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SFRA newsletter
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Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
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Science Fiction Research Association
Science Fiction Research Association
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Eugene, Ore
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Science fiction -- History and criticism   ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- History and criticism -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Science fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
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usfldc doi - S67-00070-n178-1990-06
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SFRA newsletter.
n No. 178 (June, 1990)
1 3 246
Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
[Eugene, Ore. :
b Science Fiction Research Association]
c June, 1990
Place of publication varies.
Science fiction
x History and criticism
v Periodicals.
Fantasy fiction
History and criticism
Science fiction
Book reviews
Fantasy fiction
Book reviews
2 710
Science Fiction Research Association.
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4 856


2 SFRA Newsletter 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 Hartst, Editor, SFRA Newsletter, Arts, Communications, & Social Science Division, Kishwaukee College, Malta, II 60150. (Tel. 815-825-2086). Send 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, June 1990, No. 178 President's Message THE SUGGESTION BOX In the last few weeks, I've received several interesting comments in the space on the renewal form left for "projects SFRA should undertake," forwarded to me by Treasurer Tom Remington. Among them: William Touponce asks for "more book reviews, especially of critical literature." A suggestion to all members in response to this: if you are aware of critical literature that has been overlooked for review, why not write a review yourself or (especially if it's your own book) ask the publisher to send a review copy to Bob Collins. Our policy has been to give reviews of criticism priority over fiction reviews. We do appreciate help in being as complete as possible in covering this important aspect of reviewing. Milt Wolf would like to see SFRA "affiliate with other like-minded groups such as IAFA, Society for Utopian Studies, ALA, etc." How do others feel? SFRA began as an affiliate of MLA, but became independent, I believe, because it seemed--at that time--that we would be lost in the larger purpose of the parent organization. Is this still valid? A couple of people are interested in publishing projects. Amelia Rutledge would like to see "the reprinting of classic or important sf novels that never seem to be in print, e.g. Babel 17, on the model of the Medieval Academy's MART." Veronica Kennedy suggests an "intensive study of Victorian fan tasy." Are others interested in these projects? What about a publisher? For obvious reasons I'm withholding the name of one person who wants us to revise the afterwords in the SFRA Anthology, adding "great anthology but absolutely useless critical commentaries." As one of those who wrote an afterword, I'll try not to take the comment personally; but if others agree with this, why not let the editors know the kind of comments that would help make the anthology more useful to you? I had heard last winter from Virginia Allen that she could n't obtain copies for her spring sf class, but was relieved to learn from Harper & Row at the Conference on College Composition and Commu nication this spring that the out-of-stock condition was just temporary be cause the anthology was selling better than they had predicted and had to go back to press. 3


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 Daryl F. Mallett would like SFRA to "help major sf libraries build and get in touch with preservation; help libraries work together; set up an SFRA deposi tory at the Eaton Collection." We have a number of member libraries, but I'm not sure how many librarians actually read the newsletter or initiate the membership. Those librarians who are active may wish to contact Daryl and say so. Finally, from my dear friend, Beverty Friend, an informal suggestion. Bev admits to having trouble remembering to renew and has come up with the idea of life memberships. Would anyone else be tempted? At the Executive Committee meeting during the Annual Meeting we will discuss this and other ideas for recruiting new members as well as improving the renewal process. I do hope I'll see you all at the annual meeting in Long Beach! --Elizabeth Anne Hull HYPERSPACE: THE 4TH SPATIAL DIMENSION Dr. Theodore W. Schick, Jr. Muhlenberg College If Han Solo of "Star Wars" fame had not been able to escape to hyperspace, the rebellion would surely have been crushed. Without warp drive, the crew of "Star Trek's" Enterprise would probably never have encoun tered any new life or new civilizations. For, in science fiction, getting into hyperspace allows one to travel faster than the speed of light and thus makes inter-stellar travel possible. But what is hyperspace and why does getting into it allow one to travel such great distances in such a short amount of time? Hyperspace travel is travel through the fourth spatial dimension; that is, it is travel in a direction that is perpendicular to the three types of travel--forwardj backward, left/right, up/down--that we normally use to get around. It is exceedingly difficult to imagine what itwould be like to travel in a direction that is perpendicular to every direction in our three dimensional space. But it can be proven mathematically that such travel is logically possible. For over 2,000 years it was thought that our space had to have a Euclidean 4


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 structure. A non-Euclidean geometry was considered logically Impossible because Eulclid's postulates were taken to be self-evident, necessary truths. In 1830, however, the mathematicians Lobachevsky and Bolyai, independ ently of each other, demonstrated that a non-Euclidean geometry was pos sible. These two mathematicians altered Euclid's postulates for plane or two dimensional geometry by replacing Euclid's fifth postulate, namely, that from a point outside a line there is only one line parallel to that line, with the postulate that from a point outside a line there are a number of lines parallel to that line. They then demonstrated that with this revised set of postulates, one could prove theorems without ever falling into inconsistency. It was later discovered that if the straight lines of this geometry are understood as geodesics (a geodesic is the shortest distance between two points), the geometry produced by this system corresponds to that of a two dimensional surface with negative curvature, such as the surface of a saddle. In 1854, Riemann showed that one could generate another consistent plane geometry by denying Euclid's first postulate, namely, that there is exactly one line connecting any two points, and by replacing Euclid's fifth postulate with the postulate that from a point outside a line there are no lines parallel to that line. In this case, if straight lines are taken to be geodesics, the geometry produced corresponds to that of a two dimensional surface with positive curvature, such as the surface of a sphere. Positively curved space has the interesting property of being finite but unbounded for if oneSchick2 Hyper space travelled in a straight line (geodesic) in such a space, one would end up back where one started without ever reaching a boundary or edge. The discovery of these non-Euclidean geometries led a number of mathema ticians, most notably, Riemann, Cayley, Grassman, and Clifford, to investi gate the possibility of higher-dimensional geometries. What they found was that if one postulated the existence of a fourth spatial dimension, that is, a space in which there can be four mutually perpendicular lines, again theorems could be generated without ever falling into inconsistency. To get an intuitive grasp of this four-dimensional geometry, it is useful to compare it with the geometries of fewer dimensions. For example: A point moving outside of itself generates a line; a line moving outside of itself generates a plane; a plane moving outside of itself generates a solid; and a solid moving outside of itself generates a hypersolid. A point is an infinitely 5


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 small slice of a line; a line is an infinitely small slice of a plane; a plane is an infinitely small slice of a solid; and a solid is an infinitely small slice of a hypersolid. In a line, rotation is possible around a point; in a plane, rotation is possible around a line; in a solid, rotation is possible around a plane; and in a hyper solid, rotation is possible around a solid. This last observation has some interesting consequences. By rotating a two dimensional object in the third dimension, one can turn it into its mirror image. For example, by rotating a left handed triangle in the third dimension, one can turn it into a right-handed triangle. Similarly, by rotating a right-handed glove in the fourth dimension, one can turn it into a left-handed glove. But even more remarkable than that, consider this. By rotating a flexible circle in the third dimension, one can turn it inside out without tearing it, in much the same way that one can turn a rubberband inside out by holding one end of it on a table and bringing the other end over the top of it. Similarly, as Professor Newcomb demonstrated in the first volume oftheAmerican Journal of Mathematics, by rotating a flexible sphere in the fourth dimension, one can turn it inside out without tearing it. This means that by rotating a tennis ball in the fourth dimension, one could put the fuzz on the inside and the rubber on the outside without having to cut it open. (In his book Lifetide, Lyall Watson claims to have seen a young Italian girl do just that.) This, however, is only one of many remarkable things one could do if one had access to the fourth spatial dimension. The best way to understand the relationship between the fourth dimension and the third dimension is by analogy with the relationship between the third dimension and the second dimension. This mode of explaining the concept of higher space was popularized by Edwin Abbot in his classic book, Flatland, published in 1884. In it, a three dimensional being--a sphere--tries to convince one of the inhabitants of the two dimensional world of Flatland--a square named A. Square--that there are higher spatial dimensions. By performing certain feats that could only be explained on the assumption that there is a third dimension, like taking something from a closed room without entering it, the sphere hoped to make A. Square come to believe in the existence of the third dimension. Suppose, for example, that you are a being that lives in a two dimensional world like Flatland. Such a world would be populated entirely by plane figures, 6


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 and you could only perceive things that lie in the space that you inhabit, that is, in the plane. Now suppose that somebody in Flatland places some money inside of a closed room. (A rectangle would be the Flatland equivalent of a closed room.) If you were outside of the room, you could not see the money on the inside, nor could you get to the money without opening or breaking into the room. But if you could somehow "rise" out of Flatland into the third dimension, you could easily see that the money was inside the room and you could also take the money out of the room by lifting it out through the third dimension without having to open the door or break into the room. Similarly, if, in our world, you put some money in a bank vault, you could not see the money, nor could you remove it without opening or breaking into the vault. If you could somehow "rise" out ot the third dimension into the fourth dimension, however, not only could you see the money on the inside of the vault, but you could also take the money from the vault by lifting it out through the fourth dimension without having to open or break into the vault. "Psychic surgeons" claim to be able to remove organs from inside a body without cutting it open. Such a procedure is easily explainable on the assumption that these doctors have access to the fourth dimension. From the fourth dimen sion, all sides of a three dimensional object as well as the inside are open to inspection and manipulation. Cubist painters, in so far as they attempted to simultaneously portray all the sides of an object as well as its inside, can be considered to have been trying to portray an object as it would appear from the fourth dimension. In order to understand how the fourth spatial dimension makes faster than light travel possible, it will be necessary to introduce one more concept: that of curved space. According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, our three dimensional space is curved around massive objects; the more massive the object, the greater the curvature. (Around black holes, space is infinitely curved.) This curvature can he used to explain the gravitational attraction between objects. On this view, the reason that the earth rotates around the sun is not that the sun is somehow acting on the earth at a distance, butthatthe earth is travelling around the rim of a "gravity well" in our space that has been created by the mass of the sun. 7


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 Perhaps another analogy would be helpful here. Imagine an elastic sheet stretched over the open end of a large barrel. Now imagine placing a heavy rock on that elastic sheet. The rock would create an indentation in the sheet. The effect of the sun on our space is analogous to the effect of the rock on the sheet. Just as the rock warps the sheet by stretching it in the third dimension, so the sun "warps" our space by "stretching" it in the fourth dimension. Because of the weight of the rock, a marble rolled around the edge of the barrel would revolve around the rock and eventually be drawn into it. Analogously, because of the shape of our space created by the mass of the sun, the earth revolves around the sun and will eventually he drawn into it. According to Einstein, then, the shape of our space is determined by the mass of the objects it contains. If there is sufficient mass in the universe, our space is positively curved. If not, it is either flat or negatively curved. As we have seen, a positively curved two-dimensional space can be viewed as the surface of a three-dimensional sphere and a negatively curved two-dimen sional space can be viewed as the surface of a three-dimensional saddle. Analogously, a positively curved three-dimensional space can be viewed as the surface of a four-dimensional "hypersphere" and a negatively curved three-dimensional space can be viewed as the surface of a four-dimensional "hypersaddle. Now it is easy to understand how a two-dimensional creature that lived on of a three-dimensional sphere or saddle and had access to the third dimension could appear to his compatriots to travel faster than is physically possible, that is, faster than the speed of light, if the speed of light were a limiting velocity in his world. Suppose, for example, that such a two-dimensional creature wanted to travel to the "far end" of his universe; that is, to a point "opposite" that of where he was located. If he travelled on the surface of the sphere or the saddle, it would obviously take much longer than if he travelled through the middle of the sphere or the saddle, so to speak. And if he travelled through the middle of the sphere or the saddle, that is, through the third dimension, with sufficient velocity (although less than the speed of light), it would appear to his compatriots on the surface that he travelled faster than the speed of light. 8


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 Analogously, if our universe is the surface of a four-dimensional hyper sphere or hypersaddle, one could get to distant points on it much faster by travelling through the "middle" of the hypersphere or hypersaddle, that is, through the fourth dimension, than by travelling along its surface. If one travelled fast enough through the fourth dimension, it would appear to those on the surface, I.e., in the third dimension, that one had travelled faster than physically possible, that is, faster than the speed of light. Scientists are not sure whether or not our space is positively or negatively curved because they are not sure just how much mass there is in the universe. The mass that has been detected to date suggests that our space is negatively curved. But there may be a lot of mass hidden in such things as distant planets, dust clouds, or black holes which, because they do not radiate any visible light, have not yet been detected. Moreover, Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest theoretical physicists of our time, has recently shown that one appealing result of combining quantum mechanics with relativity theory is that space turns out to be positively curved and thus finite but unbounded. If one or more ofthese possibilities turns out to be actual, it may well be that we live in a closed universe, that is, on the surface of a four-dimensional hypersphere. If so, then any astronaut who set out to travel in a straight line through our universe would eventually end up back where he started. This raises the intriguing possibility that our universe may not be the only universe; the hypersphere whose surface constitutes our universe may be only one of many such hyperspheres "floating" around in the fourth dimen sion. These other hyperspheres WOUld, in effect, be what science fiction writers often refer to as "parallel universes." Even if our space is curved in the fourth dimension, it is difficult to imagine how we could make the leap into hyperspace, for in orderto do so, we would have to exert a force in the direction ofthe fourth dimension, and that no one knows how to do. But it has been suggested that black holes may serve as gateways through the fourth dimension to distant places in our universe as well as other universes. As noted above, the space around a black hole is infinitely curved. That means that if you fall into a black hole, you never reach the bottom. What happens to something that falls into a black hole, then? Some astronomers believe that anything falling into black hole is ultimately "spit out" some place 9


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 else either in our universe or some other Schick -6 Hyperspace universe. The thing that does the spitting, of course, is called a "white hole." Black holes and their corresponding white holes are connected by what are called "wormholes," or more technically, "Einstein-Rosen bridges." These wormholes may be viewed as "tunnels" through the fourth dimension. Thus, if our universe is the surface of a hypersphere, it is possible that it resembles a rotten apple shot through with wormholes connecting black holes with white holes. It has even suggested that if this is the case, an advanced civilization could map the location of these wormholes with their black hole entrances and white hole exits and use such a map for interstellar travel. These wormholes, then, would he the inter-galactic equivalent of our inter-state highway system. To use black holes for intergalactic travel, however, one would have to have some sort of anti-gravity device, for without one, one would be ripped apart by the immense gravitational forces generated by them. So the concept of hyperspace is a legitimate scientific concept and not merely the product of artistic license. But why stop at hyperspace? Isn't it possible that the hypersphere or hypersaddle whose surface constitutes our universe is just the surface of a hyperhypersphere or hyperhypersaddle And couldn't that just be the surface of a hyperhyperhypersphere or hyperhy perhypersaddle, and so on? Perhaps. In fact, some physicists have sug gested that our universe contains more than four spatial dimensions. Daniel Freedman and Peter van Niewenhuizen, for example, claim that our universe may have eleven dimensions--ten spatial dimensions and one time dimension. This claim is part of a theory known as "supergravity" which attempts to unite the two major branches of physics: quantum mechanics and relativity theory. Quantum mechanics is a physical theory that explains the interactions among the smallest things in the universe: SUb-atomic particles, atoms, and molecules. Relativity theory, on the other hand, is a physical theory that explains the interactions among the largest things in the universe: planets, stars, and galaxies. There is no overarching theory, however, that is applicable to both the micro and the macro features of the universe. Einstein spent his later years searching for such a theory, but to no avail. Freedman and van Nieuwenhuizen, however, claim that the theory of supergravity does what Einstein failed to do--it shows how all the particles (and forces, since 10


SFRA,June1990,No.178 supergravity, the supergraviton exists in the eleventh dimension and all the various particles that we observe are merely "projections" of that particle onto our three dimensional space, in much the same way that shadows are projections of three dimensional objects onto a two dimensional space. The supergraviton appears as different particles--electrons, protons, neutrons, etc.--depending on its orientation, just as an object casts different shadows depending on its orientation. David Bohm, another theoretical physicist, also believes that the particles we observe may be projections of some higher-dimensional structure, but he is unwilling to call this structure itself a particle. Rather, he refers to it as the "implicate order." From our limited perspective, we can only perceive a small number of its multifarious aspects. What we perceive he calls the "explicate order." According to Bohm, the implicate order may have as many dimen sions as there are particles in our universe, namely, something along the order of 1089! Rudy Rucker, mathematician and science fiction writer, claims that once we start admitting higher dimensions, the only logical stopping point is at infinity. Quantum mechanical physicists often interpret particles as patterns in an infinite-dimensional space called Hilbert space, named after David Hilbert, the mathematician who first articulated this concept. Most physicists consider Hilbert space to be a mathematical fiction, useful for performing certain calculations but having no real existence. Rucker suggests that perhaps this "fiction" should be taken more seriously. The existence of more spatial dimensions than the three with which we are all acquainted is a hypothesis that has been gaining credibility. If it turns out to be the case that there are higher spatial dimensions, we may well look forward to a time when travel between stars takes no longer than travel between cities now does. 11


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 For Further Read'ing: Isaac Asimov, The Collapsing Universe, New York: Pocket Books, 1977. David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,1980. Paul Davies, Superforce, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984. Daniel Freedman and Peter van Niewenhuizen, "The Hidden Dimensions of Spacetime," Scientific American, March, 1985. Stephen HawkingA Brief History of Time, New York: Bantam, 1988. Charles Hinton, Speculations on the Fourth Dimension, ed. by Rudolf v. B. Rucker, New York: Dover Books, 1980. William J. Kaufman, Black Holes and Curved Space-Time, New York: Ban tam, 1980. Martin Gardner, The Ambidextrous Universe, New York: Charles Scribner As Sons, 1979. Rudolfv. B. Rucker, Geometry, Relativity, and the Fourth Dimension, New York: Dover Books, 1977. Rudy Rucker, The 4th Dimension: Toward a Geometry of Higher Reality, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984. 12


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 University of Illinois Press Sale More than 800 new and backlist titles are on sale through 15 Septem ber 1990. Request a catalog from the University of Illinois Press, Dept. 1MB, 54 E. Gregory Drive, Champaign, II 61820, for full details. Average discount appeared to be about 20%, but it goes as high as 90% for some titles. All subjects are covered. Here are a few specimens from the American Lit section: Across the Wounded Galaxies; Interviews with Contemporary Science Fiction Writers, Larry McCaffery's new (July 1990) collection, $22 ($27.50 list), Thomas Schaub's 1981 Pynchon: The Voice of Ambiguity, $4.75 ($15.95 list), Gregory Waller's The Living and the Undead: From Stoker's Dracula to Romero's Dawn of the Dead, $17.40 ($28.95 list). --Neil Barron Definitive Fantastic Fiction Magazine Index Announced If you happen to have about 500 linear feet of fantastic fiction magazines, you'll be ecstatic to know that a single index to all of them will be available in three volumes (issue by issue contents, by author, by story title), about summer 1991 from Garland Publishing, price not set, but probably about $150/set. The fan(atic) in charge of this isStephen T. Miller, One Heatherwood Court, Medford, NJ 08035, who has a huge magazine collection and is working from the original issues rather than from the earlier indexes (Day, Strauss, Metcalf, etc). Bill Contento, who handles computer processing for Locus and its annual bibliographies, is keying and formatting all of this information, and Kenneth Johnson of MIT is helping with proofing, pseudo nyms, etc. We're talking massive, friends. I counted almost 600 titles in the preliminary list, from incredibly obscure one-shots to long running titles like Amazing and Weird Tales. Coverage is limited to English-language maga zines, excluding serial anthologies like Universe and New Dimensions and magazines likeArgosy, which merely included a fair amount of fantastic fiction amidst other fiction. SF, fantasy. weird and "offtrail" stuff is all covered, through 1988. If you want to lend a hand by providing information or obscure magazines (lend or sell), write Miller directly. He deserves the support of any serious scholar. --Neil Barron 13


SFAA, June 1990, No. 178 Proposed H.P. Lovecraft Commemorative Plaque Betcha didn't remember that 20 August 1990 is the centennial of HPL's birth. The Friends of H.P. Lovecraft, Box 40663, Providence, AI 02940 (details from John Cooke, 40 1-722-7938) are soliciting money for a plaque to be dedicated on the anniversary in Prospect Terrace, the park with the panoramic view of Providence that HPL frequented and mentioned in his stories. If you donate $25 or more (payable to the friends) you'll receive a special limited edition commemorative book featuring the names of donors. The group would like to have a bronze plaque embedded in rock but are concentrating on the plaque on a pole, which is estimated to cost about a grand. Even if you don't contribute, the friends would appreciate your writing Mayor Joseph Palolino, City Hall, Providence, AI, showing your support ofthis project. Yog-Sothoth lives! Reviews Non-Fiction --Neil Barron NON-INCLUSIVE GUIDE TO GENRE POETRY Green, Scott E. Contemporary Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Poetry: A Resource Guide and Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood Press, Westwood, CT, 1989. $35.00. 216p. Finding a publisher for any kind of poetry is a difficult process. Scott Green has given the poets who work in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror a nearly complete list of major magazines which publish poetry in these genres. Along with the magazines currently publishing, Mr. Green has also furnished information on poetry included in anthologies. There is a short biographical sketch of the poets noted as well as the magazines and antholo gies which accepted work from each poet. There are 155 poets included in the listings. There is one serious omission in Mr. Green's work. That is the fine work done by Aobert Collins in the Fantasy Newsletter and later in the Fantasy Review. Collins published these magazines for eight years and there were poems, at least two or three, in each issue. There is one listing in the index of a poem published in the Fantasy Review. Mr. Green makes no claim that his 14


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 book is a complete list of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Horror poets, but he has neglected one of the best. Many good poets, and artists also, were published by Robert Collins. One might ask: If Mr. Green chose to ignore, or just plain missed, this large body of work, how many other poets and poems are not included? --Ann Hitt Fiction Weak Bonding Cooke, Catherine. Realm of the Gods. New York: Ace, 1988 218p. $3.50 pb. ISBN 0-441-70840-4. Realm of the Gods is a sequel to Cooke's The Winged Assassin, and deals with the further adventures of Arris, religious warrior and chosen consort of the "sleeping Goddess." Arris is a fugitive, having saved his friend, Prince Saresha, from ritual sacrifice. A spy for his emperor, he becomes a mercenary in the enemy's kingdom in the face of territorial and religious warfare. Arris' life is complicated by his personal relationships--the enemy officer who was his lover is alienated when he learns that Arris has been a slave; he defies the emperor when he rescues a family of artists despite political sanctions; and he is tormented by uncertainty about his relationship with Saresha, who regards him as a traitor despite the rescue. Furthermore, Arris' soul is forfeit to a daimon to whose agency he owes the rescue. These complications are not necessarily a plot, however, and the novel moves as a series of impressions and encounters--natural and supernatural--permeated with Cooke's emphasis upon Arris' personal beauty. The adventures, the fantasy, the relationships have little to hold them together, and the result is not even good escapism. -Amelia A. Rutledge 15


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 BAD KARMA Coyne, John. Fury. Warner, October, 1989. 288p. $18.95 hc. 0-446-514209. In his latest novel, John Coyne brings an Eighties gloss to the venerable theme of reincarnation. New York lawyer Jennifer Winters, in Washington, DC, for a meeting, chances upon her old high-school friend Eileen Gorman, who is attending an appearance by "channeler" Kathy Dart. Both Jennifer and Eileen have been afflicted with chronic yuppie malaise, but through Kathy, Eileen has found a measure of meaning and contentment that Jennifer sorely lacks. How? Kathy, it seems is the mouthpiece for the spirit ofa23-million-year-old man named Habasha. "It's sort of like possession, but isn't," Eileen explains helpfully. "She 'channels' him." No sooner has Kathy laid eyes on Jennifer than the channeler is after along messages from Jennifer's dead brother, criticizing her (admittedly lousy) relationship with a boorish, manipulative assistant attorney general named Tom Oliver, and hinting at fond friendships in past lives. At first Jennifer pooh-poohs the whole idea of reincarnation, but soon she finds herself inexplicably empowered to run 13 miles, visited by prehis toric memories, and possessed of a murderous rage that results in the murder of a mugger. (Coyne provides Jennifer plenty of opportunities to vent "the rising rage of her primitive self": in his New York everyone from the homeless to neighborhood cleaning ladies are muggers under the skin. As Jennifer's friend Margit explains, articulating the novel's unpleasant reactionary sub text, "everywhere you turn, it seems, the great unwashed, all the homeless, the poor, are coming out of their holes or wherever they sleep at night, and attacking us. ") So Jennifer embarks on a quest for meaning, a journey beyond the bad old "logical, organized, institutional world" into the clutches of people who say things like, "The process of living is living," and, "death is the ultimate out -of-body experience." Yes, Jennifer is aboutto enter the New Age. To his credit, Coyne accurately captures the know-it-all I'm-plugged into-the-universe-and-you're-not rhetoric of some New Age gurus and their converts. And he tries hard to convince us that reincarnation is just another way to enhance one's life: "It's not so crazy," Kathy reassures us; "Reincar nation is part of every religious tradition." But it's extremely difficult to wring thrills out of a story cluttered with mediums, karma, the oversoul, quartz crystals, energy recognition, and regression through periosteal acupuncture: "Your past lives are like blisters," Kathy babbles as she approaches Jennifer with needles extended; "Once I prick a blister with my golden needle, you'll 16


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 be able to 'see' the lifetime that you have already lived." Right. Coyne has succeeded with religious material before (in, for example, his 1983 novel The Shroud). And religious exploitation is a theme ripe for horror, as writers as diverse as Ray Garton and Paul F. Olson have recently reminded us. But maybe this time Coyne should have played it straight. Fury fails largely because of its immiscible mixture of two potentially powerful stories: one a thriller about the appearance in our time of a violent spirit shaped in prehistory, the other a (non-supernatural) study of an Eighties woman whose propensity for dependency makes her vulnerable to exploita tion. As the novel unravels, the discordance between these stories contorts it beyond sense or credibility. In its latter chapters, Coyne seems to just give up. Jennifer begins to act like an idiot, a major secondary character who would otherwise clutter up the finale is gratuitously slaughtered, and a (very) minor character last seen early in the book abruptly reappears to assume a major role. Jennifer's quest takes her far and wide--to Kathy Dart's Minnesota farm, then back to New York for a final confrontation with her true nemesis, whose identity any reasonably keen reader will have divined a hundred or so pages before. But although she attains a degree of badly needed independ ence, Jennifer no more finds enlightenment than will Coyne's readers. --Michael A. Morrison A BETTER THAN AVERAGF: Edgerton, Teresa. Child of Sa turn. Ace, NY, March, 1988. 276p. $3.50pb. 0441-10400-2. [Book I of The Green Lion Trilogy] ___ The Moon in Hiding. Ace, NY, September, 1988. 208p. $3.50pb. 0441-54215-8. [Book II of The Green Lion Trilogy] The Work of the Sun. Ace, NY, March, 1990. 258p. $3.95pb. 0-441---90911-6. [Book III of The Green Lion Trilogy] Based on an imagined Celtic kingdom, this is a much better than average fantasy trilogy, with a cast of what seems like thousands when the reader begins to confront the Welsh names. The wizard Glastyn has disappeared, leaving behind his apprentice, the insignificant-appearing 18-year-old Teleri. She is slow to mature--physi cally, emotionally, and magically--and maturity is what is needed to cope with 17


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 the powerful evil princess Diaspad, sister of King Cynwas. Large court families provide personnel for squabbles at various political levels, many of which are, if not directly orchestrated, at least turned to her advantage by Diaspad. Diaspad is after the throne, succession to which is open to dispute because of some gaps in the royal genealogy. Ceilyn MacCuel, a self-effacing but powerful young knight, is descended from the royal family tree; he finds ways to aid Teleri, sometimes to her great discom fort. His own discomfort is caused by his involuntary shapechanging into a wolf. The story is richly woven: differences in tribal customs and conflicts between Christianity and paganism create misunderstandings; the magical bones of a dead king are found, then lost; Ceilyn and Teleri discover their need for each other and begin to develop a deeper friendship; a forbidden ritual is performed with a white bull by the evil princess. And at the end of volume 2, Ceilyn joins the wolf pack to learn what he must about his animal nature. The trilogy concludes with Teleri and Ceilyn undertaking a quest to regain the magic stone stolen by Diaspad. Poison, treachery, a battle with a griffon, and a spell that backfires all contribute to the climax. But along with the adventures, the characters are engaging, changing, and believable. The course of true love does not run smooth, and the happy ending does not come without effort. The writing gains assurance and the pace quickens as the story develops. (The ending may be a bit too abrupt, in fact.) The overall result is a fresh, intriguing tale, skillfully woven, expertly told. --Dale F. Martin TASTES GREAT, LESS FILLING Green, Sharon. Hellhound Magic. DAW, NY, November, 1989. 400p. $4.50pb. 0-88677-399-7. The average science fiction/fantasy book is readily comparable to a snack. I often have difficulty choosing between a chocolate bar and an apple. Both taste great, but only one is good for me. I usually choose chocolate. This book is chocolate. It's not really good chocolate. It's more the kind of chocolate that you buy on sale at K-Mart a week after Easter. But, it's still chocolate. Green has created a series of tantalizing worlds accessible through sundry gates, a dashing shape-shifter who fights for his lady's honor, an over protective big black demon, a couple of guardian wizards, and a kingdom 18


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 ruled by a wicked despot. Potentially. this is great stuff, but it ends up reading like the transcript of a Dungeons and Dragons game. The heroine, laciel, has the emotional stability and depth of any ingenue from a Harlequin romance. Her pathetic flaw, exposition which continually boggles an adult reader, is her perception of herself as unlovable. So much time does she devote to alienating and testing the love of those around her that she gains little love from the reader. Yet, barely pubescent girls will recognize their own convoluted perceptions of romance in laciel's dealings with the shape-shifter Rick and with Togor, the Hellhound. So where's the chocolate, you may ask? Hellhound Magic is well paced, has some neat magic tricks, and enough feminism to satisfy any Marion Zimmer Bradley fan. It's a good, cheap read, devoid of any possibility of intellectual stimulation. --Margoleath Berman EARLY SURREALISM Jarry, Alfred. Days and Nights. Atlas (10 Park Street, London SE1 9AB), 1989. 173p. 6.50 L. pb. 0-947757-19-8. This edition of Alexis Lykiard's translations of Days and Nights also includes a translation by John Harman of the novelette "The Other Alcestis". Both works date from the early years of Jarry's career, being written in 18967 when he was 23 years old. Both are typically surreal and idiosyncratic but they deploy very different resources. Days and Nights draws extensively on Jarry's experiences as a conscript in the French Army--he served just over a year in 1894-5 before being invalided out--and most particularly his experi ences in the Army Hospital. Its hero, Sengle, perceives army discipline, army bureaucracy and army medical provision as a catalogue of absurdities whose cumulative effect is to drive him further and further into fantasization and hallucination as he seeks to oppose and escape the oppression. "The Other Alcestis" is a mythological fantasy which eccentrically dissolves the legend of Alcestis, wife of Admetus (who is the central character of a play by Euripides) into another story of wifely self-sacrifice, that of Bilkis, wife of Solomon (whose story is told in the Ouran). Despite Jarry's importance as a piorw of surrealism and the inventor of "pataphysics" his works--with the Single exception of his most famous play, Ubu roi--have been difficult to obtain in English translation. Atlas Press, however, have done sterling work in providing first-rate translations of 19


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 previously-unavailable items--they have also produced an edition of Jarry's Messalina, which was the last and by far the most eccentric of that great tradition of exotic historical novels which had extended from Flaubert's Salammbo through Anatole France's Thais to Pierre Louys' Aphrodite. Pub lication of the present two works allows us to see the internal process of development within Jarry's prose fiction which led not only to Messalina but also to The Supermale and The Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician. The literary method and some of the concerns of the last named work can already be clearly seen in Days and Nights. Atlas's backlist also includes two novels by Raymond Queneau and a collection of surrealist prose texts by Andre Breton and Philippe Soupault entitled The Magnetic Fields, as well as several other items of similar interest. The forthcoming seventh volume of their excellent series of Atlas anthologies is intriguingly entitled French Romantic Terror! and blurbed as "Tales of Horror and Despair from Sade to Surrealism". Anyone interested in surreal ism and its history will undoubtedly find the press an invaluable source of material in translation. --Brian Stableford A PARANORMAL "A-TEAM" McAllister, Bruce. Dream Baby. Tor, NY, October 1989. 434p. $18.95 hc. 0312-93197-2. The study of man's behavior in battle is as ancient as the art of war itself, drawing to its classroom tacticians, strategists, philosophers, poets, and any number of wheel-chair generals. Psychiatry and psychology, in the nascent forms of the disciplines we know today, invaded the military during the American Civil War and gradually made inroads, with much difficulty, throughout the two World Wars. After WW II, advances in the fields of neurobiology, psychobiology and pharmacology found more willing adher ents, first in the moribund OSS and later in the fledgling CIA, especially in that agency's Chemical Division. It was a marriage of convenience, much like the pairing of Timothy Leary and G. Gordon Liddy on the college talk-circuit. By the Vietnam era, there were psychologists using the theater of combat as laboratories for their studies. In Dream Baby, Bruce McAllister explores the effects of one such study that went too far. The novel is told in a series of interviews reminiscent of the oral-history genre used so effectively by Mark Baker in NAM. The focus of the interviews is 1 st Lt. Mary Damico, an Army nurse suffering from 20


SFRA,June1990, No. 178 nightmares induced by exposure to grueling, meatball surgery; nothing unusual, under the circumstances, except her dreams foretell reality: she dreams about grunts, their wounds, and intimate details of their lives before they are wheeled into the hospital. Damico reveals her abilityto Steve Balsam, a lieutenant from Special Forces, who, she discovers also has special skills: during a firefight he can leave his body and "s(.'v'here to move to avoid being hit by incoming rounds. Once her ability is discovered, Damico suddenly finds herself trans ferred to a special operations unit somewhere in the Vietnamese highlands. Here she meets a group of other "Talents" (specially gifted individuals who have developed extrasensory abilities after undergoing traumatic, combat experiences): a black corporal who has a mind-meld relationship with his German shepherd scout dog; a former P.O.W. captain with a Kurtz stare who can read another person's thoughts, and later, in Vientiane, a one-armed SEAL who can see "fire" on bodies about to be hit. Damico's love for Steve and her need to be with others who share her "curse" convince her to join the mission, despite her hatred of the team's coordinator, Colonel Bucannon. A Johns Hopkins psychologist with ties to the CIA, Bucannon sees these "Talents" in the cold, analytical light of evaluations and objectives. For him, the results of the operation, like any military objective, supersede the personal needs of the subjects involved. For him, war is just a different kind of laboratory. Bucannon's character is cutfrom the same White-linen suit as Graham Greene's Quiet American: Both repre sent the misguided attitude of much of post-World War II America's foreign policy. This paranormal A-Team's test is a secret mission, a special op that takes them deep into North Vietnam disguised as Russians (Cooper's Afro American roots are handled ingeniously) to blow the Red Dikes and flood Hanoi, thus putting an early end to the war while simultaneously maintaining U.S. innocence for all the civilian suffering such an act would cause. The trick ofthe plot is that Lt. Damico has already dreamed a black end totheir mission, and her dreams always come true. The ending is a well-crafted surprise, part mystical, part symbolic, and garrote-tight with tension. McAllister has dug deep into the psyche ofthe Vietnam War, creating a story with a factual basis and enough Special Forces action to satisfy anyone with a taste for Vietnam: Ground Zero adventure novels. But any similarities with that genre exist only on the surface: These characters are not wish-fulfillment mouth-pieces for cammie-dressed, armchair adventurers, and the trip down the Red River has more in common with The Heart of Darkness than with The Last Run. Dream Baby is a complicated, multilayered novel, filled with insights and a lyrical, but, at times, ambling prose (the only distraction about the 21


SFRA, June 1990:No. 178 book). It's a novel of an American too long in a war that by the early Seventies (the time-frame of this book) had begun to establish its own rules, dictate its own terms, and create its own special type of soldier. Other critics have pointed out McAllister's themes of human suffering leading to ultimate power. In Dream Baby, even that theme is re-examined. This is and isn't a novel about Vietnam. But only through this contradiction can that most elaborate of all psyops begin to be understood. For McAllister'S small but growing following, this is the novel they've been waiting for. --Barry H. Reynolds EVERYTHING BUT A PLOT Little, Bentley. The Revelation. St. Martin's, NY, 1989. 289p. $17.95 hc. 0312-03922-0. Bentley Little's first novel has all the right elements for a good horror story: an attention-grabbing opening, an isolated setting, a series of macabre murders, a mysterious central character who could be either the hero or the villain and a ravening monster that conceals itself as it goes about its bloody business. One would think that Little's talent for creating well-realized characters and offbeat scenarios, honed during several year's apprenticeship in the pages of Night Cry and The Horrorshow, is all that's needed to whip these elements into a gripping story. But The Revelation proves a disappoint ing reading experience because Little leaves one crucial ingredient out of his final mix: a plot. This is not to say that The Revelation is a sloppily-written book. Rather, it's precisely because Little has taken such care with the organization and the pacing of his novel's early chapters that its resolution seems so iIIconceived. The story is set in the present in the small town of Randall, Arizona. It begins with the vandalization of the local Episcopal church and the disappearance of its minister and his family. Soon after, townspeople begin having extraordinary nightmares that, in some instances, prove harbingers of the future. About the same time, some ofthose people are slaughtered in their own homes by a vicious and elusive monster. Although the novel's point of view is split over several characters, we see most of these events through the eyes of Gordon Lewis, a representative citizen of Randall. Lewis is under standably concerned about what's going on in his town, since his wife is expecting their first child and they lack the means to move away from the worsening situation. 22


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 The appearance of Brother Elias, a bible-thumping evangelist who recites the Book of Revelations from memory and alludes repeatedly to a coming apocalypse, seems just about the last thing the bewildered citizens of Randall need. But Elias proves a savior, revealing himself to be not only a leaderfortheforces of Good, but also the one character who has any idea why all the strange events are taking place. It is he who reveals to Lewis the important role his unborn daughter will play in the coming showdown between the powers of Good and Evil, it is he who reveals why a local graveyard will be the battleground on which the skirmish is fought and it is he who reveals the true origins of the monster that is savaging the local citizens. But Brother Elias's "revelations" come totally from out of the blue,like rabbits pulled out of his worn preacher's hat. They bring coherence to most of the preceding events, but they don't develop out of those events. Little simply drops them down at the point in the denouement where they are needed, and readers who desire a more thorough explanation must, like the characters in the book, settle for Elias's cryptic smile. One can't fault Little for taking pains to avoid revealing too much too soon, but The Revelation demonstrates that the results of not showing enough can be equally dissatisfying. --Stefan Dziemianowicz SAN FRANCISCO AS A WORK OF ART Murphy, Pat. The City, Not Long After. Doubleday Foundation, NY, March 1989. 244p. $17.95 hc. 0-385-24925-x. The City, Not Long After is one of the finest science fiction novels of 1989 and clearly deserves consideration for the Nebula ballot. It tells the tale of a group of artists and other outcasts living in a nearly-deserted San Francisco whose population was all but wiped out by a plague a decade or so earlier. The artists, taking the entire city as their canvas, have gradually transformed the Bay area, painting the Golden Gate Bridge blue, putting murals on the walls of buildings, erecting enormous works of interactive art wherever they please. Now, however, their anarchic utopia is threatened by invasion from Sacramento where a military officer with delusions of grandeur has decided that he's destined to reunite the fragmented state of California and establish a military dictatorship. Although willing to use traditional weapons to oppose their would-be conqueror, the artists, as their primary method of defense, create an astonishing series of kinetic sculptures, elaborate toys, and works 23


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 of performance art which baffle, panic, stampede, and eventually defeat the invaders. Murphy's premise is a bit unlikely, but she carries it off beautifully. The city of San Francisco, transformed by years of neglect and art, forms a wonderful backdrop to her story. Her characters, most of them oddballs so taken with their own artistic obsessions that they in effect live in a fantasy world on a day-to-day basis, are delightfully quirky and full of unexpected but believable surprises. If the book has a flaw, it lies in the portrayal of General Fourstars, who fails to emerge as anything more than the typically cliched liberal's view of a military madman. As an extra bonus, The City, Not Long After, is actually part of an odd sort of trilogy. In her Acknowledgments section, Murphy thanks a number of other San Francisco-based writers for their advice and encouragement. Among them are Lisa Goldstein, author of A Mask for the General (1988) and Richard Paul Russo, who wrote Subterranean Gallery (1989). These two novels are clearly intended as variations on the exact same plot premise as Murphy's book--the portrayal of the artistic community in a near-future San Francisco beset by totalitarian rule. Goldstein's is the most mystical of the three novels. Russo's is the most realistic. Although all three books are excellent, Murphy's is probably the best. I recommend that they be read together. --Sandra J. Lindow Excessive Artifice Shwartz, Susan. Arabesques 2. New York: Avon Books, 1989. vii + 373p. $3.95 pb. ISBN 0-380-75570-X. This collection of short stories is framed by the misadventures of desert travelers who must save their lives in a contest of tales with djinni. The list of authors is impressive, including Stephen R.Donaldson, Larry Niven, Tanith Lee, Gene Wolfe, Judith Tarr, Cherry Wilder, Marvin Kaye and Diana Paxson. The results are uneven, and all of the stories are marred by attempts to capture the diction of the "Arabian Nights." The pious invocations lack conviction. On the other hand, some of the stories are quite witty. Donaldson's The Djinn who Watches over the Accursed," rings the changes on the human/jinn relationship, and Lee's "The Three Brides of Hamid-Dar" is a wickedly amusing fable. The best group of stories is "Tests of Love, especially Katherine Eliska Kimbriel's "Feather of the Phoenix," with its mathematically 24


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 talented heroine, Sindbad's youngest daughter, and a hero cursed with hopeless clumsiness. An uneven collection of stories better off with a straightforward narrative style that would display the individual merit of the stories. -Amaia A Rutledge HOWL ON THE RANGE Somtow, S.P. Moon Dance. Tor Books, NY. 564p. $24.95 hc. 0-312-93203-o. In the struggle for survival among traditional supernatural monsters, the werewolf has not fared well. One suspects this has much to do with adaptability. Where the vampire has been domesticated and the ghost internalized to meet the demands of increasingly realistic contemporary horror fiction, the werewolf remains bound to its Gothic heritage by biological necessity: at some point, it has to shuffle off its mortal coil and transform from human being into supernatural being. If the paucity of memorable werewolf stories in recent years is not a sign of auctorial disaffection with the werewolf's overt supernaturalism, it does suggest that contemporary writers have found more relevant creatures to take the werewolf's place. Indeed, the psychopath has all but supplanted it as a symbol; of how the beast within will out, and a host of monsters conjured over the last 20 years speak more directly to the fears of the modern age. But it takes more than obsolescence to kill a werewolf. The proof is in S.P. Somtow's Moon Dance, perhaps the most inventive werewolf story to appear since Jack Williamson's Darker Than You Think (1941). Somtow's novel is set for the most part in the 1880s in the Dakota territory, where the Sioux Indians are about to become one more road fatality in America's drive to its manifest destination. Two different parties are engaged in a bloody turf war over this part of the frontier: the Shungmanitulner circle of the Lakota tribe who consider it tribal land, and the retinue 01 Gount von Bachl-Wolfing, a German immigrant who seeks the privacy of the West's wide open spaces. Each group represents a different branch of the werewolf species. Caught between them is Johnny Kindred, whom Somtow introduces in a frame narrative set some 80 years later as an elderly institutionalized mass murderer suffering from multiple personality. Although Johnny is the Count's son, he also is a special werewolf who both transcends the Indian and European races and possesses the power to unite them through the mythic ritual from which the novel takes its name. The book's plot is concerned 25


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 largely with why Johnny fails to realize his destiny and how he becomes the pathetic figure he is today. By pitting European and Indian werewolves against one another, Somtow ingeniously weaves the werewolf myth into the myth of the American frontier. Moon Dance takes as its central metaphor the American immigrant experience: oppressed in their own countries, various ethnic populations fled to America, the land of opportunity. In order to realize that opportunity, though, they recapitulated the persecution they themselves suffered by forcibly displacing native Americans from their lands. By having his European werewolves collaborate with the American military to carry out the destruction of the Sioux, Somtow uses a specific moment in American history to illuminate mankind's own bestial tendencies. Those tendencies manifest throughout the book as base passions for money, drugs and sex that the human characters find impossible to suppress. The story of Johnny Kindred has an epic dimension and it appears to be modeled on the mythic figure of the failed hero described by Campbell, Eliade and others. Johnny is thwarted in his quest for sacred transcendence precisely because the world is too irredeemably profane for his kind. Unfor tunately, it appears that the only way Somtow can make this point is to bludgeon the reader wit detailed scene after scene of rape and slaughter. Put simply, for all of its imagination, Moon Dance is often a tediously brutal novel. Somtow's American West is a moral wilderness where lynchings are hourly occurrences and genocidal tendencies are acted upon with fiendish glee. It also is a refuge for polymorphously perverse persons who are ambivalent about their sexual identities and preferences. This milieu supplies Somtow with the raw material he needs to create a vivid cast of characters, but these characters' wanton escapades frequently overwhelm the book's larger con cerns and are, by themselves, not enough to flesh out the story's complex design. Although the scope of the plot probably could have accommodated a book twice as long as Moon Dance. one puts Somtow's novel down feeling that it is twice as long as it should be. It has substance. but the reader must dig through a lot of needless bulk to find it. --Stefan Dziemianowicz 26


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 IMAGINATIVE, BUT FLAWED, fANTASY Vol sky, Paula. The Sorcerer's Heir. Ace, NY, June 1988. 219p. $3,50 pb. 0441-77231-5. __ ---=--. The Sorcerer's Curse. Ace, NY, July 1989. 299p. $3.95 pb. 0-441-44458-x. Although these are sequels, enough background is sketched in the prologue of Heir to allow the reader to move easily into the action. Heir is the story of the adolescence of Terrs, son of the sorcerer Lord Fal Grizhni who was destroyed in volume 1. Terrs and his mother Verran were forced to flee underground and live with the Vardrul, a translucent, alien, pacifist race. We learn of the unhappiness of Terrs, who admires the Vardrul and wants to marry Zmadrc, the clan leader's daughter. He also gives promise of becoming an even greater sorcerer than his father. Verran is greatly distressed by these developments and wants to leave Vardrul, but cannot because of the threat to their lives by the Duke of Lanthi Ume. This part of the plot is appropriately serious in tone. However, the society of Lanthi Ume is, quite literally, another story. The villains are parodies: the egregious excesses of the decadent aristocracy, the duke's brawny, domineering fiancee, the would-be assassin and his manipulative sidekick daughter, and Sneever, the sickly heir-apparent--these are vivid and clever characterizations. But the marriage between the humor and the serious elements is uneasy at best. Both are well done, but they don't coalesce into a coherent whole. The thoughtful investigation of human nature (are humans innately violent and destructive?) is undermined. At the end of volume 2, Terrs turns Vardrul, rejecting the human heritage of hate. But in the prologue to Curse, Grizhni T'rzh meets the dead Ancestors, including Terrs, who calls for conquest and blood. T'rzh is meant to be the long-awaited leader in the rebellion against humans. The climax comes with the Grizhni's discovery that the human Har Fennaker is a kinsman. The paradox of an enemy/kinsman is so strong as to confound the Grizhni, and ultimately leads to his sparing Har Fennaker. That results in the humans' winning the war and the extinction of the House of Grizhni. The trilogy covers three (or more) human generations. The work is highly imaginative and action-packed, but lacks the compelling sense of unity that would make it firstrate. --Dale F. Martin 27


SFRA, June 1990, No. 178 Young Adult Slight, but Graceful Service, Pamela. Vision Ouest. New York: Atheneum, 1989. 136 p. $12.95 hc. ISBN 0-689-31498-1. Kate Elliot, the protagonist of Vision Ouest, is an adolescent recently bereaved of her father, who defends herself against that pain and the pain of her transient life by avoiding involvement with other people. Having settled in Nevada with her mother and uncle, she chooses to study the desert and Indian history rather than join the local social activities. A petroglyph left behind by an unscrupulous "pothunter" puts her in spiritual contact with an apprentice shaman, Wadat, from the past, and Kate's mission to return Wadat's talisman becomes a stage, that of an openness to others, in her passage to adulthood. Service"s story is somewhat slow in its initial development, but her prose is graceful and her characters, Kate and Jimmy Fong, who is struggling to asset his determination to become an eminent archaeologist, not a restauranteur, are nicely developed. Although the story is informed with the romanticizing of native people's reverence for the earth, Service tempers this with her depiction of the cruelties of a subsistence-level culture. Good young people's reading. --Amelia A. Rutledge 28


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