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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S67-00076-n185-1991-03 ( USFLDC DOI )
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SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 In This Issue: President's Message (Lowentrout) ............................................................. 3 22nd Annual SFRA Conference Update (Bogle) ............................. .4 February Executive Meeting Minutes (Mead) ............................................ 5 Shape of Films to Come (Krulik) ................................................................ 8 Miscellany (Barron) ............................................................. 9 Letter to Editor (Slusser & Mallett) ........................................................... 12 Editorial (Harfst) ...................................................................................... 13 REVIEWS: Non-Fiction: Beckwith, Lovecraft's Providence & Adjacent Parts (Moore) ................... 14 Behrends, Clark Ashton Smith (Sanders) ............................................ 15 Card, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (5. Smith) .................. 15 Coren, Gilbert: the Man Who Was G. K. Chesterton (B. Collins) .......... 16 Corman & Jerome, How I Made a Hundred Movies (Klossner) ............. 18 Elliot, Jack Dann: Annotated Bibliography (Reuben) .......................... 20 Elliot & Reginald, The Work of George Zebrowski The Work of Pamela Sargent (Bartter) ....................... 20 Ellison, Harlan Ellison Hornbook ........ ,Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed, Clark, ed. (Wolfe) ......... 21 Frank, Through the Pale Door: Guide to American Gothic (Morrison) .................................... 23 Garber & Paleo, Uranian Worlds: Guide to Alternative Sexuality in SF, Fantasy, & Horror (Gordon) ......... 25 Heinlein, Grumbles from the Grave, (P. Smith) ...................................... 26 Heller, Turn of the Screw: Bewildered Vision (Hitt) .............................. 28 Indick, Ray Bradbury: Dramatist (Lewis) ...................................... 29 Larson, Robert Bloch Companion (Sanders) ........................................ 29 Lovett, Alice on Stage: Early Theatrical Productions (R. Collins) ............ 30 McCaffrey, Across Wounded Galaxies: Interviews, Am. SF Writers (Barron) ...................................... 32 Murray, H.G. Wells (Hall) .................................................................. 33 Poll in, Images of Poe: Catalogue of /IIustrations (Albert) ....................... 34 Price, Horror of it All: Encrusted Gems from Cthulu (Neilson) ................ 36


Price, H.P. Lovecraft and Cthulu Mythos (Dziemianowicz) .................... 36 Ruddick, Christopher Priest (de Wit) ...................................................... 37 ............ ,Christopher Priest (Stableford) ................................................... 39 Stephens, Checklist of Wolfe, et al.; Stephensen-Payne & Benson, Philip jose Farmer; Stephensen-Payne, Piers Anthony (Barron) ............................................ .40 Turner, Cinema of Adventure, Romance & Terror (Klossner) ................. .41 Fiction: Bisson, Voyage to the Red Planet (Levy) ................................................ .42 Bloch, The jekyll Legacy (Arbur) ............................................................ .44 Bouchard, Les Gelules Utopiques. (Lehman) .......................................... 44 Coulson, Star Sister (Stevens) ................................................................. .45 Crichton, jurasic Park (Hellekson) .......................................................... .46 Drake, Surface Action(Hassler) ............................................................... 48 Haiblum, Out of Sync (Carper) .............................................................. .49 Harper, R. Petrogypsies (Stevens) ........................................................... .49 Harper, T. Wolfwalker (Stevens) ............................................................. 50 Hawke, The Cleopatra Crisis (Mead) ....................................................... 50 Kandel, In Between Dragons (Carper) .................................................... 51 Kegan, The Baby (Rosenbaum) ............................................................... 52 Key, Angel of Darkness (B. Collins) ......................................................... 53 Kilian, Gryphon (Wytenbroek) ................................................................ 53 Longyear, Infinity Hold (Stevens) ............................................................ 55 Monteleone, Borderlands (Umland) ........................................................ 56 O'Keefe, Black Snow Days (Stevens) ...................................................... 56 Sammons, Splatterpunks: Extreme Horror (Umland) ............................... 56 Shatner, Tekwar (Larrier) ......................................................................... 58 Stasheff, The Warlock Rock (Reilly) ........................................................ 59 Tardivel, Pour La Patrie (Lehman) .......................................................... 59 Tepper, Raising the Stones (Arbur) .......................................................... 60 ............ Raising the Stones (Levy) .......................................................... 61 West, 20/20 Vision (Williams) ................................................................ 63 Juvenile: Barrett, Dawn's Uncertain Light (Stevens) ............................................... 64 Gunnarsson, Make Way for Dragons (Hitt) ............................................. 64 Wrede, Dealing with Dragons (Arbur) .................................................... 65


The SFRA Newsletter published ten times a year for the Science Fiction Research Association by Alan Newcomer, Hypatia Press, Eugene, Oregon. Copyright @ 1991 by the SFRA. Editorial correspondence: Betsy Harfst, Editor, SFRA Newslet ter, 2357 E. Calypso, Mesa, AZ 85204. Send changes of address and/or inquiries concerning subscriptions to the Treasurer, listed below. SFRA EXECUTIVE COMMITIEE President Peter Lowentrout Dept. of Religious Studies California State University Long Beach, CA 90840 Vice-President Muriel Becker 60 Crane St. Caldwell, Nj 07006 Secretary David G. Mead English Department Corpus Christi State University Corpus Christi, Texas 78412 Treasurer Edra Bogle Department of Engl ish University of North Texas Denton, TX 76203-3827 Immediate Past President Elizabeth Anne Hull Liberal Arts Division William Rainey Harper College Palatine, Illinois 60067 Pioneer Award Veronica Hollinger (1990) Past Presidents of SFRA Thomas D. Clareson Arthur O. Lewis, jr. joe De Bolt james Gunn Patricia S. Warrick Donald M. Hassler William H. Hardesty (1970-76) (1977-78) (1979-80) (1981-82) (1983-84) (1985-86) (1987-89) 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) Marshall Tymn (1990)


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 3 President's Message The Booktime Continuum Ah, so many books, so little time. No need to puzzle over the combined momentum and location of electrons: the relationship that obtains between books and time is the final and conclusive demonstration of the Principle of Complementarity. Christine spent last year on the Nebula Awards Com mittee, and has remained on that Committee this year. Our bookshelves are mightily bowed under the weight of all the marvelous SF recently added to them. Christine reads it all, of course, and I hope to read most of it even tually. For now, though, I can read only that which she presses upon me as exceptionally good. Here's one you might have missed: Fire on the Border by Kevin O'Donnell, Jr. (ROC, ISBN 0-451-45030-2) You'll like it if you enjoy thoughtful, well-crafted space opera. The Executive Committee has met. Treasurer Edra Bogle reports that the SFRA is in very good fiscal health, but notes that some have not yet renewed their memberships for 1991. Don't forget to re-up: the renewal deadl ine for inclusion in the Directory has been moved up this year. Don't make it dif ficult for all the rest of us to find you. The EC invites donations to purchase memberships for scholars who are prevented by hyperinflation, non-convertible currencies and other economic hardships from joining the SFRA. Edra has now created an "adopt-a scholar" fund, and as it fills, the names of worthy scholars unable to purchase SFRA membership should be submitted to the EC. And donatel Every five or ten dollar donation goes toward the building of a non-mundane world. Imagine what such a world would be likel Newsletter Editor Betsy Harfst, concerned to get your Newsletters to you more quickly than bulk rate allows, will research public and private postal rates and report to the membership at the June business meeting. The EC, informed by Betsy that international airmail is only a little more than inter national surface mail, has voted to drop the international airmail dues sur charge. Henceforth, all you overseas SFRA members will be getting the Newsletter by air. And note the recent increase of the Newsletter to 60+ pages. If you have considered hosting one of our annual conferences, drop me a line. Last year, Christine and I hosted SFRA XXI in Long Beach, and I can quickly tell you what putting such a meeting together entails. Too, several of us past conference directors have recently written a conference manual that should prove of great help to those who will be organizing annual meetings in the future. It includes all the (non-directive) advice you could possibly want to assure your success at conference direction, and software, to boot.


4 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 The SFRA sf anthology continues to sell well and Harper informs us that it will be in print into the foreseeable future. Secretary Dave Mead suggests a third effort at an anthology might allow instructors to create a highly individualized text by letting them choose from a smorgasbord of stories, thematic options and instructors' support materials. Any interest in or ideas about such a long-term project? SFRA member Dr. Susan Shwartz is the 1991 director of the academic track at WoridCon in Chicago. Let her know early if you intend to partici pate. Chicago is just a stone's throw for most of us and it would be good to have a large contingent of SFRA folks at WorldCon. Also, Susan has asked the SFRA to act as initial go-between in a project that would archive the computer records of the GEnie Science Fiction Roundtable at UC Riverside's Eaton Collection. While such a project would initially be undertaken with an eye to future scholarship, I wonder if perhaps we will not eventually find that we have also acted in this for our "step children." Some future day, GEnie itself may want to know all it can of its origins, and what would be better than this electronic snapshot that we could then offer it? Peter Lowentrout SFRA 22: Conference Update By now, you have probably received updated information about our Conference 22 being held in Denton, Texas June 27-30. Our attending member-writers (as of early February) are Jim Gunn, Fred Pohl, Joan Sloncziewski, and Jack Williamson. Guest writers include Catherine and L. Sprague de Camp, who will talk on writing and on Robert E. Howard; Ardath Mayhar; Warren Norwood; and Chad Oliver. PLEASE send your proposals and papers immediately (deadline May 1) on the works of any of these authors or on other topics: some suggestions have been military SF, "magic realism," and SF in and about Texas. While 500 word summaries are acceptable, if you wish your papers to be consid ered for possible publication in a proposed volume of selected conference proceedings, it must be submitted in computer-readable form in Word Per fect, WordStar or ASCII. (Send them to Prof. Edra Bogle, Dept of English, Box 3827, Univ. of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203-3827.) While in Denton you'll be where the South meets the West. You may want to stay a few days in the area and fish at our new Lake Ray Roberts (Sanger) or Lake Texoma, and visit such attractions as Six Flags Over Texas (Arlington), the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art (Fort Worth) or other FW & Dallas museums, or the JFK Memorial (Dallas) unfortunately J.R. is no longer receiving at South Fork. And don't forget the Trail Dust Friday night. Edra Bogle


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 SFRA Executive Committee Meeting Rolling Meadows, Illinois February 9, 1991 5 I. The meeting was called to order at 9.45 a.m. by President Peter Lowentrout. Present were Vice-President Muriel Becker, Treasurer Edra Bogle, Secretary David Mead, Past-President Elizabeth Anne Hull, and Newsletter-editor Betsy Harfst. II. Officer's Reports A.) Past President's: Hull presented for discussion a list of projects which had been suggested by members. She agreed to respond to the members regarding the suggestions. She urged Lowentrout to support establishing a fund to subsidize foreign members unable to afford our dues, and a mechanism for funding such members was discussed. Hull will invite the outgoing officers to donate their papers to the SFRA archive in Kansas. B.) President's: Lowentrout reviewed correspondence received about possible conference panels. C.)Vice-President's: Becker reported that she was prepared to carryon the duties of membership development. Various strategies and approaches were discussed, including purchase of commercial mailing lists and targeting high school and junior college teachers. Each member of the EC will be provided masters for new SFRA brochures and stationery. A membership form will be printed in each issue of the Newsletter starting in April; its opposite side will serve as a detachable page for Directory addenda. The annual re newal notice will be mailed in early November. D.) Secretary's: Mead reported the annual billing notice had been sent. The Directory list was closed June 1. The closing date for the 1991 Directory will be April 15. Names of former conference directors and conference sites, Pilgrim award winners, and Pioneer winners will be listed in the Directory henceforward. E.) Treasurer's: Bogle reported that software problems have been over come and that she is now prepared to automate the accounts. She reported on renewal rates; about 125 members haven't yet renewed, and they will be reminded when she sends the call for papers for SFRA XXII. A Hull-Lowentrout motion to authorize the Treasurer to invest dormant funds in Certificates of Deposit at her discretion was unanmiouslyapproved. Bogle presented a conservative projected-


6 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 budget prepared by Tom Remington; it was accepted. The policy that conference fees and travel costs for Pioneer winners will not be paid by SFRA was reaffirmed. Royalties for the SFRA Anthology have been received; Bogle will distribute the authors' portion when a sufficient sum has accrued to make it worthwhile; use of the SFRA portion was discussed. Both Bogle and Mead are I isted on the signature card at Texas Bank, Denton, Texas. A Hull-Lowentrout motion that the SFRA pay travel and room costs for the present Executive Committee meeting was approved unanimously. F.) Newsletter Editor's: Betsy Harfst reported delivery delays for the Newsletter; mailing by bulk can slow delivery by many weeks. She is investigating the cost of mailing first-class. The problem of de livery and the change to a higher rate will be reviewed at the June EC meeting. The EC will get a first-class mailed copy of each Newsletter and also a bulk-mailed copy so that delivery times may be observed. Harfst and Bogle will work out an arrangement to provide Hypatia Press a reasonable advance on expenses. III. Old Business A.) Hull reported that the Pioneer and Pilgrim selection committees had been appointed and were at work. Hal Hall has delayed publishing the book on the Pilgrim Award winners because of an unusually heavy workload at his university; he expects to submit the final manuscript by the end of summer. B.) Bogle, as conference director, reported that she is preparing a firstclass mailing calling for papers for SFRA XXII. Various suggestions were made regarding possible guests and problems. C.) A number of possible venues for the 1992 meeting were discussed. An Eastern or Canadian site was preferred, and Lowentrout will contact potential Conference Directors. D.) Hull reported that SFRA is officially a not-for-profit corporation awaiting final IRS approval of 501 C ("tax-exempt") status. She ex pects a decision from IRS fairly soon. She also reports that the at torney who has handled our application has decided not to charge us for his services; we thank Mark T. Angelos for his gift of services. E.) Dues rates were reviewed. A Hull-Becker motion to do away with the charge for air-mail for international members, since the cost of ground mail is only slightly less than the airmail cost, was approved. Since printing and mailing costs are increasing, the budget will be reviewed again in June.


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 7 F.l At Becker's request, the By-Laws committee will be asked to review the requirement that each position in an election have two candi dates. The topic will be placed on the agenda of the summer business meeting for discussion. G.l Relations with Bob Collins and the Meckler Annual Review were discussed. Pseudonymous reviewing in the Newsletter was de plored, and the need for more reviews by SFRA members was voiced. Harfst will ask that unsolicited reviews be sent to Barron, Becker, or Collins as appropriate. An annual Index of reviews in the Newsletter will be prepared for each December issue. Currently, about 30 publishers receive copies of the Newsletter. Harfst dis tributed a calendar of Due Dates to the EC for discussion; the cal endar was approved. H.l Hull reported the Harper-Collins SFRA anthology was in print and now readily available; there had been shortages due to the book's popularity. Desk copies are being sent; contributors will have to ask for their copy. SFRA has received about $2000 in royalties to date, half of which belongs to the fiction writers. I.) Lowentrout appointed Edra Bogle chair of the committee to investi gate the publication of a volume of conference proceedings, and he will appoint a new member to the committee. Tom Remington is the other member. IV. New Business A.l Lowentrout presented information about saving the GEnie Science Fiction Round Table discussions in the Eaton Collection. B') A Mead-Lowentrout motion to create immediately a fund to provide "seed" money (up to $500) to help start SFRA conferences and to indemnify a Conference Director against losses up to $500 was unanimously approved. Conferences which make a profit are ex pected to give that money (up to $500) to the SFRA. C.) The next meeting of the EC will be in Denton at SFRA XXII, early on the afternoon of June 27. The meeting was adjourned at 6.15 p.m. Respectfully Submitted, David G. Mead, Secretary


8 5FRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 The Shape of Films to Come We are living in a world where real events can be more fantastic than anything imagined by creative minds of fictional realms. When I went to see the movie "Eve of Destruction," opening in New York just two days after the Persian Gu If war began, I anticipated some analogies drawn between the real world and a fictitious one that spoke to humankind's destructive tendencies. Although "Eve of Destruction" makes a couple of scant references to Iraq and global terrorism, offering a nodding acquaintance to political events of the months previous when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait, the movie is disappointing. The movie was produced by David Madden, directed by Duncan Gib bons, and written by Gibbons and Yale Udoff. It starred Gregory Hines, Renee Soutendijk, with a guest appearance by Kevin McCarthy. When the creative team is made up of virtual unknowns, I suppose we have to view their work with some skepticism. I suspect that Gibbons, Udoff, and Madden will remain unknowns if this is their best effort. Although I liked Gregory Hines in "White Nights," the best parts of that movie involved the acrobatics and dancing; I never felt that Hines had much of an acting range. While Dutch actress Soutendijk seems to be a promising talent at some future time, "Eve of Destruction" does not mark that time. Lately, Kevin McCarthy's appearance in science fiction movies practically assures us that they will be of the same quality as the old "B-pictures." "Eve of Destruction" is a weak attempt to capitalize on the success of "The Terminator" and the gender-reversal machismo of Sigourney Weaver's Ripley character in the two "Alien" movies. However, its main premise makes no sense, and the credibility of all other incidents simply falls apart. Dr. Eve Simmons (Soutendijkl and her scientific cohorts apparently never heard of Isaac Asimov, the Three Laws of Robotics, nor any common sense safeguards that should be built into a robotic mechanism. Dr. Simmons had constructed a robot that resembles herself, implanted her own memories into it, and, as a "failsafe" under battlefield conditions, given her the ability to become autonomous and self-initiating when damaged in any way, so that it would no longer heed the orders of a superior. Naturally, the u.s. mili tary would want to have killer robots fighting wars without regard to orders from ranking officers! With the entrance of Hines' character, Col. Jim Mcquade, the audience is meant to find the personal conflicts between him and Dr. Simmons in teresting. The filmmakers have thrown together a hodgepodge of formulaic genres that have worked in the past: we have a female terminator; we have reluctant partners thrown together by circumstance; and we have the globe-


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 9 trotting elite government force in pursuit of a villain while turning the local police into cannon fodder. Even the name of Hines' character is that of the generic martial hero. It could just as easily be John Wayne playing Jim Mcquade. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Are there people out there who believe that Schwarzenegger was an internationally recognized star because of the "Conan" movies? He was perfect for that role because his physique made it believable, and he didn't have to say much. His laconic line: "I'll be back" had spoken volumes, and has since become a common quip bandied about between friends in a va riety of circumstances. The important thing is that Schwarzenegger was NOT the main character in that film, although his was an important role. This coming July will see the release of "Terminator 2," and Schwarzenegger will indeed "be back." Fortunately, so will James Cameron as director and Linda Hamilton as Sarah Conner. The plot continues from the point at which the first movie ended, and we see the formative years of Sarah's son, John Connor, portrayed by Edward Furlong. This strikes me as a worthwhile endeavor because the original film, though derivative of a couple of episodes of the TV series "Outer Limits," held our interest with the unseen legendary figure of a future John Conner. The ending of "The Ter minator" left me wanting to know more about this future hero of a devastated Earth and how Sarah helps him to complete the circle of his destiny. My hope is that Schwarzenegger's role as a good-guy android will not dominate the movie. Miscellany Milford/Starmont Series Merge Theodore Krulik Dr. Dale Salwak, Professor of English at Citrus College, Glendora, California, has been named Editor of The Milford Series: Popular Writers of Today, effective immediately. This seventy-volume series of literary critiques includes guides to genre and mainstream writers of the twentieth century; about half the books published to date have focused on science fiction and fantasy authors. Dr. Salwak has been charged: 1) to develop a new Milford Series guideline; 2) to generate second editions of all previously published volumes in the series; 3) to acquire new manuscripts in all genres except the mystery field. Dr. Salwak is the author of thirteen books, and previously edited the Starmont Contemporary Writer Series. The Borgo Press acquired the entire list of Brownstone Books, a pub lisher of critiques and bibliographies on mystery writers, on January 1, 1991, and The Starmont Contemporary Writers Series, J six-volume series on


70 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 modern writers, from Starmont House, Inc., on February 1, 1991. The Brownstone Books imprint will be maintained by Borgo, and all mystery guides previously scheduled for The Milford Series and the 1.0. Evans Studies series will be moved to the new Brownstone Mystery Guides series. Guy M. Townsend, former publisher of Brownstone Books, will continue as series Editor. The Starmont Contemporary Writers Series will be merged into The Milford Series, and will lose its unique identity as existing books are reprinted or reworked. Robert Reginald, Publisher Bargo Press 2/10/91 Film/TV Novelizations Bibliography Announced Forthcoming from Scarecrow Press, no date set, is Randall D. Larson's Fantastic Film Novelizations and Movie Tie-ins. Larson says the book is "a comprehensive examination and bibliography of novelizations and tie-ins, featuring interviews with more than 40 novelization authors and a huge bibliography of both genre and non-genre titles (mainly for American books although there are many British titles also, although these are not as com prehensive)." An introductory section provides a background analysis of filmfTV novelizations. Horror Fiction Studies Announced The first issue of a new semi-annual scholarly journal devoted to postPoe horror fiction will debut approximately next june. Edited by Gary W. Crawford, who's edited Gothic (1979-80, 1986-88), an annual, Horror Fiction Studies seeks proposals or manuscripts not to exceed 20 typed pages; include SASE if reply is desired. Follow the 1985 MLA style manual and the theories of the new criticism [his words; don't ask me what they meanl; no structuralist or deconstructionist studies please. Book reviews are assigned; don't send unsolicited reviews. Subscriptions are $12/year (2 issues), pay able to Gary W. Crawford, 4998 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 708083043. SOL Renamed Merril Library Effective 1 january 1991 the Spaced Out Library branch of the Toronto Public Library was renamed the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, after judith Merril (1923, author and editor, former wife of Fred Poh!), whose collection became the nucleus of the li-


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 77 brary. The November 1990 Sol Rising (which presumably will be renamed with the name change) notes that the library acquired a complete run of New Worlds, a set of Hannes Bok prints, a photocopy of the manuscript of Card's Xenocide and other materials. The branch will move to a new, larger site in mid to late 1992, occupying the third floor of the building. Lois McMaster Bujold will be a featured guest of the library in March 1991, and there is a short piece on her 1990 Baen novel, The Vor Game. The omnivorous John Robert Colombo writes about "Famous Fantastic Quotations," there are in terviews with Robert Sawyer, Tanya Huff and Karen Wehrstein. A bibliog raphy of 1989 Canadian English and French SF, fantasy and speculative fiction and a list of awards for 1989 fiction (Casper, Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy) conclude the issue. If you'd like to support the Friends of the SOL, send Can$25 to The SOL, 40 St George St, Toronto, Ont, Canada, M5S 2E4. Category Fiction Bibliography Published Gale Research, Detroit, publishes almost exclusively for the library market. In January 1990 a Gale editor called me and asked me to replace Marshall Tymn as the supervising editor for fantastic fiction entries in What Do I Read Next? A Reader's Guide to Current Genre Fiction, an annual bibliography whose first volume was published in November (547 pages, 8 1/2 x 11 inches). At $75 this is strictly for libraries and unregenerate bibli ographers. The coverage includes westerns, romance and mystery/detective fiction in addition to SF, fantasy and horror, approximately 1500 entries in all. A typical entry shows author, title, city, publisher, and year (the pre ceding year in most cases), series name (if any), sub-genre, major characters, when and where the story takes place, a brief plot summary, review citations, other books by the author, and similar books the reader might like. The information is purely descriptive, not evaluative except implicitly by inclu sion. Multiple indexes-to authors, series, sub-genres, locales, characters, etc-are provided for reference purposes. Most books are originals but perhaps 5-10% are reprints, hardcovers and paperbacks. Brief (two page) annual surveys precede the entries, accompanied by a listing of the princi pal awards of the year in each field. For fantastic fiction it is much less comprehensive than the Locus annuals in terms of total titles listed, nor does it provide the critical dimension of the Meckler annuals. For its primary audience-larger public libraries-it should meet the needs of many users, although the inclusion of many mass market paperbacks, which libraries generally avoid or don't catalog (index) if acquired, may arouse reader ex pectations that the library can't satisfy. I'll be interested to see its reception.


72 SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 Thrust Reborn as Quantum Doug Fratz, editor of Quantum Science Fiction & Fantasy Review, sent me issue 38, winter 1991. He says it's the SF field's oldest magazine of reviews and commentary, having begun as Thrust in January 1973. The name was changed last spring, but it's old wine in a new bottle. He's assisted by six assistant editors and still more contributing editors but I suspect Fratz is mostly responsible for the contents. This issue appears to be fairly typical if my memories of earlier issues of Thrust are accurate. An editorial is followed by two short pieces by Spider Robinson and Michael Bishop, an interview of Connie Willis, another short essay, film reviews by Darrell Schweitzer, a profile of Michael P. Kube McDowell, a long review of last year's nonfiction Hugo winner, The World Beyond the Hill by Alexei & Cory Panshin, many reviews of books, some of short fiction, and letters. I read it with moderate interest. Fratz is less opinionated in print than, say, Richard Geis or Charles Platt, which may give his quarterly the appearance of blandness. I think balanced is a more ac curate adjective, a little like Andrew Porter's Algol, later Starship. The three column format and general design is pleasing, and there is substance here. $3 will bring you a specimen issue; $9 for four issues (nominally a year, although publication has sometimes been irregular); most earlier issues are available. Thrust Publications, 8217 Langport Terrace, Gaithersburg, MD 20877. UC Riverside Library Eaton Collection PO Box 5900 letters to Editor Riverside, CA 92517 USA 714/787/3398 Dear Editor & SFRA, Neil Barron In the last few years, a strong voice in sf criticism and scholarship has begun broadcasting quietly from Romania. This voice has many interesting things to say about science fiction literature, and has published a few articles in the Western world .... in Extrapolation, Science Fiction Studies, and Foundation. This voice belongs to Dr. Cornel Robu. Some of you will al ready know this name. We have had the fortune to be able to have an ongoing correspondence with Dr. Robu. His country has had many problems in the recent past and


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 13 the present, as you all surely know. Therefore, it is difficult for him to read, write, publish and obtain sf. The Eaton Collection and many members of SFWA have been sending Dr. Robu autographed copies of their own works, and of others. If you have any duplicate materials or copies of your own works that you can part with, we urge you to please send him a copy or a box of stuff. It would encourage him greatly. The main reason we are writing is to find out if there is any way to ex tend a courtesy membership in SFRA to Dr. Robu? He is starving for copies of SFRA Newsletter and information on sf in the rest of the world. We are willing to pitch in a few bucks, and if we had a few more people who could help us out, we would be able to count Dr. Robu among our ranks. He is certainly worth being a member! Please let us know if you can help us out with this. Feel free to contact us at the above address, and when we have collected enough to sponsor Dr. Robu, we will send the money on to our new Treasurer (Edra Bogle). Please make any checks out to SFRA, but send them here until we have enough. Thank you all for your kindness and generosity on this! Odds In Ends Sincerely, Or. George E. Slusser Daryl F. Mallett Three new reviewers are appearing in this issue: Steven Lehman, a new voice for us who will report on Canadian books; Rosemarie Arbur, longtime SFRA member who has not reviewed during my editorial tenure; and Karen Hellekson, a new member from Kansas. Welcome to all of you! Our new format and increased size is the result of Hypatia Press's new press and bindery as well as the productivity of all you reviewers out there who are supplying the material for an enlarged newsletter. People have asked if I have acclimated to Arizona. I guess the answer has to be an affirmative. I really hadn't thought about it until I realized that I, like the natives, was muttering indignantly about the dangerous driving habits of the snowbirds, those winter visitors who never seem to pay atten tion to the traffic signs. I have also become involved in several local ac tivities and groups which help to restore my personal sense of identity. Don't forget to renew your membership if you haven't done it yet. The March issue is the last copy of the Newsletter you will receive until your renewal arrives. Send renewals to Edra Bogle, Treasurer, at the address listed in front of the Newsletter. Plan now on coming to Denton, Texas in June for the 22nd Annual SFRA Conference. There is still time to prepare that paper or volunteer to chair or be on a panel presentation. See you there! Betsy Harfst


14 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 .............. NON-FICTION REVI EWS ............. T ours of Lovecraft's Providence Beckwith, Jr., Henry L.P. Lovecraft's Providence and Adjacent Parts. 2nd. ed., rev. & enl. Hampton Falls, NH: Donald M. Grant, 1990. 95 p. $17. 0-937986-84-4. Howard Phillips Lovecraft is considered by most contemporary students and critics of horror-fantasy to be at least the spiritual father of the genre. While he was not well known outside the fairly restricted pages of Weird Tales and other small magazines of his time, in recent years his cult followers have raised him to the status of royalty. He has been aptly dubbed "the dark and baroque prince" of twentieth century horror by none other than Stephen King, clearly a contemporary student and disciple of Lovecraft and the best current practitioner of the trade. Indeed, King's Oanse Macabre (1981) contains some good discussion of Lovecraft and many other masters of the art of terror. Little is known of Lovecraft's personal life other than that he was raised by women and rarely left his beloved Providence. In fact, he rarely left the several houses he lived in during his short but very productive life, and when he did it was usually to journey to the public library or to the libraries of Brown University to conduct his research into mythology, magic, primitive societies, history, literature and New England history. He reworked this research into some of the most intriguing and terrifying tales ever told of elder gods, alien beings from other times and places, and the foolish men who dared disturb their dreams or resist their awesome intrusions into human time and space. Nor is much known of Lovecraft's Providence, a deficiency Beckwith's slim volume is intended to rectify. First published in 1979 and revised in 1986, it's composed of two tours of Providence, one by foot and one by car. During these tours one will see in photographs and maps "The Shunned House," the several houses where Lovecraft lived, the graveyards, the li braries, the various monuments, alleys, streets and public buildings that are referred to or hinted at in various stories. A second automobile tour takes one into the outlying cities and towns of Rhode Island. Margin notes tie places to stories in a fairly comprehensible manner. There are a few typos and some peculiar sentences, but on the whole Beckwith's tours are infor mative and fun, even if a bit limited. For a more detailed information on Lovecraft's work and especially his theories of horror and fantasy literature I highly recommend Philip A. Shreffler's The H.P. Lovecraft Companion (1977), which offers much more


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 15 insight into HPL as writer than anything else with which I am familiar. Still lacking is a definitive biography of Lovecraft, de Camp notwithstanding, and I think this is sorely needed if we are to really understand one of the legends of fantastic literature. J. T. Moore Fair Judgment Behrends, Steve. Clark Ashton Smith. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1990. v+112p. $19.95.0-930261-99-2; $9.95,-98-4. Of the three writers who shaped Weird Tales' golden age, Clark Ashton Smith is the least known today. Robert E. Howard has his legions of fans, and H.P. Lovecraft his corps of scholars; Smith remains at the fringes of our attention. To some extent, he might approve. He saw himself as an outsider, scorning the limits of mundane sensibility and cultivating an ornate, archaic prose style to counterbalance his bleak nihilism. He does deserve our at tention, though. Echoes of his prose style, especially the ironic contrast of glittering words and distressing subject, can be seen in the work of Jack Vance. And the cool disdain for human desire at the end of Smith's stories such as "Necromancy in Naat" is a notable precursor of such Silverberg stories as "Born with the Dead." Behrends knows Smith well, and he does about as much to stir interest in him as possible within the space limits of a Starmont reader guide. Some plot summary is inevitable in an introductory study of a largely unknown writer, but Behrends carefully chooses stories for examination, illustrating primary themes within Smith's major series. His comments on individual stories are perceptive, and his overall evaluations are sensible. Early in the study Behrends states that "Smith created many memorable pieces but few masterworks," a fair judgment that still lets Behrends claim attention for the cold-eyed vision and distinctive tang that makes Smith's work linger at the margins of some readers' memories. Joe Sanders Read for Pleasure Card, Orson Scott. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, July 1990. 140 p. $13.95. 0-89579-416-1. On the surface this book seems to be aimed at the folk who decide: "Okay, I'm going to write a book. Science fiction, or maybe fantasy." So they then sit down with their brand new computer with its manual, and their brand new software, with its manual, type "Chapter One" and grab for their Writer's Digest writing manual.


16 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 I've read lots of science fiction and fantasy, and I've written some, enough for this to seem really familiar territory. I opened the book, think ing: This is going to be about as exciting as rereading grammar school text books. By the time I was halfway through Card's first chapter, which is an en gagingly written essay covering the boundaries of SF (who writes it, why, and what are the ground rules-if any?) I was reading for pleasure. He wends his way through the traps and minefields of questions such as: What is SF? What is fantasy? Why are these books shelved differently? Card skillfu lIy spins a history of the science fiction/fantasy genre, and ends up with several working definitions. Card is never afraid to relate his own experiences, while being careful to point out, "You should not do it my way." I was quite fascinated to find out the background to his Ender's Game in the beginning of chapter two. This chapter, his longest, begins with a discussion of where ideas come from. He gives suggestions on how to handle developing ideas, then outlines some rules on world-building. He goes on to discuss language, and handling alien words and concepts, and avoiding the first-timer cliches. Chapters three and four deal with the specifics of structure, character ization and the writing process, pulling examples from a variety of authors such as Octavia Butler and Carson McCullers. Chapter five discusses marketing, how to write a cover letter, agents and a long discourse on workshops. He winds up with some "Words to the Wise," warning the reader upfront that he had made a lot of the mistakes he was about to describe. Among the things he discusses here are whether or not the writer should give up her job, and how to deal with the science fiction community. The book is written throughout in an informal, sometimes astringent, often humorous prose that keeps the subject from pedantry or dullness. I found his discussion of style and point-of-view especially interesting, and I recommend the book highly not just to new writers, but to any who might like a short refresher course in their craft. Sherwood Smith Inadequate Chesterton Study Coren, Michael. Gilbert: The Man Who Was G.K. Chesterton. NY: Para gon House, March 1990. x + 304 p. $22.95, 1-55778-256-3. In his brief preface, Coren reveals just what there is about his biography that is valuable, and the source of its inadequacies as well. He confesses to being an enthusiast, not in itself a bad thing (the first 1943 study book about


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 77 Chesterton, Maisie Ward's, owes its valuable insights to her overt partisan ship}. Second, he states that the impetus for the work was to defend Chesterton against charges of antisemitism, charges he never specifically documents, though his chapter on the subject is the best-written and most focused of all. Finally, he confesses that "[tlhe absence of notes ... is a de liberate policy .. .1 have attempted to follow in the tradition of my subjed, and paint a picture as well as tell the story of a great life." Chesterton gained his first fame with an idiosyncratic biography of Charles Dickens, without notes {and with a few egregious errors he never bothered to corred in subsequent editions}, and followed up with equally fine, and equally barren of refer ences, biographies of Blake, Stevenson, and Saints Francis of Assisi and Thomas Aquinas, among others. Fortunately for his subjects, Chesterton was a genius; unfortunately for Chesterton, Coren is not. The lack of references is most keenly felt in the discussion of antisemitism. Coren seems obviously to be reacting against Michael Ffinch's 1983 biography, but Hinch's name figures only in the totally inadequate "selective" bibliography. Nor does Coren credit the sources (or at least parallel-developed) arguments against Ffinch which appeared in the Chesterton Review d{published by St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon) of November, 1986. Despite his wilful ignoring of sources, Coren gives a balanced, fair minded account of Chesterton's writing about Jews and Zionism. Like many of his contemporaries, he espoused a mindlessly Christian superiority throughout his life and writing. On two occasions, the libel trial of his brother Cecil (a genuine bigot), and later the British government whitewash of a number of Jewish industrialists in the famous Marconi Affair, which occurred hard on Cecil's death in World War I, G.K. descended into an uncharacteristic and shameful invective. Coren wisely points to G.K.'s emotional state as an explanation, but not an excuse, and points to the rest of Chesterton's life, his close friendships with Jews and his constant, force ful, and, among his Christian friends, often unpopular support for a Pales tinian homeland. Coren's is the best general discussion of this aspect of Chesterton's character, and should be read in tandem with Ffinch's oppos ing view by those interested in the subject. Elsewhere, the lack of documentation appears to cover up Coren's debt to previous biographers, especially Alzina Stone Dale, author of the best biography of Chesterton, The Outline of Sanity (Eerdmans, 1982). He re tells all the famous Chesterton stories, but in the larger treatment of G.K.'s life, he seems determined to emphasize aspects which Dale treats only


78 SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 briefly, and to gloss over more important happenings which Dale discusses at length. The result is an uneven, frustrating life of Chesterton from which much of the verve has been removed. Dale's book reads smoothly and en gagingly, its endnotes not a whit annoying for one anxious to follow the flow of Chesterton's rich, entertaining, controversial life. In addition, Dale pro vides synopses of the major fiction and background for the major nonfiction. Coren, though his work is announced as being for the general reader, does not; on the rare occasions when he moves into literary criticism, someone unfamiliar with Chesterton's works will be at sea. And where Dale discusses (briefly, to be sure) the SF/fantasy aspects of the fiction, Coren is silent. In sum, except for the balanced discussion of Chesterton's purported antisemitism, this is a facile, inadequate study of Chesterton's life and writings. For a truly elegant book on the subject, the reader should seek out Dale's biography. And I take it as a threat, rather than a promise, that Coren is now at work on a biography of H.G. Wells. Bill Collins [This book was "published in a slightly different version by jonathan Cape, Ltd., United Kingdom, 1989" [verso of t.p.]. The preface explains that the American edition contains an extra chapter dealing with relations be tween GKC and G.B. Shaw, more information on GKC's time in the U.S., and the final months of his life. 29 b&w photos. -NB, ed.] Businessman, Craftsman, Artist, Teacher Corman, Roger and jim jerome. How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime. NY: Random House, May 1990. xiii + 237 p. $18.95. 0-394-56974-1. At the beginning of a chapter on New World, the distribution company Corman founded in 1970, a single page carries five pictures. One shows Corman meeting Akira Kurosawa; the other four are stills from two New World features, The Young Nurses and Candy Stripe Nurses. The juxtapo sition emphasizes that under Corman New World distributed both profitable exploitation pictures and foreign art films of the highest qual ity. Corman juggled art and schlock throughout his career-fifteen years as director (1955-1970) followed by twenty years as producer and distributor. The first paragraph of his book corrects his ebullient title. Corman di rected fifty films and produced or distributed 250 more. He claims that only twenty of the 300 lost money. His goal has always been to make commer cially-viable middle-budget movies. Low-budget filming, at which he ex-


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 79 celled, is too difficult; he avoids big budgets because they would bring him under the control of the major studios, organizations he despises as waste ful and bureaucratic. While resisting outside control, Corman imposes strict discipline on himself and his employees. His reputation as the fastest and cheapest of respectable directors conceals the fact that he rushes through filming only after detailed preproduction planning. The finances of his tightly-run business operations are as conservative as his movies are flam boyant. He is proud of his profits and loves to tell how he beat the major studios at their own game. Although he worked in all genres which satisfied his need for quick, dependable profits, many of Corman's most acclaimed films as director have been horror, including the comedy Little Shop of Horrors (1961), six films loosely based on Poe stories (1960-1965) and X-The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963). Besides his own work, Corman is significant for providing in valuable training to dozens of young filmmakers. Corman "alumni" include directors Francis Coppola, Martin Scorcese, John Sayles, James Cameron, Ron Howard, and Joe Dante, writer Robert Towne and actor Jack Nicholson. Short testimonials by these and many other associates are scattered through Corman's book. Corman is a natural raconteur and his autobiography is one of the fun niest as well as one of the most important film books of the year. Many of the anecdotes are familiar from earlier books, such as the occasion when Corman fired the leading lady of a Viking epic over the phone when she called in sick; he was filming with a new star thirty minutes later. Other stories are new. My favorite is his encounter with a Soviet censor, an "educated and gentle man" who told Corman that while SF films were popular in the USSR "I must turn many of them down because their stories do not portray the future five hundred or a thousand years from now the way it is going to be. Even though I know you are working here in good faith, with your capitalist education it might be even more difficult for you to predict the future." This autobiography could have been improved by the addition of an index and an appendix listing Corman's films. Two largely anecdotal books about Corman, Mark F. McGee's Roger Corman (1988) and Ed Naha's The Films of Roger Corman (1982), are made obsolete by Corman's memoirs. McGee's Fast and Furious (1984), a study of American International Pic tures, the company for whom Corman made most of his films as director, is still useful. The only serious critical study of Corman to date, Gary Morris's Roger Corman (1985), examines X and the Poe films but not Little Shop. Essential for all film collections. Michael Klossner


20 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 Solid Bibliographical Study Elliot, Jeffrey M. The Work of Jack Dann: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide. San Bernardino CA: Borgo Press, April 1990. 128 p. $19.95. 08095-0506-1; $9.95, -1506-7. In the course of its 128 pages, The Work of Jack Dann provides a use ful bibliographic introduction to Dann as novelist, short story writer, editor, poet, and anthologist. As do the other volumes in Borgo's "Bibliographies of Modern Authors" series, the Dann study follows a meticulously detailed format: a bio-critical introduction by the compiler, Jeffrey Elliot; a detailed chronology that includes entries for all of Dann's major publications each year, as well as relevant biographical data. Separate chapters provide full bibliographical citations for 29 published (or forthcoming) books, 65 stories, 29 poems, 45 nonfiction pieces, and Dann's extensive editorial credits. Also included are sections on secondary works relating to Dann, honors and awards, and public appearances. The final sections provide an overview of comments by reviewers and critics, an Afterword by Dann on the art and craft of writing, and an interview conducted by Gregory Feeley. The volume creates a solid bibliographical framework for further critical and/or scholarly study of Dann's work. The introduction and afterwords give helpful information about Dann's formative years, literary and biographical influences on his writings, his perceptions of what fiction is and how it works. The Work of Jack Dann makes available definitive bibliographical data for an important contemporary science fiction writer. Willard Reuben Everything You Wanted to Know ... Elliot, Jeffrey M. and Robert Reginald. The Work of George Zebrowski: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide. 2nd ed. San Bernardino CA: Borgo, 1990. 118 p. $19.95. 0-8095-0514-2; $9.95 -1514-2. Elliot, Jeffrey M. The Work of Pamela Sargent: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide. San Bernardino CA: Borgo, 1990.80 p. $19.95 0-89370-394X; $9.95 494-X. These bibliographies seem very slim for the price, but they do exactly what they promise to do, thoroughly. Anyone who wants or needs full data on the publishing careers, and the critical reception, of contemporary authors should be able to find it in this "Bibliographies of Modern Authors" series. It is equally important to say what these books do not do. Although each work is briefly summarized, it is not "explained" or explicated in any way. Each book opens with a brief biographical "introduction," reading something


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 27 like an interview; a chronology precedes the bibliography proper; the author adds a brief "Afterword." The rest of the text consists of the bibliography proper. These books are mercifully barren of critical apparatus. The bibliography is thorough and current. (The Zebrowski volume has been re-issued only four years after the first edition. Borgo Press seems aware of the problems of keeping up with living authors who continue to publish.) Elliot lists items up to mid-1990, remarkable in the light of ordinary pub lishing schedules. Each volume separates the works of the author by type: books, short fiction, nonfiction (including criticism), translations (for Zebrowski only), unpublished works, editorial credits, other media, juvenilia, public ap pearances, honors and awards, "about the author," and miscellanea. This is followed by a section titled "Quoth the Critics," with (laudatory) quotes from various sources, usually signed. An index allows works to be searched by title, and items are cross-referenced internally. This format seems very easy to use. Editions of books are listed in chronological order, with publication data; works in series are cross-referenced if not published in sequence. The thoroughness of these works can be seen in the "nonfiction" section, which even lists letters to editors (and discusses how much was cut before printing) and the "about the author" section, which seems to have noted virtually every reference anyone else has made to him/her. The series seems to focus mainly, but not exclusively, on science fiction authors. Prices for some volumes (e.g. Colin Wilson, Stephen King) far ex ceed the "standard" prices charged for the Sargent and Zebrowski bibliog raphies; libraries might want the bound editions, despite the additional cost; but the perfect bound paperbacks seem attractive and sturdy enough for fairly heavy use. Given the wealth of information included in each slim volume, they will probably get used a good deal. Martha A. Bartter A Life on Paper Ellison, Harlan. The Harlan Ellison Hornbook. NY: Penzler Books, November 1990. xxviii + 418 p. $22.95. 0-89296-239-9 .. Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed, edited by Marty Clark. San Bernardino, CA: Borgo Press, August 1990. 192 p. $24.95. 0-89370-170X; $14.95, -270-6. Readers surprised at the relatively sudden outpouring of collected nonfiction by Harlan Ellison (these two volumes plus last year's Harlan Ellison's Watching and 1985's An Edge in My Voice, not to mention a


22 SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 considerable selection of essays in 1987's The Essential Ellison) may also be surprised, as I was, to find that among a certain youngish readership-mostly in California-Ellison is better known as a journalist than as a fiction writer. In fact, when I mentioned Ellison to a colleague who had spent most of the seventies in Los Angeles, he expressed surprise that Ellison wrote stories at all, but remembered fondly the days in 1972 and 1973 when he and his friends waited to argue over the weekly "Hornbook" columns in the Los Angeles Free Press and, later, the L.A. Weekly News. Collecting newspaper columns from nearly two decades ago is a risky business, and almost inevitably involves such awkwardness as reviews of now-long-defunct restaurants, but the most surprising aspect of the Hornbook in book form is how few of the pieces seem dated, how many take on added poignance with the passage of time, and how many simply work as stories (in fact, two multipart pieces were published as stories in the 1983 edition of Love Ain't Nothing But Sex Misspelled). There is all of the hu mor and outrage that readers would expect, including cheerfully intemperate attacks on Christmas and on teenagers, but the real strength of the book lies in its character sketches and essays that could best be called "appreciations." These include pieces on Ellison's mother, on Lenny Bruce, his dog Ahbhu, and some of his oddball friends. Although Ellison seems almost apologetic about including it, his portrait of the now-almost-forgotten novelist Herbert Kastle is as moving a remembrance as Kastle is likely to get. On the other hand, a piece about what to Ellison is a betrayal of friendship by a well known science fiction writer (unidentified, but easily deducible), seems to me decidedly uncomfortable. Although the ostensible purpose of the volume is to collect all the Hornbook columns in one place, those columns that comprised the screenplay of Harlan Ellison's Movie are included only as a chapbook in cluded with the limited Mirage Press edition of the Hornbook (Ellison ex plains why in his notes). Furthermore, more than a fifth of the book consists of longer essays which did not appear in the Hornbook, including his re cent Playboy essays defending the sixties and rediscovering comics. Without losing the passion and immediacy of the columns written for a weekly deadline, these pieces are generally more carefully structured and reasoned, and may make the best claim of all for Ellison's reputation as an essayist. A couple of the Hornbook essays had already appeared in 1984 in Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed, and now Borgo has chosen to re print this volume, apparently in light of the growing interest in Ellison's nonfiction. It includes twenty pieces, four reprinted in The Essential Ellison. Two of the remaining essays are introductions (including the famous "You Don't Know Me, I Don't Know You" from the Ellison issue of Fantasy and


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 23 Science Fiction), and the rest are organized under the general headings "Harlan and Television," "The World of SF" (which includes Ellison's impassioned and still relevant resignation speech from the SFWA), and "Pro files." Here again, the profiles seem to me the strongest writing in the book, with pieces on Silverberg, Leiber, Steve Mcqueen, the "common man," and the essay on Ellison's mother mentioned earlier. Although more than a quarter of the pieces in Sleepless Nights have since appeared in the Hornbook or The Essential Ellison, the book is still quite useful as a sampler of the variety of Ellison's essays, and remains the best overall account in print of his stormy relationships with Hollywood and with the SF world. As Ellison says in his introduction to the Hornbook, "Had this book been published when it was first signed up, it would have spoken directly to the times" (p. xxvii). Why, then, does Ellison want all this material in print today? Is it simply that, as he confesses in the Hornbook, he has "always been cannibalistically hungry for recognition" (p. 95), and thus wants to establish his credentials in as many venues as possible? More likely, he wants us to realize that this material is very much of a piece with his fiction-the raw material of his life, relatively (but not entirely) untransformed by imagination. Most of all, he wants to show us how he, as a writer, "is engaged in the long process of putting his whole life on paper," as he says of Herbert Kastle (p. 90-91). It's becoming increasingly apparent that Ellison's overarching achievement is just such a life on paper-raucous, passionate, full of truths and half-truths and fictions and dreams, folding back on itself and reinventing itself endlessly, but finally revealing a kind of grand design. Considered in this context, The Harlan Ellison Hornbook must be counted among Ellison's major books. It doesn't hurt that it's compulsively readable, either. Gary K. Wolfe The Terrors of the American Soul Frank, Frederick S. Through the Pale Door: A Guide to and through the American Gothic. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, May 1990. xvii + 338 p. $45. 0-313-23900-3. Since the publication in 1798 of Charles Brocken Brown's Wieland, the Gothic impulse has shaped American fiction. The demonic anti-myth of the American Gothic narrates the alienation, oppression, family psychoses, and nightmares of history that surge beneath the brittle realism of mainstream America. The Gothic mode is more significant for American fiction than was its short-lived English counterpart for British fiction because of its expanded compass; evil overflows the walls of the Walpolian haunted castle, inun-


24 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 dating America's wilderness, her plantations and cities, and, in recent ex amples, the future itself. All of which makes curious the emphasis critics have placed on the English Gothic over its American counterpart. Of the 2,500 or so entries in Frank's checklist of twentieth-century criticism of Gothic Fiction (Meckler, 1988), only a handful deal with American Gothic. Now Frank has partially redressed this imbalance with a "selective bibliographical census" of 509 novels, plays, and short stories chosen from two centuries of American fic tion. For each item, Frank provides (along with the obligatory bibliographic data) information regarding reprint editions, selected secondary sources, and a brief, critical synopsis which identifies key Gothic elements in the work. Frank's coverage is both capacious and selective. In addition to novels and short stories by the expected line-up (Bierce, Hawthorne, Poe, Lovecraft, James, King, etc.) he treats works by Barthelme (The Dead Father), Roth (The Breast), Blish (Black Easter), Albee (Tiny Alice), and other less canonical American Gothicists. Together, these 509 entries comprise a patchwork portrait of a mode that is far more expansive than one would conclude from the more coherent studies by Fiedler, Malin, Ringe, or Louis S. Gross, whose Redefining the American Gothic (UMI, 1988) is the best book to date on the form. Yet, the very expansiveness of this book points to its sole weakness. In an introductory overview of prior critical work, Frank remarks on the am biguities that have plagued efforts to define the American Gothic mode. But he does not hazard a definition of his own. And the works he includes don't cohere well enough to imply a definition that explains the omission of oth ers. Why, for examples, include John Farris's The Fury (1976) but not Wildwood (1987) and All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By (1977), Joyce Carol Oates' Them (1970) but not her pastiches Bellefleur (1980) and Mysteries of Winterthurn (1984), Anne Rivers Siddons' The House Next Door (1978) but not Fox's Earth (1981)? And why omit, for example, Michael McDowell's Gothic family saga Blackwater(1983) and Stephen King's post apocalyptic American Gothic The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (1978)? This is a minor cavil; in fact, Frank's sometimes provocative inclusions and omissions make reading this book more fun than one might expect. What makes it an essential purchase for scholars and students of American fiction and for reference libraries of all sizes is the solid research and criti cal intelligence that informs every page. Whoever tackles the as-yet-un written "definitive book on the unique and special character of our Gothic" will find Through the Pale Door an essential guide. Michael A. Morrison


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1997 25 Serious, Stimulating Work Garber, Eric and Lyn Paleo. Uranian Worlds: A Guide to Alternative Sexuality in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. 2nd. ed. Boston: G.K. Hall, September 1990. xxvi + 286 p. $35. 0-8161-1832-9. Uranian Worlds is an annotated bibliography of "variant sexuality," i.e. gay and lesbian content, in SF, fantasy, and horror literature and film from A.D. 200 to 1989, as its editors explain in their preface. Its aims might seem impossibly narrow to an outsider, impossibly wide to an insider to any of the subject areas covered by the volume. Impossible or not, Garber and Paleo have risen to the task in this revised edition of a work which was unique in 1979, and which remains so. Uranian Worlds contains 935 literary entries on novels and short stories, the compilers' preface, introductions by Samuel R. Delany and Joanna Russ, biographical notes on some of the authors, appendices of selected an thologies, films and videos, and fan organizations, an alphabetical index to the titles, and an index to the biographical notes on about 75 authors. The preface is sensible, the introductions lucid, wise, and witty, the biographi cal notes intelligent, the appendixes and indexes useful. The entries not only give plots and notations on sexuality but ethical and aesthetic judgments. The result is a bibliography packed with information and stimulating to ex plore, that contains a great deal of information and leads us to more, through the bibliographic entries, the fan information, and the perceptive editorial izing of both authors and introducers. All this information is useful to a wider audience than the one specifi cally concerned with issues of homosexuality. For instance, I do research in utopian studies, feminist SF, and vampires, and each of these fields has been richly served by homosexual themes. So, while the volume covers a particular subject, alternative sexuality, that subject informs many areas of study. I suppose I must acknowledge a few imperfections in Uranian Worlds. The annotations are sometimes awkwardly written and the biographical notes fewer and more randomly assigned than I would have liked. I wished also for a secondary bibliography of critical works on alternative sexuality in SF, fantasy, and horror. But these are minor complaints about a work I found stimulating and inspiring for my own scholarship and which would be invaluable for any serious SF library. Joan Cordon


26 SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 Fumbled Grumbles Heinlein, Robert A. Grumbles From the Grave, ed. by Virginia Heinlein. NY: Ballantine/Del Rey, January 1990. xviii + 283 p. $19.95. 0-345-36246-2. Robert A. Heinlein, the most influential and ideologically "American" writer of science fiction, continues to generate considerable critical interest and controversy. This collection of selected letters edited by his second wife, Virginia, allows readers to glimpse the professional grumbles and a few personal opinions of a pol itically conservative popular writer concerned about his contracts, paychecks, fan mail, censorship, cats, homebuilding, and world travel. The book is illustrated with many travel snapshots and photographs of Heinlein and of his book and magazine covers, 39 of them from the editor's personal collection, and many more from the archives of friends and publishers. The editor includes a foreword, short biography, and connective commentary on the letters. She also provides an afterword, three appendixes (the cuts in Red Planet (1949) and the original "Postlude" to Podkayne of Mars (1963), both rewritten at the request of editors, and her own "Retrospective"), as well as a brief bibliography of Heinlein's works, and an index. Unfortunately, her documentation and editing practices are far from scholarly, the index is sloppily alphabetized and incomplete, and the copy editors at Del Rey left several typographical errors. The selected letters are excerpted, heavily edited, and rearranged into topical chapters including one on Stranger in a Strange Land (1961). First conceived in 1949 on Virginia's suggestion, the project was called "The Man From Mars" for years; apparently no one recalls who came up with the final title. Heinlein remarks that he saw the novel as an attack on "the two biggest, fattest sacred cows" of our culture, religion and sex: "using the freedom of the mythical man from Mars ... I have undertaken to criticize and ex amine disrespectfully the two untouchables: monotheism and monogamy." The fame he earned after Stranger attained the status of counter-cultural icon in the late '60s made Heinlein almost reclusive. He was jealous of his pri vacy and disliked attending fan conventions and grudgingly replied to fan letters with postcards written by Virginia. On one of the few occasions when he actually responded to a fan, he wrote, "There are very, very few people ... who know anything at all about me in the sense of knowing me per sonally or in being privy to my private opinions, tastes, or habits." Virginia Heinlein's editorial selection protects her late husband from any exposure of his private history. The correspondence is professional, not personal, so almost nothing about subjects such as Heinlein's childhood, education, Navy career, tuberculosis, first marriage, divorce, or engineering


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 27 service in World War II is revealed. Instead, the letters show Heinlein's life after 1939 as a working writer as well as some of the domestic and exterior details of his residence in Colorado Springs and Santa Cruz in the 1950s through the 1970s. Heinlein's fiction was ventriloquized with the voice of an assured, American "can do" man (or sometimes a woman) who capably solves problems and takes no guff from anyone. The voice became a self-carica ture in his later novels because as he grew more famous, he got less editing of the self-important "endless talky talk" that Heinlein himself confessed as his weakness to John W. Campbell, Jr. in 1941. The letters are cluttered by that talky voice, sometimes bemoaning editorial censorship, sometimes rambling on and on about home repairs or building a pond in the garden. During the late 1940s and early 1950s Heinlein's series of 12 juvenile novels published by Charles Scribner's Sons were profitable (precise figures are not published) enough to pay for constructing a house and for sightseeing tours with Virginia. But the novels were sometimes heavily edited by Alice Dalgleish at Scribner's, herself an author and a confirmed snob about science fiction. For example, she puritanically blue-penciled anything that might have a conceivable reference to sex, and she objected to Heinlein's con servative political position in favor of unregistered gun ownership in Red Planet. Writing to his agent, Lurton Blasingame, Heinlein blusters, fumes, sputters, and stands on principle. In the end, though, he makes all the re quired changes and accepts his pay: "I capitulate, horse and foot. I'll bowdlerize the goddamn thing any way she says." Disappointingly, little is revealed of the circumstances regarding the rejection of Starship Troopers (1961) by the entire editorial board at Scribner's. Heinlein's letters to Blasingame and Campbell, even as incompletely presented here, will be invaluable to scholars and critics because they reveal the material practices of a popular writer, and they usefully supplement H. Bruce Franklin's excellent ideological critique in Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction (1980). The editorial presentation of Grumbles from the Grave itself, as a confirmation of Heinlein's self-protective wishes, may be an interesting minor issue upon the publication of a full biography, prepared by a responsible, scholarly biographer who is permitted full access to Heinlein's letters and papers. [That person is Leon Stover, professor of anthropology at the Illinois Institute ofTechnology, and author of the Twayne Study of Heinlein. See SFRA Newsletter, April 1989, p. 6. -NBJ Philip E. Smith" (See Issue #173, Dec. 1989, p. 17 for earlier review.)


28 SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 Ambiguous Companion Heller, Terry. The Turn of the Screw: Bewildered Vision. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989 (Twayne Masterwork Studies, No. 26). 151 p. $21.95; $9.95. The first three chapters of The Turn of the Screw: Bewildered Vision, by Terry Heller, furnish the reader with a short biographical sketch of Henry james' life; the importance of The Turn of the Screw in Western literature; and the critical reception when the book was published in 1898. Heller suggests that the Victorian mind was concerned with three things: Religion, class, and sex. As to religion: "It was characteristic of Victorians to assert dogmatically Christian beliefs and the superiority of Christianity over other religions ... out of fearful doubt of the consequences of giving up belief" (3). Although the vote had been extended to larger numbers of people and the property requirements and sex restrictions were beginning to disappear, "the Victorians response [to class restrictions) here paralleled their response to religious doubt; they dogmatically asserted the importance of maintain ing the system of class distinctions" (4). The Victorian's attitude toward sex reflected their attitudes about religion and class. "Sexual urges were connected ... with the forces of unbelief and revolution. The modern world spoke to them of uncertainty and revolution. The virtuous women were not exposed to the evilof the world. They were protected from the "degrading animal drive" of sex and were considered the moral custodians of the family (5). A firm interpretation of The Turn of the Screw has never been possible because of the ambiguous manner james used to present his characters. Heller takes this ambiguity and examines most all the possible interpreta tions. He does nothing to solve the problems james presented. If anything, Heller makes it more circular than james did. In the first two paragraphs of chapter four, Heller begins his circular path. The governess says, (at the very end of The Turn of the Screw) "We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped (88)" (19). In the second paragraph, Heller writes: "But at the end of that [first) reading, a terrifying question arises. The governess asserts that Miles' little heart is dispossessed when he dies, but how does she know what has happened in the silent heart of the dead boy?" (19). Heller finds many questions and no answers. He returns again and again to the prologue, in search of the answers which are not there. The Turn of the Screw and The Turn of the Screw: Bewildered Vision are both excellent books. Books of puzzles of human relationships, ghosts (are they real or imagined?), truth and who tells it, silence and its interpretation, and responsibility and who should accept it, or be forced to accept it.


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 29 Nothing has changed. The Turn of the Screw is still ambiguous, but now it has an ambiguous companion. Included in the Bewildered Vision are copies of the original illustrations that accompanied The Turn of the Screw when it was first published in Collier's Weekly in 1898. Ann Hitt Pedestrian Summary Indick, Ben P. Ray Bradbury: Dramatist. San Bernardino, CA: Borgo Press, August 1990. 48 p. $17.95. 0-89380-540-3; $7.95, -559-4. Bradbury's interest in dramatic writing is well known. Using references to Bradbury's own statements both published and in personal communica tions, Indick, in this revised edition of The Drama of Ray Bradbury (1977), tries to flesh out what has resulted. There is, as two pages of the index demonstrate, a considerable body of work, some of which, most notably Moby Dick and the Ray Bradbury Theatre, has been seen by millions of viewers. In addition, numerous Bradbury stories have been adapted for radio, film, and TV. Indick has high praise for the screenplay of Moby Dick, little use for the film adaptations of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, and great hopes-in a rather perfunctory less-than-two pages-for Bradbury's own adaptations for TV. His explanation for the comparative lack of success in adapting Bradbury's fiction to a dramatic form is that the "mood and poetry" of the former are not easily translated. Readers of fiction and published drama can read the necessary exposition, the stage directions, but viewers depending on actors and directors often find such exposition dull. Indick holds some hope for success in Bradbury's own adaptations for the stage. I found this to be a rather pedestrian summary of its subject. Indick lists and describes more works than in his 1977 version, but Chapter 11 of David Mogen's Ray Bradbury (1986) is probably a better bargain. Arthur 0. Lewis Pleasurable Survey Larson, Randall D., ed. The Robert Bloch Companion. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1990. 157 p. $21.95. 1-55742-147-1; $11.95, -146-3. Although Robert Bloch has been honored as a Master-of horror, psy chological suspense, etc.-he is perhaps more impressive as a person than as a writer. Bloch's fiction often is contrived and glib; his informal com ments, though, are usually on target, informed, and humane.


30 SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 It's a pleasure, thus, to see this survey of Bloch's opinions, stitched to gether out of interviews from several decades. Larson has done a nice job of connecting excerpts smoothly, avoiding redundancies while illuminating points that were barely mentioned in one conversation but more fully dis cussed in another. Chapters include "On Weird Tales and Lovecraftiana," "On the Mechanics of Fear," and "On Hollywood and the Movies." Bloch's remarks on his own experiences-as writer for the pulps, author of Psycho, scriptwriter, and faaaaan-are fascinating, and his comments about horror and violence are thoughtful and, yes, decent. This is one of the rare cases when learning more about a writer may send you back to his works reinvigorated. Bloch is a good man to know. joe Sanders Acting Alice in Wonderland Lovett, Charles C. Alice on Stage: A History of the Early Theatrical Pro ductions of Alice in Wonderland, Together With A Checklist of Dramatic Adaptations of Charles Dodgson's Works. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1990. 239 p. $65. 0-88736-390-3. Lovett takes the "on stage" quite literally here, ignoring the many radio and screen versions of Charles Dodgson's (Lewis Carroll's) minor master piece. In fact the narrative ends with the date of the author's death, so that coverage of the theatricals includes only those in which Dodgson had a hand, or which he might have seen. Fortunately, the narrative is less than half the book. The checklist of stage versions, 405 of them, is current through 1988 and takes up a large chunk of it, and the back of the book contains the entire script of the most famous musical version, that of Henry Savile Clarke, as well as a collection of Dodgson's writings about the stage. An index and bibliography are included. Lovett is also quite single-minded in his focus on theater, beginning with a brief biographical sketch of Dodgson's childhood fascination with puppet shows and other amateur theatricals, including excerpts from his letters describing his various performances and their reception. His earliest per formances, for his brothers and sisters, were "conjuring tricks" performed "in a brown wig and a long white robe." He soon built a small theater for marionettes as well as the marionettes themselves, and wrote the plays they performed. One of these, La Guida di Bragia, is a nonsensical parody of Bradshaw's Railway Guide in which two foolish courtiers take positions as railway officers, turning the system into chaos. It is punctuated with nu merous parodies of popular songs of the day. The reader, Lovett points out, can see many of the elements of Dodgson's later fantasies in this early work.


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 31 Dodgson also bought a "magic lantern" so that he could present what we. now call "slide shows," narratives or monologues based on a series of illustrations. Many of these were presented for children, sometimes very large audiences of them, and this aspect of his performing career continued for most of his life, despite his persistent stammer. And Dodgson also chose dramatic form for many of his adult works, including a major treatise on Euclidean geometry, Euclid and His Rivals (1879), which is cast in the form of a four-act drama, and contains 250 pages of "witty, logical conversations." (8) Stage-struck as he was, it is no surprise to learn that Dodgson thought of dramatizing his popular Alice almost from the first. He was too shy and diffident, however, to promote the idea directly. Lovett follows the numer ous tentative advances Dodgson made toward that end, as well as the various exploitations of Alice made by others, including a slide show at the Royal Polytechnic Institute. At one point Dodgson tried to interest Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert & Sullivan) in setting some of the songs to music. Dodgson finally decided, after several tentative attempts, and several ten tative offers of musical assistance, that he could not write a libretto for a musical Alice himself. This prepared the way for Henry Savile Clarke, who entered into an active correspondence with Dodgson in August, 1886, ac cepting many of the author's suggestions, but insisting, against Dodgson's wishes, that both Alice books be used in the two-act musical he envisioned. Dodgson acquiesced. The result is a strange hodgepodge, something like "highlights of Alice's adventures," with little or no plot. The dialog is almost entirely taken from the books, but the whole show is presented as a dream and the scenes shift with the dizzy illogic of most dreamscapes. During the collaboration Dodgson contributed many new or alternate I ines to the various songs scattered through the narrative. His obsessive barrage of meticulous suggestions might have wearied any librettist, Lovett says, but "much to his credit, Savile Clarke survived nearly four months" of this. (47) The play was scheduled to open December 23, 1886, in the brand new Prince of Wales Theatre. Lovett gives a detailed description of the first performance, describing costumes, actors, songs, stage business, and giving in full the new lyrics put together by Clarke and Dodgson in collaboration. Dodgson began cam paigning for a revival almost before the end of the first run. He got it eventually, with a new Alice and some new staging as well, but though it got generally positive reviews it was not a financial success. Dodgson found this news incredible, even suggesting deceit on the part of the theater owners. But when he learned that his friend Savile Clarke had suffered losses he sent him a check (his profits from the first venture) to help defray them. Clarke


32 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 died in 1893, and no other production of his operetta was tried until 1898, the year of Dodgson's death, when an uninterrupted series of Christmastime revivals began that continued through 1930. Judging by the checklist of dramatizations, not a single year has passed since Dodgson's death that has not seen half a dozen or more dramatizations of Alice, amateur or professional. It is too bad that this section of the book is all that indicates the contemporary status of "Alice on Stage," and even more regrettable that nothing is said about American stage productions, or radio, television and motion picture versions. Lovett has perhaps cannily confined his focus to the stage-struck Dodgson and his efforts to bring his children's masterpieces to the stage in his own lifetime. A full bibliography of Aliciana in all media would probably fill a whole warehouse, so the need for a logically delimited scope in such a study can be fully appreciated, even while regretted. This is a useful, perhaps essential, study, especially important for drama collections in university libraries. Robert A. Col/ins Conversations + Intelligence = Insight McCaffery, Larry, ed. Across the Wounded Galaxies: Interviews with Contemporary American Science Fiction Writers. Champaign, IL: Univ. of Illinois Press, August 1990. 267 p. $29.95. 0-252-01692-0. One of McCaffery's central interests is contemporary writing and writers, as befits a co-editor of Fiction International and Critique and the guest edi tor of the special cyberpunk issue of the Mississippi Review (47/48, 1988; see the laudatory review in the December 1989 New York Review of Books for details). Not for him the familiar terrain of Milton, Shakespeare and Joyce, but the unpredictable, sometimes menacing worlds of someone like William Burroughs, from whose The Soft Machine this collection of ten interviews takes its title. The interviews, conducted in the mid to late 1980s, reflect the interests of McCaffery and his wife, Sinda Gregory, as much as the interests of the subjects. These are far removed from the lightweight interviews of most fanzines. His aim here is the same as that in his two earlier collections of interviews, Anything Can Happen (1988) and Alive and Writing (1987): ... to create a context that would allow authors to discuss in some depth their works, their backgrounds, and their aesthetic impulses." The subjects of these interviews are among the most distinguished of contemporary American writers of SF: Benford, Octavia Butler, Delany, Disch, Gibson, Le Guin, Russ, Sterling, Wolfe, and William Burroughs, who


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 33 McCaffery argues has had the "biggest influence on the radical fringe of SF on those authors who are most concerned with formal innovations, and specifically with presenting visions of urban despair and victimization that share some of Burroughs's nightmarish intensity, black humor, and sense of dislocation." He based his selection of writers on his judgment that they "have had a significant impact on the evolution of American SF during the past twenty-five years" and whose "thematic preoccupations overlapped those of their postmodernist contemporaries" (Barthel me, Pynchon, Coover, Don Delillo, Ronald Subenick, Raymond Federman, etc). The ten interviews are based on several hundred hours of taping. Extensive editing followed to eliminate repetitions, extraneous digressions and the meandering nature of most conversations. The results, interviews in format, are closer to essays in content. Although the individual personalities of the subjects come through clearly there is little of the quirky spontaneity and informality Charles Platt achieved in his Dream Makers (1980, 1983). McCaffery's interests and his careful reading generate genuine intellectual interchange in which many insights into the works and lives are gained. The interviews, then, are serious but not solemn (the index enhances their reference value). They provide a valuable if necessarily partial survey of many of the concerns of a selection of the better American SF writers. While I do not share McCaffery's interest in or admiration for "postmodernist" writers, I learned a great deal from these pieces. So will you. An excellent selection for academic and larger public libraries. Neil Barron Broad Survey of H.G. Wells Murray, Brian. H.C. Wells. NY: Ungar/Continuum, June 1990. 190 p. $18.95. 0-8264-0468-5. Brian Murray's broad survey of the writings of H.G. Wells can serve as a useful introduction to a prolific and varied career. At his best, in the long biographical chapter, Murray provides a detailed account of the social, economic, literary and intellectual forces which shaped Wells's life and career. Murray makes some insightful observations, and generally the chapter reads well. It is in subsequent chapters dealing with Wells's specific writings that Murray succumbs to the problems endemic in such a project. With almost one hundred pages devoted to the two chapters on Wells's life and reputation, the sixty pages available for analysis of individual texts seems inadequate. Murray dutifully offers brief discussions of plot and theme, but because of space limitations the analysis is cursory. In this respect, other comparable introductory critical studies of Wells like Richard Hauer Costa's


34 SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 revised edition of his Twayne's European Authors Series book and John Batchelor's Cambridge UP British and Irish Authors study offer less biogra phy and a more satisfactory discussion of individual texts. Murray's table of contents offers no surprises. The study begins with the biography and moves chronologically through the scientific romances, the Edwardian novels, the later works, and an assessment of Wells's literary reputation. The inclusion of a separate chapter entitled "Wells and Women" seems almost obligatory given the current trend for ending the curious si lence about literary products reflecting the impact of the New Woman and the Suffragists on Edwardian society. Yet, and perhaps illustrative of the sl ightness of the critical chapters, Murray has very little to say about the novels covered in this chapter, Ann Veronica and The Passionate Friends. Murray's discussion of Wells's literary responses to turn-of-the-century feminism does not venture beyond making observations like "much in Wells's writing would strike the contemporary feminist as far less than en lightened." In pointing out the similarities between Ann Veronica and Grant Allen's The Woman Who Did, Murray only establishes that "both works feature heroines who openly challenge prevailing sexual mores; both lapse into melodrama and aromatic prose," rather than pursuing the obvious question of why Wells's enthusiasm for the "Woman Question"-like so many male writers of the period-seems limited to the matter of sexual freedom. Insofar as Murray has a thesis informing the entire study it is that Wells squandered his novelistic talent by being thoroughly self-absorbed. Ac cording to Murray, Wells "could find few human beings as fully fascinating as himself ... [and so wrote) again and again of the life of H.G. Wells, casting himself variously as Arthur Kipps, Arthur Polly, Richard Remington, William Clissold and Hugh Britling-even as Anne Veronica Stanley, with her youthful passion for science and her impatience with unexamined social assumptions." The standards for the evaluations of Wells's work seem to be derived from some notion of the modernist high art novel, which leads Murray to the overall assessment that Wells was in the end an artistic slacker coasting along with momentum derived from his enormous intellectual power. Peter C. Hall Comprehensive Coverage Poll in, Burton R., compo Images of Poe's Works: A Comprehensive De scriptive Catalogue of Illustrations. Westport, CT: Garland, December 1989. xvii + 413 p. $49.95. 0-313-26582-8.


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 35 Professor Emeritus at the City University of New York, Pollin has pub lished extensively on the work of Poe and has edited four volumes of The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Images of Poe, a bibliography of more than 1600 entries on illustrated and filmed versions of Poe's works; was compiled over a period of 18 years during numerous trips to libraries in this country and abroad and is an impressive record of the enormous influence Poe's work has exercised on the imagination of scores of artists, illustrators and filmmakers. The entries are arranged chronologically by country of publication, and France and the United States show the largest number of entries. Of the extensive work published in France, Pollin comments that the "important illustrated editions of Poe ... perhaps equal those of the rest of the world." Certainly the series Manet did for Mallarme's translation of "The Raven" (1875) and Odilon Redon's great lithographic series "A Edgar Poe" (1882), almost justify in themselves Pollin's apparently hyperbolic statement. However, the strength of Poll in's catalogue is not in his critical comments on individual artists (as apt as they often are) but in the comprehensiveness of his coverage. This extends, in the American listings, to comic books, pulps and comic magazines like Creepy and shows an openness to popular illustration that is not always a characteristic of academic catalogers. Much of the information is conveyed in concise, abbreviated form, but the reader adjusts quickly to the format, and the several indexes afford speedy access to illustrators and the various editions of a particular work. A filmography is indexed by alternate film titles and includes both short and feature-length films. I'm not certain why only the Lon Chaney version of Phantom of the Opera is included, with the several sound versions left unmentioned, but it appears to be for the color section, which Pollin com pares to Poe's "Mask of the Red Death." This is the kind of work that immediately becomes a "standard" refer ence. While Pollin points out that the book serves, in part, as the first comprehensive "international bibliography of Poe editions in all languages," its interest goes conSiderably beyond the field of Poe studies. The few black and-white plates suggest little of the riches of the bibliography, but it will be consulted with profit by students in undergraduate and graduate literature/ research programs, as well as by students of the graphic arts and popular film and illustration. Poll in's preface suggests that this was a labor of love, but it is first and foremost a superbly conceived and executed work of scholar ship that, except for noting the inevitable errors of omission and detail, one could not imagine being improved upon. Walter Albert


36 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 Mixed Lovecraftian Interpretations Price, Robert M., ed. The Horror of it All: Encrusted Gems From the "Crypt of Cthulhu". Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1990,200 p. $21.95, 155742-123-4; $11.95, -122-6. Even in the most rarefied academic circles the line between scholarship and trivial pursuit is often a very thin one. This is, of course, even more true of fan publications, especially those devoted to a single author or "school," a fad easily demonstrated in The Horror of it All. The volume consists of an introduction and twenty-nine items culled (and sometimes updated and revised) from "The Crypt of Cthulhu," organized along the lines suggested by editor Robert M. Price: The main focus, as always in the magazine, is on criticism and research, and Lovecraft forms the basis of more of this than anyone else does. But you will also find discussion of Robert Bloch, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, Lin Carter, Brian Lumley, Colin Wilson, August Derleth, and Clark Ashton Smith. The articles are generally short, more like extended footnotes than de veloped essays, covering such topics as "Lovecraft's Revisions" and "The Origin of Lovecraft's 'Black Magic' Quote," and demanding a fairly thorough knowledge of things Lovecraftian to be appreciated, although some of the articles on later Mythos contributors are more extensive and self-contained, notably the articles on Brian Lumley and Colin Wilson. The creative pieces range from trivially imitative to freshly clever (especially John Strysik's "The Cthulhuers"). The Horror of it All is a mixed bag with little appeal to non Lovecraftians, much to enlighten and stimulate Cthulhu aficionados. Keith Neilson Biblical Slant on Lovecraft Price, Robert M. H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House. 170 p. $21.95. 1-55742-153-6; $11.95, -152-8. As a representative sampling of Price's engaging,irreverent and unashamedly amateur magazine Crypt of Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos is a success. The book collects 28 essays and a single short story from Price's contributions to his journal of Lovecraftiana for the last decade. It is intended to serve as a companion volume to The Horror of it All, a compendium of Crypt of Cthulhu essays by Price and divers hands. As a critical appraisal of Lovecraft and his fiction, though, the book is a curiosity. Price makes no effort to integrate the essays (although he has grouped them under five different section headings) into the coherent study


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 37 suggested by the title. He admits in his introduction that he reads Lovecraft's work with the eyes of a Bible scholar rather than a literary critic, and thus his concern is with "currents of religious, philosophical and occult thought that Lovecraft used as raw material for fictional purposes." This perspective yields insights that range from the intriguing to the trivial. The best essays appear in the section on "The Cthulhu Mythos," wherein Price attempts to elucidate the mythology underlying Lovecraft's best stories ("Demythologizing Cthulhu") and make sense of the hash that well-meaning colleagues have chopped it into ("H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos"). In "The Lovecraft-Derleth Connection," Price suggests that Lovecraft may have been his own worst enemy in this respect, since his contradictory use of the same elements in different stories (a point that has fueled Lovecraft criticism for decades) may have reinforced publisher August Derleth's no torious misinterpretations of his work. "Lovecraft's Cosmic History" and" A Lovecraftian Taxonomy" take on some of these contradictions as Price outlines a coherent cosmic history for Lovecraft's universe and a place in it for all the different species of cosmic entities whom Lovecraft lumped to gether ambiguously as "The Old Ones." H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos is not likely to displace serious academic studies of Lovecraft from the bookshelves, nor is it the best book to read as an introduction to Lovecraft's work. But the reader who is familiar with Lovecraft's work will find it an enthusiastic and accessible collection. Stefan Oziemianowicz Superior Priest Study Ruddick, Nicholas. Christopher Priest. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1989. 104p.$19.95. 1-55742-110-2;-109-9. Ruddick's study grew from his article, "Out of the Gernsbackian Slime: Christopher Priest's Abandonment of Science Fiction" (Modern Fiction Studies, Spring 1986), and that title sets up the book's argument. It is ironic that this appreciation of Priest should acquire a genre venue. As Ruddick indicates in his biocritical introduction, Priest's writing has in no way de clined, but interest in him has fallen off because he "is no longer prepared to identify himself with the field," and has become "a marketing problem for the publishing industry." During the '70s Priest was a leader of British SF, publishing five novels, two story collections, and two edited anthologies, all for the prestigious house of Faber and Faber. He also garnered numerous awards and nominations for awards, and earned "a reputation as a serious and provocative critic," lecturing at The University of London, and helping to establish both


38 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 the Science Fiction Foundation at Northeast London Polytechnic and its journal, Foundation. But in 1980, Priest resigned from the SFWA and science fiction, charging the writers union with blatant commercialism encouraging "degeneration of all that was valuable in the genre." A product of the British "New Wave," Priest had come into science fiction in admiration of the work of J. G. Ballard. Science Fiction has a long, "respectable" pedigree in England (Mary Shelley, Wells, Stapledon, Huxley, Orwelll, but Priest felt that the American "vulgarization" of the field had taken over, killing any literary potential the field might have had. Priest's rebellion was "an attempt to regain his artistic independence," Ruddick says. "For Priest, science fiction today has become meaningless except as a publishers' category." "A Novel," Priest has said, "whether it is science fiction or anything else, is literature above all else." Priest's writing, Ruddick says, hasn't changed since his defection. It had always "ignored outer space, aliens, robots, and the other paraphernalia of genre science fiction," preferring to focus on "private worlds," the "relativity of the physical and moral universes." Ruddick's discussion of Priest's major works (/ndoctrinaire, Fugue For a Darkening Island, Inverted World, A Dream of Wessex, The Affirmation, The Glamour) expands upon this view. In his criticism, Priest makes a distinction between SF "notions" ("an artifice, an extrapolation, an inversion, an imaginary alien planet, a new technology") and fictional "ideas" ("a kind of philosophy, or an approach to an age-old question ... or a fresh insight into a social dilemma"). A "notion" should merely serve as a means to expressing an "idea," since the former are worth nothing in themselves. Priest uses such "notions," but they are never the focus of his novels, Ruddick says, though SF fans have assumed they were, since most American SF is nothing but "notions." In Indoctrinaire (his first, least successful book), Priest uses a displace ment in time to achieve a relativistic disorientation of the protagonist necessary to explore moral and political themes. In Fugue For a Darkening Island he switches to modernist technique, a fragmented first person narra tive, chronologically disordered, to present an experience of disintegration: social, moral and political. In Inverted World, his one apparent example of "hard SF," he uses a radical shift in perception (time as a spatial dimension) as a metaphor for the sort of perceptual estrangement which alienates indi viduals from one another as well as their communities. In A Dream of Wessex, communal dream worlds become indistinguishable from an in creasingly fictive reality, allowing Priest to explore the complicity of the perceiver in creating "reality," as well as the necessity of art and imagina tion as survival techniques. In The Affirmation, the protagonist oscillates


SFRA News/etter, 185, March 1991 39 between alternative "fictive realities," symbolized by a manuscript that is "both written and not written, autobiographical and fictional, true and a pack of lies." The relativities of "perception" totally undercut the protagonist's attempt at "self-definition." Finally, in The Glamour, the "notion" is a fan tastic "power of invisibility" that recomplicates identity problems for the author, his characters, and the readers. (In this last novel, Ruddick also sees an autobiographical response to the author's own "vanishing" from the world, i.e. from publishers' backlists and consequently the bookstores.) Ruddick's study is keen and thoughtful, his readings of the novels ex cellent. This book is several cuts above the general run of Starmont guides. Adrian de Wit Diplomacy At Work Ruddick, Nicholas. Christopher Priest. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1989. ix + 104 p. $19.95. 1-55742-110-2; $9.95,-109-9. There is something slightly incestuous about the production of such readers' guides as this, which mostly feature studies of living writers by sincere enthusiasts who labor under the burden of knowing that what they write will inevitably be read with keen interest by their subjects. Reviewers of such books usually belong to the family too, and the present reviewer is certainly no exception. By a curious coincidence, Chris Priest, Nick Ruddick and I spent our formative years in close geographical proximity (Nick and I even attended the same school) and although none of us was aware of the others' existence at the time it predisposed us to feel a certain sense of spiritual kinship once we became acquainted, as we eventually did. Chris Priest is among my closest friends, and I am on perfectly friendly terms with Nick Ruddick. In these circumstances, how could I possibly be other than scrupulously polite about what is, inevitably, a scrupulously polite book? I would not set out to bury the book even if I wished to, and were I to heap fulsome praise upon it my words-however sincerely intended-would be bound to seem less than objective. The fact that Chris Priest and I disagree about almost everything in spite of being friends only adds a further di mension of perverse difficulty to the task before me. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately, depending on your point of view) the format of the Starmont guides is sufficiently rigid to ensure that readers know exactly what they will get, so there is a sense in which reviewing them is really quite unnecessary. The only real problem an author of such a guide may face is that of dealing with an author whose oeuvre is too large to fit conveniently into a book so small. Chris Priest's output is of a perfectly manageable size, allowing Nick Ruddick the luxury of working at a com-


40 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 fortable pace and a reasonable depth-a luxury of which he takes full and thoroughly competent advantage. His customary clarity fails at only one point, when he describes a half-hearted criticism made by a reviewer of The Inverted World (me, as it happens) as "curiously illogical"; I must confess that I cannot quite make out whether he is calling attention to the oddness of the particular illogicality in question, or to the oddness of the fact that such a well-respected logician should momentarily have failed to maintain his awesome rigor. Perhaps he was trying to be diplomatic. Brian Stableford Bibliographies Compared Stephens, Christopher P., compo A Checklistof ... Gene Wolfe. 35 p. $7.95. 181-3; Philip K. Dick. 46 p. $6.95. -174-0; Thomas M. Disch. 22 p. -183-X; Samuel R. Delany. 18 p. -184-8; Dean R. Koontz. 20 p. -133-3. Roger Zelazny. 20 p. -1 66-X; Morrigan Press and Kerosina Press. 1 6 p. -1 65-1. All stapled,5 1/2 x 81/2 inch pamphlets. ISBN prefix 0-89366. All 1990 except 1989 for Disch and last booklet. $3.95 each except as shown. Ultramarine Publishing Co., Box 303, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706. Stephensen-Payne, Phil & Gordon Benson, Jr. Philip Jose Farmer: Good Natured Ground Breaker; a working bibliography. 2d rev. ed. July 1990. 9 + 63 p. ISBN and price lacking. Stephensen-Payne, Phil. Piers Anthony: Biblio of an Ogre; a working bibliography. September 1990. 9 + 45 p. 1-871133-23-8. $3.50/.00. Available from Gordon Benson, Jr., Box 40494, Albuquerque, NM 87196 or Phil Stephensen-Payne, 'Imladris,' 25A Copgrove Rd, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS8 2SP, UK. Chris Stephens is an antiquarian dealer as well as a specialty publisher (Ultramarine) of quality limited editions, quite unlike these modest efforts, which were prepared partly for use by his customers. The format in all bibliographies is chronological, alphabetical by title within year, with each entry numbered. Except for Wolfe and Disch he limits himself to separately publ ished books or booklets, excluding magazine fiction, contributions to other works, etc. Title indexes. The points necessary to identify first editions (U.S. and British and first hardcover) are usually shown, along with pagi nation and original prices, when known. Contents of collections aren't shown. The text is typed and has too many careless typos and unorthodox capitalization. Wolfe's 1980 book has the unusual title, The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories, but Stephens wrongly assumes the last three words aren't part of the title, although he's apparently


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 47 seen the book. The prices he shows differ in some cases from those shown in the Locus bibliographies. I spot checked the booklets and found them fairly accurate and complete within their severe self-imposed limits but was troubled at the careless typing. The "working bibliographies" of Benson began about a decade ago. Stephensen-Payne, who contributes the British Books Received listings to Locus, has taken over much of their compilation, and about four dozen titles have been issued, many in revised and enlarged editions (a SASE will bring you complete list). The current versions are 8 1/2 x 11 inch, printed on rectos only, punched and enclosed in term paper style folders. These bib liographies attempt to list all published English language material by or about the author and are therefore much lengthier than the Stephens booklets. The listings are grouped into many categories-18 in these examples-including books, short fiction, series, poems, articles, media adaptations, reviews, etc, with each item assigned a unique alphanumeric code, used for cross-refer encing. Arrangement is letter by letter rather than by the more common word by word. A chronological index of fiction concludes the bibliogra phies. Neither compiler is strong on descriptive bibliography, although they are adequate for most purposes. Points for first or Significant editions aren't shown, although they can sometimes be inferred. I think the Benson/ Stephensen-Payne bibliographies are a much better value than those of Stephens. These bibliographies are recent examples of fan bibliographies dating back to the 1930s. Word processing software makes the compilation and revision of such listings far easier and gives design choices which aren't taken advantage of by any of these compilers. The compilers of such bibli ographies usually lack the knowledge of professionals like Everett Bleiler, whose 1948 checklist was the standard for decades, and L.W. Currey, whose Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors (1979) is still the bible for collectors ($68.50 delivered from Currey, Elizabethtown, NY 12932). Most libraries can ignore these efforts, but scholars and collectors interested in their sub jects should find them worthwhile. Neil Barron Through the Cameraman's Eye Turner, George E., ed. The Cinema of Adventure, Romance & Terror; from the Archives of the American Cinematographer ASC Press, Box 2230, Hollywood CA 90078, 1989. 298 p. $39.95. 0-935578-09-9. Each of twenty-four chapters covers a film or film series made between the 1920s and the early 1950s. Thirteen chapters deal with works which are at least marginally horror or fantastic-the 1923 silent super-production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame; the horror-mystery The Bat (1926) and its talkie remake The Bat Whispers (1930); the 1931 Bela Lugosi Dracula and the noteworthy Spanish language version made simultaneously with a dif-


42 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 ferent director and cast; Universal's classic Frankenstein with Boris Karloff (1931); Creation, a dinosaur adventure begun (1930 to 1932) by the same team who made King Kong but never completed; The Most Dangerous Game (1932), also by the Kong team; the six Tarzan films made from 1932 to 1942 with Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan; White Zombie (1932), a Poverty Row cult classic; a very obscure version of The Monkey's Paw (1933); the Expressionist, unforgettably bizarre The Black Cat (1934); the three Flash Gordon serials (1936-1940); Val Lewton's The Cat People (1942); and the stunning Night of the Hunter (1955). The other chapters cover war (e.g., Wings), adventure (e.g., Gunga Din) and noir (e.g., Laura) pictures. Turner wrote fifteen chapters alone and co-wrote five more. All the chapters are first-rate, but perhaps the finest is Paul Mandell's on The Black Cat. All but five of the essays are reprinted with revisions from American Cinematographer magazine. Turner and his collaborators consider all the films to be worth study but their essays are only occasionally critical. They describe the production of each film, emphasizing the work of cinematographers, set designers and score composers. Most chapters include extensive quotes from interviews with film workers. This serious scholarship can be criticized only because technical terms are sometimes used without sufficient explanation. Indexed. Highly recommended for all but the smallest col lections for recalling several forgotten films; for pointing out the crucial importance of filmmakers other than writers, directors and actors; and for dozens of well-chosen black-and-white stills. Printed on high-quality glossy stock. Michael Klossner .......... FICTION REVIEWS FOLLOW ................. Fiction: Hollywood on Mars Bisson, Terry. Voyage to the Red Planet. NY: William Morrow, 1990.224 p. $16.95.0-688-09495-3. Terry Bisson is one of a small group of writers, including John Crowley, James Blaylock, Richard Grant, and Jonathon Carroll, who have little in common except literary excellence and the fact that their every book is a surprise-something completely different, as the Monty Python people would have it. I first discovered Bisson's work in 1986 when his unforget table Talking Man was nominated for the World Fantasy Award. That book sent me back to the author's first novel, Wyrldmaker, one of the strangest heroic fantasies ever written. In 1988 came Bisson's totally unexpected first science-fiction novel, the alternate-universe tale Fire on the Mountain, in


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 43 which John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry leads to a black uprising across the Civil War-era South, the permanent fragmentation of the United States, and a near-utopian world community. Now, in yet another career move out of left field, Terry Bisson has produced Voyage to the Red Planet, a highly successful, if totally unlikely amalgam of hard science fiction and Hollywood parody. The book's basic premise is fairly straightforward. Decades ago, in the early twenty-first century, with the world economy on the verge of collapse, the first spaceship designed to travel to Mars (the Mary Poppins, if you will), was mothballed by a beleaguered U. S. government. Now, in a world vaguely reminiscent of The Space Merchants (albeit with the entertainment industry stage center). a schlock movie producer wants to send a mixed crew of superannuated former astronauts and genetically enhanced, hereditary movie stars to Mars. His motivation involves neither the search for scientific knowledge nor the desire to explore where no impresario has gone before. Simply put, he wants to make a blockbuster, a space adventure film that, when the last ticket is counted, will stand on a par with Cone With the Wind, E. T., and Beverly Hills Cop. Bisson's satire is delicious, but it's also exceedingly dry. There's little or no slapstick here. Bass, the pilot who always flies with a chaw of Red Man in his cheek; Louis Glamour, the midget director; Fonda-Fox the hereditary Movie Star; Sweeney, the Mission Control scientist who has to take a day job because spacefl ight doesn't pay well enough, and all of the other charaders are eccentric, but only to a point. They're also believeable people with sometimes painful insides. What lifts Voyage to the Red Planet above most sf humor, however, is its strong science content. Bisson acknowledges the aid he received in writing the book from that hardest of hard sf writers, Charles Sheffield, who presumably helped the author with the technical details needed to create his intensely real Martian landscape. The planetary landing scene, for example, is one of the most believable I've ever come across. The book also contains a satisfying dollop of sense-of-wonder. The semi-organic Martian clay that mimics the form of human machinery is genuinely fascinating, as are the hints of long-dead, alien tech nology, though the direct reference to Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey seems a bit much. Then there's the ancient statue of the more or less human black manare those really dreadlocks? Like all of Bisson's novels, Voyage to the Red Planet seems a bit on the short side. One would have liked more time on Mars, another fifty pages at least. The filming of the movie itself seems almost perfundory since the super-sophisticated camera, Demogorgon, only needs to shoot general footage of the actors and scenery and then makes up the actual film continuity through computer simulation. These are quibbles, however. Terry Bisson is one of our best young writers and his new novel is well worth reading. Michael M. Levy


44 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 Ambivalent Title Bloch, Robert and Andre Norton. The Jekyll Legacy. NY: Tor, August, 1990. 248 p. $17.95. 0-312-85037-9. Recently orphaned, Hazel Ames left Canada to seek psychological and financial autonomy as a writer in England. Heir to Henry Jekyll's estate (her father, Jekyll's brother, changed his name after crossing the Atlanticl, she takes up residence in Jekyll's house only to lose the household servants: one to grisly murder, others to fear of a similar fate. Hazel learns the truth about her uncle from his attorney shortly before he is murdered, but her rationality, her dislike of Inspector Newcomen, and her loss of employment as a writer combine as reasons to remain there. The developing character of Hazel's romantic interest relieves the horror, distracts the reader, and sets up the denouement. This novel is competently written, well-researched, and entirely read able. Turn-of-the-century British thematics (the independent woman, intel lect vs. sentimentality, poverty vs. the efficacy of the Salvation Army, the distance between social classes) make it an authentic sequel to Stevenson's classic. But, quite possibly because it could have been published in 1890. The Jekyll Legacy neither excited nor even intellectually terrified me, as Valerie Martin's recent Mary Reilly (a Jekyll rewrite) did. Yet I did not ex pect the revelation its authors expertly saved to precipitate the conclusion; the surprise, moreover, does not occur at the expense of plot logic or con sistent characterization. My initial reaction to the novel-disappointment-derives chiefly from expectations based on the reputations of its authors and the "horror" imprint on the title page. Most readers, I fear, will share that reaction. Better for us all to read the title as ambivalent: "legacy" includes plot sequelae, but it's more descriptive of literary technique. Rosemarie Arbur Dialectically Structured Plot Bouchard, Guy. Les Gelules Utopiques. Montreal: Les Editions Logiques, 1988. 214 p. 2-89381-003-9. Three characters dominate this thought provoking SF novel. Doc Belisle is a megalomaniac scientist in the tradition of Shelley'S Frankenstein and Wells's Moreau. His scheme to save humanity is centered on a small island in the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City. Belisle has organized a vast experiment designed to test human tolerance, to foresee various problems likely to result from the integration of androids on a mas-


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 45 sive scale into human society. They have been adopted as foster children by local families. Utopian capsules are swallowed regularly by this brood of androids ostensibly to control their own antisocial tendencies. Marie Dugre articulates the major opposition to Belisle's project. She is a modern feminist in struggle against male authority in general, and this patriarchal wizard, in particular. Marie remains wrapped in the disguise of passive femininity for most of the novel, but she eventually formulates the antithesis to Belisle in the penultimate chapter. The adopted, android brother of Marie tries to create the middle ground between these two strong characters. Joseph knows that Marie hates him with a passion. Neither of them know, however, whether that hatred is primarily because he is male, or because he is android. He repels her sibling resentment and does his best to protect her from other androids. He also nurses an erotic longing for Marie. This intriguing dimension of the story could stand further development. Ideas and plot are the strengths of the novel. It is a catalogue of current SF issues presented through an ingenious, dialectically structured plot which turns inside out every few pages as new information becomes available to the characters and the reader. In addition to the central thematic axis cooking the goose of patriarchy, this intellectual cornucopia serves up hy potheses along the way on everything from euthanasia to telepathy. The major problem with Les Gelules Utopiques is its lack of emotional resonance. It engages the mind but the cognitive gymnastics fail to effec tively mobilize deeper sources of response. For example, the attempt to synthesize traditional patriarchy and modern feminist gynocracy in the final chapter is admirable but unconvincing. Most will agree with the call at the end for a "gynandrocracy" which will "put an end to injustice and establish the best society." Though such a thin formulation does not contribute to an emotionally satisfying conclusion, the reader will probably be inspired to pursue more of Bouchard's speculations. Steven Lehman Largely Coincidence Coulson, Juanita. Star Sister. NY: Ballantine Del Rey, 1990.219 p. $3.95. 0-345-36522-4. Renee Amos, worker in a metropolitan social outreach organization, is accidentally caught up in a force transporting two Arbiters to a planet where they are to intercede in a potentially disastrous war. Coincidentally, the Arbiters are both male, and the planetary government is a matriarchy which prefers to deal with female. Coincidentally, Renee seems to have an unex-


46 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 plained affinity for the Ka-En-the force which transported them to the planet, and performs other miracles as well. Coincidentally, her social outreach background enables her to learn quickly and become an integral part of the mission ... and that's just the start of the coincidences. Thus does Renee Amos become Renamos, the Arbiter. In spite of the large dosage of coincidence, in spite of several blatant anachronisms {liThe prince Velcroed shut his jumpsuit's collar"}, and in spite of a large dose of "message," the story works well. The plot holds ones interest, the characters are sufficiently well-developed to be believable, and the background civilizations stand up to scrutiny. Although this isn't Coulson's best work, it's good enough to stand by itself and provide an entertaining afternoon. w. O. Stevens Roller-coaster Action, Adventure and Fun Crichton, Michael. Jurassic Park. NY: Knopf, 1990,400 p. $19.95. 0-39458816-9. Michael Crichton never fails to entertain: Andromeda Strain and Sphere were both wonderfully imaginative, well-written books and in Jurassic Park Crichton maintains his success. An intriguing blend of the latest in dinosaur theory and the trendiest in scientific thought, Jurassic Park is a roller coaster ride of action, adventure, and fun. Of course. the novel has some problems, most notably its sketchy characters, but on the whole, it is emi nently readable and thrilling, with enough hard science to make it plausible. "Jurassic Park" is a theme park about to be opened by a fabulously wealthy, eccentric old man with a mania for dinosaurs. The park, encom passing an entire island off the coast of Costa Rica, is supposedly designed for children, and features real live dinosaurs, recreated by bioengineers from preserved DNA samples. For obvious safety and security reasons, there are strict checks on the animals-they are restrained behind electrified fences; they are all created female so they can't breed; and they are supposedly dependent on a chemical in their food. Paleontologist and dinosaur expert Alan Grant, his assistant, and the park's investors are escorted to the scene by John Hammond, the eccentric owner, prior to opening the park to the public. There, a few little problems escalate into a big problem when it is discovered that not only have the animals been secretly breeding, but sev eral of a particularly rapacious dinosaur, the velociraptor {"raptor"}, have left the island and bitten children. To add to the chaos, the computer that controls the entire island is sabotaged and the power cut, freeing the animals. The people trapped in the control building, as well as those stuck outside on the island, discover that


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 47 the dinosaurs, far from being obedient theme-park material or the slow, dumb creatures featured on television, are quick, warm-blooded animals that can kill. Crichton makes good use of the latest in dinosaur theory: his dinosaurs have herd instincts and nurture their young. Some hunt and travel in packs; some spit poison; and some are harmless grazers. Interweaving with this action-adventure story is chaos theory and the latest in the cut throat world of genetic engineering. The entire action of the bulk of the novel takes place within 24 hours, and the pace is relentless. Crichton creates his scenario plausibly, and the action is non-stop, but he does this at the expense of character development. His characters are one-dimensional: they are phYSically described, but we rarely get inside their heads or see much of their personal life. The characters seem to exist to expound a theory. Ian Malcolm, the chaos theorist, spends most of his time making speeches about the fall of reason and the ascent of chaos in the scientific world, and foretells doom ("00 you have any idea how unlikely it is that ... any of us will get off this island alive?") Alan Grant, the protagonist, spends most of his time realizing everything he thought he knew about dinosaurs was wrong and explaining the differences between old and new theories. In an odd twist, Crichton throws two children into the fray, Lex and Tim; Lex is easily the most annoying character in the entire novel, and Tim is too good and too resourceful to be true. Oddly enough, there is no hint of romance (or even thwarted love) in the novel; any hidden undercurrents of emotion are usually a result of espionage. Though the characters are flat, Crichton manipulates the complex plot deftly, interweaving events to show cause and effect. He seems to del ight in solving knotty problems-for example, there's the problem of getting enough dinosaur DNA to build a live dinosaur, since in fossil samples it has eroded into uselessness. Crichton solves the problem imaginatively and plausibly, and uses the solution (frog DNA) to create a new problem. The most interesting characters are the dinosaurs, especially the intelligent and deadly raptors, and Crichton seems to spend more time developing them than his characters. His pterosaurs are fiercely territorial and his dilophosaurs spit poison; some dinosaurs make birdlike noises and others whistle. They are all interesting and still inexplicable; no one understands what makes them tick. Jurassic Park is not perfect, but it is entertaining. There is both non-stop adventure and lots of hard science, and the story is riveting enough that lack of characterization is not a defect. Some passages are downright tedious (like Ian Malcolm's sections on chaos theory), but there is enough espionage, blood, death, and terror to make it a thrilling read, and just plausible enough to frighten. Karen Hellekson


48 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 Mythic Violence, Mythic Sex Drake, David. Surface Action. NY: Ace, October 1990. 236 p. $3.95.0-441-36375-X. Several years ago I heard David Drake speak about his drive to write fictions, his methods of composition, and his ideas about what he calls "military SF" derived mostly from his own experiences in Vietnam but also from the genre greats from Heinlein to Haldeman. This latest fiction from Drake is no disappointment although the first impression one gets on read ing it is its overwhelming "juvenility"-not marketed as young adult fiction but so much like Heinlein's "juveniles." The hero Johnnie Gordon, in fact, comes straight out of Asimov's Paul French tales fathered by Heinlein with a taste of the Hal Clement tones of sensawonder at the diversity of nature thrown in for good measure. Drake says that the "myth" he wants to re capture in the story is that of SF in the 1940s. The story is set on Venus that man has terra formed to embody the vi ciousness of evolutionary competition and the resourcefulness of human warfare. With an Addisonlike imagination and clarity, Drake describes possible images for nature at war with itself as well as projections of World War lI"battleship" warfare to a sultry Venus long after the human colonists there have fled a destroyed earth. The gruesomeness of warfare matches the "red tooth and claw" of nature here. There is little of the subtleness of Weinbaum on Venus or of Haldeman on warfare, but rather the strength is in Drake's mix of so much from the genre memories that we share. This is what he means by mythic structures, and he underlines these literary am bitions with charming epigraphs to each chapter from Kipling, Tennyson, Housman, and many others. What I find most fascinating is Drake's use of sex, which again is no doubt meant to capture the feel of the 40s and the pulp covers with the vo luptuous steel women that we all dreamed of as we read about the War. There are no women characters in the story but just a few lurid images that Johnnie and his uncle use as "recreation" (pinups, I guess) in pauses in the military action. These pulp women, however, come back at the end of the story nicely fused with gruesome violence to suggest that the ecstasy of killing and the ecstasy of sex are more closely related than Johnnie and his uncle. Drake is no literary giant, but is a lot of fun here. And when one reads to end of the story, one knows why it is not marketed as young adult. The 40s were probably like that. Donald M. Hassler


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 49 Confused Casino Capers Haiblum, Isidore. Out of Sync. NY: Ballantine, 1990, 184 p. $3.94. 0-34535501-6. After three casinos get robbed by bandits who disappear into thin air, troubleshooter James Morgan proclaims that the casino he owns a piece of is impregnable. Indeed, the bandits never show up-but they clean out the casino's locked and guarded vault nevertheless. Readers will find more imagination than sense in this overblown nov elette masquerading as a novel. Haiblum uses frenetic action, gaudily im possible doings and plot apparatus to fling his audience from short chapter to short chapter. He must have been short of page count for a novel even so because he fills half the book by puffing up each and every conversation into a minimum of two pages of banter, tough guy talk and plot recapitula tions. This being science fiction, there are answers to the puzzle of the invisible thieves but by the time Morgan spins them out in last-chapter-of-a whodunit style, we've had so many more impossibilities thrown at us that it's hard to tell whether all the loose ends are tied up and harder to figure out just how and from whom Morgan has received the information. Readers of Out of Sync are just plain out of luck. Steve Carper Pure Fun with the Gypsies Harper, Rory. Petrogypsies. NY: Baen Books, 1989. 275 p. $3.50. 0-67169840-0. Imagine that petroleum technology is not mechanical, but biological. Drilling is done by huge bioconstructs with very long, prehensile, hollow tongues which end in a bone (or tooth) resembling our familiar conical drilling bits. These bits are controlled by "gypsies" who wander from place to place searching for, and producing, oil. In addition to the drilling gypsies, with their specialized beasts, there are also mud gypsies, casing gypsies, tool gypsies, cement gypsies-all of the standard branches of the trade, and each with its own specialized bioconstruct. Now, place all this in a world otherwise similar to ours, where contracts are made with T-Bone Pickett, gypsies go to Texas Petroleum an Agricultural college at Aggie Station to get their education, and oil companies such as Exoco ply their trade. Add a country boy who meets the gypsies and goes off with them to learn the business. The result is pure fun, with a fair amount of petroleum technology painlessly added, and some interesting adventure thrown in on the side. This is an entertaining read for a boring afternoon. W. O. Stevens


50 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 Primary Action Tale Harper, Tara K. Wolfwalker. NY: Ballantine Del Rey, 1990. 310 p. $3.95. 0-345-36539-9. The setting is an alien planet, now populated by humans. The society is feudal, due to a collapse of civilization caused by a plague which the original inhabitants created, in revenge when the humans displaced them. Dion is a Wolfwalker, a Healer who has a rudimentary telepathic linkage with a wolf. She and her twin brother are caught up in an expedition to rescue three girls who have been captured by raiders and carried off to the slave auctions. Crossing the mountains after the rescue, they shelter in a dome of the an cients, where the plague strikes them. Only Dion the Healer can save them, and to do so she must use her wolf and an ancient healing art which has caused madness and death in all who used it. A slight romantic thread lightens the story, but the primary tale is one of action: racing on the backs of horselike creatures; shooting the rapids in a kayak; a hurricane and shipwreck; rock climbing; an avalanche; battles with men and wild beasts. The action scenes are well done, demonstrating the author's personal interests. This is a good story for a rainy afternoon, or a long plane ride. w. o. Stevens Thumbs Down Hawke, Simon. The Cleopatra Crisis. NY: Ace-Berkley, September 1990, "Timewars Series #11", 210 p. $3.95. 0-441-81263-5. What can you say about the eleventh in an action adventure series about time-travelers who for various murky motives try to disrupt or protect the integrity of human history? Well, it's more of the same, with the usual virtue and defects. The regular cast of Time Commandos-Moses Forrester, Finn Delaney, Andre Cross, Creed Steiger, and the resurrected Lucas Priestbattle the usual cadre of S.O.G. invaders from the alternate timestream Earth. Complicating their struggles to effect or prevent the successful assassination of Julius Caesar, save/destroy Caesar's mistress Cleopatra, and therefore maintain/derange the history of our world are the interference of various temporal renegades and the deus ex machinations of Robert Darkness, the tachyonic "man who is faster than light." As usual, our guys win, history is saved, and Caesar is scragged on schedule. The virtue of The Cleopatra Crisis, and the series in general, is Hawke's attention to historical detail; the author does his homework, creating a


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 51 plausible if sketchy scene. The defects are the usual for the series: episodic action, shallow characterization, grossly contrived plot turns, gobble-de gook justifications of temporal paradox and internal contradiction, and near absence of human interest. Only the most diehard series completist will want this one; not recom mended. David Mead Adventures in McGulveyland Kandel, Michael. In Between Dragons. NY: Bantam Spectra, 1990. 181 p. $3.95 0-553-28814-8. Such wonderful bits. The live butterflies posing and showing off their beautiful colors, only the youngest ones fidgeting. The astrologer/doctor V. Snerk whose cure for all ailments are poultices, even though he has a needle for a nose. My favorites feature the dragons, who have infiltrated a major bottler and distributor to market ZIP, a soda containing heavy metals aimed, of course, at teenagers. These are all in the first dozen pages and the inventiveness seldom flags after that. Kandel's first novel was the eponymously descriptive Strange Invasion and he packs each of his short dense books with ideas other authors would spend lifetimes mining. Whereas the generally gloomy Invasion was capped with a downer of an ending, Dragons starts with chapters of manic fun that only gradually reveal Kandel's serious intent. Sherm, our hero, is a normaI16-year-old, beset not only by raging acne and an overworked and harassed single mother but also by the stutter demon and the erection demon. He seeks refuge by phasing into the magic books in Mr. McGulvey's library and living out the mad escapades with a cadre of other misfits. Not content with keeping a half dozen of Sherm's adventures going at once, Kandel also gives us glimpses of Sherm's real life and has him journey into the weirdest depths of McGulveyland in search of, yes, well, a porno book. The chasteness of his reallife-Sherm takes several pages to muster the courage to kiss his patient girlfriend-plays counterpoint to the havoc that the porn novel's Lust Kittens wreak when they emerge from its pages to scramble the carefully delineated bounds between adventures. Dragons is a rare example of a book featuring a teenaged hero marketed as an adult novel. Kandel achieves the feat by keeping two levels of com mentary going throughout-on Sherm's real-life miseries and on our grown-


52 SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 up nostalgia for the imagination and possibilities of adolescence-with the tone of both exactly right. Both teenage angst and adult sentiment are easy to deride butKandel reminds us that both are not only important but two sides of the same coin. Dragons is a novel about growing up that is not an embarrassment to read. It will add new readers to Kandel's cult. Kandel is sui generis, a writer to cherish for the 90s. Steve Carper Gothic Architecture Kegan, Stephanie. The Baby. NY: Charter/Diamond Books, 1990, 262 p. $3.95. 1-55773-397-X. The Baby, despite an ominously lurid jacket blurb, is standardissue domestic American gothiC in the tradition-or rather on the coattails-of Mary Higgins Clark or Rosemary's Baby. Its central character is a pregnant woman haunted by the vengeful ghost of her husband's aunt, who inhabits the Craftsman style house they all live in. The house, in fact, is a major character "an original Greene and Greene, lovingly described; the dramatic possibilities of its elaborate architecture are thoroughly mined. The other relatively fresh element in this familiar saga of innocence misunderstood by authority, and Forces from Beyond even tually thwarted by the good guys, is the psychiatric theme. The author exploits the similarities between the paranormal experiences of the protagonist and some psychopathic states. In fact, if the book didn't begin with a clearly spooky prologue, the reader might be kept in suspense as to whether the heroine is possessed or crazy. Perhaps Kegan thought reader interest could only be maintained by putting her tarot cards on the revolving table at the outset-cer tainly her writing wouldn't stand up to the focus a novelistic per sonality study would require. But the style is unobtrusive and workmanlike, and pulls the plot along briskly enough to keep it moving over the potholes in the story line. This book would be good airline reading, serviceably diverting for a couple of idle hours. And if you're traveling to Northern California, it will pique your interest in looking up some Greene and Greene houses. Mary Helene Pottker Rosenbaum


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 53 Sadistic Horror Novel "Key, Samuel M." Angel of Darkness. NY: Jove, October 1990. 262 p. $33.95.0-515-10422-1. The author's name appears in quotation marks because, just before I began to write this review, I was told on good, but not authenticated, au thority, that, in fact, the novel is the work of Charles De Lint. By the time these words see print, that assertion may be either common knowledge or a disproved rumor. If De Lint is in fact the author, I can understand why he might want to publish Angel under a pseudonym. It's an uneven, unsatisfying piece with a loathsome premise too-graphically described. The opening section depicts a warped composer at work on finishing a symphony of pain assembled from the recorded screams of victims he has kidnapped and tortured to death in unspeakable ways. The level of pain to which he has exposed his latest victim unleashes her hate as a pure, ma levolent entity which destroys him. But it also creates a parallel world, uninhabited except for those who have visited the torture site in the wake of the explosion which has killed the composer-neighbors, police, accidental passersby. These are taken, one by one, into the deserted streets of the shadow world where the spirits of the composer's victims muti late them and drop their carcasses back into the "real" world. I am not opposed to an author using his/her imagination to explore the most hideous aspects of the disturbed human psyche but (perhaps I'm old fashioned) it seems to me that there should be, in such dangerous under takings (dangerous for both author and readers) some purpose more serious than the dubious "entertainment" involved. I'm also not sure that readers who get off on such subject matter ought to be entertained. But this is just, and only, what "Key" does. The novel has nothing profound or even inter esting to say about extreme sadism; instead it offers one innocent victim after another in ghastly fashion, exhibiting what appears to be a terribly misplaced misogyny in focussing reader apprehension against the mindless female "avenger" after dispatching the real sicko on page eight. Dean R. Koontz, in the cover blurb, may "look eagerly for ... Key's next book." I don't, and if De Lint is indeed the author, I'll be casting a jaundiced eye on any future works he publishes under his own name. Bill Collins SF Novel Imaginative, Original Kilian, Crawford. Gryphon. NY: Ballantine, 1989. 260 p. $3.95. 0-345-35730-2. Crawford Kilian's latest novel, Gryphon, is an interesting "hard" sci ence fiction novel by this versatile Canadian/American writer whose inter-


54 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 ests span both sf and fantasy, as well as educational writing. The plot is fastmoving, exciting, and convoluted, while the characters are well-drawn and sustain the readers' interest through a wealth of original ideas. The many new concepts and terminology in this novel create a fascinating new world for the reader to explore. This invention of new concepts and words is exciting rather than frustrating, because Kilian weaves these ideas through enough familiar ones that the readers are not likely to get lost. Furthermore, with Gryphon, Kilian perhaps lays to rest the current debate over whether or not we humans can conceptualize something for which there is no word in our acquired languages. The debate I refer to is currently raging amongst whose who teach writing in the post-secondary educational system, and those interested in critical theory. The theory suggests that if we do not have a word for a concept, then we cannot, in fad, entertain the concept itself. Further, we cannot have words for things we cannot conceptualize, so that language is limited to experiential reality. While the theory is adually somewhat more complex than this simple restating of it, this restatement seems to sum up the basics. Gryphon completely confounds the theory, as Kilian introduces new term after new term, then goes on to describe the concepts that belong to the term. I suppose he might have built his concepts from other people's suggestions, but like all of the more innovative sf and fantasy writers, his inventions seem to spring, like the goddess Athena, fully formed from his own mind, surprising and delighting the reader with their ingenuity and freshness. Of course, newfangled bio-technological concepts do not a novel make, and there are plenty of other well-crafted ingredients to make Gryphon a thor oughly enjoyable reading experience. As someone who is wary of "hard" sf. partially on the grounds that I am easily bamboozled by technological wizardry, I found this novel stimulating and exciting. The plot alone is a source of real interest, being based on a future society several centuries from now, when Earth and its socio-political structures have been completely renovated by Earth's contact with the Net, a group of many other life-forms all in contact through Database, a huge computer network which all the member species contribute to and draw from as they wish. Humanity has consequently done away with disease, death, poverty, and close personal relationships. This apparently ideal world where sex, war mongering, and duelling of a highly sophisticated nature accompany research as humanity's favorite pastimes is suddenly invaded by the Gryphons, a race which withdrew from the Net some centuries earlier, and has developed a new system called the Pattern, which goes against everything the Net stands for. The Pattern brings with it slavery, religious mania, and complete brain-washing. It reinstates communal life, disease, and death. The plot gets increasingly complex as the novel proceeds, as twenty-five year old Alex, his two or three centuries-old mother, his girl-friend California, a bald


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 55 eagle named Lord Whitehead, a "cuckoo" or man-made Gryphon named Vic tor, and a few other characters oppose the invasion of the Gryphons and their Pattern. The several reversals of the plot bring many surprises, and although the ending is somewhat predictable, the pleasure of reaching it is unalloyed by its predictability. The characters are another good reason to read this novel. Alex is a man of his age yet he experiences impulses common to us all, impulses which often confuse and surprise him as they are not typical for his time, but ones that make him the most accessible character for us to relate to. The other positive characters are all a little strange but quite likeable. Although not terribly original, they make ideal vehicles for the themes and action of the story. Because they are so like able, they do cause the reader to really care about what happens to them and their slowly disintegrating Earth, which is, of course, our Earth. The themes are topical but handled with enough subtlety that one never feels preached at and can, in fact, completely ignore them if one chooses. The two most immediate themes are the dangers of human isolation from other humans, a problem that humanity is facing increasingly with its depersonalized work places and faceless city-life. This theme is handled extremely well, as initially the isolation of each person seems very freeing, and yet Terrans are the only people that actually manage to successfully (to some extent) fight the Pattern because individuals are not completely isolated from one another. The other theme, that of the danger of ecological destruction, is more obvious, but as the vehicle of Earth's destruction is an alien invader, the theme is not presented at point-blank range. The characters' horror when they see the destruction of their home planet is well-communicated to the reader, and that sense of horror remains at the end of the novel, to stimulate thought. Crawford Kilian has written a few sf and fantasy novels over the span of the last twenty or more years. We could do with more novels from this articulate and highly imaginative writer. J. R. Wytenbroek A Gritty Tale Longyear, Barry. Infinity Hold. NY: Popular Library, 1989.281 p. $3.95.0-445-20952-6. In AD 2115, the US discovers the "final solution" to its prison problems: commute all sentences to permanent exile on a barren planet in a distant nebula. As each shipload is dumped there and left to survive on its own, the usual result is immediate fighting among that load, followed by raids on them by earlier bands of exiles. One shipload, after a series of devastating raids, begins to develop its own identity, its own laws, and its own purpose. The story is told from the


56 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 viewpoint of an habitual criminal who slowly gets caught up in the "civilizing" process, and winds up being the "Chief of Police" for this band. In the beginning, the jargon used by the characters is sufficiently unfa miliar to detract from the story. After a few chapters, one adjusts to it and reading is much easier. This is a gritty, bloody story, with gritty characters. Even the "happy ending" is dark-natured and indeterminate. Nevertheless the story has a compulsion of its own. w.o. Stevens Surrealistic Mixture O'Keefe, Claudia. Black Snow Days. NY: Ace Books, 1990. 344 p. $3.95. 0-441-06689-5. This story begins in 2046 with a car race, and the first chapter ends with a near-fatal crash. The second chapter opens in 2058, when the hero regains consciousness, and the story goes downhill from there. Eric Pope has been subjected to surgery-genetic and otherwise-to enable him to survive in the world created by the massive war which took place in the intervening years. The surgeon (his mother) intended him to become some sort of super-intel ligent Messianic superman who would locate the "auxiliary base" (function never specified, but apparently something the world needs to survive). In the process of making him biologically invulnerable, an alter ego (of the opposite sex) was created. Vivian, the alter ego, is very real to him although not to anyone else. As Eric sets forth on his nightmarish journey across the country, he continually confuses reality with flashbacks and fantasy. Since he can't distinguish between them, the reader can't either. The result is a surrealis tic mixture of nightmare, sex, and violence leading to an anticlimactic and hurried ending. This book is a chore to read. Not recommended. w. O. Stevens Two Horror Anthologies Sammons, Paul M. Splatterpunks: Extreme Horror. NY: St. Martin's Press, December 1990. 346 p. $14.95. 0-312-05206 pb; 0-05201-4 he. Monteleone, Thomas F., ed., Borderlands NY: Avon Books, November 1990. 334 p. $3.95.0-380-74924-1 [Limited edition hardcover,July 1990). It might be said that these two books represent two tendencies in edit ing anthologies; one, Paul M. Sammon's Splatterpunks, represents exploit ative marketing; the other, Thomas F. Monteleone's Borderlands, represents the desire to introduce new writers, new voices, and new interests. The former may finally succeed in its immediate goal, but the latter finally emerges as the more significant volume.


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 57 In many ways, Splatterpunks is a curious, if not frustrating, collection of horror stories, not to mention the dubious motives behind its editing strategy. Dedicated "To bad taste," the book still claims to represent "seventeen singular voices," some of whom are "uncompromising artists whose inner eyes see bitter truth." Which is it? Bad taste or uncompromising vision? And the subject matter of the anthology? Sammon: "How about mutant shit-eating babies? We've got it. Corpse fucking? Of course! Incest, racism, rape, animal cruelty, serial murders, eploitation of the dead .... Now there is certainly nothing in Sammonn's taxonomy which hasn't been, at least implicitly, the subject of horror writers before, yet his sensationalist tactic implies the exploitative motive which informs the book. Finally, the book doesn't even live up to its title, since, significantly, some of the "names" most closely associated with the "splatterpunk" movement are missing-the most glaring omission is the movement's labeler and most important writer, David J. Schow, who declined to be included in the volume. This might imply, understandably, that Schow wishes to be divorced from the movement to which he is so closely associated, but it might also suggest that he saw such serious problems in the book's conception that he declined to be in cluded. Splatterpunks consists of 16 stories and 2 essays (one, "Outlaws," is by Sammon, a self-serving "Appreciation" of splatterpunk) but only 2 of the 16 stories are new, 3 if one counts as a story the first publication of "Chapter 18-The Censored Chapter" of Ray Garton's 1988 novel Crucifax Autumn. (Notice the exploitive nature of this story's title; the word "censored" serves to sensa tionalize its content, while including the "story" strikes me as a little like the marketing tactic behind releasing the movie on videotape with "restored foot age." It also, coincidentally, serves to publicize Garton's book. Is this anything other than a shrewd marketing ploy?) And while the "Splatterpunks" themselves have never decided on the "canonical" works which can be cited as central to their sensibility, (or even decided who can really be called a splatterpunk), there is no hint of them here either, particularly since we are told that practically every writer featured in the book denies that he or she is a "splatterpunk," even while the book putatively contains "splatterpunk" stories. The crucial problem left unanswered is, despite Sammon's protestations to the contrary, what defines splatterpunk as an aesthetic other than "bad taste." But beyond these problems, the book dredges up some curious selections (an obscure story by George R. R. Martin titled "Meathouse Man" from 1976 (one of the promised "corpse-fucking" stories), and one by Clive Barker ("The Midnight Meat Train," Books of Blood, Vol. 7, 1984). The work also reprints no fewer than three stories that have ap peared in David J. Schow's Silver Scream (1988), and two by Richard Christian Matheson (1986, 1987). A devoted reader of horror stories is well aware of Barker's work and has probably read Schow's popular edition; why reprint these stories in this collection? And, more importantly, why are no new stories by established authors included? Who is the intended audience?


58 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 In every regard Monteleone's Borderlands recommends itself as the stronger anthology of the two (less expensive as well). As the title indicates, Borderlands is seeking to explore new literary territories, as compared with Sammon's edition which retrods old. Borderlands contains 25 stories, most all of them new and unpublished, featuring a number of new, or at least up-and-coming, talents of the horror field: Nancy Holder, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, and Poppy Z. Brite, in addition to presenting more established authors: Harlan Ellison, T.E.D. Klein, Chet Williamson, and Joe R. Landsdale (whose story "By Bizarre Hands" is one of the stronger ones, though David B. Silva's "The Calling" is certainly a candi date for the best). There are a large number of horror anthologies available, but given the choice of these two, I would recommend Borderlands for those who want a sense of what some of the most innovative horror writers are doing right now. Sam Umland Enjoyable Mind Candy Shatner, William. Tekwar. NY: Ace Books, August, 1990. 307 p. $4.50.0-441-80208. By now no one should need a recap of the Shatner book since he widely publicized the hardcover. But, for all of you who might have been, like the hero, in deep freeze, I will give a short summary. Jake Cardigan, a former policeman, has been found guilty of hampering an investigation into the illegal drug Tek and as we meet him he has been sentenced to be frozen for fifteen years. After four years he gains an early release because his help is needed to find a missing scientist, Dr. Leon Kittridge, and his daughter, Kate. As the plot progresses he finds out that he is not just needed because he knows the "rebel," War bride, a former lover who might be holding them, but also that his old enemies might be involved. It seems the professor has invented a way of destroying all the Tek chips simultaneously thus ending the lucrative drug business. We know the hero was framed. We know that he will find a new love to replace his wife, who divorced him, and that right, not to mention our hero, will overcome all odds and win. If the plot seems familiar, then wait until you meet the characters. Actually, that familiarity is what makes this a good read. You can settle back and enjoy an adventure that does not require you to invest more than time. The deviations from standard plot twists or characterization keep the book interesting. If you aren't incited to riot by the blatant borrowing from Philip K. Dick, then you will like a hero who actually manages to overcome his tendency to fall in love with women who are not even human. Those who like a light cyberpunk atmosphere will find it here also, making a future that might not be totally bleak but at least one that is not a shining techno future. W. R. Larrier


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 59 Off Your Rocker Stasheff, Christopher. The Warlock Rock. NY: Ace, 1990. 275 p. $3.95. 0441-87313-8. Gramarye is suddenly being overrun by rocks which feed on witch-moss and multiply by fission. Moreover, they make music which overwhelms the minds of adolescents with its strong, syncopated beat. Rod, Gwen, and the children (accompanied by Fess, their tutor) set out to find the source of this plague. After multiple adventures they do so, and with the aid of two monks from the monastery of St. Vidicon, manage to restore order to the kingdom. This is another in the long series of Stasheff's Warlock novels. Potboiler describes it best. Such message as it has is buried under a veritable mass of puns-the one in the title is absolutely worked threadbare by the end of the book. The characters lack any depth, the plot any significance. And the language, with its incredible mixture of pseudo-medieval and contemporary diction, defies description. This reviewer had trouble forcing himself to read beyond the first chapter. Robert Reilly Prophetic SF Novel Tardivel, Jules-Paul. Pour La Patrie. Montreal: Hurtubise, 1989, 360 p. 289406-028-9. The first SF novel from Quebec was published originally in 1895, but its central theme is just as relevant today. Tardivel envisions the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada and the founding of an independent nation. uebec. Technology plays little part in this tale. A Fax machine, a strain of bacteria used as poison, and a futuristic train racing along at 90 mph. assume only incidental importance. The drama focuses on the role of revelatory religion, the ancient battle between good and evil, in the eventual success of Quebec's national project. In 1946 Canada is foreseen losing its colonial connection with Great Britain. Two polarized alternatives quickly emerge. The Conservative Prime Minister proposes a new Constitution which pretends to maintain the status quo but really ensures the destruction of the language and religion of Quebec. He is the agent of a Satanic cult of Freemasons who use blackmail and murder to accomplish their aims. Opposing them is a heterogeneous group led by a Doctor from Quebec named Joseph Lamirande. After two miraculous interventions of Divine providence in which he sacrifices his


60 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 wife, and then his daughter for the cause, the diabolical plot of the Free masons is foiled and Quebec attains its sovereign nationhood. Lamirande then ignores the dying wishes of his wife, to make the sister of his best friend happy, and finishes his days as a recluse in a European monastery. The sovereignty movement represented by Rene Levesque and the Parti Quebecois in power between 1976 and 1985 was quite different in its pri mary orientation. Fundamentalist Roman Catholicism was largely sup planted by a secular democratic socialism. It could almost have taken as its God that of Tardivel's diabolical Freemasons, "the God of liberty, Progress, and Vengeance." In any case, independence appears to be a constant in Quebec consciousness and politics. The genie is out of the bottle again in the aftermath of the failure of the Meech Lake Accord in 1990. This time, it is apparently being shaped by neither Catholic fundamentalist nor socialist ideology, but by a practical interest in developing natural north south trade routes. That is not to say Quebec has lost its idealism. The rarefied nobility of spirit which shines through Tardivel's clumsy literary technique still thrives. However, free of both the fundamentalist and the colonial mentality, and no longer obsessed with revenge against these influences, Quebec may now have discovered the practical self confidence to lead the Great White North to a new definition of itself. Pour La Patrie in 1895 did not include a blue print of its envisioned independent utopia: and today, anything in between the status quo and statehood appears possible for the future of Quebec. Steven Lehman Radical Ideas Tepper, Sheri S. Raising the Stones NY: Doubleday Foundation, 1990.453 p. $19.95,0-385-41510-9. Raising the Stones is not an easy read. (Its solar-system setting has four planets and half a dozen smaller bodies that are habitable; four sapient species [besides humanity) live there; minor characters have names like Morgori Oestrydingh and Non-ginansaree Hoven). But its plot works better than that of Grass and its themes derive from more complex actions than those of The Gate to Women's Country. The plot that unifies the novel deconstructs the Telemachus myth os brilliantly. Samasnier Girat, "topman" of a small agricultural settlement on Hobbs Land, engages in fugue-like nightwalks during which he converses with Theseus (yes, the hero). Consciously, Sam is searching for "a single wondrous thing," whatever it is that will make his life meaningful, that will confer on him true heroism; unconsciously, he's seeking his patrimony,


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 67 partly in the person of his father, who lives on another planet in the system and who exists for Sam as the shadowy but larger-than-life figure of a six year-old boy's memory. Most incidents in the novel relate to this quest; how it ends and what its completion does to Sam's mother savagely undercuts the nobility of the searching-son archetype and the defensibility of paternity as a social fixture. On the other side of this quest are terrorists, colleagues of Sam's father who are seeking Sam's mother, to use her influence (she was a legendary singer-composer before she left their world and her husband) to lure women back to their horribly oppressive, patriarchal-theocratic society. Since their actions initiate climactic incidents, Sam's own efficacy is diminished even as he achieves his life-long purpose. A parallel plot follows the widening influence of a mycelium-like or ganism that is the Hobbs Land God, worshiped (though without the usual adoration, petition, and other human religious postures) by the indigenes who become extinct shortly after humans arrive and, strangely, by the human settlers. Tepper's Grass likens the relation between human and divine to that between viruses and a person's body (God cannot be expected to follow individual humans' fortunes). Raising the Stones explores this relationship further, and generates another thematic question: does the benign but uninvited influence of an alien life form threaten humanity's essence? The question is important. By exploring it in the context of an anti masculinist look at one of Western man's [sic] dominant archetypes, Tepper has stirred up radical stuff. Some comic and negatively satirical content may keep Raising the Stones from being an inarguably excellent novel, but its science fictional use of ideas excuses at least 90% of its shortcomings. Rosemarie Arbur Raising Controversy Tepper, Sheri S. Raising the Stones. NY: Doubleday Foundation, 1990.453 p. $19.95 ($24.95 Canada). 0-385-41510-9. Tepper's 1988 novel The Gate to Women's Country upset a lot of (mostly male) readers with its nasty, but enormously effective portrayal of a post-holocaust culture in which women effectively ran civilization while men were manipulated into wasting their time on phallus worship and ritualized wargames. Simultaneously the women carried out a secret breeding program, its purpose to gradually eliminate male violence. Her award-nominated Grass (1989) depicted a near-demonic alien race which, again, manipulated men, using the typically male love of blood sports to telepathically enslave an entire planetary society and, eventually, come very


62 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 close to wiping out human civilization across the galaxy. Tepper's new novel, Raising the Stones, returns to the issue of male violence with a ven geance. Despite its many strengths the book has already felt the ire of several reviewers. Raising the Stones may well be the most controversial science fiction novel of the year. Tepper sets her tale in the same universe as Grass, but centuries later. In a complex solar system, one evidently isolated from the galactic mainstream, at least four planets and any number of moons and asteroids now sustain human life, as well as several sentient alien races. One such planet, Hobbs Land, is a peaceful agricultural world. Another, Ahabar, although more cosmopolitan, is largely peaceful, except for one region of the planet, Voorstad, which has been settled by a violent and vicious patriarchal culture, the mutated and distorted descendent, apparently, of some mad fusion of Irish, South African Boer, and Iranian terrorist groups. The plot of Raising the Stones is enormously complex. Half a dozen dif ferent civilizations are involved, each with its own economic patterns, religious beliefs, and cultural imperatives. Ultimately, however, everything centers on sparsely-populated Hobbs Land where something very strange is taking place. The first humans on that world, a generation earlier, discovered the Owl brit, a profoundly boring and nearly extinct indigenous race whose only claim to fame was the fact that their gods, although ambiguous and uncommunicative, were apparently real. The last of the Owlbrit died, with no help from humanity, soon after settlers landed on the planet, followed a few decades later by the last of their gods. Now, however, new gods have appeared on Hobbs Landing and they're taking control of the planet's human population, spreading peace and rationality. In most science-fiction stories where human beings have been telepathically subjugated by an alien race, as for example in Grass, the aliens are seen as monstrous. Frequently, the author sets up the alien psychic take-over to be symbolic of the dangers of dehumanization in an industrial society or as an excuse to raise one more paean to the indomitable, unbending (and generally male) human spirit. What has made Raising the Stones so controversial, how ever, is that Tepper apparently sees the possession of humanity by the alien gods as an entirely good thing. The citizens of Hobbs Land still seem to have free will. The alien presence that they carry within them merely dampens their tendency towards irrational fear and anger, thus allowing them to look at problems more logically and, hence, more peacefully. Further, it makes suggestions, which it doesn't actually enforce, as to proper condud. Evangelical in its own quiet way, it convinces the humans it has infested to spread it to the other inhabited planets and moons of the solar system. Tepper provides plenty of action. Her Voorstoders, human monsters reminiscent of the men of the Holdfast in Suzy McKee Charnass' Walk to the End of the World (1974), are bent on system-wide conquest and are per-


SFRA Newsletter, 785, March 7997 63 fectly willing to use rape, torture, and genocide to get their way. At least three other armed forces are also involved, and there are several military confrontations. Ultimately, however, what engages reader interest are Tepper's ideas. Disquieting, upsetting, and contrary to much of what our culture teaches, they are nonetheless subtly persuasive. The entire panoply of heroic mythology that has structured human civilization from the very first, is it innately self-destructive, something we'd be better off without? Have the citizens of Hobbs Land given up their free will to a monster or have they simply been granted the ability to use their free will in a rational fashion? Are they, with their newly acquired telepathic abilities, inhuman or superhuman? Do they represent the end of the human race or a form of transcendence? Raising the Stones is a very well done book, clearly one of the best science fiction novels of the year. It is also an intensely subversive novel, one sure to provoke controversy for years to come. Michael M. Levy Time Detectives West, Pamela. 20/20 Vision NY: Ballantine/Del Rey, 1990. 228 p. $3.95. 0345-36736-7. 20/20 Vision is an interesting combination of two genres, the time travel story and the detective novel. It is, however, quite different in spirit from such SF classics as Kuttner's "Private Eye." In 1995, a lovely young cellist is mysteriously murdered in a college music room. In 2020, Max, the po liceman who found the dying girl, still broods over his inabil ity to solve the case, and in 2040, two crime archivists attempt to use time travel and te lepathy to solve this "perfect crime." The futuristic detectives can alter the past only in minimal ways, however, and their first attempts go awry because they assume that Max is actually the murderer. Then one of them enlists her younger self, an abnormally brilliant seven year old deeply involved in computer gaming, in sending Max back in time to the scene of the crime, each time arriving a little earlier, until he realizes who must have committed the murder. As with many detective novels, the characterization is weak. Max is a pretty standard detective, earnest as a young man and embittered in middle age; the seven year old is entirely too clever-one wonders why she ended up as such a dull adult. However, the narrative, which shifts between the three dates, is well constructed and literate, with a neat if predictable end, and the three futures, as the air grows more polluted and the ozone layer decays, are all too believable. Recommended. Lynn F. Williams


64 SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 .............. JUVENILE SECTION ............... A Young Rebel Barrett,Neal Jr. Dawn's Uncertain Light NY: New American Library, July 1989.252 p. $3.95. 0-451-16074-6. Long after a war which obliterated Europe and decimated the rest of the world, humans are still fighting among themselves. Howie's sister had been Chosen by the government to go to Silver Island, a veritable paradise. Soldiers killed Howie's parents, and he retaliated, losing an eye in the process. Finding his way to Silver Island, he discovered its real purpose and what had happened to his sister. That's when his real mission begins. This is the story of a young rebel whose deeds are already known through out what's left of the US. He is maneuvered from one situation to another, and always reads so naively that one wonders how he survived to become the legend he seems to be. From Florida to California, from fugitive to tool, he simply wanders into one situation after another. The background for this story has some interesting premises, but the char aderizations are weak and it's difficult to get interested in what's happening. If nothing else is available, this might entertain for an hour or so. W. O. Stevens Some Fine Modern Humor Gunnarsson, Thorarinn. Make Way for Dragons. NY: Ace, 1990, $3.95, 215 p. It is sad that cover-artist Rowena Morrill did not pay closer attention (0 the dragons in Thorarinn Gunnarsson's tale, Make Way for Dragons. Cover art often is all the potential reader has to recommend a particular book and the dragon on the cover of this novel resembles a garden-variety skink more than the "really beautiful beings, golden-scaled with long, sapphire-blue manes that tailed down the lengths of their sinuous necks, silver horns and immense green eyes" (27-8). This is a multi-layered tale: a tale of maturation, a tale of good/eVil, and a tale of relationships. But most of all it is a love story. Of course, it has a happy ending, but an ending so unexpected that it caught this reviewer totally off guard. It is also a funny story. The adjustments required for an intelligent dragon to deal with twentieth-century technology is just plain humorous. Dalvenjah, the golden dragon, is trying to order a pizza over the phone; she gets a wrong number but finally gets the deed done. The conversation between the dragon and the pizza-person is some of the finest modern humor to be written for a while. (54-5) The story is also an exercise in communication and the use of language. Dalvenjah says to Allen, the hero: Words have no power in themselves. They are just the tools we use in making magic do what we want from iL'


SFRA Newsletter, 185, March 1991 .. Allen protested ... .'What else is there but words?' 'Oh, words are only shadow things.' She insisted. When you would command a thing, you must first know it .... As you learn the nature of that thing, it will reveal to your mind its shape and form .... Since we think always in words, your mind will ... translate that thought into the sounds of the spoken words.' (48-9) 65 This is a book about a crazy world and it is a help in dealing with the crazy world we live in today. The intended audience is teen-agers but there is much in it for jaded adults as well. Ann Hitt The Princess and the Dragon Wrede, Patricia C. Dealing With Dragons. San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (jane Yolen Books), 1990. 212 p. $15.95. 0-15222900-0. The story is simple: threatened with marriage to a handsome prince, a sixteen-year-old princess runs away from home, avoids being rescued, and has adventures. Having eschewed courtty dancing, embroidery, drawing, etiquette, etc., Cimorene turns to juggling, fencing, magic, economics, Latin, and cooking, moving from one to the next as her parents learned of each improper inter est. Also, she recognizes and heeds good advice when she hears it. Thus, fleeing home and the prince, and finding herself suddenly in the company of dragons, Cimorene has a practical answer to the suggestion that they eat her: "I make cherries jubilee, and I volunteer for dragons, and I conjugate Latin verbs." So Kazul, a female dragon whose hoard includes a library of Latin scrolls that need cataloguing and whose household includes neither a captive princess nor a cook, takes her on. Cimorene's fellow characters include, besides the local dragons, some hopeful rescuer-princes, a respectable witch, some other captive princesses, her former fiance, a magic-poaching wizard, a nearly-turned-to-stone prince. She learns that dragons are magic, that spells are for the using, that honor and friendship and trust have true worth. But the ending toward which every thing moves isn't neatly conventional, and Dealing With Dragons contains welcome revisionist gender-lore (including a wonderful explanation of wizards' dependence on their staffs.) The tone and incidents balance on the edge of frivolity, playing with fantasy conventions without demeaning them or fantasy's psychoreactive, experiential dimension. In short: a delightful book for your library and your young-adult friends; as it's the first of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, I'm looking forward to the others. Rosemarie Arbur


SFRA Newsletter BULK RATE Hypatia Press u.s. POSTAGE PAID EUGENE, OR 360 West First PERMIT #317 Eugene, OR 97401 DATED MATERIAL-DO NOT DELAY


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