#58 = Volume 19, Part 3 = November 1992
Excursions into New Territory.
Lucy Armitt, ed. Where
No Man Has Gone Before: Women and Science Fiction. London & NY:
Routledge, 1991. 234p. $59.95 cloth; $16.95 paper.
As a collection of essays, Where No Man Has Gone Before: Women and Science Fiction
takes a rather conservative approach to feminist studies, while at the same time it breaks
new ground in its focus on a number of relatively unknown writers and their works.
Comprised of thirteen essays by both literary critics and SF writers, all of them women
and most of them British, it brings a variety of perspectives to bear on a wide range of
SF by women writers, most of them also British. In spite of the fact that two of the
essays collected here are discussions of SF film and the film industry, the main concerns
of this compilation are clearly literary.
The emphasis on British writers is a timely one, since most available critical material
has been produced in North America and has tended to focus upon such well-known figures as
Ursula Le Guin, Joanna Russ, and, more recently, James Tiptree, Jr (Alice Sheldon), the
Big Three of the contemporary feminist SF field. In SFS's latest special
issue on "Science Fiction by Women" (July 1990), for example, three of the six essays which
constitute the main body of the issue are individual-author studies of, respectively, the
works of Le Guin, Russ, and Tiptree, while a fourth examines Doris Lessing's SF. Lessing,
of course, is critically respectable by any standards, and one can count on the fact that
most American readers will be familiar with at least some of her idiosyncratic but
extraordinary excursions into SF. For better or worse, and in spite of a long-standing
feminist distrust of canon formation, canons appear to be the almost inevitable
consequences of most efforts to cultivate a particular domain of critical discourse.
One of the stated goals of Armitt's collection is to build upon Sarah Lefanu's
groundbreaking study, In the Chinks of the World Machine: Feminism and Science Fiction
(1988; reviewed in SFS 16:223-27, #48, July 1989). As an editor of The Women's Press,
which publishes an important SF series, Lefanu was in a particularly good position to
introduce both British and North American readers to the works of such relatively
unfamiliar writers as Josephine Saxton and Zoë Fairbairns. Where No Man Has Gone
Before extends Lefanu's overview with essays on, for example, the fiction of Charlotte
Haldane, Katherine Burdekin, Maureen Duffy, and Gwyneth Jones. While I appreciate the
scope of this collection, and in spite of my own misgivings about the usefulness of
literary canons, it strikes me as an unfortunate oversight that Where No Man Has Gone
Before passes over the works of Angela Carter and Tanith Lee, two British writers of
undeniable importance, with no more than a few glancing references.
I should also note that neither In the Chinks of the World Machine nor Where
No Man Has Gone Before manages to resist the--admittedly overwhelming--temptation to
re-examine the work of already established writers. Lefanu's study undertakes extended
discussions of Le Guin, Russ, Tiptree, and Suzy McKee Charnas, while Armitt's collection
includes essays on both Le Guin and Lessing. Within the context of American SF, the most
significant essay in Armitt's collection is probably Sarah Gamble's useful study of C.L.
Moore's short stories ("'Shambleau . . . and others': The Role of the Female in the
Fiction of C.L. Moore"). One of the first women to make an impact on the American SF
scene, Moore's work has tended to be neglected until quite recently, at least in part
because of its conflation with that of her collaborator and husband, Henry Kuttner.
In her introduction to Where No Man Has Gone Before, Armitt includes a
valuable reminder about the particular difficulties faced by SF critics outside North
America, difficulties which do much to explain the character of this compilation; in the
United States, she writes,
the genre has, of course, been developed and encouraged as an academic
discipline for many years, and for this reason materials (both primary and secondary)
which are readily available in that country are often still very difficult to obtain
Not surprisingly, a concern with issues of alterity and otherness is central to this
collection, just as it is central to both the feminist political project and the
development of SF as a particular field of narrative construction. In her discussion of
the "escapist literature" label which is frequently attached to forms of popular culture
such as SF, Armitt argues that
Women are not located at the centre of contemporary
culture and society, but are almost entirely defined from the...negative perspectives of
"otherness" or "difference." As such, the need to escape froma society with regard to
which they already hold an ex-centric position is clearly an irrelevant one. More
appropriate perhaps is the need to escape into--that is, to depict--an alternative society
within which centrality is possible. (9)
Where No Man Has Gone Before is involved in the arduous labor of laying
foundations. The lack of an established British critical tradition in the field of
feminist SF is one very good reason why it focuses exclusively on women writers and why
all its contributors are also women. It may also explain to some extent the rather
conservative theoretical strategies taken by many of the contributors: references to the
writings of Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray demonstrate the attractions of
an "écriture feminine" approach to the analysis of SF by women (see, for example,
Elizabeth Russell's "The Loss of the Feminine Principle in Charlotte Haldane's Man's
World and Katherine Burdekin's Swastika Night" and Gamble's essay on
Moore); and recourse to myth criticism and Jungian archetypal analysis also indicates a
certain tendency towards essentialist kinds of analytical thinking (see, for example,
Susan Bassnett's "Remaking the Old World: Ursula Le Guin and the American Tradition" and
Lisa Tuttle's "Pets and Monsters: Metamorphoses in Recent Science Fiction"). Context
being all, however, it is obviously a less than useful strategy to undertake the
deconstruction of a particular subject while it is still undergoing construction; an
essentialist approach to its subject matter is appropriate to the aims of this particular
The scarcity of critical studies emphasizing the work of British women SF writers also
helps to explain the occasionally rather defensive tone of Armitt's introduction, which
tends to valorize the work of women SF writers at the expense of male writers and critics,
most of whom are cast--not without reason, of course--as lackeys of a conservative-minded
patriarchal SF establishment. It is this rather beleaguered note which perhaps most
succinctly characterizes the collection as a whole, although in itself this is not
necessarily a drawback. Erica Sheen's fine historical-materialist overview of the film
industry ("'I'm not in the business: I am the business': Women at Work
in Hollywood Science Fiction") and Josephine Saxton's biting personal account of her
experiences as an SF writer in Britain ("Goodbye to All That . . .")--two strong essays
which deploy very different discursive strategies-- demonstrate some of the strengths of
this collection. Where No Man Has Gone Before is a valuable introduction to an
area of SF by women which is more than overdue for critical attention; it also plays a
significant role in the ongoing effort to establish a theoretical-historical framework for
feminist SF in Britain.
David Ketterer. Canadian
Science Fiction and Fantasy. Bloomington: University of Indiana
Press, 1992. xiv+208. $27.50.
1.1. And just as the very existence of this volume is important, there
can be no doubt that David Ketterer is the right person for the job, given both his long
engagement with SF and fantasy of all kinds and his specific scholarly situation in
Canada, and in Montréal. He is, in fact, better placed than anyone to provide a
perspective on the two, different, traditions of SF and fantasy in this bilingual,
bicultural country. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy is a larger book than
most uninitiated readers might expect, but, mirabile dictu, it turns out in fact
not to be as large as it could have been or as this reader, upon completing it, wishes it
had been. There is much more to the history of Canadian writing in the specific genres and
the not-so-specific borderlands between them than most readers and students would have
guessed, and we all owe Dr. Ketterer a vote of thanks for giving us at least a quick
overview of this hitherto unexplored space.
2.1. But David Ketterer, perhaps a bit like many of the writers he
mentions, who work not so much within the confines of definable "genres" (or "sub-genres") but rather in some less defined literary space in between, has given us a
book which possibly tries to be too many things at once. Having done an extraordinary
amount of research, he has chosen to give us many lists of authors and titles, both in the
far and in the near past: in those portions of his book where he does so, he has created a
kind of bastard bibliography, lacking only complete publication data. Many pages of Canadian
Science Fiction and Fantasy are filled with paragraph after paragraph of authors'
names and titles, plus single-clause evaluations. Tied to this bibliography manqué is a
kind of literary history that tries to do too much at once, both limning the separate
developments in French and English Canada of SF and fantasy, and trying to place those
developments within the complex histories of both literatures. It's not that Ketterer
doesn't know a lot about his material, but rather that the vastness of the enterprise far
exceeds the limitations of a single study such as this. Moreover, some of the books, like
James De Mille's A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder and Elizabeth
Vonarburg's Le silence de la cité, to choose two novels separated by time and
culture, demand critical comment far beyond what even a descriptive bibliography would
allow. In such cases, Ketterer inserts little essays, one to seven pages in length, on
particular works. These essays contain some of Ketterer's most interesting and provocative
writing, but they break the surface of the bibliographic ocean as suddenly and
surprisingly as dolphins. The reader does sometimes get a sense of reading two opposing
books forced to share the same prison-house.
1.2. And yet, Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy is
important for what it has to tell us about the way Canadian writers, many of them until
recently uninterested in the genre limitations of the historical SF&F pulp ghetto in
US publishing, have entered the realms and entertained the possibilities of non-realistic
writing. If Canadian literature is a useful example of colonial and post-colonial writing
(and I believe it is), Canada's special geographical relationship to the United States
combined with its inherited cultural debts to Great Britain and France have provided its
writers with a special sensitivity to, and potential ability to write between, the
literatures of the imperial powers. Thus, while many of its writers in both languages
shared with their European cousins a sense that an individual writer could write works
both realistic and fantastical, and that the latter need not be relegated to a low,
popular-culture ghetto, they also could not help feeling the exhilaration that attaches to
popular culture in the US. While the older writing, up until the 1930s anyway, tends to
follow European models, and quite often to be allegorical, most often in a specifically
political fashion, more recent writing happily mixes high and low, generic and non-generic
attitudes, and--taking for granted both Heinlein and Ballard, Tolkien and Borges, or in
French Canadian writing, both English-language SF and fantasy and the profound
inheritances of European surrealism, Kafkaesque allegory, symbolisme, and magic
realism--becomes something uniquely itself. Ketterer manages, even within the somewhat
rushed cataloguing of much of this book, to demonstrate how these varied influences
combine to create a number of innovative fictions.
2.2. But still, his format does force him to imply much more than he
actually says about the formal history of such kinds of writing in Canada, and I, for one,
suspect he could have gone on at some length about such formal developments if only he had
been able to find a place for such a discussion here. The hints he offers, especially in
his discussions of such non-genre works as Timothy Findley's Not Wanted on the Voyage and
Anne Hébert's Les Enfants du sabbat and
Héloïse, suggest that he has
much of value to say about the ways in which genre-identified criticism could bring some
new views to the reading of such works, and could be brought to new views of the genre
through such readings. This is, of course, not what he has set out to do here, but the
possibility is implicit in some of his mini-essays, and it is in some ways more exciting a
prospect than what he has given us. However, he has set himself a more specific task, and
has assumed that his audience will be readers whose background relates mainly to the
conventional popular genres of his title. He therefore gives a lot of weight to those
writers who have "made it" in the US magazines and with US genre publishers. He has
interesting things to say about A.E. van Vogt and Gordon Dickson, both of whom went to the
US, as well as Phyllis Gotlieb, who stayed in Canada but nevertheless was for a long time
the best known Canadian SF writer in American SF circles. And in the present, when so many
younger English-speaking Canadian writers are making important contributions to the
genres, he provides useful if insufficiently full introductions to the works of Guy
Gavriel Kay, Charles de Lint, William Gibson, and Robert Charles Wilson.
1.3. And, as if all that isn't enough, he provides an even more
helpful and interesting introduction to francophone writing, a wonderfully rich and
energetic scene, which, sad to say, remains far too little known outside the borders of
Québec, due mainly to a lack of translations. Indeed, perhaps the greatest value of Canadian
Science Fiction and Fantasy for the majority of its readers (especially those outside
Canada) is that it alerts them to new and exciting writers--and not only the francophones
but also those English Canadian writers who are well known in Canada as poets and
novelists, but whose novels, stories, and poems have escaped notice by general readers of
SF and fantasy. For many of us, sadly, although it will be interesting to know that so
many French-language texts exist, they will remain beyond our grasp until they achieve
translation (thus Vonarburg's The Silent City, Esther Rochon's The Shell,
and various short stories collected in the three Tesseracts anthologies are of
major importance in presenting many Québec writers to a wider North American audience). I
hope, however, that Ketterer's critiques of James de Mille's great 19th-century novel,
Howard O'Hagan's Tay John, Gwendolyn MacEwan's wonderful novels and stories, and
Timothy Findley's masterful unmaking of the Genesis myth, will tempt readers (W.P.
Kinsella's Shoeless Joe is already well known, if only through the film Field
of Dreams) to those texts beyond the boundaries of the genre. Canadian Science
Fiction and Fantasy may do more for Canadian literature as a whole than for its
specific reference group of writings if it entices some readers to try the works that
don't fit the usual category definitions; if so, I won't complain.
2.3. But again, I can't help feeling that the constraints of trying to
cover everything have led Ketterer to undermine the most interesting writing in his book.
Personally, I would have preferred a collection of essays on those Canadian novels and
stories he found most interesting as examples of the kinds of writing he is discussing
here, with a detailed bibliography of everything else in the second part. But such an
approach would have interfered with the larger historical canvas he seems to wish to
paint, and although I might suggest that a separate essay on historical developments in
each literature would have served the purpose well enough, he could logically respond that
he wanted to incorporate all the various aspects of his study into one narrative.
Nonetheless, with its little histories of Canadian fandom, its sporadic references to
children's SF, and an occasional bow to the few examples of criticism, too often this
narrative loses focus; and given the quality of the writing when the focus is there,
that's too bad. There is also the unavoidable problem of errors of fact in such a
wide-ranging study. It is perhaps a matter of sheer bad luck that I am personally involved
in two such errors and thus able to point them out: I really do wish that my little
monograph on Joanna Russ had been published by T-K Graphics back in 1968, but it wasn't,
even though the single bibliography on Canadian SF somehow thought it was; and, although I
am a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of On Spec: The Canadian Magazine of
Speculative Writing, it was founded by The Copper Pig Writers' Society and not by
that board. These are perhaps minor glitches in such a wide-ranging scholarly text, but
they point to the unavoidable difficulties of such an effort. Finally, as good as the
inserted essays on individual works are, in many cases the constraints of space appear to
have forced Ketterer into writing less than he could have. He is good on Gottlieb's SF,
but there are a number of complex aspects of her work that he is forced to allude to
without providing the kind of critical comment I know he could. Possibly time as much as
space forced him to do no more than mention Kay's ground-breaking high fantasy, Tigana,
in one short paragraph, after three pages of introductory analysis of The Fionavar
Tapestry (a trilogy that itself deserves a more complex reading than he can give it
in such limited space). Given the general ignorance among readers of SF and fantasy of the
non-generic works mentioned above and of the French Canadian texts, I am pleased that he
gives a fair amount of space to them. Yet since his best writing is found in these more
specific critical essays, I can't help wishing that he had been given an extra hundred
pages or so in which to expand them to a length and complexity concomitant with their
2.4. And yet, even given all the carps I have registered, Canadian
Science Fiction and Fantasy must be seen as a major contribution to scholarship, and a
convincing rallying cry to Canadian writers. I have not mentioned Ketterer's intriguing
and convincing short essay at definitions in his opening chapter--again a piece of writing
I wish were longer and more complex and complete than it is--which opens the way for his
inclusion of works that might otherwise have seemed outside the boundaries of his inquiry.
But it is precisely his ability to place so many disparate works together and demonstrate
the qualities that open them to the interested readership of his book that most deserves
praise. There are local traditions deserving of attention; there are books and stories of
real merit; there are writers who have added much to the international traditions in which
they write: Ketterer has shown us something of their contribution here, and I can
recommend his study to anyone who wants to know more about the Canadian presence in those
--Douglas Barbour University of Alberta.
Approaches to Popular Narrative.
Jerry Palmer. Potboilers:
Methods, Concepts, and Case Studies in Popular Fiction. London &
NY: Routledge, 1991. viii+219. $69.50 cloth, $16.95 paper.
Harriett Hawkins' Classics and Trash: Traditions and Taboos in High Literature and
Popular Modern Genres (University of Toronto Press, 1990) and Thomas J. Roberts' An
Aesthetics of Junk Fiction (University of Georgia Press, 1990) both mount potent
critiques of the conventional elitist assumptions which condemn genre fiction as unworthy
of serious study, outlining alternative criteria for evaluating popular literature. Jerry
Palmer's Potboilers: Methods, Concepts and Case Studies in Popular Fiction would
seem to belong in their company, yet closer scrutiny belies the promise of its title.
The title, as Palmer observes, "refers directly to the notion of narratives as a
commodity" (37), yet this fact never really informs his discussion, which seldom analyzes
specifically commercial considerations in the production and reception of popular
fictions. His approach is primarily textual and, while he does occasionally remark the
formal impact commercial institutions have on the material they purvey, he doesn't pursue
the matter systematically, and he never engages broader sociological issues involved in
the commodification of fictional texts. This is an unfortunate omission and makes his
title seem rather arbitrary. Actually, his subtitle comes closer to capturing the
animating purpose of the volume.
The book is divided into two major sections: Concepts and Methods, which reviews and
synthesizes major approaches to the study of popular fiction (especially structuralism,
semiotics, psychoanalysis, and Marxism), and Case Studies, which applies these approaches
to four selected areas: crime fiction, romance fiction, soap opera, and sitcoms. Palmer
construes the category of "fiction" to refer to any example of narrative offered to a
mass audience, regardless of the medium; part of the purpose of his book is to elaborate
an analytic model adequate to the study of literary, filmic, and television texts. But the
effect of this approach is not merely to confuse at times the textual dynamics specific to
different media, but more tellingly to raise further questions about his title.
Why, if his model covers any instance of narrative, should he restrict its application
to "popular" instances? Precisely what is a popular narrative, by his lights, and in
comparison with what? Some sort of assumption about invidious critical borders segregating
"high" from "low" culture seems to inform his discussion (his dedication calls for the
shattering of the "Berlin Wall" separating the two), but this assumption is never played
out in the text, never overtly thematized or debated. Again, the putative focus on
"potboilers" seems arbitrary.
The "concepts and methods" Palmer outlines in the first part of the book will be
familiar to anyone who knows 1960s French structuralism, particularly the work of Ronald Barthes, Gerard Genette, and Tzvetan Todorov, with their meticulous analyses of the formal
elements of narrative; the theories developed at the film journal Screen in the
'70s, with their supple fusion of structuralism and psychoanalysis yielding fruitful
models of subjectivity; and the more recent efforts of the critics at the Centre for
Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham, with their revival and revision of Gramscian
theory generating sophisticated accounts of mass culture's imbrication with social power.
Palmer summarizes his synthesis of these critical traditions as follows: "narrative
produces subject positions, which are manipulative because they tend to slot people into a
system of domination; yet they have an element of authenticity because they also defer to
people's real emotions about that system" (111). This quote displays the shallow and
rather mechanical grasp Palmer has of his "concepts and methods."
As a survey of important contemporary positions in the analysis of narrative, his book
does not improve on existing studies, such as Seymour Chatman's Story and Discourse:
Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film (Cornell UP, 1978) or Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan's
Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics (Methuen, 1983), both of which Palmer
relies on fairly heavily in his own account, and of course it cannot hope to replace the
excitement and challenge of reading the original sources. Moreover, since, as we have
seen, Palmer makes no compelling case for the extrapolation of these positions
specifically to the analysis of "popular fiction," his whole book seems rather
arbitrary. After all, the critical traditions he rehashes had already applied their
methods to popular texts: French structuralism to genre literature, the Screen
critics to classical Hollywood cinema, and the Birmingham School to television. In fact,
Palmer calls on this work quite often in his "case studies" section, making his volume
altogether an unnecessary redaction of analyses conducted better elsewhere. A recent
anthology edited by Tony Bennett, Popular Fiction: Technology, Ideology, Production,
Reading (Routledge, 1990), draws together much of the case-study material Potboilers
merely summarizes (including sections on detective fiction and TV sitcoms), and is
recommended over Palmer's tepid overview.
The only section of Palmer's book that is directly relevant to the concerns of SF
scholars is his chapter on "Genre," which concludes the first part. Again, this chapter
is basically a summary of major contemporary positions, with a few scanty close readings
tossed in for illustration. These examples are almost entirely drawn from crime fiction
and film, which is only appropriate since Palmer is also the author of Thrillers
(Edward Arnold, 1978) a study of the form. Palmer's main purpose in this chapter, besides
providing Cliff's Notes to the critical literature, is to distinguish between two broad
approaches: "studies in which what is sought is a tight, exclusive definition, where the
boundaries between belonging and not belonging to a genre are clear; and studies where a
loose definition is sought, where genre is not a precisely ordered group of texts,
but...one regime among others of the organization of intertextuality" (121-22). His clear
preference is for the first approach, and he offers his own Thrillers as an
instance; the second approach is exemplified by Tony Bennett's and Janet Woollacott's Bond
and Beyond: The Political Career of a Popular Hero(Methuen, 1987), which tracks the
figure of James Bond across diverse media, never attempting to fix him within a single
genre governed by rigid principles of operation.
Having read both books, I can say that the latter is by far the more wide-ranging and
suggestive, offering insights into cultural and sexual politics that a rigorous focus on a
single genre would not have yielded. But then, I must admit that I am pretty much
convinced by Bennett's attack on exclusivist definitions of genre in his Outside
Literature (Routledge, 1990; see especially chapter 4, "The Sociology of Genres: A
Critique"). Outside Literature, by the way, also contains a scathing assault on
aesthetic definitions of literature which dismantles the elitist categories responsible
for, among other things, policing the divisions between high and low cultures. In other
words, it does the business (quite incidentally to its main purpose, which is a brilliant
critique of the tradition of Marxist aesthetics) that Potboilers seems to promise
and never delivers. I would prefer it, as well as the Hawkins and Roberts volumes
mentioned above, over Palmer's book, which is essentially a critical potboiler.
--Rob Latham Stanford University.
A Mexican Study.
Gabriel Trujillo Muñóz. La Ciencia Ficción: Conocimiento y Literatura.
Mexicali, B.C.: Instituto de Cultura de Baja California, 1991. 349pp. Price not known.
This comprehensive theoretical study of SF, awarded the 1990 Literary Prize in Baja
California, is by one of the most fecund promoters of the genre south of the Rio Grande:
Gabriel Trujillo (b. 1958), a surgeon, fiction writer, and scholar. Divided into three
major parts (the history of SF, contemporary SF, and science and fiction), the volume,
never labyrinthine, always objective with a clear and engaging prose, details the
development of fantastic, utopian, philosophical, speculative, and imaginative literature
from Plato and Aristotle to H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and onwards. Basing his arguments
on the diverse works of Darko Suvin, Tzvetan Todorov, Franco Ferrini, Jean Gattégno,
Isaac Asimov, Robert Scholes, and Mark Rose, Trujillo's ambitious goal is to delineate the
boundaries of SF vis-à-vis the progress of science and technology from the Enlightenment
to the present. And he is not constrained to written texts; some pages are also devoted to
the development of futuristic films, from Fritz Lang's Metropolis to Ridley
Scott's Blade Runner and Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Although at times he is
derivative and unoriginal, the fact that a study like this was produced in Spanish is
already a triumph of the spirit.
The book's most important contribution is found in Appendix I, on SF in Latin America,
to which, for obvious reasons, I will devote the bulk of this review. Although Trujillo
never discusses in depth the various reasons why SF, while popular in Eastern Europe,
Russia, and Israel, lacks support across the Rio Grande, he does offer a list of famous
practitioners. He begins with Pedro Castera (1838-1906), the Mexican author of Viaje
Celeste (Celestial Voyage). A depiction of the epistemological trip of the human soul
through the cosmos, the journey begins on Earth, continues on Jupiter and Neptune, and
ends when the voyager, disoriented and with the hope of returning home, rides on a comet.
Strictly speaking, to consider Castera's text an SF title may be misleading, for one would
inevitably be forced to apply the same approach to Primero Sueño (First Dream),
a poem written at the end of the 17th century by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, also about a
voyage in the tradition of Cicero and Kircher through the natural and supernatural. The
two are philosophical portraits of the limits of earthly knowledge, and metaphorical
meditations on human life.
The list of titles offered includes the novel Viaje maravilloso del Señor Nic Nac
(The Marvelous Voyage of Mr. Nic Nac) by Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg (1852-1937), published in
1875. Then come the poets of the Modernista movement, a sort of late Romanticism
with peculiar tones that swept the Hispanic world, from Mexico City to Buenos Aires, and
even the Iberian peninsula, from 1885 to 1915. Among its members were the celebrated homme
de lettres from Nicaragua, Rubén Darío (1867-1916); the Argentine Leopoldo Lugones
(1878-1938), a lover of fantastic tales; and Armado Nervo (1878-1937), a Mexican poet and
diplomat. Each of them, as well as others of the time, wrote SF tales that include robots
and mad scientists. While Trujillo never studies the aesthetics that marked the work of
these literati, he refers to almost unknown material valuable to scholars in the field,
including the following stanza (with my translation) from a poem in Nervo's El Gran
Viaje (The Great Trip), written in 1918:
Quién será en un futuro no lejano
El Cristóbal Colón de algunos planetas?
Quién logrará, con máquina potente, sondear el
océano del éter y llevarnos de la mano
allí donde llegaron solamente
los osados sueños del poeta?
Who will be in not a distant future
the Christopher Columbus of some planets?
Who will succeed, with a powerful machine, in deciphering
the ocean of ether and take us hand in hand
where only the courageous dreams of poetry have reached?
No doubt a thorough examination of SF among the Modernistas is needed. What is
curious, even if Trujillo does not quite address the issue, is the fact that the majority
of SF texts written by the founding fathers in Latin America, including Darío and his
colleagues, deal with the idea of voyage: the individual struggles to understand reality
with the help of dreams, drugs, and imaginative devices that allow him to wander through
known and unknown spaces. The result is sometimes inspiring, sometimes humorous, and once
in a while pedantic.
What Trujillo does is offer some clues as to the art of the more celebrated
practitioners of the futuristic genre in Latin America. Horacio Quiroga (1878-1937), a
Uruguayan follower of Poe, was the author of detective and SF stories later emulated by
Julio Cortázar, Cristina Peri Rossi, and others. Jorges Luis Borges (1899-1986), a
passionate reader of Jules Verne, Thomas More, and Emmanuel Swedenborg, created
his famous tale "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" after reading C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent
Planet.* [*See my essay "Borges and the Future," SFS 17:77-83, #50,
March 1990, reprinted in part in Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, ed.
Noelle Watson and Paul E. Schellinger, 3rd ed. (Chicago & London, 1991), 915-16.] Adolfo
Bioy Casares (1914-) has written a number of SF stories and the novel La invención de
Morel (1940; Morel's Invention), inspired by H.G. Wells, which Borges described as
perfect. Roberto Arlt (1900-1942) was an eccentric like Boris Vian who dreamed bizarre
future realities and used them in his shocking novels.
The second part of this appendix is devoted to SF writers of the second half of the
20th century, like Hugo Correa, author of the 1959 Los altísimos (The Tall
Ones), Eduardo Goligorsky, the Argentinian author of A la sombra de los bárbaros
(1977; In the Shadow of the Barbarians), and Angélica Gorodischer, who published Kalpa
Imperial (Imperial Kalpa) in 1983.
Gorodischer, the only woman in the last group and a celebrity of sorts, is also the
author of a story translated into English as "Man's Dwelling Place" and often
anthologized in the United States and Europe. It begins:
We entered the city at 8:30 a.m. local time. I must bring
Your Lordship's attention to the fact that members of the crew under my command seemed
uneasy, almost frightened. At times I attributed their condition to the peace and quiet--
I don't think I was mistaken. It was a clear day, the weather was mild, and the sun, the
breeze and the grasshopper made us think of a fairly advanced spring. (Alberto Manguel,
ed. & trans., Other Fires: Short Fiction by Latin American Women [NY: Clarkson N.
Potter, 1986], 88-94)
What follows is an image of an infernal, tantalizing planet. Trujillo does not mention
this story in the appendix, nor does he study those he does mention with care: he rushes,
as if anxious to get to the end. He has nonetheless made a valuable contribution to the
study of SF in opening a window on an area seldom examined by scholars: SF south of the
Rio Grande. And although a more rigorous examination of the topic is required, his book,
by placing Latin American SF in the context of the genre's development at large, is proof
of a passion for the art of Stanislaw Lem and Philip K. Dick, one beyond language, time,
--Ilan Stavans Baruch College
Toward an Annotated 1984?
Michael Shelden, Orwell:
The Authorized Biography. NY: HarperCollins, 1991. xi+497. $25.00. Jonathan Rose, ed. The Revised Orwell. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 1992. vii+263.
$27.95 cloth, $15.95 paper.
A rapid check through the back issues of SFS indicates that in the 20 years of the
journal's existence it has published only two articles on Orwell, which may be explained
by the perhaps unjustified feeling that 1984 is not a difficult book and that such
study as it needed had already been done by esteemed critics in numerous essays,
especially the 11 collected by Raymond Williams in the Twentieth Century Views volume, George
Orwell(1974), which should have settled most matters but evidently did not. Michael
Sheldon is undoubtedly correct in saying that 1984 is Orwell's most misunderstood
work (430), but it seems to me that the misreadings have tended to be tendentious if not
willful. In a review-article in SFS #19 (6:327-32, Nov 1979), Robert M. Philmus pointed
out the deficiencies in five recent books, ending with the statement, "As long as Orwell
continues to attract partisans rather then interpreters, he will not need enemies"--a
sentiment echoed by Jonathan Rose in dismissing the flood of 1984 articles on 1984
as concerned, each in its turn, with arguing that if Orwell were still alive he would
share the political views of the author (1). This flood did not overflow the banks of
although it did publish in its July 1985 issue (#36) a special section, "To 1984 and
Beyond," only one of the five essays was concerned with Orwell's novel. In "Reaction and
Nihilism: The Political Genealogy of Orwell's 1984," Nadia Khouri explored the
novel's dystopian ancestry more thoroughly than had previously been done, whether or not
she undervalued the novel's achievement (as I think she did).
Shelden's masterful biography has been reviewed so widely, so favorably, and (in the
six reviews I have read) at such length that there would be little point in my going over
the same ground, a temptation I resist in part because I remain enough of a New Critic to
doubt the value of biography for the interpretation of a novel, though granting that the
interrelations between the author's life and a given novel can be interesting in their own
right. To the great body of comment on 1984, Sheldon's main contribution is an
explicit account of such interrelations, scattered through the book and summed up in
In his introduction, Jonathan Rose claims value for the articles in The Revised
Orwell on the basis that they demonstrate that Orwell "revealed himself in his
manuscript revisions; in his inveterate political revisionism; in the refashioning of his
name and his persona; in his habit of turning on himself, of challenging and overturning
his own convictions; in the way he borrowed and reworked pieces of other texts and
incorporated them in his own writings" (2). Except for Rose's own "Eric Blair's School
Days," which revises Orwell's own account of his youth in "Such, Such Were the Joys" (a
matter treated at greater length and with greater authority by Shelden), the articles on
this theme--by Alex Zwerdling, Sue Lonoff, Daniel Kies, Laurence M. Porter, Arthur M.
Eckstein, W. Russel Gray--are all worthy efforts to prove something I have never doubted:
that Orwell's literary art in 1984 is more conscious, more complex, and more
successful than its detractors have found it to be.
The other essays in this collection are less concerned with Orwell's literary art than
with his sources and influence. William E. Laskowski Jr's "George Orwell and the
Tory-Radical Tradition" should be compared to the Khouri essay mentioned above. Arthur M.
Eckstein's "George Orwell's Second Thoughts on Capitalism" makes no mention of an
earlier study on much the same subject, Ruth Ann Lief's Homage to Oceania: The
Prophetic Vision of George Orwell (1969). In what are perhaps the two most
interesting articles in the book, John Rodden deals with the ways in which Orwell has
figured in the London literary scene.
Rose's second article in the volume, "The Invisible Sources of 1984," is
concerned with books not mentioned in Orwell's writing and, it may be said, not likely to
be known to mainstream critics (i.e., British scientific romances that Orwell might have
read). Rose seems to have found his titles in I.F. Clarke's Tale of the Future
(3d ed., 1978), though he found one likely candidate perhaps not listed by Clarke (it is
not listed in the 2d ed.): 1920: Dips into the Near Future (by "Lucian," 1917
in the Nation, 1918 as a booklet). "If you were to take the political ideology
laid out in [Stapledon's] Darkness and the Light, and the machinery of
totalitarian controls described in 1920, and the plot and characters of [Alfred
Noyes'] The Last Man [US title, No Other Man]; and if you then welded
these three structural elements together, you would arrive at the complete basic
framework" of 1984(146). Perhaps; but as Rose grants before making this
proposal, the dystopian fiction of the time had a "pool of traditional motifs, cliches,
and conventions," so that if Orwell was widely read in such fiction, "he would have most
likely absorbed and reused [such devices] in his own work" (145-46). As one rather widely
read in British scientific romance, I may perhaps be permitted to add that the British
book that seems to me to anticipate 1984 in more details than any other (with the
possible exception of 1920, which I have not read) is one not mentioned by Rose:
Victor Rousseau's The Messiah of the Cylinder.
Just as Brave New World is a novel of the great depression, so 1984
is a novel of the wars and politics of the 1930s and '40s. Any academic old enough to have
read the novel in the light of first-hand knowledge of the '30s and '40s is likely now to
be retired from teaching. This thought came to me upon reading that Victoria Chalikov in
1989 had been the first to "confront Russian readers with the fact that their country was
Airstrip Two" (2). It is not clear whether the phrase "Airstrip Two" appears in the
essay cited or is Rose's coinage, but at any rate it stands in Rose's introduction without
comment, just as if it were an appropriate term for Russia. If 1984 and Brave
New World continue to be taught in high school and college (as they deserve to be),
annotated editions seem to be needed.
New SF Study from France.
Roger Bozzetto. L'Obscur
objet d'un savoir: Fantastique et science-fiction--deux littératures de l'imaginaire.
Aix-en- Provence: Publications de l'Université de Province, Aix-Marseille I, 1992. 279p.
Professor Bozzetto's 1988 doctoral thesis has finally found its way into print, and the
resulting publication is both unique and impressive. I say unique because it stands as one
of those rare books which target both the Fantastic (horror) and SF (science and/or
speculative fiction). It seeks not only to trace the emergence and evolution of these two
genres as parallel examples of Western non-mimetic literature but also to investigate the
thematic, stylistic, and socio-historical links between them. I say impressive because of
Bozzetto's meticulous and up-to-date scholarship in both realms. Copious notes at the end
of each chapter, continual cross-referencing, and an extensive bibliography and index
serve to provide a strong critical backbone to his arguments. The study is divided into
five parts: 1) Emergence and origins, 2) Historical evolution, 3) Myth and representation,
4) Critical receptions, and 5) Modern mutations. Selected portions of the first two
chapters have previously appeared in the pages of SFS ("Intercultural Interplay:
SF in France and the US," #50, March 1990, and "Kepler's Somnium, or SF's Missing
Link," #52, Nov 1990).
As a wide-ranging yet penetrating literary history of both SF and the Fantastic, I
recommend Bozzetto's study. Simultaneously reminiscent of Suvin's Metamorphoses of
Science Fiction and Rabkin's The Fantastic in Literature, it charts new
critical territory in its attempt to "bridge the gap" between these two (increasingly)
disparate areas of literary criticism. One minor complaint, however: as a university press
publication, this book is brimming with editorial oversights, typos, and misprints. The
author has included an errata sheet, but it doesn't begin to rectify the
unusually sloppy copy-editing of the publisher. A real shame: Bozzetto's fine treatise
Reference Reference and Personal
Michael Burgess. Reference
Guide to Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Reference Sources in
the Humanities Series. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1992. xiii+403. $45.00.
Michael Burgess. The
Work of Robert Reginald: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide. 2d ed.
Bibliographies of Modern Authors 5. Borgo Press (P.O. Box 2845, San Bernardino, CA 92406),
1992. 176p. $27.00 cloth, $17.00 paper (plus $2.00 shipping).
Michael Burgess joined the staff of the CSU San Bernardino Library in 1970, where he is
now chief cataloger. The 22 years of his service there have seen the massive growth of
scholarship in SF and its related fields as defined by the publishing industry, a
superfield that I suppose we must henceforth refer to as SF&F&H. If he were in his
seventies, his Reference Guide to Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror would be a
worthy capstone to his career, but since he is only in his forties, we will call it a
Since he has been present and hyperactive from the beginning, we may be certain that
nothing of much importance (perhaps nothing of any importance) has been omitted from the Guide.
It begins with "Encyclopedias and Dictionaries," continues through directories, lists,
"Readers' and Critical Guides," "Guides to Secondary Sources," library catalogs,
indexes, general, national, subject, publisher, author, and artist bibliographies,
specialized dictionaries, guides, and catalogues of various types, and ends with
"Professional Organizations"--all in all 551 entries in 27 chapters, followed by
Collections" and author, title, and subject indexes.
Burgess evaluates the various works by carefully thought-out critical and technical
standards, and his judgments all seem quite reasonable to me. On technical matters he
criticizes Lloyd W. Currey's otherwise outstanding Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors
(1979) for its failure to include paginations (141) and also a now "almost useless" book
for the absence of "running page heads." The latter allows me to end this rave-review by
shaking my finger at Burgess the publisher. His Robert Reginald bibliography has no
running titles at all and his Aldiss bibliography (see below, Books Received)
has the same running titles throughout, even though both books cry out for distinct
odd-page (as in SFS) or distinct both-page (as in the Guide to SF&F&H)
running titles for each chapter. As Burgess must know, it is often much easier to find
your place by flipping through pages with an eye on the running titles than by consulting
a table of contents.
The Work of Robert Reginald, the fifth title in the Bibliographies of Modern
Authors, is exhaustively comprehensive in the way described in my review of earlier books
in the series (SFS 18:151-53, #53, March 1991), listing everything authored or
co-authored, edited or co-edited, published or co-published by Mike Burgess--his legal
name (145)--under his various pen names, of which the chief are Michael Burgess, Robert
Reginald and Boden Clarke (the series editor), together with a biographical chronology and
lists of public appearances, secondary sources, honors and awards, etc., etc. As Robert
Reginald, Mike Burgess has made himself a considerable figure in our field, beginning with
Stella Nova (1970; rev. as Contemporary Science Fiction Authors, 1975),
continuing in collaboration with Douglas Manville on the five issues of a reprint pulp, Forgotten
Fantasy(1971), the Arnot reprint series SCIENCE FICTION:62 BOOKS (1975), and later reprint series,
and culminating in his establishment of the Borgo Press to publish the Milford Series of
monographs on SF authors as well as other works. We have ample reason to be grateful for
his work as editor and publisher.
Bibliographies are for libraries, collectors, and scholars. I doubt that any collector
will set out to collect the complete works of Burgess-Reginald-Clarke (but who knows?) or
that many literary scholars will find this book of much use. As a lover of bibliographies,
I have found it fascinating. It was published, one imagines, as a point of personal
privilege, but perhaps the library market will make it profitable. Scholars hoping to make
a mark as bibliographers might find it worth buying as a model.
Frameups and Double-Talk "in"
Fred Botting. Making
Monstrous: "Frankenstein," Criticism, Theory. Manchester:
Manchester University Press (North American distributor, St. Martin's Press, NY), 1991.
214pp. $59.95 cloth, $19.95 paper.
Frankenstein now belongs to that select shelf of literary works which attract
so much and such varied critical commentary that periodic appropriating surveys of that
commentary are of real value. My 1979 Frankenstein's Creation: The Book, the Monster,
and Human Reality attempts such a survey in the course of an argument for a broadly
philosophical reading of Mary Shelley's novel. In the book under review, Fred Botting's
appropriation of virtually all the previous criticism is geared towards an explicitly
Botting (identified on the back cover of the paperback edition as a post-doctoral
research fellow at the University of Wales College of Cardiff) explains where he's coming
from in a very condensed, rather heavy-going theoretical first chapter that defines
deconstruction as a "discourse of the double" (26) and literature, in Foucauldian terms,
as inhabiting "a field of doubling and death, a realm of proliferation and askance
reflection" (28). Thus this account of Frankenstein:
The quest to uncover the secret of the text's nature, to
unfold once and for all its living presence, its principle of life, does not reveal the
unequivocal or authorized voice, but discloses only monstrous doubles, different and
distant from any unifying figure. As duplicates, the authors, the many Mary Shelleys that
are endlessly constructed and reproduced by Frankenstein's critics, defer the presentation
of a single ordinary being, a final and ultimate source of meaning, and offer only divided
figures of and in conflict, duplicates that redouble and resist the Frankensteinian desire
to reduce all life to one principle, one secret. (3)
At the same time, of course, the novel
offers an appropriate metaphor of the writer's activity:
the reconstruction of dead fragments from many bodies, the traces of many texts, into a
new and hideous combination that refuses to submit to the authority of the creator.
Frankensteincan thus be read as an interrogation of origination, creativity and authority,
an interrogation which places it in a particularly challenging position for those
readers-as-authors who will subsequently arrive, armed with their frames (22).
This kind of clever "double talk" (in every sense of that term) is typical of the
free-wheeling logorrhea that deconstruction legitimates and indeed encourages. The
analysis included of Jacques Lacan's, Jacques Derrida's, and Barbara Johnson's analyses of
"The Purloined Letter" suggests that Botting will do for Frankenstein what
those theorists did for Poe's tale.
A general reader's problems with Botting's opening chapter are exasperated (perhaps
productively?) by Botting's occasionally dodgy syntax. At one point, an "It" is
encountered which can refer to nothing in the immediately preceding sentence but
could be linked to three possible referents in the paragraph's other preceding
sentences: "Frankenstein," "a definitive authorial voice," or "the meaning of the text" (4). Certainly,
we are all familiar with the problematic referent but should we actually encounter it in
academic prose? I had to read the following sentence (relating to "The Purloined
Letter") at least twice: "Derrida fills in gaps in Lacan's test with the key words
'castration' and 'phallus' terms, Johnson notes, which do not appear in the 'Seminar"'
(10). Presumably a comma is required after "phallus." This would appear to be a typo
rather than a syntax problem, and indeed typos will annoy the reader throughout Botting's
text beginning with the appearance of "differnce" on the Contents page. I suspect that
many readers will not persevere beyond Botting's opening pages, and that is a pity because
Making Monstrous is in fact a particularly useful and illuminating study.
The next two chapters, under the part-heading "Text," deal with textual indeterminacy
owing to the difficulty of determining its generic identity, and the plurality of meaning:
The many oppositions in Frankenstein do not sustain a set
of unified meanings. Far from stable, the binary pairings are not fixed in a hierarchical
order of meaning in which one term is unquestionably privileged; instead, relationships
shift, the priority of a single term is undermined and meaning becomes plural. (47).
Matters are further complicated by the unsettling supplementary nature of Mary
Shelley's shifty and contradictory 1831 Introduction: "written thirteen years after the
novel it precedes, it remains neither fully outside nor wholly a part of Frankenstein"
(55). Often commented upon is the line from that Introduction in which Mary Shelley bids
her "hideous progeny go forth and prosper" (quoted 65). Botting's comment gives the
usual analogical reading a deconstructive twist:
Both the book, the 'hideous' idea, and the monster, the
'hideous phantasm', the phrase 'my hideous progeny' involves author, text, Frankenstein
and monster in a play of duplication that does not simply equate the terms as parallel
oppositions but suggests distinctions which announce different and divergent meanings.
Part III, "Criticism," covers, in four chapters, failed attempts to supply a
"unifying motive" (72) for Frankenstein by way of biographical and
psychoanalytical approaches, and the application of gender issues leading to a focus on
the marginalization of women as monstrous others. Botting's analysis here is a little
repetitive and his essential point is best summarized at the projective end of his
scene-setting first chapter: "Pulling in two directions--towards a homogenisation,
humanisation and recuperation of authorial identity and, against this, towards textual,
sexual and critical resistances and differences, the [criticism's] frictions and tensions
begin to disclose questions about the nature of authority and the construction of
The overlong first of three chapters under the Part IV heading "Theory" applies
Freud's theories of dream interpretation and the Oedipus complex to Frankenstein's dream
of his fiancée turning into the corpse of his mother. Total explanation is impossible
because Freud believed "There is at least one spot in every dream at which it is unplumbable--a navel, as it were, that is its point of contact with the unknown" (quoted
119). The second theory chapter deals with "The entanglement of political and literary
issues...' (139). Apropos of the industrial, American, and especially French revolutions, Botting relates revolutionary monsters to the political struggle with the instability of
language. (According to the Acknowledgements, a version of this chapter "previously
appeared in Literature and History." My examination of every issue of that
journal indicates that not to be the case; presumably the article had been accepted for
publication but then not published because the journal folded in 1988.) The particularly
fine following chapter elucidates the "equivocal distinctions between alchemy, art,
science and humanism" (164). Thus, for example, Frankenstein comes to assign to science
the grand absolutist vision associated with alchemy. Botting goes on to convincingly
deconstruct the opposition between science and humanism in Frankenstein and
demonstrate that President Reagan's "Star Wars" (his Strategic Defense Initiative)
represents the culmination of "humanism":
Thus Frankenstein can be read as a text which offers an
antithetical meaning to the one so popular with the majority of its critics. No longer is
it a question of the dangers of science itself but an interrogation instead of the
ideology which frames and constructs scientific projects, of the assumptions it operates
with and the interests it serves. (176)
Botting's concluding chapter focuses insightfully on a recent transformation of the
Frankenstein myth: the presentation of the monster, the "first consumer" of electricity,
in Karloffian guise, in 1990 British television ads for the Conservative Party's
privatization-of-electricity campaign. At the heart of this appropriation is the
"birth"-of-the-monster scene which, Botting notes, is "Only presented in the 1831
Introduction to the novel": "I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and
then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy,
half vital motion" (quote 189). Botting continues, "That scene, more than any other in
the novel, has regularly recurred in print, on the stage and on cinema and television
screens" (189). Since he has just pointed out that the scene is not, strictly speaking,
"in" the novel, we must presumably assume the sense in which outside frames create the
reality of what they frame. The monster of the privatization ads, like other recent
manifestations (in the TV series The Munsters and The Addams Family, for
example), in apparent contradiction to Mary Shelley's text, is linked with "domestic and
family values" (193). By then making the monster "a metaphor of the national grid"
(200), Margaret Thatcher, as Prime Minister, sought to create a nation not of shopkeepers,
like her father, but of shareholders. Botting sums up his analysis as follows:
In the electricity privatisation advertisements humanism,
at the moment it tried to shatter the collage of myths that surround and shape it, at the
moment it tried to naturalise itself, glimpsed the monstrosity of myth, language and
otherness in which it lives and reproduces itself. Nonetheless, supposedly possessing an
identity beyond language, culture and history, its recognition of itself occurs by means
of its misrecognition and repression of the other and its relation to the Other." (203)
The structure of Botting's book, it is clear, effectively reverses that of Mary
Shelley's--it is one of widening rather than narrowing circles. It finally demonstrates,
unobtrusively but compellingly, how literary studies can and should segue into what is
today called cultural studies.
--David Ketterer Concordia University.
- Linda M. Lewis. The Promethean
Politics of Milton, Blake, and Shelley.
- David and Carol D. Stevens. J.R.R.
- Darell Schweitzer, ed. Discovering
Classic Horror Fiction I
Linda M. Lewis. The
Promethean Politics of Milton, Blake, and Shelley. Columbia:
University of Missouri Press, 1992. xii+223. $34.95.
This study of "the political, theological, and philosophical adaptations of the
Promethean and Titan myth" (12) is, to my mind at least, only of marginal interest to
students of SF since the "Shelley" of Lewis's title is Percy, not Mary. The pages given
over to Frankenstein amount to fewer than half a dozen in toto; and
while they contain some ideas worth considering (especially in the context of Lewis's
entire argument), the reader is left with the task of working out what Lewis has in mind
when she says, for example, that "Shelley had learned well from Milton's fragmentation of
Prometheanism" (196; but cp 171-72) or that Frankenstein embodies "a female
interpretation of both myth and Milton" (197). That Lewis herself does not develop such
notions may well be attributable to some kind of antipathy to attending closely to Mary
Shelley's work. Such an antipathy is apparently reflected in Lewis's reference to the
Monster's (literal) "death by fire" as a fait accompli (170)--a claim which, except for
(or maybe notwithstanding) Lewis's occasional quotations, might lead one to suppose that
she based her comments on the James Whale (film) version of Frankenstein rather
than on any printed text.
David and Carol D. Stevens. J.R.R. Tolkien. SRG 54. Mercer Island, WA:
Starmont House 1992. vi+178. $19.95 cloth, $9.95 paper.
In this book the authors attempt a "comprehensive examination" of Tolkien's work,
including his scholarly and critical writings as well as THE LORD OF THE RINGS and the minor fiction, with the
word "comprehensive" quickly qualified by "within the confines of the series" (v).
Given the vast amount of secondary material already published on Tolkien, a guide of the
Starmont type is certainly needed, and the authors have provided one with what seems to me
great expertise and skill.
Darell Schweitzer, ed. Discovering Classic Horror Fiction I.
SSLC 27. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House 1992. vi+191. $21.95 cloth, $11.95 paper.
This volume contains essays by S.T. Joshi, Alan Warren, Gary William Crawford, Lee
Weinstein, Ben P. Indick, Mike Ashley, Paul Spencer, Sam Moskowitz, and the editor on
Arthur Machen, Richard Middleton, William Hope Hodgson, Walter de la Mare, Robert W.
Chambers, H. Russell Wakefield, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, A.C., R.H., and E.F. Benson, August
Derleth, Oliver Onions, and W.C. Morrow. A second volume is presumably promised by the
Lin Carter. Lovecraft: A
Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos. PCS 10. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont
House, 1992. xxi+198. $22.00 cloth, $12.00 paper.
The copyright page of this book is entirely blank, and there is nothing anywhere to
indicate that it has been published before. Five preliminary pages have been reset, as
have the two-page "Word of Thanks" (in order to clarify confusion caused by two
misplaced lines) and the chapter titles (for no apparent reason); otherwise the book is a
photographic reprint of a 1972 Ballantine paperback. Having read it in 1972, I have no
wish to read it again and so report only that it represents the kind of Lovecraft
criticism that David E. Schultz, S.T. Joshi, and their associates have dedicated
themselves to refuting: see SFS 19:144-45, #56, March 1992.
The Collier Nucleus Science Fiction Classics. New titles in this
trade-paperback series (see SFS 19:270, #57, July 1992) from Macmillan Publishing (Special
Sales Dept., 866 Third Ave., NY 10022; add $1.50 for first book and $0.75 for each
additional) include Brian Aldiss's Helliconia Spring ($12.00), A.E. van Vogt's The
Voyage of the Space Beagle($8.00), Fritz Leiber's A Specter is Haunting Texas
and Gather Darkness! (each $9.00), and Philip K. Dick's Solar Lottery. A.
Merritt's The Face in the Abyss appears as a Fantasy Classic (344p, $9.00). The
second and third volumes of the Helliconia trilogy are promised for late 1992 and early
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