SFRA newsletter

SFRA newsletter

Material Information

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 )


General Note:
Place of publication varies.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
S67-00062-n170-1989-09 ( USFLDC DOI )
s67.62 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information



This item has the following downloads:

Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
record xmlns http:www.loc.govMARC21slim xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govstandardsmarcxmlschemaMARC21slim.xsd
leader nam a22 u 4500
controlfield tag 008 d19711991oru 000 0 eng d
datafield ind1 8 ind2 024
subfield code a S67-00062-n170-1989-09
0 245
SFRA newsletter.
n No. 170 (September, 1989)
1 3 246
Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
[Eugene, Ore. :
b Science Fiction Research Association]
c September, 1989
Place of publication varies.
Science fiction
x History and criticism
v Periodicals.
Fantasy fiction
History and criticism
Science fiction
Book reviews
Fantasy fiction
Book reviews
2 710
Science Fiction Research Association.
t SFRA Review
4 856

xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
mods:mods xmlns:mods http:www.loc.govmodsv3 xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govmodsv3mods-3-1.xsd
mods:relatedItem type host
mods:identifier issn 1068-395Xmods:part
mods:detail issue mods:number 170series Year mods:caption 19891989Month September9Day 11mods:originInfo mods:dateIssued iso8601 1989-09-01


The SFRA Newsletter Published ten times a year for The Science Fiction Research Association by Alan Newcomer, Hypatia Press, Eugene, Oregon. Copyright 1<;) 1989 by the SFRA. E-Mail: COLLlNS@SERVAX.BITNET. Editorial correspondence: SFRA Newsletter, English Dept., Florida Atlantic U., Boca Raton, FL 33431 (Tel. 407-367-3838). Editor: Robert A. Collins; Associate Editor: Catherine Fischer; Review Editor: Rob Latham; Film Editor: Ted Krulik: Book News Editor: Martin A. Schneider; Editorial Assistant: 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. Hardesty English Department Miami University Oxford, Ohio 45056 Past Presidents of SFRA Thomas D. Clareson (1970-76) Arthur O. Lewis, Jr. (1977-78) Joe De Bolt (1979-80) James Gunn (1981-82) Patricia S. Warrick (1983-84) Donald M. Hassler (1985-86) Past Editors of the Newsletter Fred Lerner (1971-74) Beverly Friend (1974-78) Roald Tweet (1978-81) Elizabeth Anne Hull (1981-84) Ricllard W. Miller (1984-87) Pilgrim Award Winners J. O. Bailey (1970) Marjorie Hope Nicolson (1971) julius Kagarlitski (1972) Jack Williamson (1973) I. F. Clarke (1974) Damon Knight (1975) James Gunn (1976) Thomas D. Clareson (1977) Brian W. Aldiss (1978) Darko Suvin (1979) Peter Nicholls (1980) Sam Moskowitz (1981) Neil Barron (1982) H. Bruce Franklin (1983) Everett Bleiler (1984) Samuel R. Delany (1985) George Slusser (1986) Gary K. Wolfe (1987) Joanna Russ (1988) Ursula K. Le Guin (1989)


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 President's Message Signs of the Times Every day in every way, I get better and better repeat this phrase to yourself regularly. I was told as I was growing up, and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I guess it sunk in, at least in some distorted way, because I usually look for signs that the world is getting better, especially when it seems to be falling apart. Two of the summer's crop of movies give me some hope about Hollywood: Batman and Star Trek V. At first I was a bit put off by the violence in Batman; I wouldn't take a child under ten to see it lest it give nightmares. But both of these films show a refreshing moral perspective. Batman particularly shows the way violence breeds violence. The boy Bruce Wayne takes on the challenge of avenging crime after his parents are killed in a mugging. Ironically, Batman himself is responsible for the creation of his arch-enemy, the Joker, and the chain of violence is extended. Batman is shown as living a tor mented, isolated life because of his obsession. Only in the love of a good woman is he eased of his misery. Because of its financial success. there will undoubtedly be Batman sequels. and perhaps they will degenerate, but for the moment I like the subtle, complex message Batman conveys. Star Trek V was also somewhat disappointing at first, mostly because it seemed to rehash a tired situation from the original series. If it had been done in an hour, why remake it in two? But Star Trek V also takes a moral stance about the search for God, which is depicted as a noble quest, even though the entity the seekers find is a sham. It's a cautionary tale about the seductive powers of such a quest, implying a healthy skepticism about the likelihood that a true God would need to demand unreasonable self-sacrifice of human beings. Two Films' Irresponsible Messages I contrast these two films with two earlier smash hits (pun intended): Raiders of the Lost Ark and Rocky, both of which offered the same implicit message to the audience: "It's okay to be irresponsible, especially if it gets you what you want." Rocky takes one of the neighborhood girls aside and lectures her on tile facts of life. She has a foul mouth. She may actually still be a nice girl (i.e. a virgin), but if 3


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 she keeps using vulgar language she'll get a bad rep, and her reputa tion is all a girl from the inner city has. So he takes out the sister of his best friend on her/their first date and drags her into his apartment. She's apprehensive and wants to call her brother to let him know where she is. Rocky throws open the window and screams out to the world, "Paulie, your sister is in my apartment with me." This invariably gets a laugh from most of the audience. Not from me. A sociopath is one who understands the values of society but rejects them or doesn't apply them to him/herself. In Raiders, Indiana Jones had seduced and abandoned the daughter of his best friend many years before. He returns to her, not because he has seen the error of his ways, but only because she has the amulet he needs to find the treasure, the fabled ark of the covenant, which he values merely as an archaeological find. The woman. for her part, shows her "liberation" by drinking all the men in her saloon under the table. but then puppydogs after Indiana in the end. even though he barely tolerates her. This is not what I think feminism is all about. Indiana Jones never shows remorse or guilt for his actions. His controlling motivation is pragmatic: when faced with a challenge to duel with swords. he answers with the "unfair" gun. As he wrests control of the truck from the Nazis (after the improbable feat of falling forward out of the windshield and then climbing hand over hand underneath the truck with a gunshot wound in Ilis shoulder, yet!). he never looks back to see what damage he has inflicted on the innocent bystanders who tumble from the scaffolding of the building he sideswipes. The camera moves on too, implying that the audience need not worry about the consequences of Indiana's actions. The Artist's Responsibility Several years ago when I pointed out my feminist objections to Raiders to Harlan Ellison (who has sometimes called himself a feminist), Ile told me, "The trouble with you, Betty. is that you have no joy in your soul. That movie was meant to appeal to the little kid in us all. It's not to be taken realistically. It's really just a comic strip." Well, I think comic strips should be taken more seriously than they usually are. I think the child in us frequently does take some pleasure in seeing the hero violate social codes and act selfishlly, because such actions allow the audience to do so also, vicariously, without threat of punishment. I do agree with Harlan Ellison when he said (at Superman's 50th Birthday Party in Cleveland) that those who write the strips have a responsibility to spell conventionally and use correct grammar and 4


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 clear punctuation because they are role models, subtly influencing their readers. But that's not the only responsibility writers have, whether they are writing for children or for adults, for eternity or for the nonce. It goes without saying that those who create literature and art have a responsibility to use its form to the fullest, to exploit whatever materials and technologies can help it achieve its end. But the ends should be examined just as much as, if not more than, the means. It remains to be seen whether the "trend" of these two films represents any real progress toward an art that instructs as well as delights, or just a momentary blip in a chaotic struggle to get the bucks to stop in the hands of the producers. For the moment I'm encouraged. --Elizabeth Anne Hull --President Editorial Note: New Editor Assigned We are happy to announce that a new newsletter editor has been assigned by President Hull to replace Bob Collins. The new editor is Betsy Hartst, a longtime member of SFRA who has assisted the organization in many capacities in the past. Betsy, whose university is providing secretarial assistance and computer services, will take over the editorship beginning with next month's issue (# 171). All editorial correspondence, as well as announcements and other news, should thus be sent to her effective immediately. Her business address is: Betsy Hartst, Dept. of Arts, Communication & Social Sciences, Kisllwaukee College, Malta, IL 60150; phone (815)-825-2086. Her home address, which is listed in the new Directory, is 825 Meadow Lane, Sycamore, IL 60178; phone (815)-895-2393. The review section of the newsletter will still be run out of Bob Collins' office in Boca Raton (see address on masthead). We will assign the books from here, and the reviews (including longer review-articles and any unsolicited reviews) should thus be sent to us. At the end of each month, we will cull twenty to thirty reviews and send them to Betsy for formatting and proofing. We believe the editorial transition will be smooth, and we would like to wish Betsy all the best in her new position. --Bob Collins & Rob Latham 5


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 by Neil Barron The following is the list of 1989 (and some early 1990) non-fiction books I promised last month. Books known to have been already publislled have a (P) following the price. Forthcoming books usually have a month or season of publication shown, but this should be considered very tentative, especially when issued by smaller firms such as Starmont House, which rarely meet publication dates. All books are American except those with a (UK) after the publisher. All are hardcover except those designated "tr pb" (trade paperback). All prices are tentative. All books are originals except a few denoted repr(int). 1989 Non-Fiction Books Reference Barron, Neil, ed. Fantasy Literature: A Reader's Guide. Garland, January 1990. ____ ed. Horror Literature: A Reader's Guide. Garland, March 1990. Brown, Charles N. & William G. Contento, comps. Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror: 1984 and 1988. Locus Press, August. Burgess, Michael. Reference Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy. Libraries Unlimited. fall. Carter, Margaret L., ed. Vampirism in Literature: A Critical Bibliog raphy. UMI Research, May, $39.95 (P). Reviewed in # 169. Corrick, James A. Double Your Pleasure: The Ace SF Double. Gryphon Books, February 1989, $5.95 tr pb (P). Reviewed in #168. Dziemianowicz, Stefan R. The Annotated Unknown Worlds. Starrnont, October. Fletcher, Marilyn, eel. Reader's Guide to Twentieth-Century Science Fiction. American Library Association, summer, $55. Jaffery, Sheldon. The Arkham House Companion. Starmont. July. Justice, Keith L. Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Reference: an Annotated Bibliography of Works About Literature and Film. Mc Farland, June, $27.50 (P). Reviewed in this issue. Lynn, Ruth Nadleman. Fantasy for Children and Young Adults. 3rd ed. Bowker, $39.95 (P). Reviewed in #166. Mann, Jim, ed. The NESFA Index to Short SF 1987. NESFA, $12 (P). 6


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Pringle, David. Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels. Peter Bedrick, September. Repr. of Grafton, 1988. Reviewed in # 166. Robbins, Leonard A. Pulp Magazine Index, Second Series. Starmont, July. Wolf, Leonard. Horror: A Connoisseur's Guide to Literature and Film. Facts on File, $27.95 (P). Reviewed in #169. History & Criticism Asimov, Isaac. Asimov's Galaxy: Reflections on Science Fiction. Doubleday, $17.95 (P). Carr, Helen, ed. From My Guy to Sci Fi. Pandora (UK), May, tr pb. Copper, Basil. The Vampire in Legend and Fact. Lyle Stuart, June. Repr of 1973 ed. Cummings, Michael & Nicholas D. Smith, eds. Utopian Studies II. Univ. Pro of America, spring. Dresser, Norine. American Vampires: Fans, Victims, Practioners. Nor ton, June, $17.95. Gardner, Martin Gardner's Whys and Wherefores. Univ. of Chicago, April, $19.95 (P). Gordon, Mel. The Grand Guignol: Theatre of Fear and Terror. Amok, 1988, $12.95 tr pb (P). Reviewed in #167. Grixti, Joseph. Terrors of Uncertainty: The Cultural Contexts of Horror Fiction. Routledge, July. Jarrett, Derek The Sleep of Reason: fantasy and reality from the Victorian age to the First World War. Harper (P). Kolnai, Aurel. The Utopian Mind. Athlone Pro (UK), distr. by Humanities Pr., summer, $55. Le Guin, Ursula K. Dancing at the Edge of the World. Grove, $17.95 (P). Reviewed in #165. Le Guin, Ursula K. The Language of the Night. Rev. ed. Women's Press (UK), spring? Miller, Frank D., Jr. & Nicholas D. Smith. Thought Probes: Philosophy Through Science Fiction. Prentice-Hall, $24 tr pb (P). Reviewed in #168. Molson, Francis J. Children's Fantasy. Starmont, May, $9.95 (P). Panshin, Alexei & Cory. The World Beyond the Hill. Tarcher, November. Pierce, John J. When World Views Collide: A Study in Imagination and Evolution, vol 3. Greenwood, May (P). Schweitzer, Darrell, ed. Discovering Classic Horror Fiction I. Stannont, October. Slusser, George E. & Eric S. Rabkin, eds. Mindscapes: The Geographies of Imagined Worlds. Southern Illinois, $29.95 (P). 7


SFRA Newsletter, No 170, September 1989 Stableford, Brian. The Way to Write Science Fiction. Elm Tree (UK) (P). Sullivan, Cw. III Welsh Celtic Myth in Modern Fantasy. Greenwood, $42.95 (P). Thompson, William Irwin. Imaginary Landscape: Making Worlds of Science and Myth. St. Martin's, June. Tolkien, J.R.R. Tree and Leaf. Houghton, July. Repr. of 1964 ed. Wu, Dingbo & Patrick D. Murphy, eds. Science Fiction from China. Greenwood, July. Wuckel. Dieter & Bruce Cassidy. The Illustrated History of Science Fiction. Crossroad/Continuum, July. Author Studies [Anthony]. Anthony, Piers & Jody Lynn Nye. Piers Anthony's Visual Guide to Xanth. Avon, November. [Asimov]. Hassler, Donald. Isaac Asimov. Starmont, November. [Baum] Snow, Jack. Who's Who in Oz Peter Bedrick, $15.95 (P). Reviewed in # 167. [Bradbury]. Touponce, William F. Ray Bradbury. Starmont, June. [Cabell]. Riemer, James D. From Satire to Subversion: The Fantasies of James Branch Cabell. Greenwood, May. [Carroll]. Cohen, Morton N., ed. Lewis Carroll: Interviews and Recol lections. Univ. of Iowa, May, $24.95. [Chesterton]. MacDonald, Michael H. & Andrew A. Tadie, eds. GK Chesterton and C.S. Lewis. The Riddle of Joy. Eerdmans, June. [Clarke]. Clarke, Arthur C. Astounding Days: A Science FiCtional Autobiography. Gollancz (UK), 12.95 (P). [Davies]. David, J. Madison, ed. Conversations with Roberson Davies. Univ. Pr. of Mississippi. May. [Dick]. Rickman, Gregg. To the High Castle: Philip K. Dick: A Life 1928-1962. Fragments West, May, $19.95. [ __ J. Sutin, Larry. Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. Har mony, September. [Dunsany]. Schweitzer, Darrell. Pathways to Elt/and: The Writings of Lord Dunsany. Olswick Press, $25 (P). [Howard]. Novalyne Price Ellis. Day of the Stranger: Further Memories of Robert E. Howard. Necronomicon Press, summer, $5.95 tr pb. [Hubbard]. Atack, Jon. A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed. Carol Communications, August. [James). Heller, Terry. The Turn of the Screw: Bewildered Vision. Twayne. March, $18.95. [King]. Magistrale. Anthony. The Moral Voyages of Stephen King. Starmont, August. 8


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 [ __ I. Magistrale, Anthony, ed. "The Shining" Reader. Starmont, December. [Lewisl. Wilson, A.N. C.S. Lewis: A Biography. Twayne, May (P). Also [Lovecraftl. Cannon, Peter H. H.P Lovecraft. Twayne, May (P). [ __ I. Frome, Nils Helmer. Howard Phillips Lovecraft and Nils HeImer Frome: A Recollection of One of Canada's Oldest SF Fans. Moshassuck Press (P). [ __ I. Joshi, S.T. Selected Papers on Lovecraft. Necronomicon Press, summer, $9.95 tr pb. [ I. Price, Robert M. HP Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos. Starmont, August. [Machenl. Machen, Arthur. Selected Letters. Ed. Roger Dobson, Godfrey Brangham & R.A. Gilbert. Aquarian (UK), 1988, 12.95 (P). [McCaffreYI. Nye, Jody Lynn & Anne McCaffrey. The Dragonlover's Guide to Pem. Ballantine, November. [Nivenl. Guptill, Paul & Chris Drumm, comps. The Many Worlds of Larry Niven. Chris Drumm, March, $4.50 pb (P). [Orwelll. Savage, Robert L., James Combs & Dan Nimmo, eds. The Orwellian Moment. Univ. of Arkansas Pr., March. [Priestl. Ruddick, Nicholas. Christopher Priest. Starmont. June. [Smithl. Smith, Clark Ashton. Strange Shadows: The Uncollected Fiction and Essays of CAS. Ed. Steve Behrende, Donald Sydney Fryer & Rah Hoffman. Greenwood, $39.95 (P). [Stapledonl. McCarthy, Patrick A., Charles Elkins & Martin H. Green berg, eds. The Legacy of Olaf Stapledon: Critical Essays and an Unpublished Manuscript Greenwood, $37.95 (P). [Sturgeonl. Stephenson-Payne, Phil & Gordon Benson, Jr., comps. Theodore Sturgeon, a working bibliography. Compilers, $4 pb (P). [Tolkienl. Stevens, David & Carol. J.R.R. Tolkien. Starmont. October. [Van VogtJ. Drake, H.L. The Null-A Worlds of A.E. Van Vogt. Chris Drumm, $2.95 pb (P). [VonnegutJ. Broer, Lawrence R. Sanity Plea: Schizophrenia in the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut. UMI Research, $39.95 (P) Film & TV Douglas, Drake. Horrors! Viking Overlook, fall. Ellison, Harlan. Harlan Ellison's Watching. UnderwoodMiller, July. Fricke, John, Jay Scarfone & William Stillman. "The Wizard of Oz": The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History. Warner, August. Harmetz, Aljean. The Making of "The Wizard of Oz". Delacorte, July. Repr. of 1977 ed. 9


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Hearn, Michael Patrick, ed. "The Wizard of Oz": The Screenplay. Delacorte, August, tr pb. Kagan, Norman. Cinema of Stanley Kubrick .Rev. ed. Crossroad, July. Kimball. George, ed. Reel Terror! Xanadu (UK), May. Lentz, Harris M. III Science Fiction, Horror & Fantasy Film and TV Credits Supplement: Through 1987. McFarland, $55 (P). Reviewed in #166. McCarty, John. The Official Splatter Movie Guide. St. Martin's, July, repro Newman. Kim. Nightmare Movies: A Critical History of the Horror Film, 1968-1988. 2nd rev. ed. Bloomsbury (UK). 12.95 (P); Harmony. September. Peary. Danny. Cult Movies & Cult Movies 2. Delacorte, July, tr pb, repro Rebello. Stephen. Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of "Psycho": American Gothic. Dembner. June. Rockett, Will H. Devouring Whirlwind: Terror and Transcendence in the Cinema of Cruelty. Greenwood. 1988. $39.95 (P). Saunders. David. The Encyclopedia of the Worlds of Doctor Who, E-K. Knight (UK). November. Shatner. William & Lisbeth. The Captain's Log: William Shatner's Personal Account of the Making of "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier". Pocket Books, July. tr pb. Von Gunden. Kenneth. Flights of Fancy: The Great Fantasy Films. McFarland. spring. Zicree, Marc Scott. The Twilight Zone Companion. 2nd ed. Bantam, October, tr pb. Illustration Day. HT & Sturges Hollister. Art of the Fantastic: Latin America 1920-1987. Indiana Univ. Pr., July. Gilliland. Alexis. The Waltzing Wizard. Starmont, September. Hickman, Stepllen. The Art of Stephen Hickman. Donning, May, $12.95 tr pb. Jones, Stepllen. Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden. UnderwoodMiller, July. Mathews. Rodney. Last Ship Home. Paper Tiger/Dragon's World, October. Petersen, Sandy, Mark J. Ferrari, Lynn Willis & Tom Sullivan. S. Petersen's Field Guide to Creatures of the Dreamland. Chaosium, $15.95 tr pb (P). Wilite. Tim. Chiaroscuro. Paper Tiger/Dragon's World, 14.95 Ilc, 7.95 Ir pb, January. 10


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Comics Guide Forthcoming Tom Inge has admirably eclectic tastes, as reflected in his edited and written books. He just finished reading the 1500 pages of proofs for the revised and expanded edition of the authoritative Handbook of American Popular Culture, due by year's end from Greenwood. Due about January from the University Press of Mississippi is his Comics as Culture, ten essays on a topic he knows well, one of the essays devoted to comic books and SF. To quote the publisher's copy: "He finds comics both loved and hated, relished and sneered at. In their relying on dramatic conventions of character, dialogue, scene, ges ture, compressed time, and stage devices, he finds the comics close to the drama but probably closer to the movies." Scholars should find useful his bibliographical essay about histories, reference works and anthologies available for the study and appreciation of American comic strips and comic books. About 200 pages, $14.95 paper, $30 cloth. Burroughs Bulletin Resumes George McWhorter, curator of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Memorial Collection at the University of Louisville Library, has taken over editor ship of the Burroughs Bulletin, the first and only fanzine authorized by ERB himself. Tile bulletin, which was founded in 1947 by the late Vern Coriell and ceased publication twelve years ago, now will resume a regular quarterly schedule beginning in the Winter of 1989-90. The bulletin will contain articles, interviews, bibliographies, artwork, adver tising and current events. Subscription is $28 per year (domestic) and $35 (foreign), which also includes membership in the Burroughs Bibliophiles, an ERB fan dub. Send check or money order to George McWhorter, ERB Collection, Univ. of Louisville Library, Louisville, KY 40292. Midwest Journal of SF Seeks Help Writers, artists, reporters and reviewers are sought for a new publication to be called Forty-Two: The Midwest Journal of Speculative Fiction. Forty-Two is a magazine devoted to the study and support of SF and fantasy in written word, fine art, electronic and film media, and oral tradition. It will be published bi-monthly beginning in the fall of 1989, under the editorship of Gregory H. Heier. The emphasis will be on Issues in Midwest SF specifically the states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois, plus south central Canada. The planned con-11


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 tent is 50% creative (fiction and art) and 50S::' news and reviews. For more information, write Greg Heier, editor, Forty-Two Magazine, P.O. Box 399, Glen Ellyn, IL 60138. Great Trash "How can you tell them to be good ... they've got too many reasons to be bad!" That's the teaser from a 1956 film called Crime in the Streets, one of hundreds of low-budget exploitation pictures produced between 1949 and 1961 and which usually played on the bottom half of double bills or solely at drive-ins. Lost, Lonely, & Vicious (Pantheon, 1988, $8.95) collects color reproductions of posters of 31 of these great trash films. It's a book you should share with someone who shares your sordid sensuality, and that's easy to do, since the reproductions are 5 1/2-by-8 inch postcards designed to be torn out and mailed. Another item in a similar vein is a 28-minute cassette containing "the best parts of the worst books, ,. so-called adult paperbacks from the 1940s-60s, with titles like Campus Tramp, Out for Kicks and Commie Sex Trap. There's appropriate bluesy music accompanying the fevered narration. $10 delivered from Over Productions, Box 1323-P, Wheaton, MD 20902. Now you know why you read this newsletter. Neil Barron Call for Papers: ICFA 11 The 11 th Annual Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts .which will be held March 21-25, 1990, at the Fort Lauderdale Airport Hilton in Dania, Florida --is seeking proposals for papers, paper sections, and panels on fantasy and science fiction in English and American litera ture, other national literatures, drama, art, cinema, music, and a wide range of interdisciplinary topics. including philosophy, sociology, political science, the sciences, psychology, and religion. In order to be considered for the 1990 program, proposals must be postmarked no later than October 15, 1989. For a copy of the conference flyer listing the appropriate Division Heads to contact about proposals, queries, abstracts, etc., write Bob Collins at the address listed on this newsletter's masthead. Collins edits the newsletter of the International Association for the Fantastic in the arts, the organization which spon sors the conference. Conference Guests for ICFA 11 include Hal Clement, Jane Yolen, Brian W. Aldiss, Stephen R. Donaldson, H. Bruce Franklin, Boris Vallejo, with more to be announced. 12


SFRA Newsletter, No 170, September 1989 New Members Since July 1 st SFRA Secretary David Mead has supplied the following list of names of non-1989 members added to the Association's rolls since July 1, the cutoff date for inclusion in the annual Directory. He has asked that we include these names in this Issue as a supplement to the Directory. Linda C. Badley English Dept. Middle Tenessee St. Univ. Murfreesboro, TN 37132 Miquel Barcelo La Mina 55 Porta 7 S. Cugat Valles, Barcelona 08190 SPAIN Janice M. Bogstad 1118 Knollwood Dr. River Falls, WI 54022 Leroy W. Dubeck PhysiCS Dept. 009-00, Temple Univ. Broad & Montgomery Streets Philadelphia, PA 19122 Bill Greene 3191 Shollenbarger Rd. Oxford,OH 45056 Edward M. Jennings RD 3 --Box 1025 Selkirk, NY 12158 Philip E. Kaveny 1118 Knollwood Dr. River Falls, Wi 54022 Michael W. McClintock 324 West Sussex Missoula, MT 59801 Michael J. Tolley Dept. of English Univ. of Adelaide GPO Box 498 Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia 13


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Review-Article The Wrong Book at the Right Time by Rob Latham Lefanu, Sarah. Feminism and Science Fiction. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, July 1989, 231p. $29.95 hc. 0253-33287-7. $9.95 trade pb. -23100-0. [Originally published as In the Chinks of the World Machine: Feminism and Science Fiction. by The Women's Press, London, 1988, 231p. .95 trade pb. 0-7043-4092-5.] This book has received some excellent notices, in venues as diverse as Locus and Science-Fiction Studies, and so it was with some eagerness that I snatched up the first available copy. Unfortunately, despite its inclusion of some excellent close readings and several provocative general statements about the genre, my reaction to the volume is one of mild disappointment. This is not the book I expected, nor that its title seems to promise: it is not a comprehensive and trenchant overview of the theoretic/historical intersection of feminism and science fiction. It is, instead, an occasionally brilliant, but more often superficial and rambling. discussion of a set of authors and texts, selected not on the basis of comprehensiveness but for frankly "per sonal" reasons. Considering the obvious importance of its putative topic, and the crying need for a good general study of this topic, Feminism and Science Fiction is, alas, the wrong book at the right time. A Brilliant Reader Most of the book's problems are evinced in Part One. which is designed to provide a theoretical framework for the extended discus sion of four authors James Tiptree, Jr. (a/k/a Alice Sheldon), Ursula K. Le Guin, Suzy McKee Charnas, and Joanna Russ that occurs in the second part. Actually, I feel the volume can best be read as a comparative study of these authors, because the opening half (in which a good many other writers are glancingly canvassed) is simply too disorganized to be truly useful as a general guide. Lefanu's greatest strength, it seems to me, lies in her close readings, and so the best chapters of Part One are those which focus deeply on individual texts (especially excellent are her discussions of Marge Piercy's Woman on 14


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 the Edge of Time and Sally Mnler Gearhart's The Wanderground in her chapter on feminist utopias, "The Dream of Elsewhere"). The lengthy closing chapters on individual authors also feature sharply perceptive and original readings of Charnas' Motherlines and Walk to the End of the World, of Russ' The Female Man, even of Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, a book one would have thought already exhaus tively explicated. The chapter on Tiptree/Sheldon is a superlative synoptic discussion of a difficult and complex ceuvre. Lefanu comes most alive as a critic when she is engaged with these texts; her enthusiasm is infectious. Unfortunately, Lefanu is not really a theorist, nor is she a very surefooted historian of the genre, and so these readings exist more or less in a vacuum. The first half of her book is so loosely schematic and otherwise seriously flawed that it cannot furnish an adequate context. Trendy Jargon Lefanu states her overall purpose in her introduction: What I hope to show ... Is that the plasticity of science fiction and Its openness to other literary genres allow an apparent contradiction, but one that Is potentially of enormous Importance to contemporary women writers: It makes possible, and encourages (despite Its colonisation by male writers), the Inscription of women as subjects free from the constraints of mundahe fiction; and It also offers the possibility of Interrogating that very Inscription, questioning the basis of gendered subjectivity (p. 9). This is one of the most coherent and interesting statements in the first half of the book, yet not only does the rest of this section not bear out its promise, but it actually displays, in embryo, many of the problems one encounters throughout. In the first place, there is the bristling terminology. Lefanu seems aware of the language of contemporary criticism, but not its intellectual provenance; instead, she has reduced it merely to a trendy jargon: "colonisation," "inscribed" (one of her favorite words, often used without regard for sense or context), "subjectivity," etc. Understand: I am not criticizing the rhetoric as such; I feel that a technical vocabulary is absolutely essential to convey the insights of current theory, par ticularly when it comes to the intricate intersection of feminism with the discourses of structuralism and poststructuralism. But if one checks Lefanu's bibliography, one will not find a single citation of the major theorists who have forged and best used this vocabulary: Kristeva, Felman, Kolodny, Spivack. Clearly, Lefanu has picked up the terminol15


SFRA Newsletter, No 170, September 1989 ogy from second-level sources and is using it because it is chic. This is the sort of practice, in my view, that gives jargon a bad name. Further, Lefanu actually wants to criticize the more radically des tabilizing implications of poststructuralism (or structuralism Lefanu uses the terms as if they were interchangeable) which would, in her view, undermine the project of a truly political feminism. Yet her statements on this score are weak and unconvincing, merely echoing (without citing) the important recent work of Teresa de Lauretis, Alice Jardin, and Tania Modleski. Relevant essays from Science-Fiction Studies and from Marlene Barr's excellent collection Future Females are cited, but not the work of the major contemporary theorists of "gendered subjectivity." In my opinion, this is critical ghettoization. The importation of the cutting edge of theory into genre studies is, I believe, an important enterprise, but it should be done by someone who is truly aware of the discourse and its implications. Even in the midst of all the up-to-date rhetoric, Lefanu seems unable to distinguish between is sues of subjectivity and self-hood, and frets over authors' intentions and other such archaic things. A "Personal" Selection Another endemic problem prefigured in the passage quoted above is Lefanu's quite "plastic" interpretation of science fiction. No serious attempt is madeto define the limits of this term's scope: instead, Lefanu simply posits connections with the traditions of "female Gothic," feminist utopian literature, and postmodern fantasy, without making any thorough effort to delineate these connections. With some halfhearted apologies about confusing terminology, she appropriates Rosemary Jackson's discussion of the subversive potential of fantasy, Ellen Moers' analysis of Gothicism, and other critical perspectives she finds congenial. Now there is, in my view, nothing inherently wrong with such eclecticism (indeed. I feel a good critical work arguing persuasively and coherently for it is desperately needed), but some effort should be made to detail its necessity. Lefanu makes no such effort; her eclectic definition of SF seems designed solely to allow her to corral a diverse set of writers and texts, from Mary Shelley to Leigh Brackett, Charlotte Perkins Gilman to Marion Zimmer Bradley. Yet this broad focus also makes us wonder why so many writers whose work is clearly relevant have been omitted: Margaret SI. Clair, Shirley Jack son, Miriam Allen de Ford, Kathy Acker, Marta Randall, Rachel Ingalls, etc. Further, Lefanu's discussion of the writers and texts she has selected shows little critical balance. A chapter called "When Women 16


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Write of Women's Rule" devotes eleven pages to close readings of two minor SF works, Bradley's Ruins of Isis and Jayge Carr's Leviathan's Deep, while, in a chapter called "The Reduction of Women," major feminist dystopias like Daphne Patai's Swastika Night and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale are glossed over in a couple of para graphs. Angela Carter's Heroes and Villains is engagingly discussed, but not that author's more obviously relevant work, such as The Passion of New Eve (briefly noted) or The Bloody Chamber (not mentioned at all). In Part One, Lefanu leaps from topic to topic, text to text: when she stops for more than a glimpse, her readings can be striking and provocative (this is what makes Part Two so rich), but most of the time she is content simply to wave as she passes by. It should be admitted that Lefanu warns us against expecting too much in her introduction; says she: "My selection is personal: I have chosen to write about writers that I care about, and I have devoted the most space to those that I care about most passionately. This is not a definitive guide, and far from being a definitive interpretation" (p. 9). Caveat emptor. More Proof Required My next criticism is likely to be controversial, so I want to preface it with some self-serving remarks Personally, I consider myself a feminist (if males may be permitted to appropriate this term), and I am pretty sure that I differ very little with Lefanu on issues of sexual politics. But agreement in substance is not agreement in form, and I feel that Lefanu, though obviously earnest, is too often prone to make unsub stantiated claims and accusations, and her tone has a tendency to degenerate into smugness. This only undermines, in my view, the paints she is striving to make. To return to the introductory passage quoted above, Lefanu claims that SF has traditionally been "colonized by male writers," and that exceptions like C.L. Moore and Leigh Brackett merely prove the rule. Now I certainly agree with this. but some extended discussion of the endemic sexism of American pulp SF would have been useful, at least for purposes of comparison with the more radical SF of the 70's which is the book's primary focus. (One of the best such discussions I know is the chapter "The Bright Illusion: The Feminine Mystique in Science Fiction," in Paul A. Carter's study of the pulps The Creation of Tomor row.) Without it, Lefanu seems merely to be preaching to the choir. Its lack, in many instances, strikes me as an opportunity missed. When Lefanu discusses the implications of C.L. Moore's "No Woman Born," for example, with its metallic woman seemingly embodying a "power17


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 fully autonomous sexuality" (p. 17), she could easily have included a brief comparison with Lester Del Rey's "Helen O'Loy," with its simper ing female robot domestic. Elsewhere, Lefanu asserts, "it is a pleasure to come across complex female protagonists imagined by male writers" (p. 24) --citing as examples characters by Samuel R. Delany and Ian Watson --but no attempt is made to define the parameters of this pleasure, or to compare it with the pleasure derived from the depiction of robust female protagonists in texts written by women. Worse: in many cases Lefanu's categorical statements about male SF writers are not bolstered by examples at all, or else only by single texts taken as (questionable) paradigms, and so seem merely idly contentious. "There are ... plenty of [contemporary] male writers who appreciate the current market value of appearing pro-feminist." Lefanu asserts in a sneering parenthetical aside (p. 15); no names are given. Male writers who have depicted female Amazons are vituperated for a purportedly monolithic castration complex. solely on the evidence of Sam Moscowitz's 1972 anthology When Women Rule; no attention is shown to subtler nuances of sexism in the hard and powerful women valorized by Fritz Leiber or William Gibson. One begins to suspect that Lefanu's historical grasp of the genre is not very strong, and that many of her examples have been culled from other critics (her discussion of the Moscowitz anthology is essentially cribbed from Joanna Russ's essay "Amor Vincit Freminam: The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction"). Even when one agrees with her, one is left feeling that more proof is required. Gaps to Be Filled All this is not to say that Part One is entirely lacking in critical insight. only that its occasional flashes of brilliance are lost amid a murk of incoherence and imprecision. Lefanu is full of arresting and obviously significant observations about feminism and SF, but she doesn't seem able to develop them or tie them adequately together. At one point, she advances the thesis that feminist SF "challenges the notion of a natural heterosexuality" (p. 71). a profound and important thesis if true, but she does not show how it does this or make any effort to develop its exploration of alternative sexualities. Samuel Delany's recent SF and fantasy clearly extrapolates precisely such a challenge, yet Lefanu is unwilling to consider Delany a feminist and even criticizes Joanna Russ for doing so. Russ' own work should offer a paradigm to explore this thesis. but though Lefanu does assert, in her chapter on Russ in Part Two. that The Female Man "ironically and gracefully open[s] up the subversive possibilities of the representation of lesbianism" (p. 18


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 189), she goes no further with this theme; Russ' "lesbian love story" On Strike Against God is not discussed at all. Further examples of truncated arguments of theses baldly emitted, without rigorous articulation or persuasive exemplification abound throughout the book's first part. (The only theme, it seems to me, that Lefanu substantially develops is the ideological difference between "dualist" and "separatist" depictions of future sexual politics.) Many issues of great relevance to SF studies are left dangling, tanta lizingly: the intersection of technology and gender, the harnessing of unconscious energies for utopian ends .... But it is pointless to multiply these here. To do so would be to demand of this book more than it seeks to achieve to insist that it be the" comprehensive and trenchant overview of the theoretic/histori cal intersection of feminism and science fiction" which, as I said above, I was expecting. Instead. Lefanu's study should be applauded for what it does accomplish (some excellent comparative readings) and for what it is: a personal statement of enthusiasm for feminist science fiction. Considering how conservative. if not reactionary, SF has gotten since the 70s, we need more works devoted to exploring the radical potentialities of the genre. As Lefanu says in her introduction, "the gaps [in her presentation) will be filled, I hope. and alternative readings offered, by other enthusiasts" (p. 9). If Feminism and Science Fiction does no more than stimulate the filling of these gaps, it will have done much, and perhaps become (forgive the sexist metaphor) a seminal work. -Rob Latham IReviewsl [Editor's Note: As usual, I've promised more than I can deliver: tfle much-delayed review-article on Darko Suvin's Positions and Presup positions in Science Fiction, which I guaranteed for this month, has had to be returned to its author for revision, and so will have to be rescheduled again. I am hopeful Bob Collins will have a final copy in hand by the end of September, which he can forward to the new editor, Betsy Hartst, for inclusion in the October issue (#171). In any case, that piece will definitely appear in a future issue, as will an article covering Karl Kroeber's Romantic Fantasy and Science Fiction. Bob will, of course, continue to commission substantial essays covering major non-fiction books, though it will probably be impossible to feature one per issue; one every other issue seems a more realistic 19


SFRA News/etter, No 170, September 1989 prediction, at least for the next year. Once Bob has managed to build up a backlog of essays, thus allowing their authors time for necessary revisions, this schedule can likely be improved. To insure that my final issue will not lack a review-article, I have written one myself covering Sarah Lefanu's Feminism and Science Fiction. Good luck, Betsy. Goodbye, all. -Rob Latham] Non-Fiction Capable, But Not Passionate Briggs, Julia. A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit 1858-1924. New Amsterdam, NY, 1988, XX + 473p. $27.95 hc. 0941533-03-4. [Originally published by Century Hutchinson, London, in 1987.] I remember as an undergraduate looking up from the library table to see in the stacks the name E. Nesbit. Excited (this was an early brush with nostalgia), I started reading Doris Langley Moore's biography of the author of two of my favorite childhood books, Five Children and It and The Phoenix and the Carpet. Learning about the sexual adventure of Edith Nesbit's life added dimension to my primitive understanding of the relationship between authors and their works. Moore's bio graphy, published in 1933 and revised in 1966, made use of all sorts of first-hand reports from Nesbit's family ane! friends. Now Julia Briggs makes use of the "more intimate details" Moore had not been able to publish so close to events but which she passed on to Briggs. Briggs' book, based on Moore's research as well as on a wealth of other materials, represents responsible, thorough scholarship and is itself responsible, thorough, earnest, useful, plodding, and somewhat repetitious. Edith Nesbit led a life which seems to overturn our expectations of Victorian/Edwardian manners. Seven months pregnant, she married Hubert Bland, who brought his mistress Alice Hoatson along. Both Bland and Nesbit had numerous affairs, while Hoatson played the faithful wife, running the house for them. Nesbit was a professional writer, often producing hackwork to keep food on the table. Her most famous lover was George Bernard Shaw otherwise she favored younger men --and she numbered among her friends H.G. Wells, Hilaire Belloc, Lord Dunsany, E.M. Forster, and Noel Coward. A work ing woman and a sexual free spirit, a friend also of Olive Shriner and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a founding member of the Fabian society, she rejected feminism. 20


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Briggs' major premise is contained in her biography's title: A Woman of Passion. Nesbit was passionate not only in her affairs. but in her hospitality, friendships, parenting, and, of course, writing as well. This premise is thoroughly supported by a number of letters to and from principals in the Nesbit/Bland circle. Briggs also discusses and sup ports connections between Nesbit's life and her fiction, and explores the prolific writer's poetry and adult fiction. Though we are convinced by Briggs' scholarship that Nesbit was a talented and energetic woman. her prose does not make us feel it. At its most telling, biography can inspire the excitement of fiction, but this one is written only sensibly, so it plods. This is, then, a capable but not a passionate study. -Joan Gordon Unreliable, Erratic, Poorly Organized Justice, Keith l., comp Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Refer ence: An Annotated Bibliography of Works about Literature and Film. McFarland, Jefferson. NC. June 1989. xiii + 226p. $27.50 hc. 0-89950-406-X. In spite of the title, not more than 20% of the 304 annotated books would be found in even a large general reference collection. The numbered entries are sequenced by author/editor and are grouped in nine chapters: history and criticism; author studies; general and author bibliographies; encyclopedias, indexes and checklists; TV, film and radio; comics, art and illustration; and anthologies, collections and annotated editions. There are author. title and subject indexes. Annotations average 250-300 words and combine descriptive and critical comment, but their length rarely reflects a book's relative importance. Similar works are often not comparatively evaluated or grouped together for easy comparison. Too many annotations are long-winded and/or ineptly written, lack critical rigor, and fail to clearly identify weak. dated, trivial or meretricious works. The same erratic criteria are evident in the three core collection lists of 53 titles. At least as many works are omitted as included. Although some 1987 books are included. there are important omissions, such as Curtis Smith's Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers (1981. 1986), Phil Hardy's Science Fiction {Film Encyclopedia} (1984), Marshall Tymn's now dated Fantasy Literature (1979) and Horror Literature (1981), as well as my Anatomy of Wonder. whose 1987 third edition critically annotated half again as many non-fiction books in SF alone. (Justice annotates only the badly dated 1976 edition.) 21


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Errors. inaccuracies and omissions are frequent, beginning with the first sentence of the introduction, suggesting little editorial supervision and almost certainly no review by outside readers. A very unreliable, poorly organized bibliographic guide which cannot be recommended. Neil Barron Fair, Balanced, and Insightful Sayer, George. Jack: CS. Lewis and His Times. Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1988, 278p. $19.95 hc. 0-06-067072-X. The public's curiosity about C.S. Lewis seems insatiable. The bibliograpl1y continues to grow, with new biographies every year, along with book-length studies of Lewis as scholar, author of fiction, and theologian. Collections of letters by his brother, biographies of his wife, and memoirs by his stepson have added substantially to our knowledge of the man, if not the artist. Heated controversies among disciples have recently erupted in print. centered chiefly around the actions of Father Walter Hooper, Lewis' literary executor. [See tile May issue of this newsletter, # 167. pp. 13-14.Ed I George Sayer was Lewis's student at Oxford and became a close personal friend until his teacl1er's deatl1 years later. He readily acknow ledges that the genial Oxbridge don was not without his mystery. On the day Sayer first sl10wed up to be tutored by Lewis, l1e was warned by J.R.R. Tolkien, "You'll never get to the bottom of him." And wl1ile Sayer never did, he felt called to write l1is book in order to present the factual background against which others migl1t contemplate "the motivation and character of a remarkable man who has l1ad, and is having, a profound effect on the modern mind." Of all the biographies and memoirs of Lewis, Sayer's seems to brinu tile man most clearly into focus. While l1e cannot fully account for Lewis's long devotion to Mrs. Moore, a woman old enough to be l1is mother, or the passionate attachment in the last few years of his life to tile woman l1e married, a brassy New Yorker of intemperate tongue, Sayer does tell us more than has anyone else about the dynamics of these relationsl1ips. Furthermore, l1e provocatively suggests tl1eir relevance to Lewis's writings. While Sayer regarded Lewis as a beloved master, he does not view him uncritically either as man or artist. The revelations of early life are not always palatable, and Lewis did not always deal wisely with an aloof father and a drunken brother. While Lewis's scholarship was brilliant and original, it remains controversial: his conclusions have always been questioned by influential colleagues. His Christian apologetics, which have earned for him (though he lived and died a practicing 22


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Anglican) an exalted place in the affections of American Evangelicals, were, on at least one occasion, shredded in Oxford debate. Lewis was twice denied a professorship at Oxford, by associates who questioned the depth of his scholarship, though probably also because of prejudice against his Christian orthodoxy, not to mention his literary popularity. His books themselves, even those now regarded as germinal classics, always received mixed reviews, often from critics who failed to understand them. When Out of the Silent Planet appeared, only two out of the initial sixty reviewers demonstrated any awareness of the book's theological underpinnings. When reviewers failed to discern any Christian message in his juvenile stories, Lewis jokingly suggested that England could be evangelized by a theology smuggled into people's minds under the guise of romance. Sayer believes that the Narnia stories, which he seems to rank highest in the Lewis canon, are those in which personal religious feelings found their purest expres sion. Lewis's poetry, it is further suggested, though presently highly regarded, will become more fully appreciated in the future. Sayer's accounting of his subject's tutorial style is especially interesting. Lewis was fearless in his assaults on popular idols, cant, and modern trendiness. All his students agreed that he was a teacher of exceptional intellectual and physical vitality trenchant, witty, and thoroughly trustworthy. In The Personal Heresy, C.S. Lewis eloquently attacked the idea that literature is an expression of a writer's personality and, therefore, that biograplly is helpful to a reader's understanding. Sayer's book seems to suggest otherwise, in both its intimate personal details and in its fair, balanced, and insightful assessment of a great man whose writing now seems destined for more than "minor classic" status. Allene S. Phy-O/sen Categorizing Fantasy Von Gunden, Kenneth. Flights of Fancy: The Great Fantasy Films. McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 1989, 295p. $25.95 hc. 0-89950-397-7. Perhaps the main reason why far fewer books are written about fantasy films than about horror and SF films is that the genre includes a wide variety of disparate works. This is illustrated by the fifteen films Von Gunden describes, each of which he feels represents a distinct subgenre. Besides nine old films of established reputation Beauty and the Beast (1946), The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), King Kong (1933), Lost Horizon (1937), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), The Thief of Baghdad (1940), Topper (1937), 23


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 and The Wizard of Oz (1939) -Von Gunden examines six recent films, of which I think four -Conan the Barbarian (1981). Popeye (1980), Superman (1980) and Time Bandits (1981) deserve study and two, The Dark Crystal (1982) and Dragonslayer (1981), do not. In his chapter-length discussions of each film. Von Gunden gives production background, emphasizing special effects; provides com plete credits, a lengthy synopsis and career sketches of key personnel; quotes from contemporary reviews; and adds his own commonplace criticism. Of The Dark Crystal. he says: "while it is a great fantasy film. it is not a great film," with its "flabby plot, poor logic. and weak central characters whose motivation is muddled or unclear." Evidently. Von Gunden's idea of a "great fantasy film" is pretty loose. He lists and very briefly describes other films in each of the subgenres he identifies, but fails to analyze in any depth the characteristics of each subgenre, the differences between them. and what. if anything. links them together besides the fact that all are fantastic but not horror, SF or animation. The book is optional for public libraries. not recommended for academic libraries. All libraries should have Peter Nicholls' The World of Fantastic Films (1984), which discusses 700 SF, horror and fantasy films in much less detail but with more critical acument than Von Gunden. Michael Klossner Fiction Is All Life Biological? Asimov, Janet. Mind Transfer. Ace, NY, Walker & Co., 1988. 312p. $17.95 hc. 0-8027-6748-6. [Now in paperback from Ace. January 1989, 296p. $3.95 pb. 0-441-53306-X.] The action is reasonably exciting, the locales are inventive. and the characters. both human and robot. are welldrawn, but the most interesting aspect of this novel is its philosophical speculation about what defines a human being. When. if ever, does an artificial brain become human? Will transfer of a human mind to a robot end that personality's humanity or make the human immortal? And. most important of all. is all life biological? Possible answers to these ques tions appear to be the real purpose of the book The robots of Mind Transfer are advanced beyond those of Isaac Asimov. on which they are based. and much of the plot derives from the fear "biohumans" have not only of the most advanced robots the superaide brains which can accept mind transfer but also of 24


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 those humans who choose to accept mind transfer in preference to death. There is additional tension between the comparatively tolerant society of Centauria, the spome (i.e. space home) in Alpha Centauri where the most advanced robots are manufactured, and the Terran Federation of Earth and our own solar system. In spite of objections by biofundamentalists (bioeffers) that have led to restriction of robots to low-level intelligence, experiments with advanced artificial brains have continued, guided by Matt Tully and his brother-in-law Jon Durant. The action begins with a mob attack on them during which Durant is killed. His son Adam is born with the help of the last extant superaide, Seven. who has already received Durant's mind transfer. Thereafter, most of the story deals with the efforts of Adam, Meg (his second cousin whom he marries), and Jonwon the most advanced robot of all, who is raised as a human being and Adam's adoptive brother to handle the problems of mind transfer (which Adam and Meg eventually accept), bioeffer hostility, and con frontation with a hitherto unknown, advanced species from another galaxy. Throughout they are helped by Adam's surrogate father Seven (the most interesting character in the book) who builds advanced robots, including Jonwon and those to which Meg and Adam mind transfer. Probably because Asimov has tried to give too much of the necessary background through conversations and inner reflections rather than straight exposition, the first thirty pages are stylistically stilted. But after that the story moves smoothly, and the book reads well. Arthur 0. Lewis Nightmare Logic Ballard, J.G. Running Wild. London, Hutchinson, 1988, 72p. .95 hc. Illustrated by Janet Wooley The publication of his 1984 semi-autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun by Simon & Schuster in 1985, followed by its film adaptation by Steven Spielberg in 1987, has made J.G. Ballard a familiar name to the American reading public. It has also finally made available in this country many of that author's works which until recently had existed only in British editions or in extremely rare American hardbacks. In 1985, Vintage Books brought out, on the heels of Empire, attractive paperback editions of Crash and Concrete Island (both 1973), works which had seen only limited hardcover release from Farrar, Strauss & Giroux in 1974; and, following the stateside printing of his 1987 novel The Day of Creation (Farrar, 1988), last year saw a flood of reissues, 25


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 as well as a major retrospective anthology, alongside numerous ar ticles on and interviews with Ballard appearing in various publications, from Rolling Stone to The Twilight Zone _. not to mention a spot on MTV's Music News. Clearly, Ballard has arrived on our shores with a vengeance quite literally, in fact: his 1988 promotional tour for Day of Creation marking his first visit to America outside of his fond imagination. It is appropriate, then, that Ballard's 1981 novel. Hello, America, which shows the author's deep fascination with American themes and values, has finally been released in this country (in hardcover and paperback editions from Carroll & Grat). Also, Ballard's various tales chroniCling the spiritual dissipation of the American space program have been gathered in a beautiful edition by Arkham House; called Memories of the Space Age, and illustrated with a rich surrealism by Jeffrey K. Potter, this volume presents some of the most memorable SF stories ever written about astronauts (outside the fictions of Barry Malzberg): from 1962's "The Cage of Sand" to 1985's "The Man Who Walked on the Moon." These stories forcefully display the New Wave strategy of examining the hidden obsessions of science, rather than manipulating the surface hardware; they are classics of "inner space" SF. Ballard's strangest and most exciting work, 1971's "novelkit" The Atrocity Exhibition, will be reprinted this fall by Re/Search Press in San Francisco, in a trade paperback edition supplemented with photos, essays, and new fiction by the author. This fragmented textual monster is already a surrealist masterpiece, a melding of SF materials with the avant-garde impulse of Alfred Jarry, Raymond Roussel. and William S. Burroughs; its reworking by the innovative editors at Re/Search (who have also published an excellent volume of interviews with and essays on Ballard) should only add to its air of calculated madness. Amid these reissues of earlier work, Ballard has also released a new short novel. Running Wild. Not exactly SF. the story it tells is probably best described as a mystery thriller, yet its truly strange central premise -not to mention its tone of otherworldly calm -give it a speculative dimension that links it with Ballard's trilogy of suburban disaster stories (Crash, Concrete Island, and High-Rise). Dr. Richard Greville, Deputy Psychiatric Adviser to the Metropolitan Police, narrates a terrible scene at Pang bourne Village, an exclusive planned community for upper-class professionals near London. As Greville moves across the neatly clipped lawns and through the quiet, pristine drawing-rooms, he seems to be witnessing "a nightmare exhibition that will never end," yet his brisk, clinical prose gives the display a surreal, hallucinated quality: 26


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 House by house, the assassins had moved swiftly through the estate on that quiet June morning, killing the owners, their chauffeurs and servants, before abducting the t 3 children. Husbands and wives were shot down across their stili-warm beds, stabbed In their shower stalls, electrocuted In their baths or crushed against their garage doors by their own cars. In a period generally agreed to be no more than 20 minutes some 32 people were savagely and efficiently done to death. Examining all the evidence (which includes videotape footage of the morning's events taken by closed-circuit cameras) and interrogating the only witness (one of the Pangbourne children, found later hiding in a railway station, who has been rendered catatonic by the horror), Greville ponders various possible explanations for the massacre: a terrorist assault, a "misdirected military exercise," the work of foreign powers or of organized crime. None of these theoretical models is adequate to the reality of the situation, however, which is gradually and chillingly revealed. Ballard has been criticized in some quarters for being unreadable, yet the pages of this novella seem to turn themselves. The tale is absorbing in the manner of certain truecrime novels like In Cold Blood and The Executioner's Song, but its key allusions to legendary figures like Robin Hood and Joan of Arc give it a mythic quality. As so often with Ballard, we follow the cerebrations of a central character who may or may not be a bit unhinged, as 11e seeks to puzzle out the "nightmare logic" of "some uniquely strange event" that threatens to impel him "into another continuum" (offhand allusions to a "grassy knoll" and to the firing of a "starter's pistol" suggest connections with another of the author's obsessions). Greville's voice is lucid and detached, yet it vibrates with paranoid intenSity -a triumph of the art of unreliable narration. It would be unfair to tip the author's carefully stacked hand by revealing the outcome of the mystery, but suffice it to say that Running Wild is, for all its upper-class appurtenances, a truly subversive book, proposing an improbable but compelling form of revolution. Like a disturbing homemade film found among the carnage at Pang bourne, the novel is "a work of eerie and threatening prophecy," unveiling the horror that lurks beneath the "over-sleek contentment" of contem porary affluence. The book's sweeping final line sums up a dark judgment echoed in recent works by other British speculative fic tionists, most notably Doris Lessing in The Fifth Child, and brings to an unsettling close this exquisite short novel. Clark Carey 27


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Cybergags Bova, Ben. Cyberbooks. Tor, NY, May 1989, 283p. $17.95 hc. 0-31293181-6. Bova does here for the publishing industry what he did for Hol lywood in The Starcrossed, sending up the entire enterprise with a ludicrous mix of scheming characters, unworkable bureaucracies, and mock melodramatics. Into a steamy environment of corporate espionage in a near-future Manhattan steps hero Carl Lewis, who naively announces that his invention, the electronic book, will cut publishers' expenses and support industries by 90%. This Messiah is greeted with predictable outrage: a friend tells him, ':Jesus Christ, kid, you're gonna get us both killed'" Yet some find his invention an aid in their unending game of corporate oneupsmanship. The name cyber book is arrived at because its promoters maintain, "we need a catchy name for it," and the game is on. Before it is over, we are treated to a New York reduced to utter absurdity: gangs of out-of-work executives wash cars at traffic lights to supplement their welfare checks: a CEO guards his office with poisonous snakes; Mafia thugs steal a cruise missile -to blow up a cruise ship; and women use pheromone spray to manipulate men. But for all its silly fun, Cyberbooks addresses a real situation, a breaking wave of technology so near it may be seen arriving on all sides; high-tech really does threaten traditional publishing, and the ugly supermarket mentality of most mass fiction publishers deserves all the derision this book gives it. Here as in his more serious near-future extrapolations like Test of Fire and Peacekeepers, Bova rests his plot on younger folk struggling to realize their dreams while threatened on all sides by cynical governments and corporate powers. For lovers of broad comedy with real bite, this book is not to be missed. Of course, readers will have to turn the pages by hand until the revolution comes. ThomDunn Games Compton Plays Compton, D.G. Scudder's Game. Kerosina, Worchester Park, UK, 1988, 175p. .95 hc. 0-948893-22-2. ___ Radio Plays. Kerosina, 1988, 62p. .50 pb. 0-948893-24-9. It's August 2039, the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery that has saved civilization: a device that combines orgasmic enhancement with failsafe contraception. Sexual desire and reproduction are finally detached from one another, and the resulting fall in the world's popula tion leads to a "peaceful, crime-free, universally wealthy" society in 28


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 which each person has access to a much greater share of the earth's resources and enjoys the kind of spacious, relaxed life utopians hardly dare dream about any longer. Now 34, Pete Laznett has been estranged from his parents for exactly half his life. At 17, he had viewed their love for him as obsessive, their indifference to one another as criminal. Now, more mature, he decides to mark the anniversary of mankind's salvation by leaving the city and attempting a reconciliation with his parents, who live in an enormous mansion on the coast of Maine. Yet Laznett's father, Scudder, an eccentric repairman of now ubi quitous video communication screens, proves to be peculiarly elusive. Moreover his mother, who to Pete seems to be a superannuated New England Puritan, poses a different kind of difficulty to a thoroughly organized son who makes his living as an umpire of the kind of complex video-based stock-trading games that are a popular pasttime of the age. But such difficulties of communication are merely a prelude to what follows. Laznett finds himself caught up in a nightmarish Oedipal drama, in the course of which he comes to understand the vanity of his hopes for an easy resolution of his alienation from his parents. At the same time he learns the price of the achieved utopia in which he lives: how formerly overt desires have become treacherously sub merged, how healthy dissent is neutralized by universal surveillance and degenerates into terrorism. There are a few things wrong with Scudder's Game. The Maine setting for a newly depopulated world is unfortunate: there isn't suffi cient contrast with the present. The text sometimes reads like a penultimate draft, in which there are too many sentence fragments and expository passages haven't quite been smoothly incorporated into the narrative. Still, this is an ambitious and fascinating novel, an affirmation of human intractability. We come to learn, like Laznett, just why this perfect society is so intolerable. Compton, who should be better known, is the author of several fine novels focusing on interper sonal relations as they are transformed sometimes deformed -by near-future technology, notably The Un sleeping Eye (1974) and its sequel Windows (1979). (The fonner was filmed as Death Watch and is one of the outstanding SF films of the past decade.) Scudder's Game is published by Kerosina Books, a relatively new British house specializing in handsomely-produced works in small editions by authors who don't fit the brutally rigid categories of the contemporary SF publishing industry. There are fine chapter-head illustrations by another Kerosina author, Keith Roberts. 29


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Kerosina has simultaneously released a collection of Radio Plays by Compton, two of the twenty-odd the author, in his introduction, admits to having produced. "A Turning off the Minch Park Road" is a satire on dehumanization, while "Time Exposure" is a more serious piece exploring the sinister quality of time as frozen by the camera and its effect on two eccentric old sisters. Both plays reveal the connections between SF and the Theater of the Absurd in Britain: these plays derive from the same tradition as Harold Pinter and Monty Python. but as the author is coy about dates of composition or first broadcast, it's impossible to say which way the influences flowed. Both plays are technically accomplished rattler more so, indeed, than Scudder's Game and show the comparative freedom from ghettoization once enjoyed' by the British SF writer. It is a freedom Kerosina Books are doing their best to maintain. Nicholas Ruddick Businessman's Launch Garn, Senator Jake & Stephen Paul Cohen. Night Launch. Morrow, NY, April 1989, 285p. $18.95 hc. 0-688-06717-4. Question: When is a novel with a spaceship on the cover. a setting in the future, and a plot involving tricky maneuvers in space, not SF? Answer: When it's "A Novel of Suspense," nominally by a U.S. senator and intended for a general audience. The "suspense" labelling is primarily a marketing decision, and since the novel is copyrighted to the Bill Adler Books fiction factory, it must have been designed to sell books as much, of course, as is consistent with the senator's own goal of looking clean-minded while promoting the space program. And the book itself? Well, the plot neo-Nazi terrorists hijack a space shuttle -is serviceable enough: when the action takes off (literally and figuratively), you will keep reading. The characters are a pretty cardboardy lot, with just enough identity to serve the plot. The writing generally is flat, too, though occasionally the details that are slathered on to make things look Authentic do manage to show the incongruity of violent men invading the tranquility of space. So, to return to the original question, this book is the product of a time when a conservative Republican senator, who's been given a ride on a space shuttle flight to seal his allegiance to NASA, can front a novel that uses the paraphernalia of SF. It shows how thoroughly what we used to consider SF devices have become accessible to the manufacturers of mainstream fiction. Night Flight isn't of much interest in itself. As a cultural artifact. however, it's endlessly fascinating. Joe Sanders 30


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 All in the Family Gotlieb, Phyllis. Heart of Red Iron. St. Martin's, NY, April 1989, 235p. $15.95 hc. 0-312-02583-1. In Oh Master Caliban! (1976), Gotlieb described an unlikely com bination of outcast mutants and snotnosed kids banded together to defeat the ergs (independent machines) that had taken over a chaotic jungle planet. Heart of Red Iron continues the story, with the four armed leader of the earlier expedition and his wife (one of the snotty kids) returning to the hostile planet with a diverse batch of colonists, only to discover that all the ergs weren't subdued. This is a vast oversimplication of the plot. Gotlieb's quirky, elliptical prose presents a variety of vivid aliens and alienated humans working at cross-purposes. In Oh Master Ca/iban!, for example, the hero's goal is not just to recapture the experimental station from the ergs but to reconnect with his father, a scientist who appears to have created his son as a multi-armed freak and then abandoned him. In Heart, he discovers he must relate to a "normal" brother and a distant "mother." Meanwhile, the subterranean community of ergs demands recognition as intelligent life, and a spacecraft piloted by crystalline beings is lodged precariously in the rim of a volcano. And that's not all. ... But somehow, wondrously, the characters' strangeness turns out to be less important than their ability to empathize with others, to discover that no physical or mental barrier can prevent love taking root. If A.E. Van Vogt could tie all the tumbling elements of his plots together, if his overall mood was not paranoid egoism but fascinated affection, if he could write -then he might turn out books like this. In fact, there's no SF writer quite like Gotlieb. She certainly isn't prolific (and turning out a sequel thirteen years after the original book isn't the slickest of marketing strategies), but her small pile of stories and novels deserves attention and admiration. -Joe Sanders Plan 9 from Nacogdoches Lansdale, Joe R. The Drive-In 2. Bantam/Spectra, NY. July 1989, 179p. $3.95 pb. 0-553-27905-X. How appropriate that in the same summer Friday the 13th: Part VII and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 are luring hordes of goremongers to the movie theaters, Joe R. Lansdale has written The Drive-In 2, the sequel to a 1988 novel in which he considered the human condition in terms of a midnight splatter movie marathon. Readers who ap preciated the savage energy of Lansdale's Nightrunners or the light 31


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 fantasy of The Magic Wagon will no doubt wonder why so gifted a writer wastes Ilis time turning out fluff like this, but then one might just as well try to explain wily sequels tend to outsell their predecessors. Lansdale has subtitled The Drive-In 2 "Not Just One of Them Sequels," but alas it is one of them sequels. right down to the patented sequel success formula of cloning the original story. Set in a corner of east Texas that a passing comet has transformed into a B-movie backlot. The Drive-In 2 opens where the first novel left off. with the survivors of the ordeal at the Orbit Drive-In's weekly All-Night Horror Show exploring their strange new world. In the course of their travels. they meet up with an archaeologist and martial arts expert (not to mention love interest) named Grace. Through a long flashback that reads like a rougll draft of the original novel, Grace recounts Iler meeting witll Popalong Cassidy. a Twinkie-munching, gun-toting TVaddict who Ilas mutated into a despotic demigod witll a TV screen for a Ilead. Popalong is still on tile rampage, but our heroes are the same boys wllo dispatclled the monstrous Popcorn King in the first novel. and they experience only minor technical difficulties pulling Popalong's plug. The Drive-In 2 wouldn't even merit a read-tllrough were it not for Lansdale's homely deadpan humor. One-liners are embedded in the narrative like gold nuggets in a creek bed. But too mucll flotsam meanders around them. muddying the stream of tllought and dimming their luster. One could try to read serious meaning into certain parts of the novel the symbolic significance of a heroine named "Grace," the quasiBiblical satire of a video-suckled society but tllat would require thinking that The Drive-In 2 is attempting to say something serious about life in our time ... Naaallhllll. Stefan R. Dziemianowicz Original Ideas McAuley, Paul J. Of the Fall. Del Rey, NY. June 1989, 343p. $3.95 pb. 0-345-36056-7. There is plenty going on in this novel. On Elysium, a planet in the Tau Ceti system, Ilumanity has a tenuous hold, mostly in the city of Port of Plenty. A number of anomalous elements such as aboriginal humanoids who go into frozen trances whenever humans appear, confusion over the expected arrival of a colony ship, and a mysterious suicide open out into a complex adventure narrated from a number of different perspectives. 32


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 McAuley writes well, although at times (perhaps because of the scope of the plot) he descends to stereotypical characterization and to a level of violence which borders on the gratuitous. Still, the book steams along, engaging both in its action and in the mysteries at its center. One could wish that the center had been brought into sharper focus, for so many people are rushing about using weapons in the last chapters that several very original ideas are slightly obscured in the crossfire. Though Of the Fall is worth reading for itself. what is really interesting about the novel is its promise. Once McAuley learns to tighten his narrative and begins to explore further the philosophical implications of the elements he's thinking up. I believe he will become a very important writer. (He was co-winner of the 1988 Philip K. Dick Award for his novel Four Hundred Billion Stars.) McAuley's higll aspirations are evinced in his two epigraphs, which focus on the theme of indeter minacy. Unfortunately, he is trapped between the rather rigorous demands of an action novel and the something more hinted at in the epigraphs. Still. McAuley's ambition is admirable. and I would judge that he is soon going to write some of the better SF of the next decade. Peter Brigg Thunder Strike-Out! McCollum, Michael. Thunder Strike!. Del Rey, NY, June 1989, 403p. $4.50 pb. 0-345-35352-8. McCollum's sixth novel for Del Rey is an awkwardly-told. ultimately dull mixture of .1990s science and 1930s fiction. A cornet heads for earth. threatening total annihilation. Attempts to destroy it prove fruit less, so the Fearless Engineer protagonist comes up with a plan to divert it just enough so it will strike the moon instead. Trouble is, Luna is an independent nation of ten million citizens. one of whom is the Beautiful Astronomer he loves. All of this could have made a tight suspenseful novel of perhaps 200 pages; instead, the author seems compelled to demonstrate how much he knows about astrophysics. metallurgy, nuclear engineering, etc., whether or not this information functions to advance his plot. He usually manages to situate a non-scientist character within easy ear shot of whatever expert happens to be expounding; when he can't manage this, he just stops the action for yet another science lecture. The lectures are actually more interesting than the characters. To call them cardboard would be to insult packing boxes everywhere. The inevitability of the Big Collision (divulged by the back-cover blurb, which effectively disposes of the first 160 pages) makes for a 33


SFRA News/eNer, No. 170, September 1989 very dull read that is, until the novel's last quarter, which suddenly turns into a tight, Analog-type, problem-solving novella. as the main characters. stranded on Luna with the comet bearing down, must use their wits and know-how to escape. Here the science is relevant to the plot development, but the episode comes far too late to save the book as a whole. Buy Thunder Strike! if the Science in SF is all you care about if you think sophistication in the Fiction part is equally important, save your money. Bill Collins Communities of Women Norton, Andre, ed. Four from the Witch World. Tor. NY. February 1989, 271p. $16.9511C. 0-312-93153-0. Judging from the dust jacket, this book is written by Andre Norton. Her name is blazoned on the cover, before the title, with the significant qualifier "created" appearing in very small print. There is a brief introduction by Norton, but the stories and their afterwords have been created by other authors. And yet, though the marketing of the book is misleading, in another sense it is accurate. These four novellas could not have been written without Norton's Witch World series. but, even more importantly, each author takes the responsibility of being true to the spirit of the Witch World quite seriously. The result is not slavish devotion, but an admirable emUlation of the best that Norton has to offeran original and intriguing setting. a plot of character matura tion. an interest in psionics and in the position of women. These four novellas cover widely different cultures from Witch World. This diversity itself attests to the richness of Norton's series. One story focuses on the plight of the daughter of the Dales: the second on the contact between a survivor of the Dales and Estcarp; the third on islanders; the fourth on the falconers. Each writer Elizabeth H. Boyer, C.J. Cherryh. Meredith Ann Pierce. and Judith Tarr follows her story with a testimonial to the effect of Norton's work on their own writing. The stories provide even stronger evidence of their respect for Norton. Not surprisingly, all four writers are women; Norton's work is marked by an attention to strong female protagonists and female-identified powers, pSionics. or "magic." With this collection (and similar previous collections). Norton reveals that she creates communities of women not only in her fiction, but also in the real world. Reading this book is like reading one of Norton's novels -an enjoyable and engrossing experience. The attentive reader will find strong similarities in the underlying "Nortonian" premises of each story, though the settings and writing styles differ. This book is strongly 34


SFRA Newsletter, No 170, September 1989 recommended for fans of Andre Norton, as well as for those who enjoy SF and fantasy that focuses on feminist issues. -Robin Roberts Sheffield Re-8ound Sheffield, Charles. Proteus Unbound. Del Rey, NY, March 1989, 261 p. $3.95 pb. 0-345-34434-0. Sheffield's latest SF novel is a direct sequel to his very first. Sight of Proteus (1978). Set in the 2220s, about thirty years after the end of the earlier novel, Proteus Unbound focuses, as did its predecessor, on the computer-aided technique of "form-change," which enables human beings to alter their physical structure. The human race's three main political entities the Inner System, the Kernel Ring, and the Outer System co-exist In a precarious web of mutual dependence. Threatening this harmony is a charismatic Kernel Ring revolutionary who has found a way to interfere with the Outer System's computers. Since the computer programs involved in form-change are particularly sensitive, problems first appear in the form-change devices. Recruited in a desperate attempt to stave off chaos is Behrooz Wolf (protagonist of the earlier novel), who, as the former head of earth's Office of Form Control, is a recognized authority on form-change. As a sequel, Proteus Unbound raises the obvious question: has its author, who has certainly achieved popularity, also improved as a writer in tile decade between his first novel and this one? In some ways, yes, he has. He wrote tile sequel partly, I think. to remedy the flaws of the earlier work --which was criticized for not depicting an actual form-change, for not including enough women characters, and for making into stereotypes the few women who did appear. In Proteus Unbound, we see Wolf undergoing three form-changes; we meet four important female characters: and, arguably at least, these women go beyond stereotypes. Moreover, Sheffield has learned to mask his exposition better and to manage more smoothly a manystranded plot. Unfortunately, the novel also has problems. The situation at the end of the earlier novel virtually disappears from this one. Meanwhile, the basic stories are much too similar: Wolf saves the earth in the first book; Wolfe saves the solar system here. We have yet another scientific genius: in fact, Apollo Belvedere Smith might be a teenaged version of the earlier volume's Robert Capman. The women here are not all that far away from stereotypes: there's the woman who falls for the 35


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 protagonist. the woman the protagonist falls for, an older woman sexually interested in a male adolescent, and mira bile dictu! a woman whose frustrated maternal instinct results in her becoming the Outer System's security chief. For a space opera, remarkably little happens, although there is a great deal of talking. Finally, the novel ends anticlimactically: not only is Wolf unconscious during the action, but Sheffield also permits the villain to escape. This is not, obviously, Sheffield's breakthrough novel. for it demonstrates that he still needs to bring the level of his fiction up to the breathtakingly high level of his scierlce. I would like to see him jettison the space-opera conventions, consider more carefully the social impact of his technological vision, and shape his plot toward a more satisfying closure. Todd H. Sammons Saily's Crosstime Cathouse Robinson, Spider. Callahan's Lady. Ace, NY. May 1989, 191 p. $16.95 hC.0-441-090733-7. Some readers who like the outrageous puns and shaggy dog stories spun by Spider Robinson in his tales of long, boozy nights spent at Callahan's Place will probably enjoy Callahan'S Lady. This episodic novel follows the professional and private life of a young prostitute, Maureen, who is "rescued" from the streets by Lady Sally. Lady Sally, the madam of a brothel in Brooklyn, is the wife of Mike Callahan, and her business tends to attract the same kind of exotic clientele as her husband's establishment. There is no need to further adumbrate the plot: suffice it to say that the episodes are typical examples of Robinson's Callahan oeuvre. The metamorphosis of Callahan's Place into Sally's Place is some what less than successful, since the pun and games of the stories collected in Callahan's Crosstime Saloon and Callahan's Secret do not hold up over a novel-length work. All the episodes could just as well have been written about Callahan's Place. None of the subjects not even the single explicitly sexual one of the extraordinary virility of a customer known as "Coit" for the obvious reasons really requires the change of locale from bar to bordello. The change seems gratuitous and in the end sexist and somewhat less than tasteful in all the superficial. barstool philosophizing about men, women, sex, and relationships that it engenders. -Peter C. Hall 36


SFRA Newsletter, No 170, September 1989 Impressive, Impressive Simmons, Dan. Phases of Gravity. Bantam/Spectra, NY, May 1989, 278p. $4.50 pb. 0-553-27764-2. ___ Hyperion. Doubleday/Foundation, NY, June 1989, 482p. $8.95 trade pb. 0-385-26348-1. Dan Simmons first came to my attention as the author of a number of horrific stories in the late Twilight Zone magazine. His profoundly disturbing first novel, Song of Kali (1985), won the World Fantasy Award. His second novel, the equally terrifying Carrion Comfort, has received rave reviews. Now, however. we have proof that the prolific Mr. Simmons is not simply a writer of horror fiction. Although his third and fourth books, Phases of Gravity and Hyperion. both contain some frightening moments, the former is essentially a mainstream novel of character, while the latter is pure science fiction. Phases of Gravity, although published as part of Bantam's Spectra Special Editions series (which also includes SF and fantasy by Ian McDonald, Mike McQuay and others), is a realistic novel set exactly eighteen months after the Challenger disaster. It concerns Richard Beadecker, former astronaut. one of only ten men ever to set foot on the moon. Approaching middle age, bored with his job, divorced, and increasingly alienated from his only son. Beadecker feels as if his life has no purpose. Even his time on the moon is something he remem bers with ambiguity and regret. since it didn't quite live up to his expectations but has nonetheless turned every1hing else into anti climax. The novel traces Baedecker's half-unconscious quest for meaning and' fo'r what a friend calls the places of power in his life first to India, where his son has joined a cult, then to his hometown in Illinois, where they stage a parade in his honor. but spell his name wrong on all the signs. Later he seeks out the two men who went with him to the moon, one now a successful fundamentalist preacher, the other a U.S. senator dying of cancer. Finally he undergoes a drug-in duced mystical experience half-way up a butte in South Dakota. Phases of Gravity is a quiet sort of book, a character study first and foremost. and. secondarily, a look at the ongoing malaise of our post-Challenger space program. Although not science fiction, it has much to say about our attitudes toward space exploration and, more importantly, about the attitudes of those who actually do that explora tion. I recommend it highly. Equally impressive is Simmons' third novel of 1989, Hyperion. Unlike the author's other books. this one is set in the far future. Humanity, under the Interstellar governing body known as the 37


SFRA Newsletter, No. 770, September 7989 Hegemony of Man, has colonized dozens of worlds, many of which are now connected through the Web, a teleportation system so sophis ticated that it allows the very rich to own homes with rooms on a dozen different planets. In varying states of truce and conflict with the Hegemony are a number of minor hUman worlds and two major powers, the Ousters, renegades who live entirely in space and who have evolved beyond their human origins, and the TechnoCore, a complex civilization of Artificial Intelligences, once humanity's ser vants, now independent. The three great powers are locked in a tense, but fairly stable, alignment. The planet Hyperion, however, is something of a wild card, en dangering the balance. An undeveloped, backwater world not yet connected to the Web, it harbors the Time Tombs, strange structures of unknown purpose that appear to be moving backwards through time. Even more threatening is the Shrike, a mysterious killing machine that guards the Tombs and has become the central figure of veneration for a powerful, Web-spanning religious cult. The Tombs and the Shrike represent a technology beyond anything the three great powers con trol. The galactic balance of power becomes unstable when it appears that the Time Tombs are about to open and when the Shrike, which was formerly restricted to the immediate area of the Tombs, begins to rove at will across Hyperion, killing indiscriminately. It Is feared that if the creature can gain access to the Web, it could bring down the Hegemony. The Ousters, we learn, are prepared to use force to gain control of the planet. Simmons' tale concerns a desperate pilgrimage across the surface of Hyperion to the Time Tombs. The group's official purpose is to discover the answer to the mystery the Tombs represent before civilization's collapse, although each member also has a private reason for being there. Six of the pilgrims tell how they came to be part of the group, and these novellalength narratives make up the bulk of Hyperion, with the main plotline being, essentially, a seventh tale. Although this narrative arrangement seems somewhat artificial (a nod to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, just as the Time Tombs may be an allusion to the J.G. Ballard story of that name), most of the individual stories are so strong that the entire structure holds together quite successfully. My only criticism of the book involves the ending. Simply put, Simmons stops just short of the story's logical climax, with war between the Hegemony and the Ousters raging in the sky above Hyperion and the pilgrims making their final approach to the Time Tombs. Will the Catholic priest be freed from the hideous parasite that 38


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 infests him? Will the renegade poet find some meaning in life? Will the philosopher find a way to counteract the horrible reverse-aging dis ease which afflicts his daughter? Will the detective avenge the death of the Artificial Intelligence who was her lover? We never find out the answers to these or half a dozen other questions most importantly. what are the Time Tombs. what is the Shrike. and what is the purpose of each? I enjoyed Hyperion enormously but felt a bit cheated by the ending. It is to be hoped that there will be a sequel. The book. in any case, along with Phases of Gravity. is proof of the versatility of Dan Simmons' talent. He clearly deserves to be considered a major figure in the field. Michael M. Levy Waiting for the Dawn Watt-Evans, Lawrence. Nightside City. Del Rey. NY, April 1989. 227p. $3.95 pb. 0-345-35944-5. Nightside City is a novel rich in context but spare in content. Lawrence Watt-Evans has written a sword-and-sorcery fantasy series. The Lords of Dus. as well as five other SF works (not to mention last year's Hugo-winning short story. "Why I Left Harry's All-Night Ham burgers"). and he clearly knows the formulas that capture and hold reader interest. In fact. this novel contains a wealth of intriguing material: a planet in the process of ceasing its rotation; a city of casinos designed to cater to the tastes of the affluent. built in a crater on the planet's dark side but doomed by the final stages of rotation to emerge into deadly sunlight; a secret plan to stop the planet's movement before the city is destroyed (or so people are led to believe); and a detective protagonist Carlisle Hsing reminiscent of Bogart (to whom. along with The Doors. the novel is dedicated). but female this time. who happens by accident upon the secret. Events take place in the multi leveled subculture of Nightside City. where constant interaction among humans. artificial intelligences (both digital and biological). cyborgs. and "genens" (products of genetic engineering) is the norm. All of this is worked into a plot which utilizes the formulas of detective fiction. of action-adventure SF. and even of cyberpunk narrative. The reader wants to solve the puzzle uncovered by Hsing. admires her courage. sympathizes with her compassion for the disadvantaged (including sentient taxicabs programmed to desire freedom from their owners). and In due course is pleased at her success. Beyond this the plot does not go. Still. such a wealth of develop-able material lies in the background of this novel that one wishes a story of its own for each 39


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 detail. Nightside City is formula fiction, recognizable as such from the start; yet the context it creates is complex and evocative, and of itself makes the novel worth the read. Mary-Kay Bray Young Adult Dislocated 80s Suburbia Blackwood, Gary L. The Dying Sun. Atheneum, NY, 1989, 213p. $13.95 hc. 0-689-31482-5. In the year 2050, glaciers, part of a new ice age. are creeping down into the U.S., driving Americans into Mexico and South America. James, a high school student, his mother, father, aunt, and cousins live in cramped family-to-a-room apartments, until a fire convinces his parents to move the clan north, to Missouri. James. refusing to go. moves in with friend Robert and his drug addict father in a slum. After Robert's father dies and Robert is maimed by an MLA (Mexican Liberation Army) pipe bomb, the boys decide to go north to join his family, hooking up with a ne'er-do-well drifter named Sunny Shanahan along the way. The rest of the book tells of James' adjustment to the north, Robert's decision to go his own way. and Sunny's fate. Much of the conflict in the first section of the book, in Mexico, is about going to the nearly unliveable, sparsely inhabited north. But when we're there, Missouri seems no worse than the most populous parts of present -day Canada. This is a serious flaw in a book that suffers from many problems. Much of the novel (the first section particularly) is written in carb YA style, a sort of mall-TV-sitcom idiom intended, one im agines, to echo how adolescents talk, think, and, presumably. write. The style makes it impossible to take the story in Mexico. parts of which are rather grim, very seriously. None of the discomfort or problems heat, overcrowding, political unrest, poverty are made vivid; we feel nothing. It is merely dislocated 80s suburbia. There is much in the book that is inconclusive or undeveloped. Characters appear and disappear without having real bearing on the story. James' quasi-attraction to his cousin JUdith, a puzzling and unsatisfactory subplot, is unresolved. Sunny Shanahan never comes alive of himself; he's a plot catalyst that wears pants. Themes such as making choices and confronting the fear of death -do not arise from the story; they are pasted on from without. 40


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Despite these problems, Blackwood is generally a competent writer. The last section of the book, describing life in the near-wilds, is imbued with sincerity and vitality, and some of the adolescent Robert Cormier like tone disappears. While still troubled, this section makes The Dying Sun, if not a success, at least worth the read. William Mingin Fascinating Reversal of Moreau Dickinson, Peter. Eva. Delacorte, NY, 1988, 219p. $14.95 hc. 0-38529702-5. While H.G. Wells turned beasts into men in The Island of Dr. Moreau, Peter Dickinson turns a young girl into a chimpanzee. Actually, it's a researcher who transplants her brain into the body of a chimp in order to save her life. Though later subjects reject the procedure and die, Eva, who had been raised with baby chimps (including Kelly, whose body she is now using), was imprinted early with chimpanzee patterns and is therefore able to accept her new body. Her dilemma, as presented here, is not religious or social: it is whether she chooses to train the chimp body to have human reactions or to program her brain with acceptable chimp behavior. Further, though few indeed in this overpopulated, effete society would show any concern, Eva recog nizes her moral obligation to the chimpanzee race for her use of Kelly's body. What she has to offer them and it certainly cannot be her human genes -is the subject matter of this faSCinating evolu tion/devolution novel. Eva is marketed as a YA novel, undoubtedly because its heroine is less than fourteen in Part One. But Dickinson, winner of several awards for children's fiction, writes for adults as well (indeed, his mystery novel. The Poison Oracle, also featured human-chimp communication as a major theme) and Eva breaks the age barriers. Once the possibility of interspecies brain transplanting is accepted, a reader of any age will thoroughly enjoy Eva's situation. A chapter epigraph suggests the conflicts and tensions Dickinson so capably creates and maintains: "Living with a purpose.! Waking with it already at work in your mind.! Allies, enemies, schemes, failures.! Secrets./ Even in the mlnute-by minute life of the Reserve, thinking all the time.! One day ... somehow ... Eva is highly recommended. Muriel Rogow Becker 41


SFAA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Children's Colorless Dexter, Catherine. Mazemaker. Morrow Junior, NY, May 1989, 224p. $11.95 hc. 0-688-07383-2. The heroine, twelve-year-old Winnie, is intrigued by the maze that appears painted on the aspl1alt of her school yard during summer vacation. After she and younger friend Harry watch a stray cat tread to the center of tile maze and there vanish, paws first, Winnie can't keep from trying to walk it. She does and finds herself transported back a century: She is adopted by twelve-year-old Lily, occupant of Crescent Ridge, the big house of the neighborhood, which also harbors Aunt Harriet. the alternately ingratiating and menacing housekeeper Mrs. Minot, and the cowed maid Clara. Only Lily and Mrs. Minot have any real part in the action of the story. whicl1 is simply how is to get back to l1er own time. Tile plot devices to achieve tl1is are just obscure enougll to astonish the eigl1t-to-ten year aids who may read tl1is book. Winnie has the bold spirit, coupled with tile attacks of frigl1t and lack of self-confidence. requiSite for tile l1eroine of a children's book; a few added cl1aracter flaws give l1er l1uman dimensions. Tile otl1er cl1aracters seem cut from tile same sheet of gray pasteboard, using the same general-purpose pattern. They are hard to differentiate. The mazemaker of the title is especially colorless. He created the maze in the eighteenth century, we are told, used it to time-travel to at least two different futures, and allowed the maze to capture some later individuals who ventured into it as did Winnie and the cat. This nameless man appears but once, quite late, and l1as nothing to do but explain how much a victim of the maze he is himself. Winnie instructs him to dismantle it and see that the entrapped people are returned to their proper times. He does so, but never explains why he didn't do it on his own initiative long before. Dexter has written two other books for young readers, with some success. (Gertie's Green Thumb was a Junior Literary Guild selection In 1984, and The Oracle 001/ was a fantasy meshed with realism.) Readers under twelve will no doubt find Mazemaker pleasant reading. This particular adult thought it half-set jello. Paula M. Strain 42


SFRA Newsletter, No. 170, September 1989 Art Languid Violence Fabian, Stephen E. Nightmares in Blood. Outland [PO. Box 1104, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632), 1988. Twelve b-w plates in color wraparound jacket. Edition limited to 1800 signed and numbered copies. $28 postpaid. This portfolio consists of twelve plates illustrating stories from Clive Barker's six-volume collection of short stories Books of Blood. The publisher's advertising copy characterizes the interpretations as "nightmarish" and "blood-curdling"; yet, though the illustrations do feature human and inhuman monsters, they are hardly the "monsters whose appearance beggared the nightmares of insanity" (from Barker's story "The Skins of the Fathers"). In each of the illustrations a scene loosely inspired by a story occupies the upper two-thirds of the drawing, while the lower third is framed by a border of figures, constituting a gallery of detailed portraits. In the illustration for "New Murders in the Rue Morgue," the portraits crowd the graphic depiction of the orang-outang's killings into a smaller space, and the serene faces of the six characters contrast oddly with the violence of the murder scene. This contrast between the horrific central action and the stylized, even elegant framing device is most striking, creating an impression of a nightmare that has passed from immediacy to artistic mediation. The prevailing tone of the color wraparound painting is dark blue with touches of a chalky white, but the eye Is irresistibly drawn to a half-nude female, colored in dramatic, highlighted reds, and the skele tal phantom that appears to be pulling at and unravelling a sash secured by a water-green, jewelled pin. Fabian's style here recalls the 40's Weird Tales covers and interiors of Virgil Finlay and Lee Brown Coye. Thus, although the finish given to scenes by Fabian's adept pen and brush may not capture the ooze and slime of Barker's slippery landscapes, it is, finally, appropriate for a writer who is inspired by the same pulp tradition as the American genre artist. -Walter Albert 43


o ...., m o > ...., tTl ;:0 r I """C ... l m >-C/l m o o 7: q ...., o t'71 r -< ',-", 'J n :::; r', -',c -;..-..... r_ :::; -r# :3 '..;J r-0 .... Jj :::-:3 +--' 'JJ ...--: !.J G y, '.< rt :::; ...., '-" Z? -' r:; r


Download Options

Choose Size
Choose file type
Cite this item close


Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.


Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.


Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.


Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.