventures of Conrad Stargard. Ballantine, NY, 1989. 247p. $3.95 pb. I SBN 0-345-32763-2. Frankowski, Leo. The Radiant Warrior. Book Three in the Adventures of Conrad Stargard. Ballantine, NY, 1989. 281 p. $3.95 pb. ISBN 0-345-32763-2. Frankowski, Leo. The Flying Warforo. Book Four in the Adventures of Conrad Stargard. Ballantine, NY, 1989. 232p. $3.95 pb. ISBN 0-345-32765-9. Conrad Stargard, nee Schwartz, a vacationing Polish engineer, is accidentally transported through a timelock to the year 1231, ten years before the Mongols are scheduled to overrun Poland. In The Cross-Time Engineer he becomes reconciled to his fate and becomes a knight swearing allegiance to Count Lambert who allows him to establish his own small fiefdom. In starts building an industrial base; in The Radiant Warrior he trains and equips the medieval Polish army; and in The Flying Warford he finally faces the Mongol hordes in battle. Aided by Anna, a bio-engineered "horse" sent to him by the time travelers who continuously monitor his actions, Conrad works to impose both the industrial revolution and his own mixture of socialism and capitalism on medieval Poland. Part devout Catholic prude and part playboy, Conrad almost nightly takes advantage of Count Lambert's custom of making local peasant girls perpetually available to his knights. He also sets up a chain of Pink Dragon Inns staffed by waitresses--all certified virgins--dressed as Playboy bunnies. Throughout the series the narrative unfolds through diaries, mostly Conrad's, but sometimes that of one of his allies or business partners. These minor characters smoothly fill in previous adventures so a reader unfamiliar with an earlier book in the series can easily follow the action in anyone of the sequels. At infrequent intervals the time travelers comment briefly on the action; near the end of the series they begin to notice that time lines are diverging in unpredictable ways. Frankowski writes well and the story flows smoothly through a sharply-realized medieval environment. However, the bulk of the narrative is concerned with Conrad's meticulously detailed accounts of how he used his applications of 20th century knowledge and 13th century raw materials to solve engineering problems and introduce machinery, indoor plumbing, and modern agricultural methods to feudal Poland. Another irritation is Conrad's


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 25 adolescent attitude towards sex; though he treats women as equals in the work force, he and the other men in these novels clearly believe that a woman's primary goal and duty is to please a man in bed. As science fiction this series is ultimately disappointing, too deriva tive of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and not nearly concerned enough with the paradoxes of time travel and causality generated by Conrad's considerable impact on 13th century life, paradoxes that are mentioned but never really dealt with in these volumes. However, readers who are interested in Conrad's engineering feats and who can also overlook Frankowski's rampant male chauvinism will enjoy the way a 20th century man both adapts to and adapts a 13th century environment. --Agatha Taormina Past Lives for Sale Kress, Nancy. Brain Rose. NY: William Morrow, January 1990. 324p. $17.95 hc. ISBN 0-688-09452-X. Nancy Kress started out as the author of a series of solid, but fairly routine fantasy novels, among them Prince of Morning Bells and The Golden Grove. Almost from the beginning however, she was also writing fine short fiction, stories like "Trinity," "Glass," and "Philippa's Hands," which made it clear that there was a lot more to her talent than could be demonstrated within the limits of a generic fantasy novel. Then, last year, came An Alien Ught, her first full-length work of science fiction and, in my opinion, one of the ten best SF novels of the year. Brain Rose, Kress' new novel, is a solid book but it Is also a clear step back from An Alien Ught. It concerns a near-future surgical procedure which, rather unbelievably, can give people access to past lives and cure Altzheimer's and MS. The book is set in a twenty-first century America that has been devastated by AIDS and is now facing yet another plague, a form of mental deterioration similar, perhaps, to Korsakov's syndrome, in which the victims become stuck in one limited span of memory, replaying the same five or ten minutes of their lives over and over again. Kress focuses on three people who have signed up for past life access surgery, Caroline, a wealthy socialite who seeks escape from the burden of guilt which has accumulated in her current life, Joe, a lawyer who doesn't really approve of the surgery but hopes it will cure his MS, and Robbie, a bumbling jewel thief who sees it as the way to make his fortune. Kress' character development is excellent, but the book is handicapped by the fact that none of these people is particularly pleasant. Even the lawyer, a social activist sort who really has devoted his life to what he sees as the common good, is thoroughly humorless and something of a Gay basher. The book's biggest problem of course, lies in the basic concept of previous life access surgery with its attendant required postulates of reincar nation and a collective unconscious (which Kress calls the Over-Memory). I'm not sure that it's possible to deal with such things believably within a


26 SFRA News/etter, No. 175, March, 1990 realistic science fiction framework. Kress makes things even more unbeliev able when she tries to tie the previous life stuff in with AIDS, her memory plague, and Gaeism, a religious cult which sees the Earth as a semi conscious being intentionally modifying itself in order to save us from the effects of our own pollution and other idiocies. Also somewhat hard to swallow is the fact that Caroline, Joe, and Robbie have evidently been connected in literally dozens of past lives and have, in fact, apparently been manipulated into all having previous life access surgery at the same time by the semi-sentient Over-Memory. Still, Kress is a talented writer with a knack for character develop ment and pacing, and her twenty-first century America is quite believable. Some ofthe scenes in which Robbie and Caroline flip back and forth between past lives and the present are very well done. Although the book's logiclal, medical, and philosophical underpinnings hold together about as well as your typical New Age tract, Brain Rose is an enjoyable read. --Michael M. Levy Still Crazy After All these Years Malzberg, Barry. Beyond Apollo. Carroll & Graf, NY, 1989. 153p. $3.50 pb. ISBN 0-88184-551-5. Published in 1972, this mordantly self-conscious send-up of conven tional space-flight SF and of NASA's Apollo program won the first John W. Campbell Memorial Award (1973) and a minor place in the canon of American science fiction. Its postmodernist portrayal of alienated, mecha nized, and de-humanized astronauts connects it to the same thematics in two other Malzberg novels, The Falling Astronauts (1971) and Revelations (1972). This reissue offers a timely second look at Malzberg's Kafkaesque short novel just as NASA's publicity team achieves full puffery of the new, improved (after the Challenger disaster) Space Shuttle program. There are many ironies, since Beyond Apollo concerns the attempts of the U.S. space program to provide justifications for itself (after the shutdown of the Apollo moon expeditions) by sending manned flights to Mars (1976) and Venus (1981). In the novel, both have ended in disaster; Harry Evans, the lone survivor of the Venus expedition, wrestles with his memory, identity, and sanity as he writes down his versions of the voyage and the death of its captain. Narrated schizophrenically by "Evans" and "I" in the form of notes for a novel, Beyond Apollo, by Harry M. Evans, the text obsessively dodges and weaves around the "true" events of the Venus probe. Malzberg teases us into looking for the literal explanation for the mission's failure, but it's a fool's game; instead, we constantly confront the wreckage of Evans' subjec tivity. Evans (and Malzberg) are obsessed with games, and an important part of the narrative turns on Evans' recollections of a guessing game 0Nhy go to Venus?) he played with the dead Captain of the Venus probe.


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 27 When Evans finally guesses the Captain's answer--that events control our lives, and that indeterminacy is the principle of principles--he lapses further into insanity. But we are reminded that people and institutions still create political and rhetorical explanations intended to justify events with the mechanical constructions of human rationales. The iron rules of the space program have turned Evans into a machine "geared for efficiency" even when he copulates with his wife. The obvious, bipolar thematics of charac ter--organic, loving female opposed to machine-like, life-

28 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 overweight Jewish girl, and then some. She tends to regard her powers as something of a curse and really resents the fact that her mother, God, appears to have abandoned herto her own devices with little or no direction. As Julie achieves adulthood and the 1990's begin, fundamentalist Christianity, with the Reverend Milk at the forefront, is also growing in power. Milk begins a crusade to close the casinos in Atlantic City, and, at the head of a huge army of the faithful, eventually burns them down, killing hundreds. Riding a wave of moral backlash against the sinners who are supposedly corrupting the city, he gains enormous political power and then, perhaps a bit unbelievably, engineers the secession of New Jersey from the United States and the creation of the holy nation of New Jerusalem. I ntolerant of any religious views but his own, Milk perforce is on a collision course with Julie, who fits none of his theological strictures. Only Begotten Daughter has two major settings, Atlantic City and Hell. The Devil, under the name of Andrew Wyvern, is a major player in Morrow's game. Delightfully depicted as the owner of a particularly elegant, multi-leveled casino called Dante's, he's constantly lurking around the edges of the plot, attempting to influence Milk, Julie, or one of a number of well drawn lesser characters. Eventually, after Julie reveals her powers to the world by putting out the fires that Milk's minions have set in Atlantic city and which threaten to burn down the entire town, Wyvern convinces her to join him in Hell. Morrow's depiction of that realm stands with those in Niven and Pournelle's Inferno and Shea's Nifftthe Lean as among the most successful in fantasy fiction. This is a fine book, one which bears direct comparison to John Kessel's recent and equally fine science-fiction version of the Last Days, Good News from Outer Space. As we get closer and closer to the Millennium such stories will probably become very common. Morrow's Only Begotten Daughter, however, should stand not only as one of the first but also as one of the very best such novels. Michael M. Levy Grandmaster's Worlds Norton, Andre. Wizards' Worlds. Tor, NY, August 1989. 500p. $17.95 hc. ISBN 0-312-93191-3. This collection of short stories by Andre Norton, a Grandmaster of science fiction and fantasy, is misleadingly titled "Wizards' Worlds." There are many more witches than wizards in these tales, but the second word of the title is accurate, for as usual, Norton manages to create worlds that are believable and engrossing. The stories collected here demonstrate her consistent interests as well as dramatic difference in style; the stories' original publication dates range from 1953 to 1985. Unfortunately, the stories are not presented chronologically, and the organizing principle of the book is unclear and unarticulated. Unlike other collections by Norton, this one has neither an introduction nor an afterword. The raw material of her stories is


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 29 compelling enough, but such a range of fictions merits a frame. Some of the stories have been reprinted in other Norton anthologies; for example, "Spider Silk" and four other stories can be found in Lore of Witch World (1980). Of course, this book, like so many other science fiction titles, is out of print and the range of Wizards' Worlds itself may be justification enough for its existence. Reading thirteen stories by Norton is an engaging experience, although not as engaging as reading a couple of novels from the Witch World series. Several of these stories are only tangentially related to Witch World and one is even set in Eastern Europe after World War II. This story, "By a Hair," focuses on a woman's betrayal and her punishment through her mysterious birthing of a wolf-child. Its dark fantasy evokes the atmosphere otTanith Lee, just one ofthe many writers clearly influenced by Norton. There are several "wer" tales in this collection; the book reveals Norton's fascina tion with connections between humans and animals, particularly telepathic communication between human and beast as in "Swamp Dweller," "Were Wrath," and "Spider Silk." Her particular interest in cats is exemplified by "Were-Wrath," in which a telepathic cat named Grimclaw serves as a sentry and is an integral part of a family created at the end of the story. In "All Cats are Gray," Norton again depicts a cat as a fighter and as part of an unusual family unit. Almost every story involves a woman and a man alienated from their societies and learning to cope with magical powers. In these stories, there is a conventional happy ending in which the couple learns to work together and there remains the promise offurther adventures. This paradigm is what makes Norton's fictions work; she succeeds in breathing life into a rather conventional scenario by situating her initially unhappy protagonists in magical settings and by gracing them with special powers. The title story, "Wizards' Worlds," typifies this emphasis as the psionic hero, Craike, is hunted in his own world and finds respite and a mate in a parallel world, a plot that also shapes "Toys of Tamisan," a story about a female dreamer who similarly escapes from slavery into a parallel world of lUXUry and romantic bliss. Norton's interest in female goddesses appears in "Toads of Grimmer dale" and "Changeling," two linked tales that include Gunnora, a Demeter like mother goddess, and the even more obviously named "All Mother" of "Swamp Dweller." Norton's predilections are, then, readily apparent and to be expected in a collection of her shorter fiction. Less predictable is the humor of "All Cats are Gray" and the brief "Mousetrap," published in 1953 and 1952 respectively. These stories reveal the Norton of the pulps: delightfully light and surprisingly humorous. The collection is highly recommended for fans of Norton. First time readers of Norton, however, might find the stories somewhat confusing and less enjoying than her novels. --Robin Roberts


30 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 Sex and Satan ism in Rome and San Francisco Quijano, Mary L. Bloodmaster. NY: Pinnacle Books, August 1989. 332p. $3.95 pb ($4.95 Canada). ISBN 1-55817-251-3. This first novel is fairly typical of the Satanic possession school of mass-market horror fiction, though it may be a bit more ambitious than the average. There are two plot lines. In the first, Marija Draekins, a moderately successful young San Francisco business woman, finds herself tormented by more and more violent hallucinations, most of them involving demons, many of them grossly sexual. She, her fiance, and her priest seek aid from modern medicine and from the church, but nothing seems to help until they decide to contact their local Satanist organization. In the second plot line, the Pope lies brain dead in Rome hooked to machines that keep his body alive, while something which claims to be God but, of course, isn't, uses his lips to subvert church policy and raise to power the ambitious Archbishop of San Francisco, a thoroughly evil man who just may have made a deal with the devil. Quijano is not much of a stylist and her character development doesn't have all that much to recommend it either, but she puts a lot of energy into her book and her imagination for gross out details is quite fertile. The idea of Satan speaking through the body of a brain-dead pope is also used rather effectively. Bloodmaster is far from memorable, but it is an entirely adequate airport read for those who like this kind of thing. --Michael M. Levy The Most Violent Film? Romero, George A. and Susanna Sparrow. Dawn of the Dead. St. Martins Press, NY, 1978. 210p. $8.95 pb. ISBN 0-312-18394-1. In contrast to Romero's bleak, despairing, majestic Night of the Living Dead (1968), his sequel Dawn of the Dead takes a grimly humorous look at the end of the world. Four human survivors battle hordes of pathetic but dangerous zombies at a rural shopping mall. Dawn pleased both audiences and critics by combining anti-consumerist satire with frenetic, cartoonlike action, which won it a reputation as perhaps the most violent film ever made. The novelization is grossly overwritten. Details that flash by in a second on the screen are laboriously described, as are the thoughts of the four human characters at almost every step of the tale. The book is not only less harrowing than the movie but much less funny and serves as an example of the superiority of film over text in telling certain kinds of stories. The major fault of both the film and the book is inconsistency; the zombies are sometimes almost helpless and sometimes unstoppable, and the killing of zombies is either justified or sadistic, depending on the need of the plot. The novel would have been of interest if Romero had written it alone


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 31 and had used itto explore his ideas in ways which the film could not. Instead the book is almost an exact transcription of the film, except for a greater emphasis on the growing feminism of the sole female character, and it is impossible to know if that difference reflects Romero's intentions or Spar row's. Anyone interested in horror films should view the videocassette of Dawn of the Dead, for which the novel is a poor substitute. --Michael Klossner Not so Thrilling Thriller Ross, David D. The Argus Gambit: The Dreamers of the Day Book One [sic]. St. Martin's Press, NY, 1989. 406p. $18.95 hc. ISBN 0-312-03287-0. This is a near-future, SF political thriller, so the world-building and plot are important, and the politics are an esthetic concern, and I really feel some obligation to discuss them all; I just don't want to. All right. The novel is mostly set in a relatively high-tech Fortress America (which apparently includes all of the Americas) and a rejuvenated Unified Soviet State; the plot is a convoluted thing involving a conspiracy by the thus-far benevolent Argus Society. The politics are what we might call a chastened, post-Donald-Trump Objectivism, crossed with whatever the polite term is for what one reads in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Actually, I could have enjoyed this book. Between the current government of the USSR of our world and a future Russia ruled by "The Genetic Communists," Ross postulates an incompetent "Orthodox theoc racy" beset by "the intrigues ofthe fascist White Russians and Czarists" (194, second headnote; italics removed). I like that and recommend gratitude for all reminders that unreconstructed Stalinists are emphatically not the only totalitarians in eastern Europe and western Asia. Besides, I like well-done schlock: I enjoyed Niven and Pournelle's Oath of Fea/fy enough to defend it, and I've recommended Robert Ludlum for Novelist Laureate of Club Med. But I just can't take seriously an exercise in recombinant fiction where the elements recombined are frequently unconnected cliches. Not in a novel with a hit-man named "Emil" who photographs his victims and feeds little Mexican boys to a bio-engineered snake. And not in a novel dense with clunky sentences, only rarely interrupted by lively writing. For example--try to stage in your head the following exchange between a positively presented future Police Inspector, smiling wanly, and a pipe-smoking scientist who has been firmly established as a follower of Alfred Strubeck in the Argus conspiracy: POLICE INSPECTOR: You are right. My mind tells me to help you, even as my heart condemns you as a criminal. My God, though! Do you realize what a great man Strubeck was? Have you any comprehension of his dreams and visions? SCIENTIST: I daresay [sic]. Otherwise I've been wasting much of my life.


32 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 POLICE INSPECTOR: Sorry. That was stupid of me. (303) The scientist goes on to refer decorously to a character as "the ubiquitous Mr. Ferman" (305), to be followed by the narrator's indecorous reference to a man's "heavy jaw shaded by an ubiquitous five o'clock shadow" (307) and later attempt "to ploy" (308). That is lifeless, careless writing, unacceptable even in SF with great ideas for world-building, fascinating characters, impeccable politics, and brilliant plotting. The Argus Gambit offers mostly bad writing presenting problematic politics and merely serviceable ideas, character, and plot. I recommend that David D. Ross find a competent editor who will work with him. If St. Martin's has already provided such an editor, I recommend that they find themselves worthier SF to publish. I don't recommend buying the book with one's own money. --Richard K. Erlich Lite Blood Sackett, Jeffrey. Blood of the Impaler. Bantam Books, NY, 1989, 340p. $3.95 pb. ISBN 0-553-28183-6. This is an old-fashioned vampire story that owes nothing to the work of Anne Rice, Jcx.iy Scott, Suzy McKee Charnas, or any of the other contemporary writers who have radically revised the figure of Bram Stoker's blocx.i-sucking Count in recent novels. And Sackett's vampires are familiar for more than their glaring red eyes and peals of unholy laughter: not even their names have been changed since, demonstrably, there is no need here to protect the innocent. All this would be fine--maybe it's time to get back to hard-core vampirism; enough with these effete, angst-ridden contemporary blocx.isuckers--except that Sackett hasn't managed to inject much in the way of new life into his undead characters (or into his live ones either, for that matter). Sackett's premise is that Dracula is not really dead (at this point, I am trying to resist "ho-humming," but I really can't help it). It seems that Stoker's novel was not a work of fiction, but a cleverly disguised version of the truth of events which involved real people and, it follows, real vampires. The problem is that Dracula's death at the end of the story was a clever fake, stage-managed in order to shake off his pursuers. Several generations later, he uses his evil influence to stage-manage his own resurrection. The hapless victim of the evil Count is Malcolm Harker, great-grandson of Mina and Jonathan. Malcolm ("Don't think that I'm going to take any of this as being anything more than goddamned, superstitious bullshit"), his equally feckless fiancee, Holly ("Great, just great. I finally find a guy who isn't a jerk and he turns out to be a nut! I mean, vampires, for Christ's sake!"), and his bumbling friend, Jerry ("Hey, Holly, I was just trying to help, you know?"), along with various other not particularly attractive human characters, soon find them selves up to their ears in revenants.


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 33 Sackett's plot premises might have worked if he had created atmos phere and characters powerful enough to do them justice. As it is, Blood of the Impaler too often reads like something out of a Hardy Boys adventure. While there are sections of the novel, such as the continuation of Mina Harker's diary, orthe flashbacks into Dracula's own past as Vlad the Impaler, in which the action becomes lively and interesting, the contemporary char acters and setting are simply too weakly handled to sustain much reader involvement. "The time is now," the cover blurb informs us, "the thirst is ancient," but the blood, I'm sorry to say, is definitely lite. --Veronica Hollinger Third Time a Charm? Schmidt, Dennis. Labyrinth. Ace Books, NY, October 1989. 179p. $3.50 pb. ISBN 0-441-69337-7. This is the first novel in Schmidt's third series for Ace. In "The Kensho Series" (4 novels, 1978-1985), he glued eastern philosophy and martial arts onto a standard sf substratum, a dangerous planet colonized from a dying Earth. In the "Twilight of the Gods" trilogy (1985-1988), he mined Old English literature for the best moments in a standard sword and sorcery fantasy. Here, he has grafted existential philosopphy onto old fashioned space opera. Labyrinth is a sentient planet, mysterious and deadly, a cross between Lem's Solaris and Harrison's Deathworld. Since the Galactic Empire uses Labyrinth as a training ground for its unusual police force, most of the novel traces the fortunes of the five central characters as they try to survive on the deadliest planet in the galaxy. Interleaved with this story is the life story of the point of view character, an ursoid named Seeker. The novel is a curious mix. On the one hand, most of the action is about as interesting as the action in your average game of "Dungeons and Dragons," which, frankly, it resembles. On the other hand, Schmidt strives to fictionalize existential philosophy. He heads the novel's main sections with epigraphs from Soren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and Alfred North Whitehead. Labyrinth itself is a gigantic metaphor for sentient existence: it is the maze which we are all tossed into at birth, which we negotiate unaided, and which eventually kills us. Each of the five main characters also, I think, "stands for" a paradigmatic response to sentient existence: there is a coward, a scientist, an artist, a warrior, and a philosopher. Since this is the first volume of a projected trilogy, it is somewhat premature to judge Labyrinth. But I suspect that this novel will not satiSfy either of its possibl e aud iences. S pace opera buffs will probably dislike all the philosophy and may even be bored by the pro forma action sequences. And those interested in the revitalization of moribund SF conventions will no doubt finally decide that this novel lacks synergy--its two main components


34 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 simply do not meld, the curious whole is less than the sum of its immiscible parts. But perhaps Schmidt will achieve something more than this in the trilogy's second volume, City of Crystal Shadow, due from Ace in April 1990. --Todd H. Sammons Wonderful Irony Slonczewski, Joan. The Wall Around Eden. William Morrow and Company, NY, 1989. 288p. $18.95 hc. ISBN 1-55710-030-6. The Wall Around Eden is a fascinating venture into a post -holocaust earth. In a small town in Pennsylvania, Isabel Garcia-Chase, black, Latina, and Quaker, grows up as part ofthe first generation of survivors of a nuclear war that destroys all life on earth: a seeming paradox. After the war, (or accident, or alien invasion?), half of humanity had been destroyed, and during the year-long nuclear winter that followed, the rest of earth's life had died--except that enclosed in special walled areas, apparently preserved by aliens, who spy on humans with free-floating organic eyes. In such an area, Gwynwood, Isabel lives, coming to adolescence with a burden of hate, thinking that the holocaust was engineered by the aliens, assuming that she and her community were preserved as slaves or meat or zoo animals. Isabel is thus an adolescent rebel, a type adapted to female characters in science fiction by Andre Norton and Marion Zimmer Bradley, and like earlier such characters, she determines to resist the passivity and custom of her commu nity. Isabel begins her own underground, learning everything she can about her alien captors so that she can eventually break through the wall and free humanity. Although raised a Quaker, she rejects their passivity out of an angry assurance that her rights and freedoms have been violated. In particular, she knows that she will never have the university education her mother, a doctor, had, nor will she ever travel freely on her own planet, unless the wall comes down. (It is great serendipity--or another proof of the predictive value of science fiction--that Slonczewski's novel was published the year that the Berlin Wall came down.) Unlike the female rebels of Norton's and Bradley's works, however, Isabel lives in a progressive community. And so, instead of suffering increas ing isolation, Isabel becomes the center of community concern: her friend Peace Hope joins her resistance; her friend Daniel converts it to his own pacifist Quaker response, witnessing against the aliens; and the community holds a town meeting to discuss their response, eventually cautioning Isabel but also joining in a peaceful demonstration at the Pylon, the part of the wall where aliens enter and exit, and where once a week mail and trade goods from other towns appears. Nor is the community action the only utopian element in this novel: the community acknowledges and includes diversity in an ideal fashion--Quakers, Lutherans, Jews, and Buddhists worship to gether; the teacher is blind, young twins in the town are deaf, Grace, who loves babies, is "slow," and Peace is a paraplegic; Isabel has a black mother, a Latina father, her adult confidante is Vietnamese, and the doctor who is


SFRA News/etter, No. 175, March, 1990 35 brought by the aliens from Australia is gay. In addition, education is individualized, as well as communally responsible: children study subjects of their own, as well as the basics with their blind teacher Becca, they learn sign language and braille along with English and a foreign language, and the children incorporate apprenticeships or jobs for the community along with academic subjects. The question of whether this world is a dystopia or a utopia, in fact, becomes crucial to the novel. As Isabel learns more about the aliens and their strange doings--that they are a four-part symbiotic being, that they do not retaliate when she kills one of the "eyes," that their strange electrical displays in earth's skies may be restoring rather than depleting ozone, that they are interested in communicating through the pylon--she comes to question her initial assumption that they are hostile invaders, and begins to wonder if they are instead altruistic preservers of earth's life. After Isabel marries Daniel, and they are about to have a baby, they are transported to another enclosure, where they meet Teacher Becca, and live in an Edenic forest where all sorts of exotic earth animals and plants are preserved; here Isabel learns compassion for her captors, helping one "worker" alien after a fall. In contrast, when Isabel tries to escape this Eden through the wall, she stumbles into another enclosure which is a dystopic community run by Australian rebels who are anti-woman as well as anti-aliens. The novel ends with Isabel's and Daniel's return to Gwynwood with their new baby, a community remembrance and witnessing to the year of the holocaust when they watched their families outside the wall die, and the coming down of the wall. In its pacifist solutions to conflict the novel is a challenge to much of science fiction; in its acknowledgment that identities originating in cultural, physical, and sexual difference are important to human preservation, it is a challenge to earlier feminist utopias. The novel deserves the John W. Campbell Memorial Award it was given, but it is a wonderful irony that it challenges almost all of the cultural values that Campbell promoted. --Jane Donawerth Rediscover a Nineteenth Century Writer Spofford, Harriet Prescott. "The Amber Gods" and Other SI.ories. Ed. and Intro. Alfred Bendixen. American Women Writers Series. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ, 1989, xxxix+222p. $35.00 hc. ISBN 0-81351400-2. $15.00 pb. ISBN 0-8135-1401-0. New England writer Harriet Prescott Spofford enjoyed a relatively brief but intense period of literary fame during the 1860's. So impressed were critics by her early stories and novels that even the young Henry James was moved to praise the "united strength and brilliancy of her descriptions" and to prophesy for her "a foremost place" in American literature. Unfortunately, Spofford was the victim of both financial necessity and changing literary fashions and did not sustain the promise which she demonstrated at the beginning of her literary output. As Alfred Bendixen points out in his


36 SFRA News/etter, No. 175, March, 1990 Introduction to this selection of some of her best stories, in spite of a writing career which spanned nearly six decades, Spofford is almost completely unknown today. The purpose ofthis volume, then, is to re-introduce readers to this now-forgotten, nineteenth-century American writer. The stories collected here, most written during the 1860's, reflect Spofford's involvement in the tradition of American romanticism and clearly demonstrate her affinities with writers such as Poe, Melville, and Hawthorne, ranging as theydo from detective stories to tales of the supernatural. Indeed, Bendixen claims that "her best work represents not only the final flowering of the romantic impulse in nineteenth-century New England, but also the most significant female counterpart to the essentially male tradition of American romantic fiction"(xi). While it is difficulttoweigh these impressive claims in the light of only ten stories, there is no doubt that, at her best, Spofford was a very powerful writer indeed. "The Amber Gods," the title story of this collection and of Spofford's first collection (1863) is a weird tale written as a monologue. The narrative voice is simply wonderful, that of a completely beautiful, sensual, and egotistical young woman who cooly analyzes her own "splendid selfish ness." It's not necessary to divulge the plot here; suffice it to say that Spofford's protagonist is a refreshingly unexpected Voice. Also worthy of note is Spofford's detective story, "In a Cellar," which owes much to Poe's mysteries. Again, the narrative voice, this time that of a worldly and cynical diplomat involved in Parisian intrigue, surprises and delights. Indeed, Bendixen tells us that the original publisher of this story, which began Spofford's mercurial rise to fame, refused at first to believe that "this shy young woman from a sheltered New England background" could have written it. On the other hand, there is a fine line between romantic effusion and hysteria and Spofford's writing does not always manage to avoid crossing that line. As fascinating as the symbolic romanticism of a story like "Circum stance" is in its exploration of some of the conflicts facing the woman-as artist, the tone of the writing seems dangerously out of control at times, and this, in my opinion, is an occasional but real weakness in many of the stories in this volume. However, if you enjoy the romances of writers like Poe and Hawthorne, the odds are that you will enjoy Spofford's work as well. And there is an added interest in discovering works of American romanticism penned by a woman writer. "The Amber Gods" and Other Stories is part of the American Women Writers Series published by Rutgers and edited by Joanne Dobson, Judith Fetterley, and Elaine Showalter, whose names will be familiar to many readers of American feminist literary criticism. While I have not seen any other volumes in this series, I am impressed by the thorough introductory and bibliographical material which accompany the stories in this one. Bendixen's introduction places Spofford in her literary context, provides biographical details, and concludes with valuable remarks on the ten stories he has chosen to represent her work. The introduction includes a Selected


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 37 Bibliography of primary and secondary material and the volume ends with some brief but useful textual notes. --Veronica Hollinger Return of the Space PoWs Watkins, William John. The LastDeathship Off Antares. Popular Books, NY, 1989. 204p. $3.95 pb. ISBN 0-445-20464-8. This moderately entertaining little novel puts an interesting spin on the conventional space war formula by applying the ironic twist of the many layered Pogo ism "We have met the enemy and he is us" to the conventional plot. The story starts after the human fleet has gone off to battle the aliens in interstellar space--and lost. Prisoners of a completely misunderstood en emy, the survivors of the battle are interned in orbiting prison ships. The conditions in the ships are appalling and the humans are soon reduced to savagery in their individual struggles to survive on the meager resources provided by their captors. The insectoid aliens--or at least the warrior caste which adheres to a bushido-like code--considerthe surrender of the humans to be dishonorable and further dealings with the detritus of the conflict to be beneath their dignity. Within the savagery, madness, and despair of the prison ships one prisoner--blinded and unconscious at the surrender and so deprived of the honorable death supplied by the victors to many--sees a way to overcome the desperate conditions in the prison hulks. Slowly a philosophy and way of life evolves among the captives that at first restores humanity to the prisoners and then a sense of honor. But ironically, as the prisoners gain a sense of honor they become more and more like the aliens they originally went out to fight, making their eventual repatriation problematical. --Peter C. Hall A New Theodore Sturgeon? Wilson, Robert Charles. A Hidden Place. NY: Bantam Spectra, 1989. 212p. $3.95 pb ($4.95 Canada). ISBN 0-553-26103-7. Fantasy Review somehow missed this beautifully-written first novel when it originally appeared in 1986 so I jumped at the chance to take note of its re-publication as part of Bantam's prestigious Spectra Special Editions series. Wilson has since gone on to give us two more excellent books, the slightly cyberpunkish Memory Wire and, more recently, the fantasy Gypsies. A new SF novel, The Divide, has just appeared. A Hidden Place has a double plot line. The main narrative tells the story of Anna Blaise, a delicate, unworldly woman seemingly without a past, who one day appears in the small, Depression-era town of Haute Montagne and radically effects the lives of a number of its citizens. In a series of Interludes we follow the misadventures of Bone, a huge, seemingly-retarded tramp, as he meanders across the country. That Anna and Bone are


38 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 connected somehow, and that neither is entirely human is clear from fairly early in the story, but the exact nature of their connection is a marvelous surprise, full of the sense of wonder that science fiction is supposed to be all about but so rarely is. The town of Haute Montagne is very well developed as are the book's other Depression-era settings. Wilson's primary interest, however, is in his characters. Both humans and aliens are very real and the changes that occur in them, both physical and emotional, are utterly believable. Wilson's theme is the ability of love to transform lives and in demonstrating this, Theodore Sturgeon-like, he takes his readers on a profoundly moving emotional rollercoaster. I loved this book when I first read it in 1986, and I find it just as impressive today. Lou Aronica of Bantam Books is to be congratulated for having the good sense to keep A Hidden Place in print. I hope readers of this review will have the good sense to go out and buy a copy. --Michael M. Levy Aspects of Home Wilson, Robert Charles. Gypsies. Bantam, NY, 1989. 211 p. $4.50 pb. ISBN 0-553-28304-9. Haunted by dreams of a Gray Man who beckons her into an alternate universe, single mother Karen White takes her adolescent son Michael, who has himself encountered the Gray Man, to her sister, Laura. Together they search for the meaning and purpose behind their own uncanny ability to seek and move into alternate realities; at the same time the Gray Man pursues them in a quest to return Michael to the reality of his family's origins. Though the characters are not particularly well-realized, they are adequate to the story. Wilson's writing is fluid, his plot moves quickly, and there is just enough discussion of the concept of "home" to provide a thematic underpinning for the character's motivations. But hard science fiction fans will be disappointed to find only the most general rational for the existence of alternate realities and the special people who can travel among them. Gypsies is a hybrid, part science fiction, part thriller, with a slight bow to the occult. Though it breaks no new ground, it is an enjoyable diversion. --Agatha Taormina Norwescon 12 The Northwest Science Fiction Society presents Norwescon 12 on March 29-Aprill, 1990, at Sheraton Tacoma Hotel, 1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma, WA 98402. Special guests will be: Roger Zelazny, David Cherry, John G. Cramer, Pat Mueller, Joe Wheeleer, and Dan Reeder. For information: Norwescon, POB 24207, Seattle, WA 98214; phone 206-248-2010 (24 hours).


SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 39 I Young Adult I Seventh Incarnation Anthony, Piers. And Etemft}'. NY, Morrow, 1990, 457p. [galleys]. $15.95 hc. ISBN 0-688-08688-8. Incarnations of Immortality, v. 7. The conclusion of Piers Anthony's other major fantasy series shows that Anthony currently writes two kinds offantasies. The Xanth books are for twelve-year-olds of all ages, while the Incarnations of Immortality are for 16year-olds. Neither series for adults. In previous volumes, Anthony's characters pursue one of the seven Incarnations which rule the universe. This time around Anthony discusses the nature of God, although since this is an Anthony book, much of the text is concerned with smaller questions, such as whether nubile 16-year -old gins should have sex with older men. Most of the book describes the affairs of two young women ghosts who enter other bodies, occasionally change genders, ask sophomoric questions, and have lots of sex. The tone is that ofaXanth novel--with somewhat more smarminess and considerably fewer puns. Not recommended for anyone over 17. --Martin Morse Wooster Immature Enchanter Bailey, Robin M. Enchanter. Avon, NY, 1989, 315p. $3.95 pb. ISBN 0-38075386-3. Marion Zimmer Bradley says this is "a very original, really funny" novel. For junior high students, I imagine. The hero, Anesi (whose name is the source of the same joke, mistaking it for the adj. "uneasy" every time he meets a new character) is a truly powerful enchanter-to-be whose father forbids him to do sorcery, and who is therefore raised in a neany uninhabited stretch of woods. Aside from Moses, Oedipus, Arthur, and Simon Mooncalf I can only think of a few dozen others with this predicament. Anesi is called upon to save the world from the evil being called the Great Terror, and only he can do it, having both power and innocence. He and a small band of friends--Fidget, Cubby the Brogmoid (straight out of a video game), a Dryad naked but for her red poncho, and a gay dragon named Chuck--set out, Wizard-of-Oz-like to defeat this evil. Believe it or not, they do, miraculously choosing to fight himjitwith innocence rather than strength, but not until they have proceeded through a series of encounters with various varieties of evil creatures, a corrupt wizard, a horribly flatulent porcupine, and a barroom full of ornery natives. I had an eerie sense of being in a game of Dungeons and Dragons at times. There are tense scenes, the reader is well-schooled in this world's rules for magic, and most of the characters are effectively created as individual personalities. Some issues of young folks are broached, such as


40 SFRA Newsletter, No. 175, March, 1990 a boy wanting to do something which his father failed at, uncomfortability with sex (paired with the titillation provided by the prepubescent dryad), and most importantly, the need to take things with a grain of salt. However, the humor is juvenile (a wizard from Orexia is, of course, an Orexic--get it?), the plot is One Damn Thing After Another, and the issue of the Boyand his Father is never dealt with satisfactorily. Recommended for junior-high-school libraries or groups wanting to discuss issues mentioned above. --Don Riggs Time Travelers Goodwin, Marie D. Where the Towers Pierce the Sky. Four Windsj Macmillan, NY, 1989. 192p. (bound galley). ISBN 0-02-736871-8. Lizzie Patterson is a thirteen-year-old, South Bend, Indiana girl who awakens one morning in her rural home to find a boy curled up in the rocking chair in her room. He is, she discovers, a fifteenth-century time traveler from the France of Jeanne d'Arc who has been sent into the future by an evil magician who wished to know Jeanne's fate. But the magician has made a mistake and sent the boy to the wrong Notre Dame. As Lizzie and Jacques overcome linguistic and cultural differences to discover what has happened, the magician reverses his spell and draws Jacques back to France--and Lizzie with him. The bulk of the story relates Lizzie's adventures in France, her meetings with Jeanne d'Arc, and her struggle to return to South Bend. Lizzie's adventures and the suspense over Jeanne d'Arc's military career certainly carry the book along, but many readers will be captivated by the young people's reactions to the times in which they find themselves. Jacques is terrified by electric lights and automobiles, thinks Lizzie's middle class home is a palace, and is astonished by Lizzie's casual use of paper--a very precious and reused commodity in his time. Lizzie, in her turn, is revolted by the poverty and the lack of hygiene (especially in the hotel rooms and the hospital), frustrated by her inability to keep more of the wounded from dying of simple infections aftertheirwounds have been patched up, and amazed by the fifteenth-century's casual belief in magic and miracles. Goodwin's portrayal of the differences between fifteenth-century culture and twentieth-century culture is, in fact, better than her historical accounts. The discussions of past events and debates over courses of action to be taken tend to drag as Goodwin tries to put too much history into too short a space. She should have left more of that to the "encyclopedia entry" which serves as appendix at the end of the book. She might better have spent more time drawing in the secondary characters, especially Charles VII. By and large, however, this is a nicely-done book. There are some time travel problems (a coin with a future date stamped on it is no proof that the bearer is actually from the future) and a couple of breathlessly-narrow escapes; but Jacques and Lizzie come across as believable teen-agers with different cultural orientations and personalities who manage to become friends. --C.W. Sullivan III


SFRA Newsletter No. 175 Betsy Harfst, Editor Arts, Communications & Social Science Division Kishwaukee College Malta, IL 60150 i '" '5 III


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