SFRA newsletter

SFRA newsletter

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SFRA newsletter
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Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
Science Fiction Research Association
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[Eugene, Ore
Science Fiction Research Association]
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Science fiction -- History and criticism ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- History and criticism -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Science fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Fantasy fiction -- Book reviews -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
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University of South Florida Library
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S67-00077-n186-1991-04 ( USFLDC DOI )
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SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 In This Issue: President's Message (Lowentrout) ............................................................. 3 22nd Annual SFRA Conference Update (Bogle) ....................................... .4 Recent & Forthcoming Books (Barron) ...................................................... 5 Miscellany (Barron, et al.) ......................................................................... 7 Two SFRA Members Die (Hull) ............................................................... 10 Letters to the Editor ................................................................................. 10 REVIEWS Non-Fiction: Andrew, The Mask of the Prophet (Hall) ................................................. 14 Baldick, In Frankenstein's Shadow (Williams) ......................................... 15 Blackwelder, A Tolkien Thesaurus (Sam Gamgee) .................................. 16 Blanche & Miller, Ratspike (Liberty) ........................................................ 17 Boos & Silver, Socialism & the Literary Artistry of William Morris (Ruddick) ........................................................................ 18 Cannaday, Bigger Than Life; Creator of Doc Savage (Lewis) ................... 19 Friedman & De Nevi, A Youth in Babylon (Klossner) .............................. 20 Johnson, Worlds of the Federation (Taormina) ........................................ 21 Knicklebine, Welcome to Twin Peaks (Klossner) .................................... 22 Lovett & Lovett, Lewis Carroll's Alice (Barron) ........................................ 22 Matthews, Arthur and the Sovereignty of Britain (Thompson) ................. 23 McCord, Voyages to Utopia (Williams) ................................................... 24 Parrinder & Rolfe, H.G. Wells under Revision (Taormina) ...................... 25 Roberts, Gothic Immortals (Heller) ......................................................... 26 Rogers, The Prisoner and Danger Man (Klossner) ................................... 28 Scott, The Dark Shadows Companion (Klossner) .................................... 29 Scott, Comics Librarianship (Strain) ........................................................ 29 West, Before Oz: Juvenile Fantasy Stories (Albert) .................................. 30 Winter, Faces of Fear (Neilson) ............................................................... 31 Wood, Plan 9 from Outer Space (Klossner) ............................................. 32 Fiction: Alderman, The Archivist (c. Morgan) ...................................................... 32 Aronica, et al. Full Spectrum 2 (Larrier) .................................................. 33 Bradfield, The Secret Life of Houses (P. Morgan) .................................... 34 Cole, Mother of Storms; Thief of Dreams (P. Morgan) ............................. 35 Collins, Tempter (Collings) ...................................................................... 36 Constantine, Fulfillments of Fate & Desire (P. Morgan) ........................... 37 Cooper, Infanta; Nocturne (P. Morgan) ................................................... 38 Davies, Dollarville (Dudley) ................................................................... 38 Effinger, The Old Funny Stuff(Levy). ....................................................... 39


Emerson, Night Threads (Herrin) ............................................................ .40 Farrington, Acts of the Apostates (Stableford) ........................................ .41 Feeley, Oxygen Barons (Hassler) ............................................................ .41 Forward, Rocheworld (Mallet) ................................................................ 42 Foster, Cyber Way (Reynolds) ................................................................ .43 Gallagher, Downriver (c. Morgan) ........................................................ .44 Garnett, Zenith: Best in New British SF (Stableford) ................................ 44 Gemmell, Knights of Dark Reknown; Last Guardian (P. Morgan) .......... .45 Laumer, Reward for Retief(Marx) .......................................................... .46 Lee, Forests of the Night (c. Morgan) ..................................................... .47 Littell, Bad Voltage (Marx) ...................................................................... 47 Love, Total Devotion Machine (c. Morgan) ........................................... .48 McAuley, Secret Harmonies (P. Morgan) ............................................... .49 Morgan, Dark Fantasies (Daws) .............................................................. 50 Newman, Night Mayor (Stableford) ........................................................ 51 Niven, N-Space (Hellekson) .................................................................... 56 Ore, Being Alien (Bartter) ........................................................................ 57 Pollack & Matthews, Tarot Tales (c. Morgan) ......................................... 58 Pratchett, Sisters; Pyramids; Guards (P. Morgan) ..................................... 58 Reed, Black Milk (Levy) .......................................................................... 60 Resnick, Second Contact (Arbur) ............................................................ 61 Robinson, Escape from Kathmandu (Bartter) ........................................... 61 Ryman, Child Garden (P. Morgan) .......................................................... 64 __ Child Garden (Stableford) ............................................................ 64 Saxton, jane Saint & the Backlash (P. Morgan) ........................................ 65 Scott, Death's Law (P. Morgan) ............................................................... 65 Sheffield, Summertide (Stevens) .............................................................. 66 Stamey, Double Blind (Bogstad) .............................................................. 66 Timson, A Far Magic Shore (P. Morgan) .................................................. 67 Turtledove, World of Difference (Reynolds) ............................................ 68 Watson, Salvage Rites & Other Stories (c. Morgan) ................................ 69 VVeis, Lost King (Taormina) ..................................................................... 69 Wilson, Coachman Rat (P. Morgan) ........................................................ 70 Wingrove, Chung Kuo, Book One (P. Morgan) ...................................... .71 Winterson, Sexing the Cherry (Albinski) .................................................. 71 Wylie, Unbalanced Earth, Books One, Two (P. Morgan) .. : .................... .73 Juvenile: Bowkett, Dualists (P. Morgan) ................................................................. 74 jacques, Mossflower (P. Morgan) ........................................................... .7 4 jones, Hidden Turnings (c. Morgan) ....................................................... 75 jones, Hidden Turnings (Bogstad) .......................................................... .76 Norton, Dare to Go A-Hunting (Martin) .................................................. 76 Will iams, The Lies That Bind (c. Morgan) ............................................... 77


The SFRA Newsletter published ten times a year for the Science Fiction Research Association by Alan Newcomer, Hypatia Press, Eugene, Oregon. Copyright 1991 by the SFRA. Editorial correspondence: Betsy Harfst, Editor, SFRA Newslet ter, 2357 E. Calypso, Mesa, AZ 85204. Send changes of address and/or inquiries concerning subscriptions to the Treasurer, listed below. SFRA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE President Peter Lowentrout Dept. of Religious StlJdies California State University Long Beach, CA 90840 Vice-President Muriel Becker 60 Crane St. Caldwell, NJ 07006 Secretary David G. Mead English Department Corpus Christi State University Corpus Christi, Texas 78412 Treasurer Edra Bogle Department of English University of North Texas Denton, TX 76203-3827 Immediate Past President Elizabeth Anne Hull Liberal Arts Division William Rainey Harper College Palatine, Illinois 60067 Pioneer Award Veronica Hollinger (1990) Past Presidents of SFRA Thomas D. Clareson Arthur O. Lewis, Jr. Joe De Bolt James Gunn Patricia S. Warrick Donald M. Hassler William H. Hardesty (1970-76) (1977-78) (1979-80) (1981-82) (1983-84) (1985-86) (1987-89) Past Editors of the Newsletter Fred Lerner 0971-74) Beverly Friend (1974-78) Roald Tweet (1978-81) Elizabeth Anne Hull (1981-84) Richard W. Miller (1984-87) Robert A. Collins (1987-89) Pilgrim Award Winners J. O. Bailey (1970) Marjorie Hope Nicolson (1971) Julius Kagarlitski (1972) Jack Williamson (1973) I. F. Clarke (1974) Damon Knight (1975) James Gunn (197CJ) Thomas D. Clareson (1977) Brian W. Aldiss (197B) Darko Suvin (1979) Peter Nicholls (1980) Sam Moskowitz (1981 ) Neil Barron (1982) H. Bruce Franklin (1983) Everett Bleiler (1984) Samuel R. Delany (1985) George Slusser (1986) Gary K. Wolfe (1987) Joanna Russ (1988) Ursula K. Le Guin (1989) Marshall Tymn (1990)


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 3 President's Message Yearning for Caladan The drought deepens out here in the Land of LA -anotherfive years of it and we'll be drier than the dunes of Arrakis. In Seal Beach, we've just been told we'll cut our water usage 20% or the MWD will cut us 100%. How did the Fremen manage? I'll have to dig out my ancient copy of Dune and see -if nothing else, perhaps I'll find there a mythically resonant way of un derstanding drought that will make living with it more bearable. Art Evans has written me to say that he is interested in setting up an SF Listserve for SF buffs and scholars available via BITNET. He has suggested that the SFRA include BITNET addresses in the next edition of the Directory. We will surely do this. Indeed, on the very day that Art was posting his let ter to me, the EC was deciding to ask for both Fax numbers and BITNET addresses on our new registration forms. Our next re-registration cycle will be in early 1992, so the information should turn up for your use in the 1992 Directory. In the meantime, those interested in meeting online through BITNET should let Art know (DePauw University, Greencastle, IN 461350037). As some of you know, I've been hoping for some time now to find a place in the electronic Pleroma where SF scholars can meet. At the last annual conference, I passed on to those in attendance free PC-Link mem berships and software to get people thinking about going online. (I still have a hundred or so left let me know if you'd like a set.) The online service of choice for the SF community, though, is clearly GEnie. The GEnie SF Roundtable (the "SFRT") numbers several thousand and already includes many of us in SFRA and well over one hundred members of SFWA. Full access to GEnie Star Services (including the SFRT and unlimited electronic mail) is only $5.95/month. A local phone call can give us realtime access to thousands in the SF community in the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany and soon England. GEnie has advantages over BITNET. Where BITNET requires University affiliation and (usually) an on-campus terminal for access, GEnie would be open to all SFRA members and can be accessed from home or on the fly from anywhere in the countries it serves. Further, with enough of us online, a special "meeting room" could be set aside within the SFRT for the exclusive use of the SFRA.


4 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 Lest the computer illiterate fret, getting online is easy. If you can type "install" (to get the IIfront end" software of services like GEnie on your hard or floppy disks) and plug a seventy dollar modem into your serial port, you can get online. To see how easy it can be, let me send you the PC-Link kit. It includes the first month online at no charge, and quitting the service is as easy as punching two keys in online "customer service." (Tell me if you use 5 1/4" or 3 1 /2" disks.) Possibly a deal of some sort can be struck between SFRA and GEnie. I'll contact the GEnie SFRT Sysop (System Operator) and report back to the Association in these pages. Peter Lowentrout 22nd Annual SFRA Conference Update By now, each of you has received a flier about SFRA 22 this summer; see the registration form in the center fold of this issue for details about ar rangements. It's not too late at all to send in your own ideas on the back of the form or separately. As I write, this country is congratulating itself fulsomely on a quick victory in the Gulf War. Surely an examination of war-its causes, its conduct, its after-effects-is in order. SFRA is developing such an exami nation in several sessions. Author/member Joan Slonczewski will discuss alternative methods of conflict resolution between nations in one session; a respondent or two (any volunteers?) will react to her ideas. In another session, a military historian, Bullitt Lowry, will examine the strategy and other military aspects of three standard sf works. Other spots in this session are waiting to be filled (with your paper?) On quite another note, several members have expressed desires that the annual conference encourage young writers and scholars in the field. Muriel Becker will be aiding teachers of sf (hopefully for Texas Advanced Academic Training Credits) and a panel of local and not-50-local writers will discuss strategies of getting into print. A sadder note, however, will be struck in a session chaired by Veronica Hollinger (and suggested by Robert Philmus who cannot be with us) centering on issues raised by Cristina Sedgewick's March SFS article on the current sf publishing scene. Of course there will be the usual sessions featuring the attending writers: Jack Williamson, Joan Slonczewski, Fred Pohl, Chad Oliver, Warren Norwood, Ardath Mayhar, James Gunn, Catherine and L. Sprague de Camp, at present.


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 5 Your ideas are still welcome on these and other topics; your presence is greatly desired. So send in your registration form and plan to be with us in Denton June 27-30. Edra Bogle Recent & Forthcoming Books Year of publication is 1990 unless shown otherwise; (P) denotes publication confirmed. Dates of forthcoming books are always tentative. Reference Goulart, Ron, ed The Encyclopedia of American Comics. Facts on File Pl. Pringle, Peter. The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy. Grafton (UK) (P). History & Criticism Ketterer, David. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy. Oxford, Mar 91 Kuehl, John. Alternate Worlds: A Study of Postmodern Antirealistic Ameri can Fiction. NYU Press, 1989 (P). Lagorio, Valerie M. & Mildred Leake Day, eds. King Arthur Through the Ages. 2 v. Garland (P). Leiber, Fritz. Fafhrd & Me. Wildside Press (P). Nolan, William F. How to Write Horror Fiction Writers's Digest (P). Peterfreund, Peter. Literature and Science: Northeastern Univ. Press (Pl. Waugh, Coulton. The Comics. Univ. Press of Mississippi, Apr 91. Reprint of 1947 ed. with new index and into by M. Thomas Inge. Author Studies [Babbittl. Levy, Michael. Natalie Babbitt. Twayne, Feb 91 [Carroll]. Clark, Beverly Lyon, Lewis Carroll. Starmont House (P). [Dickensl. Davis, Paul. The Life and Times of Ebenezer Scrooge. Yale (P). [King]. Magistrale, Anthony, ed. The Shining Reader. Starmont, Mar 91. [Kingl Spignesi" Stephen .. The Shape Under the Sheet: the Complete Stephen King Encyclopedia. Popular Culture, INK, May 91 [Leiberl. Byfield. Bruce. Witches of the Mind: A Critical Study of Fritz Leiber, Necronomicon Press, spring? [Leml. Davis, J.Madison. Stanislaw Lem. Starmont House (P). [Lewis]. Barfield, Owen. Owen Barfield on C. S. Lewis, ed. by G. B. Tennyson. Wesleyan UP (distr by Univ Pr of New England) (P).


6 SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 [Lovecraftl. Joshi, S.T. & David E. Schutz, eds. An Epicure in the Terrible. Pub. & date unknown. [Maloryl. Gaines, Barry. Sir Thomas Malory: An Anecdotal Bibliography of Editions, 1485-1985. AMS Press (P). [Poel. Smith, Ronald L. Poe in the Media: Screen; Songs, and Spoken Word Recordings, Garland (P). [Vernel. Butcher, William. Verne's Journey to the Center of the Self: Space and Time in the Voyages Extraordinare. Macmillan (UK) (P). [Vonnegutl. Mustazza, Leonard. Forever Pursuing Genesis: The Myth of Eden in the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut. Bucknell Univ. Press (P). Film &TV Giberman, Ss. Star Trek: An Annotated Guide to Resources on the Devel opment, the Phenomenon, the People, the Television Series, the Films, the Novels, and the Recordings. McFarland, Jul 91. Penley, Constance, Elisabeth Lyon, Lynn Spiegel, Janet Bergstrom, eds. Close Encounters: Film, Feminism and Science Fiction. Univ. of Minnesota, June 91. Pitts, Michael R. Horror Film Stars McFarland, April 91. Weaver, Tom. Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers, and Writers of the 1940s through 1960s. McFarland, April 91. Illustration Hardy, David A. Visions of Space. Paper Tiger (UK) (P) (reprint). Mancoff, Debra N. The Arthurian Revival in Victorian Art. Garland (P). Magazines Bleiler, Richard. Index to Adventure Magazine. Starmont House (P). Bleiler, Richard. The Annotated Guide to the Thrill Book. Starmont, Mar 91. Crawford, Gary William, ed. Horror Fiction Studies. Semi-annual, first issue, summer 1991. Dziemianowicz, Stefan. The Annotated Unknown Worlds. Starmont,(P}. Neil Barron


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 7 Miscellany Weak Dick Stage Adaptation A brief review in the I February 1991 Los Times discussed a Los Angeles stage adaptation of Philip K. Dick's posthumously published Radio Free Albemuth, the last in his Valis series. The reviewer remarked that Dick "is not served well by Lisa Morton's wooden direction nor her literal adap tation of this government-conspiracy yarn ... this production is so devoid of style, strewn with plot, and heavy with exposition that there's no time for characterization ... this show is closer to an audio cassette than a play. Morton, it seems, is too close to the book to envision it as theater. The result is amateurish." D. D. Harriman, Eat Your Heart Out The exploration of space has been the subject of a lot of science fiction, much of which took for granted that such activity was a Good Thing and that only hopelessly unimaginative people would oppose it. William F. Burrows has covered space and aviation for several major papers and is not only very knowledgeable but is a strong space enthusiast. He shares his knowledge and enthusiasm in a February 1991 hardcover from Random House, Exploring Space, which will probably tell you more about the hardware than you care to know. As a skilled journalist he doesn't ignore the human mension. When the chief scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab, Moustafa Chahine, asked his straight-A high school student son what he wanted to do with his life, the boy replied, "I don't know, but not what you do." Vive Le Roi! Once Stephen King became a brand name (his self-designation), the literature about him poured forth like sticky ichor from Lovecraftian Elder Beings. Whether King suffers from logorrhea or simply likes to write long books, the habit is catching, as Stephen Spignesi's The Shape Beneath the Sheet (May 1991) clearly demonstrates. Subtitled The Complete Stephen King Encyclopedia, this oversize hardcover tops 800 pages. There are 18,000 entries in the 400 page concordance to people, places and things in both published and unpublished fiction. There are interviews with one of King's boyhood friends and with his brother, as well as with writers who


8 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 influenced or were influenced by him. The first lines of every story, short and long, are listed, along with a bibliography of books about King and his work. His tax returns aren't here, but almost everything else that has been made public is. Information is current through 1990. Just the thing to accompany Spignesi's Signet paperback, The Stephen King Quiz Book (1990) and George Beahm's useful but much less ambitious The Stephen King Com panion (reviewed in Newsletter 181). The publisher specializes in the library market, with a strong backlist in books about rock music, coincidentally a strong interest of King. This means small print runs and fairly high prices. If you're a King fan(atic) or a I ibrary catering to same, take a deep breath, swallow hard, and send a check for $110 to Popular Culture, INK, Box 1839, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Neil Barron New Guide to Science Fiction Pharos Books has just published The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction by David Pringle. Pringle is the publisher of Interzone magazine as well as the author of Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels, Imaginary People: A Who's Who of Modern Fictional Characters, and Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels. The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction is a source to SF lit erature, providing descriptions, reviews, and ratings of more than 3000 books. Retail price is $24.95 (he) and $14.95 (pb). If you are interested in bulk purchase discounts, contact Pharos Books, 200 Park Avenue, NY. NY. 10166 or phone: 212-692-3305. james Keenley Annual World SF Meetings The World Sf Newsletter, Issue No.1: 199', announces that there wi II be two world meetings in May 1991. The first of these will a World SF European Meeting, May 9-12, 1991, to be held in Cracow, Poland. This alter nate meeting is scheduled for those members unable to attend the World SF Meeting in Chengdu, Republic of China, scheduled for May 20-24. The World Sf Newsletter supplies program and travel details for the China meeting. Contact Wiktor Bukato, PO Box 983, 00-950 Warsaw, Poland, for information on the Cracow sessions, or World Sf National U.S. Officer, Elizabeth Anne Hull, 855 S. Harvard Drive, Palatine, II. 60067 for infor mation on the World SF Association.


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 9 Pulphouse Spring Catalog .. 1991 Lead announcements in Pulphouse's Spring Catalog describe the edi torial changes. Kristine Kathryn Rusch will take over the editorship of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as of the first of March. She will also stay on as Pulphouse Publishing's Senior Book Editor and will work with all authors on all Pulphouse projects except the Weekly. Writer, editor, and publisher Dean Wesley Smith will be the new editor of Pulphouse: A Weekly Magazine. As a writer. Dean has written short stories, his first novel, Laying the Music to Rest (Warner Questar), has ed ited The Report and with Kristine Kathryn Rusch started Pulphouse Pub lishing. Mark Budz will continue as assistant editor, Kevin Kenan will be production manager, and Debra Gray Cook will he general manager and art director. Write to Pulphouse Publishing, Box 1227, Eugene, OR 97440 for a copy of the catalog. Request for Information Moises Hasson, Santiago, Chile, has just an index to science fiction magazines in Spanish, beginning with unknown pulps, Los Fantasticos Pulp en Castellano: 1939-1957 (December 1990). He writes that th is first provisional edition covers only about 70% of the material. Now he is looking for people who may be able to help provide further information or copies about publication of pulps and magazines in Spanish between the years 1935-1960. Contact Moises Hasson, Casilla 3657, Santiago, Chile, if you can be of assistance. Award-Winning New Musical Return to the Forbidden Planet, Bob Carlton's 1990 award-winning musical (1990 Olivier Award [England's Tony)), will open the newly reno vated Variety Arts Theatre in October 1991. The New York production, loosely based on William Shakespeare's The Tempest and the Bard-influ enced 1956 cult film Forbidden Planet,will be produced by New Yorker Don L. Taffner and Andre Ptaszynski of Pola Jones, the original London producers. With a score comprised of pop music hits of the 1950s and 60s, and a script highlighting many of Shakespeare's greatest bits, Return to the For bidden Planet is an inter-galactic adventure with a terrifying monster, an evil scientist, a young girl, and, of course, a teenager in love. Captain Tempest and the young ones in his crew are on a routine mission when great balls of


10 SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 fire damage their ship and they are drawn by good vibrations towards a distant planet. Trying to get out of this place the crew soon finds out they're gonna more than change the world. Our heroes wipeout robot man and get all shook up in a monster mash as the play boldly goes where no musical has gone before. Genevieve Piturro Two SFRA Members Die Our sympathies go to Elsie Wolheim for the loss of her husband, Donald A. Wolheim, one of the major figures in science fiction as a fan, a writer, an editor, and a publisher (DAW), who died in his sleep November 2, 1990, in New York, two years after suffering a severe stroke. Our sympathies also go to Veronica Kennedy, whose husband, Dr. William Henry Joseph Kennedy, Jr., Associate Professor of English (retired) at Queensborough Community College ofThe City University of New York, died of cancer on December 27, 1990. 1 Feb. '91 Dear Editor: letters to Editor Elizabeth Anne Hull I am writing to you in regards to a review of my book on Ray Bradbury by Mr. de Wit in a recent issue of the SFRA Newsletter (# 182, November 1990, pp. 25-26). This review badly misrepresents the nature and intent of my book to the research community served by the Newsletter. It is therefore potentially damaging to my scholarly reputation and to the sales of the book. To begin with, the major misrepresentation of my book occurs in the statement that it is "too narrowly focused on the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche to serve the interests of the general reader (p. 25)." There are two claims here I) that the book is an influence study and 2) that it does not serve the general reader. I will deal with each claim in turn. As a matter of fact, the book is not an influence study. In so far as I can recall, the word "influence" is only mentioned in it on one occasion, in connection with Poe. My model for this study was Colin Manlove's Modern Fantasy, which proceeds by presenting statements about the nature of fantasy made by authors such as Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and examining whether or not their fantasy works live up to these theoretical pronouncements. In other words, the structure of my book's argument is theory versus


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 11 practice, what Bradbury said his fantasy was supposed to be doing, and what it actually does. This argument is stated very clearly on the first page of the study: "Bradbury has made few overtly theoretical statements about fantasy, but ... it is possible to construct what h is aesthetic of fantasy is, and I do so in the introduction, and then proceed to examine his works in the life of this aesthetic (p. I)." It is the last part of this sentence that your reviewer seems to have missed, since claims that "the thesis [which he has already mis construed to be how Bradbury absorbed Nietzschean concepts], which was adequately demonstrated in the introduction, gets more and more irritating through endless repetition (p. 26)." It's quite obvious that your reviewer did not understand the function of the rest of the book, which was to read Bradbury's major works of fantasy in the light of his aesthetics of fantasy, and not to go on proving influence again and again. Thus he takes it as a flaw of the book that I "chide" Bradbury for not living up to Nietzschean expec tations, when in fact what I was attempting to do was to point out dispari ties between theory and practice. In other words your reviewer misrepresents my book by claiming that it has a very narrow focus, when in fact I actively sought the broadest pOSSible comparative aesthetic context (which incidentally is not limited to Nietzsche, but includes Freud, Todorov and other theorists of fantasy) in which to discuss Bradbury. I take this to be the strength of the book. I never set out narrowly to prove the influence of Nietzsche on Bradbury; a strong affinity of thought, perhaps, but not influence. As for the second part of your reviewer's clain) that the study could not serve the needs of the general reader again. this is based on a misconception of the book. I never set out to write a basic introduction to Bradbury, though it can function on that level and fits in with the format of other books in the series. I fact I stated in the introduction that the book might be diffi cult in some parts. Nonetheless, and because of.this difficulty, I was care ful to provide adequate discussion of Nietzsche's aesthetic for purposes of comparison throughout the book because I did not assume that the general reader would be acquainted with the background of philosophical aesthetics. The statement by your reviewer that he learned more about Nietzsche and his canon than about Bradbury's is preposterous, and in any case reveals more about the limitations in his own intellectual horizons than any the book might have. Your reviewer manifestly does not care for comparative studies of fan tasy, which is fine with me. He ought not, however, to misrepresent the book to others in the scholarly community who might have an interest in such matters, and who would definitely get the impression from this review


72 SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 that it is merely influence study, narrowly conceived. When he claims, for example, that the worst part of the book is "the neglect of just about ev erything else about this popular author which doesn't fit into the comparative matrix (p. 6)," he can only come up with one short story as an example. Again I was not concerned with Bradbury's image as a popular author (though I mention such studies in the bibliography for further reading), and I did not want to repeat what others have said about him. I was concerned -as is made evident in the introduction with his output as a fantasy writer. Every major work is given, I think, an adequate discussion. No critical study could adequately treat the hundreds of Bradbury's short stories, especially not one of this type. I regret not at least mentioning the story in question, but I certainly did (and still don't) see its absence as a major flaw in the book. Besides, I happen to know, and I have it in writing from Bradbury himself; that he liked the book's approach very much and didn't feel that it misrep resented him or his work in any way. I wish I could say the same in this context. I don't think that the scholarly community at large is served very well by this type of hasty and abusive reviewing. Your reviewer gives that im pression that the book is somehow off-center in its treatment of Bradbury and that I engaged in critical overkill of the notion of influence. Both claims are mistaken, as I have indicated. I am simply going to pass over in silence that disparaging personal remarks that your reviewer makes about my qualifi cations to write this book, though the tenor of the whole review borders on libel. I will be satisfied if the Newsletter makes public the misrepresentations that have been made by your reviewer by printing this letter in full. Naturally, I am sending a copy of this letter to the editor and publisher of my book. 2/28/91 Dear Editor: William F. Touponce Here's a reply to William Touponce's letter. I suppose Dr. Touponce's intentions were exactly as he reports them, but as a reader (and I did read the text carefully, all of it) my initial impressions were exactly as I reported them, and I stand by them. If the book is not an "influence study," it certainly reads like one. (He does indeed mention Freud and Todorov, but a quick glance at the index wi II demonstrate the overwhelm ing preponderance of Nietzsche.) I teach Bradbury regularly (and I am currently "directing" two M.A. theses on his fiction, for which I have recommended Touponce's book) and I am always looking for materials. I fact I was already familiar with


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 73 Touponce's work, and greatly admired his study of Herbert (Twayne). But this book is not what I expect of a Starmont Reader's Guide, nor is it "in the mode" of other Starmont Guides. That's not necessarily bad (the quality of these guides varies wildly), and I did not pan Touponce's study at allit has its place, and I found it interesting. But it's not what undergraduates looking for a survey of Bradbury's work need, and that is the function I think most Starmont Guides serve. Touponce is certainly doing some wildly biased extrapolation when he concludes "your reviewer manifestly does not care for comparative studies of fantasy." Nothing I said could justify that conclusion; I am most certainly interested, personally, in such studies. They are not, however, the best way for a student who knows neither author to approach the study of one of them. I am also mystified by Dr. Touponce's reference to "disparaging personal remarks ... about my qualifications to write this book." What I said was that Touponce was probably not the best choice to write a Starmont Reader's Guide. If anything, I implied that he was overqualified to write a book at the "beginner's level" characteristic of these guides. There is, of course, no way to settle a disagreement of this sort, except to ask the reader to see for himself. The book is widely available, it's been out for more than a year, and I cannot believe my review will affect its sales. How many librarians base their orders on reviews in the SFRA Newsletter? March 5, 1991 Dear Editor: Adrian de Wit A letter from Peter Nicholls, our 1980 Pilgrim winner arrived. He writes that he has received his Pilgrim Award plaque, "I have always valued my Pilgrim Award highly .... The recognition of my work by my peers was very heartening at that time, and now that I am revising The Science Fiction Encyclopedia ... it is heartening still as I plow desperately through everything that has happened in sf between 1978 and now." 7 March 1991 Dear Editor, David Mead On pg. 9 of issue 184, Nancy Kress says Ursula Le Guin was the first woman to win a Hugo. However Anne McCaffrey tied for the Novella cat egory in 1968 with "Weyr Search" while Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness won the Novel Hugo in 1970. (Also pg 17 duplicates pg 16). This is


74 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 a minor nit to pick in an otherwise interesting interview. However, as re searchers, we ought to get the facts down and then disagree about their interpretations. Keep up the good work. Anthony Lewis REVIEWS Excellent Verne Scholarship Andrew, Martin. The Mask of the Prophet: The Extraordinary Fictions of Jules Verne. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990. xiv + 222 p. $55.0-19-815798-3. The oeuvre of Jules Verne has receded into the background in recent decades; SF readers are now more likely to know his life rather than his novels. The knowledge of Verne which survives-the plush, Second Empire submarines, aircraft, and space capsules and the extraordinary voyages of their inventors and commanders-is largely a product of cloying old Hollywood movies, awkward translations, and abridgements that make an im portant part of the pre-history of SF almost seem an embarrassment to the genre. Such circumstances could make any study of Verne directed toward an English reading and speaking audience an exercise in rehabilitation of literary reputation as well as revaluation of the novels. While Andrew Martin's book does attend to those matters, his agenda extends beyond that of a revisionist chapbook on a neglected author. Martin, a ledurer in French at the University of Cambridge, builds upon the serious French scholarship on Verne of the past several decades and presents a very provocative analysis of Verne's novels. Casually restated, Martin Andrew's thesis on Jules Verne's novels seems exceedingly simple: that the perpetual conflict between empire and revolt is the driving force behind all the voyages extraordinaires, making them a sequence of meditations on nineteenth-century imperialism and its meta phoric counterparts. Martin demonstrates that a recurrent narrative structure based on the unsuccessful revolt of the masked prophet Hakim against the Islamic Empire during the reign of the Caliph Mahadi may be found running through the voyages extraordinaires. While the story of the Masked Prophet is explicit in none of them, its outlines, according to Martin, can be discerned in virtually all of them. Seeking to add scope to his analysis, Martin intro duces two complementary yet diverging stories of the Masked Prophet written by very different hands-'Le Masque proph_t' by Napoleon Bonaparte and 'The Masked Dyer, Hakim of Merv' by Jorge Luis Borges. In


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 75 both stories Hakim revolts against the Islamic Empire, acquires a huge fol lowing, but is eventually defeated, committing strategic suicide in Napoleon's tale, while suffering both unmasking and assassination in Borges' version. Martin suggests that Verne's writings can be read as Second Empire enactments of the ongoing transformations from the drive to empire in Napoleonic Europe to the recession of imperialism in this century. Ultimately, Martin strives to show how Verne's recurrent narrative "exposes the historical contradictions, the ambitions and the absurdities of nineteenth century bourgeois liberalism (the conflict between rival empires, the carving up of Africa, Asia, South America, the struggle for zones of influence, the perversion of science, repression, etc.)" Martin's book is an excellent contribution to scholarship on Jules Verne and should be included in any I ibrary collection that intends to support research on SF. Peter C. Hall Myths Influence Our Perceptions Baldick, Chris. In Frankenstein's Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nine teenth-century Writing. Oxford: Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press, 1990. xi + 207 p. $14.95 pb. 0-19-812249-7. This interesting and readable book, reprinted from the 1987 hardcover, traces the history of the Frankenstein myth from 1789 to 1917. Baldick emphasizes the difference between the novel as a work of literature and the myth, in which the story takes on a life of its own. Early chapters deal with the evolution of the word "monster," which Baldick suggests had somewhat different connotations in Shelley's time, and with the novel's predecessors, which include not only the Gothic novel but also the many books on the French Revolution. He also discusses the im portance to Shelley of the writings of both her parents, the feminist Mary Wolstonecraft and the radical political philosopher William Godwin, to whom the book was dedicated, and such obvious sources as "The Ancient Mariner" and Paradise Lost. In a summary of modern interpretations he notes that the reading of Frankenstein as fable warning against modern technol ogy is not relevant to the novel but is to the later myth. The myth began to develop as soon as the book was published. Stage adaptations, beginning as early as 1823, moralized and altered the story, changing the intelligent and articulate monster into the dumb brute of modern versions and introducing Fritz, the comic laboratory assistant who


76 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 was to have a long, if not glorious, career. Shelley herself made revisions in the 1831 edition to conform to moral interpretations of the story. Mid-cen tury writers influenced by the myth included E.T.A. Hoffmann, Hawthorne, Melville, Elizabeth Gaskell, Carlyle, Dickens, and many more, and Karl Marx used the monster's Promethean imagery in Oas Kapital. Comic versions demonstrate how firmly entrenched the myth had become, and the "mad scientist" became a c1ich_. In the discussion of late Victorian writers, I found Baldick's assessment of the myth's influence on Stevenson and Wells par ticularly thought-provoking, that on Conrad and Lawrence somewhat less so. The book ends with a convincing discussion of the use of the myth in real istic works like Middlemarch, Madame Bovary, and Stephen Crane's "The Monster." Although Baldick is conversant with contemporary critical trends and with the formalities of scholarly research, he does not fall into jargon or obscurity. This is a book which can be enjoyed by the general reader as well as the specialist, in fact, by anyone with an interest in the Gothic, in Romantic literature, and in ways in which myth influences our perceptions. Lynn F. Williams Hobbits Rejoice! Blackwelder, Richard E. A Tolkien Thesaurus. New York: Garland, August 1990. 277 p. $39. 0-8240-5296-X. Tolkien was a philologist, among other things, and it's therefore fitling that his works be accompanied by a concordance, itself proof of his ac ceptance as a "standard" author. The title is a bit misleading, however, since the concordance is limited to The Lord of the Rings, from the prologue through the appendixes. There are about 40,000 entries under 15,000 active word/phrase headings, printed in two columns and easy to consult. Similar words are clustered together, eg, Hover, Hovered, Hovering or Weave, Wove. Cross-references are plentiful. The entries are in caps, flush left, with the context sentences indented and following. The location of each entry is designated at the end of each line, eg, F.222/279 means page 222 of the hardcover edition, page 279 of the paperback edition of The Fellowship of the Ring. Blackwelder explains how to determine if your edition corresponds to those he indexes: if the first word on page 222 of your hardcover edition of Fellowship is "leaping," or if "leaping" occurs in the third line from the bottom of page 279 of your paperback edition, then your set is indexed. His introduction I ists the many


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 17 editions that correspond to his citation formula and those that don't (the unauthorized 1965 Ace paperbacks and some British editions). The book is bound in black cloth over boards, with gold stamping, no jacket, printed on acid-free paper, and should stand up to any likely use. Recommended for Tolkien fanatics and libraries serving active smials. Sam Camgee Kicked in the Eye Blanche, John and Ian Miller. Ratspike. GW Books, 34 West Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2RE, May 1990. (di9tr. by Games Workshop Inc., 3431 Benson Ave, Baltimore, MD 21227). March 1991, 140 p. .99/ $32.50. 1-872372-00-7. Kasperov may be too busy spending his 1.7 million. Karpov may be too deeply depressed. Von Neumann probably never thought about it. Others of us familiar with the games world will be delighted by it. The "it" is john Blanche and Ian Miller's Ratspike, an unlikely presentation of fantasy art work. Both Blanche and Miller work for Games Workshop which has done us all a favor by publishing this hardbound, full color collection of their work. As Patrick Woodroffe notes in the introduction, a more unlikely duo would be difficult to find. The formalist, Blanche, looks like an errant biker. The expressive, Miller, resembles an unabashed cherub. Both prove once again the cliche that "you can't tell a book by its cover." Blanche's admittedly adolescent fantasies are presented within the constraints of formal structures adapted from such classical artists as da Vinci and David. It is what Blanche does these compositions that intrigues us. Primarily a model designer for Games Workshop, his drawings and paintings maintain a sculptural quality along with a mixture of illustrator's palette and imagination run over the edge into a world all his own. Although all of Blanche's work shows the strength of his conviction and the sturdiness of his craft, "Lay Down All Hope" ranks as one of his best. Miller, on the other hand, breaks almost all conventio"ns. While view ing his numerous pieces, one feels as if reality has long ago slipped away and, like Alice, one runs very fast just to stay in a single aspect of Miller's frenzy. Although he owes a debt to the French Heavy Metal artist, Phil ippe Druillet, Miller does what only the truly imaginative can do with inspira tion-Miller "stands on the shoulders of giants" and reinvents their language. Creating a modern odyssey best likened to james joyce's Stephen Dedalus


78 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 gone berserk, Miller's visual language charges forward, a juggernaut loose in an unexpected landscape of the human psyche. The classic, "Death in the Rocking Horse Factory," only begins the disturbing journey into Miller's unique world. Many of his most interesting pieces are pen and ink sketches for finished works. Placed next to the paintings, these sketches tell us more about the wildness of Miller's under standing than the more controlled but just as unsettling paintings. With Miller, in many instances, it is what is not there that is most powerful. His use of negative space instantly draws us into the works, compelling us to look against our will. His grotesque marginalia are sinister, achieving in the viewer a state of horrid fascination. In every instance, whether it be sketch, painting, or margin decoration, Miller's work dances before the eye like Feigenbaum sets joining cosmos and chaos. Ratspike is fundamentally about the juxtaposition of the unlikely, the stock in trade of the creative process. Seeing the disparate as connected is the path to new insight. Blanche and Miller provide us with a rollicking highway into the unforeseen. Even at the hardcover price, Ratspike is a great addition to anyone's library whether he be a games player or simply an adventurer of the spirit. Lou Liberty More Than Wallpaper Boos, Florence S. and Carole G. Silver, eds. Socialism and the Literary Artistry of William Morris. Columbia: Univ. of Missouri Press, April 1990. 177 p. $25. 0-8262-0725-1. This handsomely-produced volume is a collection of ten original essays focusing on the competition in the life and work of William Morris between literary art and ideology. If we remember Morris today, it is probably neither as writer nor socialist, but as a designer of books or wallpaper whose dreamy mediaevalism became newly fashionable in the counter-cultural 1960's, adorning the walls of the very bourgeoisie from which Morris himself sprang and whose values he so despised. The best essays in this collection remind us, in general persuasively, of Morris the author of News from Nowhere, and why those interested in utopian and fantastic literature should continue to read it even if they cannot stomach the interminable poetic romances. All the essays contribute something to Morris studies. Yet the last four, on A Dream of John Ball, the last poetic romances, the Chants for Socialists, and The Pilgrims of Hope, though eloquent in their own way, fail to persuade in their quotations from the works in question that these are wor-


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 19 thy of disinterment by any but the most devoted Morrisite. It is perhaps unfortunate that there is such a huge disjunction between Morris the plain speaking socialist who could state that "apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization," and the bloodless the "meseems" and "eftsoons," of the Morris-personae in the romances. This is the gap these critics must jump, and all make a fair attempt at it. The two most pertinent essays to the field of the fantastic could not be more different in style. Alex MacDonald's "Bellamy, Morris and the Great Victorian Debate" is a witty and elegant contrast between News from No where and Looking Backward as opposed visions of the future of industrial society. Darko Suvin's "Counter-Projects: William Morris and the Science Fiction of the 1880's," at once sketchy and clotted, is nevertheless enor mously provocative in its attempt to reveal the implications at both the linguistic and ideological level of Morris's "refunctioning" in News from Nowhere of earlier science fiction. The book is not particularly well-edited: Fredric Jameson's name is consistently misspelled, there are cumbersome footnotes, a lis't of "Suggested Further Reading" that is a poor substitute for a bibliography, and an inad equate index. In general, though, the essays form a valuable addition to Morris studies and the volume deserves a place in most university libraries. Nicholas Ruddick The Story Behind the Hero Cannaday, Marilyn. Bigger Than Life: The Creator of Doc Savage. Bowl ing Green, OH: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1990. 201 p. $34.95,0-87972-471-4; $17.95 pb. -472-2. I don't remember much about the details of all those stories about the man of bronze and his companions, but I do remember that for some sixteen years-more in the thirties, fewer in the forties when adult responsibilities reduced my time for such reading-I followed their adventures with fervent interest. I did not know then, or care, that "Kenneth Robeson" was the same Lester Dent who wrote other adventure and detective stories that I occa sionally read in other pulp magazines (and who once, through a publisher'S error-March, 1944-was credited with authorship of a Doc Savage tale). Today, I find the writer almost as interesting as Doc himself. You can't read Cannaday's warm and competent book without coming to the same con clusion.


20 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 In writing this book Cannaday has had several important advantages: she lives in the town where Dent spent much of his life and actually worked for him when she was in high school, she has had access to the "vast collection of his personal papers" (190), and she has had long talks and much help from his widow, Norma. As a result, she is able to draw on her own personal experience in explaining what life must have been like for Dent, especially during his childhood; she supports her views with apt quotations from his work, both published and unpublished; and, above all, she has a thorough empathy with her subject. This book is interesting more for the way the Doc Savage novels are placed in the context of Dent's life and other works than for any major in terpretative insight. Nevertheless, details about what life was like in a small Missouri town during Dent's childhood, the town's ambivalence toward him after he returned there to live, his lifelong interest in gadgets, his exploits during his far-ranging travels, all contribute to an understanding of what he wrote and why. The appendix includes four useful items, "Doc Savage, Supreme Adventurer" (the character and plot outl ine by Street and Smith executives, starting point of the series), reprints of Dent's two articles on how to write fiction for the pulps, and a list of "Lester Dent's Published Fiction." Less imaginative than Philip Jos_ Farmer's Doc Savage, His Apocalyptic Life (1973), less fannish than Robert Weinberg's The Man Behind Doc Savage (1974), Cannaday'S study is the best place now available to learn the facts behind one of the most successful fictional characters of all time. Arthur 0. Lewis Huckster Friedman, David F. and Don De Nevi. A Youth in Babylon: Confessions of a Trash-Film King. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, December 1990. 355 p. + 24 pages photos. $19.95. 0-S7975-60S-X. Friedman notes that "whatever small place I have in posterity is due mainly to a really revolting little movie I produced in 1963," but he devotes only a few pages to his work as producer of Blood Beast (1963), Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) and Color Me Blood Red (1965), all directed by Herschell G. Lewis. Most of A Youth in Babylon recalls Friedman's ad ventures in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a "roadshowman," one of "The Forty Thieves," colorful entrepreneurs who earned precarious livings conning gullible audiences into seeing pathetic, tepid, moralistic "sexual hygiene" films spiced up with some explicit footage of childbirth and venereal disease. Friedman and his ilk always stayed a few years ahead of Hollywood, first


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 21 with the "hygiene" films, then the "nudies" and finally the "gore" films. They had nothing but contempt for their films and the audiences they attracted, but they took pride in their ability to separate a fool from his money and they defended their worthless movies against hundreds of state and local censors in a period when Hollywood strictly censored its own product. This unique account of a forgotten era of American show business is fascinating, witty and often uproarious, but unfortunately unindexed and grossly overlong. Friedman employs Runyonesque showbiz slang which can be deciphered only with the help of a four page glossary. There must be something about low-budget filmmaking which inspires autobiography. Compared to William Castle's Step Right Up! I'm Gonna Scare the Pants off America (1976) and Roger Corman's How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost'a Dime (1990), Friedman's work is the longest and the most marginal to fantastic films, but it establishes that the first explicit American horror films sprang not from Hollywood but from the tradition of P.T. Barnum. Recommended for popular culture collections. Michael Klossner Federation Guide Johnson, Shane. Worlds of the Federation. New York: Pocket Books, Au gust 1989. 155 p. + plates. $11.95. 0-671-66989-3. This large-format paperback guide to the member planets of the Star Trek universe's United Federation of Planets as well as miscel,laneous neutral, independent, or hostile worlds is neither entertaining enough for the casual browser nor comprehensive enough for the dedicated Trekker. Each two-page entry provides a brief narrative history of a planet, diagrams of its solar system and land masses, and a sketch of either a male in habitant or an indigenous animal. A handsome eight-page insert illustrated by Don Ivan Punchatz provides color renditions of some of the more well known creatures from the series. The content of this guide is derived from episodes of both the original Star Trek and The Next Generation, but the author inexplicably fails to discuss either the Q entity or the Borg, both of which have been prominently featured on the latter television series. The narrative generally refers either directly or obliquely to the USS Enterprise's particular involvement with each world, but Trekkers will want references to specific televised episodes in which the denizens of these planets are featured.


22 SF RA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 In sum, this volume adds little to Star Trek lore. Any fan caring enough to want the information gathered here probably already has access to it in previously acquired material. Agatha Taormina Something Strange in the Apple Pie Knicklebine, Scott. Welcome to Twin Peaks: A Complete Guide to Who's Who and What's What. Publications International, 7373 N. Cicero Ave., Lincolnwood, IL 60646,1990. 129 p. $3.95, pb. 0-451-17031-8. With its idyllic setting and labyrinthine villainy, Twin Peaks is fasci nating to some, exasperating to many others. Knicklebine's fannish guide overstates the show's popularity with audiences and critics and includes synopses of the first eight episodes (up to the shooting of Agent Cooper, but not the revelation of the killer of Laura Palmer); profiles of both the principal characters and the actors who portray them; and a long chapter on the career of producer David Lynch, also the director of Eraserhead, Dune, and Blue Velvet. Almost every other page has a small black-and-white picture. Such insights as are found in the book come from quotes by Lynch, critics and actors, not from the author. There will certainly be more complete and more analytical books on this controversial series, but if you can't wait, this is the fi rst. Michael Klossner A Bibliographer's Looking Glass Lovett, Charles L. & Stephanie B. Lovett. Lewis Carroll's Alice: An Anno tated Checklist of the Lovett Collection. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1990. xvii + 548 p. &65. 0-88736-166-8. The Lovett collection dates from the childhood of Charles, who listened to Cyril Ritchard's recordings of Alice as a child. Collecting became serious with their honeymoon in England. Their collection was augmented about 1985 with the purchase of Stan Marx's major collection. This descriptive bibliography begins with Tenniel-illustrated editions of Alice from 1865, a listing which occupies the first chapter's 128 pages. Other editions of Alice by different illustrators are the subjects of the equally long second chapter. Other chapters describe published excerpts from Alice, translations, Alice in the arts-music, theater, ballet, film, TV, the visual arts, etc, parodies, reference works, criticism, with the final chapter devoted to non-Alice works by Dodgson. Detailed name index, essential since the ar-


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 23 rangement of each chapter is chronological. Citations to other standard works are given, such as the 1979 (latest) edition of The Lewis Carroll Handbook. A selection of covers is reproduced in black & white. Since this reflects a specific, although very comprehensive, collection, there are omissions. One I noted was the absence of any mention of "Lewis Padgett"'s memorable tale, "Mimsy Were the Borogoves," first published in 1943 and reprinted often since. The checklist does list P. Schuyler Miller's Alice in Blunder/and (1983 as book; 1933 as a fanzine serial). For Carroll buffs and larger university libraries. Neil Barron Insightful Study Matthews, Caitlin. Arthur and the Sovereignty of Britain: King and Goddess in the Mabinogion. London & New York: Arkana/Penguin, 1989. xviii + 334 p. $9.95 paper. 0-14-019197-6. Over the past decade husband and wife John and Caitlin Matthews have between them written a formidable number of studies on Celtic tradition in general and the Grail myth os in particular. Behind the texts they discern a complex mythological and mystical subtext. In Mabon and the Mysteries of Britain Caitlin Matthews traces the cult of the Goddess Modron's son through the earlier stories of the Mabinogion; in Arthur and the Sovereignty of Brit ain she focuses upon "the Goddess herself in her specific guise of Sover eignty" in the remaining, largely Arthurian, stories from the same text. "I wish to show," she announces, "that the mystical marriage of Arthur Pendragon to Sovereignty animates the core of the Matter of Britain by the admixture of this world with the Otherworld." To this end she discusses each story in turn, from "Lludd and Llefelys" to "Peredur," summarizing and commenting upon. the plot, before exploring in greater depth those features most relevant to her argument. The last three chapters summarize findings and conclude that in each story the protagonist interacts with the figure of Sovereignty in her three guises: "as an Otherworldly maiden whose beauty dazzles; as a bountiful queen, be stowing the gifts of the land upon her people; as Dark Woman of Knowledge, Cailleach or Loathly Lady she appals [sic] with her ugliness." The many women who appear in these stories, as messengers, rulers, or hags, are ba sically embodiments of the Goddess in one or other of these manifestations. Moreover, each manifestation can be sometimes benevolent, sometimes hostile: Guinevere is fickle, abandoning Arthur for a lover, be it Mordred, Lancelot, or another, because in the "mythic schema" she is the Flower


24 SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 Bride. As such she is "totally amoral, for she alone bestows sovereignty upon her chosen champion, selecting and discarding her candidates with impu nity." Matthews does not study the Mabinogion as literature. Theme and character interest her only as a guide to the meaning inherent in the material from which the stories have been constructed. Her approach, thus, recalls that of Jessie Weston and R.S. Loomis. The danger is that it can become reductive. To substantiate the theory, some features of a work may be forced into dubious conformity, while those which do not fit may be ignored. Meanwhile the author's own designs in these stories are neglected. Matthews has not avoided these dangers: she sees all the women as mani festations of Sovereignty, for whose favor all the men compete with mixed success. It is difficult to believe that no other pattern interested the Celtic peoples. Yet although her claims seem excessive, she does make a con vincing case for the widespread influence of the figure of Sovereignty. Certainly she offers a plausible theory to account for what is otherwise cu rious behavior by the characters in these stories, even allowing for cultural differences. This study, illustrated by Chesca Potter, will appeal most strongly to those interested in esoteric mysticism, but it offers insights to scholars of early Welsh and Arthurian literature. Ray Thompson Contemporary Utopian Travelogue McCord, William. Voyages to Utopia; from Monastery to Commune---the Search for the Perfect Society in Modern Times. New York: Norton, Janu ary 1990. 381 p. $22.50. 0-393-02641-8. This book is a personal account of one individual's search for the perfect society. It describes more than thirty years of the author's travels to twentieth century "utopias" around the world from Tahiti to ashrams and monasteries, from Marxist Eastern Europe to socialist Scandinavia. Although it is not about fiction as such (the only literary utopia even mentioned is More's), it will be of interest to literary utopians. Unlike most utopian writers, McCord eschews an historical or scholarly approach and concentrates on contemporary life. His narrative is divided into sections on lithe simple life," religious utopias, Marxist utopias, and, finally, capitalist utopias. He gets his details right: his descriptions are often vivid, his comments usually right on target, his criti cisms germane. He cogently explains the problems faced by today's kib butzim, where the young people no longer want to remain, the dangers posed by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, and some of the reasons for the economic difficulties of Marxism in Yugoslavia, Hungary, and China.


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 25 Readable as it is, this book has major faults. The most conspicuous is the author's fuzzy use of the word "utopia," which he applies to almost any place on the earth, good or otherwise. This allows him to treat not only "intentional communities" like the Israeli kibbutz, a French industrial co operative, or a hippie commune as "utopian," but also monasteries, secret societies, and fat cat communities like La Jolla, California, and Sun City, Arizona. McCord's tone throughout is preachy and judgmental, one might almost say "anti-utopian." He condemns Marxism as "egregiously wrong," rejects most religious societies except for the Franciscans and the Quakers, and unstintingly admires only the "welfare capitalism" of Denmark and other Scandinavian countries. A third weakness is not the author's fault, as the book must have been completed just before the revolutionary new devel opments in Eastern Europe and China made any analysis of Marxism obso lete. The last section of the book is a summary of the problems of utopian societies and an attempt to suggest ways in which American society might be brought closer to the utopian ideal. McCord's heart is in the right placehe wants to eliminate poverty, reverse bureaucratization without descend. ing into anarchy, and encourage creativity, autonomy, and a sense of community-but, alas, he has no really practical suggestions except perhaps to follow the Scandinavian example. For all his travels, he has found little in the societies he has surveyed to provide him with a truly hopeful utopian vision. Lynn F. Williams Admirable Anthology Parrinder, Patrick, and Christopher Rolfe, eds. H.G. Wells under Revision: Proceedings of the International H.G. Wells Symposium, London, July 7986. Selingsgrove, PA: Susquehanna University Press, March 1990. Distr. by Associated Univ. Presses, Cranbury, NJ. 263 p. $35. 0-945636-05-9. This eclectic collection of papers attempts a synthesis of two often op posing Wellsian camps: those who emphasize his literary artistry and those more interested in his writings as history and social prophecy. Brian Aldiss opens part one with an essay tracing the cat imagery in Wells' fiction. W. Warren Wagar follows with a discussion of the accuracy of Wells' utopian ideas, and Karpel Singh of the National University of Singapore, in comparing Wells to the Indian Nobelist Rabindranath Tagore, argues that Wells' strength as an artist derives primarily from his ideas.


26 SFRA Newslet{er, 7861 April 7997 The essays in part two focus mostly on the themes and techniques of Wells' mainstream fiction. j.R. Hammond, founder of the H.G.Wells Soci ety, argues that a close reading of Wells' work reveals him to be more a modernist than a realist, thus truly a contemporary of other early 20th cen tury writers. Another essay analyzes Wells' comedies of work and a third compares him to Dickens. Part three addresses Wells' scientific thought. Here are discussed his differences with T.H. Huxley and the ecological themes of his fiction. The final major section includes views of Wells' utopianism and his perceptions of the science of sociology as well as an overview of Wells' fan mail from his readers. This truly interdisciplinary collection explores all the major facets of Wells' literature and thought, from his early training in biology to his quarrel with Henry james over the nature of art to the relationship between the plots and characters he created and the views of the present and future that he espoused. Two essays deal with Wells' perceptions of women and feminism. Many discuss Tong-Bungay. Several essays will be especially useful to the reader interested primarily in the scientific romances. john R. Reed analyzes The Island of Dr. Moreau as an illustration of the interactions of human law, natural law, and the law of nature. In discussing the social and scientific predictions in the scientific romances, Romolo Runcini of the University of Naples analyzes The Time Machine and also compares Wells to jules Verne. Another essay draws parallels between Wells and C.S. Lewis. The editors have provided a thorough general introduction to this vol ume as well as brief overviews of each section that summarize the themes of the individual papers and make it easy, absent an index, for the browser to pick and choose essays of particular interest. The essays themselves are well-written and well-documented. The intended audience for this book will already be familiar with Wells' biography, his major works and ideas, and the standard critical reactions to both his scientific romances and his mainstream novels. This is an admirable collection that discusses all aspects of Wells' lengthy and varied career. Recommended for Wells scholars and both general and academic library collections. Agatha Taormina Influences of Secret Societies Roberts, Marie. Cothic Immortals: The Fiction of the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross. New York: Routledge, August 1990. 239 p. $35. 0-41502368-8. In Cothic Immortals, Marie Roberts extends the examination of the in fluences of secret societies on English literature that she began in British Poets and Secret Societies (1986). Her subject is the fiction of the


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 27 Rosicrucians, but of the authors she treats in detai I, only Edward Bulwer Lytton actually may have been a member of the organization. In fact, then, this book treats the development of main Rosicrucian themes as they emerged in Gothic novels of the Enlightenment and were transformed by the Romantics. The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, according to legend, was founded by Rosencreutz, a fourteenth-century holy man who, while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, encountered the mystical knowledge of Arab sages and of the Cabala. Consolidating the wisdom of the Near East and the West, Rosencreutz then offered a system of knowledge to Europe, but he was re jected and ridiculed, so he formed an Invisible College to preserve his wisdom and to disseminate it as humanity became capable of receiving it. The core idea of this wisdom was the unity of knowledge, the belief that intellect and feeling cannot be separated from each other, that male and female, science and religion or magic, knowledge and emotion, though outwardly opposed, still express an ultimate unity in divinity. This wisdom was symbolized by two ideas that became important in Gothic and Romantic fiction: the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life. Roberts gives most of her attention to the latter, following the theme of the elixir of life through William Godwin's St. Leon, P.B. Shelley's St. Irvyne, Mary Shelley'S Fran kenstein, Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, and two novels by Bulwer-Lytton, Zanoni, and A Strange Story. Roberts also touches on a number of other novels and short stories, as well as G.B. Shaw's Back to Methuselah. To the Rosicrucians, the elixir of life came to one as a sign of achieving a spiritual perfection that led "naturally" to a lengthening of life. However, the person who sought the elixir merely to lengthen life, without the necessary spiritual development, instead of overcoming the results of the fall in Genesis, would repeat it, thus dooming himself to the fate of the Wandering Jew. In Godwin, the two Shelleys, and Maturin, this is invariably the fate of the Gothic over-reacher who attains or creates immortal being. Bulwer Lytton recovers the early heroic ideal in Zanpni, where the Rosicrucian succeeds in perfecting his phYSical being by means of spiritual attainment and so becomes capable of living happily forever. Dense with information about Rosicrucians, related secret societies, and the authors covered, this book is also interesting for the light it sheds indi rectly on American writers, such as Poe and Hawthorne, who clearly drew upon the complex of images and ideas associated with the Rosicrucians. The book also may prove valuable to students of twentieth-century writers who make use of similar ideas, e.g. Frank Herbert in the Dune series. Terry Heller


28 SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 "Freedom is a Myth" Rogers, Dave. The Prisoner and Danger Man. London: Boxtree, 1989. 254 p. .95 pb. 1-85283-260-6. Danger Man (1960-1961 and 1964-1965, U.S. title Secret Agent) was probably the most realistic, politically sophisticated and intelligent spy drama ever made for television. The program was not even remotely science fic tion but should be studied in conjunction with The Prisoner (1967-1968), a marginal-SF series set in The Village, a futuristic detention zone for politically inconvenient persons. Both starred Patrick McGoohan as an idealistic spy. John Drake, the agent played by McGoohan in Danger Man, often found his missions distasteful and resisted the orders of his superiors; Number 6, McGoohan's character on The Prisoner, was even more rebellious and disillusioned. Many episodes of both series had unpleasant endings, a rar ity in 1960s television. The high quality of Danger Man is not disputed, but The Prisoner, typically for a cult program, has both fervent admirers and equally adamant detractors. In my view, the concept of the show and about half the seventeen episodes were excellent, but several other episodes were ridiculous. The series was dedicated to McGoohan's belief that escape from repression is impossible, that "freedom is a myth." Rogers offers dozens of black-and-white stills; credits for actors, direc tors and writers for each episode of both series; quite detailed episode syn opses for Danger Man; and extremely detailed synopses of Prisoner install ments-as long as eight eleven-inch-high, double-column, small-print pages per episode, including dozens of lines of dialogue. His accounts of the production of both programs sensibly investigates how key decisions were made without delving into fannish trivia. In comparison with Matthew White and Jaffer Ali's Official Prisoner Companion (1988), Rogers has less specu lation on hidden meanings and more facts to permit readers to reach their own conclusions; White and Ali provide little information on Danger Man. This excellent guide belongs in all serious television collections. Rogers has also written The Complete Avengers, an equally detailed 1988 book on The Avengers and The New Avengers, and The lTV Ency clopedia of Adventure (Boxtree, 1988). The latter provides basic credits and brief synopses of two or three sentences for every episode of about 200 se ries shown on Britain's Independent Television network, including Danger Man, The Prisoner, The Avengers, The New Avengers, Sapphire and Steel, Robin of Sherwood, Worzel Gummidge, several animated SF series by Gerry Anderson, and other SF and fantasy programs-but not Dr. Who or Blake's Seven, both BBe programs. The lTV Encyclopedia is for collections which need less detail than Rogers provides in The Complete Avengers and The Prisoner and Danger Man. Michael Klossner


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 29 Horror Soap Scott, Kathryn Leigh, ed. The Dark Shadows Companion: 2Sth Anniversary Collection. Pomegranate Press, Box 8261, Universal City, CA 91 608-0261, November 1990. 208 p. $24.95. 0-938817-26-4; $15.95, pb. -25-6. Scott was a leading actress on Dark Shadows, the first horror soap op era, which ran for 1225 episodes on daytime TV from 1966 to 1971. The program used storylines from Rebecca, Jekyll and Hyde, Wuthering Heights, The Turn of the Screw and Lovecraft, as well as time travel and parallel universes, to create a narrative of incredible compleXity. The length and outrageous excess of Shadows recalled the interminable Gothic serial nov els of the early 19th century. Fifty-two video Cassettes containing no fewer than 260 episodes of Dark Shadows are on the market and the series is being revived with a prestige cast in prime time in early 1991. Reminiscences by actorsand writers and several chapters by three fan writers provide all the information most people would want to know about the production of the series, as well as too many trivial anecdotes. All the contributors insist that the series, often considered camp, was written and played absolutely straight, even the bricks-for-brains heroine who, after hundreds of episodes, still had no idea what was going on. The 1225 epi sode synopses are almost incomprehensible but give a good idea of the hectic action. "968. Philip dies by falling off Widow's Hill. Angelique sends Peter back to his grave and vows to destroy jeb." Fortunately, the trio of fan authors furnish an overview of the series' convoluted plotline which is much clearer than the episode synopses. The fans write with affection but critically enough to distinguish between the best and worst segments of the series and the two feature films derived from it. The dozens of color and black-and white illustrations are highly repetitious. Fans will want the hardback but large television 'collections can settle for the paperback. A rival publication, Dark Shadows Tribute by Edward Gross and james van Hise (Pioneer Books, 1990), has synopses for only 600 epi sodes. Michael Klossner Comics: Valid Communications Media Scott, Randall W. Comics Librarianship: a handbook. jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. December 1990. vii + 188 p. $32.50. 0-89950-527-9. Superman, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Daddy Warbucks and even the ancient Krazy Kat are names appearing frequently in our day to day speech, and, less frequently, in literary works. Comics are an intrinsic part of world


30 SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 culture although the mavens who pontificate on American culture usually ignore them. Within the last generation, however, librarians have come to accept comics books and, to a lesser extent, comics strips as valid communications media worth library attention. A number of public libraries circulate comics books. A handful of research libraries have research collections of comics. Except for a few articles in the library press about comics, libraries have been on their own in deciding how to store, preserve and make accessible comics for the use of the recreational reader and the researcher. Scott's handbook is the only book that offers guidance on acquiring, preserving and using comics. It is based on the fifteen year experience of the cataloger and comics book selector at the Michigan State University library. Its practical approach will help in standardizing library practices. Its brief explanations of the history of comics, and of the field will aid the li brarian new in the field to get up to speed quickly. It may even encourage the creation of another half dozen research collections of comics. Even if another dozen libraries begin research collections, the library market for this book will be small (Scott describes 48 libraries in the United States, Canada, England, and Australia which maintain collections of com ics). The potential market explains the cost of the book, which might dis courage buying by hobbyists. This is too bad, because it does offer information that the adult collector of comics (and there are enough of them to maintain a worldwide second hand market of comics dealers) could find helpful. Not least are the over two hundred topics listed as requiring research. They cover problems in art, literature and social problems that comics deal with, and which are potential thesis topics from high school term papers to the Ph.D. level. If enough Ph.D. theses are written on comics, those who deride comics as a subliterature might be silenced for good. Paula M. Strain Before Oz West, Mark I., ed. Before Oz: Juvenile Fantasy Stories from Nineteenth Century America. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, November 1989. ix + 229 p. $27.50. 0-208-02155-8. In his introduction, West states that his intention in compiling this an thology was to correct the impression that "American fantasy literature for children began with the publication of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900." The twenty stories and excerpts from longer works that West includes to support his thesis certainly demonstrate the existence


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 31 of a considerable body of children's fantasy literature. The stories are often derivative of European sources-especially Andersen, the Grimm brothers and Lewis Carroll-increasing the reader's admiration for Baum's achieve ment in creating an original American fairy tale. Among the writers whose work is represented are a number of familiar names, such as Frank R. Stockton, Julian Hawthorne, Howard Pyle, Louisa May Alcott, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, John Kendrick Bangs and Joel Chandler Harris. The stories are divided into four sed ions (fairy tales, didactic stories, magical objects, nonsense stories), and many of them inject a moralizing element to placate those watchful dragons who, it seems, have always been concerned with protecting children from the harmful effects of fictional fantasy. There are some delightful discoveries to be made here, especially among the "nonsense" stories, but the stories vary widely in intrinsic interest. The section on "fairy tales," which takes up half of the book and whose seledions encompass adventure stories with fantastic elements and folk tales, seems padded. The short introduction provides a critical overview of the period, and there are biographical introductions to each of the selections, as well as a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Walter Albert Boogeymen Winter, Douglas E. Faces of Fear: Encounters with the Creators of Modern Horror. Revised ed. London: Pan Books, 1990. 334 p. .99 pb. 0-33031246-4. "Revised edition" is stretching it a bit-a few more titles in the appen dices (about 100 each recommended books and films) and a handful of brief biographical updates-but it's good to have Winter's profiles of the seventeen major horror writers back in print (the 1985 Berkley trade paperback has been OP for several years). And it is a tribute to Winter's choices and the tenacity of talented writers that almost all of these major 1985 figures are still active and important today (even V.c. Andrews, who died four years ago). According to his brief introduction, each profile was based on taped con versations of approximately three hours. Thus, the profiles are long enough to be fairly thorough, personal and insightful. While Winter is not as de tached as his stated intention-I would have preferred a straight question and-answer interview format-he generally achieves a good balance be tween profiling the author as a person and surveying the works and their place in the genre, even if he occasionally slips over the line from critical appreciation to fannish adulation. The authors profiled are Andrews, Barker, Blatty, Bloch, Campbell, Coyne, Etchison, Grant, Herbert, King, Klein,


32 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 McDowell, Matheson, Morrell, Ryan, Strieber, and Straub. The only serious failing of the "revisions" is Winter's arbitrary updates-only seven of the seventeen are commented on. It wou Id not have taken much time and ef fort to do the same for the others. Faces of Fear makes a good companion to Stanley Wiater's Dark Dreamers: Conversations with the Masters of Horror (reviewed in Newsletter 182), which contains twenty-six shorter interviews. Keith Neilson Stupid, Stupid, Stupid! Wood, Edward D. Plan 9 from Outer Space, the original uncensored and uncut screenplay, ed. by Tom Mason. Malibu Graphics, 1355 Lawrence Drive, #212, Newbury Park, CA 91320, 1990. vi, 90 p. $9.95. 0-94473536-3. The government denies the existence of UFOs even after they buzz Hollywood and Washington. The aliens are concerned because humans (who the alien leader calls "stupid, stupid, stupid") are about to develop a device which can destroy the Universe. Wood's ultra-cheap 1959 movie languished in deserved obscurity until Harry and Michael Medved called it the worst movie ever made in The Golden Turkey Awards (1980). Tom Mason permits anyone interested in the lowest rung of amateur moviemaking to compare Wood's screenplay with his film. For most people, a viewing of the film on videocassette should be sufficient. Plan 9 has to be seen to be believed. A great deal more fun is to be found in Ghastly Beyond Belief (1985) by Neil Gaiman and Kim Newman, a collection of atrocious excerpts from SF and horror fiction and films. Michael Klossner FICTION Promising First Novel Alderman, Gill. The Archivist. London: Unwin Hyman, October 1989. 380p. .95 he. 0-04-440399-2. On a far-off planet very similar to earth, inhabited by, apparently, humans where science and technology have been developed and partly discarded, is the City. It is simultaneously elegance and poverty, sophisti cation and barbarism. In its murkier depths lives Cal, a non-citizen, a non person, who has managed to evade being registered and Marked (tattooed with a caste mark) for eighteen ye4rs. He is a very attractive youth, much fancied by women, and very intelligent. When caught he is condemned to


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 33 death. But he is noticed by the Archivist, the most powerful man in the City's matriarchal society, who recognises his talent, gives him a new identity, takes him on as an assistant, introduces him to some of the City's intelligentsia and involves him in schemes of revolution which necessitate a guided tour of the continent. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it? Compressed like that the plot re sembles many previous novels hovering between SF and fantasy (Several of them by Samuel R. Delaney). In fact Gill Alderman's novel (her first) is different from all the rest. Her backgrounds (particularly in the City) are vividly original, richly complex, full of extraordinary characters who cavort through a handful of pages, then disappear from view .. As with many first novels, this one had too many ingredients. it's hard work for the reader because of its complexity and also because of the writing style, yet the hard work is rewarding. This is a subtle novel which works at different levels, hinting at many things left unsaid. It is a first novel of considerable achievement and tremendous promise. Chris Morgan An Interesting Collection. Aronica, Lou, Shawna McCarthy, Amy Stout, and Patrick LoBrutto, eds. Full Spectrum 2. NY: Bantam Spectra Books, May 1990. 548p. $4.95 pb. 0-55328530-0. This anthology of 27 stories was recently handed out at a Con in the registration packet. Because of the traditionally poorer sales of anthologies, aggressive marketing tactics are often employed. In this cas.e it gave the fans, dealers, and potential writers a taste of the new talent out there. Yes, there are stories by Greg Bear, Yonda Mcintyre and Kim Stanley Robinson as well as other stars of the field, but included in this anthology are a number of very good first sales. It would look to some as if this is actually another Clarion anthology, if you only looked at the authors' credits at the back. If it is, then it stands as a credit to the diversity of the Clarion writers. But this diversity doesn't shine through mainly qecause of the desultory job of editing that was done, sur prising when one looks at the editors of this book. I can only surmise that the more the editors the worse the soup. In this case, there was a clumping together (it was too much of a glut to be called a group,) of similar stories. This made it hard to differentiate between them, and more's the pity because sometimes a real gem came at the end of a clump. This was truly noticeable with what I dubbed the religious section, when Spruill's "Silver"; Donnelly'S


34 SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 "As a Small Voice"; Million's "Then I Sleeps and Dreams of Rose"; Sampson's "A Plethora of Angels"; and White's "Strange Attractors" all come one right after the other, destroying what unique voice and delicacy of phrasing the authors might have. It might be wise in reading the book to skip around and decidedly not read them in any order. That way you might be able to distinguish the differences in each story. Some of the stories managed to overcome this. Roessner's story shows that she has a flair for the kind of ethnographical stories in which LeGuin excels. She manages to recreate a colonial society on a far distant world. But what is truly unique is that she also imbues the story with that sense of lost mystery that so many anthro pologists feel when seeing the changes that civilization has wrought. Each of the previously mentioned stories is interesting in its own right. Million's is good, once you get past the repetitive dialect, and it draws you deeper into the characters in a way you will not forget. So, even if you did not get this anthology free, it's worth looking at. W.R. Larrier Insanity, Surrealism, Obsession Bradfield, Scott. The Secret Life of Houses. London: Unwin, May 1989. 166p. .99 pb. 0-04-440307-0. The stories in this collection cover a period between 1983 and 1988, several appearing in British magazines and anthologies such as Interzone and Other Edens 2. They are difficult stories to classify as they refuse to fall neatly in the fantasy category. Most of them are studies of people passing through oron the edge of insanity; all are compelling in a surrealist way. Not only is madness explored but also the way it can be transferred, thus cast ing doubt on the premise that it is all in the mind. "The Dream of the Wolf" considers obsession. Larry Chambers dreams that he is a wolf. Not any wolf but a different species each night, and remembers in detail the habitat and habits of each information that he can verify later. As his obsession grows his normal life deteriorates -he loses wife and job -as well as his physi cal condition. "Ghost Guessed" deals with another kind of transference. As the ghost that lives in Kenneth Millar's house becomes more real, Kenneth becomes more insubstantial. What is not explained, in this or any of the stories, is the reason for the bizarre events or imaginings of the characters. In fact, any attempt to do this would detract from the powerful impact that the pieces have. Bradfield writes "literary" stories but this should not deter the reader who wishes to be shown into the subconscious; the effort is well worth while. Pauline Morgan


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 35 Two Cole Novels Cole, Adrian. Mother of Storms. London: Unwin, April 1989. 378p. .99 pb. 0-04-440306-2. Cole, Adrian. Thief of Dreams: Star Requiem 2. London: Unwin, October 1989. 366p. .99 pb. 0-04-440403-4. Undistinguished Series Opener Storms which have sentience and biotechnology should provide the seeds of a good novel, but the ideas are not explored to anything like their potential in this, the first volume of a new series. Instead, we have the machinations of three peoples the inhabitants of Innasmorn (who use no meta!), human intruders fleeing from.genocide, and the alien Czendook who are still searching for the escaped remnants of humankind in order to com plete the job. Each group is intent on destroying the others. Mother of Storms follows the attempt by a small band of young Innasmornians Oed by Ussemitus} and Aru Casruel (a woman of the intruders) to prevent the war. It is a very familiar plot line and Cole is making the kind of stylistic mistakes common to beginners. He is a far better writer than this book suggests, and as such, I cannot recommend it. An Ordinary Quest. Like much of Cole's recent work, there are interesting and original ideas embedded in a morass of very ordinary writing. It is also difficult to decide whether this is science fiction or fantasy. The remnants of humankind are blissfully unaware of the threat from the natives of the planet they have colonised, being involved in an internal political struggle. They have fled from the Czendook, an alien race of killers, and mistakenly feel safe from them. In this book, a small group, mostly of natives, seeks the power of the World Splinter to try to resolve the situation. Basically this is a quest story of people with high ideals attempting the impossible, and more or less suc ceeding, a conflict not only of good against evil (as typified by humans versus Czendook), but of knowledge against ignorance. Pauline Morgan


36 SFRA Newsletter, 786/ April 7997 Voodoo Vampires Collins, Nancy A. Tempter. NY: Onyx, September 1990. 299p. $4.50. 0451-40215-4. Much I ike Sunglasses After Dark, Collins' powerful first novel, Tempter explores traditional horror themes as well as horrors implicit in contempo rary Collins combines energetic and innovative treatments of voudou with extensions of the vampire motif, both set against devastating psychological portrayals of rock culture, drugs, and the pretentious ennui of Yuppie America. Adam Rossiter, decaying 60's rock Boy Genius, carries his perennial search for meaning through mysticism and sexuality into voodoo ritual and the incursion of dark deities. Rossiter uses voudou magic to penetrate the intricacies of a mandala in the arcane text of the Aegrisomnia (Collins' version of Lovecraft's Necronomicon. He confronts a younger Adam Rossiter, who is actually an illusion generated by a nineteenth-century vampire psychically imprisoned in the crumbling remains of a plantation mansion literally built on the blood and bones of slaves. A novel of graphic sexuality and erotic power, Tempter couples liter ary vampirism with the social, economic, and psychological vampirism of last-century American slavery as well as with the metaphorical vampirism of a selfishly decadent, post-60's rock/drug culture. The work simultaneously indicts both aspects of Western culture, evoking not only the license and perverted freedoms associated with each, but also their legacies of guilt and self-destructiveness. If there is a single problem with Tempter, it is that Collins attempts more than the one book adequately allows-much as she did in Sunglasses. In expanding the imagistic and metaphorical boundaries of vampirism, she includes not only voudou but reincarnation, mysticism, lost books of arcane knowledge, drugs and drug-induced visions, curses, and witchcraft. And, in order to make the plot work, Collins re-creates an extended series of nine teenth-century journal entries that are interesting enough by themselves but that also angle the novel in new directions. One indication that Tempter exceeds its own parameters is the cameo appearance of Sir Morgan, the King-vampire from Sunglasses After Dark; his presence is asserted through diary entries but not explained, nor is he al lowed to enter the contemporary narrative. If not a sequel to Sunglasses After Dark, however, Tempter is clearly a second step in defining Collins' ex pansive and complex vision; her attempts at communicating it, powerful, energetic, impelling, and deeply disturbing in the best possible ways. Michael R. Collings


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 37 Series Entry Stands Alone Constantine, Storm. The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire: The Third Book of Wraeththu. Birmingham (GB): Drunken Dragon Press, August 1989. 382p. .95 he. 0-947578-00-5. If this volume bears a remarkable resemblance to the first two hardcovers in this trilogy (published by McDonald), this is not unintentional. Released simultaneously with the paperback (from McDonald Futura), this small press edition is designed to complete a nice looking set. In some ways this series, chronicling the development of the her maphrodite race that has supplanted humans, is complete without this volume, though it complements and rounds off the story begun in the other two. The narrator this time is Cal, who appeared as a lesser but pivotal character in the previous volumes, and like these it is told in the first person. Cal has fled east and, penniless and pursued, takes refuge in the Wraeththu equivalent of a whorehouse. In Bewitchments of Love and Hate, the second volume, most of the events were centred around a rambling old house. The place Cal finds himself in now is very similar and in a distant wing he finds a prisoner, Panthera. Helping Panthera to escape begins Cal's journey towards fulfilment. Though this entails physical travel, it is also a spiritual voyage of self-discovery. To a certain extent this is a disappointing third volume, starting as it does with a recapitulation of the mysterious house theme. Also, although it is beautifully written, there is insufficient difference between the voices of the three narrators Pel in The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit who be comes Tigron (supreme ruler) of the Wraeththu, Swift, a second generation Wraeththu in volume two, and here, Cal. On his journey Cal passes through countries whose different characters and social structures have developed from the various Wraeththu tribes. Although this is necessary for Cal's development, there is an underlying disquiet that such radical and apparently firmly entrenched cultures could have developed so quickly from one mutant race that may still be within a century of the birth of its progenitor. And it is very convenient for Cal to meet so many faces from his past in this small area although reconciliation with them is an integral part of his acceptance of his true self. Nevertheless, this trilogy is a very commendable effort for a new, young, British talent. There are not enough of them. Pauline Morgan


38 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 Respectable Series Entries Cooper, Louise. Infanta: Book 3 of Indigo. London: Unwin, April 1989. 318p. .50 pb. 0-04-440303-8. ____ -,---_. Nocturne: Book 4 of Indigo. London: Unwin, August 1989. 291 p. .50 pb. 0-04-440-392-5. These books continue the projected eight volume fantasy series that began with Nemesis and Inferno. Indigo, the onetime princess whose in satiable curiousity let seven demons loose on the world, continues her re luctant pursuit of them, accompanied by the talking wolf, Grimya. In many ways, Infanta is the most coherent and satisfying of the four publ ished so far. The demon she is pursuing draws her to Simhara, a fabulous city and her mother's birthplace, but now in the hands of marauders. When her actions save the I ife of the Infanta, she accepts the position of teacher and protector to the child. Indigo knows that the demon threatens the infant and that it is in the city, but she cannot discover what form it has taken. The reader, too, is kept in suspense. The demon's work in Nocturne is far more evident. Indigo and Grimya join a family of travelling players whose route takes them straight into the demon's domain. This one's form is intangible, making it difficult for Indigo to get to grips with it. It manifests itself as despair which saps the will of its victims. The outcome of both these novels is predictable, but Cooper has done her best to throw every difficulty into her protagonist's path in an attempt to keep the reader in suspense. To a great extent she succeeds, and she has so far made the problems Indigo has to face djfferent enough to sustain interest. Whether she can keep this up remains to be seen. Pauline Morgan When Capitalism Goes 8ad Davies, Pete. Dollarville. NY: Random House, October 1989. 211 p. $17.95 he. 0-394-57780-9. From a socio-economic standpoint, Davies' Dollarville is at once every place and no place: it is New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Moscow: it is Terry Gilliam's Brazil Jnd Fritz Lang's Metropolis. From a geographic standpoint, Dollarville is a strange place we all know well what philosopher Michel Foucault calls a heterotopia, or a real and imagined space. In Dollarville, guerilla war is a luxury vacation for the wealthy, acid rain opens bloody gashes in unprotected skin, supermarkets become "hypermarts," and police moonlight in the Sex District directing porno soap operas. Against this background, ad man Charlie Fish finds that, in addition to the planet's other problems, an alien life form has recently attached itself to one of Earth's many defensive satellites.


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 39 The break-neck pacing of Davies' novel is, to a iarge extent, maintained by the Marxist dialectic which runs throughout. For example, when mis sionaries come to the Cordillera Entre Rios, they give the natives aid in ex change for a promise to watch the televised sermons of Rev. Jose Lee Pepsi of the Calvary Elected on the Gabriel River Freeway, then leave behind mercenaries to enforce the "agreement." Alternately, after an accident while observing rhinos in Africa, ecologist Melinda Isenhope is denied entrance to her home state on the grounds that she's now a "blood risk." Stranded in Dollarville and unable to defend herself, she is then kidnapped to perform the starring role in Retch Larkins' porno soap. The novel is, obviously, not without its share of dark humor. Fish's frantic race across Dollarville is impeded by the Reagan Tomb Tour, a gala parade with clowns, bands, and floats re-creating Reagan's best-known films and political coups. Also, when the feared alien finally reaches Earth, it turns out to be an impish rock beast with the temperament of a juvenile delinquent. An immensely satisfying read, Dollarville is a surrealistic look at an "imagined" near-future where technical, social, and political discourses intersect with terrifying results, while simultaneously delivering a biting critique of the "real" space in which we, the readers, live. Highly recommended. joseph M. Dudley Small Press Gem Effinger, George Alec. The Old Funny Stuff. Pulphouse Publishing, Eugene, OR, October 1989. 116p. $4.95. Author'S Choice Monthly, Issue 7. No ISBN. Order from Pulphouse Publishing, Box 1227, Eugene, OR 97440. Pulphouse Publishing is an ambitious, award-winning small press run by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, themselves both talented young science fiction writers. Currently they have three ongoing projects, Pulphouse, the Hardback Magazine, which has published an excellent array of short fiction by some of the better new writers around; a fine series of individually-published novellas, including, among others, Walter Jon Williams's Solip:System and Michael Bishop's Apartheid, Superstrings, and Mordecai Thubana; and, under the umbrella title Author's Choice Monthly, a group of single-writer short story collections. The first of these is George Alec Effinger's The Old Funny Stuff, which brings back the author's favorite early stories. Later volumes in the series will showcase the work of Lewis Shriner, Lisa Goldstein, Karen Joy Fowler, and others.


40 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 The collection begins with a brief introduction by Effinger in which he discusses each of the stories and why he chose it. It also contains one new piece of fiction, the wonderful and very strange "CHESS. BAT: A New Wave Story," which combines computers, chess, and the zodiac in the most sur prising fashion. One of the reprint stories qualifies as a classic, the very funny, Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated "The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything." This may be the only comic sf story ever to use the President of the United States as narrator. A minor classic is the incredibly hip "Mars Needs Beatniks," surely the only work of science fiction ever to contain pastiches of Kerouac, Mailer, and Ginsberg. Also included in The Old Funny Stuff are the short stories "The Thing from the Slush" and "White Hats," as well as a poem, "My First Game as an Immortal." Since these stories were published Effinger has gone on to produce quite a bit of superior short fiction, most notably the Nebula Award-winning "Schrodinger's Kitten," and he will no doubt continue to do so. Thus it is premature to see his career in retrospect. The Old Funny Stuff wears very well, however, and Pulphouse Press is to be highly commended for bringing it back to print. Michael M. Levy Magic is Real in Zelharri Emerson, Ru. NightThreads, Book One: The Calling of the Three. NY: Ace, October 1990. 248 p. $3.95 pb. 0-441-58085-8. After the Nedao series, I expected something interesting from Ru Emerson. After all, how many writers tell a story from a cat's perspective? Her latest book, Night-Threads, is also different. In another world, Zelharri, magic is real and is a part of everyday living. The magic of the Night-Threads is a sensory magic, the pulling and shaping of different colored "threads" of power. If you know a little, you can sense people, water or any other object. If you know enough, you can enter other worlds or bend reality. Jennifer Cray doesn't know any. In fact, she thinks that magic is silly nonsense, particularly for a driven attorney. Her sister Robyn, is, unfortu nately, not driven at all. In fact, she is weak and pitiable. She did manage to have a likable son, Chris, who looks after his often intoxicated mother as well as he can. This unlikely trio are about to have their lives rudely changed by the magic of Night-Threads. Transported unwillingly to an alien world, a sorceress tells them they are the Chosen Ones. They must restore the young Duke Aletto to his seat and restore the balance of magic to Zelharri.


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 41 Emerson has a remarkable abil ity to create characters that the reader really doesn't like. Jennifer is cold, and her sister is weak. However, they adapt well to their unexpected environment. Soon, reluctantly, they also begin to change. Jennifer finds a love interest and an aptitude for Night Thread magic. Robyn learns that she can live without,drugs, cigarettes or self pity. Slowly drawn into the story, the reader is soon fascinated with the people, places, and culture of Zelharri. It is also a credit to Emerson's skill as an author that she can take such irritating people and make them both real and likable. This book is the first in this series, and I look forward to the next two. Ben Herrin Roman Era Fantasy Farrington, Geoffrey. The Acts of the Apostates. London: Dedalus, 1990. 272p. no price shown, pb. 0-946626-46-4. Geoffrey Farrington's second novel is an historical fantasy set in the time of the Roman Emperor Nero. Its central character is Gaius Jul ius Neophytus, an interpreter of dreams in Nero's court, who was once brought back to life by the Judean prophet Eleazer, and who must return to Judea on a mission which is partly the emperor's and partly his own, investigating the so-called prophecies of Nabaim. His personal quest soon comes to outweigh his work as a spy, and it eventually becomes apparent that he has a predestined role to play in the working-out of the prophecies. Alas, it is not clear to himself or to the others involved whether he is supposed to play the part of Eleazer's spiritual heir, or the part of the demon Ornias whose advent is a crucial element of the prophecy. The narrative, mostly related by Neophytus in the first person, maintains its intensity and c,onviction throughout, and the plot reaches a climax which is entirely appropriate in its bitter irony. While the story's subject-matter is somewhat less fashionable than that of Farrington's first novel, a fascinating and melodramatic exercise in vampire existentialism call The Revenants (1984), it is certainly worthy of interest and is emi nently readable. Brian Stableford Weak Writer, Better Critic Feeley, Gregory. The Oxygen Barons. NY: Ace, July 1990. 264 p. $3.95 pb. 0-441-64571-2. Feeley is attempting fiction in this first novel. He has published some fine critical things about Blish and some ruthless things about James Gunn.


42 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 He has high standards for the genre and, apparently, knows a lot about both SF and science. This story, however, seems to me weak and trivial without interesting characterization and with no real scope. The conflict is based on the familiar colonial paradigm of the progressive, yet weaker remote society with its vital, young leaders confronting massive home-front bureaucracy, decadence, selfishness, and lack of vision. The "good" colonials are part of a Lunar Republic here while the "George III" fathers rumble around on a near-future earth with antiquated space suits and massive hotel cities that keep breaking down. This is, indeed, nuts and bolts high-tech speculation; but Feeley's masters have done it better. Similarly, the hero Galvanix had for me the human interest roughly equivalent to the toaster that his name makes him sound like-even James Bond seems a better characterization attempt. Such setups and characters are too close to home. We are always checking the credibility against what we know of AT & T, Trump, and the Persian Gulf. Feeley is best when he lets his imagination project beyond the moon. But perhaps he ought to stay with non-fiction writing. Donald M. Hassler One-way Interstellar Trip Forward, Robert L. Rocheworld. NY: Baen Books, April 1990, 470 p. $4.50pb. 0-671-69869-09. Rocheworld, with 50,000 more words, is the "complete and correct" version of Robert L. Forward's The Flight of the Dragonfly, publ ished in 1982. Within the covers of this new book, Forward tells a wonderful story of human-human, human-artificial intelligence, and human-alien interactions, as the galaxy's top scientists and astronauts embark and travel on the greatest voyage ever attempted ... a one-way interstellar trip to Rocheworld, a strange double-planet circling Barnard's star, 5.9 light-years away. A large plus for Forward is the use of real science, something oft-ne glected in much so-called "science" fiction of today. The science used is also explained in such a way that the layman can understand. Forward hides his technical appendices, which explain much of the science, in a fiction alized hearing by a panel of scientists reviewing the Rocheworld mission. Thus, the pioneering astrophysics and mathematics of world-class scientists such as Hans P. Moravec, Edouard Albert Roche, Charles Sheffield, and Forward himself, are subjects easily available to readers. And. in what seems to be developing as one of Forward's distinguishing trademarks, you will find his latest group of delightful aliens, the flouwen. Playful, amorphous blobs of pure mental energy swimmin' in the oceans of the water lobe of the double-planet. .. they will enchant you. Forward is developing quickly and masterfully into one of the great "hard science" fiction writers of our time. Daryl F.Ma!let


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 43 An Unlikely Mixture Foster, Alan Dean. Cyber Way. NY: Ace, May 1990. 306p. $4.50 pb. 0441-13245-6. When a wealthy Florida industrialist is murdered, and the only appar ent object of the crime was to destroy a rare sandpainting in the victim's private art collection, events are set into motion that weave together such seemingly disparate elements as ancient Navaho legends, high-tech com puter networking, fractals, the Anasazi, a particle accelerator, quantum mechanics, and a World War II Japanese destroyer sunk during the battle for Leyte Gulf. The sandpainting in question turns out to be a template: its cryptic symbols (or "Way," in the terminology of sandpaintingl, when properly ac tivated, form a kind of access code that allows entry to an alien database/ dimension, from which both knowledge and powerful electromagnetic forces can be accessed. Using a combination of high tech networking and ancient Navaho legends, Detective Vernon Moody, a corpulent, good 01' boy from Florida, and Amerind Sergeant Paul Ooljee discover the identity of the murderer, a shadowy Navaho named Yistin Gaggii, who has discovered how to manipulate the database/dimension for some unexplained-though interminably ruminated over-purpose. In much the same way that Foster's Into the Out Of attempted to ex plore the culture of the Maasai, Cyber Way delves (somewhat more cessfullyl into the mythic schema of the American Indian and, in the novel's best moments, renews interest in that peoples' "old ways" by illuminating the common ground among man, myth, and technology-a concept of mythic unity that would have been warmly received by the late Joseph Campbell. Unfortunately, these intriguing philosophical underpinnings surface too often in the form of tiresome what-if observations by the two lawmen, with too few revelatory scenes with Gaggii, a deliberate villain effectively leashed by Foster's habitual unwillingness to let his bad guys appear too threatening. Some of the criticisms that have been leveled at Foster's previous works-repetitive passages, unarticulated motivation, tantalizing ideas dulled by weak plotting-apply equally to this novel. Still, Cyber Way, like Midworld, shows that Foster can write about something other than YA wish fulfillment adventures. Barry Reynolds


44 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7991 Contemporary Horror in England Gallagher, Stephen. Downriver. London: N.E.L., March 1989. 272p. .95 he. 0-450-49129-3. On the surface this is a horror thriller, sharply written and realistically nasty, about a corrupt policeman in contemporary England. He is John Mays, on plainclothes duties in an unnamed city (which could be Bir mingham), who uses his position to get what he wants. Anybody who thwarts him, even in a small way, is written down in Johnny's grudge book and is liable to be dealt with severely. Nick Frazier is Johnny's much more honest duty partner, who tries to cope with all this. A complication is that Nick and Johnny were at school together. The plot is full of gripping twists set against decaying landscapes. But the novel is also an examination of people's roots can they ever be returned to or recaptured? It questions self-images and the facade of personality behind which we all hide. It's a good piece of writing by an author who seems to be improving with each successive book. Chris Morgan British SF Anthology Garnett, David S., ed. Zenith: The Best in New British Science Fiction. London: Sphere, 1989. 298p. .50 pb. 0-7474-0341-4. This collection of twelve stories represents yet another attempt to establish a regular showcase anthology for British sf. The second (and last) volume has just been published as I write, appearing under a different im print because Sphere Books has in the meantime been gobbled up by in satiable media magnate Robert Maxwell, and hence amalgamated with OrbitiFutura. The editor of Zenith has not tried quite as hard as the editors of Other Edens (also dead, after three issues, its publisher having been similarly gobbled up by Maxwell's arch-rival Rupert Murdoch) to maintain the image of British sf as a dour and downbeat sub-species, but he docs his bit to support the impression that British sf is an incestuous community where people make a living by taking in one another's washing; both Other Edens editors are represented here (and Garnett was a contributor to Other Edens 1) and their stories maintain the same commitment to slightly precious avant gardism that was the hallmark of their own rival enterprise. Zenith is, however, a decent enough book in its own right. Good con tributions come from reliable established writers: Lisa Tuttle's "In Transla tion" is a neat account of failures to communicate between human and alien and between human and human; Garry Kilworth's "White Noise" is one of


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 45 his thoughtful religious fantasies; and Barrington J. Bayley's "Death Ship" is a typically old-fashioned tale of wonder with a twist in the tail. The up-and coming generation is amply represented, too: Ian McDonald's "Gardenias" is not quite up to his brilliant best, but presents a harsh and pol ished account of future lowlife; Storm Constantine's "The Pleasure Giver Taken" is rather silly but redeems itself with buoyancy and wit; William King's "Skyrider" is pastiche cyberpunk somewhat past its sell-by date, but has a certain rough and-ready charm. One day, even the stormy sea which is the British publishing industry may prove to be navigable by an anthology series of this type. We already know that it will not be Zenith, but if it issomething as wide-ranging and as competent as Zenith has tried to be it will be a worthwhile thing. Brian Stableford Prolific Writer Gemmell, David. Knights of Dark Renown. Legend, London, May 1989. 400p. .95 pb. 0-7126-2547-X. Gemmell, David. The Last Guardian. Legend, London, November 1989. 279p. .95 pb. 0-7126-2517-8. Too Much for One Book Once the knights of the Gabala protected the people from evil. When their task was done they passed beyond the Gate. All that is except Manannan, who lacked the courage. Now evil is returning to the land and there is none to prevent it. Even the outlaw, Llaw Gyffes, a kind of Robin Hood figure, cannot prevent the spread. Manannan's dilemma is whether to brave the Gate to try to persuade the Knights to retum, or to throw his waning talents against the Duke of Mactha. It is noticeable that once again Gemmell has chosen fallible men, and women, who doubt their own powers to stand as a bulwark against evil. If anything this book is overlong, with too many angst-ridden characters to make it as fulfilling an adventure as some of his earlier books. Perhaps this is because he has tried to compact ev erything into the one volume, involving a multiplicity of plot strands, instead of concentrating on a few important characters. It may be worth noting that the epilogue of this edition was bound in upside down. Still Seeking Jerusalem Publicised as the fourth Sipstrassi novel, this is also the sequel to Wolf in Shadow (a.k.a. The Jerusalem Man). Two of these four novels are Arthurian in setting, (Ghost King and Last Sword of Power), and can be considered as


46 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 historical fantasies. This, and Wolf in Shadow are set in a post-catastrophe world. The connection between them is the Sipstrassi, magical stones that can, when used properly, heal or work benign magic. jon Shannow, the middle-aged hero so common in Gemmell's work, is still seeking jerusalem. In his wanderings he hears about the Sword of God and determines to seek it out. There are unusual and inventive touches in both these books and because of their setting they stand up better than the Arthurian Sipstrassi novels, partly because the later period has been overworked, whereas the future is still to be shaped. This is one such vision. Pauline Morgan Truly Inspired Silliness Laumer, Keith. Reward for Retief. NY: Baen Books, February 1989. 340p. $3.95. 0-671-69804-4. There's a lot of lightweight comic trash out there in science fiction land and a fair ilmount of Piers Anthony-engendered sophomoric lewdness, but very little in the way of truly inspired silliness. The work of Sheckley, Goulart, Harrison and a few others is worth noting, not to mention Alexei Panshin's three Anthony Villers novels. When it comes to funny, however, my first choice is Keith Laumer. The author has been chronicling the adventures of jame Retief of the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne for more than a quarter of a century now in such volumes as Envoy to New Worlds (1963), Retief's Ransom (1971), and The Return of Retief(1985). Laumer makes no pretense to either art or serious political satire, his character development is virtually nonexistent, and his readers have to put up with mild ongoing doses of sexism, racism, and classism. What makes the series work, however, is the author's gift for developing absolutely loony characters. Retief himself is a super-competent james Bond type (the Roger Moore version), with a dry, mocking, and dis tinctly upper-class sense of humor. Although he's capable of taking swift action when necessary, he frequently plays the straight man to a gallery of incompetent diplomats, psychotic military men, and off-the-wall aliens with names I ike Underknuckle, Bob Trenchfoot, and Clyde Shortfall, the likes of which are not to be found anywhere else in the galaxy. In Reward for Retiefour hero finds himself assigned to the planet Zany000, where the shifty, caterpillar-like natives hate Terrans and won't give anyonea straight answer. The planet turns out to be uniquely valuable, however, because it lies at the center of a trans-temporal flux, a strange phenomenon that allows reality to be changed by a mere thought. Other


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 47 writers, most notably Ursula K. LeGuin and Philip K. Dick, have used this concept to delve deeply into the nature of reality, but Laumer is out to have a lark with the idea and he succeeds admirably. The Retief series may well not be everyone's cup of tea. One's time, after all, would undoubtedly be better spent with something serious by LeGuin, Bruce Sterling or Octavia Butler. Sometimes, however, in the middle of ragweed season when the antihistamine isn't quite holding its own, even the most devoted patron of the arts may find her or himself possessed by a need for silliness. Reward for Retieflies waiting for just such a mo ment. Marcia Marx A Delectable Feast Lee, Tanith. Forests of the Night. London: Unwin Hyman, June 1989. 299p. .95 he. 0-04-440402-6. In a rich landscape precariously balanced between ripeness and decay, populated by creatures of folktale and myth, is where Lee operates. She is perhaps the most exquisite stylist writing fantasy today. In her stories, past, present and future are the same: innocence is always corrupted, danger al ways lurks, and the characters are really only ourselves seen through sl ightly distorting mirrors. This twenty-story collection (eight new, twelve reprints) is fattening food, to be consumed slowly at several sittings. While some tales are mere lil-bilS, most are satisfying courses. It would be invidious to praise one story over others or to select a personal ,favorite, but since it's a reviewer's lot to be invidious, I'll mention "Black as a Rose", one of Lee's Flat Earth stories, as being the most outstanding. Also included are the World Fantasy Award winner, "The Gorgon", and a truly wonderful diversity of other stories. Chris Morgan Beneath the Streets of Paris Littell, Jonathan. Bad Voltage. NY: Signet, June 1989. 309p. $3.95 pb ($4.95 Canada). 0-451-16014-2. In many of the cyberpunk novels the emphasis is clearly on the "cyber" side of the equation. As often as not the featured characters are merely alienated, hyped-up hackers, their "punkishness" consisting of little more than an anti-social haircut and an all-purpose disdain for authority. Jonathan Littell's flawed but ambitious first novel, Bad Voltage, goes the other way, however. Although a number of his characters have mastered underground computer technology, few of them see it as anything more than a key to wilder and better parties.


48 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 "Wilding" is, perhaps, the operative word here. Although not as mali cious as the young hoodlums of Kubrick's version of A Clockwork Orange, Littell's ambi-sexual Parisian street punks engage in a virtual non-stop orgy of sex, drugs, and violence, fighting other gangs in the sewers beneath Paris, slashing through crowded city streets in high-speed anti-gravity boots, using their pirated high-tech skills to help them steal whatever they need. The plot involves Lynx, mixed-race orphan of the Parisian race riots, gang leader, and all-around punk with a heart of gold, who becomes dissatisfied with his own world after the death of a lover. Doing some reverse slumming, Lynx falls in with an heiress and gains introduction to the world of the super-rich which, of course, he discovers to be even more decadent and dangerous than his own. This plot has been done many times before, both in and out of science fiction it's a staple of the pop-music world after all (see, for example, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel) but Littell's variation is par ticularly harrowing and largely successful. There's a fair amount of pretentiousness and posing here though, as can be seen by the untranslated quotations from Genet and Baudelaire, the fre quent, veiled allusions to Rimbaud and the fin de siecle decadents, and the three-page list of music that Littell listened to while writing the book (ev erything from Mozart and Bach to Lou Reed and the Violent Femmes). Nonetheless, Bad Voltage is a worthwhile read. Littell is not Gibson or Sterling, but he's better than the vast majority of cyberpunk imitators and I look forward to his next book. On a final and somewhat disturbing note (although this is hardly Jonathan Littell's fault), Bad Voltage is the second science fiction novel I've read recently with a black protagonist who, on the book's cover, is very clearly portrayed as white. The other victim of this deceptive practice is Octavia Butler'S Dawn. The publishers, Signet and Warner, may well claim that cover illustrations sell books and young white males are less likely to buy an sf novel with black characters on the cover, but I can't help thinking that a certain amount of corporate racism is involved here. Marcia Marx SF Only By a Stretch Love, Rosaleen. The Total Devotion Machine (and Other Stories), London: The Women's Press, August 1989. 167p. .50 pb. 0-7043-4188-3. These stories (ten original, seven reprints) explore the condition, fears and treatment of women in contemporary society, often using SF as meta phor. They are satires; they are literary short stories; they are not science fiction unless one's definition is very wide, despite their SF label. It is use ful to bracket Love with Pamela Zoline and Josephine Saxton. Love's "The


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 49 Children Don't Leave Home Any More" is a look at entropy from the do mestic viewpoint, reminiscent of Zoline's "The Heat Death of the Universe", while several of the other stories are zany enough to have been written by Saxton. Many women will be familiar with the situations dealt with here. There is the fear of being ignored by one's husband, in "The Invisible Woman", and the fear of turning into an old bat, taken to hilarious, non metaphorical lengths in "Bat Mania". Love is an Australian, and she uses her native settings in most stories. She is a clever and witty writer who seems to go out of her way to avoid doing anything that the reader might expect. Chris Morgan Intelligent Colonization Novel McAuley, Paul J. Secret Harmonies. London: Gollancz, November 1989. 333p. .95 he. 0-575-04580-9. This author won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award for his first novel, Four Hundred Billion Stars. This book is as sharp and contained as that one is. Both involve the exploration of alien planets on which have been dis covered creatures whose sentience is in doubt, and whose life-cycle has yet to be fully understood. It is the attitudes of the humans which are radically different. In Four Hundred Billion Stars they were afraid, and curious. Here they are confident. Elysium, the planet of Secret Harmonies, is being colonised in a conservative way, as though the lesson of the rape of Mother Earth has been learnt. In the beginning ships carrying new colonists and the latest technology arrive at regular intervals. Then one fails to turn up. The usual reaction is for the community to retreat into itself, at odds with all the nasty things the planet can throw at them. Not here. Instead there is civil war. The colo nists who wished to expand, to venture beyond the rigid boundaries that have been laid down for them, rebel. The consequence of their victory would be to push civilisation to the brink of barbarism. This is another po tentially familiar theme, but McAuley then introduces another factor the survival instincts of Comsat, the AI which runs the colony. The events of this brief, turbulent period are seen through the eyes of David de Ramaira, an Earthborn scientist who only wishesto unravel the secret of the planet's strange animal life, colonial Richard Florey, who while wanting to study global weather patterns is drawn into the political situation, and Miguel Lucas, a man who has managed to survive, illegally, in the wild for forty years. The theme is mankind in crisis, though being set on Elysium it is possible for individuals to produce an effect, unlike on our present Earth. It is a pity that the planet itself with its fascinating biology does not playa larger part in the story. The aborigines, though haVing an important role, are not


50 SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 brought to the forefront. Without the background the book would have descended into a struggle of technology against barbarism despite the ex cellent descriptive powers of this author. Pauline Morgan "No Slime, No Chainsaws" Morgan, Chris, ed. Dark Fantasies. London: Legend (Century Hutchinson), August 1989. 319p. .95 he. 0-7126-2413-9. .95 trade pb. 0-71263446-0. "No slime, no ch

SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 51 Soon To Be a Genre Unto Himself? Newman, Kim. The Night Mayor. London: Simon & Schuster (UK), 1989. 186p. .95 he. 0-671-69706-4. It has long been observed that the world of the movies is a foreign country; they do things differently there. Some sixty years have passed since Elmer Rice produced his mock-Utopian romance A Voyage to Purilia (1930), in which visitors from our world enter the movie-world and have an absurdly comical time learning to cope with the metaphysics of cuts, close-ups and fade-outs and the paradoxes of cliche and censorship. A similar interval separates us from Vicente Huidobro's proud boast that his Mirror of a Mage (1931) was a pioneering "visual novel" which would daringly take aboard the methods of "the cinematograph" in order to exploit the particular edu cation of experience which had been visited upon audiences by the silver screen. Now film critic-turned-writer Kim Newman has taken up these themes again, and has begun to write cinematic fiction with a boisterous zest which, if sustained, will surely make him one of the leading fantasy writers of the 1990s. The fortunes of his works may also provide a curious litmus test of the precise extent to which the contemporary mythologies of popular culture have been formed and focused by cinematic imagery. The Night Mayor is set in a future where information technology has advanced to the point where the media can hook in directly to people's nervous systems. The equivalent of today's Hollywood hacks are "Dream ers" who assist experience-synthesizing computers with their plotting and characterization, adding a humanly creative touch to what is basically a mechanical process. When an ingenious supercriminal "escapes" from imprisonment by establishing his own private dreamworld within the in formation network the only people with the necessary expertise to hunt him down (and destroy his dream lest it expand to corrupt and conquer the entire information-world) are said hacks. One of them is therefore promptly conscripted by the powers-that-be, which are here uneuphemistically called the Gunmint. Alas, the first hunter sent into the dream is all-too-quickly absorbed by it and reduced to the status of an imperiled character; a second agent must therefore be conscripted and sent in to rescue and combine forces with him. In order to carry out their mission successfully the two Dreamers must adapt their strategies and expectations to the "rules" of the Secondary World they are invading -which, as it happens, is compounded out of the imagery of a particular sub-genre of the old-fashioned and obsolete "flattie" films whose influence on their own dubious art-form inevitably remains considerable.


52 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 The sub-genre in question is American films nair, and the private universe over which the Night Mayor reigns supreme is essentially a compound of all such films, populated by countless avatars of Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and their numerous contemporaries. This plot-summary inevitably gives the impression that The Night Mayor is a kind of in-joke for cinema buffs. In addition, long-time science fiction may feel that they are already familiar with the basic plot-device by virtue of having read Peter Phillips' "Dreams are Sacred" and John Brunner's The Whole Man (and the favoured few who remember Roger P. Graham's pseudonymous story "The Mental ,Assassins" from the May 1950 issue of Fantastic Adventures may think that they are even more familiar with it). In fact, though, the novel is less esoteric and less derivative than the synopsis is capable of implying. The case for The Night Mayors originality is easy enough to make; its breezily pyrotechnic action and its mock-casual style combine well to make it a very striking book, extraordinarily vivid and very witty. It does not merely borrow the special artifice of the film nair to construct its scenarios, but also conducts a quirky interrogation of the essl:!ntial appeal of such films, and contrives in its own narrative frame to offer a distorted reflection of their assumptions about the possibil ity of heroism in an institutionally-corrupt world. As a dream-subversion story it is more extravagantly funny than any of its predecessors, and much more intensively recomplicated; it is not a long book (especially by today's word-processor-inflated standards) but it is crammed full of detail and movement in a way which admirably reflects its homage to the cinema. The case for The Night Mayors exotericism is not so easy to make, and requires some supplementary observations, the key one being that despite the nostalgic element in its celebration of film nair stereotypes this is es sentially a book of the video age. The rapid proliferation of video-machines has created a situation whereby the TV set is freed from the straitjacket of broadcasting schedules, and in which the consumption of filmic material is similarly freed from the tyranny of cinematic release. Individuals can now watch most of the films which they want to watch at times of their own choosing in the comfort of their own homes. This has brought about a fundamental change in the re lationship between consumers and that great reservoir of visual imagery which is cinema history, allowing the mythological heritage of the cinema to be constantly available to us in a way which was never possible before. Broadcast TV had preserved that heritage in an essentially disordered fash ion, repeating old films endlessly but haphazardly, but only the video-library could add the extra dimensions of order and choice to the relationship.


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 53 Because he has been a film-fan (and critic) for so many years Kim Newman has spent a very significant fraction of his adult life watching films in the cinema and on TV (whether broadcast or videotaped). He reads books, too, and might reasonably lay claim to being something of a con noisseur of horror fiction as well as the several film genres in which he is most interested, but the world of his imagination is very elaborately stocked with visual imagery inherited from the cinema. His particular stocks are undoubtedly fuller and more coherently-organized than those which most of us have, but they are no longer so different in kind as they would have been ten years ago. Everyone lives in the parallel worlds of real experience and the imagi nation, and in the last sixty years almost everyone has drawn upon the im agery of the cinema in providing the Secondary World of the imagination with its vocabulary of visual images, but we now live in a world where that provision can be, and is, an orderly and controlled process. much more closely akin than before to the process by which we derive stocks of cogni tive material from what we read. It is inevitable that the viewing and read ing habits of large numbers of people will be brought into closer harmony than was previously feasible; thus, new scope will be opened up for a much more intimate relationship of reference between text-based materials and videotape-based materials. For this reason, Kim Newman's work may prove to be in the vanguard of what will soon be revealed as a conspicuous trend. It is by no means necessary that this more intimate relationship between the literary and the cinematic should be expressed in texts which make explicit use of the mythology of the cinema. Newman's other fiction is equally cinematic in style and substance although its borrowings are not always so straightforward or so obvious. Indeed, the relationship between The Night Mayor and Newman's other works is very interesting in respect of the overlapping of resources and techniques and the transplantation of material from one medium to another. Some reference is made in the course of The Night Mayor to a Dreamer named John Yeovil, and there are similar irrelevant references in certain literary works signed Jack Yeovil to a film-maker named Kim Newman; Newman and Yeovil are, of course, one and (nearly but not quite) the same. Jack Yeovil has so far only published one novel and a handful of short stories, all of them heroic fantasies set in the imagined universe of Games Workshop's role-playing game Warhammer. Games Workshop's publishing subsidiary GW Books will, however, soon be releasing several other Yeovil stories and novels set in the imaginary universe of their battl ing motor vehicle board game Dark Future, whose alternative universe has been extravagantly elaborated by Newman and Alex Stewart.


54 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 Even Yeovil's heroic fantasies show the very heavy influence of the cinema in both method and action-the novel Drachenfels (1989) is about the staging of a grand dramatic event, which allows the plot to inflict a se ries of ghoulish horror-film set-pieces upon actors who are busy recon structing a horror-film plot of their own. The novel borrows its structure and pace from that most .absurdly unlikely of sources, the Busby Berkeley film Gold Diggers of 1933. This sort of methodology has, however, much more obvious and extravagant effects on Newman's pseudonymous Dark Future stories. The first three Yeovil Dark Future stories are "Route 666" (in the an thology of the same title edited by David Pringle, 1990), Demon Down load (1990) and Krokodil Tears (1990). All are part of a series (the two novels are more-or-Iess independent of one another, but are both sequels to the novelette), which is ostensibly a sequence of violent horror stories con cerning the attempts made by an immortal summoner of demons to facilitate an apocalyptic invasion of an alternative earth as it approaches the year 2000. In fact the series -like The Night Mayor is really a comedy, because its horror motifs and its graphic violence are used to comic effect in a fashion which is much more familiar in the cinema (and also in comic books) than in text stories. The cinema's tradition of comic violence is, of course, well-established it goes back to the visual gags employed in silent films and extends through countless cartoons of the Tom-and-Jerry variety. The filmic tradition of comic horror is of more recent provenance, first becoming obvious in cer tain films made by Roger Corman and continuing into such modern classics as The Evil Dead. In both traditions, though, film-makers exploit the fact that the viewer knows that what is happening is a mere illusion of animation or "special effects" in order to make into macabre jokes chains of events which would, if assumed to be real, seem utterly horrible. (The literary equivalents of the same strategy are mostly to be found in urban folklore, but Robert Bloch is particularly notable as a prolific writer of grand guignol jokes.) The relationship between film-maker and viewer in comic horror films is essentially one of "connoisseurs" rather than "consumers" because the normal conventions by which the viewer suspends disbelief and pretends that what is happening on screen is real are teasingly called into question, requiring the simultaneous comprehension of two narrative levels. Newman does exactly the same thing in his Yeovil novels which must not be read naively if they are to be properly appreciated. (Undoubtedly there will be some onlookers who, like the diehard opponents of comic-book horror, will think them quasi-pornographic, but there is no need to digress in order to refute such stupidities here.) Some of the jokes are glaringly obvious but effectively trivial-like the parody of Hitchcock's Psycho which figures in


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 55 Krokodil Tears-but others are awesome in their temerity. The invocation of the Lone Ranger as deus ex machina in Demon Download is the kind of thing which writers rarely dare to do when operating under their own names for fear of being thought silly, while the re-costuming of the infamous Tasmanian Devil (familiar to fans of Daffy Duck and ,his kin) as an all-too-hu man psychotic mass-murderer sets new standards in sick flamboyance. The Jack Yeovil novels belong to a literary subspecies which constitutes the despised undergrowth of contemporary sf and fantasy the Shared World story. Like B-movies, therefore, they operate on the margins of a field which is already marginal in terms of its cultural respectability; like the best (and worst) B-movies, however, they undoubtedly have the potential to at tract a cult following and enjoy subsequent recognition as revealing and fascinating products of their time and their art. The Dark Future novels in particular exhibit a glorious lack of inventive inhibition which Newman might not be able to keep up forever, and they should be treasured while they last. The Night Mayor aspires to a higher level of literary sophistica tion, but it is mercifully content to be a modest kind of Main Feature and I suspect that Newman may have absorbed the lessons of cinema history sufficiently to approach with caution the idea that h is natural destiny is to make big-budget super-epics. (His next novel under his own name is, in fact, to be called Bad Dreams, and was due from Simon & Schuster in October 1990; his third Dark Future novel as Jack Yeovil will feature the alternative world's Elvis Presley as its hero.) Like all pioneers, Kim Newman may face some difficulties in attracting an audience into what is effectively an undercolonized literary niche. The English-language publishing industry is nowadays so obsessive about stan dardized packaging that it routinely mistreats authors who do not quite fit, and it is not impossible that Newman may suffer the temporary indignity of seeing his work marketed by publishers and booksellers as "horror" to people who will frown at his irreverence for the schlocky icons of their standard fare (nor is it impossible that the entire GW Books project, and "Jack Yeovil" with it, will founder on the rock of its own dilettantism, which has so far been expressed in atrocious book-design, haphazard scheduling and incompetent distribution). He is, though, far too good a writer to be obliterated by such accidents of fate; one day, if his early promise is fulfilled, he will be one of those fortunate literateurs whose name becomes a genre in its own right. For the time being, he is the most energetic, vivacious and colourful of the emergent generation of British fantasy-writers and much more fun to read than Vicente Huidobro ever was. Brian Stableford


56 SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 Niven Career Retrospective Niven, Larry. N-Space. NY: Tor, 1990, 529 p. (Includes bibliography). $19.95 he. 0-312-85089-l. Larry Niven's N-Space is not a book for everyone. It's designed for the true Niven fan rather than a casual reader (nothing wrong with thaU, and serves more as a Niven career retrospective than a really good read. In be tween short stories (both reprints and uncollected endeavors) there are drawings, anecdotes, Niven's remarks on a particular work's creation, and excerpts from novels, chosen by Niven himself to demonstrate some par ticular aspect of his work. There are also previously unpublished pieces, like "Down In Flames," which is a sort of essay and a sort of detailed plot outline for a book that never got finished. There are gems like "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" and "Shall We Indulge in Rishathra?"-the latter ac companied by Bill Rotsier's not-50-cryptic drawings, and some previously uncollected stuff, like the short story "The Kiteman." All of this is thrown together into a giant book that tries to do more than it succeeds in doing. Though I found N-Space ultimately unsatisfying as a good read, Niven scholars and ardent fans will love the notes, the helpful bibliography, the previously-unpublished essays, and the well-chosen mottoes beginning each new section. What I don't like is the remarkably episodic feel of this book almost randomness, though that's to be expected, considering the book is a compilation. I can't find a real rationale to the ordering-it's not particularly chronological and I can't find any sort of subject matter connection. Ac cording to the "Works in Progress" list at the end, volume two is forthcoming; maybe some explanation as to organization will be forthcoming as well. As for layout, there are at least three different typefaces, not counting titles, and the format of not number the first page of a new item means that in the first ten pages, only two pages have numbers on them (though this settles down later). These are minor annoyances. The amazing thing about Niven's work over the years is its consistent excellence, with find hard science and memorable characters. The novel excerpts seem too brief, a pale shadow of the whole, though Niven justifies each cutting with a brief essay explaining why he chose the passage he did. One excerpt is from a novel I haven't read, World of Ptavvs, and I found it more confusing than enlightening; the excerept from Ringworld, on the other hand, is too brief to bring back the fun of reading the novel for the first time. The short stories, luckily, stand alone, but the excerpts are valuable mostly for pointing out what Niven thought was important in the novel.


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 57 Niven's notes are what make this retrospective stand out; they also re veal Niven's personality, especially his witty sense of humor. Not surpris ingly, some of N-Space is sometimes self-conscious (in the bibliography are several "unsold" or "American rights not sold" titles), and things seem cur rent to mid-1988, a bit too long ago considering the 1990 publication date. It's great to see Niven's work collected in such a handyform, and there's no doubt that this is a useful volume, but it tries to do too much. It's not quite a story collection and it's not quite a treatise on What Science Fiction Means to Me, but something in between, and even though Niven writes about himself and about writing, there is little sense of Niven the man (his biographical note, on the jacket only, reads "Larry Niven lives in Tarzana, California")' N-Spacewon't do for an introduction to Niven; it will only be meaningful to people who have read everything Niven has ever written. For this reason, its appeal is too specialized to be useful, but for those who are acquainted with Niven, this is a career retrospective that is very complete and a lot of fun. Karen Hellekson Being Human Isn't Easy, Either Ore, Rebecca. Being Alien. NY: Tor, 1989. 277p .. $3.95 pb. No ISBN. Reading this continuation of the tale of Tom "Red Clay," kidnapped Terran, space cadet from a "xenophobic" culture, isolated on a planet full of miscellaneous aliens trying (not always successfully) to work with each other, does not require the assimilation of the previous book, Becoming Alien (1988). But it helps. Rebecca Ore has invented a wide variety of aliens from many quasi-familiar evolutionary origins (they classify Terrans as "sub tropical brachiators"), given them cultural imperatives and personal quirks, and introduced them to us in the novelistic equivalent of a noisy cocktail party. It works. So must the reader. Tom (no relation to Corbett) came to Karst almost by accident, but he has remained and succeeded as a cadet through sheer overachievement. Told he is xenophobic, he has overcompensated, while relegating the humans on Karst to sub-alien status. Now he must retrieve his humanity. They send him to Earth, but not home to rural Virginia; he to Berkeley, at a vaguely future time that sounds astonishingly like the 1960's. He is told to study Japan, and does so, but this seems less important than making contact with sympathetic Terrans, finding his brother Warren (last seen crazy with dope and in jail), finding himself. Like Octavia Butler, Ore demonstrates that xenophobia and racism are merely different names for the same problem, and that being alien is no cure for fearing alienness. Being Alien records Tom's successes and failures,


58 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 griefs, guilts and joys, as he matures on Karst and begins the process of assimilating his humanity and recognizing the humanity of the other Terrans. Thus, he must deal with insecurity, love, jealousy, and other mature emo tions. He is also a working contact officer, and new (and alien) complica tions naturally abound. Not all of them get solved in this book. The sequel, Human to Human, should have appeared in 1990. I look forward to it. Martha A. Bartter Too Loose a Connection Pollack, Rachel and Caitlin Matthews, eds. Tarot Tales. London: Legend (CenturY Hutchinson), August 1989. 304p. .95 trade pb. 0-7126-2471-6. To use a Tarot pack to plot a story (or at least to provide the initial ideas) seems like an interesting idea. To complie an anthology of such stories, all commissioned from authors sensitive to the Tarot, is excitingly original. Unfortunately, the stories themselves tend to be disappointing perhaps too subtle for my taste, and often ending just when they needed to open out into something larger. Also (and here is a preconceived prejudice, I'm afraid) I believe that an anthology should have more similarity between its stories than this does fantasy, horror, myth, surrealism, SF, general fiction, his torical fiction all rub shoulders uneasily. Even so, there are some readable stories by Storm Constantine, Robert Irwin and Garry Kilworth. Chris Morgan Discworld Saga Continues Pratchett, Terry. Guards! Guards!. London: Gollancz, November 1989. 288p. .95 he. 0-575-04606-6. Pratchett, Terry. Pyramids. London: Gollancz, June 1989. 272p. .95 he. 0-575-04463-2. Pratchett, Terry. Wyrd Sisters. London: Corgi, November 1989. 252p. .99 pb. 0-552-13460-0. Discworld With A Dragon "Eight," in the Discworld, is a magic number. "Octarine" is the eighth colour of the rainbow (the colour of magic). Guards! Guards! is the eighth Discworld novel. Thus it should be a little bit special. It is, in that Pratchett has sustained the level of humour through so many novels and appears to be able to continue indefinitely. This particular escapade follows the members of the Night Watch of that most disreputable of cities, Ankh-Morpork, the


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 59 only city where organised crime has Guild Houses and each citizen is ex pected to become a regular victim it is like paying taxes without the window dressing of legality. The Watch, under Captain Vimes, tries not to arrest too many people, (it causes hassles with the Guilds), but has to con tend with a new member (a volunteer, six-foot-six dwarf who takes every thing literally), and with the sudden appearance of an extinct, physically impossible, fire-breathing dragon. With the help of the Librarian (an orang outang) of the Unseen University, Lady Ramkin .(a breeder of swamp drag ons), and Errol (a mutant swamp dragon with a penchant for eating every thing), the four-strong Watch attempts to refrain from becoming heroes; af ter all everyone knows that the only function of the is to charge into a room to be beaten up by an unarmed, one-hand-tied-behind-his-back, real Hero! Good fun. Another Fine Mix The seventh Discworld book has little in common with the others. The unlikely hero is Teppic, the son of the Pharaoh of Djelibeybi, who is near the end of his training to be an assassin when his father dies by flying out of a window. Problems arise because he has to go back to make sure that the sun rises each day. Meanwhile, a huge pyramid is being built to house the body, the dimensions of which are causing paracosmic instability. It explodes and the valley apparently disappears from the outside world, but not to those left behind. There is the usual mix of ineptness (of the characters) and crazy situations but the gem of this book is the camel,' You Bastard, who, unbe knownst to humans, is actually a mathematical genius. Pyramids, with its brilliant Josh Kirby cover, is as much fun as the previous six volumes. Another Discworld Hilarity Take three perfectly ordinary witches, a dead king who keeps hanging around his draughty castle, a playwright dwarf of exceptional talent and a thundercloud that wants to be a star. Put them in.a cauldron with a few other bizarre characters, mix in a vanished baby prince (rightful heir to the throne) and season with the Scottish Play. This might give an inkling of the ingre dients combined here that make up the sixth Discworld novel. The prime mover of this particular hilarity is Granny Weatherwax, whom Pratchett fans will remember as Eskarina's mentor from Equal Rites. With the king Lancre murdered (an old friend, Death, turns up to make sure the job is done right) the witches become concerned about the effects on the kingdom of the new rulers. The problem is how to maintain some kind of status quo until the


60 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 prince is old enough to return and claim his throne. As usual Pratchett provides the answers in his own inimitable way. He also postulates the theory of inspiration particles which pass through the universe at random, occasionally affecting a receptive mind. Though he suggests that Hwel, the dwarf playwright, attracts more than his fair share of these, it is clear that Pratchett himself also stands under a perpetual shower. Pauline Morgan Designer Genes Reed,Robert. Black Milk. NY: Donald I. Fine, 1989. 327p. $18.95. 155611-115-0. Although Dave Wolverton may have gotten more press, Robert Reed is clearly the best writer to have come out of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest to date. The Leeshore (1987) was a fine interplanetary ad venture with strong surreal elements and The Hormone Jungle (1988), which skirted the edge of cyberpunk, was equally good. In his third novel, Black Milk, Reed once again stakes out new ground, producing a realistic, near future thriller about the dangers of genetic engineering. The novel follows the lives of'a number of gene-engineered children, among them Ryder, who possesses a perfect memory, Marshall, a genius with a bent for science, and Cody, an extraordinarily talented athlete. Al though their lives seem normal, the children are constantly under surveil lance both by the u.s. government and by the scientist who created them, Dr. Aaron Florida. Gradually gaining awareness of the artificial nature of their seemingly innocent suburban existence, Ryder and his friends become increasingly alienated from the adult world. Eventually they discover the chilling fact that Dr. Florida's experiments in genetic manipulation did not stop merely with the creation of superior children. In fact, his latest work may have put the future of the world in jeopardy. This is not, of course, the world's most original plot line; virtually every major sf writer has probably done a variation on it. Reed's novel works well, however, because his science is up-to-date, his writing style is fluent, and his characters are people about whom it's easy to care. Despite their geneti cally-engineered superiorities, Ryder and his friends are, for the most part, believable kids, much more so than, say, Lois McMaster Bujold's "quaddies" in the much overrated Nebula Award-winner Falling Free (1988). Perhaps because his novels have seen hardcover publication from a small press before going into mass-market paperback editions, Reed has gotten less publicity and name recognition than he deserves. Recently, while


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 67 participating on a convention panel dealing with genetic manipulation in current science fiction, I praised Black Milk and was surprised to discover that no one in the room had heard of it; this is a shame. The book should have, however, appeared in paperback sometime in 1990. Look for it. It's good. Michael M. Levy Fun to Read Resnick, Mike. Second Contact. NY: Tom Doherty Associates, 1990.277 p. $17.95 he. 0-3212-85021-0. Following a streetwise hacker's unpeeling of layer after layer of the Pentagon's untruth, I wondered several times, "Is this science fiction?" Yes. It's far better sf than Resnick's Paradise, say, and it's not nearly so episodic as Santiago. You may even read it all at one sitting, for Resnick's experience with dialogue and detail keeps the plot moving and the reader following. Second Contact is set twenty-three years after humans and aliens met and destroyed utterly all evidence of their encounter. The viewpoint char acter is an army lawyer assigned to defend a starship captain who killed two of his crew because he was sure they were aliens of a sort that "look exactly like human beings and can avoid being spotted by their crewmates during four months of close daily contact in deep space": surely crazy or guilty of murder. but once Max Becker begins putting together a defense, corpses turn out not to have been autopsied by a medical officer suddenly reassigned off planet, other potential witnesses disappear, and only Jaimie Nchobe-a black woman computer wizard Becker had put away for only four months in return for telling how she'd broken through the Pentagon's tightest elec tronic security-only Jaimie may be able to save Max's life. Most of Second Contact is nonstop danger and computer interfacing. With algorithms more intricate than characters and too neat a wrap-up of its plot, it's fun to read and maybe that's all .... Except that, thematically, it's a sequel to John Varley's "Press Enter []," much lighter in tone but disquieting nevertheless. Rosemarie Arbur Yetis and lamas and ... Robinson, Kim Stanley. Escape from Kathmandu. NY: Tor, 1989. 314p. $4.95 pb. No ISBN. Most of the four stories in this book appeared in Isaac Asimov's Sci ence Fiction Magazine: "Escape from Kathmandu" (1986); "Mother God-


62 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 dess of the World" (1987); and "The True Nature of Shangri-La" (1989). Collective publication often poses creative difficulties. Either the stories seem forced to march together, to a tempo established by a "frame" obviously invented after the fact, or they meander pleasantly down a mutual path, exchanging occasional greetings, but remaining essentially separate. Robinson has avoided both kinds of awkwardness. The four tales in this volume hint at the experience one must undergo if one not only visits a foreign country but really begins to live there. First there is the romantic "getting to know you" phase, the exotic adventure. Robinson provides an unusually clear and vivid sense of place. Later ad ventures become more serious, as the visitor decides how deeply to explore the new setting. Disillusion then sets in; the country shows its seamy side. Eventually, one either learns to live with a realistic evaluation of the place, or one leaves. George Fergusson has fallen in love with Nepal; he's an en thusiastic, somewhat heedless, not-too-ugly American who has learned his way around the tour guide business, but has not yet seen the country for himself. In one sense, Robinson asks, can one remain a good guide as a real ist? In another, he questions whether any of us ever explore our own lives and the lives of those around us -with empathy and integrity. That sounds like pretty heavy going, from the serious author of The Wild Shore (1984), "The Blind Geometer" (Nebula, 1987), and The Cold Coast (1988), but Escape from Kathmandu is anything but heavy. George is a wacky kind of guy, flippant and impulsive, and Robinson bounces him from one belly laugh to the next as he rescues a yeti from academics and an overaged disciple from his lama. But he's also sensitive and relatively ethical, and as he explores his adopted country, as he moves toward its center physically, emotionally, spiritually, and metaphorically he discovers that he must find his own center as well. George Fergusson meets George "Freds" Fredericks in the first (and title) story, when he "borrows" Fredericks' mail without permission. All of the stories are told in the first person, and George provides the narrative viewpoint in three of the four tales. He often acts without thinking, an ability that keeps the stories moving and the reader in suspense. The only rough spot in the book comes when the "I" persona changes, in "The True Nature of Shangri-La," from flip George to "enlightened" Freds. This switch evaluates George's development, but the change of voice is minimal, and I found myself having consciously to remember who was speaking. Changing back, in "The Kingdom Underground," seems less problematic. This final episode remains usefully open-ended.


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 63 The book moves through sheer farce to a sober recognition of human limitations. Read this book for fun; for adventure; for good writing; but don't think you'll be able to overlook the issues Robinson raises. Humor stays with us when didacticism fails. Martha A. Bartter A Bottomless Treasure Chest Ryman, Geoff. The Child Garden. London: Unwin Hyman, October 1989. 388p. .95 hc. 0-04-440393-3. This book is as rich as a fruit-filled Dundee cake and as full of surprises as a bottomless treasure chest. Reading it is like watching the shifting pat terns in a kaleidoscope, and it leaves you a little breathless. Like his earlier novel The Unconquered Country, The Child Garden began life as a no vella. In it, Ryman offers an almost surreal image of the future. Cancer has been cured but with the side-effect that no-one lives beyond the age of thirty five. The benign viruses that have achieved this breakthrough give children the faculties of an adult almost as soon as they are born they do not need to learn, the viruses tell them all they need to know. And people are purple. A photosynthetic pigment in the skin reduces the need for food -as long as the sun shines, there need be no starvation. Milena Shibush is an actress and is afraid of the viruses. All her actions are coloured by a paranoid desire not to catch them. As an infant she ap peared to be immune to them, until a massive dose almost killed her. All ten-year-olds are Read by an organism known as the Consensus, their per sonality defects then cured by more viruses. As Milena has never been Read, people find her a little strange. Her life begins to change when she hears Rolfa singing. Rolfa is a Po lar Bear, a genetically engineered woman whose body is covered in the thick fur which enables her kind to survive and work in the Antarctic wastes. Rolfa's music is original. There has been no new music since the viruses were introduced and Milena decides that the composition (which is an opera of Dante's Divine Comedy) should be heard by everybody. What fol lows is Milena's struggle to get the opera performed and the sacrifices, many of them involuntary, that she has to make to achieve this, interwoven with the slowly unravelling tapestry of her own life. Geoff Ryman is an extremely talented writer and his work should be savoured. I wish there was more of it. Pauline Morgan


64 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 A Second View: Unorthodox Award Winner Ryman, Geoff. The Child Carden. London: Unwin Hyman, i 989. 388p. .95 he. 0-04-440393-3. The Child Carden, winner of the Arthur Clarke Award as the best sf novel published in Britain in 1989, is a strikingly original work. It is set in a near future which reproduces many elements familiar in the rich tradition of sf dystopias, and adds a few extra nightmarish elements of its own, but it is not a dystopian novel. There is nothing nihilistic in its grimness, and its model of social change is far more evolutionary than revolutionary. It shows us a world full of shadows, which is prevented from being a vale of tears only by the protective excesses of its social engineering, but its argument is that one must try to live as best one can even in a nightmarish world and that if enough people try hard enough to do that, the world will get better. It is a book wh ich sets out to rend the reader's heart in conscientiously unor thodox fashion, and in doing so takes a whole series of unprecedented risks. Some of its ideative elements are frankly preposterous (I could not, even with the best will in the world, swallow Bob the Angell, but in the main they pass muster as bold and original ideas. This is a book which many readers will not like, but it is well worth taking the risk, because even those who do not like it may find that its imagery sticks vividly in the mind, and those who do like it may find it far more exhilarating than anything else they read this year. The world of The Child Carden, impoverished by climatic catastrophe, is ruled by the Consensus, an artificial entity which reproduces the sum of the desires, ambitions and opinions of all its citizens. Cancer has been wiped out, but this has had the unforeseen and unfortunate side-effect of shortening the human lifespan dramatically. Education is accomplished by strategic infection with viruses which transmit stored and organized infor mation biochemically. The heroine is one of the world's few misfits: a woman whose immune system is too powerful to allow the educational viruses to take hold. She is, in consequence, unfit for most kinds of work and to make things worse sexually deviant in a world which has no deviant subculture. Her misfittedness brings her into contact with various other misfits, with results which are in every case initially tragic, painful and horribly unsettling; but in the long run, the legacy of this series of encounters allows her to achieve extraordinary triumphs of every possible kind: artistic, personal and practical/pol itical. This highly unusual book is the star item of an unusually varied and adventurous list nurtured by Unwin Hyman's editor Jane Johnson. That list


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 65 was, for a while, the last haven of daring unorthodoxy and idiosyncratic artistry in British sf publishing. The company has now been taken over by Harper Collins (avid, one presumes, to win control of the literary remains of J.R.R. Tolkien), and the Unwin Hyman label will disappear. It will be sorely missed by everyone who values the offbeat and the unusual. Brian Stableford Serious, Bizarre Psychological Saxton, Josephine. jane Saint and the Backlash: The Further Travails of jane Saint, and, The Consciousness Machine. London: The Women's Press, September 1989. 167p. .95 pb. 0-7043-4189-1. Whatever Josephine Saxton does, there is always an element of the bizarre in it. The novella and the novelette that make up this volume share a theme of the Collective Unconscious, and are greatly influenced by the works Of Jung. The novella, "The Consciousness Machine", depicts the visions produced by a ma chine that interacts with and interprets the subconscious elements of a sick mind as pictures so that it can be understood and healed. The rest of the book, "Jane Saint and the Backlash", involves the heroine of Saxton's earlier novel, The Travails of jane Saint, travelling through subconscious landscapes seeking a way of solving and resolving the problems that have arisen as a result of her earlier adventures. The benefits brought to the relationships between men and women have backfired and women are in danger of being more repressed than ever. Although there is a degree of humour within the seriousness of the novelette, it is not for the faint-hearted. Pauline Morgan Trilogy's Quest Volume Scott, Michael. Death's Law: Tales o(.the Bard Volume Three.London: Sphere, April 1989. 276p. .99pb. 0-7221 Paedur the Bard is a man who would prefer to be left in peace. However, as the god-elected champion of the Old Faith, he finds that his task has not been completed by the restoration of Prince Kutor to the throne. Now, Churon the new Death God tells him, the followers of the New Religion are about to provoke war between the gods themselves, with the inevitable destruction not only of this world but of life on all planes of existence. Paedur, of course, has to prevent this, more or less on his own. This might sound like a familiar fantasy plot but Scott has the ability to weave magic and myth around Paedur. No longer completely human, the bard sets out on his quest accompanied by the once dead warrior woman, Katani. During this trilogy, the first two volumes of which were Magician's Law and Demon's Law, Scott has explored the transition of a person


66 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 from human into legend. His victim, like the best heroes, has been reluctant to accept the role thrust upon him, and although the story is set in a fantasy world it has much to say about how figures in the past may well have become part of a myth structure, especially where accounts of their deeds have been transmitted by bards such as Paedur himself story-tellers, not the balladeers that so many seem to confuse with them. Pauline Morgan Difficult to Put Down Sheffield, Charles. Summertide. NY: Ballantine Books, February 1990. 257 p. $16.95 he. 0-345-36038-9. The Heritage Universe, Book I. This novel is Sheffield's first deliberate foray into a series. When a book is announced as the start if a series, there is a natural suspicion that the result will be a simple plot, tortuously extended over several volumes, with financial gain rather than reader satisfaction in mind. It would be a shame if that idea were applied here. Sheffield has introduced a background universe so full of different spe cies, mysterious artifacts, interesting character, and planetary backgrounds that multiple volumes may well be necessary to set it all out. In this book, a system of twin planets connected by an alien artifact known as liThe Umbilical" experiences periodic tidal forces known as Summertide. These forces create havoc on both planets, but particularly on Quake. With the most violent Summertide in several thousand years only days away, five different parties plan to spend Summertide on the surface of Quake in spite of official protests. The action accelerates rapidly and, as the motives of each party become clearer, the conflict becomes more intense. The final convulsions of the planet, and the efforts to escape from it, make the book difficult to put down. Although this book is complete in itself, there is an obvious cliff-hanger built into tantalize one's appetite for the next book. It's too bad that the story of the Builders must wait from book to book, but the only other choice would have been a much-too-massive single volume This book is definitely recommended. W. O. Stevens Mystery and Confusion Stamey, Sara. Double Blind. NY: Ace, May 1990. 275p. $3.95 pb. No ISBN. In this third book, set in the future universe of rogue cybernetic beings and electronic enforcers found in Wild Card Run and Win, Lose, Draw,


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 67 Stamey resurrects (in some cases, literally) significant characters from her first two novels. We follow the further adventures of Ruth, her outcast genius nephew, David, and even her cybernetic lover Jason in two bodies). Again, it would be difficult to follow the changing landscapes, convoluted plot and transformed sensibilities of her heroine, Ruth, without the back ground from her other novels. Yet Stamey's novels fascinate because of their immense imaginative scope which will, for the tolerant and dedicated reader, mitigate the confusing plot development, setting, and characters. Double Blind takes the reader from Ruth's adopted home on a planet dedicated to game playing to a water world where amphibious beings are acting out a "counterplan" existence. Their very existence as genetically altered beings is against the rules set up by master computers which run the planetary cultures in Stamey's universe. The amphibians are caught between the manipulations of the Plan's computers, the electronic manipulators of the earlier books and some mysterious alien beings who, equally mysteriously, represent the only hope that Ruth and her compatriots will ever return con trol of their lives to their own, human, hands. The term Mysterious is a good characterization of Stamey's novels. One is not sure, even by the end of the work, what has happened and to whom. If this ambiguous, double blindness does not offend your sense of order, Stamey's novels are for you. Janice Bogstad Don't Waste Your Time Timson, Keith. A Far Magic Shore: Book One of The Fall of the Disen chanted. London: Futura, February 1989. 299p. .99 pb. 0-7088-4206-2. I wish I could say nice things about this, a first fantasy novel by a new British writer. Unfortunately the writing style is unimaginative and pas sionless, even when the characters are throwing fits of emotion, it has all the hallmarks of a poor romantic novel. In the world Timson has created, the island of Sanctuary is the last place where magic exists. The High Lord, Talango, intends to conquer the isle and make it part of his empire. The news of the invasion is brought by Prince Ruthor returning from exile and knowing that his life is forfeit the moment he lands. The defense of the is land is left to his sister, Princess Rosamile. A mysterious knight comes to her aid and the black unicorn is seen in the countryside, an event that has mystical connotations. The story is such that it might well have worked as a children's novel (or even a romance that just happens to be fantasy); as an


68 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 adult book it does not. The fact that the proof-reading of the manuscript was non-existent does the book no favours at all and there are silly, annoying things a good editor could have removed such as archers continually being referred to as arrow-shooters. Pauline Morgan An Alternative Martian History Turtledove, Harry. A World of Difference. NY: Del Rey, May 1990. 308p. $4.95 pb. 0-345-36076-1. In keeping with the alternative histories he does so well, Harry Turtle dove (Agent of Byzantium, Videssos Cycle) reworks the known history of Mars and postulates a frozen planet with an Earth-like atmosphere, calls it Minerva and peoples it with a feudal society of warring aliens (cylindrical creatures six feet tall, about a foot wide, with six eyes mounted on stalks). When a Minervan is photographed (wielding a pole) seconds before the Viking I lander suddenly stops transmitting, both America and Russia send separate ships to investigate this first glimpse of possible intelligent life. As plot would have it, the two distrustful superpowers land on opposite sides of a twelve-mile wide canyon, and, predictably, in the midst of the two warring factions. The Russians, capitalism notWithstanding, quickly define their relationship with the Skarmer tribe by trade pocket knives, flash lights, batteries -while the Americans find their tribe, the Omalo, less motivated by profit, and qUickly busy themselves with, among other things, finding some way to prevent the female Minervans from always dying after giving birth. When a chance, life-threatening, encounter with a predator forces one of the Russians to display the firepower of his Kalashnikov, the Skarmer quickly realize that at long last they now have the weapon that will give them victory over their enemy. Attacking the Americans or, in this case, their allies under any circumstances sits well with the Russian crew's obligatory KGB man. But when a lone American scientist is senselessly killed by one of the Minervans, a chain of events is set into motion that ultimately pits the common humanity shared by two superpowers on an alien world against an insular party-line ideology, though the lesson is learned too late to stop the battle. Despite being well-written, A World of Difference is not a particularly intriguing novel. The subplots (sexual) relationships among the American


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 69 crew, social customs of the aliens are often more interesting than the outcome of the tepid Skarmer-Omalo war. Harry Turtledove's special tal ent so far has been his ability to weave history and insightful characteriza tions into fantastic scenarios. Unfortunately, World doesn't allow the author's skills to rise above the plot's limitations. Barry Reynolds Rich, Eloquent Horror Collection Watson, Ian. Salvage Rites and Other Stories. London: Gollancz, February 1989. 223p. .95 he. 0-575-04447-0. Having established himself as an innovative SF writer during the mid 1970's and a fine, unusual writer of fantasy in the early 1980's, Watson has gradually, during the latter half of the 1980's, moved towards horror. His present writing is a synthesis of all three genres, with a strong leaning towards horror; this is the case here, in the current collection of fifteen stories re printed from Asimov's, F&SF and a clutch of anthologies. Many of the sto ries reflect Watson's Englishness, his long-term residence in a small English village and his Socialist disapproval of a Conservative government. This is no criticism of his stories and should not put off the us reader, for auto biographical elements are only ever a starting point. 'These stories are rich in ideas, eloquently written, often fast-moving and sometimes surprisingly complex in their arguments for pieces of their length. The title story is (among other things) a graphic horror extrapolation of the growing move ment for recycling waste materials. "The Moon and Michelangelo" is a fine, chilling detective story involving a human sculptor as specialist on a planet rich in alien sculpture. There are vampire, werewolf and demon stories here, too, in fresh versions which avoid the cliche, though not always serious treatments, for Watson frequently uses satire. This is a coruscating collection of great power and entertainment value. Chris Morgan Ambition and Intrigue Weis, Margaret. The Lost King. NY: Bantam, September 1990. 458 p. pb. 0553-28600-5. Star of Guardians, Vol. I. This solo effort by the veteran co-author of The Death Gate Cycle and The Darksword Trilogy is the first in a four-volume science fantasy saga of a corrupt galactic republic and those seeking to restore royalty to rule. Warlord Derek Sagan, currently a general of the Republic and traitor to his oath as a Guardian of the Blood Royal, discovers Dion Starfire, the 17-


70 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 year-old rightful heir to the throne, and intends to use the boy in his own quest for the galaxy. Opposing Sagan for Starfire's trust is Lady Maigrey Morianna, last of the Guardians, torn between her mind-linked attraction to the Warlord, the power and ambition he represents, her duty to the young king, and her weary desire for the oblivion of death. Also involved in the political intrigue are the outlaw commander John Dixter, in love with Maigrey, and the mercenary Tusk, himself the son of a Guardian; these two enter into an uneasy alliance with Sagan, partly to support young Starfire and partly to fight the Corasian invaders threatening the entire galaxy. Meanwhile Peter Robes, the corrupt president of the Republic, weaves his own plot to defuse Sagan's threat to his power. Some story details will remind the reader of George Lucas' Star Wars Trilogy: instead of the Force, the Blood Royal draw on incredible genetically reinforced mental powers; the lightsabers of the Jedi have become bloodswords of the Guardians; XJ-27, the computer that controls the roguish Tusk's spaceship, has a caustic mind of its own. Yet the loyalty, love, and ambition struggle for dominance in the triangular relationship among Sagan, Maigrey, and young Starfire give all of these characters a dark side that makes their actions both realistic and unpredictable. The political backdrop for current hostilities and the historical baggage these characters carry with them contribute to the complexity of the plot. Though The Lost King thankfully doesnot end in a full-blown cliffhanger, the interest gener ated in the characters and their motives and rivalries creates a legitimate demand for the next volume in the series. Agatha Taormina Cinderella's Coachman ... Wilson, David Henry. The Coachman Rat. London: Robinson, July 1989. 171 p. .95 pb. 1-85487-002-5. This is a delightful fantasy novel. It begins with the Cinderella story from the point of view of the rat who was turned into the coachman. But when midnight strikes and he reverts to his rat form he does not lose his human speech. Ostracised by his fellow rodents, he belongs neither to the human nor to the rat race. Thus, he determines to find the lady of light who trans formed him in the first place not an easy task. As a talking rat he is a curiousity, and that and his naivite lead to tragiC events -in this story Cinderella and her prince do not live happily ever after. There is bloody revolution reminiscent of that in Russia, and there is war between men and rats, and elements of the Pied Piper, though this is not Hamlin. This book


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 77 is an allegory for the twentieth century, and it speaks of the need for balance between predator and prey, man and nature, wealth and poverty and of the danger of acting without considering the long-term consequences. It also takes rats for what they are, opportunists and scavengers, and does not try to paint them as the villains of the piece as so many authors do, thus per petuating a myth. Wilson creates his own myths from extant material. Pauline Morgan Overly Ambitious Series Opener Wingrove, David. Chung Kuo, Book One; The Middle Kingdom. London: NEL, August 1989. 496p. .95 pb. 0-450-51018-2. This is the start of a mammoth project, and attempts' to encompass a vast panorama. By the twenty-second century the world has become a Chinese empire. The rulers live with the kind of security and luxury reminiscent of our concepts of the ancient dynasties, but with the trappi ngs of technology. The rest of the population struggles for existence in a vast planet-wide city, unable to leave it the farmlands providing food for the masses are taboo to the ordinary citizen. It is not a pleasant place to be if you are not rich. Every elitist government has its opponents, and this one is no exception. Some come from within the ruling ranks as part of an inevitable vying for power, others from the remnants of the European business community. These latter want permission to expand into space, to be able to set up their own colonies away from Chinese influence. There are several complex plot strands interwoven within the whole, and though has been considered in detail, to have them all within the one volume makes it unwieldy. Perhaps Wingrove has been a I ittle too ambitious. Pauline Morgan Joyful Historical Fantasy Winterson, Jeanette. Sexing the Cherry. NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990. 167p. $19.95. 0-87113-350-4. Sexing the Cherry is an entrancing, many-layered novel. It disrupts conventions and defies gravity, both in its historical strand, set in Revolu tionary England (1630-1666), and in the realm of the fantastic, where Winterson tells what really happened to the Twelve Dancing Princesses. She adds a series of dazzling fables of her own making, of fantastic cities where time and gravity are suspended. Sexing the Cherry is a book of journeys, and the fantastic elements of the novel are the imaginative impulses of our in ward lives, which "ignore the boundaries of here and now and pass like lightening along the coil of pure time" (99). At times the inner and outer


72 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 journeys coalesce, but their main connection is this resonance along the imagination. Winterson's traveller in both worlds is Jordan, the baby boy adrift on the river Thames, rescued and named by the giant Dog Woman. They are witnesses to the trial and execution of Charles I, and the robustly loyalist Dog Woman conducts her own vendetta against the hypocritical Puritans, en emies of "everything that was grand and fine and full of life" (22). She takes the injunction of an eye for an eye literally, and also abets the brothel inmates who carry on a guerrilla war against their misogynistic, furtive, anally fixated Puritan customers. While the Dog Woman remains solidly anchored to London, Jordan becomes an assistant to the (historically accurate) John Tradescant, botanist, explorer, Royal gardener. Seeing as a child the first banana brought to England, Jordan later returns with the first pineapple. During his apprenticeship to Tradescant, Jordan also learns how to graft fruit trees, a practice condemned by some of the church as "unnatural"; "such things had no gender and were a confusion in themselves" (85). But the cherry that Jordan grafts is healthy, and is female: the symbol of productive female unions on both levels of the novel. Although the main protagonist of the novel is male, his journeys into the inner world of the imagination often take him into communities of women. In these convents, seraglios and brothels he is dressed as a woman, a disguise that enables him to travel in another foreign country, one with an unknown language, a conspiratorial world that regards men as "children with too much pocket money" (29). The house of eleven of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, for instance, presents Jordan with the reality of the happily ever after endings: divorce, murder, separation. The true lovers in Rapunzel are the witch and the princess, the prince an intruder and despoiler. The lesbian love stories of Sexing the Cherry are echoes of those of her first novel, Or anges Are Not the Only Fruit (outstandingly successful in a BBC-TV pro duction early in 1990). A bildungsroman of lesbian self-realisation in op position to fundamentalist cries of "unnatural", Oranges focuses in one in dividual what Cherry opens into the historical and the fantastic. But Winterson is not rewriting herself. Sexing the Cherry, asking us to side with the Dog Woman, for everything "grand and fine and full of life", displaying its enemies in history and fable, concludes with an all too brief entrance into the world of 1990. Here the modern Dog Woman, an indus trial chemist, rages against modern corporations as determinedly as her 17th century self, while a 20th century Jordan's love of travel turns his eyes to the


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 73 stars, and leads him to her side. The seriousness, wit and feminism of Sexing the Cherry make it a literary companion to Virginia Woolf's Orlando and Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus. This is a joyful and thought-provoking novel. Nan Albinski Servants of Ark Series Wylie, Jonathan. The Unbalanced Earth Book One: Dreams of Stone. London: Corgi, January 1989. 368p. .99 pb. 0-552-13416-3. Wylie, Jonathan. The Unbalanced Earth Book Two: The Lightless Kingdom. London: Corgi, July 1989. 359p. .99 pb. 0-552-13417-1. Undemanding, But Pleasant Series Entry At the end of volume three of the Servants of Ark tri logy (The Mage-Born Child), the world was effectively reshaped. In this, the first of a new trilogy, Jonathan Wylie (alias Mark and Julia Smith) has begun an exploration of the new world. Gemma was only a child in the first series but now as a grown woman she turns her back on her royal heritage and follows a compulsion to travel south-to a new continent, which is itself a puzzle. It only appeared above the surface of the ocean fourteen years previously, yet the cities, various ruins and the societies she finds there have obviously existed for centuries. Having got herself lost in a desert, Gemma is rescued by Arden, a young man seeking to save a magical valley from drought. In return Gemma agrees to try and help him. There is one aspect of this novel which, while entertaining and enjoy able for all, may be appreciated more by British readers who watch natural history programmes on T.V. They may remember a delightful film about Meerkats, a variety of African mongoose, which has clearly influenced the antics of the meyrkats in this novel. These are a tribe of semi-intelligent animals that help Gemma understand the nature of the magic that exists in this new world. The book is complete in itself, but contains enough tantalising glimpses of things to come to keep the reader interested in the next volume. On the whole it is an undemanding book of the kind that is often highly successful. Inventive Sequel At the end of the previous volume, Dream of Stone, the two main characters, Gemma and Arden, had succeeded in their quest but had be come separated. Each is convinced that the other is dead. This poses a


74 SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 problem for the authors as this book follows the adventures of both of them, thus losing one element of suspense. The problem is partially overcome by the inventiveness of the environments in which they find themselves. Arden, swept under the mountains, encounters a race of people who live entirely in this lightless kingdom. Gemma meanwhile returns to the city of Great Newport hoping to help overthrow the Guild that controls the region and represses the ordinary citizens. In this world no-one believes in magic and Gemma's family know it is dead, but she has discovered that this is not the whole truth -she can work magic though her talent is haphazard. Throughout most of this book the pl,lll that had originally brought her to this continent is largely forgotten, but towards the end its power reasserts itself, adding a further dimension to the plot. Generally, like all of Wylie's books, this is well-crafted with an equal emphasis on characters and on unusual plot elements. It provides what the majority of fantasy readers appear to want. Pauline Juvenile: An Excellent Y A Fantasy Bowkett, Stephen. Dualists. London: Piper, nd. 159p. .50 pb. 0-33030807-6. If you can get teenagers to read this, they will love it. The protagonist, Simon Hallam, has more than his fair share of problems when, at the age of thirteen, his parents move. He has to make new friends, cope with a new school and with an increasing awareness of girls. Added to this, Simon and his new friends find some odd "stuff" on the beach after a storm. They call it "slubber" and discover that it is capable of copying things. To begin with their experiments are a game, but they gradually realize that slubber is not as innocent as it appears and the book ends with a large question mark. The joy of this book is that the young people have to solve the problems them selves. Adults are there, providing security in the background but never intruding into the story. An excellent juvenile. Pauline Morgan Stereotyped Animals Jacques, Brian. Mossflower. London: Beaver Books, July 1989. 431 p. .50 pb. 0-09-955400-3. This is the kind of book that children love. It is filled with adventure and heroic, talking animals. As the prequel to Jacques's acclaimed novel


SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 75 Redwall, it tells of the warrior mouse Martin and how he became the saviour of all the animals that dwell in Mossflower Woods. In Kotir castle dwells a tyrant wildcat who demands tribute from all the animals living in the countryside around. These are naturally fed-up with the predations of her army of ferrets, weasels, foxes and stoats. While Martin and two friends, another mouse and a mole, go to seek help from an old badger, otters, squirrels and hedgehogs attempt to keep the inept carnivores at bay. While in many respects this book is great fun and the bickering between rival stoats, weasels and ferrets is hammed up no end, it is also disquieting. In a world where we try to teach our children that all animals have their place and there must be a balance between predator and prey, it seems wrong that all the carnivores are cast as villains. These wicked creatures only desire to kill, the reader is told. The pretty, furry and comical creatures all become good, ignoring the destruction that an unchecked mouse population can wreak on the countryside. Pauline Morgan Good For Any Age jones, Diana Wynne, ed. Hidden Turnings. London: Methuen, February 1989. 183p. .95 he. 0-416-11272-2. It's dangerous for an adult reviewer to admit thoroughly enjoying stories aimed at teenagers. Safer to be a little supercilious or patronizing ("sim plistic, though quite good of its kind"), just in case one's own enthusiasm is mistaken for an unsophisticated taste. In fact, Diana Wynne jones, whose own novels for children make few concessions to her readers' ages and are equally suitable for adults, has performed the same trick as an editor, assembling a dozen new fantasy stories that are on the whole worth reading at any age. Two of the best contributions are from Garry Kilworth and Lisa Tuttle regularly to be found in almost any British anthology these days. Both stories involve children. Kilworth's is a threatening piece about a su pernatural being trapped in a crumbling house, while Tuttle's is a strange, dark vision of the future; either story could have graced an adult horror anthology. There's an odd piece from Roger Zelazny too much crammed in at too great a pace. Other notable stories come from Terry Pratchett, Tanith Lee and jones herself. Chris Morgan


76 SFRA Newsletter, 786, April 7997 A Second Opinion: Not Sex, Not Violence, But Craft jones, Diana Wynne, ed. Hidden Turnings. NY:Greenwillow. 1990. 178p. $12.95 he. No ISBN. The short story is a marvelous art which can, at its best, grab the reader's attention with a level of intensity that a novel cannot sustain. All of the stories in jones' anthology of scary stories live up to that ideal. Hidden Turnings is ostensibly for a Y.A. audience, but really only in the sense that jones is thought of as exclusively a Y.A. author. The stories may not have the same kind of (often gratuitous) sex and violence that we come to expect in fantastic fictions of the latter twentieth century, which alone might have them classified as Y.A. What they do have is craft. The twelve stories, most of which are by recognized authors in sf and fantasy such as Lisa Tuttle, Diana Wynne jones herself, Emma Bull, Douglas Hill, Roger Zelazny, Geraldine Harris, as well as some I didn't recognize, all fall within the definition of The Fantastic ala Todorov, and none of them are formulaic. In this day and age, the fact that they also fall outside of the penchant for "Shared World" anthologies also sets this work apart. All these stories have some disturbing twist to wrest the reader into the realm of the fantastic. Several are related by a narrator who claims to be going off to do what's in the narrative after the story is over, such as "Dogfaeire" by Garry Kilworth and Tuttle's "The Walled Garden." There are those like Zelazny'S "Kalifriki of the Thread" where a seeming mortal outwits an immortal devil. There is a Mr. Death story with a musical twist and jones' own "The Master", where a normal veterinarian treats a very super-normal animal. They were so well-done that I had not one favorite, but several. Janice M. Bogstad Disappointing Pawn's Eye View Norton, Andre. Dare to Go A-Hunting. NY: TOR, 1990. $17.95 hc. 0-31285012-3. In this sequel to Flight in Yiktor, Farree's adventures continue as he tries to learn the story of his people and regain his memory. With the aid of his more powerful friends Krip Vorlund, Maelen, and Zoror, he has a series of scrapes, ultimately succeeding in finding his people and gaining protection for them. Put thus baldly, the plot is not all that unusual. One might then hope that skillful telling would carry the story, as it often does in Norton's books, but that doesn't quite happen either. The problem may lie in the choice of naive, relatively powerless Farree as the viewpoint character. He (and therefore the reader) is never quite sure


SFRA Newsletter, 186, April 1991 11 what's going on. There is always the sense of larger forces at work behind the scenes. Vorlund and Maelen carryon the sort of adult conversations about "the Guild" that are beyond Farree's (and our) comprehension. He's given momentary, partial insights; he has flashes of far-seeing, beyond his control. It's meant to generate suspense, but it creates frustration. I suspect young teen readers, for whom the book seems designed, will not find the story compelling. The dust jacket calls it fantasy, though it is at least as much SF explain ing the disappearance of the "little folk." The expected Norton elements are present: telepathy among differing species, crisp descriptive passages, memorable characters, and a successful quest. But the overall effect is not as satisfying as in most of her works. Dale F. Martin Thoughtful Paranormal Juvenile Williams, Ian. The Lies That Bind. London: Purnell (Macdonald Children's Books), June 1989. 254p. .50 pb. 0-361-08531-1. This SF novel aimed at juveniles is the first professional publication by Williams, known in the UK for his fan writing. It deals with a group of teenagers with paranormal powers who are being educated, and their talents developed, at a special school. The setting is present-day London. John has control over animal minds, Cherry can make herself unobtrusive to the point of invisibility, Jim can move small stones with his mind, Barbara has uncanny voice mimicry, and so on. But to compensate, most of them also have dis turbed personalities. The story is mainly one of incident and personality development, both of which are well handled. In particular, character motivations and interactions are dealt with very perceptively. While an adult reader would find the course of some of these incidents mundane and might dismiss the attempts as sex and the overcoming of racial bigotry as cliches, the teenage reader would undoubtedly accept them more readily. Williams has produced a clever and thoughtful novel which, without ever appearing to move at more than a crawl, packs a lot into its pages. Chris Morgan


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


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