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]
Publication Date:


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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Place of publication varies.

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
S67-00056-n164-1989-01_02 ( USFLDC DOI )
s67.56 ( USFLDC Handle )

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SFRA newsletter.
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Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
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b Science Fiction Research Association]
c January/February, 1989
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x History and criticism
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Book reviews
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Book reviews
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The SFRA Newsletter Published ten times a vear bv The Science Fiction Research Associa tion. Copyright 'e; 1989 by the SFRA. Address editorial correspon dence to SFRA Newsletter, English Dept., Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431 (Tel. 407-367-3838). Editor: Robert A. Collins; Associate Editor: Catherine Fischer; Editor: Rob Latham; Film Editor: Ted Krulik; Book Ncws Editor: Martin A. Schneider; EditOlial Assistallt: Jeanette Lawson. Send changes of address to the Secretary, enquiries concerning subscriptions to the Treasurer, listed below. SFRA Executive Committee President Elizabeth Anne Hull Liberal Arts Division William Rainey Harper College Palatine, Illinois 60067 Vice-President Neil Barron 1149 Lime Place Vista, California 92083 Secretary David G. Mead English Department Corpus Christi State University Corpus Christi, Texas 78412 Treasurer Thomas J. Remington English Department University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614 Immediate Past President William H. Hanlesty English Department Miami Universitv Oxford, Ohio 45il56 Past Presidents of SFRA Thomas D. Clareson (1970-76) Arthur O. Lewis, Jr. (1977-78) Joe De Bolt (1979-80) James Gunn (1981-82) Patricia S. Warrick (1983-84) Donald M. Hassler (1985-86) Past Editors of the Newsletter Fred Lerner (1971-74) Beverly Friend (1974-78) Roald Tweet (1978-81) Elizabeth Anne Hull (1981-84) Richard W. Miller (1984-87) Pilgrim Award Winnel's .I. O. Bailey (1970) Marjorie Hope Nicolson (1971) Julius KagarJitski (1972) .Tack Williamson (1973) I. F. Clarke (1974) Damon Knight (1975) .lames 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)


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 President's Message As I write this, the new SFRA officers are looking forward to our first official face-to-face Executive Committee meeting in late Januarythough we've all been in touch with each other several times since the election results were announced in November. From Texas. Ohio. Florida, California, Iowa, and elsewhere I've been receiving items for our agenda which looks as if it'll be a crowded one. One thing is clear at this point: our top priority must be to work effectively to rebuild the membership we've lost in the past several years. A further decline would jeopardize tilt: whole organization. while merely remaining as we are would seriously impair our ability to function as we have in the past, or perhaps necessitate a decrease in our benefit package and/or an additional dues increase. As it stands, our package of membership benefits is quite attractive and a "good buy" for serious scholars of science Fiction and fantasy. But we need to make ourselves known to those who need us as much as we need them. The best way to recruit is the "each one bring one" method -each one of you may know of a colleague who ought to be a member of SFRA, perhaps even a previous member who has not renewed simply as an oversight, a dropout who should be invited to reconsider. If you haven't already renewed, please do so now while you're thinking of it. And if you have already rencwed for yourself, please use the membership application in this issuc to pass along to another candidate. Should you require additional brochures, contact Bill Hardesty (or any of the officers) for a supply. Any member going to a regional MLA, PCA. IAFA, or other professional gathering where people seriously intersted in SF/F will be attending should likewise let us know where to send more forms. My husband, an experienced leader of unruly organizations as a former president of both SFW A and World SF, tells me that the first message of a new president is invariably devoted to an agenda [or changes to be implemented during his or her term. Then nothing is done about any of these ideas ever after. I'll try to break that pattern by saving such a column for later. For now, may you all live long and prosper in 1989. Elizabeth AI/I/e HIIIl


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 Hardesty's Farewell Last November I started to comment on what I consider the real business of SFRA, the serious study of SF and allied genres. J said that, to avoid the charge that we're "second-rate critics of second-rate authors." we have to approach SF as we do any other literature we study and teach. What I mean is that, although wc are fans first, we cannot be fans only -or even fans foremost when we arc writing for our profes sional journals. speaking at profcssionalmcetings, or working with stu dents. Our affection for speculative fiction must not lead us to make excuses or to cut intellectual corners. Most SF writers from pioneers like Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke through masters like Le Guin, Delany, and Benfurd to the new writers whose debuts appear in recent issues of Analog or Isaac Asilllol"s -are superb entertainers who occasiunally say something profound. Docs this make them "second-rate"? The burden of disproof outside our little world is on us. We must demonstrate \',Titers' qualities without making exaggerated claims for them (claims. to be sure. that often arise from a need to defend their good points). We must analyze their work more thoroughly, without avoiding elements we find faulty and without excusing those faults by "ghettoizing" real achievements. If we don't act in this way, I think we risk perpetuating the suspicion (even disdain) in which we and SF arc held by academics in other fields. And rightly so, if we thereby signal a belief that our texts will not stand up to rigorous analysis in the way that some traditional texts will. Worse, we may be signalling a belief that, even if the texts should stand up, we fear to do the analysis -or are not capable of doing it, or are too lazy to do it. We thus confirm that we're "second-rate critics." Our current situation presents both a danger and an opportunity, for the litcrary canon is presently under reconsideration. The danger to us comes from those who wish, on whatever grounds and in whatever way, to preserve the canon. Since they will defend strongly against any attempt to broaden the list of "accepted" texts, they will use against us any exaggeration or lack of rigor on our part. But an opportunity exists because defenders of the status quo are no longer a huge majority. More and more of our colleagues arc willing to listen to our cases for SF writers indeed. there's probably never been a better time to make a case for non-traditional writers. Our resolve should be to pl'"esent our arguments in the strongest possible way, avoiding work


SFRA Newsletter, No. 164, January/February 1989 that supports the charge of second-rate. We owe this, I think, not just to ourselves we owe it to SF. A personal note to end this last column. I've enjoyed being an officer of SFRA for the last seven years, especially the two as your president, and I intend to continue to serve in both SF and SFRA. After all, as rYe implied above, great work awaits us. Thanks for listening. William H. Hardes'" III Etlitorial Read This! Less than half of those receiving this issue (1]9 out of 308) have thus far renewed their membership in SFRA for 1989. Meanwhile, hard times have caught up with the treasury -Tom Remington reports that we have barely enough cash on hand to pay for this issue, after renewing our collective subscriptions to Extrapolation and Science Fiction SllIdies. So this will be all there is, folks, unless the rest of you 11Ish Tight ollt and post the enclosed renewal f01711 alollg with YOllr allnllal dlles.' The Executive Committee is not empowered to conduct business on a deficit spending basis. For that reason. you will also find another enclosure in this issue -a mail request for a bylaws change concerning the Newsletter. Those bylaws currently require ten issues a year an impossibility unless you all renew promptly (or we regress technologically to handwritten sheets pressed on spirit jelly). To meet the crisis the Executive Committee needs authority to vary the frequency of publication. This issue is also quite slender, as you have undouhtedly noticed by now. The EC has already chopped the number of pages by one third. until sufficient income appears to finance a return to normal size. That means we can't offer you the lead review article on Cyberpunk fiction advertised in the December issue -or indeed. any more feature articles until the membership rises to a level guaranteed to support costs. We are holding articles on James Tiptree, Jr., J. G. Ballard, the latest Cyberpunk fiction, and several other topics until the fiscal clouds clear, or until decency forces us to return them to their authors. If this publication is important to you. there are three things you can do: (a) Pay your dues promptly, (b) get others to pay and join, (c) find us a publisher willing to print and mail at cost (see my editorial in the December issue). The days when comfortable surpluses made it possible


SFRA Newsletter, No. 164, January/February 1989 for SFRA officers to be laissez-faire about annual membership renewals are gone, probably forever. It's pay as you go, "no tickee, no laumlry" -no March issue unless we have your dues on hand. And no, we're not kidding. -RobCltA. Collills SFRAXX The twentieth annual meeting of SFRA, scheduled for June 22-25, will meet at the Marcum Conference Center on the campus of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. Accomodations will be at the Miami Inn, also on the campus. Rates are $65 single, $71 douhk -each room contains a queen-sized hed and a full-sized sofa bed. Transportation from the Cincinnati airport will be provided by van, and meals are available at the Inn as well as the Marcum center, the University Center, and at numerous restaurants in Oxford, less than a mile away. Sessions will begin late Thursday and continue through Sunday morning's business meeting. Two morning and two afternoon sessions are planned. Authors' readings will be scheduled in the evenings on Thursday and Friday, with the annual Pilgrim Banquet on Saturday night. The banquet, hospitality room, and coffee and pastries during the day, are to be included in the conference fee, tentatively set at $80. The list of visiting authors is not yet complete. See call for papers, elsewhere in this issue. Oueries and registration checks (for rooms as well as conference fees) should go to William H. Hardesty Ill, SFRA Con ference Director, English Department, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056. Call (513) 5295221. Pilgrim Award Committee The committee to select the 1989 Pilgrim Award winner will include Brian Attebery (Idaho State), Adam Frisch (Sioux City, IA), Joan Gordon (Commack, NY), and Veronica Hollinger (Concordia University, Montreal). Attebery will serve as chairperson. For mailing addresses, check the directory. The committee wecomes nominations from the membership.


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 Callfor Papers: SFRA XX SCIENCE FICTION RESEARCH ASSOCIATION 1989 ANNUAL MEETING MIAMI UNIVERSITI' OXFORD, OHIO 22 JUNE 1989 Sessions and paper proposals are invited on all tOPICS. Ifyoll're looking for ideasPapers and proposals OIl the following topics have .special relevance for this twentieth SFR4 meeting: THE LAST TWENTI' YEARS IN SPECULATIVE FICTION SFRA MEMBER AUTHORS TWENTY YEARS OF SFRA AND SF SCHOLARSHIP SCIENCE FICTION IN, FROM, AND ABOUT THE MIDWEST THE PILGRIM AWARD AND PILGRIMS' CRITICISM THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS IN SPECULATIVE FICTION Send all proposals fOl' sessions, abstmcts, and papers to: William H, Hardesty III Confel'ence Direetm', SFRA XX Derpartment of English Miami University Oxford, Ohio 45056 U.S,A, (513) 529 DEADLINE FOR RECEIPT OF PROPOSALS AND AB STRACTS IS 1 APRIL. 198<). You should be a member of SFRA to prescnt a paper. If you're not, an application form will be sent to you when your proposal, abstract. or paper is received. 7


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 Philip K. Dick Award The earliest award of 1989 is the PKD award, given each year in February to the best original paperback science fiction novel of the previous year. This year's balloting produced the award's first tie vote for the winner: bet\veen Paul J. McAuley's FOllr HlIl1dred Billiol1 Stars (Del Rey) and Rudy Rucker's Wetware (Avon). Others on the final ballot were D. Alexander Smith's Rel1dezl'OlIs (Ace), Roger McBride Allen's O'phal1 of Creatiol1 (Baen), Rebecca Orr's Becomil1g Aliel1 (Tor), and Marc Laidlaw's Neol1 LotliS (Bantam). Judges were Kim Stanley Robinson, Mike McQuay, Eleanor Arnason, Michael Levy and Charles Platt. Call For Papers A special issue of Library Trel1ds, dealing with SF, fantasy and horror collections in the library, will be edited by George E. Slusser and Daryl F. Mallet of the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection at the University of CaliforniaRiverside. Papers should be 10-12 pages long, and may deal with any aspect of SF literature and its place in libraries (i.e. how it is catalogued, how it is viewed in the library, etc.). Deadline for papers is .June I, 1989. Send queries or completed papers to Daryl F. MalleU, Rivera Library, Special Collections, University of California Riverside, Box 5900, River side CA 92517. (Call 714-787-3233.) By Neil Barron An index to the first 40 issues of FOlll1dation (March 1972-Summer 1987), is now available. Edited bv the current FOlllldatioll editor, Edward .J ames, this 108 page stapled booklet provides an extremely detailed index by author, by article lille, by authors of the autobiographical series "The Profession of Science Fiction," by authors of books reviewed, and finally hy subject. The latter is the longest section (41 pages) and tries to list "all references to authors and their individual works," with major references in boldface. Items listed in other indexes, notably the book reviews, are excluded here, but the many detailed letters are included.


SFRA Newsletter, No. 164, January/February 1989 There are also selective entries by theme. The index is $6 (.95), and it's easiest to send cash these days unless you have a British bank account: an international money order will cost $3 in fees and take six weeks to arrive, and bank charges for clearing foreign checks are outrageous no organization can afford them. Back issues from No.'s 17 to 43 have been reduced in price from $6 to $4 provided the index is ordered at the same time. If I had to chose a single journal devoted to SF, it would be FOllndation. Subscriptions are $17 (surface), $21 (air). Write to SF Foundation, North East London Polytechnic, Longbridge Road, Dagenham, Essex RM8 2AS, England. Another foreign journal recently indexed is A Rel'iew of Speclilatil'e Literatllre, edited by Van Ikin of the English Department, University of Western Australia [Nedlands WA 6009]. which is published three times yearly. Issue No. 27, published last fall, contains a 44-page index to issues 1-26 (Vols. 1-9). The index is in two equal parts, author and subject, and book reviews and notices, the last section arranged alphabetically by the authors of the books reviewed. The index is $5 Australian, while subscrip tions to the journal are $20 surface mail, $35 air mail, also in Australian currency. UMI Research Press [300 N. Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 58106] has announced a sale including eleven titles in the Speculative Fiction series edited by Robert Scholes (among other titles) at prices ranging from $10 to $30 (UMI titles are usually $30-$50). Call toll-free (800-521-0600 in the U.S., 800 = 343-5299 in Canada) for a copy of the November/December Book News containing a 4-page insert listing sale titles. Two new titles in the series are Lawrence R. Broer, Sanity Plea: Schizophrenia in the Novels of KIll1 Vonnegllt, $39.95, forthcoming. and Louis Gross, Redefining the Allle/iean Gothic: Frolll Wieland to Day oIthe Dead, $39.95, just published. A new series, "Challenging the Literary Canon," designed to study works outside the "accepted" lists, is announced in the same issue of UMl's Book News; it looks moderately innovative. Harlan Ellison is selling cars (Chevrolet's new Geo import) on West Coast TV, but the on-screen legend avoids the "sci-fi" onus by identifying him, chastely, as a "Noted Futurist." Out of the ghetto at last! Meanwhile Houghton Mifflin has gone to a third printing of AngTY Candy, his 1988 hardcover fiction collection, but Ruth Hapgood. his editor. reports that Last Dangerolls Visions is still in limbo. A fairly comprehensive list of recent and forthcoming nonfiction titles will appear in next month's Newsletter, if there is one (sec editorial). Please send me your lists of possible nell' 11lelllbas as soon as you can. I 9


SFRA Newsletter, No. 164, January/February 1989 will have some new proposals for membership benefits in the near future also. --Neil Bmmll Special Issues: Illtelview for January, 1989, is a "Special Future Issue," with fiction by Isaac Asimov and J. G. Ballard, an interview with William Gibson, articles linking SF to contemporary art, commercial design. SF is the "Special Focus" of Al1lelicall Book Review for January/February [$2.50, Publications Center, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder CO 80309]. u.s. Commercial Releases January Paperbacks: ANTHONY, PIERS. Clllster. $2.95. Avon reissue. SF. ASIMOY, JANET. Milld nallsIer. $3.95. Ace. SF. BOLTON, JOHANNA. TIle Aliell Withill. $3.50. Ballantine. SF. BRUNNER, JOHN. Childrell oITIlwlder. $4.50. Del Rey. SF. BYERS, RICHARD LEE. Deathward. $3.95. New Infinities. Horror. De LINT, CHARLES. Sl'alza. $3.50. Ace. Fantasy. DENNIS, CAROL L. Dragoll 's Knight. $3.95. Popular Library. Fantasy. DICKSON, GORDON R. TIle Emthlords. $3.95. Ace. Fantasy. GEAR, W. MICHAEL. the T#lY of Spider, #2 in the Spider Trilogy. $3.95. DAW. SF. ------. TIle Waniors of Spider. $3.95. DAW reissue. SF. HOGAN, JAMES P. TIl/ice UpOIl a Time. $3.95. SF. KAGAN, JANET. Star Trek #21: Uhllra's SOllg. $3.95. Pocket Books reissue. SF. KERR, DARKSPELL. Darkspell. $3.95. Del Rey, previosly a Doubleday he. Fantasy. LACKEY, MERCEDES. Oath breakers: Book II: Vows alld HOllar. $3.95. DAW. Fantasy. ------. TIl(' OalhiJolllld: Book I: kim's alld HOllar. $3.50. DAW reissue. Fantasy. LAGOWSKI, BARBARA and RICK MUMMA. Teell Tel71lillators. $3.50. Berkley. SF. LEE, WARNER. Illto the Pit. $3.95. Pocket Books. Horror. LORRAH, JEAN. Star Trek: TIle Next Gelleratioll #4: A QlIestioll of Secwity. $3.95. Pocket Books. SF. PLATT, CHARLES. Free ZOlle. $3.50. Avon. SF. PROCTOR, GEO. W. Stellar Fist. $3.50. Ace. SF. 10


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 SALMONSON, JESSICA AMANDAA Si/Fer Thread of Madlless. $3.50. Ace. Fantasy collection. SHERMAN, DELIA Throllgh a Brazell A/ilmr. $3.50. Ace. Fantasy. SMITH, STEPHANIE A The Boy U!JlO Was 771rowll Away. $3.50. DAW Fantasy. ------. Sllow-Eves. $3.50. DAW reissue. Fantasy. WATKINS, WILLIAM JOHN. TIle Last Deathship off Alltares. $3.95. Popular Library. SF. WU, WILLIAM F. D,; BOlles: TIle Cosmic Bomber. $3.50. Ace. SF. ZED DIES, ANN TONSOR. Deathgift. $3.95. SF. February Paperbacks: ANDERSON, POUL. Space Folk. $3.50. Baen. SF. ASIMOV, ISAAC and MARTIN H. GREENBERG. Isaac Asimo\' Presellts: TI/(: Great SF StOlies: 19. $4.50. DAW SF collection. BISCHOFF, DAVID F. and THOMAS F. MONTELEANE. Dragollstar DestillY, concludes the Dragonstar Trilogy. $3.50. Ace. SF. BOYLL, RANDALL. After SllI/dOWIl. $3.95. Charter. Horror. BRETNOR, REGINALD, ed. TIle Flltllre at War: Vol. lll: Olioll's Sword. $3.50. SF anthology. COLE, ALLAN and CHRIS BUNCH. Revellge of the Damlled. $3.95. Ballantine. SF. COOK, RICK. Wizard's Balle. $3.50. Baen. Fantasy. COSTELLO, SEAN. Edell's Eves. $3.95. Pocket Books. Horror. COVILLE, BRUCE. TIle DllIigeoll: J;()l. II: The Dark Abyss. $3.95. Bantam/Spectra. SF. DRAKE. DAVID. Vellills alld His FlielUis. $3.95. Baen. Fantasy. ------. Rallks of Brollze. $3.50. Bacn reissuc. SF. EGAN, DORIS. The Gate of Ivory. $3.95. DAW SF. EMERSON, RU. 011 the Seas of Destiny, The Third Tale of Nedao. $3.50. Ace. Fantasy. FEIST, RAYMOND E. Faelie Tale. $4.95. Bantam/Spectra. Fantasy. FONTANA, D. C. Star 7i"ek #44: l/it/call 's Glory. $3.95. Pockel Books. SF. GARDNER, CRAIG SHAW A Disagrcement with Death, third in The Ballad of Wuntvor series. $3.50. Acc. Fantasy humorous. GERROLD, DAVID. A Maller for Mell, first in The War Against the Chlorr series. $4.50. Bantam/Spectra. SF. GOLDIN, STEPHEN. O),slals Of Air alld THaer. $3.95. Bantam/Spectra. Fantasy. GOODMAN, LAURIE.A Spell of Deceit. $3.50. Del Rcy. Fanlasy. HERBERT, FRANK and BILL RANSOM. TIle Ascellsioll Factor. $4.50. 11


SFRA Newsletter, No. 164, January/February 1989 Ace. SF. HUGHES, EDWARD P. Masten of the Fist. $3.50. Baen. SF. LAUMER, KEITH. Reward for Retief. $3.95. Baen. SF. ------. TIze Retzll71 of Retief. $3.95. Baen reissue. SF. LeGUIN, URSULA K TIle Dispossessed. $3.95. Avon reissue. SF. McCAULEY, PAUL J. FOllr HlIlldred Billioll Stars. $3.50. Ballantine. SF. McDEVITT, JACKA Talelllfor War. $3.95. Ace. SF. POHL, FRED ERIK and JACK WILLIAMSON. TIze Starcllild TTilogy. $3.95. Baen reissue. SF. RAHMAN, GLENN. Heir of Darklless. $3.95. New Infinities. Horror. REYNOLDS, TED. TIle Tides of God. $3.50. Ace. SF. ROBERSON, JENNIFER. Dallghter of the LiOll. $3.95. DA W. Fantasy. ROHAN, MICHAEL SCOTT. TIle Winter of the World: Vol. J: TIle Anvil of Ice. $3.50. Avon, previously a William Morrow he. Fantasy. SAN SOUCI, ROBERT D. Dreamillg. $3.50. Berkley. Horror. SAPERSTEIN, DAVID. Red DCI'il. $3.95. Berkley. Horror. SNYDER, MIDORI. New Moon, Book One of The Queen's Quarter. $3.95. Ace. Fantasy. SPRUILL, STEVEN. TIle Paradox Planet. $3.95. Bantam/Spectra. SF. STITH, JOHN C. Deep Qlla17Y. $3.50. Ace. SF humorous. TALLIS, ROBYN. Planet Bllilders: Rebel from Alphorion. $2.95. Ivy Books. YA SF. VARDEMAN, ROBERT E.Allciellt Heavells. $3.50. Avon. SF. Trade Books: AIKEN, JOAN. Give }ollrse!f a Flight: TIlil1een Tales of the SlIpematztral. $14.95 he. Delacorte Press. YA supernatural. February 2, 1989. BANKS, IAN M. TIle Player of Games. $16.95 he. SI. Martin's Press. SF. February 22,1989. COLE, BURT. TIle QlIick. $17.95 he. William Morrow. SF. February 15, 1989. JETER, K W. Farwell Hol7zolllal. $16.95 he. St. Martin's Press. SF. February 21, 1989. KURTZ, KATHERINE. TIle Hmmwing of Gwynedd, Vol. I of The Heirs of Saint Camber. $17.95 he. Del Rcy. Fantasy. LINDSKAAG, KATHYRN. TIle C. S. Lewis Hoax. $11.95 he. Multnomak. Non-fiction. November 1988. NEVILLE, KATHERINE. TIle Eight. $18.95. Ballantine. Fantasy. WEAVER, MICHAEL D. NI' Falherlml7l0l1al. $16.95 he. SI. Martin's Press. SF. 1989. 12


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 IReviewsl Non-Fiction SFIF Bibliography Brown, Charles N. & William G. Contento, camps. Sciellce Fictioll, Fall tasy, & Honnl': 1987: a cOl7lprehellsi!'e bibliograph.I' of books alld sl/(m fictioll pllblished ill the Ellglish lallguage. Locus Press IBox 13305, Oak land, CA 94661],1988, xiv + 417p. $47 he. 0-9616629-4-8. This is the third Locus press index, following the 1985 (237p., $37) and 1986 (347p., $47) volumes (all prices in this review include a $2 delivery charge). It's the biggest yet, listing 2954 U.S. and UK books from 530 publishers and indexing 5782 shorter works. mostly fiction. The author alllititie lists for books and short fiction take up 60% of the book. Original (not reprinted) books are listed separately, in 54 pages even though they're identified by an asterisk in the main book list and their numbers are included in Brown's book summary statistics. Books are then briel1y listed by subject (SF, fantasy, horror novels, novelizations, anthologies, reference. etc.). A contents list indexes anthologies, collections and magazines, usefully giving pagination and length. Locus Press \vill issue a volume covering 1984 titles this year in order to close the gap following Contento's Illdex to Sciellce Fictioll rll1lhologies alld Co{{cctiolls: 1977-1983 (now available from Locus Press for $62) and the TWACI magazine indexes. Appendices include book and magazine summaries by Brown, a film summary by Frank N. Robinson. useful recommended reading lists by LOCllS contributors, major awards, a necrology (which should have been cross-referenced to the original LoClls obituaries), a selective list of publisher addresses (heavy on specialty presses), and a list of abbrevia tions (fewer this time. thankfully). An important limitation of this hook is indicated in the first sentence of its preface: "The data in this book is [sic] based upon the monthly Books Received columns in LOCIIS, and includes books and magazines seen between January and December checked and corrected when necessary and often ""ith expanded comments. This means that some 1986 books first seen in 1987 are included. but some 1987 books not seen until 1988 are excluded. Brown has told mc his major emphasis is on fiction. although he lists "most nonfiction." Most. but by no means all: the bibliography in my critical survcy in The Scicnce Fictioll and Fantasy Book RC1'iclV Annllal: 1988 (Meckler) lists a number of 1987 nonfiction books


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 not indexed here, although Brown may have learned of some in 1988. I would prefer that the calendar year refer to the true year of publication, though, since it would be easy to add the laggards by the mid-year editorial cutoff date. I'd also like to see non-fiction grouped more sensibly. "Reference" is a term having specific meaning for libraries, the principal market for this book. A more useful division would be: general reference, history and criticism, author studies, film and TV, and art and illustration. I'd also like to have essay collections indexed, or at least have their contents listed, just as fiction collections are. Later this year the retrospective 1984 volume will appear, along with the volume covering 1988, which I hope isn't delayed as long as the ]987 volume was (my copy arrived in mid-January). Limitations aside. these bibliographies are easily the most complete available. Larger libraries should acquire, along with serious collectors and bibliophiles. Neil BalTOIl Expanded and Revised? Well ... Crabbe, Kathar),ll W. f.R.R. Tolkim. Revised and Expanded Edition. Crossroad/Ungar/Continuum, 1988, 233p. $9.95 trade pb. 0-8044-6106-6. When this book was first published in 1981, it received deserved critical praise. After a nicely-done chapter on the major details of and influences in Tolkien's life, Crabbe devoted a chapter each to The Hobbit, 77ze Lord of the Rillgs, and 77le Sillllalillioll, discussing these works as fairy tale, legend, and myth, respectively. Her use of these critical terms is accurate (although she has missed some pertinent folktale scholarship that would have enhanced her discussion of The Hobbit), and they provide a much needed way of distinguishing among and also comparing those three major works. The 198] edition also contained a fifth chapter dealing with Tolkien's shorter works, both fiction and criticism: these Crabbe discussed both on their own terms and as they interweave with the larger works. She concluded the book with a brief Envoi, notes to the chapters, a bibliog raphy which includes both works by and about Tolkien, and an index. The 1988 "revised and expanded edition" is something of a disappoint ment because the materials from the first edition are reproduced almost without change. The first five chapters are precisely the same. A new chapter entitled "The Quest Continues" has been added to deal with 77le Book of Lost Tales, 77le Lays of Beleliand, "The Lay of Lethian," "The Quenta," and Unfinished Tales. These works are discussed briefly and succinctly, and Crabbe locates them nicely in the general corpus. Between this new chapter and the end of the book, however, less than the bare minimum has been added. The Envoi remains the same. and the index contains the least possible number of additions needed to accomodate the 14


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 new chapter. Worst of all, the bibliography which was adequate in 1981 has been neither revised nor expanded. No new critical works have been added to the list of works consulted, nor have the works discussed in the new chapter been added to the bibliography of Tolkien's books. This is certainly a caveat emptor situation. Crabbe's book still contains good commentary and will probably continue to be useful for those new to Tolkien criticism. But the potential buyer should know that there has been no real revision and only a limited expansion of the original material. -C. W SlIlIivan III The Mother of Science Fiction Phy, Allene Stuart. Mal)' Shelley. Starmont House, Mercer Island, WA, 1988, 124p. $17.95 hc. 0-93026J-()1-S. $9.95 trade pb. -60-7. [Starmont Reader's Guide #36] There is no dearth of information and opinion about Mary Shelley and her writings: a dozen generally competent biographies, at least as many studies of Frankenstein and its influence, many discussions of her life and work in both scholarly and popular works about her famous husband and parents, frequent treatments in histories of science fiction, horror film, the Romantic period, etc. It would seem that still another volume on the subject is unnecessary. Nevertheless, Phy's short study of the life and works of this still somewhat neglected "mother of science fiction" ac complishes what it sets out to do: "to provide, in readily accessible form, a concise overview of Mary's literary work, along with an assessment of .her importance to English literature and popular culture." Those who wish to pursue the subject further will find the annotated bibliography useful and relatively up-to-date (omission of references to William Vceder's 1986 study of androgyny in Frankenstein and Harold Bloom's recent Chelsea House collections of critical essays being evidence of delays in publication, not scholarly neglect). Phy accepts the generally recognized view that Mary's nearidolatry of her illustrious parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, and her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, explains much about her thoughts, actions, and writings throughout her life. She makes a good case for the pdwer of Godwin's utopianism, Wollstonecraft's feminism, and Shelley'S radicalism in shaping Mary's ideas. While acknowledging the often autobiographical nature of Mary's work, Phy indicates that this was rarely a mere rehash of her personal relationships with parents and husbaml, but more often the expression of a larger awareness of the intellect ual currents around her and of the life and works of the major and minor English and continental writers with whom she was on familiar terms. Although the reputation of Frankenstein has frequently eclipsed her 15


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 other writings, Mary Shelley was, in facL a popular author who, after the death of her husband, made her living by successful appeals to the public taste in fiction, biography, travel literature, and criticism. As might be expected, the chapters on Frankcnstein and its influence (Chapters IV, "Frankenstein: The Book and Its Reception," and V, "Fearsome Progeny") occupy more than a third of the book. and references to the subject of these chapters abound throughout. Nevertheless, Mary's other works all receive brief and often perceptive attention. The chapter on Mary's apocalyptic fantasy TIle Last Man suggests influences on the novel (DeFoe, Godwin), argues that it is one oflhe earliest of the inverted visions of the "romantic ideal" of man alone, and agrees in general with critics like Brian Aldiss, David Ketterer, Muriel Spark, and W Warren Wagar with regard to its importance to later novelists. The aptlytitled Chapter VIJI, on "Other Writings, Largely Forgotten," reminds us most effectively that these minor works "deserve attention ... for their merit as literary period pieces"; Phy's point that Mathilda, unpublished in Mary's lifetime, "demonstrates sustained creative energy" is especially well-taken. On the whole, Phy has used primary and secondary sources very well, and has succeeded in writing a useful introduction to her subject. -A'thl/r 0. Lcwis Checklists on the Cheap Stephenson-Payne, Phil & Gordon Benson,Jr., camps. C.wil!lf. K017l bill th 1988, 28p. $2.50/.50.1-871133-03-3. ___ Keith Lal/mer, 1988, 33p. $3.00/.75. -04-1. ___ .James Tiptree, h:. 1988, 20p. 2.00/.25. -OS-X. --:__ .. Jack Vance, 1988, 46p. $3.50/.50. -02-5. U.S. orders to Gordon Benson, Jr., Box 40494, Albuquerque, NM 87196; U.K. orders to Phil Stephenson-Payne, "Imladris," 25A Copgrove Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LSS 2SP. U.K. These pamphlet-length "working bibliographies" are part of a series begun by Benson and continued by Stephenson-Payne, who provides the British "Books Received" information for LoClls. Each booklet has birth/death dates, awards, pseudonyms, lists of short fiction by title, books (including reprints), series, poetry, articles. miscellaneous, non-fiction, edited books, media presentations, articles about the author, book review citations, and phantom titles. So far as I know, only Vance has had a separately published bibliography (Fantasms by Levack & Underwood, 1975). There's nothing elegant about these stapled. photocopied bibliog raphies. but they're current, cheap, and in print. If you're interested in these authors, or any of the other 25 or so in the series. either Benson or Stephenson-Payne can supply copies. As a courtesy. a Jollar or two should 16


SFRA Newsletter, No. 164, January/February 1989 be included to cover postage. -Neil Bamm Phoenix Undercooked Zaki, Hoda M. PhoellL Rellewed: TI,e SllIl'ival alld Mutatatioll [sic; of Utopiall TIrought ill N0I1h Amelicall Science Fiction, 1965 1982. Starmont House, Mercer Island, WA, 1988, viii + 151p. $17.95 he. 1-55742-007-6. $9.95 trade pb. -006-8. [Starmont Studies in Literary Criticism #22J There's an old Bob Newhart routine about the Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm-Door Company offering cheap fares by eliminating frills, "like radar and maintenance." Starmont House hasn't gone quite that far, but with the same sort of logic they've offered readers a no-frills Phoenix Rellewed without margins (to speak of), without serious editing, and, apparently, without much chance for the author to revise. (The book does include a set of appendices listing Nebula and Hugo Award winners, a selected bibliography, and an index.) These problems are unfortunate, since Hoda M. Zaki is a fine scholar capable of producing excellent work. Her Phoenix Renewed is interesting and useful, but one editing job and a revision short of excellence. The book, directed toward Zaki's colleagues in political science, asks whether the utopian impulse is moribund in twentieth century literature or, as various critics (such as Tom Moylan, in Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction and ti,e Utopian Imagination) have maintained, that it is "possible to proclaim the resuscitation of a tradition of political theory in the mass literature of science fiction." Her method is to examine the novels that won the Nebula Award in the period 1965 1982, with close attention to Ursula K. LeGuin's TIze Left Ha11d of Dmk11ess (1969) and TIze Dispos sessed (llJ74). Her conclusion is that only LeGuin's two works among the Nebula winners have any chance of being considered serious, holistic utopias -and LeGuin blew the chance: "In both novels we [findJ the political dimension ignored." Applying Hannah Arendt's definitions of "politics" and "political power" (by way of an essay by Sheldon Wolin in Salmagllndi), Zaki finds that In the fi11al a11a(vsis, LeGui11 's utopias are apolitical.... because the public domai11 is "ever p011rayed as the are11a through which desired cha11ge can be initiated a11d jitlfilled. TI,e political is neglected for the pel:w11allVorlds [sic; a11d the socia/.. .. Her 11egation of power politics has emerged as a 11egation of politics that cell tel's arou11d the public good a11d that ellfails a collectil'e mode of c.\]1C1ie11cc collectil'e cognition, debate, a11d actio11. Now, I like Arendt on politics and power in the real world. but I think her ideas should be applied pretty flexibly when dealing with fiction. After 17


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 all, most stories are told through the experiences of central characters, thus requiring an emphasis upon the personal. Such an emphasis need not obviate a larger social dimension: TIle Dispossessed tells us as much about the politics of Anarresti and Urrasti as More's Utopia tells us about the politics of the Utopians. Still, Zaki is correct in noting "the paucity and poverty of the political visions enunciated in science fiction" and the comment this makes on real-world (North) American politics in the late twentieth century. A radical at the University of Illinois at Urbana around 1967 said with much truth that the New Left saw the two great utopians of the century as Hitler and Stalin and wanted even less than the Old Left to offer visions of the day after the revolution. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew better in frankly proclaiming: "I have a dream." Perhaps we will get some truly radical dreaming if political theorists heed Zaki's call for "systematic reflection, research, and analysis" of science fiction and its "political significance as a vehicle of criticism contained in the popular culture" and if SF authors engage in productive dialogue with those theorists, using the theories for the profound play of dreaming better worlds. Richard D. Eliicll Fiction If This Goes On ... Anderson, Kevin J. ReslllTectioll, fllc. Signet, NY, 1988, 304p. $3.50 pb. 0-451-15409-6. Anderson's witty first novel explores the means and effects of tyranny in a technologically advanced society. The setting is the Bay Area Metroplex (future Los Angeles), a culture so self-contained that the rest of the United States is never mentioned and might as well not exist. The architect of this new world is Francois Nathans, founder of Resurrection, Inc. By merchandising "Servants," reanimated corpses that do the city's drudgework, Nathans has gained control over all social institutions. Dis placed workers ("blues") roam the streets hungry and demoralized, but Nathans has three potent means of controlling them: through the brutal Guild of Enforcers (euphemistically known as "conformance-assurance personnel"); through a cult religion, Neo-Satanism, that channels the energies of society'S least rational; and through control of the Net, a computer network with far greater surveillance capabilities than the two-way TV of 1984. Anderson shows us the Metroplex from the viewpoints of characters in all walks of life, giving us a compelling picture of the effects of tyranny 18


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 on both oppressors and oppressed. The two most important characters are Nathans and Donal, a Servant. Nathans originally created Servants to free "mankind from manual labor ... so people could spend their time thinking, philosophizing, educating themselves through the vast databases available through the Net." But this philanthropic motive has long since evaporated: Nathans feels the Metroplex's citizens have failed to live up to his vision, and now, like the Nazis, he dreams of a eugenics program "to scrape off the scum floating on the human gene pool." By choreographing a Neo-Satanist ceremony that culminates in a J onestown style mass suicide, Nathans plans to hasten his biocratic utopia. The Servants are the novel's richest, most thought-provoking creation. Programmed to follow orders impassively, Servants, like the robots in Capek's R.U.R., form a permanent underclass. Female Servants are sexual conveniences and, it is hinted, objects of sadistic abuse. Unlike other Servants, Donal is programmed to remember his death and former life. He is the result of a perverse experiment by Nathans, who is obsessed with knowing the nature of the afterlife. As Danai progressively regains his memory, he meets other Servant "Wakers." causing Danai as well as the reader to wonder whether "all Servants were ... wearing a false disguise to fool the humans." As with the Servants, there is a pervasive ambiguity surrounding all social groups as to whether they are fully alive or dead, human or machine; even personal identity is in jeopardy, for dissidents may be expunged from the Net or replaced by lookalikes. ReslllTectioll, Illc. is a richly detailed, allusive satire that brings to imaginative life the vision of an unbearable, but possible, future. The novel looks backward to the Nazi era and to such fictional dystopias as Orwell's 1984. It depicts a deterioration in the quality of life that is a disturbing extrapolation of certain trends in the 1980's. NeoSatanism is an exaggeration of the media-dependent fundamentalist Right. The sinister Enforcers are a comment on the increasing willingness of citizens to place law and order above individual freedoms. The uncomplaining, infinitely exploitable Servants suggest the growing callousness with which Americans have come to regard those at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. With its undistinguished, faintly lurid cover picture, its cheap paper stock, and its lack of margins, ReslllH'ctioll, file. is clearly slated for the planned obsolescence that is the destiny of most mass-market paperbacks. If it is true (as Robert Scholes, for example, has argued) that the best science fiction helps us to live decently and humanely in the present by permitting us a glimpse into the future, one certainly hopes that Anderson's fine novel will be reprinted soon in a more durable form. We/l((v Bousfield 19


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 A Dark and Complex Journey Aronica, Lou & Shawna McCarthy., eds. FilII Spec(f1l11l. Bantam/Spectra, NY, 1988, 483p. $4.95 pb. 0-553-27482-1. Can there be too much of a good thing? An editor I know has remarked "The problem with Full Spect11l11l is that it has too many stories in it." A story in a magazine may be seen by more readers, but one in an original anthology frequently gets more critical attention. But when an anthology features one 73-page novella and two dozen shorter works representing every fantastic genre (hence the volume's title), no brief review can possibly give each effort the attention it deserves. New writers are featured in Full Spect/wll to an encouraging extent, frequently with first sales. Probably the strongest of these is Charles Oberndorf's "Mannequins": a complex examination of subjective reality, the story plunks an escaped robot down into the grainy, alienated lives of a mother and daughter. The robot learns to have faith in emotions it cannot prove,just as humans have faith in a God they cannot prove. Other promising first stories are by Ronnie Seagren, Aaron Schultz, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, and Fred Bal. FilII SpCC(/1/11l offers some good horror stories. The best two deal with the relationships of characters to disappointing parents. T.L. Parkinson's young protagonist, miserable with his alcoholic mother, cross-dressing brother, and weak father, seemingly brings a set of fantasy parents to life, with tragic results. Pat Murphy's heroine, in "Dead Men on TY," obses sively watches her late actor father's old movies on television, in a belated attempt to control him that instead only controls her own life. Unlike Parkinson's tale, Murphy's ends on a note of hope. There are stories of hospitals and death. Elissa Malcolm's "Moments of Clarity" is an effective little tearjerker. (Dr.) Michael Blumlcin's "The Thing Itself" is a more complex tale of a doctor and his lover coming to terms with his fatal genetic illness. Some of its metaphors seem strained, but Blumlcin's writing, with its interplay between medical science and dream, is clear and lovely, making for the book's strongest love story. There are solid stories well within the tradition of SF. Lisa Goldstein's "My Year with the Aliens" hlends excellent character studies with political and anthropological speculation. Howard Hendrix's "The Farm System" is a near-future tale in whieh a talented young basketball player uses human growth hormones to guarantee a career in pro ball. The inner conflicts of the boy's father (already disturbed at the amount of hormones he pumps into his cattlc) are elegantly handled. Nancy Kress's "Philippa's Hands" is largely identical to a 1985 .James Gunn story "Man of Parts," but contrasts interestingly. Gunn's (male) protagonist, alienated from all 20


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 but his aging mother, chose self-mutilation because his belief that he could trade his personal integrity for the health and safety of strangers gave him his only connection with others. Kress's (female) protagonist has the sacrifice of self-mutilation forced on her, and the choice she must make of a life of connection and love insures that her decision will be different. Then there are the uncategorizable stories. Lewis Shiner's gonzo short-short "Oz" demonstrates that notoriety is its own justification. Andrew Weiner distills his already rarefied, elliptical style perhaps to its irreducible minimum in his eloquent study of defeatism, "This Is the Year Zero." And James Morrow's dark Biblical parable is a provocative portrait of a selfish whore plotting to repopulate the Flooded earth. The book's capper is another deliberately provocative work, Norman Spinrad's novella about AIDS "Journals of the Plague Years," which demands a full review to itself. Spinrad treads a problematic path between positive shock value and wishfulfillment: a man must rape his wife to sa\'e her life, a young woman has sex with everyone available as part of the uisease's (unbcliavbly pat) cure. But the author takes no easy outs in his portrayal of the homophobic villain, and his depiction of a near future in which even married couples do not copulate without machines insulating them from each other is chilling. Many worthwhile stories haven't been mentioned here, some of which add to the volume's overall themes of alienation. parental rejection, sex, death, anu occasional hope. I recommenu the reader pick up this book to find out about them; it provides a dark and complex journey through many strong, individual voices. Mm11la SOllkllP Winds Too Calm Engh, M.J. WheeloIllle Winds. TOR, NY. September 1988, 377p. $18.95 hc.O-312-93095-X. In Engh's earlier novel Arslall (a 1976 title reprinted in hardcover by Arbor House in 1987), the author created a horrifying character made to seem even more frightening by the understated way his atrocities were presented -recounted by two first-person narrators, a traumatized child and an over-controlled adult, whose almost pathological calm contributed to the chilling realism of the story. Engh took a lot of chances in Arslall; in U1leeloIllle Winds, she again takes narrative risks. The ones that paid off in the first book, however, undercut the effects Engh seems to he trying to achieve in her new novel. Engh's major risk is telling her story entirely from the point of \'iew of almost-but-not-quite-human sentients. This means, of course, that noth ing gets explained to the reader. that everything must be discovered ill sitll; 21


SFAA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 and, since the protagonists Warden Lethgro and Captain Repnomar -and their society seem pretty ordinary, if a bit medieval, the important contrasts are difficult to pick out. The world itself, on the other hand, is not in the least ordinary: it does not rotate on its a.xis, and (as we eventually discover) the protagonists not only live on the bright side, but know very little about the rest of the planet. The major contrast, the action, and all the explanation we get, comes from their responses to the arrival and subsequent doings of the "Exile" -a funny-looking foreigner whose presence leads Lethgro and Repnomar into a wildly escalating series of adventures with wide-ranging impact on their world. These adventures are grand in scope and scale, the details of the planet consistent and (so far as I can judge) scientifically well-conceived, the descriptions of sailing and trekking believable, and the danger posed by the Exile both realistic and compelling. Why, then, is the novel less than thrilling? For me, the problem stems precisely from the characteristic calm ofEngh's narrative voice (for here she tells her story in third-person). Repnomar and Lethgro act like stoics. Lethgro, the point-of-view charac ter, seems not only unemotional but also asexual: Repnomar is a woman of roughly Lethgro's age, yet he never seems to notice. Later, we discover, through some offstage events, that these people are apparently bisexual; but deprived, early on, of full evidence of their basic emotional drives, the reader can only infer creatures motivated solely by curiosity. Yet the plot depends on their very "human" emotions. Repnomar's dog Broz is the most uninhibited, and consequently the most sympathetic, character in the book. Every writer presumahly knows the dictum to "Show, Don't Tell," but Engh seems not to haw fully grasped its implications. Her flat expository detailing of emotions seems to me the main reason why, despite all its excellences, Wheel of the Willds fails to grip the reader. A/altha A. Baltter Utopian Parasites Knight, Damon. The Obsen'ers. Sl. Martin's, NY, 1988, 281p. $16.95 he. 0-312-93074-7. Damon Knight's CV (1985) was a well-done SF horror novel. Set in the near future on a gigantic sea-going pleasure palace and hotel called Seaview, it concerned the discovery of an apparently malevolent alien intelligence that had heen trapped on the ocean boltom for centuries. The creature was a mind parasite, able to jump from host to host at will, leaving in its wake coma, insanity, occasionally cleath. Seaview's officers and medical staff first had to discover what the strange illness inDicting passengers and crew was, then had to contain the creature before it could 22


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 reach the mainland. The novel ended on a Biblical note, with the parasite tricked into entering the body of a goat and then marooned, once again. on the ocean floor. TIle Obsen'ers, a sequel to CV, opens with the discovery that the creature has had an offspring. One of the female passengers on the Seaview was impregnated while possessed by the parasite, which passed part of itself on in the fetus. Now the creature is abroad in the general populace and, worse yet, reproducing at will. Knight, unwilling merely to reprise the first novel, moves TIle OIJSel1'C1'S in a new direction. At least some of the original parasite's seeming malevolence, we discover, was a result of its incompatibility with our bodies. Its offspring, gestated within the human body, seem less hostile and cause far less serious side-effects. Also, infestation by the creature has a number of benefits. The parasite consciously explores the minds of its hosts, correcting what it sces as irrationalities and other problems. Former hosts become much more clear-sighted, much less willing to put up with the idiocies of everyday life. Further, the creatures are opposed to violence and, with Heinleinesque logic, are perfectly willing to kill their hosts in order to stop them from committing violent crimes. Generals on the verge of ordering their troops to attack become suddenly prone to massive heart failures. TIle Obsen'ers doesn't so much end as pave the way for yet another sequel. Knight still has plenty of loose strings to deal with. Utopian possibilities are in the offing. The new generation of aliens are both ignorant of and curious about thdr own origins. And the original mindparasite is still alive, of course, on the sea bottom. One assumes that it will make a return in the third volume. CVand TIle Observers are not major works of science fiction, hut Damon Knight is an old pro, and both novels are well worth reading. I look forward to the next book in the series. Michael J\f. Lcl\' Genre-Splicing Laidlaw. Marc. Neoll LolllS. Bantam/Spectra, NY, 1988, 294p. $3.95 pb. 0-553-27165-2. The Tibetan Buddha of Compassion has 1023 eyes: one in the palm of each hand, two in ten of his heads, and three in the other. No book which reveals that he is actually a computer with artificial intelligence who calculates by counting on his fingers can be all bad. By a remarkable chain of circumstances, our heroine meets him exactly 200 years after the Chinese invasion of Tibet, which took place in ]958. She learns that his attributes, the objects which he holds in his portraits. are not merely symbolic; they are actually memory devices. floppies if you will. without 23


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 which he cannot function adequately. They have been stolen over the centuries. The world is in peril! The chase is on! Talbot Mundy did this sort of thing very well. The trick is to keep things moving too fast for the reader to think wbout the fundamental stupidity of what's going on. Laidlaw breaks this rule by introducing spiritual progress and romance. Even this could perhaps be made to work (as in the Eddie Murphy film TIle Goldell Child), but, alas, Laidlaw doesn't pull it off. On the other hand, maybe he wasn't trying to write an action adventure story. If this had been published by Harlequin, the reader would have expected what the author has produced: a "modern romance" a type with conventions just as strict as, say, sword-and-sorcery. If you put it in that subgenre, it isn't bad, although it still suffers from lack of clear direction. Recommended solely for readers who enjoy modern romance with a flavoring of science fantasy. -Hlilliam M. Schllylel; IT: A Parade of Terminal Motifs Leiber, Fritz. TI,e Knight alld Knave oj Swords. William Morrow, NY, December 1988, #p. $17.95 he. 0-688-08530-X. Domesticated, rusticated. largely reduced to reminiscences and reunions (Fafhrd with a daughter, Mouscr a son), our heroes are definitely over the hill in this last chronicle of the adventures of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. TIle Knight alld Knave oj Swords is in many ways an old man's book with its narrator bent on tying up loose ends, meanwhile telling at last some salacious bits repressed when his audience was too young to hear them, and demonstrating the matronly rewards of comfort versus conquest. The later generations of adolescent readers who have kept this series in print for decades may hardly know what to make of its denouement; but we who were "III-Met In Lankhmar" during the first appearances of the daring duo will understand all too well. Mere survival, and the joys thereof. is the theme throughout this final collection. Flashy triumphs, exotic qucsts, even palpable achievements are nil. "Sea Magic," the rather weak opener (and the only talc previously unpublished), begins as Fafhrd, reduced to one hand and a hook, is matched in archery practice by a mere girl, and ends with him nearly defeated by a shark-toothed demon temptress. In "The Mer She," Cap tain Mouser plays at bondage sex games in his ship's cabin with the same naked demoness, only to escape, barely, with his life. In "The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars," the literal "deaths" of our heroes come stalking them; luck and the quick wit of their faithful paramours save the duo once more. In the final story, "Mouser Goes Below," the worthy of that title is 24


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 quite literally buried alive, while Fafhrd ascemls into the clouds in an ironic (and temporary) apotheosis. Such a parade of terminal motifs might, in other hands, be heavy, but Leiber's tone is light as always. Much of TIle Knight alld KJwl'e of Swords comes across as burlesque, particularly the ante-penultimate scenes of "Mouser Goes Below." Despite all the rowdy fun, one might wish the old tale-teller had continued to suppress a few of his kinkier memories, particularly a little drama of lesbian sado-masochism featuring eightbreasted Hisvet, the Rat Queen, which is just too quaint (like a French blue movie of the 30's) to be erotic. Mouser's reaction to the scene is somewhat incredible. On the other hand, Fafhrd's mock funeral (he's been "vanquished in a war of love") is high comedy, and Mouser's nick-of-time rescue of his old pal is a hilarious burlesque of the deus ex machilla. Much of the fun depends on allusions available only to older fans of long standing, though. It is a shame that the series should first break into hardcovers only with this last book. If you've never sampled Leiber's sword and sorcery (he invented the term), don't start here get the paperback of Slvords Gild Del'ilt!)'. Then you'll have a half-dozen elegant and amusing volumes to go before you reach this ironic postscript. Aliliwl de Wit Lem's First, At Last Lem, Stanislaw. Hospital of the Trallsfiguratioll. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, NY, 1988, 207p. $17.95 he. 0-15-142186-2. Hospital of the Ti"G1lsfigu/"atioll is Stanislaw Lem's first novel. completed in Poland in 1948. Censored by the state and not published in his native country until a "revised" edition appeared in 1955, this novel has followed a difficult path to English translation. It is a wonderful book, by turns moving, witty, whimsical, and terrifying. Neither fantasy nor science fic tion, this is realistic fiction with overtones of Kafka. Though it differs in subject matter from most of Lem's later fiction, Hvspital of the Tiolls[tguratioll reveals, fully formulated, several of the concerns that have pervaded the author's work. It will thus reward study by those interested in Lem's mature SF. After completing medical school. Stefan TrZYlliecki drifts into a job at Christo Transfigurato, a rural mental hospital in Poland. It is 1939, just after Hitler's invasion, and Stefan feels morally as well as socially adrift. At the hospital. he receives a moral education lhat develops familiar Lel11 themes. From his observation of patients and staff and from his intellectual conversations with Sekulowski, a poet who is hiding frol11 the Germans, he learns that the universe and human motives arc essentially mysterious. 25


SFRA News/etter, No. 164, January/February 1989 that madness and sanity are often relative to social values, that humanity suffers usually without being able to understand why, that life is to be valued despite (or perhaps because of) its mysteries and perversities, and that, more than anything else, it is tenderness between people that makes living worthwhile. These last two lessons are etched deeply into Stefan's soul when the Nazis take over the hospital, exterminate all the patients, and send the doctors packing. Though this is a didactic novel with an emphasis on ideas, it is never slow or heavy. Lem blends episodes of humor, mystery, conversation, and terror. He leads Stefan through a series of events that gradually instill and unfold a moral center in himself, even though his family, profession, ami society are disintegrating and the destructive force of Nazism is so pitiless and murderous. -Te17." Heller Dazzling Cities of Words McDonald, Ian. Desolatioll Road. Bantam/Spectra, NY, 1988, 355p. $3.95 pb.0-553-27057-5. ___ Empire Dreams. Bantam/Spectra, NY, 1988, nop. $3.50 pb. -27180-6. Ian McDonald is a Northern-Ireland based writer who has established a reputation since 1984 with a handful of stories in Isaac Asimol"s SF Magazille. These two simultaneously-appearing works in the Ban tam/Spectra series of paperback originals represent a remarkable debut. No other writer in the contemporary SF field that I am aware of is more technically gifted than Ian McDonald. Both Empire Dreams, a collection of ten short stories, and Desolatioll Road, his first novel, are full of fine things and promise better yet to come. Perhaps the most striking thing that emerges from Empire Dreams is the range of McDonald's interests. The title story, about a tragic father son relationship in near-future Ulster, reveals his mastery of the idioms of pulp space opera and the techniques of the New Wave. Still under thirty, McDonald seems already to have read and assimilated almost every writer of significance in modern literature most notably Yeats, Eliot, Freud, Borges, Calvino, Garcia Marquez and, perhaps ahove all, James Joyce. He also knows how to use them without apology and without descending into pastiche, to extend the range of the SF field. He knows, too, how to research a story's historical background so that, for example, Vincent Van Gogh can be brought to life both as a credible recreation of a historical figure and as an archetype of the tormented artist literally transported to the future that he has helped to shape. Some of the best stories in the volume "Scenes from a Shadowplay," "King uf Morning, Queen of


SFRA Newsletter, No. 164, January/February 1989 Day," "Unfinished Portrait of the King of Pain by Van Gogh" are technically highly accomplished and reveal a historical imagination as fine as any to be found in SF. McDonald's novel, Desolatioll Road, is fired by an epicist's ambition. It tells of the foundation, development and unmaking of a settlement, Desolation Road, by a stretch of railroad across a desert in a colonized Mars. The settlement is brought into being by a Martian analog of a Christian eremitic mystic; indeed, Martian humanity follows the cult of St. Catharine of Tharsis, patron saint of machines, herself an extraterrestrial avatar of the mystic St. Catharine of Alexandria (she of the Wheel). In a sense,DesolatiOlI Road is a deliberatepClfol71wllce, in which the narrator constructs a fantastic and insubstantial city of words where the reader can find temporary and delightful habitation. Desolation Road is teeming with hucksters such as those that populate the banks of Huck Finn's great river; the novel is, in essence, the product oflhe author-as-confidence-man, who creates a seductive mirage in the most inhospitable of terrains. Though the novel is full of wonderful set pieces and has a lexical energy that is at times awesome, there is something missing. The characters are deliberately kepI flat to maintain the sense of illusion and, indeed. they are continually being annihilated with lip-smacking gusto but this strategy damages the effectiveness of the plot, because we simply don't get involved enough with the characters to care what happens to them. This wouldn't be so bad if there were a stronger thematic thrust to the narrative, but Desolation Road is a product of isolation from, rather than connection with, the rest of humanity product of its twenty-three years of Martian solitude. Perhaps this is a carping criticism, but McDonald, from the evidence of these volumes, is so clearly a major talent in the making that it would be a shame if he fell below his true level of attainment through a combina tion of the economic pressure to produce trilogies and critical indif ference. Desolatioll Road derives from one of the weakest stories in Empire Dreams, "The Catharine Wheel." Anyone of half-a-dozcn other stories offers a more fruitful direction for future projects. Yet both these books are far better than we have any reason to expect of science fiction in the late 1980's, and we await further work from this author with eager anticipation. Nicholas Ruddick Fine Balance Pohl, Fredet'ik. 77le Day the M0I1ialls Came. SI. Martin's, NY, 1988, 248p. $15.95 he. 0-312-02183-6. It has been a long time since 1967 when Fred Pohl, described by Harlan 27


SFRA Newsletter, No. 164, January/February 1989 Ellison as "an extremely tall man in his middle forties," published his story "The Day After the day the Martians Came" in Dangerolls Visions. Those original aliens were squat, gray creatures with sad eyes and spindly legs who seemed to have devolved from any language capability they might once have had. Pohl's story ends quietly with the suggestion that racial intolerance on Earth might improve as humans contemplate other varieties of dumb, long-suffering life rather than the conventional roman tic vision of Mars. Pohl did not forget his sad, non-heroic Martians and published a funny story in TIle Magazine of Falltasy alld Sciellce Fictioll in 1972 in which a madcap movie writer wants to overlay Burrough's Bar soom, and even Star Ti-ek, on the dull reality of the Martian discovery. The key to Pohl's treatment is juxtaposition, growing sopistication, wise balance. Everything changes, and perspective is what distinguishes satire from starry-eyed romance. Now Pohl has collected these two early stories with a whole batch of stories written, and mostly published separately, in the last few years, and he has written short linking pieces to make a book about the differences between what we expect and what we get. Always he insists on com parisons. And although at first I was trepidatious about the narrative fIX-UP, I think now that the author has packaged this work well. It is genuine Pohl, complex and double. Pohl has made major textual changes in the original story, and I must admit I like the earlier version better. But he keeps the same message. His ancient Martians are discovered in underground warrens that belie real devolution from some earlier, happier species; but they have a fine group awareness that is continually compared to human individualism. I prefer Burroughs, even Pohl's own Heechee; but the contrast here forces me to acknowledge how fundamentally unhappy an aggressive, evolving species such as our own is. The most significant balance Pohl maintains is in his tone. Here, I would suggest, he has changed little over his wonderful writing career. The cynicism of the satirist and the celebration of the lover of space are finely mixed in Poh/'s work. He may have come to this set of stories after the Challellger disaster because one of the new stories here is about exactly such a fiasco; but, like his character in that story, Po hi's love of space and of adventure survives all the harshness of reality. This is an excellent new/old book. -Dollald M. Hassler Venus, If You Will Surgent, Pumela. VellllS of Shad01t"s. Doubleday/Foundation, NY, December 1988, 544p. $19.95 he. 0-385-24840-7. 28


SFRA Newsletter, No. 164, January/February 1989 Pamela Sargent's excellent 1986 novell'-cf///s of Drcams opened on an Earth several hundred years in the future dominated by a Moslem civiliza tion and ruled by a Council of M ukhtars. The book told the story of Iris Angharad, a Plainswoman who dreamed of leaving her backwater com munity, succeeded in doing so, and ended her life as one of the great heroes of the Venus Project, a centuries-long attempt to terraform the second planet. Venl/S of Shadolvs opens a generation later. A gigantic orbiting parasol cools the planet. Settlers have left the artificial islands floating in Venus' upper atmosphere and built domes on the still hostile surface. A near-utopian civilization has developed, based on the concepts of equality and hard work, and on the dream of Project. This dream, however, is threatened, both from within and without. The latest settlers, many of them the dregs of Earth, have brought violence to a peaceful society. The new cult of Ishtar seeks to convert the population and calls into question the patriotism of those who refuse to join. The Council of Mukhtars attempts to strengthen its hold over the increasingly independent-minded seulcrs. And the Habbers, those strange descendants of humanity who have forever abandoned planetary surfaces to live incredibly long lives in Space Habitats, also hope to increase their in fluence. J.bllls of Shadol1's feat ures a large cast of memorable characters, many of them relatives and descendants of Iris Angharad. Some \\lork selflessly for the Project. Some become members of the sinister Ishtar cult. Others abandon Venus altogether to join the Habbers. Sargent paints a large. detailed canvas of a complex civilization in the making. One could, perhaps, wish for more of a sense of the planet Venus itself in the nm"d. The uf the surface heat. wind, pressure were an integral part of I'-billS Drcams, but here they form lillie more than a backdrop which the narrative invokes as needed. Virtually the entire action of the novel takes place within the domed cities. Despite this quibble, I think q{ Sharioll's is a well-written and engrossing work which should increase Pamela Sargent's already strong reputation. Those who enjoyed its predecessor will definitely want to find a copy, though the book can be thoroughly enjoyed on its own. fIIichael !If. LeI)' Aliens in Nineteenth-Century Nantucket Schenck, Hilbert. C/mJ/lnscqlleflcc. TOR, NY. l

SFRA Newsletter, No. 164, January/February 1989 review last issue -Ed.]. When Schenck's newest book, Chl"OTlOseqllellce, received a positive review in LOClls magazine, I was more than willing to assume that Sleal1lbird was just a fluke, a novel which simply didn't work, but which somehow got puhlished any\,iay. Sad to say, after reading CllfOTlOseqlleTlCe, I'm not at all convinced it's an improvement. The novel is basically a mystery. Eve Pennington, an astronomer teaching in London whose hobby is collecting antiquated science books, stumbles on an old journal that recounts a series of apparently supernatural events that took place in the nineteenth century on a small island just west of Nantucket. Intrigued by the tale, she looks further and uncovers a series of strange occurrences, all tied to the same place, but stretching over decades. Then things begin to get frightening. A man attempts to steal the journal. Counterfeit policemen try to impound it. Eve's colleagues begin to make odd, perhaps lhreatening remarks. Some thing, it seems, is hidden below the sands of the small island -something alien -and it begins to look as if the agents of at least one government may be willing to kill to get information about it. This is certainly excellent material for a novel. So how uoes the book fail? Irt two related areas: character development and plot probability. Schenck devotes considerable attention to Eve Pennington's character, and she begins as a fairly believable woman; but then, over and over again, as the needs of his plot dictate, the author reveals new aspects of Eve's personality and history which simply don't fit with what's gone before. The strings show very obviously. At one point Eve falls deeply in love with a much younger man who has heretofore been nothing more than a casual friend, despite the fact that she's been clearly established as a woman who does not fall in love easily. This seems to occur simply because Schenck needs to give her a compelling reason to act in a certain way. Throughout the novel Eve does things which don't seem quite logical or which lead to odd coincidences. Later we learn that she's being telepathically manipu lated by the alien. Since Schenck has already established the fact that the alien's powers reach only a few miles from its hiding place, however, he's forced to explain that all of Eve's actions are the result of a brief encounter she had with the being without realizing it while sailing off Nantucket many months earlier. Some of the things that the alien supposedly programmed her to do simply defy probability. C1II"OTlOseqlleTlce is not, alas, a very good book. There is a lot of detail about Nantucket, and science fiction readers from New England may enjoy that material, but the novel isn't likely to be of much interest to other readers. Michael M. LeI,), 30


SFRA Newsletter, No. 164, January/February 1989 America as Science Fiction Spinrad, Norman. Other Al1lelicas. Bantam/Spectra, NY, 1988, 273p. $3.95 pb. 0-553-27214-4. This latest Spinrad collection gathers four novellas on what is perhaps the Spinrad theme: America. Too short to have seen separate publication as novels, these powerful and biting "cautionary tales," as Spinrad calls them, have now been mounted as a related group of questionings about the American way of life and the American dream. Due to their deeply personal nature, they make this a haunting anthology. The book is saturated with the personality of its author: he appears in a general introduction. in introductions to each story, and finally as a featured character in the last piece. which was written expressly for this collection. This Spinrad is the political philosopher who has always been the informing voice of his Ol/elTe. a native son ambivalent toward his country of origin, a romantic realist who sees America "not as a geographic entity or conventional nation state but as a concept" -as, in essence, science fiction. Collected here are two stories from Isaac Asil1lov's SF Magazine, "Street Meat" (1983) and "World War Last" (1985); one, "The Lost Continent of America," from the 1970 anthology Science Against Man: and the new work, "La Vic Continue." All stories present extremes; two are overtly satiric. "Street Meat" deals with increasing homeless ness among urban American populations: "Thc Lost Continent of America" is an after-the-fall story in which tourists from a now dominant African civiliza tion visit the ruins of metropolitan America and discover in artifacts of its technology the roots of its greatness and its doom. The two satires are strongly political. What if a crazy tyrant in an oil-rich Third World country could buy nuclear weapons on the black market? and what if a California used car salesman joined with a television evan gelist to get elected president? and what if the Soviet leader were really a dead man, mummified and computer animated, controlled by members of a secret underground? "World War Last," described as a "nuclear war comedy," is both blackly funny and oddly believable "La Vie Continue," with its Spinrad exiled to Paris in a not-toodistant future as a result of politically unpopular writings, features thc KGB, the CIA, the Hollywood movie empire, and the free press in an essentially cerebral tale. The Spinrad character's final decisions embody both morality and loss, and make explicit the informing sense of a fall from grace which renders this whole collection archetypally American. Other Al1lelicas is a kind of mirror one worth looking into. lIlwv-Km' Bmr 31


SFRA Newsletter No. 164 Robert A. Collins, Editor English Department Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL 33432 Non Profit Organization U. S. POSTAGE PAID BOCA RATON, FLORIDA Permit No. 77 DATED MATERIAL PLEASE DO NOT DELAY


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