Science Fiction Studies

#69 = Volume 23, Part 2 = July 1996

 

Essays of Permanent Interest.

Joanna Russ. To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction. Introduction by Sarah LeFanu. Bloomington: Indiana UP (800-842-6796), 1995. xvi+161. $12.95 paper.

Joanna Russ has published science-fiction novels, short stories, and criticism for thirty-five years and has been active as a feminist for twenty-five, publishing such books as The Female Man, How to Suppress Women's Writing, and Magic Mamas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans and Perverts: Feminist Essays. In this new collection of fourteen essays, four of which were published previously in SFS, between 1975 and 1980, Russ describes a life spent in literary studies from the heady days of the emergence of science fiction as an academic discipline to the shattering realization that "our literature is not about women. It is not about women and men equally. It is by and about men" (81). Many of the essays bear the marks of having been written originally for presentation at conferences such as the Popular Culture Association with vast arrays of information compressed into two or three main points delivered with wit to an audience neatly divided between "them" and "us" and concluded with bravado.

Russ presents her essays more or less chronologically in two parts evenly divided between science-fiction and feminist issues. Although she admits the essays themselves seem less important now than to the young woman who wrote them, she has introduced each essay with a series of retrospective observations that, taken together, form a history of how the fundamentals of sf criticism were developed by Lem, Suvin, and Delany, how the number of undergraduate and graduate courses in sf exploded in the early 1970s, and how empty-headed conferences and books about "technology" proliferated at the same time. Russ prefers Star Trek to Star Wars, finding the former "mildly feminist" (32). By 1980, she was writing about the battle of the sexes in feminist utopias, finding little of merit in many of them with the occasional exception of a James Tiptree, Jr. At the same time, Russ describes herself as a feminist and gay activist as well as a horror-story freak fond of gothic romances and H.P. Lovecraft. She berates, for their treatment of women, the male feminists who made a feature-length film of Harlan Ellison's "A Boy and His Dog," and thus the first part of her collection, the part devoted to science fiction ends on a note of despair and resignation before sf's intransigent sexism.

Part Two, devoted to feminist issues, opens with an essay published in the early seventies in Susan Koppelman's Images of Women in Fiction: Feminist Perspectives, a pioneering anthology used in many of the newly forming Women's Studies programs. Titled "What Can A Heroine Do? Why Women Can't Write," the essay asserts that women in literature exist only in relation to the protagonist (who is male). Very few actions are available to a female protagonist. Bitch or victim, her role is to wait for love to come to her. Russ found in detective stories, supernatural fiction, and science fiction a release from such limitation. She felt new myths of Woman were needed, now perhaps provided in the expanded canon. She wrote amusingly about modern gothics, those crossbreeds of Jane Eyre and Rebecca, dominated by "Super-Male," "Heroine," the "Other Woman," the "Secret," and "Ominous Dialogue." The essay that follows, "On Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley," speculates that Mary might have attained a higher standard as a writer had she written under happier circumstances, "without the deaths of children and husband which darkened her life..." (129-130). In "Recent Feminist Utopias," originally written in 1981, Russ examines some of the more successful works in this tradition together with six matter-of-factly Lesbian all-female utopias, finding in them deep concern for forms of simple justice for women and children. In "To Write Like a Woman," first published in 1986, she explores the more specific instance of the novels of Willa Cather where male personas become records not of male but Lesbian experience. The final three essays in the collection, all originally published in the 1980s as letters to editors associated with feminist publications, express Russ's growing unhappiness with the feminist critical establishment, which she accuses of adopting whatever promises "system, control, understanding without effort, and evasion of hard questions." She challenges those feminist critics who still hesitate to attach the word "Lesbian" to issues of female solidarity and eroticism. Angered by the amount of sheer jargon that passes for literary criticism, Russ pronounces a pox on the house of the academy itself: "The sort of culture English Departments produce is dreadful. They know so little and leave out so much out of sheer ignorance; and then there's the stuff they leave out because it's in their interest to do so. It's an unbelievably narrow education" (176). What follows is silence.

Elaine L. Kleiner, Indiana State University.

Addendum on To Write Like a Woman. It is customary in reviewing books of this kind--a collection of essays written over a long period of time and having no single narrow theme--to question whether the book should exist at all. I want to echo the sentiments expressed by Sarah LeFanu in her introduction to the book, that the essays herein are addressed, not just to the readers of science fiction or the readers of feminist literature, but to the general reader, and that they are are so well written, so well informed, and so highly intelligent that they can be enjoyed by anyone--by any reader, at least, who enjoys reading essays. I should also like to draw our readers' attention to an essay that appeared in The New Yorker for November 27, 1995, "Cather and the Academy," by Joan Acocella, who finds little to commend in Cather criticism, but who singles out Russ's essay on Cather, "To Write Like a Woman," for high praise. In sum, this book is special, if only because we need to have available all the work, fiction and nonfiction alike, of this brilliant but not especially prolific wrier.

--RDM.


The Origins of Future-War Fiction.

I.F. Clarke, ed. The Tale of the Next Great War, 1871-1914: Fictions of Future Warfare and of Battles Still-to-Come. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995. xiv+382. $39.95 cloth, $17.95 paper.

In 1961, I.F. Clarke published a seminal work in the form of an annotated bibliography entitled The Tale of the Future From the Beginning to the Present Day. This pioneering book showed how technological change transformed European conceptions of historical time, thereby spawning in the seventeenth century a new literary genre consisting of imagined futures radically different from the present and past. Clarke's 1966 study Voices Prophesying War 1763-1984, enlarged in the 1992 edition, Voices Prophesying War: Future Wars 1763-3749, focused this vision on a subgenre of future-scene fiction: stories and novels that projected wars in the future. Clarke tied the growth of future-war fiction directly to the evolution of military technology from the Industrial Revolution to the nuclear age, together with the growth of a mass reading audience. Especially striking was his discovery that the first characteristically modern fictions of future war appeared in the early 1870s, a direct product of the advent of what we have now come to call technowar, which hit Europe in the Franco-Prussian War.

The current volume consists of sixteen future-war stories published during that crucial period between the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the beginning of World War I, together with an introductory essay, notes on the texts, and biographical notes on the authors. None of the stories maintains any special power as a literary work. Yet, because many of these works are difficult to obtain and because collectively they are of great historic interest, The Tale of the Next Great War is a useful collection not only for sf scholars but also for those interested in relations between militarism in popular culture and our horrendous century of technological slaughter.

The anthology does, however, display some of the weaknesses and limitations of Clarke's full-length study of future wars. The criteria for selecting stories are not only Eurocentric but profoundly Anglocentric: eleven of the authors are British; France, Germany, and Sweden each have one token tale; there are only two American authors. Clarke's Eurocentrism makes his introductory essay even more myopic. After all, the advent of technowar, with an ample display of its horrors, came in the U.S. Civil War, which Clarke does not even mention. And nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American tales of future war have come to play an exceedingly important role in shaping the warfare and militaristic culture of modern times.

The introduction does contain many valuable nuggets, mostly extracted from Clarke's previous work, especially relating to the propagandistic effects of this fiction on the mass audience and the creation of the cultural climate for World War I. Even here, however, there is a tendency toward imprecision and overstatement, such as the claim "The Battle of Dorking" excited readers "throughout the world" (a phrase repeated three times). The assertion that "optimism came easily to Wells" is rebutted by The War of the Worlds, The War in the Air, and The World Set Free, works briefly mentioned here but discussed with considerable insight in Voices Prophesying War.

The absence of any fiction by Wells himself suggests the limits and uses of this collection. This is not a showcase of the best examples of the subgenre. It is, however, a valuable resource for scholars concerned with relations between future-war SF and cultural history.

--H. Bruce Franklin Rutgers University Newark.


A Study of Slipstream Fiction.

Joseph Tabbi. Postmodern Sublime: Technology and American Writing from Mailer to Cyberpunk. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995. xii+243. $32.50.

Joseph Tabbi's new study joins such works as Robert L. Nadeau's Readings from the New Book of Nature and David Porush's The Soft Machine in scrutinizing the ways in which contemporary U.S. novelists engage with technology. His title promises more breadth than actually materializes in the volume, which discusses Mailer, Pynchon, McElroy, and Delillo, with a coda on cyberpunk. One of the most striking absences from this company is William Burroughs, to say nothing of a whole series of more central science-fiction authors. Drawing on Thomas Weiskel's The Romantic Sublime and Slavoy Zizek's The Sublime Object of Ideology, Tabbi sets out to describe a series of encounters between writers and a "nonverbal technological reality." The sublime in this context figures as a "powerfully significant failure to signify," as a series of representational crises where categories break down. Technology thus replaces nineteenth-century Nature as a huge network and system, tantalizing the writer by its sheer scale and promise.

The first of Tabbi's chosen writers, Normal Mailer, is presented as attempting to reconstruct a lost centre. The discussion at this point gives us tantalizing glimpses of manuscript drafts which Mailer did not include in his published works. One such sketch, "Alpha and Bravo," outlines the notion of psychic division which Mailer then developed at length in An American Dream. The more prominent and sustained encounter with technology, however, occurs in Of a Fire on the Moon, where Mailer struggles to appropriate his subject because NASA has packaged it so neatly. The drama of that book is more complex than the impression Tabbi gives of a writer meeting a nonverbal object. Apart from the status of the mooncraft itself, Mailer records his constant frustration at the PR mediation of the event which drastically reduces his capacity for imaginative commentary. Tabbi makes some attempt to weave the much-discussed topics of Mailer's dualistic sensibility and theatrical formation and re-formation of persona into direct relevance to technology, but the result is forced. Nor does it quite explain how the unlocated "media speak" of Why Are We In Vietnam? can be read as a technological rounding of consciousness.

When Tabbi moves on to Pynchon the crispness of his argument rises noticeably and he produces outstanding and subtle discussions of the wariness towards all systems built into Gravity's Rainbow. Psychological and technological domains repeatedly intersect; the rocket, for example, embodying a dream of transcendence. Tabbi finds in Pynchon, Delany, and other novelists an abiding belief that "our collective creations are capable of producing a connected whole incomprehensible to any one mind in the collective." This pursuit of a chimerical totality results in a prose style which reproduces the reality of modern science by articulating a field of internal connections. Tabbi gives a sensitive close reading of those sections of Gravity's Rainbow which revolve around the German technician Franz Pkler whose rhetoric constantly oscillates between insecurity and uncertainty. His predicament reflects that of the reader who encounters two different and unresolved modes of representation causal connection and analogical integration. It is a measure of Tabbi's self-scrutinizing intelligence that, just as Pynchon refuses to reconcile these modes, so he too avoids giving the impression of resolving the different facets of Pynchon's work into a tendentious whole.

Throughout Postmodern Sublime Tabbi takes issue with those critics of a deconstructive turn who content themselves with demonstrating internal paradoxes within literary works. For example, he refuses a self-referential reading of Joseph McElroy's Plus, taking its subject instead as a "mind in space at tempting to reconstitute itself by interacting with the outside world." In this work Tabbi does not oppose the natural and the technological but proposes an explanation of how McElroy is "writing the body." It is a "compositional self" which emerges, possibly comparable to the narratives of Ronald Sukenick and Raymond Federman (two more novelists on the border of the sf genre) who demonstrate an awareness of the technology of the novel itself in their ongoing experiments with disruptive typographical experiments. In the case of Don Delillo, Tabbi focuses on Libra and Mao II as marking a turning-point in his career. Both concern protagonists "who fail in their attempts to merge with history" and thus represent a move away from Delillo's earlier acceptance of political and corporate systems. Tabbi designates these narratives "hybrid fictions," works which mix genres and discourses. It is no surprise that Tabbi should take brief bearings here from The Executioner's Song as a kind of collage assembly; and Mailer's more recent study of the Kennedy assassin, Oswald's Tale, would be further grist to Tabbi's mill in its use of KGB recordings. Although one of Pynchon's few nonfictional pieces is called "Is it OK to be a Luddite?," Tabbi interestingly demonstrates that his authors are not hostile to technology as such but are alert to the expressive potential of its products. It is a pity that he makes no mention here of Philip K. Dick, who constantly dramatizes the surreal life of electronic contraptions and consumer objects. Although Tabbi argues that the highbrow/lowbrow distinction collapses (does anyone still believe in this?) when he is briefly considering cyberpunk, his own preference in subject lies with the intricate and complexly written fictions of figures like Delillo and Pynchon. But that is no criticism. Postmodern Sublime is a suggestive and valuable rereading of a number of key contemporary novelists, and on the whole does an impressive job of demonstrating the complex shifts in symbolism and discourse produced in their fiction by technology.

--David Seed University of Liverpool.


Cyborg Theory.

Janice Hocker Rushing and Thomas S. Frentz. Projecting the Shadow: The Cyborg Hero in American Film. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (800-621-2736), 1995. x+261. $45.00 cloth, $14.95 paper.

Projecting the Shadow is itself a cyborg built of disparate theoretical components. On the surface, it displays the terminology and pessimism of postmodern critics like Jean Baudrillard and Fredric Jameson. At heart, however, its sensibilities are animated by such mythopoetic thinkers as C.J. Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Robert Bly. With (appropriately) mixed results, the authors use film to show how technology has impelled society to reconfigure Western myths and initiation rites.

Rushing and Frentz begin by discussing technology within the context of postmodern philosophy. The turn from modernism to postmodernism has emphasized fragmentation in society, the environment, and the individual. Baudrillard thus proclaims the usurpation of the human subject by its own objects as technology simulates life. Jameson, meanwhile, describes a technologically induced schizophrenia and the death of the utopian impulse. While Rushing and Frentz find some merit in these assessments, they refuse the désespoir common to postmodernism.

A "transmodern" alternative is proposed. Transmodernism to an extent reclaims the centered subject of modernism. It affirms the existence and value of the spiritual while rejecting the evacuation of meaning seen by postmodernism. Guided by Jung's depth psychology, Rushing and Frentz champion the inner psyche. They adopt a Jungian vocabulary and posit a startling methodology. "A transmodern mode of inquiry is more a matter of a psychic readiness than it is the deployment of any set of pre-established critical operations," they announce. "In fact, insofar as any method entails a formal set of procedures that others might learn and apply objectively, transmodern criticism is amethodological" (50). SFS readers familiar with Scott Bukatman and Donna Haraway will be challenged by the assertion that "the critic listens to what a text in this case a film has to say. Such a stance requires experiencing it 'by the personality as a whole,' living with it on an unconscious as well as a conscious level" (50).

Rushing and Frentz "listen" to films that rework the archetypal hunter myth. Chapter Three delineates this myth as it progresses through a tripartite sequence over time. In the Indian hunter phase, the "Indian boy" (55) leaves his tribe to hunt a wild animal with sacred weapons. He feels a spiritual affinity with his prey, kills it, and returns the meat to the tribal community. In the frontier hunter phase, the "white frontiersman" (57) mimics this ritual but loses sight of the sacred elements. His weaponry and lack of spiritual restraint lead to slaughter, and the hunter becomes estranged from society. In the technological hunter phase, complex tools are fashioned in the creator's image to accomplish the hunt. The creator loses control of his tools and acquires the status of prey.

Subsequent chapters trace the hunter myth progression in specific films. Jaws, for example, depicts an emasculated hunter--Police Chief Brody --ho discovers the heroism and aspects of Self needed to defeat his prey by working with a savage man (Quint) and a technological man (Hooper). The shark variously represents: "'the conquered continent' (83), submerged capitalist anxieties about the efficiency of the system in destroying its own" (84), "the ability of feminine sexuality to disrupt the patriarchal system" (85), and "the frontier hunter's repressed spirituali ty" (87). Chapters Five and Six examine, respectively, The Deer Hunter and The Manchurian Candidate. In the former, the hero leaves his Pennsylvania "tribe" to fight in Vietnam. As a prisoner of the Viet Cong, he undergoes a version of the "mythic descent" and explores the nature of his repressions (110). The Russian roulette games symbolize random, out-of- control technology. In The Manchurian Candidate, technology assumes the role of hunter, capturing Gls and brainwashing them into weapons to be used against the United States.

SFS readers are advised to ignore these early chapters and concentrate on the second half of the book. In Chapter Seven, Rushing and Frentz deliver a nuanced account of Blade Runner. Rick Deckard and the replicants stage a double hunt where "hunter" and "weapon" track each other as prey amidst the trash-strewn wilderness of Los Angeles, AD 2019. The replicants comprise their own tribe, "a sheltering circle from which they venture to hunt for more life" (150). As hunters, Roy Batty and his Nexus-6 kin enact the sins of their makers, albeit with more passion and spirit than the putatively human denizens of Los Angeles. Deckard's loss of human identity is contrasted with the replicants' search for their own. He learns "how to be human and to recognize his consubstantiality with technology" in the arms of the replicant, Rachel (158). Batty, for his part, learns to respect other life. He and Deckard practice the sacred hunt during their climactic rooftop fight; hunter and hunter become one and atone for each other's Fall in the presence of a dove.

Solid explications of The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day follow. Blade Runner's double hunt is bled of all sanctity and withers into a single, profane one. The technological weapon turns on its creators and humanity becomes the prey, a tribe of victims scrabbling for survival. In T1, Sarah Connor simply combats Skynet and its minions. Rushing and Frentz observe that "much of the film's black humor derives from the masterly way in which the Terminator uses humans' own technology against them" (170). In T2, however, humans use technology to defeat technology and re-spiritualize their tribe. The beginning of the film presents a steely, emotionless Sarah Connor who has abdicated her parental persona. A terminator materializes and fills this vacuum for young John Connor, while Sarah is inspired to acknowledge her emotions and to find empathy for those who created Skynet.

As their treatment of Blade Runner and the Terminator films suggests, Rushing and Frentz discern potential in the human/technology interface. "If we push past our postmodern pique...we might open ourselves to some unexpected transmodern possibilities," they state in their conclusion. "That hope is that we may reclaim our spiritual ground, reconnect with our communities, reunite the scattered parts of ourselves, and call our technological shadows by name" (203). Tutelary figures and initiation rituals are necessary. Rushing and Frentz cite the mythopoetic men's movement as a praxis to emulate, but call for participation by both genders. Introspection emerges as the precursor for accepting technology as part of ourselves.

It is difficult to criticize Projecting the Shadow, even though it forms a crazy amalgamation of concepts. Rushing and Frentz's prognosis is compelling, yet not elaborated in any detail. Their reliance on categories like the "Indian boy" and the "white frontiersman" smacks of gross essentialism, of course, but condemning Jungian archetypes as totalizing...that ways lies tautology. Also open to question is Rushing and Frentz's tendency to impute all manner of Jungian symbolic signification to a textual fixture, as they do with the shark in Jaws. One is tempted to cry "polysemy" and assume a stance of post-structuralist superiority. But then, there are moments when the symbolic readings cast films in a new light. The analyses of Blade Runner and the Terminator films prove welcome additions to the corpus of genre cinema criticism, in particular. Perhaps this indicates a niche for Rushing and Frentz: as a complement to Bukatman, Vivian Sobchack, or J. P. Telotte's recent work in the same area, Replications: A Robotic History of the Science Fiction Film (University of Illinois Press, 1995).

Neal Baker, Dickinson College.


The Medicalized Biopowered Body.

Linda Badley. Film, Horror and the Body Fantastic. Contributions to the Study of Popular Culture #48.Westport, CT: Greenwood Press (800-225-5800), 1995. vii+199. $55.00.

Given the academy's rather recent bestowing of approval on interdisciplinarity and cultural studies, it is scarcely surprising that several genres once considered frivolous or merely "popular" are now receiving critical sanction. Chronologically, one could map the emergence of, say, the horror film genre as a legitimate subject of academic study in the five years separating Carol Clover's 1987 article on slasher films and her 1992 book, Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. The former appeared in Representations, complete with a leadenly defensive staving-off of assumed objections to the genre as critically unworthy, and the latter, published by Princeton University Press, included the same article, nicely stripped of its earlier rhetorical defensiveness and confidently presumptuous of a reasoned critical hearing. Equally symptomatic of horror's now legitimate stature is the publication of at least five new books in the past four years: Clover's Men, Women, and Chainsaws, Walter Kendrick's The Thrill of Fear (1991), Barbara Creed's The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis (1993), David Skal's The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror (1993), and now Linda Badley's Film, Horror, and the Body Fantastic.

Like the other critics of horror--and, indeed, like those of the gothic generally--Badley invokes familiar psychoanalytic paradigms, except that she distinguishes her work as concerned, not with mere Freudian models, but with "post-Freudian" discourses on the body. As Badley points out, horror, which is one of the most "physiological of genres" (11), has "become a fantastic 'body language' for our culture" (3). And her explicit project is to articulate the late-twentieth-century retooling of horror films as a reflection of the shift in the cultural perceptions of the body in the '80s and '90s. Naturally, given such a focus, she argues sensibly for the merging of sf and horror--with such films as Blade Runner, the Aliens trilogy, Robocop, Terminator and Terminator 2--and emphasizes their combined representation of the Frankenstein monster as the fantastic "medicalized 'bio-powered' body" (70), as cyborg, zombie, and as, preeminently, a mystifying or overdetermined metaphor for late-twentieth-century cultural anxieties about the bodily violations of medical technology, aging, AIDS, venereal diseases, death, and the like. To make her point, Badley ranges freely over the manifestations of those anxieties from texts as popular as Michael Jackson's Thriller videos to those as academic as Sartre's No Exit. And, in many respects, she does an admirable job, particularly in her chapter on "Frankenstein's Progeny": the cyborgs, substantial ghosts, and patch-work monsters whose representation of the "postmodern soul" is that of the "fragmented bourgeois ego literalized as a 'body in pieces'" (79).

Much as Badley makes a good case for the confluence of contemporary horror films and contemporary theorists of the body, however, she frequently sabotages her own project on rhetorical grounds. Perhaps in some mid-'90s version of Clover's '87 anxiety about the legitimacy of her subject matter, Badley inundates us with references to critical "authorities," be they post-structural heavyweights like Jacques Lacan, Tzvetan Todorov, or Julia Kristeva, or be they any newspaper or magazine critic or reviewer who has ever written about the horror films Badley examines. In the midst of an argument for contemporary horror's rejection of cinematically tired representations of the Oedipus complex, for example, Badley turns to David Cronenberg's Scanners, which literalized the concept of "mind blowing" and mind control in physiological terms (Brophy 8-9). Scanners also announced that the new Armageddon was an "intimate apocalypse," as Charles Derry puts it: "it is not the earth that explodes, but one's head" (173). Cronenberg's biological vision of things Derry finds "at the very center of the contemporary horror film" (174). His iconography reflects the impact, among other things, of postmodern discourse theory.... By the 1980s, as Vallie Export has noted, the body had become the symbol of the "real." (26) While one wouldn't want to read symptoms of oedipality into Badley's relationship to authority--which, in the preceding case, necessitates the invocation of four different critical references in a meagre five sentences--her constant, earnest effort to "name" the critics nevertheless obscures her own observations to the point that one wonders whether she is producing an argument or a compendium of sources. And her emphasis on the contemporary evolution of the horror film, which seems to compel Badley to critical completism, equally prompts her to measure historical distinctness through an overuse of the prefix "post"--from "postmodern philosophy," to "postfuturist film texts," the "post-Freudian era," the "post-Freudian body fantastic," and "postliterate culture," to name only a few--and to lapse into an irritating tendency to refer to the '90s in the past tense, as if, somehow, we had all achieved a sort of pisgah vision of the decade's culture and ideology by virtue of our knowledge of, say, 1993.

But then again, part of Badley's argument about the horror film's transformations since the '80s has a great deal to do with live burial. According to her, not only has horror rejected sexual repression as no longer horrifying, but it has adopted instead the cultural repression of death as constitutive of its primary horrifying subject. That Badley focuses on the horror's apparent obsession with the death of the body at the end of the twentieth century is not in itself problematic, and her case for such films as Cronenberg's The Fly, the Nightmare on Elm Street films, and Tim Burton's Beetlejuice is fairly strong. What is problematic, however, is both her critical insistence on dubbing death and dying "Thanatos" a term which she incorrectly attributes to Freud in Beyond the Pleasure Principle and elsewhere, and which she uses, equally incorrectly, as interchangeable with "death"and her odd assertion that contemporary horror and its "post-Freudian body fantastic" reside in the "post-Freudian era." If horror films are intent on representing the uncanny repression of death (or, as Badley would have it, "Thanatos"), in earlier works, how is such an intention symptomatically "post- Freudian"? Or, from a critical perspective, how does Badley's reading of horror films as displaying, among other things, the repression of Thanatos, the pre-oedipal state, pre-oedipal and phallic mothers, the oral phase, infantile polymorphous sexuality, and female masochism, jibe with their supposed "post- Freudian" sensibility?

Indeed, one of the more troublesome aspects of Badley's book is her critical positioning, or its apparent instability. While she establishes an interesting relationship between the represented body in contemporary horror films and contemporary theoretical discourses on the body in her introduction, and while she continues her awareness of that relationship into her chapter on Frankenstein's progeny, she seems to lose track of it as the text progresses. The last few chapters on David Lynch's Blue Velvet, Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves, Cronenberg's Dead Ringers and Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs are basically refutations of Laura Mulvey's "male gaze" of 1975a construct which has been refuted so often over the last twenty years that it plainly deserves a decent burial, which Mulvey herself has long since recanted, and which Badley implicitly rejects for its "base[] in Freudian psychoanalysis" (143). Given that Badley herself seems dependent on the paradigms of Freudian psychoanalysis, given that she is wholly reliant on the construct of the gaze as a locus of spectatorial power, given that she ends up arguing for such ideas as Demme's offering of an "aesthetic of female spectatorship" (148), her use of early Mulvey as the proverbial straw-woman smacks a bit of bad faith and a bit of critical impoverishment, despite the number of theorists who get mentioned repeatedly.

When Badley concludes Film, Horror, and the Body Fantastic with her comment that horror "has figured in the current project to reclaim Thanatos, the other, the feminine" (158), this apparent change of emphasisin which the reclamation of Thanatos and the Other are articulated as the primary emphasis and horror simply the figural medium or textual vehicle for reclamation serves to signal what goes awry in the book itself. Ultimately, Badley has a good starting premise about horror films' articulation of body-based cultural anxieties, and as long as she sticks to the body as the construct under examination, she offers interesting readings. But her increasing emphasis on the somewhat shopworn "male gaze" critique belies the potential newness of her approach, and her ongoing emphasis on other critical authorities suggests that the book might be largely useful as a reference tool.

--Nicola Nixon Concordia University.


Essays from an Academic Utopia.

Robert A. Latham & Robert A. Collins, eds. Modes of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Twelfth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press (800-225-5800), 1995. xxi+234. $69.50.

The annual International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, held in a paradis artificiel nominally in South Florida, comes as close to utopia as academic humanity is ever likely to be able to stomach. Perhaps the chief of its manifold beauties is its eclecticism. Traditional hierarchies laid aside, creative writers, professors, artists, graduate students, and, most fabulous of contemporary beasts, professionally- unaffiliated readers, mingle in a state of undifferentiated beatitude, floating freely from sessions devoted to the Moreaus (Doc and Gus), to ones on the Kings (Art and Steve).

Many critics of the previous eleven ICFA conference volumes have worried about this eclecticism. They have doubted, for example, whether anyone would be interested in a similar compilation from the MLA Conference. But this is to miss the point. At MLA, all the professional hierarchies based on rank and canon (or anti-canon) are firmly in place. At ICFA, people attend because they are interested in the subject of fantastic literature, not because they want to further their careers. Academic job advertisements for specialists in the fantastic appear only on St. Tib's Eve when the Yellow River is running clear. The presenters at ICFA, therefore, have no excuse not to be interesting. What the conference volumes should do is to preserve the heady eclecticism of the conference by offering the best of the refereed submissions (editors are usually spoiled for choice), and placing the readers in some minimal conceptual frame in which they might look their best.

The editors of this volume have chosen twenty-five papers from the about three hundred delivered at the twelfth ICFA in 1991. There are six subsections: Politics, Technique, Race and Gender, Nature, Religion, and (the inevitable catch-all) Revisions, though these subsections are quietly forgotten after the Contents pages. Subjects are very varied--too varied in our age of specialists to offer in many cases more than an impression of general competence or better to this reviewer. But such a reminder of the cramped horizons of our expertise is another of the beauties of ICFA and its works. Moreover, the conference volumes have always been priced with academic libraries, not private individuals, in mind. Someone seeking further information on Ancient Near Eastern Imagery of the Sacred Tree may well be drawn by the adjacent article on French Natures Mortes painting of the Seventeenth Century--and thence by contiguity to Totemic Animals in Shakespeare and beyond.

Of the national literatures, the American fantastic is the most copiously represented: Thomas Pynchon, William Gibson, Nathanael West, Pauline Hopkins, Joanna Russ, Ursula Le Guin, and Gene Wolfe. Jacques Cazotte, George Sand, Boris Vian and Louis Aragon represent the French fantastic; E.T.A. Hoffmann and Novalis, the German; Shakespeare and Charles Williams, the British. Strange bedfellows are subjected to scrutiny: Mark Twain and Frankenstein, Kathy Acker and William Burroughs, Manuel Puig and Margaret Atwood, and (strangest of all) T.S. Eliot and Abram Tertz. There is a piece on Scottish Feminist fantasy; there are comparisons between H.G. Wells's and George Pal's versions of The Time Machine and between Roger Carman's and Frank Oz's Little House of Horrors; and there is a notelet from Brian Aldiss on the distinctions between British and American fantasy. The editors have more than competently dealt with the vast range of reference in several languages that is perhaps the greatest editorial challenge of these volumes.

The best, and longest, piece in the volume is also the first selection: "The Politics (If Any) of Fantasy" by Brian Attebery, who delivered this piece as his Guest Scholar address at the Conference. It is an elegant and timely reminder of the way that good fantasy is at once political yet resistant to orthodoxy, be it of the left or right. Atterbery notes that what we in our material Western world of "dead commodities" call the impossible might be more positively viewed as another reality that fantasy invites us to visit. When we are there, the Other become Self, we find that the tidy and poisonous dualities that structure our thinking start to break up, and as Attebery puts it, if we're lucky, the untruth shall make us free.

--Nicholas Ruddick University of Regina.


Wells in The World's Classics.

H.G. Wells. The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau. Edited with an introduction by Patrick Parrinder. The World's Classics. Oxford UP, 1966. xliv+229. $7.95 paper.

H.G. Wells. The Invisible Man. Ed. David Lake. With an Introduction by John Sutherland. The World's Classics. Oxford UP, 1996. xxxix+160. $6.95 paper.

All five of Wells's most admired sf novels are now available in this series of paperback editions which stresses textual accuracy as well as learned commentary, the other two being David Lake's The First Men in the Moon and the Hughes-Aldiss War of the Worlds (both 1995). Patrick Parrinder is general editor for works in the series by Wells; if I understand correctly his remarks in recent issues of TLS, it is unlikely that further books by Wells will appear in this series or in inexpensive volumes with fully-edited texts, for the Wells Estate (whose copyrights are in force in Europe for another 20 years) has sold reprint rights to publishers less concerned than OUP with textual matters, and it is felt unlikely that the US market alone would be sufficient for editions of this kind of Wells's less popular works.

Both TM and IDM have been much written about, but it would be unwise for any one studying and/or teaching Wells to ignore Parrinder's introduction and explanatory notes, for he can always find something fresh and stimulating to say on Wells. On the other hand, since IM has perhaps been the least studied of Wells's major novels, I think it can be said that John Sutherland's introduction is the best critique of the book that has yet appeared.

--RDM.


An Important Reference Work.

Hans-Edwin Friedrich. Science Fiction in der deutschisprachigen Literatur. Ein Referat zur Forschung bis 1993. Ein Referat zur Forschung bis 1993. Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur, 7.Sonderheft. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1995. 493pp.

This evaluation of the scholarship up to 1993 on the genre of popular literature called science fiction, as written in the German language, is an astonishingly wide-ranging, detailed, and critically astute survey that contains a number of surprises even for those well-read in the field. The author considers sf and sf research from the perspective of Germanistic studies, and his work is primarily an overview of research on sf published in the German language; other works are considered only insofar as the had an influence on the Germanistic discussion of sf; on the other hand, the author aimed at also including scholarship that discusses German texts. In particular Friedrich stresses the contribution of American sf scholarship to the discussion of German sf In fact, the first major study of German sf was written by an American. It is Edwin Martin John Kretzman's Ph.D. thesis at Brown University, "The Pre-War German Utopian Novel (1890-1914)," which has been completely ignored by subsequent research. Only the chapter published as "German Technological Utopias of the Pre-War Period" in Annals of Science 3 (1938: 417-30) was known, but nobody realized that this was only an excerpt from a longer work. Neither William B. Fischer in his excellent The Empire Strikes Out: Kurd Lasswitz, Hans Dominik and the Development of German Science Fiction (1984), nor Peter S. Fisher in Fantasy and Politics: Visions of the Future in the Weimar Republic (1991), nor the comprehensive survey of German sf, Manfred Nagl's Science Fiction in Deutschland (1972) refers to it. From Friedrich's summary it would appear that Kretzman's thesis not only is comprehensive, discussing some 200 "Utopian" novels but also achieves a theoretical level that is superior to that of J.O. Bailey's later Pilgrims through Time and Space (1947), the pioneering study of American sf. In Germany, a parallel to Kretzman's work is found only in Roland Innerhofer's Dr. habil. thesis, Deutsche Science Fiction 1870-1914: Rekonstruktion und Analyse einer Gattung, forthcoming in April 1996 from Boehlau Verlag in Vienna (at 580 Austrian shillings), in which he considers especially the themes and motifs of flight, interplanetary travel, world catastrophes, and communication, as well as the methods of Jules and his influence in the German-language countries.

The best survey of the sf of the Weimar republic was also written by an American, Peter S. Fisher (Fantasy and Politics, 1991), while what Friedrich considers to be the proper beginning of Scheerbart research is a thesis at Rice University, Karl-Heinz Boewe's Paul Scheerbart: Romanthemen und Erzdhitechnik (1969). At one point Friedrich deplores that after Manfred Nagl's extensive analysis of German sf, which he considers to be methodically highly advanced and based on a rich sample of materials, but annoyingly flawed because of its spiteful-moralistic standpoint and its uncritical affirmation of ideological Marxist criticism, the topic of German sf has been left wholly to "enthusiastic fans and American germanists" (178).

And that is Friedrich's criticism of German sf scholarship in general: that it is too ideological, that there is insufficient differentiation between narrative and expository texts, that the problems of narration are neglected, that the Utopian roots of sf are taken for granted. He criticizes Nagl, the most important German Marxist sf researcher, as having little sympathy for literature, as approaching the fictional nature of literature biasedly and superficially, that he is prone to generalizations that leave no room for balanced, differentiating evaluations. He charges Nagl with a Manichean world view, a love for theories of conspiracy, and an animism critical of ideology. Nagl has abolished the subject of research, as it were. Another problem with German sf research, aside from its sometimes heavy ideological bias which was especially virulent in the sixties and seventies, and perhaps most so in German fan circles, is the tendency to see science fiction as heir the old utopias and to construe a line of venerable forenunners of sf. An older German term for sf which is still in some use today, is "utopisch-technische Zukunftsromane," i.e. "utopian-technological future novels," which suggests a close relationship to the building of a better, more ideal world, although this most often is not the case.

The author traces the various lines of thought in sf criticism in great detail, gives insightful analyses of the broad trends as well as particular studies, offers sensible criticism and suggestions as to what is missing and on possible lines of enquiry in the future. He even shows considerable sympathy for the efforts of fans, which he considers methodically and theoretically not of much consequence but which provide a valuable source for biographical and bibliographical materials not available elsewhere, since sf has been widely ignored by literary scholarship.

Friedrich starts his book with an introduction discussing the characteristics, methods and contexual peculiarities of sf as well as sf definitions.

The main texts consists of ten broad sections, each followed by corresponding bibliographies.

Section 2 discusses bibliographies, encyclopedias and reference works, section 3 the reception of sf in the press and in other media, including fanzine criticism, as well as poetological essays. Section 4 is devoted to works that distinguish between the sf of the West and Soviet "naucnaja fantastika," including special studies on problems of definition, language in sf, theological aspects, psychoanalytical interpretations, the relationship of sf and science, motifs and themes in sf. Section 5 deals with "Science Fiction, Utopias, and Utopias of Progress" (including a sub-section on feminist utopias). Section 6 considers "Zukunftsromane," "utopische Romane," and science fiction in German literature as seen in global reviews, Section 7 with "scientific fairy tales" (Lasswitz's term for sf), "technological future novels" and "future war novels" the whole development of the genre in Germany up to 1945, with special subsections on Kurd Lasswitz, Hans Dominik, Paul Scheerbart, and Utopian films. Section 8 is devoted to the development after 1945, taking cognizance of the separate developments in the German Democratic Republic and the Western states: Austria, Switzerland, and the German Federal Republic. Juvenile sf forms a special branch which has generated a lot of writings discussing the didactic aims of this kind of literature.

Section 9 deals with sf as a segment of trivial literature: the special editions of commercial lending libraries (long since killed off by TV and the rise of the paperbacks), and the "Heftromane," the small, newsstand-distributed booklets of 64 or 96 pages whose most famous representative is Perry Rhodan. Fantasy (including horror fantasy) is discussed as a commercial subgenre of sf. In Section 11, finally, extra-literary aspects of sf are discussed, sf in other media, including fanzines, reader research, and the activities of the "Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Schriften," a German censorship office for the protection of young people, whose most famous victim was Norman Spinrad's with The Iron Dream, which was held to present a danger of converting German youths to Nazism.

As far as I can see, Friedrich has missed no works of any consequence. His compilation offers not only a wealth of information which the interested researcher could find until now only with enormous effort but also sympathetic and penetrating analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of the scholarship discussed. Of course, one can always point to some errors and mistakes, but such nitpickings to do not detract from the value of the whole. Some of the easily spottable errors are that he gives "scientification" as Hugo Gernsback's early coinage for science fiction, calls Foundation an American magazine, and misspells throughout the book the name of the German fan Kurt S. Denkena as "Dedenka."

--Franz Rottensteiner Vienna.


The Ghost in the Machine.

J.P. Telotte. Replications: A Robotic History of the Science Fiction Film. Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995. 222pp. $13.95 paper.

The central argument of this gracefully written and unpretentious volume is that "the image of human artifice, figured in the great array of robots, androids, and artificial beings found throughout the history of the science fiction film, is the single most important one in the genre." Such replications of human function and being and the dramas of identity they generate can be tracked through time, marking "the interactions between the human and the technological that lie at the very heart of science fiction" (5). Historically played out in sf cinema through the figures of robots, androids, cyborgs and other technological "doubles" of the self, this central "fantasy of roboticism" (9) articulates increasing human ambiguity about the ambiguity of being human in the face of our own ever-increasing capacity for artifice. Telotte attributes this ambiguity to both the desire and fear that surround our relations with technology and its creative/destructive power to mirror, interrogate, extend, transform, and dissolve our human being. The power of technological replication "exercises its seductive potential by...offering to make us more than we are to grant us a nearly divine sway over life and death" while also "fundamentally devaluing human nature" (17) insofar as it becomes indistinguishable from or inferior to human artifice. Broadly tracking the history of the genre, Telotte notes the paradox of, on the one hand, the structural reversibility between the human and its technologically-constructed double and, on the other, the functional asymmetry and historical oscillation whereby we project ourselves into and as the technological "other" until our replications become "more human than human." Thus, the human reasserts itself revalued in the technological. Indeed, Telotte sees the genre's teleology as "headed less toward showing the human as ever more artificial than toward rendering the artificial as ever more human, toward sketching the human, in all its complexity, as the only appropriate model, even for a technologically sourced life" (23).

These rather general statements point to both the strengths and weaknesses of Replications. Its strength is that it presents a solid and chronological trek through the genre's history that is clear and cogent in its readings of those paradigmatic texts selected to embody the volume's central thematic. Its weakness is that, despite citation of major cultural theorists such as Haraway, Foucault, and Baudrillard and insightful readings of specific films, the volume tells us little new about the genre because its attempts at historical and cultural specificity are relatively cursory and in the service of a universalizing and fuzzy humanism. Certainly, Telotte is aware of the limits of his study and explicit in telling us that it "stops short--as history, as explication of the genre, and as cultural commentary" (i 94). What, then, do we get instead? A modest "vantage" point on our "technological doubles" via readings of a selective group of films that are intelligently glossed in terms of their specific thematics, but unfortunately put into only the most general relation to the historical and cultural conditions of their production and reception.

Chapter 1, "Our Imagined Humanity," raises some general theoretical issues and discusses the "fantasy of roboticism" in relation to literary and dramatic texts such as Shelley's Frankenstein, Poe's "The Man That Was Used Up" and "Maelzel's Chess-Player," Capek's R.U.R., and, more significantly, in relation to science fiction writers Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov, and Jack Williamson, Stanislaw Lem, and William Gibson. The aim of this "overview of a robotic mythos" (51 ) is to contextualize the film analyses to follow and, in a limited way, it does so. However, it also sets the book's mode of generalization about technology, culture, and history, a mode that, through default, assumes the sameness of cultural difference as it asserts the genre's historical specificity.

Chapter 2, "The Seductive Text of Metropolis," quickly introduces the work of early film-makers and goes on to focus on Lang's Metropolis (1926) as paradigmatic of the ambivalence surrounding technology found in "early cinematic images of human artifice" (58). Telotte's insightful analysis articulates the homology between the film's seductive images and "special effects" and its narrative: "Metropolis seems self-conscious about how these images can make us desire the very technological developments whose dangers it so clearly details. It is almost as if Lang, in order to keep his 'special effects' from becoming too seductively 'special,' had decided to foreground seduction itself, especially through his central image of human artifice, to lay bare its work ings" (59). Unfortunately, however, the cultural specificity of Metropolis is almost completely elided (much as is Lem's work in Chapter 1). That the film is German, what it might have to do with the history of technology and its culture and, indeed, what it might have to do with ours (given the book's predominant, if unmentioned, emphasis on American cinema) are issues that become subordinated to a general point and trajectory that lose substance as they are put in the service of a rather general argument.

Chapter 3, "A 'Put Together' Thing: Human Artifice in the 1930s," considers films that foreground "violent efforts to redefine the human body as some sort of raw material, waiting to be reshaped, reformed by a scientific capacity for artifice" (86). Focusing on Frankenstein (1931), Island of Lost Souls (1933), and Mad Love (1935)--which problematize the generic boundaries between horror and sf--Telotte is able to productively analyze the "image of the body under dissection, rendered as a thing to be explored, mastered, and reshaped" (74). These "mad scientist" movies are not merely "modern versions of the Promethean myth," but "operate more in the Pygmalion mold, as they address what it means to fashion or refashion the human" (87) and dramatize the effect of the modern scientific spirit as the devaluation and subjection of the human. Reflecting a doubling of creator and created in which "the human [is] at odds with itself" (88), these generic hybrids dramatize both the desire for god-head and the overwhelming anxiety that we "might too readily assist in our own grotesque reconfiguration" (89).

Chapter 4, "A 'Charming' Interlude: Of Serials and Hollow Men," addresses sf serials of the 1930's and 1940's. At a time when Hollywood features gave us "little evidence of...technological fascination" (94), serials not only frequently featured robots and automata, but also were, themselves, machine-like constructions standardized in design and narratively predictable. The "imaginative worlds" of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers both "depend on and stand for the forces of dynamic power, control, and undifferentiation forces that explicitly in the course of their narratives, but implicitly in their every use, promise to turn the individual into a component part in some large machine, part and product in a serial process" (98). However, Telotte notes, the robots of the serials were relatively "empty" threats, "hollow" men who played out human rather than technological will--more like The Wizard of Oz's Tin Man than the darker and more complex technological doubles to follow.

Chapter 5, "Science Fiction's Double Focus: Alluring Worlds and Forbidden Planets," deals with the fantasy of roboticism in the "golden age" of the 1950s through a focus on Forbidden Planet (1956). Not only does the film feature "Robby the Robot" (a replicant prominently functioning as a replicator), but it also "fashions a world practically full of doubles...doubled characters, repeated actions, and most importantly a thematic concern with duplication or imitation" (114) that emerges from and ultimately destroys both its central figure Dr. Morbius and the entire planet. For Telotte, Forbidden Planet is paradigmatic of a growing cultural awareness not only of the seductions of simulation, but also "a lack in the double, a danger in the simulacrum that justifies the warning its title sounds" (114).

Chapter 6, "Lost Horizons: Westworld, Futureworld, and the World's Obscenity," addresses the increasing conflation and confusion of the human and its simulacrum in 1970's sf. Gone are the differences marked by mechanical robots and in their place--our place--are less easily detected androids. With recourse to Baudrillard's notion of obscenity as complete "displayability," Telotte glosses this shift as corresponding to the increasing collapse of "private life and public spectacle" in a "media-suffused environment" (132) which translates "'private scenes,' the space of desire, into public space" (136) such as Disneyland and, in sf, Delos. Thus, Westworld (1973) and Futureworld (1976) both model and critique "the culture of schizophrenia that much of modern life and especially our artifice seem to promote" (139).

Chapter 7, "Life at the Horizon: The Tremulous Public Body," suggests that sf film in the 1980's recasts this schizophrenic vision of artifice by figuring its "subversive character" in a master trope that projects into our technological double the desire for "freedom and expression, even as it is pressed to be the perfect, servile subject of society" (149). Focusing on Blade Runner (1982), Robocop (1987), Cherry 2000 (1988), and Total Recall (1990) as texts which "respond to the blurred boundaries, the lost horizons foregrounded by our artifice," Telotte argues that these films both "speak of their own constructed nature and of the sort of public images of the self that the movies typically project" (165) and also affirm "how much of the human inevitably remains...despite our long history of repressing, denying or 'de-realizing' the self" (164).

Chapter 8, "The Exposed Modern Body: The Terminator and Terminator 2," uses the chapter's eponymous films (1984, 1991) as "fitting caps" for the volume's "discussion of human artifice" (171). Both films reveal the constructedness of being, and also urge that we not judge human beings by their "covers." The "new gloss on the nature of the self in a postmodern and inevitably technologized environment" is that the body as it appears is "infinitely variable, deceptive, and regenerative" (177). Telotte, by way of Robert Romanyshyn, concludes that these and other recent films about human artifice provide both symptoms of and occasions for critical distance. They not only show us how we reduce being "to the status of things," but also allow us, "by reexamining that distant and superficial view of things...by peeling back the artificial surface and looking into our depths," to "recognize how much we have 'lost touch with things'...and begin to reclaim the self" (183).

Replications is an accessible volume that might make a very good introductory text for undergraduates who haven't much experience with interpreting either films or science fiction. Because of its brevity and over- arching generality, however, it may be less than satisfying for those who are looking for a closely tracked archaeology or complexly developed genealogy of "the robotic mythos" and its relationship to specific changes in American culture's romance with technology, to science fiction as a popular film genre, and to the very technologies of representation that enable the motif its visible appearance on screen.

-Vivian Sobchack, University of California at Los Angeles.


Posthuman, Postdefinitional.

Judith Halberstam and Ira Livingston, eds. Posthuman Bodies. Indiana University Press, 1995. x+275. $35.00 cloth, $17.95 paper.

ATP (adenosine 5'-triphosphate). Read any basic molecular biology text, and you'll find something like "ATP is a molecule that upon hydrolysis, releases energy to drive many of the chemical reactions in cells." ATP is also the acronym for A Thousand Plateaus, the influential work by Deleuze and Guattari that might in turn be said to provide the energy that drives many of the reactions in Posthuman Bodies. The posthuman is, of course, postdefinitional. Or better, continually open to redefinitions and binary-smashing oversignifications. After reading the thirteen texts that comprise the volume (including the Introduction), I'm inclined to view the posthuman as the phenome nological field refigured as a phenomenological cell. Many of the essays draw cellular rhetorical energy from A Thousand Plateaus (ATP), to talk of post humanity in terms of political strategies of recombination, random mutation, and viral attack. As enacted here, the posthuman is, most insistently, an assemblage of noun-verbal and verb-nounal phenomena with a queer, in-your-face feel. Resonance. Interference. Redistribution. Intensity. Flow. Emergence. Coition. Coalition. Reterritorialization. Deterritorialization. Depredation. Mutation. Infection. Contagion. Vibration. Disintegration. Hybridization. Ambiguation. Channeling. Swarming. And then a swarm of becomings. Becoming-subject. Becoming- multiple. Becoming-lesbian. Becoming-insect, Becoming- landcrab (yes!) to name but a few.

This ATP-energy, suffusing across a whole volume, does tend to make one uncomfortably aware of inhabiting a particular theoretical moment. Yet it is one of the great strengths of Posthuman Bodies that the editors, in their Introduction and choice of essays, build a complexly layered sense of conversation and convergences among theoretical-political-cultural discourses from post-colonialism to feminism to queer theory to the arts and artifacts of film, literature, medico-systems, cyborgs, aliens, and other becoming-entities. In this light, Halberstam and Livingston are careful to displace what they view as the utopian notion of inter-disciplinarity. "These narratives show how the body and its effects have been thoroughly re-imagined through an infra-disciplinary interrogation of human identity and its attendant ideologies" (4; italics mine). Infra-disciplinarity works, not by transcending, but by the stealth and perversion of a spy plane that crosses space at an odd-low angle with respect to detection systems, subverting them and rendering them visible at the same time. (Here, the author of this review engages in a suspect infra-mixing of biological and military metaphors that is toute la rage.)

Posthuman Bodies has four sections: "Multiples"; "Some Genders"; "Queering"; and "Terminal Bodies." an appropriate mutation of Scott Bukatman's Terminal Identities. Many of the essays deal with subjects pertinent to sf, especially sf considered in its culturally expanding state. Allucquere Rosanne Stone leads the volume with "Identity in Oshkosh," a continuation of her previously published discussions of "multiples." Having drawn together the avatars of virtual reality and her notion of a post-surgical, post-transsexuality, here Stone usefully draws a third multiple onto the field, so-called Multiple Personality Disorder, to suggest that being multiple is the posthuman condition. Steve Shaviro gets the agent provocateur award for his "Two Lessons from Burroughs" in which he proposes a "biological approach to postmodernism" (38). Shaviro champions violent viral replications and insect strategies such as swarming. He suggests that we find out about the other by becoming other, by posing "the question of radical otherness in biological terms, instead of epistemological ones.... resolving such a problem would involve the transfer, not of minds, but of DNA" (47). Memo to Calgene: Clear the lab of frogs and tomatoes. Susan Squier traces the lineage of three images: the ectogenic fetus, the surrogate mother, and the pregnant man, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to Octavia Butler, Elizabeth Jolley, and Angela Carter.

Some of the best essays appear in the final sections, "Queering" and "Terminal Bodies." Three of these engage with sf texts and films. Camilla Griggers' "Phantom and Reel Projections: Lesbians and the (Serial) Killing-Machine," does not address sf, but must be mentioned. Griggers writes of Aileen Wuornos, a homeless prostitute labeled by the press "the first lesbian serial killer." Ignore the stupefying overdose of ATP in the opening paragraphs. It wears off quickly. This is the essay in the volume that most effectively confronts the question: And what of the bodies of poor people? Griggers shows how the body of the "lesbian predator" is used to "channel and then screen a potential contagion of violence erupting from the breakdown of the sex-gender system in the so- called healthy' heterosexual social body" (168-69). In the final two and a half pages of the essay, Griggers delivers a tour de force articulation of the complex significations attaching to our "re-membering" of Aileen Wuornos.

In "Reading Like an Alien," Kelly Hurley discusses a number of sf films that fall under the rubric of body horror, "a hybrid genre that recombines the narrative and cinematic conventions of the science fiction, horror, and suspense film in order to stage a spectacle of the human body defamiliarized, rendered other" (203). Hurley questions the practice of reading body horror as catharsis or the return of the repressed. She argues convincingly that the subgenre presents an "alternate species logic" and an "ontological challenge." This is a challenge that operates via signification overload to rupture more conservative readings of the logics of sexual identity, difference, and the category of the human. As a bonus, Hurley inadvertently (?) provides the moment of high-theory comedy when she terms the armpit "a hugely undertheorized zone" (212). Finally, Eric White's "Once They Were Men, Now They're Land Crabs" is a fascinating discussion of "bodily nomadism" in three B sf films and Alain Resnais' My Uncle in America. These "evolutionist films," White argues, enact the human body as an evolutionary time bomb of latent non-human parts. Humans get in touch with their inner crab monsters, killer insects, land crabs, and rodents, revealing a "disturbing truth--namely, that human nature' is not except as a monstrous amalgam of the non-human" (245).

Posthuman Bodies contains some fine essays. And the cumulative effect is even better. I came away with a helpfully enhanced sense of the ways in which bodies and "the body" are conductors and constructors (the editors would say "nodes") of emerging political and cultural currents. But I have my complaints. Although the editors thankfully eschew the excesses of what I would call, without referring to biological males, "the boys with toys" set--those whose gleeful posthumanity manifests as the urge to merge with the sleek, orificeless objects d'tech on the Fetish page of Wired--they do make some awfully big claims. Claims about the death of history as a useful way of processing meaning; about the demise of western white male metaphysics and attendant metanarratives; and about the post-historicity of the posthuman, all capped by the post-Nietzschean proclamation that "the human is dead." Call me a tired old feminist, but I still want to ask: Whose history? For whom are these statements meaningful? Fortunately, one of the best essays in the volume takes up these questions directly, and its inclusion speaks to the editors' integrity: they are walking the walk.

Carol Mason, in "Terminating Bodies," worries the worrying question of cyborgism as a myth that might be appropriated by right wing militarists and the queerest posthumans alike. Mason proposes focusing "on the historical and discursive interplay among bodies rather than on the bodies themselves," on "cyborgism as a reading practice that reveals how subjectivities are made and remadehow they are reproduced" (226). She challenges the editors' posthistoricity and mounts "a defense of history as a safeguard against a cyborgism that swings both ways" (228). What follows are two related and highly useful exemplars of just the type of reading practice she advocates. Mason performs an analysis of the "discursive machinery" that shapes the relationship between Sarah Connor, the white mother-revolutionary of Terminator 2, and Miles Dyson, the black inventor of an automated defense system, Skynet, that threatens biological humans with genocide. She contends that the "real" cyborg in the film is not the body of the Terminator, but Connor-Dyson. "They work together as a reproductive machine lubricated by these historical residues... specifically a history of eugenics, lynchings, and population and reproductive control" (228). "It's the examination of contingent and perpetual process of historical and discursive re-production that can allow us to better locate, articulate, and specify the aims of this 'political unity' or 'posthuman' 'we'" (237).

Mason then moves to a similarly conducted discussion of the abortion debate, providing a corrective to some of the excesses of the Introduction, and indeed, the excesses of cyborg discourses at large.

--Ann Weinstone Stanford University.


The Story of Jules Verne--the Anglo-American One.

Brian Taves and Stephen Michaluk, The Jules Verne Encyclopedia. Lanham, MD, & London: Scarecrow Press (800-462-6420), 1996. xvii+257. $54.50.

This long-overdue book is a noteworthy publication for three reasons. First, it helps to provide an understanding of how the legendary French author Jules Verne, creator of the Voyages Extraordinaires and reputed "Father of Science Fiction," became a cultural icon throughout the English-speaking world. Second, it offers a new and revealing glimpse into how the 19th and 20th-century media industry (e.g., publishing houses, Hollywood producers, newspaper journalists, et al.) censored and adapted Verne's original works to fit their own ideological agendas. Third, this book will have immense practical value to all those interested in Verniana collectibles--from stamps, to old Verne paperbacks, to those pricey leather-bound first-edition translations of Verne's earliest novels.

But, to literary scholars, the most important feature of The Jules Verne Encyclopedia--its documentational "crown jewel"--is that it contains the first truly reliable and comprehensive guide to all the English-language editions of Verne's works published in Great Britain and the America from the 1860s to the present. This detailed bibliography is of unprecedented scope and accuracy. And it will undoubtedly become one of the standard reference texts on Jules Verne for all researchers, collectors, and librarians for many years to come.

Although this 100-page primary bibliography (with its accompanying "Title Cross Reference" index) stands as the innovative cornerstone of The Jules Verne Encyclopedia, there are a variety of other historical documents, essays, and interviews which chronicle the rise of Jules Verne's popularity in the English- speaking world. Included, for example, is the story of the first American Jules Verne Society, a collage-like "autobiography" pieced together from all known interviews with the author, a visit to Verne's hometown (circa 1949), the first American translation and publication of Verne's translated short story "The Humbug," an analysis of the differences between the original French versions of Verne's novels and their (often terribly bowdlerized) English translations, a discussion of various world-wide philatelic tributes to Verne, and a perceptive study of Hollywood's many cinematic adaptations of Verne's works.

Inevitably perhaps, The Jules Verne Encyclopedia does have its flaws. The most glaring is the following: the text is continually marred by an unseemly number of typographical and spelling errors, misprints, misplaced illustrations, misattributions, and garbled French titles all of which necessitated a lengthy 19-page "Corrections and Additions" sheet (available from Brian Taves, e-mail "btav@loc.gov"; phone 202-675-4525). These editorial mistakes are both annoying and inexcusable in a publication of this caliber. They should have been corrected by Scarecrow Press's copy-editor long before the book went to press. It is my understanding (as one who helped to proof the manuscript) that the authors requested these changes to the galleys, but that they were either ignored or the corrections were somehow overlooked in the publisher's rush to get this book onto the market.

Further, it must be acknowledged that the overall focus of The Jules Verne Encyclopedia is not literary. With the possible exception of Taves's fine essay at the beginning, it seeks neither to analyze Verne as a writer nor to understand Verne's Voyages Extraordinaires in the context of world literature or the genre of science fiction. Not surprisingly, therefore, one finds very little bibliographic information about the large amount of literary criticism devoted to Verne published over the past few decades (even those monographs and articles available in English). One reason, of course, is that the main consumer market targeted by this publication is the general public and collectors of Verniana. While it is true that the latter--probably more concerned with the completeness of their individual collections or the value of their Verne books as objets d'art--might not have found such a chapter of great interest, an annotated secondary bibliography of this sort, even a brief one, would nevertheless have added greatly to the value of this text as a research tool for all students and scholars of literature.

Despite these minor quibbles, however, I found The Jules Verne Encyclopedia to be both highly informative and authoritative. I strongly recommend it as essential reading for all aficionados of Jules Verne.

--ABE


The Question of Genetic Engineering.

Naomi Mitchison. Solution Three. Afterword by Susan M. Squier. NY: Feminist Press of the City University of New York, 1995. 183pp. $10.95 paper.

Over the last two decades there has been a surge of feminist writings that attempt to envision how to solve the problems of race, war, sexual division, and aggression. Naomi Mitchison, a schoolmate of Aldous Huxley, has all her long life been a social reformer, birth-control advocate, and Scottish nationalist (she ran as Labour candidate for Parliament in 1935). Now in her nineties, she has written nine books of fiction and five of nonfiction. In her work she poses and offers solutions to problems in far-reaching ways, dealing with clones (descendants of an individual produced through asexual reproduction) and meiosis (cell division in the germ-cell line during the formation of eggs and sperm). As is pointed out in the afterword by Susan M. Squier, Mitchison is best known for Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962) and for Not By Bread Alone (1983), a depiction of Western genetic engineering. With Solution Three, a 1975 futuristic novel, now reprinted by Feminist Press, Mitchison topped off a career of science-fiction writing that had begun in her high-school days with anticipations of discoveries in science and of feminist proposals and debates that followed on discoveries in the scientific community.

Solution Three is timely now, as those with a sexuality different from dominant policies and norms face severe consequences in our own society. I've taught undergraduate classes utilizing science fiction, even the old nineteenth-century utopias like Mizora: A Prophecy. The topic of genetic engineering for ideal aims always comes up, usually introduced by conservative students who find nothing objectionable in parents being allowed to terminate a pregnancy if the examination of the embryo indicated that the child would have a sexual preference not to their liking, just as they might if it were Down's syndrome that was detected. Teaching this book would be a good way to address directly the vast social issues raised by genetic empiring. Also, teaching the book together with the biography of Mitchison by Jill Benton (Naomi Mitchison: A Biography, London, Pandora, 1990; rpt. 1992) would be an excellent way to show how those with far-ranging thoughts are often pushed to the frontiers of imagination by the realities of active involvement in a not-so-ideal, but very real, life.

--Batya Weinbaum Angel Fish Press.


Writing at the Border.

Mark Valentine.. Arthur Machen. The Border Lines Series. Seren Books / Dufour Editions (610-458-5005), 1996. 147pp. $32.00 cloth, $16.95 paper.

Judging from family photographs my wife and I saw in our research for the collection of his letters (Kent State Press, 1994), Arthur Machen was a strikingly handsome young Welshman at the turn of the century, with a brief and sonorous career on the stage and thus, perhaps, a precursor of a Richard Burton or an Anthony Hopkins, who lived long enough, till 1947, to become a London curmudgeon of a literary man on the model of Samuel Johnson. Further, in an inscription we found written in a set of his books, Machen makes the following Johnsonian pronouncement so characteristic of his later conservative idiosyncracies, "... in the last resort, all science is a lie" (70). But the reason that Machen should be of interest to SFS readers is exactly because of this aggressive and belligerent questioning of science in our time and, indeed, of all things "modern." Machen had the brash nerve continually to raise large and philosophic, even theologic, questions in the mixed- genre books he produced and like Johnson, he coupled this audacity with a profound fear of the imagination. Thus his "sorcery" stories such as the famous "Great God Pan" (1894), which helped to establish the bride-of-Satan and vampire genre, were continually balanced by his "sanctity" writings about the ritualisitic value in literature itself. Like Johnson again, Machen loved to travel in spirit, had a fine appreciation of "colonials," and was fascinated by America and Americans. He had the taste of a clubman for convention-like salons such as we find in SF fandom; and he evolved a long publishing history of complicated texts that may be studied as an example of the interface in our century between the pulps, or hack work, and literature. Because he valued friendship, he also left many literary letters. So we think Machen's life and work represent a number of exciting fields of study to help us understand the development of popular culture in our scientific age and its links to the literature of the past.

Mark Valentine's new overview of Machen's long career in writing is part of a Welsh series with the lucky label Border Lines. This label refers to writers from the border area between Wales and England (think of Gray's poem "The Bard"), and Machen certainly qualifies since he was born in Gwent and often writes about Celtic mysteries. But even more it is the borderline position of Machen in modern writing, which I sketch above and which has resonance with all SF and fantasy, that comes to mind and that challenges Valentine. But I do not think that what we need now is another general overview of Machen. In terms of overall literary criticism, Valentine is not nearly as good as Wesley Sweetser in the 1964 Twayne book; and in terms of the important discussion of Machen's relation to the horror genre, S.T. Joshi in his 1990 book on the weird tale is more penetrating than Valentine. What we need now is text preservation and biographical scholarship. This short book by Valentine has no index, and the documentation is very selective at best. It is almost as though Valentine will cite a source only if he has it at hand, and there are many quotations here that are not documented at all. I recall hearing in graduate school how Hazlitt would quote from memory often when he did not have books with him, but I expect that Valentine is no Hazlitt. In any case, many of the interesting and useful links between the life and the work in the case of Machen are still to be uncovered. I hope that Valentine or someone else will keep at it.

--Donald M. Hassler Kent State University.


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