Science Fiction Studies

#86 = Volume 29, Part 1 = March 2002


A Rare and Curious Imaginary War.

Gillian Bickley. Hong Kong Invaded! A ’97 Nightmare. Eds. Comendador Arthur E. Gomes and I.F. Clarke. Hong Kong UP, 2001. xx + 303 pp. Hong Kong $190 (approximately US$24.50) pbk.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the pressure of colliding imperialisms and fears of aggression favored the development of a minor semi-fictional subform usually called the imaginary war. Generally, it limited itself to military operations, seriously or not, but occasionally it included elements of science fiction. "The Back Door," one of the rarest and most curious of these imaginary wars, has been been reprinted with suitable introductory material and exhaustive annotations by Gillian Bickley, "a long-time Hong Kong resident."

"The Back Door" (referring to an unguarded entrance) was first published serially in the Hong Kong China Mail from 30 September through 8 October 1897. It was then reprinted as a small booklet by the newspaper later in 1897. This chapbook, which is extremely rare, is not recorded by either the British Library or the Library of Congress Union Catalogue. The author is unknown, although the probabilities are that he was a staff member of The China Mail.

The text, which is presented as a chronicle, follows the model of George Chesney’s The Battle of Dorking (1871). It is introduced by a statement dated 1917, looking back and deploring the events of 1897. The body of the text then follows a pattern common to the subgenre: invading forces attack unexpectedly, sweep everything before them despite heroic resistance, and subdue the territory, which is permanently lost. In this case, the invaders are France and Russia in alliance. (The historical background to this now seemingly unlikely combination was British uneasiness about the French conquest of Indo-China and Russian manipulations around Manchuria.) The causes for the invaders’ success are short-sightedness and false economy on the part of London, which made no provision for the defense of the colony. This rationale, of course, was a standard for most serious imaginary-war stories, which called for heavy rearmament.

"The Back Door" is a competently written propaganda document, not just an entertainment like so many of the other imaginary-war stories. To make his point the author took the unusual approach of rendering his work as factual as possible. His pages are filled with the names of scores of colonists and soldiers, barely concealed in à clef versions; the topography is described in minute, geographically accurate detail; the tactics are sound; even the ships in the harbor are identified. Contemporaries would have recognized themselves.

In this verisimiltude, "The Back Door" is almost unique. The only other imaginary-war stories that approach it are William Le Queux’s The Invasion of 1910, With a Full Account of the Siege of London (1906) and Cleveland Moffett’s The Conquest of America, A Romance of Disaster and Victory (1916). These two works, however, are not serious cautionary tales. LeQueux’s was written to enlarge newspaper sales as the Germans marched through (it often seems) every village in England, and Moffett’s is almost a Who’s Who of the time, bringing in as characters Tesla, Edison, Mayor Curley of Boston, Theodore Roosevelt, and dozens of others, including even the illustrating artist.

In Hong Kong Invaded! Bickley has reversed the original author’s procedure. Consulting records in China and Great Britain, Bickley has tried to identify every person, place, and vessel mentioned in disguised form, incorporating contemporary photographs of the island’s soldiery, survey maps, order-of-battle diagrams, and an unbelievable amount of ephemeral contemporary documentation. This commentary, which takes up about five sixths of the book, is a remarkable achievement in research.

But what does this mean to science fiction studies (accepting that futurology in itself qualifies as science fiction)? Here is the problem. One must respect the devotion and enormous labor that Bickley has put into the totalistic editing, but the original document is so limited that it cannot escape judgment as a minor work of the period, a curiosity. A collector of imaginary wars might find it interesting; a specialist in British colonial studies would find it valuable as a projection of the colony mentality at the time; present-day Anglos in Hong Kong might glance at it; descendants of the original personalities might cherish it as a tribute to their ancestors—but I cannot imagine anyone else who would care greatly.

Everett F. Bleiler, Interlaken


Subversion in the Time of the Cleavers.

M. Keith Booker. Monsters, Mushroom Clouds, and the Cold War: American Science Fiction and the Roots of Postmodernism, 1946-1964. Greenwood, 2001. 196 pp. $59.95 hc.

Few historical periods appear so homogeneous, in much cultural memory, as the American 1950s. It was—was it not?—a perfected suburban utopia, a time and place in which everyone lived in a big comfortable house in a safe neighborhood; in which women happily stayed at home and expertly minded the house and children; in which men came home from well-paying jobs as doctors or engineers or business executives, and kept their ties and white shirts on even while just lounging on the sofa; in which sex did not exist; and in which everyone was white. This is, of course, the image of the period that we know chiefly from the period’s own television sitcoms: Leave It to Beaver, The Donna Reed Show, My Three Sons, Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and others. But it is amazing how tenacious this image has remained, not only for those who see it as a bright shining loveliness too soon and cruelly shattered by the destructive forces of the 1960s, but also, and equally, for those who see it as a conformist, claustrophobic nightmare from which the 1960s provided some desperately needed relief.

In reality, of course, the 1950s in America were a good deal more complex than that. Far from being placid and stable, the postwar period witnessed more rapid economic and technological change than perhaps any other time in American history. Nor, as various scholars have recently been making clear, was the culture of the 1950s simply and solely the sort of thing represented by Ward Cleaver (or by his highbrow equivalents, such as Saul Bellow and the early Robert Lowell). For example, in his interesting book America Noir (Smithsonian, 2000), David Cochran describes an "underground" tradition in American fiction and film—typified by figures like Jim Thompson and Samuel Fuller—that during the postwar period maintained values subversive of the Cold War consensus. Now, in a more narrowly focused but often more theoretically rigorous study, M. Keith Booker maintains that the sf novels and movies of the 1950s (the "long" 1950s, as he sensibly designates the postwar cultural period from 1946 to 1964) contain a good deal of anti-conformist and even anti-capitalist criticism, and that, indeed, they often prefigure much of the postmodernism more generally associated with the following decades.

The standpoint of Monsters, Mushroom Clouds, and the Cold War: American Science Fiction and the Roots of Postmodernism, 1946-1964 seems not just anti-capitalist but broadly Marxist; and Booker cites the explicitly Marxist science-fiction criticism of Darko Suvin, Fredric Jameson, and myself as having helped to shape his own theoretical approach to the genre. Where Booker most strikingly differs from other Marxist sf critics is in the seriousness and detail with which he considers American science fiction of the 1950s. Instead of hurrying through this material in order to get to the sf of the more radical 1960s and 1970s, Booker calls for "a more sophisticated—and more political—reading of the science fiction of the 1950s than has generally been attempted" (3). He notes that the American 1950s produced an indigenous tradition of trenchant social critique—typified by such figures as C. Wright Mills, David Riesman, and Dwight MacDonald—and he maintains that the sf of the period often parallels much that was strongest in this work. He admits, indeed, that the sf also tended to share the ultimate limitations of Riesman and MacDonald: "not only were the Marxist terms of this critique displaced into an alien, non-Marxist context, but they lacked the crucial element that lends Marxist critique its unique strength—the ability to envision a specific, well-articulated utopian alternative (namely, socialism) to the capitalist system" (16). Nonetheless, Booker finds considerable subversive value in 1950s sf, particularly in the genre’s critique of social alienation and routinization, and in its attempt to recover some of the capacity for utopian imagining that was being so drastically diminished in most other sectors of American society. The same dialectical intelligence informs his treatment of postmodernism. Though the latter is significantly determined by this very weakening of the utopian sense, he suggests that other aspects of the postmodernism anticipated in 1950s sf—such as the deconstruction of the binary oppositions traditional to Western metaphysics, and the related blurring of the lines between high and popular culture—are rich with counter-hegemonic possibilities. Booker by no means confuses the science fiction of the 1950s with a genuinely revolutionary art; but he does argue, in effect, that this sf has more to contribute to the idea of revolution than most revolutionaries have noticed.

The design of Monsters, Mushroom Clouds, and the Cold War, which I have briefly summarized above, seems to me first-rate; the execution, I think, is somewhat more mixed. Booker is at his best in his treatment of literary sf. Though he provides interesting extended discussions of such relatively conformist work as the novels of the liberal Isaac Asimov and the conservative Robert Heinlein (whose attempts to fuse militarism with right-wing libertarianism make for an especially severe and, as Booker shows, socially typical set of contradictions), Booker attains greatest success in substantiating the overall thesis of his volume when he analyzes writers of more distinctly radical cast. Alfred Bester, for instance, appropriately looms large for him, and he provides good discussions of Bester’s two landmark novels of the 1950s, The Demolished Man (1953) and The Stars My Destination (1957). He points out that the former is a science-fictional recasting of the hard-boiled detective novel, and that it maintains the anti-capitalist edge characteristic of that genre (founded, we might add, by the Marxist Dashiell Hammett); Bester’s critique of American "free enterprise" is expressed not only in the criminality of the immensely wealthy capitalist Ben Reich but also in the fact that society has found no way to deal with crime save through the "demolition" of individuality. Bester’s second novel provides an equally astringent critique of prevailing socio-economic norms, and Booker effectively stresses the awesomely democratic implications of the final pages of The Stars My Destination, where Gulliver Foyle decides that the terrifying superweapon PyrE should be distributed to ordinary people around the world rather than be made a monopoly of the power elite.

Equally effective are Booker’s analyses of those two remarkable anti-capitalist novels of 1952, Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants and Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano. The former is especially distinguished by its acerbic satire of the anti-Communism that was so powerfully deforming American intellectual life at the time of writing (a theme expressed mainly by the treatment of the Consies). As Booker shows, the novel also features memorable "depictions of the negative consequences of the growing power of consumer capitalism and the increasing dominance of media and advertising in enforcing uniformity in the thoughts and desires of people around the world" (40)—motifs that were then beginning to find voice in contemporary social criticism in the US but that are even more pertinent half a century later. Turning to Vonnegut’s text, with its subtly and complexly significant title image of routinization, Booker succeeds in drawing interesting connections between Vonnegut’s imaginings and some of the high points of Marxist cultural theory. He points out that the situation of literature and painting in the world of Player Piano amounts to "Benjamin’s age of mechanical reproduction with a vengeance" (43), and that the text’s pessimism about American mass culture recalls the Frankfurt School diagnosis of the totalitarian Culture Industry; he also shows that Vonnegut, like Adorno, tends, however, to locate what hope for resistance may remain in the creation of art itself. However impressive the subversive imaginations of Bester, Pohl, and Vonnegut, the novelist who most thoroughly substantiates the argument of Booker’s volume is, I think, Philip K. Dick—most of whose very best work was done just after the period on which Booker focuses but who was certainly a figure of the long 1950s as well. Booker, appropriately, discusses Dick at greater length than probably any other writer. I especially recommend his analysis of Time Out of Joint (1959), which has always seemed to me one of the underrated masterworks of modern sf; and Booker (somewhat following Jameson on this point) fully appreciates the extent to which the Dick of this text is himself a major theorist of 1950s American culture.

There is much else of value in Booker’s survey of literary sf in this period. I was particularly pleased by his attention to the too little-known Ben Barzman (a victim of the Hollywood blacklist), though also, I admit, mildly surprised by the lack of any mention at all of Theodore Sturgeon—who is not only perhaps the finest short-story writer in the entirety of science fiction (and a considerable novelist too) but an author whose work provides much to support any argument for the counter-hegemonic value of sf in the 1950s. But, of course, no book worth reading can do everything that might properly lie within its theoretical purview; and this book successfully demonstrates that the radical American sf novels of the 1950s amount to a distinct, substantial body of work—and not just (as we may have been tempted lazily to assume) a collection of a few isolated texts somehow stranded in the 1950s but "really" belonging to the following decade.

When Booker turns to film—which he treats at significantly greater length than prose fiction—the rewards of his approach become less abundant. The problem is not that he proves himself a less skillful critic of cinematic than of literary sf; it rather lies in the nature of the material itself. The inescapable truth is that the great majority of sf film during the 1950s is really quite banal, aesthetically and politically, especially as contrasted with such brilliant literary sf as the novels of Bester or the early Dick. True enough, there are at least partial exceptions, which continue to bear multiple viewings to this day: for instance, The Thing from Another World (1951), which benefits from its basis in John W. Campbell’s superb story, "Who Goes There?" (1938), and also from the directorial efforts of its producer, Howard Hawks; Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), perhaps the most securely established classic in 1950s sf cinema, partly because of the excellent remakes in 1978 and 1993 by Phil Kaufman and Abel Ferrara, respectively; and above all The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), for me the best film of unambiguously science-fictional character made by any American director prior to 2001 (1968). Booker provides detailed, illuminating discussions of these movies, and he also convinces one that there are perhaps a few lesser-known efforts which deserve to be added to the list; for example, his extended analysis persuades me that I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) deserves another look, despite its unfortunate title. Nonetheless, the proportion of what Sturgeon would have called "crud" in the sf cinema of the postwar period is significantly higher than Sturgeon’s famous benchmark figure of nine tenths. I am thinking here not only of such genuinely bottom-of-the-barrel offerings as Ed Wood’s notorious Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), which was once voted the worst motion picture ever filmed, or Queen of Outer Space (1958), which unleashed the acting talents (so to speak) of Zsa Zsa Gabor—both of which Booker rightly dismisses. I am also thinking of a much more respectable picture like The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), which Booker discusses, along with its two sequels, at some length. It is not a dreadfully bad movie, and Booker’s analysis is, as ever, smart and interesting. But, as with most of the films he discusses, he seems unable to relate it in many very substantial ways to the ambitious claims about social critique and postmodernism on which the volume’s theoretical infrastructure rests; indeed, he sometimes almost appears to have largely forgotten these themes when writing about cinematic sf. I am a firm proponent of Ernst Bloch’s hermeneutic of utopia—which locates brilliant moments of fulfillment and solidarity even in apparently unpromising material—and also of Walter Benjamin’s closely related idea that it is often necessary to blast a text out of the continuum it originally occupied and into more interesting and productive conceptual space. But some blasting operations are more feasible and worthwhile than others, and Booker’s intelligent efforts to do his best by the sf cinema of the 1950s reinforces my notion that there are many much better places where we might use our critical dynamite.

In fine: though Monsters, Mushroom Clouds, and the Cold War does not completely fulfill its own high promise, it remains an impressive, enjoyable book, and one that makes valuable contributions to the history of American science fiction and to our understanding of the culture of the American 1950s. We should be grateful not only to Booker but also—and yet again!—to the much under-appreciated publishers of the Greenwood Press, whose long-time support of sf criticism is as admirable as it is generally unsung.

Carl Freedman, Louisiana State University and A and M College


Talking About the Far Future.

Damien Broderick, ed. Earth Is But a Star: Excursions Through Science Fiction To the Far Future. U of Western Australia P, 2001. 466 pp. Aus$34.95 hc.

Damien Broderick’s Earth Is But a Star is a collection of 14 stories and 15 essays about far-future tropes in science fiction. The stories are all reprints; the critical essays are a mix of original and reprinted work. The book takes its title from John Brunner’s 1958 novella of that name, reprinted here as the centerpiece of the collection. Brunner in turn took the title from James Elroy Flecker’s famous poem "The Golden Journey to Samarkand," where the author looks forward into a far future when "Earth is but a star, that once had shone" (ix). Broderick elegantly acknowledges this recursive process by using extracts from Flecker as bookend quotations: the collection begins with the relevant extract from "The Golden Journey to Samarkand," and ends with a companion piece, "To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence." There are other such elegant balances in the construction of Broderick’s text, such as the placing of the opening story, Pamela Zoline’s "The Heat Death of the Universe," with its numbered and labeled paragraphs so popular in the late sixties, against the dry wit of Rosaleen Love’s closing piece of ficto-criticism, "Star Drover," with its similarly labeled sections of recursive tongue-in-cheek advocacy for the element of sulphur ("Alvin is Lord," "Terraforming for Sulphur," and "A Sulphurist Manifesto for Cyborgs," and so on).

Broderick’s dedication to Earth Is But a Star acknowledges Helen Merrick and Tess Williams, editors of the 1999 collection Women of Other Worlds: Excursions Through Science Fiction and Feminism, as having "superbly blazed the trail" (v). As the matching "Excursions Through Science Fiction" sub-titles suggest, the University of Western Australia Press regards these two books as companion volumes, aimed at the same audience of academics and other serious readers of science fiction criticism. The books are designed to sit well together on the shelf. But despite similar presentation, there are major points of difference. Women of Other Worlds is a feminist collection, describing itself as "presenting an international sampler of work from all aspects of feminist SF, fiction, poetry, criticism, fan-writing, even a recipe." Earth Is But a Star, despite containing examples of all of the above (except the recipe), has a different agenda. Merrick and Williams based their feminist collection squarely on a single WisCon convention. Broderick worked with no such theoretical or temporal limitations, having a much wider frame of reference and drawing works from both sexes (though only a quarter of the pieces in his collection are by women).

Brian Aldiss, who wrote the introduction to Earth Is But a Star, remarked in an earlier context that "sf is continually guilty of ancestor worship." That context was Aldiss’s essay on Pamela Zoline’s "The Heat Death of the Universe," printed in Robert Silverberg’s 1970 collection, The Mirror of Infinity: A Critics’ Anthology of Science Fiction, an earlier ancestor of Broderick’s collection, and a useful yardstick by which to judge the current work. There are a number of salient similarities. Both are collections that mix stories and criticism; both contain writing by Pamela Zoline, Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, and Robert Silverberg; and while Silverberg’s collection prints stories by H.G.Wells and Cordwainer Smith, Broderick’s collection offers essays on their work (by Yvonne Rousseau and Alice K. Turner respectively). More importantly, both books offer a good range of contemporary criticism: The Mirror of Infinity included criticism by Brian Aldiss, Kingsley Amis, James Blish (a.k.a. William Atheling, Jr.), Thomas D. Clareson, Damon Knight, and Alexei Panshin; while Earth Is But a Star includes work by Russell Blackford, John Clute, Stanislaw Lem, Brian Stableford, and George Zebrowski.

There are, of course, theoretical differences in presentation emerging from the shift in critical thinking that has occurred in the 31 years between the publication dates of these two books. Silverberg’s collection of 13 stories, each introduced by a critical essay, is straightforward: the stories are discussed directly, and placed in genre context. In contrast, the spirit of Broderick’s Earth Is But a Star collection is deliberately postmodern, engaging the reader in an ongoing conversation between writers and texts, offering no immediate connection between the essays and the fiction. Thus the collection contains critical evaluations of the work of important far-future writers such as Octavia Butler, Greg Egan, Dan Simmons, Cordwainer Smith, H.G.Wells, and David Zindell, but no examples of their fiction. Conversely, there are stories without critical commentary.

Nevertheless, important conversations about the far future, about the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it, emerge from this collection. Brian Stableford’s meticulous overview of the history of the far-future in sf provides a sound context in which to read both stories and essays; eschatology (Gene Wolfe, Dan Simmons) is discussed in parallel with entropy (C.J. Cherryh, Jack Vance, Pamela Zoline). Modeling techniques for constructing futurity, such as archaic terminology (Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe, Damien Broderick) or posthuman evolution (Robert Silverberg, A.E. Van Vogt, Stephen Baxter) are revealed. And so on. This is an interesting collection for the serious sf reader.

Janeen Webb, Australian Catholic University


The Right Kind of Man for That Kind of Trip.

Karen L. Hellekson. The Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith. McFarland, 2001.166pp. $28.50 pbk.

This book began as the author’s Master’s thesis. Hellekson makes good use of the Cordwainer Smith archive once owned by Larry McMurtry but now housed at the Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas. Combining a survey of Smith’s life as a writer with readings of several major stories and Norstrilia (1975), Hellekson’s discussion is notable for its extensive and judicious use of the early drafts, successive revisions, rejection letters, reviews, and other material that Paul Linebarger ("Cordwainer Smith") kept close track of during his life—even, Hellekson notes, to having his juvenilia professionally bound into a series of volumes titled FANTASTIKON.

The concluding bibliography is comprehensive and updated through mid-2001. Yet few of the secondary works listed there are actually cited in this discussion. The critics are in the back of Hellekson’s mind as she writes, however; in fact, prior consensus probably drives too much of this book. Hellekson has a sharp eye for provocative detail (e.g., the C- that the future sf visionary received for a college English paper critical of arch-realist Arnold Bennett). Yet she often works down from imbedded notions about Smith that are actually challenged by the details that she observes. Her introduction echoes consensus, for instance, in stating that "[m]ost of Cordwainer Smith’s [...sf] fits into a consistent future history" (13). Yet her own research into the early drafts of Norstrilia leads her to note in a later chapter that "in 1958, Smith had not thought out the chronology he used throughout his works" (73; emphasis mine). As some of Smith’s best stories, including "Scanners Live in Vain" (1950) and "The Game of Rat and Dragon" (1956) were written well before 1958, Hellekson is not simply offering a curious research discovery but a basis for a change in our understanding of his development as a writer. Her reluctance to explore the implications of her findings means that too little use is made of potentially important discoveries. Nonetheless, she performs a major service in identifying areas for further investigation.

Most chapter titles are drawn from working titles that Smith later discarded, and so do not at once disclose their topic. The opening chapter, "The Stars of Experience," surveys major events in Linebarger’s life and important aspects of his vision. A high point is Hellekson’s discussion of Linebarger’s fondness for such flamboyant pseudonyms as Anthony D’Este, Arthur Conquest, Karloman Jungarh, Lin Shan-Fu, even E***r R**e B*******s (as Linebarger at 15 signed an early homage to John Carter, "Mad God of Mars"). Linebarger, she notes, even manufactured pseudonyms for his pseudonyms: he disclosed in an annotation of his juvenilia that "Anthony D’Este’s ‘real’ name is Gerald Pinkson"(11). Well before working in Military Intelligence or assuming the mask of "Cordwainer Smith," this writer was attracted to secret identities.

In Chapter One as elsewhere, promising points are left undeveloped. Hellekson notes that the juvenile story "Stella Sinenova" was "clearly influenced" by Jules Verne (4), yet does not say how or offer any summary of the tale. Her discussion of whether Paul Linebarger inspired the portrait of "Kirk Allen" in Robert Lindner’s psychiatric memoir The Fifty Minute Hour (1954) is tantalizingly brief. Arguing against the idea, she notes that "Linebarger did not produce manuscripts in the volume and detail that Allen reportedly did" (9). Yet Linebarger might well have destroyed material linking him to a period of misery in his life. More persuasive is Hellekson’s observation that Lindner was vexed by the lack of dates on the fiction and background material that his patient had given him to study, whereas "Linebarger usually typed or wrote dates on [...] everything" (9).

Chapter Two, "Journey in Search of a Destination," takes its title from the unpublished volume in the non-sf trilogy by "Felix C. Forrest" that included Ria (1947) and Carola (1948). The chapter surveys this group of psychological novels along with "Carmichael" Smith’s spy-thriller, Atomsk (1949). Among the highlights here are Hellekson’s observation that Smith uses the term "instrumentality of mankind" as early as Ria (25); also, her quotation of an acidulous excerpt from Anthony Boucher’s unfavorable New York Times review of Atomsk (27). Chapter Three, "Archipelagos of Stars" (an English translation of a phrase from Arthur Rimbaud’s symbolist poem "Le Bateau ivre"[1871]), examines two closely related stories, "The Colonel Came Back From the Nothing-At-All" (begun in 1955) and "Drunkboat" (1963), as well as fragments of drafts ("The Singer Came Back from the Nothing-at-All" and "Archipelagos of Stars") that never were incorporated into the final version of either story. Hellekson sketches a curious genesis for "Drunkboat": editor Cele Goldsmith at Amazing Stories had a spare cover and wrote to Smith’s agent asking if Smith could quickly write a story to match it. To meet his deadline, Hellekson shows, Smith took his main idea from "The Colonel Came Back" but added an overlay of allusions to Rimbaud’s "Le Bateau ivre," including his title, "Drunkboat," and the name of his hero, Artyr Rambo.

Chapter Four, "Never Never Underpeople," is an expanded version of an article that first appeared in Extrapolation 34.2 (1993); in it, Hellekson considers the relationship between the animal-derived underpeople, the "true men," and the hominids (true men genetically altered, as in James Blish’s "Surface Tension" [1952], to survive on planets hostile to human life). Hellekson argues that Smith sees the underpeople as "more human" than the true men and the hominids (65), making a strong case that to Smith, humanity is a matter of an individual’s heart or spirit; it has nothing to do with genetics, social status, or even intellect. (Nor is this emphasis peculiar to his sf stories: as early as Ria, he writes that "Love is nature’s countermove to cancel the devastation of intelligence" [54].) A difficulty with this chapter is the slipperiness of the term "human," with its gravitational pull towards sentimentality. Hellekson may well be correct in reading Smith largely as a humanist; but it seems to me possible that his contrasts of underpeople with "true men" are often more satiric than strictly "humanitarian."

Chapter Five, "Star Craving Mad," considers the gestation of Smith’s only novel, Norstrilia (1975), taking its title from his earliest draft (begun in 1955). Hellekson differs from Johan Heje in his essay on the same topic in Extrapolation 30.2 (1989), challenging his view of the underpeople as ineluctably different from "true men." One intriguing detail here: a never published fragment, "Well Met at Earthport," suggests that Fritz Leiber’s sword and sorcery stories may have influenced the more swashbuckling first draft of Smith’s novel, which, Hellekson agrees with Heje, became a true bildungsroman (83) in its final version. Leiber’s "Ill Met in Lankhmar" (1970) appeared after Smith’s death, but there is still a ring of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser’s adventures in the plotting of Smith’s early fragment. (In his memoir of Linebarger, his friend Arthur Burns mentions Smith’s admiration for Leiber.)

Chapter Six, "To Wake to Kill to Die," is centered on a reading of psychological pain in "Scanners Live in Vain," "Game of Rat and Dragon," and "Think Blue, Count Two" (1962). The book’s brief Afterword, "Romances of the Plunging Future," considers Smith as a storyteller, but again in terms that use the word "human" rather vaguely: "In Smith’s world, the human condition is what matters, and most of his memorable characters, true man and animal alike, strive to attain this condition" (104). The volume concludes with a glossary of Smith’s terms that is less comprehensive but more intelligible than Anthony Lewis’s Concordance to Cordwainer Smith (2001), and with excellent primary and secondary bibliographies.

The book contains a few questionable statements. While Hellekson says that Linebarger spent his first four years in Chicago (6), according to Alan C. Elms, he lived most of his life to age five at "Point Paul Myron," an estate in rural Mississippi. And it seems wrong to categorize "No, No, Not Rogov!" (1959) among the "non-science fiction stories" by Smith (13): David Hartwell even includes this story in his anthology of hard sf.

There is an interesting discussion of the issue of Fantasy Book 6 (1950), in which "Scanners Live in Vain," Smith’s first published sf story, appeared. Hellekson says that the cover portrays Martel the Scanner "with a crowd of men looking at him" (85), but the illustrator, Jack Gaughan, more precisely captures the moment in the Scanners’ meeting when they flash their belt-lights to vote for the murder of Adam Stone. Hellekson notes that the same issue of Fantasy Book in which "Scanners" appears also includes a story ("Little Man on the Subway") written by Frederik Pohl in collaboration with Isaac Asimov (86); this may be the reason why Pohl (who later edited some of Smith’s best stories) ever saw that issue of Fantasy Book or encountered Smith at all. Incidentally, "Scanners" is not the lead story in Fantasy Book 6. That honor goes to "Little Man on the Subway."

Hellekson’s thoughtful but sometimes scattered argument may be hard to navigate for those lacking prior knowledge of Smith’s future history. The raison d’Ítre and finest feature of her book, however, is its extensive quotation from previously unpublicized archival material. She has found new pieces to the puzzle of Cordwainer Smith; and in her provision of possible new contexts for critical evaluation, she has produced a study that will be useful to all serious readers of Smith’s sf. —CM


Flawed Evaluation of the Weird.

S.T. Joshi. The Modern Weird Tale. McFarland, 2001. 288 pp. $34.95 pbk.

S.T. Joshi’s stated purpose in The Modern Weird Tale is to establish a canon of weird fiction since World War II, extending the project begun in his 1990 volume The Weird Tale. It follows a similar critical strategy of looking at several authors’ bodies of work to evaluate their place in literary history, but it differs in that Joshi includes not just authors he seeks to include in the canon, as he did in The Weird Tale, but also several contemporary authors whom he finds overrated, and whom he hopes to remove from the pantheon of horror writers. This scheme results in a useful but highly uneven book.

Joshi is powerfully evocative when discussing authors he enjoys. Here his propensity for exhaustive research serves him well. He is careful to correlate his evaluation of an author’s major work not only with the life and the published criticism, but also, as in the chapter on Ramsey Campbell, with the published juvenilia. Joshi even engages in a kind of forensic bibliography to track the presence of an author created by Campbell in library catalogs and explores the subtlety of Campbell’s prose. The result, in the chapters on Campbell, T.E.D. Klein, Robert Aickman, and Thomas Ligotti, is criticism that powerfully blends analysis and appreciation. Joshi’s ability to follow the subtler aspects of his subject matter, such as an author’s capacity to evoke weird moods, allows him to examine Shirley Jackson’s oeuvre with an independent eye and show that many domestic, apparently mundane, stories deserve a position in a canon of weird fiction. These useful chapters will quickly become required reading for any scholar dealing with weird fiction, and will probably serve as a rallying point for champions of quiet horror.

Yet there are many problems with this work; they all reduce to issues of methodology. These problems begin in the introduction, where Joshi explains how he selected which authors to examine. He states that his reasons for rejecting authors are complex, but that those authors included were selected on the basis of literary quality or "because of their prominence in the field," though neither of these is sufficient to explain why Dennis Etchison, for example, is excluded. Questions of inclusion and exclusion multiply when Joshi attempts to define the term "weird fiction." Although he states that he uses the terms "weird" and "horror" synonymously, he also admits that, strictly speaking, horror is a subset of weird fiction, and that horror "must be subdivided into supernatural and nonsupernatural horror" (63). Moreover, he further broadens the scope of weird fiction to include all fantasy, including that of Dunsany and Tolkien. According to Joshi’s view, then, this volume would better be called The Modern Horror Tale. Given Joshi’s focus and what he praises, it is clear that his real interest is in producing a canon of subtle, evocative horror: stories that, like those examined in The Weird Tale, have a coherent metaphysics, and that strive for subtlety via well-worked prose. Joshi’s focus, though worthy, leaves him making distinctions as unclear as his focus is unstated, when he discusses the fiction of Bret Easton Ellis. What’s more, he does not place authors in the larger context of the fantastic, nor does he ground his discussion in either historical explanations of the genre or in a coherent theoretical underpinning.

These flaws in Joshi’s methodology, however, pale in comparison to his biased treatment of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and William Peter Blatty. In these chapters, Joshi’s failure to acknowledge that there may be other legitimate traditions of horrific entertainment leads him to write in a manner that is, frankly, inappropriate. He spends pages disproving the logic one of Blatty’s characters uses to argue for the existence of a benevolent god and then uses what he sees as the character’s flawed logic to devalue the work as a whole. This is not a valid form of criticism, especially given his willingness to excuse such inconsistencies in other writers, such as his beloved Lovecraft. Joshi’s treatment of Stephen King is even more embarrassing, consisting of little more than a string of attacks on the popular author. Joshi calls King’s 1986 novel It "one of the most significant fiascos in modern literature" (78). Joshi shows no understanding of the roots of King’s popularity, and little of Barker’s or Blatty’s. This suggests that however masterful his understanding of his version of weird fiction, Joshi simply doesn’t understand the appeal of these authors. Until he does, his own championship of the weird tale will have only limited success.

—Greg Beatty, University of Phoenix Online


Fan Power

Kurt Lancaster. Interacting with BABYLON 5. U of Texas P, 2001. xxxv + 202 pp. $50.00 hc, $22.05 pbk.

Globalization and the Internet unquestionably empowered science fiction fandom in the 1990s. But was this power merely receptive or did it manifest some originary, or at least responsive, agency? Kurt Lancaster, in his excellent study, concludes that science fiction fans, in this case those of Babylon 5, did indeed empower themselves. Babylon 5 was the quintessential sf TV show of the 1990s for two reasons. First, it flourished on cable, and survived amid and through the fragmentation of the consensus TV audience of the 1960s and 1970s into a far more niche- or boutique-oriented viewing model. Second, the space station Babylon 5 itself was a veritable Nineties icon: a prosperous entrepôt, a multicultural site of hybridity and cross-fertilization. Minbari (a name, presciently in light of post-September 11 concerns, derived from a pulpit in a mosque), Centauri, and Narns (I always want the plural of Narn to be "Narnin" for some, probably Tolkien-influenced, reason), and, lurking behind the curtain, the Vorlons and the Shadows mingled on equal terms with Earthmen, dislodged from any unearned sense of geocentric cultural arrogance.

Lancaster starts with an overview of the show that skillfully navigates the need to be both informative for new initiates and insightful for devotees. Then he undertakes a step-by-step examination of the various fan paraphernalia—from role-playing games to trading cards, web pages official and unofficial, and fan fiction. Throughout, Lancaster is concerned to demonstrate the show’s relevance to theoretical, cultural, and media concerns of the 1990s, and does so in a way that will interest even those who never watched Babylon 5 and do not intend to do so.

There is one respect in which Babylon 5 was very un-Nineties, though; it was very much the product of an auteur, in this case the dynamic and visionary J. Michael "Joe" Straczynski, conceiver not only of this program but of many other TV series and comic books. Lancaster compellingly explores the tensions between Babylon 5’s "imaginary entertainment environment" (31) and Straczynski’s ability to be both architect of the show and responsive monitor of fan opinion. The Internet, and the access it provides, has been crucial for this maintenance of an audience, even if Straczynski himself signs off when flooded by fan e-mail or ticked off by an overly penetrating comment. Of course, this sort of aporia between mass audience and "inspired" single authorship is inherent in the very idea of "quality television," almost always the product of an auteur even if its discursive ramifications are unchartably legion.

Lancaster sees Babylon 5’s audience as not only reacting to it but also performing in elaboration of it. Some of these performances are fan-originated (Internet mailing lists); some are corporate products (like the "official" website which Lancaster entertainingly denounces and this reviewer can confirm as indeed awful); and some are mixtures of the two, such as when the fans devise their own games based on officially produced Babylon 5 trading cards. Lancaster, who has taught at New York University, has benefitted from that institution’s pioneering program in Performance Studies, especially in understanding just what it is the show’s fans do. Fan activity is defined as a "surrogate performance" that serves as substitute, displacement, and release. It is nice to see more standard theoretical big guns such as Baudrillard braided with modes less visible outside their own (inter-) discipline but nonetheless of potentially very wide interest to science-fiction critics.

Lancaster makes clear that he is a fan of the show himself as well as a veteran participant in role-playing games and other virtual-reality practices, both in those derived from Babylon 5 and in general. He is thus as much a participant in the fan community as a spectator; there is no outside anthropologist parachuting in to observe the fans as if they were the Yanomamo, or, more aptly, the Minbari. Demonstrating his particapatory stance, Lancaster provides two examples of fan fiction. One, which attempts to realize the unrealized love between Captain Susan Ivanova and Marcus Cole, is well done but suffers from the tendency for realized love to be aesthetically inferior to the unrealized variety; e.g. "Romeo and Juliet Get Married and Have Kids" is not to be found in the western canon. The second also involves Marcus (in a manifestation of fan fiction’s tendency to seize upon minor characters in the original, itself a kind of rewriting like the postmodern novels that give the maid in Jekyll and Hyde the starring role) and is effectively written. Indeed it could be a viable script for a Babylon 5 episode, illustrating the porous boundaries between the "professional" status of the screenwriter and the "amateur" one of the fan. I like the fact that Lancaster includes the fan fiction. He lets the objects of the study speak for themselves, something again always anthropologically desirable. The main facet of Straczynski’s work that the fan fiction lacks is the historical awareness of the show’s creator, particularly in his redeployment of the interwar League of Nations breakdown in Europe to outer space in 2258 and after. Lancaster gives the sense that Straczynski has stepped back a bit and seen the total background against which the show takes place—a background that is for several reasons inaccessible to the fan writers.

Lancaster speaks of the fan interactivity as a kind of "surrogation—an attempt to replace the disappeared"(14). Fandom, and the interactive model it entails, thus became surrogates for a participatory democracy often felt to be denied during the 1990s, despite the rhetoric of unprecedented prosperity with which we were lathered. So, in a way, did science fiction tv itself. As Lancaster states, because of the larger culture’s lack of interest in manned space travel, "Those who dream of a reality of humanity’s moving into space must now redirect this desire into the fantasy of science fiction" (xxiii). Babylon 5, without devolving back into hokey space opera, took humanity’s prospective mission in space seriously (no doubt assisted by the unusual depth in its portrayal of human and, for that matter, alien relationship and motivation), and in this way acted as a surrogate for otherwise foiled audience desires. (A good comparison in this respect would be Kim Stanley Robinson’s MARS trilogy, although Babylon 5 is far less interested in the mechanics of colonization as such.) So both Straczynski and the show’s fans have achieved a kind of postmodern resistance. The juxtaposition of Babylon 5 and Farscape on the prime-time schedule of the US Sci-fi Channel in fall 2001 offered two modes of postmodern science-fictional self-scrutiny—of which Babylon 5, if less extravagant, is certainly the more concentrated. As Babylon 5 fandom waits for the forthcoming Legend of the Rangers telemovie, it can congratulate itself on its assertive performance of what Lancaster terms "the reconfiguration of the subject" (163).

Interacting with BABYLON 5 will be useful not only to enthusiasts of the show and critics of science fiction television, but to cultural critics and, perhaps most interestingly, sociologists. It is a stimulating book that is informative about Babylon 5 fandom as well as that fandom’s larger implications.

—Nicholas Birns, New School University


The Art of Modern Movie and Television Makeup

Thomas Morawetz. Making Faces, Playing God: Identity and the Art of Transformational Makeup. U of Texas P, 2001. 234 pp. $50.00 hc; $24.95 pbk.

Unlike several previous books focusing on film and television makeup and special effects, Thomas Morawetz’s Making Faces, Playing God: Identity and the Art of Transformational Makeup does not simply dwell on the methods of movie makeup, although it provides a very thorough examination of several makeup artists’ techniques. Morawetz raises issues associated with and related to this neglected art form and attempts (quite convincingly) to address its subtexts of identity, cultural roles, and fear of "the other."

Part One of Making Faces, Playing God examines the culture and art of transformational makeup. In separate chapters, Part Two looks at recent makeup artists’ creations in various fields, mostly science fiction and fantasy-related; demons and aliens, for example, are examined in their own sections of the book. Part Two of the volume goes into great detail about how the artists’ illusions are created from latex, prosthetics, computerized effects, or any combination of these. Many beautiful color and black and white photographs from recent films as diverse as The Santa Clause (1994) and Leprechaun (1993) and television shows such as Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Profiler not only provide examples of the work of artists such as Rick Baker and John Vulich, but also complement the author’s text and wonderfully assist the reader in understanding the full impact of the author’s assertions.

The author’s arguments are consistently compelling, and several sections of the book probe issues hitherto little, if at all, examined. Of particular interest is the chapter of the book that discusses the effect(s) transformational makeup has upon the actor and his/her performance. Does the makeup, Morawetz asks, help or hinder the actor in his/her role of a demon or zombie, since the actor is, as the author states, both the makeup artist’s "canvas and performer?" One answer is both. The makeup "gives the actor a resource he does not normally have" but also causes "an unconventional, possibly anarchic, relationship to his audience."

If there is a weakness in the book—and this may be simply this reviewer’s preference—it is that there is little mention of the "transformational makeup artists" of Hollywood’s past. Perhaps even a quick mention of artists such as Jack Pierce, whose Karloff/Frankenstein monster is still, seventy years later, the one most thought of, or Paul Blaisdell, who performed miracles with makeup and costumes in countless no-budget sf/horror films in the 1950s, would have given this book a sense of completeness it lacks.

But as a study of the art and the creators of recent makeup effects, this well-written, insightful work is essential to anyone interested in this underappreciated, ever-developing art.

—Allen Kupfer, Nassau Community College


Rising Above Constraints

Robin Anne Reid. Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion. Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers series. Greenwood, 2000. 152 pp. $29.95 hc.

One of almost fifty titles in this series, Reid’s Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion is long overdue. Like the other titles in this series, it fills a gap in the critical consideration of writers who have, in most cases, been a common part of American life of the later twentieth century. Writers considered therein are among the most popular in science fiction, mystery, popular, and ethnic writing. Female writers predominate, which makes sense since they are still often neglected in critical circles. At present, fantasy and science fiction writers include Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut (his volume is due in 2002), Anne McCaffrey, Robin Cook, and Arthur C. Clarke. (Note that most of this list is male, however.) I was pleased to see among the list several Asian- American women writers, Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan; a few known for studies of American Indian culture, Barbara Kingsolver and Louise Erdrich; and several favorites in mystery, including Tony Hillerman and Mary Higgins Clark. While this abbreviated list will show that there is some eclectic element in the selection process (Stephen King is already scheduled for a second study), it will also verify that popular authors are a focus. Thus, my surprise at Anne McCaffrey preceding both Bradbury and Vonnegut, is allayed somewhat because other "popular" genres have been similarly treated.

Each volume of the series follows a very strict organization, as if these books were expanded encyclopedia articles for young adult readers. Indeed, the preface in each volume identifies them as directed at high school and public libraries and as basic introductions to the authors and their works. Each book is under 180 pages and begins with a biographical chapter and a chapter devoted to contextualizing the writer within a subgenre or literary movement. In Bradbury’s case, this is, of course, science fiction. Further chapters are devoted to the author’s major novels or story collections. I mention these details by way of explanation that Reid neither intends nor achieves in-depth critical analyses of the titles considered. That would be outside the parameters of this series. The brevity of the volumes means that prolific authors such as Bradbury are covered in many short chapters: Reid considers eight separate texts, and three of them are well-known short-story collections. This results, necessarily, in very sketchy interpretations and in pages that consist primarily of short-story titles (21-22) and brief plot outlines. The chapters are arranged chronologically by publication date, and they could easily be read independently, starting with The Martian Chronicles (1950), and continuing with The Illustrated Man (1951), Fahrenheit 451 (1953), Dandelion Wine (1957), Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), Death is a Lonely Business (1985), A Graveyard for Lunatics (sequel to Death [1990]), and Green Shadows, White Whale (1992, describing a 1953 writing experience).

Reid obviously has a solid grasp of the author’s techniques and the contents of the works. She also does well in stretching the limitations of the series’ formula and length. The formula calls for sections on plot development, character development, setting, and themes, breaking up the usual flow of a critical narrative and frustrating the expectation that one chapter will lead into the next. The more experienced critic will find this approach of minimal use except to check facts such as character names and to confirm details of the setting. Here the formula is only useful for an inexperienced reader or perhaps as a starting point in comparing features of earlier and later works. Fortunately, Reid is a facile and creative writer and the text is very readable. The most useful parts of the text are the biographical information, the perspectives on Bradbury in the context of past and present science fiction ("Chapter Two: Ray Bradbury and the Question of Science Fiction"), and the alternative reading section. The inclusion of an alternative reading for each fictional title is part of the series’ formula which Reid uses ably to introduce unusual readings of these classic sf works. For example, a postcolonial reading of Martian Chronicles revitalizes a text that is almost 50 years old. "Race as a literary construct in science fiction" is applied to the stories in The Illustrated Man. Reid also incorporates gender, feminism, postmodern analysis, and semiotic and queer readings of individual texts, thus expanding the standard interpretations and introducing a range of contemporary critical methodologies. These 2-3 page sections are frustrating in their brevity but interesting because of the care Reid takes with often complex critical approaches. For example, in discussing a lesser-known later Bradbury work, A Graveyard for Lunatics, Reid introduces a semiotic reading with a definition: "Semiotic theory is based on theories about how language works developed initially by the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure and added to by many subsequent theorists, including Umberto Eco. Saussure developed a theory that words are not just labels for things. Instead, language is a code that relies on complex relationships between linguistic elements. Words do not exist in isolation: their meaning depends on other words" (106). This short representation is typical of her succinct rendering of decades of theoretical speculation. She then uses her definitions to focus attention on "J.C." or Jesus Christ and "The Beast" as signs that Bradbury uses to enrich his description of the screenwriter’s experience, the topic of this novel.

Reid’s Companion compares well with other volumes in the series, especially those where the subject authors have produced multiple texts. The entire series is useful, however, only for inexperienced readers and only as a starting point for these many authors who deserve serious critical attention. In my estimation, Reid has surpassed the severe limitations of the series and has demonstrated that a good writer is good regardless of constraints.

—Janice M. Bogstad, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire McIntyre Library


The Good Witch of the West Gets Processed

Warren G. Rochelle. Communities of the Heart: The Rhetoric of Myth in the Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin. Liverpool UP, 2001. xii + 195 pp. $54.95 hc; $26.95 pbk.

Warren G. Rochelle has analyzed a number of works by Ursula K. Le Guin through his own methodologies, coming up with a convincingly unified view. He begins with some very basic groundwork, in the older University of Chicago manner, with Plato and Aristotle as backup, along with Kenneth Burke and Suzanne K. Langer. Much of his material in the first two chapters also echoes statements in Le Guin’s The Language of the Night(1979) and elsewhere. Because language itself makes symbols out of experience, story is an attempt to make sense of experience through language. Rochelle’s emphasis on the constructed basis of reality seems especially congenial to the worlds of science fiction and fantasy. And Rochelle notes the great importance of naming things in Le Guin’s works. Moreover, as Genly Ai says on the first page of The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), "Truth is a matter of the imagination. The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the manner of its telling." The second half of Genly’s statement is, of course, the view of classical rhetoric, and, because Le Guin writes to persuade the reader of a particular moral view, her work is therefore rhetorical.

Rochelle then moves on to analyze her use of myth, with support from Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell—and certainly, from Le Guin herself, who has written several times on these themes. When stories employ myths and archetypes, which mediate between the conscious and the unconscious, they appeal to our rationality, our emotions, and our more hidden desires and fears as well. Le Guin’s conscious effort to work with these materials adds much to her power. Rochelle goes on to analyze how Le Guin’s use of the monomyth has been slowly modified by feminism in her Hainish novels and Earthsea works. Each return to either of these series seems to go further into rewriting the monomyth, with the most radical revisioning in Tehanu (1990) and the recent "Dragonfly." (This last is now just one of the Tales from Earthsea [2001] and has been followed by The Other Wind [2001], while the Hainish novel The Telling [2000], with its female narrator, has also appeared; readers will have to see for themselves how these fit into Rochelle’s schema.) These considerations of rhetoric and the monomyth constitute the first two of this work’s five chapters, and are both effective and thoroughly backed up in Le Guin’s own words.

The third chapter, on the myth of utopia in The Dispossessed (1974) and Always Coming Home (1985), seems a bit less effective, although certainly informative. Perhaps this is because rewriting utopia is a fairly rational process and can be discussed without bringing in archetypal considerations—and while Rochelle seems to argue that Eden and similar legends represent mythic archetypes at the heart of utopian constructions, I suspect that they are more likely the sources of the pastoral idyll, whether in Theokritos or Owen Wister. At any rate, the discussion here could stand alone without the mythic considerations. Most valuable is the thorough discussion of Always Coming Home, especially in terms of its two narrators, its "Buddhist economics," and what it owes to Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia (1942)—whether or not one considers that work a utopia.

The fourth chapter goes further out on a limb, arguing that "Le Guin’s fiction is an expression of both pragmatism and romantic rhetoric" (111), that she is "a spiritual heir of Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, Whitman, Peirce and Dewey" (129), and that "she is part of a greater community of like-thinkers—Cornel West, Paulo Freire, Robert Coles, Mike Rose, Ann Berthoff and Karen LeFevre," who "are calling for a paradigm shift from the primacy of Cartesian thinking" (129). Not all of these latter names were familiar to me, and I am a bit uneasy to find that many of Rochelle’s citations of them are to talks given on his campus; it may be that in the middle of his Le Guin project, everything became grist for his mill. The Transcendentalists, at least, do seem among her natural forebears, spiritually and temperamentally, though it seems to me that direct references to them in her work are scant. This chapter also includes a valuable discussion of Le Guin as a teacher, and of the process of learning as a basic element in her works. The novels contain considerable mentoring, and insights are often gained in social contexts.

Rochelle closes with a section that comes back as his main title, "Communities of the Heart," noting that "Community is a master trope" (148). Of course, the ethical implications of this should be clear, and surely this is one more aspect of Le Guin that needs our consideration. In Le Guin’s works, individuality is no more valued than community, and sometimes the drama comes from the conflict over which to identify with. "The community trope is present as choice, as each character has to choose to which community he or she will ultimately belong" (150). On the other hand, perhaps we should also remember that this necessity of choosing a community has also been a characteristic of the historical novel since its beginning in Scott’s Waverley (1814). Perhaps the archetypal word Rochelle is looking for here is home.

—Charles Nicol, Indiana State University


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