SFRA newsletter

SFRA newsletter

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SFRA newsletter
Alternate Title:
Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
Science Fiction Research Association
Place of Publication:
[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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University of South Florida
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S67-00069-n177-1990-05 ( USFLDC DOI )
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2 SFRA Newsletter The SFRA Newsletter Published ten times a year for the Science Fiction Research Association by Alan Newcomer, Hypatia Press, Eugene, Oregon. Copyright @ 1989 by the SFRA. Editorial correspondence: Betsy Hartst, Editor, SFRA Newsletter, Arts, Communications, & Social Science Division, Kishwaukee College, Malta, II 60150. (Tel. 815-825-2086). Send changes of address and/or inquiries concerning subscriptions to the Treasurer, listed below. SFRA Executive Committee President Elizabeth Anne Hull Liberal Arts Division William Rainey Harper College Palatine, Illinois 60067 Vice-President Neil Barron 1149 Lime Place Vista, California 92083 Secretary David G. Mead English Department Corpus Christi State University Corpus Christi, Texas 78412 Treasurer Thomas J. Remington English Department University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614 Immediate Past President William H. Hardesty English Department Miami University Oxford, Ohio 45056 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 ) 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, May 1990, No. 177 President's Message NEWS FROM HERE AND ABROAD Several American colleges and universities hosted a nearly month-long visit in April of Pilgrim honoree Julius Kagarlitski, my school, William Rainey Harper College, being one of them. Among the others were Brown University in Providence, RI, College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, the University of Kansas at Lawrence, Eastern New Mexico University at Portales, and the University of California at Riverside. It was great to see Yuli again and hear about his hopes and plans for the future, and very interesting to hear his talk on "The Cultural Impact of Glasnost." His lecture, sponsored at our school by the Honors Society and the Liberal Arts Division, touched on education, particularly the teaching of history, which seems to be revised daily, and he spoke at length about the publishing industry in his country. When asked why Mikhail Gorbachev's Perestroika was not yet printed in Russia, he replied, straightlaced, "Paper shortage." His inside opinion on recent events is that things will get worse before they can get any better economically, and the greatest problem facing the USSR is its own bureaucracy and military, people who are trained to do nothing useful for society but who must be humanely "pastured" if a violent revolution is to be avoided. His son, Boris, has also been lecturing in North America this spring, and Yuli said it makes him proud to be known now as the father of Boris, who was, within the last decade, imprisoned in Moscow for his political activities. (Boris was recently elected as a deputy to the Moscow City Soviet.) There were several other schools that wished to invite Professor Kagarlitski but couldn't be fit into the schedule, so there is a good chance he may return again next year. He has a list of a dozen other lecture topics. If you are interested, write to him directly at the address in the SFRA Directory. For those SFRA members who are also World SF members, the bid to hold the World SF meeting in Chengdu, China, in May 1991 is still alive; Fred and I have just received official government invitations. Whether the meeting will be in China or Poland will be decided finally at the World SF annual meeting being held as part of the worldcon in The Hague. (The 1992 meeting will be in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, in conjunction with the Eurocon.) 3


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 While World SF struggles with choosing between two bids for its 1991 meeting, SFRA is still seeking one. (We have had an inquiry about hosting the 1992 meeting but nofirm proposal, sowewelcomeadditional suggestions for 1992 also.) Perhaps after more than 20 years of annual meetings, SFRA has exhausted the possibilities for new sites and new conference directors--but I don't want to believe that. Please regard this as a personal invitation to each of you to explore the subject with your institutions and consider the potential benefits of this experience to yourself. There are many members who will gladly help with planning details. Give me or any of the other officers or previous conference directors a call if you want to discuss the idea. If at all feasible, the Executive Committee would like to make a solid decision about the 1991 conference site no later than the meeting in Long Beach. Hope to see you all there! --Elizabeth Anne Hull Science Fiction Research Association Annual Conference XXI "SF in the Future: There and Back Again with SFRA XXI" THE PROGRAM: Sheila Finch, Richard Lupoff, Frederik Pohl, Susan Shwartz, Lewis Shiner, Judith Tarr, Harry Turtledove, 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 attendanace as they give us definite commitments. We have received many paper, session, and panel proposals and though we are now past the deadline for submissions we still have a few spaces left. We will make every effort to accommodate late submissions, but get those ideas to the Land of LA now! Send proposals to us at 1017 Seal Way, Seal Beach, CA 90740. BOOK DISPLAY: To celebrate SFRA'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-1940s." We also expect to have a 4


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 dealer's area, with a selection of new and used paperbacks. There will be a signing period for guest authors. THE VENUE: SFRA XXI will meet June 28-July I, 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 multi-screened movie theaters, one of the best beaches in southern California, and the longest sportfishing pier on the West coast. Through Supershuttle (213-417-8988), the hotel is inexpensively connected to the trans portation nexes and major attractions of the Southern California region. CONFERENCE FEES AND COSTS: Full conference membership will be $SO to June 14, $85 thereafter, and includes the cost of the Pilgrim Award Banquet, conference trip, the nightly hospitality suite and the 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 station and then into LA to see the I MAX film "The Dream is Alive," shot "on orbit" by the shuttle crews) must register by June I. Daily memberships will be $20 ($10 college undergrads, $5 high school students), Banquet: $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. --Christine and Peter Lowentrout Conference Directors WOF: THE BEST IN PRE-FAB WRITING PROGRAMS by Robert A. Liftig, EdD. "Writing contests," a university colleague sniffed to me in the spring of 1984, "are not in the purview of academe." Academic prejudice aside, in four years of teaching creative writing at Connecticut's Fairfield University, I have never met a student who did not appreciate "studying" under the likes of Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Larry Niven, Robert Silverberg, and Roger Zelazny; having a decent crack at a $4000 prize, and understanding that the stories they have just completed for undergraduate credit could be easily published the following year in the course's required textbook. Bridge Publications of Los Angeles, California, began offering their "pre fab" writing program five years ago without realizing it when it inaugurated the Writers of the Future Contest. Since then, there has been a phenomenal rise in submissions, a steady increase in the sale of the annual anthology of winning stories, and the emergence of a nationwide "fan club" of professional writers, free 5


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 lance and student writers, and yes--a fair share of university professors. The concept of designing a university writing curriculum to conform to a contest's requirements may be innovative, but it remains soundly within the "purview" and pedagogical boundary of the Process Writing approach which holds that the more "practical" or "hands on" the composition task, the more improvement will be noted in a student's writing. This concept has been easily translated into technical and business writing courses where critiques of resumes and college application essays are conducted under the immediacyof "real world" pressures and rewards, but, whenever more "creative" writing has been considered, the approach has fallen flat. Creative Writing teachers at all levels have regularly employed group critiques and classroom anthologies as a reasonable. if meager, alternative to confronting the often unapproachable publishing establishment head on, but writing for a Xeroxed school publication does not present the same problems or promises as does writing for the publishers, and students see through the "bluff" quickly, although usually with an understanding that what the teacher is offering, is, of course, all that can be done. Against this earnest yet bland background of traditional instruction, place the Writers of the Future Contest, with its quarterly contests ($1000 first prize, $750 for second, $500 for third) and the annual judging ($4000 prize); its polite and professional feedback to contestants along the way; its attrac tive "Honorable Mention" certificates; its annual anthology of winning stories interspersed with sensible and sympathetic advice to SF tyros by the best writers in the business--and its annual New York City/Publishing World/ Media Hype ceremony, complete with SF luminaries Asimov, Wolfe, and Silverberg congratulating smiling unknowns in front ofthe flashing bulbs. And add to this the knowledge that at least two of the recent winners have parlayed their winning short stories into first novels, and a host of others have been "picked up" by prominent literary agents. "But," I can hear the voice of my colleague protesting, "should winning contests be the sole purpose of a writing course?" Of course not. No writing instructor worth his composition salts should tolerate the reduction of his career to a contest "pitchman." But in the same benevolent and professional manner that the WOF Contest "uses" beginning writers' stories for its commercially published anthologies, univer sity curricula may "use" the WOF contest as a publishing opportunity for experience-hungry students. And, to hear the WOF officials talk about it, that's the way they want it. Writers of the Future, in fact, is only open to anyone who has NOT previously published a novel or novella. There is no entry fee. The paperback anthology is well-worth the modest price, and specification sheets (an important element of any profeSSional writer's success--and one that is not 6


SFRA. May 1990. No. 177 "covered" in most university courses) are available by the bushel on request. Teachers interested in incorporating WOF into their curriculum might use our experience at Fairfield as a reference point. Anthologies are pre-ordered. as with text books of any sort. The usual exercises. plot outline assignments. and group critiquing processes are utilized throughout. The major "products" of the course are three: first. the submission of a short story from a choice of genres (SF. Mystery. Suspense) which is Xeroxed. bound. and distributed to the class; second. the submission of a short story for potential publication--written accord ing to WOF specifications; third. the submission of that story in sealed and stamped envelopes to three publications. one of which. it is recommended. be the WOF. This is so far a rather standard curriculum. with the exception of the contest mailings. But the course is also structured by required student critiques of the WOF anthology selections. and by a two week study unit (after the submission of the first short story) on writing for publication. Students are often more comfortable critiquing WOF's "amateur" selections than they are with the stories submitted by their classmates (reviewing peer writing is done with greater intensity later on in the course). Stories by professionals are reviewed from time to time for comparison. and the professional commentaries within the WOF anthology are required reading as well. By the time the contest entry is handed in. each student has become sensitized to what Bridge Publications and the WOF contest (meaning the critical judgment of the best writers of SF) looks for in a winning story. and each usually have been able to employ these guidelines in his or her own compositions. In addition. they have explored other outlets in the writing for publication unit: those listed in WRITER'S MARKET or THE JOURNAL of LlTILE MAGAZINES AND SMALL PRESSES. "Writing Science Fiction. Mystery. and Suspense" is now entering its fourth spring at Fairfield University to general acclaim. and a pre-registration that always exceeds enrollment limits. A few months ago. I suggested to my colleague/friend that he submit a short story of his own before the next quarterly contest deadline. He confessed that one of my students had already given him a copy of the specifications. and he had shipped off one of his best imaginative pieces. To this date. as far as the contest goes. we have had no winners. but as far as the students and the University are concerned. we've taken the day. CZECHOSLOVAKIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION An Encyclopedia of SF (Encyklopedie science fiction). which has been prepared for more than five years of work. is to be published in Czechoslovakia at 7


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 last. After a couple of changes both with the team of authors and at the publishing house, it will finally appear at mid-l990 in Panorama--publishing house of the now leading part of the Czech political scene Civic Forum (Obcanske Forum). The editors--well-known Czech SF writer and critic, who has also received EUROPEAN SF AWARD for his short stories Ondrej Neff and young critic and translator Jaroslav a/sa, Jr. --have finished their work and the manuscript is now to be printed; the first proof-reading has been read this January. All the encyclopedias which have been published in the world, so far, have been--Iet me say--Anglo-centric. Let's look to the Nicholls's or Tuck's works (although in both ones, there are also entries on foreign SF writers, but mainly those ones, who have been translated into English). Some information concerning other than Anglo-American SF are mostly neither accurate nor correct (i.e. entry Eastern Europe, where all SF from these countries is reduced to Stanislaw Lem, the Strugatsky brothers, Karel Capek and Josef Nesvadba, and information on other writers are less than grudging). The same situation is true with entries on "oriental" SF; there is no information on this topic. I hoped The New Encyclopedia of SF prepared by Prof. James E. Gunn, would be better and more complete, but--as I heard from the editor himself--it had to be reduced in the last minute ... and the editor had to cut a number of essays, especially those on SF abroad. (Also my essay on 'East European SF' has been cut off). So again there did not appear proper information of SF outside UK and USA. Unfortunately, I'm not able to pass judgment on it, because I haven't seen it, yet. Better information on 'other SF literatures' (that means other than Anglo-American ones) could be found In two German encyclopedias (Alpers Fuchs-Hahn-Jeschke: Lexikon der Science Fiction Literatur, 1 st edition in twovolumes, 1980; 2nd revised and enlarged edition in one volume, 1988 and Alpers-Fuchs-Hahn: Reclams Science-Fiction-Fuhrer, 1982)--the first ones are larger and provide more information, while the last one is not so full of information, but is more accurate. The problem of all encyclopedias ofthis scale is especially in spelling of foreign names and titles. Reclams SF-Fuhrer is probably the only one work, the authors of which tried (not successfully in all entries) to write all informa tion with all accents like e.g. n (in Spanish), u (in Estonian), oae (in Scandi navian languages), czla (in Polish), tsai (in Romanian), / (in Turkish), 00 (in Hungarian) or eeul (in Czech and/or Slovak) and a number of others. Reclams tried also to cover really all the 'SF world'--there are really entries on SF authors from i.e. Romania, Hungary. The aim of the authors of Czechoslovak SF Encyclopedia was not to be competitive towards the Nicholls's or Tuck's encyclopedias, especially 8


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 because it is not so large in comparison (it has some 150,000 words); it is to present substantial information on SF from all over the world and as accurately as possible. That's why, English & American SF is represented only by the choice of "best of the best" SF writers like Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Gibson, van Vogt, etc... (these entries were written by Miroslav Kostka, Ivan Adamovic and Jan Pavlik) and there is a large number of Information on Russian and Soviet SF (by Miroslav Genciova and Ivan Adamovic) and other former socialist countries (by Jaroslav Olsa, Jr. and Pavel Weigel). There is also unique information there on Czech & Slovak SF writers written by one of the editors--Ondrej Neff--himself. The authors tried to cover the whole world, so they included the portion of information on national literatures and their writers as completely as possible. There is also information on SF in Japan, China, I ndia, Arab countries, Black Africa or Chile, Cuba, the Netherlands or Norway there (written by Jan Hlavicka, Jaroslav Olsa, Jr., Ludmila Freiova, Egon Niczky and Ivo Zelezny), some--as the authors hope--being useful not only for Czechoslovak SF critics, writers and fans, but also for any SF theoretician from any part of the world who has wider interests than just the Anglo-American area alone. We hope that our Encyclopedia will be presented to World SF members during WSF General Meeting in Den Haag, the Netherlands. We will be really happy to give the Encyclopedia for reviews; if there is somebody interested in and able to review it, please let us know. --Jaroslav Olsa, Jr. Anhaltova 41/987 169 00 Prague 6 Czechoslovakia [See letter from Jaroslav Olsa, Jr. in the "Feedback" column.] Dear Mr. Remington, Feedback Jaroslav Olsa, Jr. Anhaltova 41/987 169 00 Prague 6 Czechoslovakia Prague, Feb 29, 1990 My name is Jaroslav Olsa and I am a member of the editorial board of new (and first) Czechoslovak professional SF magazine. There hadn't been any professional SF magazine in Czechoslovakia; the reason was the political situ-9


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 ation and negative opinion about SF of our then communist government. As you probably know, Czechoslovakia is now fighting for democracy and better future. Positive changes in our country have a very good influence on science fiction life' as well. We are now working on the first issues of genuine professional SF monthly, the name of which will be IKARIE (based on the title of our leading SF movie in the 60's and in the form of an underground fanzine, that we published a few years ago). Its print run will be approximately 100,000 copies. There was established Syndikat autoru fantastiky (SF Writers' Guild) and the Czech branch of the WORLD SF Association of Professionals in Czecho slovakia, and we would be really happy to organize WORLD SF General Meeting in Prague in 1992 or 1993. I am a critician and theoretician of SF, as well. My interest is especially SF and fantasy in Asian and African countries. As I am co-editor of original Czechoslovak SF encyclopaedia -Encyklopedie science fiction I wrote a short article about our activity. I think information about it could be interesting for SFRA members. Yours Sincerely, Jaroslav Olsa, Jr. IKARIE Foreign Dept. Editor The Time Has Come As the old walrus said. "The time has come to talk ... not of "cabbages and kings" but of retirement. I am very pleased to announce that my husband, Ernie, and I retired from KishwaukeeColiege at the close of the Spring semester, on May 19. Our mailing address, until August 15, will be 825 Meadow Lane, Sycamore 60178. After that time, we will have relocated to 2357 East Calypso, Mesa, Arizona 85204. All Newsletter correspondence after that date should be addressed to me in Mesa. The process of getting our house ready for sale, packing, and beginning the moving process has been partly responsible for the delays and timing of the Newsletter publications. Another reason is that more book reviews were needed to publish an issue. I suspect that many ofthe reviewers were busy completing semester schedules. I would like to see more volun teers to review books. Another change, the June issue of Locus announces that Russell Letson has been hired as a reviewer for the SF newspaper. Congratulations, Russ, in your new position! We will look forward to reading your reviews in 10


Locus. SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 I'll look forward to seeing many of you in Long Beach. Reviews Non-Fiction --Betsy Harfst IMPORTANT NEW POETIC FANTASY CRITIQUE Murphy, Patrick D. and Vernon Hyles, eds. The Poetic Fantastic: Studies in an Evolving Genre. (Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy, no.40). Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 1989. 226p. $39.95 hc. Editors Patrick D. Murphy and Vernon Hyles have collected an outstand ing contribution to critical literature of the fantastic. This volume represents an historical overview as well as an introduction to fantastic poetry. This work is to be considered "first words and new perspectives of a critical project belatedly begun" (xi). In his "Foreword" Professor Murphy suggests that while fantasy prose has long been accepted, "Critical consideration of the fantastic mode as a whole should not be limited to only one of its generic types or any particular period .... [A] uthors have utilized poetic as well as prose genres throughout the history of Western literature and continue to do so" (xi). There are thirteen essays in this volume and the contributors provide theoretical and practical criticism on the study of the fantastic in poetry. One excellent and provocative essay is a feminist-fantastic revisionary treatment of Keats's "Lamia." There is an excellent study of holocaust poetry and contribu tions that analyze Victorian women's fantasies as well as works by Anne Sexton, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Margaret Atwood. This collection should furnish a beginning for new criticism in the genre of fantastic poetry. The critics and an indication of the work covered in each essay follows: Vernon Hyles in "The Poetry ofthe Fantastic": "Because of its very nature ... poetry has always, because it is poetry, been conceived in the fantastic mode" (1). Peter Malekin in "Poetry and the Pre-Fantastic": "Like all other logical categories the fantastic exists at the interface between subject and object" (11). Martha Nochimson in "Lamia as Muse": "[Lamia] is the poet's salvation from the solipsistic death in life promoted by the dreary logic of the marketplace" (41). Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV in "Fantasy Figures in Poe's Poems": "I examine several of Poe's poems along lines of fantasy--that is, the meeting place of reality 11


SFRA, May 1990, No. 171 with unreality--to provide observations on Poe's aims and methods" (43). Charlotte Spivack in "'The Hidden World Below': Victorian Women Fantasy Poets": "Because 'Goblin Market' is not [Christina] Rossetti's only fantastic poem and because she is not the only successful nineteenth-century woman poet engaged in writing fantasy, I would like to explore her work in its historical and literary context" (53). Patrick O. Murphy in "C.S. Lewis's 'Oymer': Once More with Hesitation": "The reading public ... have not taken up 'Oymer' as a poetic work of the World War I aftermath, but as a work to be analyzed only against Lewis's large and immensely popular canon of prose" (65). Carl Schaffer in "Fantastic Elements in Holocaust Poetry: Abba Kovner's "Ahoti Ktanah''': "To discuss Holocaust poetry as fantastic literature is to invite criticism from two sides: Tzvetan Todorov ... excludes poetry utterly from the genre on the grounds that we find in it no true 'non-textual' reality; ... T. W. Adorno ... has asserted thatthere can be no poetry at all 'after Auschwitz,' the non-textual reality of which renders futile ... any attempt to reduce it to art form" (79). lance Olsen in "Entry to the Unaccounted for: "Mark Strand's Fantastic Autism": "Fantasy is particularly prevalent in Mark Strand's first two books of poetry.... It would be a mistake to imply ... that the fantastic charge has faded from Strand's projects after the 1960s" (89). Karen Michalson in "The Black Art: New Critical Transformations and Anne Sexton's 'Rapunzel''': "Sexton is ... the only twentieth-century female poet who has written a book of exclusively fantasy poems intended for adult readers .... Transformations (1971) is an odd fusion of the confessional realist genre with re-workings of classic fairy tales from the Brothers Grimmm" (98). Nancy lang in "Comic Fantasy in Two Postmodern Verse Novels: Slinger and 'Ko''': "Two book-length poems ... are important examples ofthe contemporary verse novel; for the most part critics have tended to ignore not only these poems, but also the poets themselves" (113). Patrick O. Murphy in "The Left Hand of Fabulation: The Poetry of Ursula K. LeGuin": "Main stream critics have ignored LeGuin because she is a fantasy and science fiction author; fantastic critics have overlooked her poetry because it does not fit their standard conceptions of contemporary fantasy or science fiction .... Such critics need to commence criticizing, so that readers and students may come to know the left hand of LeGuin's fabulation, her poetry, as well as they know the right hand, her prose fiction" (136). Ralph Yarros in "Some Thoughts on Stopping the World": "What is fantastic about poetry is that it condenses ... process. Its language is an active force, its imagery and sound means of flexing understanding and intuition, getting us to use feeling as the leading edge ofthinking, and sometimes taking us to the limits of both, where a kind of subtle sensitivity begins to sense the 12


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 shape of emergent form" (139). Michael R. Collings in "Dialogues by Starlight: Three Approaches to Writing SF Poetry, with a Checklist of Related Works": "Poetry differentiates itself from fiction ... and is a literature of figurative interpre tation rather than literal representation" (159). This long list of the critics included in The Poetic Fantastic gives only a hint of the depth and power reached by the critics included. This collection is of importance to both scholars and students. It is a very good book. --Ann Hitt A HISTORY OF PSYCHO Rebello, Stephen. Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of "Psycho ". Dember Books, New York, May 1990. xiii + 224p. $24.95. 0-942637-14-3. If you lived in New York City on 16 June 1960, you might have stood in line for a film which you had to see from the beginning. Its director might have talked to you while you were waiting, a teaser recording. The initial reviews were mixed, but audience enthusiasm soon spread throughout the country and eventually overseas. Produced for less than a million dollars in about six weeks (today's studio films average in the mid-teens), Psycho transformed Hitchcock's life and has proved to be one of the most influential films released since World War II. Oddly, it has never been broadcast on network television. The story of the film's genesis, development and influence is told with great skill and fascinating detail by Rebello, who spent almost ten years gathering information, especially from thecast and crew, including an interview with Hitch cock a few months before his death in 1980. His careful research has corrected a number of errors which have been circulated over the past 30 years. Supplementing the text are 16 pages of plates, including the then-

SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 Fiction CONCEITS AND WHIMSIES Blaylock, James P. The Stone Giant., Ace Books, NY, June 1989. 264p. $3.95 pb. 0-441-28702-6. James P. Blaylock writes about a world which lies somewhere be tween Tolkien's Shire and Pratchett's Discworld. There is less high purpose in it than in the former and less inspired lunacy than in the latter, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a lesser world. It's just different; quieter and sweeter natured than the others, and none the worse for that. From this, you should infer, correctly, that the setting is another version of a medieval England that never was. No doubt it is a kinder, gentler place than any actual medieval place. However, Blaylock must be given credit for insisting that it is often uncomfortable, that unalloyed heroes and villains are hard to find, and that none of them is larger than life. The Stone Giant is one of a group of loosely connected books sharing the same milieu but otherwise largely unrelated. You could start with this one, if you don't know Blaylock, and pick up the others as you come across them without spoiling anything or being made to feel that you've come in the middle of something and will never understand what's going on. So: we have humans and giants and dwarves and elves and goblins and witches and others that escape me for the moment but can be thrown in as needed (which is pretty much what Blaylock does.) Most of them are klutzes, and they all have their quirks. Everyone, no matter what species, is just plain folks. Not very nice folks in some cases, but folks in any case. What Blaylock does is character studies. Fabulous things happen to people. They do fabulous deeds; they encounter extraordinary coincidences. But the point is not really what happens, it is how it affects the growth and development of the individual; in this case, Theophile Escargot. Theophile is a loser. He works at it. But you can't call this tragic, because he really doesn't have much to lose. Also, some of the flaws we see lie not in him but in the people who impose on his good, though weak, nature. Circumstances force him to leave home. Wanting adventure, but not discomfort, he gets both. Somehow he rises to whatever the occasion demands of him, and as time goes on, the demands grow more and more stringent. This is not to say that the occasions are of high seriousness. Did you ever want to know what Verne's Captain Nemo was really like? This is your chance to find out. He sets out a grown man; he returns grown up. This is not to say that 14


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 his rites of passage have made a hero of him. If that were what rites of passage were supposed to do, the world would be thinly populated. Instead, Theophile has become someone, who, if he keeps working at it, will be a decent human beinga type of whom we might wish there were more. Blaylock might be described as the Robert Fulghum of fantasy. You can take that any way you like. Maybe he does make things a little too simple. On the other hand, if we're very lucky, some things may turn out to be that way. This book is recommended for people who want to relax and have a good read. Enjoy. --William M. Schuyler, Jr. UBI SUNT: TWO DECENT MINOR CLASSICS Gunn, James E., and Jack Williamson. Star Bridge. Collier Books, NY, 1989. 217p. $4.4Opb. 0-02-040881-1. Brunner, John. The Compleat Traveller in Black. Collier Books, NY, 1989. 233p. $3.95pb. 0-02-030720-9. These two novels, first published in 1955 and 1971, respectively, form half of the fledgling Collier Nucleus Science Fiction reprint series, edited by James Frankel. To date Frankel has also included in the series Jack Williamson's Darker Than You Think (1948) and Philip K. Dick's Eye in the Sky (1957). A reprint series, especially one with "nucleus" in its title, raises two obvious questions: "What principle is being used to choose the books?" and "How well have the books chosen held up over time?" So far, Frankel seems determined to illustrate the range of modern science fiction. Star Bridge is quintessential space opera. Its hero is Alan Horn, ex-Imperial Guard, smart, strong, brave, tough: John Wayne with brains but without the baby fat. The plot is a series of improbabilities. Horn assassinates the most closely guarded man in the galaxy. Horn meets, then wins, the most beautiful woman in the galaxy (doubly difficult since her father is the man Horn assassinates.) Horn solves the most perplexing secret in the galaxy. Horn escapes from a prison no one had ever escaped from before. Horn frees the slaves on the most powerful planet in the galaxy ... The Compleat Traveller in Black, on the other hand, is fantasy. The protagonist is the traveller himself ("the man with many names but one nature"), relentlessly pursuing the task imposed on him of bringing order to chaos in the borderland between time and eternity. The same basic plot is repeated five times. The traveller comes upon human folly. The traveller grants the foolish human 15


SFRA,May1990,No.177 beings their deepest desires. The traveller watches as the deepest desires of the foolish human beings cause cataclysmic disasters. The traveller moves on. The differences can be multiplied--the far future setting of Bridge versus the medieval atmosphere of Traveller, conventional narration versus experimental narration, a spare style versus an artistic style; in short, Old Wave versus New Wave, if we need traditional labels for what's going on. But the differences should not blind us to the fundamental similarities, to the things that make both books science fiction. I'll discuss two of the most important. Both novels are commodities, representative of the ways modern science fiction authors must write in order to survive.Star Bridge began as a novelette, "Breakdown" (Astounding, January 1942), in which Williamson applied to the Solar System Toynbee's idea of civilizations as superorgan isms. Williamson then began writing a novel based on the same idea expanded to interstellar dimensions. But this novel, originally called Star of Empire, soon went bad and lay fallow until nearly a decade later when Gunn replotted and rewrote it, following Williamson's suggestions about proposed plot changes and incorporating more of Williamson's ideas about the novel's central technological innovation--the tubes that allow faster-than-light travel. Gnome Press published the collaboration in 1955. The Compleat Traveller in Black is actually five novelettes sharing the same background, situation, and protagonist. Each of the five parts were published separately, in 1960, 1966, 1970, 1979, and 1971, respectively. An early version of the novel--The Traveller in Black (Ace, 1971}--had only four sections. Our novel adds 'The Things That Are Gods" between the third and fourth sections of the "incompleat" 1971 version. So both Bridge and Traveller attest the exigencies to which full-time science-fiction authors have been driven by the fact that they have to sell to eat. Many another pair of authors has resuscitated moribund material by col laborating; many another beginner has done a series of linked stories, thus economizing on the mental work required to create plausible backgroundsand, after the magazine sales, selling the ensemble as a novel (and reselling it when the publishing rights reverted). Both novels also share what Frankel probab!ythinks is one of modern science fiction's defining characteristics--didacticism. Science-fiction au thors rarely bury their messages under a bushel; so it is not surprising that Williamson/Gunn and Brunner are authors with rather obvious agendas. Bridge begins by asserting the primacy of the individual ("one man takes on the Empire"), but Horn eventually discovers the value of interdependence. Traveller, while depicting all the ways human beings can be nasty to one 16


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 another, also asserts the powerful presence of retributive justice in the universe. We are now ready to treat my second question--"How well have these novels held up over time?" Fairly well, actually. True, the spaceships in Bridge sport thirty-inch rifles that shoot twelve-ton shells; the portrait of the beautiful Wendre Kohlnar is sexist; and we do run across unfortunate stuff like "the terrible hunting dogs of Eron." But there's also very little super science; Horn actually does change; Wendre winds up wooing Horn; the tight plot, crisp style, stirring action, and the interstitial philosophizing add up to a representative but also somewhat unconventional space opera, a classic of its type, not very dated, and therefore justifiably reprinted by Frankel. The case for Traveller is even easier to make. Here Brunner has transposed the concerns and techniques of his major novels (e.g., Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, The Shockwave Rider) into a different key. Reason, optimism, liberal humanism; a large tapestry with hundreds of charac ters, satire (by turns genial, wry, savage), entertainment: Traveller has virtually everything the major novels have. And, like them, it is not easy reading, for Brunner demands mental agility and a good memory. But the effort is worth it (by the way, the fifth section of Traveller-"Dread Empire"--was nominated for a Hugo). So there are actually several answers to the question about what prinCiple Frankel is using to choose the books for his series: he is looking for illustrations of science-fictional range, commodification, and didacticism in books that have worn well. But I think he is also searching for "minor classiCS," works of major authors that have, for one reason or another, escaped attention. One applauds his choices so far--we've got a good blue and a good red. One also looks forward to what Frankel will turn up to illustrate the rest of the spectrum. --Todd H. Sammons STATELY, PLUMP BLACK MALACHI PANTERA Grant, Richard. Views From the Oldest House. Doubleday Foundation, NY, December, 1989. 470p. $8.95pb ($10.95 in Canada). 0-385-26428-3. Simultane ously published in a hardcover edition. 0-385-24951-9. I really liked Richard Grant's last novel, Rumors of Spring (1987), so I was looking forward to Views From the Oldest House. Grant is a fine if somewhat mannered prose stylist; his characters are at once eccentric and endearing, and he has a talent forthe depiction of baroque architectural detail and Rube Goldberg machinery. He's one of the small number of newer writers who seem destined for great things. 17


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 Views From the Oldest House, however, falls somewhat short of ex pectations. The style and character development that made Rumors of Spring such a treat are in evidence here, but the book bogs down in a convoluted, not all that original plot, a distracting welter of self-conscious literary allusions, and a bizarre narrative method that left this reader with a headache. Set in what is apparently the near future and apparently North America (although Grant never really makes this clear), the novel involves a confused and not all that bright college student named Turner Ashenden. Turner rents a room in a palatial maze of a place known as the Solar Temple, sharing the premises with a rock band, a variety of drop-in guests, party-goers, would-be artists and revolutionaries, and a rotund, lecherous and eccentric medical student named Black Malachi Pantera. Turner also spends time at the nearby Bad Winters Institute of Science and Philosophy, an equally maze-like mansion inhabited by an elderly theosophist and two young children, all of whom may be psychic. In the recent past some sort of unexplained national disaster has occurred, and a power struggle seems to be going on between Rodarch, the authoritarian and not very nice Chief Administrator, and Harvey Goldaster, head of the secret SOCiety called the Old Souls. It's all very complicated and confusing. Several reviewers have commented on the obvious debt which Views From the Oldest House owes to Joyce and Pynchon. I ndeed our first meeting with Black Malachi Pantera is clearly modeled on Buck Mulligan's initial appearance in Ulysses. Grant's literary allusions, however, are legion. In the first five pages of the book alone he explicitly refers to Proust, Gone With the Wind, Archibald MacLeish, Milton, The Rites of Spring, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, George Eliot, and who knows what else that I missed. In the hands of an erudite and witty writer, which is what Grant is at his best, such allusiveness can be a delightful game, but here it goes too far. Equally cloying after a while are the author's leaps between first, second, and third person, singular and plural narration--at times all within a single paragraph. The device undoubtedly has a deep thematic purpose, something to do with the nature of Turner Ashenden' s quest for self-realization or some such, but forthe most part it is simply confusing and overly precious. I don't really want to give the impression that Richard Grant's Views From the Oldest House is a thoroughly bad novel, because it isn't. There are all sorts of wonderful characters and conceits between the covers of this book. When, however, an author produces a work of fiction that is obviously intended to bear comparison to Ulysses, Gravity's Rainbow and, within our genre, John Crowley's Little, Big, he's walking on very dangerous ground indeed. By its own lights, therefore, Views From the Oldest House is at best a mixed success. --Sandra J. Lindow 18


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 MOSTLY MEDIOCRE BATMAN Greenberg, Martin H., ed. The Further Adventures of Batman. Bantam, NY, 1989. 401p. $3.95pb. 0-553-28270-0. Holy overkill, Batman! This compilation of Batman tales was apparently hurriedly thrown together in order to capitalize on the Bat-hysteria surrounding the movie. Most of these stories simply do not fly, but a few of them, notably Joe R. Lansdale's "Subway Jack," Mike Resnick's "Neutral Ground," Stuart A. Kaminsky's "The Batman Memos," Isaac Asimov's "Northwestward," and Ed Gor man's "Idol," are relatively clever and well-written. However, these stories cannot save the book from the pulp mediocrity that dominates its pages. We are initially smacked with Robert Sheckley's "Death of the Dream master," which contains an enormous plot error and is representative of the poor writing permeating the larger part of the book. Early in the story Bruce Wayne dashes into a lavish hotel chasing a Joker-like figure. He questions the hotel's assistant manager, Blithely, about the clownish character, but nothing is revealed. Later, Batman returns to the hotel disguised in another of his secret personas: "When Charlie Morrison checked into the New Era Hotel, the assistant manager helped him sign in with no hint of remembering his earlier visit as Bruce Wayne" (11). But after a confrontation among the apparition-chasing Charlie Morrison, Commissioner Gordon, and the assistant manager, concerning Morrison's erratic and unsettling behavior, Blithely describes "Bruce's first appearance at the hotel, when he was looking for a man with green hair, and then Bruce's unusual entry into the health club" (21). Blithely soon disappears from the story, and this contradic tion is never explained. The few highpoints of this book are found in the stories using unique forms, subtle irony, and horrific details. "Subway Jack," despite being written like a comic book script, is an interesting twist on the Jack the Ripper figure. The unstoppable killer is identified as a supernatural creature from another dimension, and its gory murders and grotesque shape are quite shocking. This tale is a frightening version of Poltergeist meets Friday the 13th meets Batman. "Neutral Ground" and "Northwestward" both have clever, ironic twists that avoid the heavy-handed irony of the majority of the book's stories. "Neutral Ground" introduces the problem of finding the right tailor, and "Northwestward" inter twines the model for the comic strip character within a comic strip and a surprisingly simple explanation for a mysterious miscommunication. Everything is made clear in the end. Two other stories use unique forms to present their plots. "The Batman Memos" is told entirely through office letters and involves recruiting Batman to play the leading role in a movie about himself. Concluding the book is "Idol," a short, psychological thriller told in diary-like form using only concrete 19


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 details. This book can only be recommended for Batman junkies who live for the Caped Crusader and nothing else. Who else could tolerate Robin's sappy good-bye to "Daddy's Girl" (by William F. Nolan): "I'd lost the sweetest girl I'd ever known. I loved her. Very much. And I always will" (284)? It's a sad day in Gotham City when camp passes for melodrama. --Michael Trammell MAY BE CHALLENGED BY CENSORS Hyman, Jackie. Shadow/ight. DAW, NY, December 1989. 256p. $3,50 pb. 0-88677-397-0. Shadow, with the aid of her friends, Nle and Dart, combats the Graylord (master of the undead), his Grayver minions, the Radiants, and her evil half-sister Mera-ti for control of her land and its city, Ad-Omaq. In the process, she learns much about herself. She discovers the extent of the magic powers bequeathed to her from her dual lineage of her Radiant father and of that older horned race of her mother. She also finds strength from her ability to love the Mage of Kir, despite his political marriage and his brief enchantment by the evil Mera-ti. Shadow/ight is fast-paced and full of adventure, and its detailed and complicated plot sustains interest throughout. In its depiction of lovemaking and its suggestive allusions to prostitutes and sexual favors, it may be challenged by censors looking for explicit sex or even witchcraft, possibly the reason the novel is not specifically marketed as "young adult." However, Hyman tactfully cuts to white space when the heat of the single lovemaking scene becomes intense. Further, love rather than lust is the focus, and the integrity, strength, and independence consistently manifested by Shadow, with or without her powers, make her a positive role model. --Vicki Diamond 20


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 More of the Same Kurtz, Katherine. The Harrowing of Gwynedd, Vol. I, The Heirs of Saint Camber. New York: Del Rey Books, 1989. 384p. $17.95 hc. (Book Club edition; no ISBN). This new series carries the reader beyond the debacle of the Restoration detailed in Camber the Heretic, a novel to which the term "harrowing" is more appropriate, subjectively, than to this work. Camber's body is hidden in the Michaeline refuge and Joram and Evaine, his children search for the correct ritual to release him--into life or into real death--from the stasis he conjured in his last moments. A counterpoint to this quest is provided in the adventures of Prince Javan, lame twin brother to the boy-king Alroy. Javan is cast as the "mole" in the Deryni struggle against the increasingly powerful regents, and this part of the story is much more interesting than the increasingly elaborate Deryni rituals that faithful readers can recite from memory. This series will suffer from the documentation Kurtz has provided for her characters. Those dates provided in the genealogies leave us waiting for the next disaster even when her first books, Oeryni Rising and its sequels, provide hope. "Deryni watchers" will read this book; it may send new readers back to earlier volumes. --Amelia A. Rutledge ALTERNATE ROMAN HISTORY SEQUEL Mitchell, Kirk. Cry Republic. Ace Books, The Berkley Publishing Group, NY, 1989. Cry Republic, Kirk Mitchell's sequel to Procurator and New Barbarians, is an alternate history novel in which all roads still lead to Rome. Pontius Pilate, 'influenced by a dream, releases Jesus of Nazareth rather than Barabbas, and Christianity never develops as a religion truly distinct from Judaism. Thus is the world deeply altered. In this third novel in a series of at least four, the 20th century Caesar Germanicus Agricola, last in the bloodline of the ancient Caesars, moves to restore the Roman Republic. The old Roman imperial system, static and moribund, is ever less able to accommodate the now finally increasing pace of change. Those committed to the old order resist the Emperor, and Germanicus has his power usurped and narrowly escapes Rome with his life. 21


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 So the tale begins, and it is an exciting one indeed. Procurator and New Barbarians were released to rave reviews and many wondered whether this new author could sustain so ambitious a creative effort. He has, and wonderfully. Mitchell's characters stay with you like a breakfast of grits and sausage: Germanicus is a fascinating, complex creation. With great skill, the author creates a world which is impressively detailed but which never buries the reader in that detail. Larger cultural considerations are deftly woven into the narrative, prominent but never intruding inappropriately: Why do cultures become static? Why did science and technology never develop in ancient Rome when its people were so achingly close to such a development? What role did religion play in the birth of science? Mitchell has chosen to launch his SF career in a most difficult sub-genre, one demanding the greatest abilities as a world-builder, a deep and almost intuitive grasp of social process, and a scholar's understanding of history. That he is so well up to the task is one indication that a vivid new talent is now upon the SF scene. Writing in the January, 1990, Amazing Stories, Robert Silverberg ob serves that at times certain themes are just "in the air." Having completed a short story set in an alternate history in which Rome never fell, and planning a series of additional stories in that world, he discovered through friends that Fred Pohl had a similar project going. Then he saw a review of Cf}' Republic in Publishers Weekly. "The theme seems a little over-utilized at the moment," Silverberg writes. "I didn't read Fred Pohl's story, he didn't read mine, and neither of us had ever heard of Kirk Mitchell or his two [actually, three] Roman novels." If Silverberg is going to continue with his series, though, he should read Mitchell's work, for it is likely to prove the standard by which his own development of the theme is judged. Silverberg's setup is this: Tiberius rather than Pilate is Procurator of Judea and releases Jesus. "Therefore Christianity never got off the ground; Rome was not weakened by battling Christian sects; there were never any religious wars and by now Rome is global and pretty much at peace." But Founder religions like Christianity (and Judaism, Bud dhism, Krishnite orthodoxy, Islam) are important responses in their respective cultures to the discovery of history. As people became more aware of historical and cultural change, the old static religions of earlier societies died a slow death. The life of the Founder in Founder religions was made the pivot of history, and thus history was given shape and historical change was made meaningful. If Christianity had not gotten off the ground, something else would have, and probably sooner than later. There were, after all, many analogs to Christianity in ancient Rome. What is so impressive about Mitchell is that he never loses sight of these larger cultural and historical problems. Stasis and an inability to conceptualize change are significant problems in his alternate world, and as the third novel in the series ends, there is a clear setup in it for a solution to them. 22


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 Cry Republic is much more than a simple rehash of that old Star Trek rerun we have all seen. Whether Rome is your cup of tea or not, read this novel. It is great fun, always thoughtprovoking, and most highly recommended. --Peter Lowentrout HAREM TO HEROINE Norton, Andre and Susan Shwartz. Imperial Lady: A Fantasy of Han China. TOR / Tom Dougherty Associates, NY, August 1989. 294p. $17.95 hc. 0-312-93128-x. If you're going to write about exotic, far away places, you really ought to do your homework. I am pleased to report that Andre Norton and Susan Shwartz have. Their China rings as true as it needs to (after all, this is a fantasy). Their China is different in several interesting ways from, say, Barry Hughart's. Hughart also studies well, but he did something quite different from what Norton and Shwartz have done. Hughart borrowed and displayed great heaps and piles of Chinese lore and wrote in something approaching the flamboyant style of Chinese vernacular fiction. Norton and Shwartz are more restrained. They reserve their knowledge for the telling detail, the idiosyncrasy of dress or reasoning, that places their story in a near-historical China--something Hughart did not, and never intended to, do. The paranormal and supernatural are intrusions in their China; in Hughart's they are part of everyday life. Hughart may have overplayed the role of magic in everyday life. Perhaps Norton and Shwartz have underplayed it and its acceptance among the upper classes. We note that ofthe five emperors who reigned between 800 and 845 A. D four died of poisoning from drinking "elixirs of immortality." (The Chinese alchemists were convinced that any such potion must contain mercury.) And that is nine centuries after the time in which the story is set. The first part of the story is familiar. It follows the line of an historical event in which the Emperor, beset by the Huns, offers them a Chinese princess in marriage to their leader to seal a treaty. Too late, he realizes that the girt selected from his harem, whom he had never seen, is the loveliest of women and not the homely wench he had been led to believe she was. Alas, she must be sent off to Mongolia with the Hunnish ambassador, where such a fragile beauty could not survive. Chinese poets and playwrights have lamented her fate with gusto for 2,000 years. Or could she survive? There are sketchy and conflicting reports in Chinese sources which at least suggest that she lived for a number of years and took an active role in Hunnish politics. This is where Norton and Shwartz have gone beyond their sources to 23


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 invent a scenario. They take the story, move it a couple of generations, and carefully lay the groundwork for a heroine who could thrive in the nomad camps. Here they draw on a different image of Chinese womanhood: the noble and upright maiden who will dare anything to preserve her family's honor. Yet it would be a mistake to limit Silver Snow to a stereotype. She is her own woman, and an admirable human being. The upbringing which makes her a survivor leaves her ill-suited to a life at court. It is almost with relief that she leaves for Mongolia. Once they got her beyond the Great Wall, Norton and Shwartz had more freedom to improvise. Silver Snow is faced with formidable obstacles; personal, political, and magical. To learn what she does, you will have to read the book. The authors take some small liberties with historical fact, which they duly note, to make a better story. This is in the Chinese tradition: history is a record, not of what happened, but of what ought to have happened. The elements of fantasy are well done. They are also nicely integrated into the plot, rather that (as is too often the case) being used simply to cover holes that the author is too lazy to fill by working. This book, then, is a well-crafted historical novel rather than a piece of chinoiserie. I am fond of the latter as well as the former, but the reader should be aware of what is in the dish before tasting it. Strongly recom mended. --William M. Schuyler, Jr. A VICTIM OF ITS OWN SUCCESS Roshwald, Mordecai. Level 7. Lawrence Hill Books, Chicago, 1989. First published in 1959, Level 7 is a chill parable which attempts to make clear the looming dangers of the destruction of our humanity by the national security states in which we live and the destruction of humanity itself by the Bomb. The tale is told as the diary of Officer X-127, who is assigned to the "push-buttons," a machine devised to launch a nuclear war. X-127 lives and works 4,400 feet below the earth in Level 7, his country's deepest military command center Ibomb shelter. This shelter is built to be self-sufficient for five hundred years, and those who go down to Level 7 may never again return to the surface of our world. X-127 and his colleagues live regimented and numbed lives, lives forced upon them by their willing acquiescence to the demands of national security and nuclear preparedness. When war breaks out, X-127 is able only to admire the beautiful patterns the spreading destruc-24


SFRA, May 1990, No. 171 tion makes on his screen. This is an intelligent novel, and placed as it is in the heart of the nuclear security state's darkness, one which remains emotionally unengaging. There is a kind of horror produced by looking in the mirror the novel intends to be and seeing oneself. But the novel's characters and the lives they lead are intended to repel, not to draw in, the reader. Expect no human warmth here. Level 7 seems at times rather dated, but if it does, perhaps it is because the human spirit is rising tentatively today above the twin dangers of which Roshwald would warn us. In these days of "user-friendly" computers and cute little R2D2, technology no longer seems the impersonal threat it once did. Today, most feel technology to be benign, or at worst neutral, and when it is misused, the blame is assumed to be ours. Too, we have become skeptical of the demands that national security states would place upon us, and the security state culture of mid century seems now to be slowly disintegrating. Finally, the fear of nuclear annihilation is receding: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, for instance, has just recently moved the hands of its clock of nuclear destruction back yet another four minutes from midnight. Though it is still too early to tell with certainty, it is beginning to look as if Level 7 and novels like it are victims of their own success. Mordecai Roshwald, I suspect, would wish for nothing less. H. Bruce Franklin has contributed a brief but useful afterward for this edition of Level 7 that places the novel in its time and shows most clearly its sometimes startling prescience concerning the future development of the proto cols of nuclear war and the cultures that would have fought it. Level 7: highly recommended for the classroom, and recommended for those who would explore a work which quickened the moral sensibilities of its time, a work which might still prove of use in putting the last nails in the coffins of cold warriors everywhere. --Peter Lowentrout Setting is not Enough Stith, John. Deep Quarry. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group, 1989. 140p. pb. ISBN 0-441-14276. (Reviewed from uncorrected proofs). Deep Quarry is set on an alien planet, a desert just within the range of human tolerances; there is an assortment of non-Earth humans, and its plot hinges upon a long-term scheme by an alien, non-indigenous super-race, but there the resemblance to science fiction ends. The novel begins in the classic manner of "hard-boiled" detective fiction as Ben Takent, a not-tao-successful private eye is contacted by Kate Dunlet, an archaeologist about "problems" at her research site. 25


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 This is a story of disappearing artifacts, the usual winnowing out of suspects, and a long chase through newly-discovered caverns with fairly creative deathtraps. Although the denouement is not without surprises, this story never goes beyond space-opera. Aliens and a strange planet with minimal estrangement and no attempt to go beyond banal adventure place this work at the lowest level of what can be called SF. --Amelia A. Rutledge Young Adult NOT JUST HORSING AROUND Stanton, Mary. Piper At the Gate. Baen, NY, May 1989. 306p. $3.50 pb. 0671-69820-6. Four horses from Sweetwater Ranch, led by the Appaloosa stallion, DanCing Piper, brave the forces of darkness in this beast fantasy. Piper and his quest-mates journey to release Piper's sire and dam, who, in Stanton's earlier Heavenly Horse From the Outermost West (Baen, 1988), had been tricked into the nether-world. Eventually, Piper alone must descend to the Dark Barns, confront the Dark Horse, and free the spirits of his parents. The odds are challenging, the gods can assist only indirectly, and Piper knows, if he fails, all horses will disappear from the earth forever. While the breathtaking dread, mystery, and suspense are less than one hopes for in journey novels, the sense of the fabulous, like that created in Wind in the Willows, Watership Down, or the more recent Grey Horse is strong. Stanton has anthropomorphized the horses with dignity and grace. The animals come alive. Piper and his friends are likeable. And the nature of Piper's quest echoes the fears of abandonment and helplessness experi enced by so many young adults. For these readers Piper's ability to exercise control over his destiny creates a true mythic hero. For every other young or older horse lover, this charming allegory with its combination of realistic ranch life and rich equine mythology is completely admirable. --Douglas Dunton 26


SFRA, May 1990, No. 177 THE ONCE AND FUTURE SWIFT White, T.H. Mistress Masham's Repose. Ace, NY, 1989. 231 p. $3.95 pb. 0-44153577-1. Being asked to review Mistress Masham's Repose is like being asked to review The Hobbit. Both are the works of masters of adult fantasy writing, rather self-consciously, for children. Both are, by today's standards, difficult reading for the average twelve-year-old. Both are classics of children's literature. Ten-year-old Maria is an orphan, living alone in a huge and crumbling ancestral palace with a cruel governess and a kind cook. One day Maria breaks through the brambles on a small island to discover a colony of tiny people living in a deserted summerhouse--the Mistress Masham's Repose of the title. The people are Lilliputians in exile, descendants of thirteen Lilliputians kidnapped by a sea captain two hundred years earlier and exhibited in pubs and fairs until they escaped and made their way to the Repose. The first part of the book shows Maria learning to respect the Lilliputians as adults and human beings despite their diminutive size. The second part shows her governess and the vicar conspiring to kill Maria so that they can have the lost treasure of Malplaquet all to themselves. The plot is pure melodrama, and more than exciting enough to carry the book. The real enchantment, however, is in White's descriptions of Lilliputian "Oeconomy," the rituals and customs and makeshifts of tiny people living in secret on an overgrown island. An adult reader familiar with Gulliver's Travels may see how White has allowed his Lilliputians to evolve beyond Swift's petty and jealous caricatures. A child will see that these miniature people face full-sized dangers, and that their lives and their culture, while odd, are neither cute nor precious. A certain amount of Mistress Masham's Repose is aimed straight overthe head of its ostensible audience to the adult who is presumably reading it aloud. As in The Once and Future King, White peppers his story with in-jokes, literary, political, and social. To get all of them, I suspect you'd have to be male, upper class, and educated at a British public school during the 1920's. But most of them are funny, anyway, depending more on character and situation than on special knowledge. And the ones that aren't--well, when I was a kid, I skipped them. --Delia Sherman 27


SFRA Newsletter No. 177 Betsy Haifst, Editor Arts, Communications, & Social Science 360 W First Eugene, OR 97401 DATED MATERIAL DO NOT DELAY


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