Science Fiction Studies

# 16 = Volume 5, Part 3 = November 1978



Diana Waggoner. The Hills of Faraway: A Guide to Fantasy. Atheneum, 1978, x+326, $16.95.

This book began as a Specialization Paper for a degree in library science (page v). The specialization was evidently children's literature, for although Ms Waggoner assures us that it lists only works "expected to be of interest to adult readers" (p 125), about two-thirds of the primary works listed seem to be children's books (530 out of 846 by my count). In "adult fantasy" 239 of the titles come from the books discussed in Lin Carter's Imaginary Worlds (Ballantine pb 1973) or currently available on the newsstands in such SF lines as Ballantine and Ace. The remaining 77 titles obviously derive from a catch-as-catch-can operation rather than from any thorough study of literary history, for although she complains of the paucity of secondary works devoted to fantasy, her list of sources fails to include such obvious works as Dorothy Scarborough's The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction (1917) or the Baker-Stevenson History of the English Novel (1924-67). Finally, though the bibliography purports to cover the years 1858-1975 (pp 65-67), 41% of its titles come from the last decade of that period, 1966-75.

As for publication data, Ms Waggoner gives (or promises to give) for each book the name of the illustrator, if any, the city of publication, the publisher, the date, and the pagination, which in most cases presents no problem, the books being so new that there has been only one edition. For older books she has "preferred to list editions which are readily available in American bookstores or libraries" with the "date of original composition or publication ... given in parentheses after the date of the particular edition cited" (p 125). This use of the edition one happens to have, with the copyright date taken as that of "original composition or publication" (whether it is the one or the other is never specified) leads to many problems. For Tarzan of the Apes we find "New York, Grosset, 1914 (1912)," whereas the novel was serialized in 1912, published by A.C. McClurg in 1914, carried in the A.L. Burt reprint line 1915-28, and added to the Grosset & Dunlap line only in 1927. For A. Merritt's The Ship of Ishtar: "Illus. by Virgil Finlay. Los Angeles, Borden, 1924," whereas Finlay was still in knee pants in 1924 and the Borden Co. probably not established until much later. For A.T. Wright's Islandia: "Holt, 1942," presumably taken from a recent edition in which the copyright is claimed by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, for the 1942 first edition was published by Farrar and Rinehart, and the 1958 edition by Rinehart and Co. There is much confusion of this and other kinds in the listing of 37 titles by Burroughs, which this student of library science was rash enough to do without consulting the major Burroughs bibliography (missing from the list of seven secondary works on Burroughs) and probably without even consulting the Bradford M. Day bibliography which she does list and which presumably would have served well enough. And 25 of the 40 Oz books are not dated at all!

Although untrustworthy in all such matters, this is still at this moment an important book. For although we have had a number of recent works on the theory of fantasy, they have tended to propound highly abstract theories based on the reading of a comparatively small number of works prominent in mainstream literature, while Ms. Waggoner not only discusses the theory in some detail but also lists and annotates a large number of popular books of the kind we think of as belonging to "Fantasy and Science Fiction," and even offers a classification for these books that provides a thorough test for her theory. It was a brave thing to do, even if she did not realize how rash it was.

Ms. Waggoner writes as one completely satisfied with her authorities. Citing Tolkien, she discusses "Subcreation and Literary Belief." Citing Anatomy of Criticism and The Fabulators, she discusses the history of "Literary Realism and Its Effects." There was a time when people believed in the unity of God's world, but with "the rise of scientific, empirical rationalism and materialism," readers found that they could no longer "give credence to the supernatural in the Primary World," and so not "in a Secondary world, either." This led to the rise of realism, in which "Supernatural-seeming events were credited to psychological sources or coincidence or (worse) the scheming of evil men trying to hold mankind in bondage to superstition" (p 7). Realism flourished until interest in the subconscious brought forth first Joyce and then the fabulators, in whose fiction "Literary belief can ... be given to the supernatural as an expression of the unconscious" (p 8).

But what, asks Ms Waggoner, but "what if the supernatural were, after all, real...?" This possibility resulted in the birth of "speculative fiction," which provided "a means by which realism could speculate on unprovable realities and readers could give them literary belief" (pp 8-9).

With pre-realist romance, realism proper, and post-realist fabulation disposed of, Ms Waggoner defines speculative fiction as "a class of modern, 'sentimental' [Frye's term] literature that treats supernatural and/or nonexistent phenomena (such as the future) as a special class of objectively real things or events," which includes fourteen genres: "allegory, satire, utopia, imaginary voyage, traveler's tale, ghost story, the Perrault fairy tale, the 'art fairy tale,' Or Kunstmaerchen, the Oriental tale (imitating the Thousand and One Nights), the dream-story, the Gothic novel, the horror story, science fiction, and fantasy" (p 9).

Ms Waggoner must now supply the differentia that distinguish Fantasy from its thirteen sister genres -- a number that should have been eight, since the dream-story obviously does not treat its phenomena as objectively real, since the imaginary voyage and traveler's tale are soon to be dismissed as mere relics, as indeed they might well be in view of the "modern, 'sentimental"' of the definition, and since the Perrault fairy tale and Oriental tale are treated in the remainder of the book as belonging to Fantasy.

Satire, allegory, utopia, and the Kunstmaerchen are said not to create genuine Secondary Worlds, being tied too closely to the author's Primary World, a distinction equivalent to the autonomous contingent distinction made in the first paragraph of this essay, though I would of course deny the necessary contingency of utopian fiction. The ghost story (as opposed to "ghost fantasy"), the horror story (as opposed to "horror fantasy"), and presumably the Gothic novel are eliminated as not supplying the necessary "realistic credentials," for "Fantasy is distinct among the genres of speculative fiction in that it goes to the farthest extreme to establish realistic credentials -- a history and background -- for the supernatural" (p 9).

The essence of Fantasy is the supernatural: "A numinous power -- an ultimate power, for good or evil -- orders the world and impels the story, acting directly on its characters and events. In the Primary World, the existence and activity of such powers are a matter of religious faith; in the fantasy's Secondary World, their existence and activity are subject ot material proof." But, "This is not to say that the author must state, in so many words, that some supernatural power is behind the story. Its existence is implicit in those fantasies based on 'magical' impossibilities: Talking animals, alternate universes, new worlds, Perrault fairy tales, and so forth" (p 10).

On this basis, as may be seen in the table on this page, Ms Waggoner divides Fantasy into two major classes: First, those stories taking place (or at least beginning) in a Secondary World, the Natural Present, which differs from the Primary World only in that "magic, or magical beings, actively operate on the lives of people living" in that world; second, stories set in Worlds of Enchantment "based on the existence of a numinous, but passive, power" (p 94). Now it should be obvious that if the supernatural is inactive in a Secondary World, that world can be regarded as enchanted only if there is some evidence, some "material proof," of the supernatural's having once been active, such as the presence of talking animals or other creatures of Faerie, as in the worlds of Class V. The so-called Worlds of Enchantment in Class VI range from those like Le Guin's Earthsea, in which the supernatural is omnipresent, through those of adventure stories like the Tarzan series, in which the supernatural, if present at all, is of little or no importance, to those like Wright's Islandia, which not only suggest nothing at all about any present or past activity of the supernatural, but also clearly imply an agnosticism bordering on atheism.

AN ABSTRACT OF THE WAGGONER SYSTEM. The bracketed figures indicate the number of books in each class or subclass.

          MAGIC IN OPERATION [447]        MAGIC OF SITUATION [375]

I. In Natural Present [268]               V. Fairy-story Fantasy [201]

   A. Magic [56]                                         A. Fairy Tales [106]

   B. Mythic Fantasy [43]                         B. Toy Tales [15]

       Out of the Silent Planet                   C. Animal Fantasy [80]

   C. Faerie [1071                                 VI. Worlds of Enchantment [174]

   D. Ghost Fantasy [26]                          A. New Geographies [97]

   E. Horror Fantasy [19]                               Thongor of Lemuria

      Titus Groan                                             Stormbringer

   F. Sentimental Fantasy [17]                     Conan the Conqueror

     The Fifteenth Pelican                           Tarzan of the Apes

II. Magic Time Travel [49]                         She

     A Connecticut Yankee                           The People of the Mist

    Orlando                                                     Lost Horizon

III. Travel from Our                                     Islandia

Universe to Another [100]                    B. New Histories [32]

    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz                  The Mouse That Roared

    A Princess of Mars                               C. New Universes [45]

  Phantastes and Lilith                               A Wizard of Earthsea

IV. Science Fantasy [30]

     A Case of Conscience

    Black Easter

\Ms Waggoner seems to have resorted to the concept of Enchanted Worlds primarily to cover talking animals, talking toys, and such other creatures of Faerie as have no supernatural powers -- i.e., the things I have called pseudonatural. Since our folktales, legends, and myths have always mingled the pseudonatural with the supernatural, there is no reason why the essence of Fantasy should not be specified as the "supernatural and/or pseudonatural." In sum, if the concept of the pseudonatural can be accepted, there is no need for the highly dubious Enchanted-World concept.

In distinguishing between Fantasy and the dream-story, "the story reproducing dream experience," such as Alice in Wonderland, Ms Waggoner admits into Fantasy those stories in which the "dream-frame is merely a clumsy device to set the plot in motion," such as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (p 11). Now if a framing device is irrelevant to whether or not a story is Fantasy, it is also irrelevant to a classification in which the basic criterion is the kind of Secondary World in which the events occur. If the dream frame is irrelevant for A Connecticut Yankee, so is the time-travel aspect of that dream, and so is the instantaneous supernatural space travel of A Princess of Mars.

The Other Universes of Class III are supposed to have "different natural laws" from those of the Natural Present (p 106). This may be true of Oz, but it is not true of the Barsoom of A Princess of Mars, for in the Secondary World of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Barsoom is merely one of a number of locales all subject to the same natural laws: the Burroughs fantasies are all presented as true, and all but a few are explicitly tied together, ERB purportedly being an editor of manuscripts or a reteller of other men's tales, rather than an author who makes up stories. The New Universes of Class VI:C differ from the Other Universes of Class III and the other times of Class II in that they are supposed to be "worlds which are not at all related to ours" (p 115) -- a distinction that could be rendered invalid in any particular case simply by the author's writing a sequel in which a visitor from the Natural Present arrived by spaceship, time machine, or metempsychosis. The journeys through time or space in Classes II and III are almost always instantaneous and thus mere framing devices; if there are any in which the traveling itself is predominant in the story, that traveling must take place within a universe of some kind. There is thus no need for special classes (or even a special class) covering journeys through space or time; all the stories can be classified on the basis of the nature of the Secondary World. (Are not the journeys to Oz mere framing devices? Is not Oz a fairy-story world? On the other hand, since there is no suggestion of the supernatural in the 5th-century Britain of A Conneticut Yankee, how can we possibly count that story as Fantasy?)

Ms. Waggoner defines the New Histories of Class VI:B as "alternate versions of Primary history" (p 115), which would cover many historical romances not usually regarded as Fantasy, as well as the three story-types I find in the list: those set in alternate time tracks, those set in legendary or mythological worlds, and those depicting great events in the present or recent past that never actually occurred. This mixture suggests that Ms. Waggoner does not understand that whereas an alternate time track involves differences in history so great that the present is changed, it is perfectly possible to imagine differences in history, legend, or myth that would leave the present as it is. So far as our present is concerned, it does not matter whether we envision Camelot as Malory did, or Tennyson, or T.H. White, or Mary Stewart.

Just as "inventing an 'imaginary country' like Ruritania for a story does not make it a fantasy" (p 30), neither does inventing great public events that somehow never got into the newspapers of the Primary World. Such events have been the stuff of thrillers ever since the days of E. Phillips Oppenheim. Leonard Wibberly's The Mouse That Roared and its sequels, which I know only from a Peter Ustinoff movie and Ms Waggoner's annotations, count as Fantasy not because they present so-called alternate history but because of the pseudotechnology of the tiny duchy of Grand Fenwick's "beat[ing] all other countries to the Moon in a rocket ship fueled by its famous wine," the pseudosociopolitics involved in its invading and conquering the United States, and the pseudosocioeconomics of "Duchess Gloriana's desire for a fur coat nearly destroy[ing] the economy of the Free World" (pp 292-93).

More than two-thirds of the books listed in Class VI:A, New Geographies, belong to four superhero series: Thongor, Stormbringer, Conan, and Tarzan. Although the first three of these may be sufficiently concerned with magic to count as Supernatural Fantasy, the Tarzan series is not. The point to be made here is that in all such stories the hegemonic marvel is the superhuman and hence pseudonatural hero himself, so that these stories are quite properly called Heroic Fantasy, and thus may be counted as Fantasy without resort to the New-Geographies concept. Most of the other 31 books listed here also count as Supernatural or Pseudonatural Fantasy. The few that do not will be dealt with later.

A gross illogicality in Ms Waggoner's system is Class I:F, Sentimental Fantasy, for "Books in this category might be placed in others ... were it not for the sickly, vapid air which permeates them" (p 103). But although Ms Waggoner in the generally reasonable and perceptive Chapter 2, "Some Trends in Fantasy," follows a system of classification based on the reader's emotional response, she is not doing so in this place. That "sickly, vapid air" is therefore irrelevant. (The Fifteenth Pelican, evidently the basis for the TV series The Flying Nun, offers a good example of pseudotechnology in its principle that a nun's habit would enable a very small nun to fly whenever there was a good wind; judging from the TV series and Ms Waggoner's annotation (p 265), there is in this novel nothing of the supernatural, nor any creatures from Faerie, nor anything else that would qualify it as Fantasy under Ms Waggoner's criteria.)

Given the elimination of Subclass F, Sentimental Fantasy, I have no quarrel with the logic of the subdivisions of Class I, except for the fact that the headings are highly misleading in being neither grammatically nor semantically parallel. I would probably still be trying to ascertain the basis for subdivision if Ms Waggoner had not hinted at it in the discussion that precedes the table (the bracketed subclass designations are my addition): "Humans living in what E.R. Eddison called 'natural present' are affected by magic -- by experience of the powers of [A] human magicians, magical objects, [B] gods, devils, or supernatural spirits, [C] creatures of Faerie, [D] ghosts, and [E-F] so forth" (p 94).

Subclass E, Horror Fantasy, calls for some discussion. The word most conspicuously absent from Ms Waggoner's Index of Terms is "vampire," and the title most conspicuously absent from her list is Dracula. Since neither the word nor the title is so much as mentioned in the book, there is of course no explanation offered for their omission. And strange as it may seem in this determinedly modern Guide to Fantasy, with 41% of its titles from the last ten years, there is also no recognition whatever of the great recent boom, with its numerous bestsellers and blockbuster movies, in stories of supernatural horror, Satanism, possession, etc., etc. The reasons, I would imagine, come partly from Ms Waggoner's personal tastes and partly from a librarian's belief that even in our permissive times children must be protected from some things. Be that as it may, her discussion of "Horrific fantasy" includes an emphatic expression of disgust, "all the most obvious notions of the Aesthetic Nineties: the studied decadence, the ornamentation of style, the interest in exotica, especially oriental exotica out of the Arabian Nights, the wallowing in bizarre sins and deliberately shocking behavior, and the elitist, gnostic view of both life and art," which is soon followed by what strikes me as the finest example of ad hominem criticism I have ever seen: "Lovecraft was an extreme neurotic, a recluse who hated the modern world, lived in an unhealthy and morbid atmosphere at home, and thought that literature had reached its zenith in the Nineties. As a result his fantasies are nearly unreadable" (p 60).

In the bibliography proper we find Lovecraft's life represented by De Camp's biography, Derleth's memoir, and the 3-volume edition of his letters -- but Lovecraft's fiction, even though there is a standard 3-volume edition, only by a Lin Carter paperback!

Now it cannot be said that Ms Waggoner's distinction between "horror story" and "horror fantasy" justifies such omissions. Bram Stoker's Dracula meets every criterion in Ms Waggoner's description of horror fantasy, and indeed is so elaborately detailed that it would count as science fiction if vampires could be imagined as belonging to nature rather than supernature. And the same thing must be said for the bulk of Lovecraft's fiction: no author of horror fantasy ever went further than he to establish "realistic credentials -- a history and background -- for the supernatural."

Finally, Titus Groan should not have been listed in Class I:E, for it is a horror story only in the sense that some of the wickedness depicted might horrify some sensitive readers. Indeed, since there is nothing of the supernatural in its Secondary World, how can it be regarded as Fantasy at all?

Ms Waggoner treats She as a lost-race story (as did my distinguished co-editor in SFS #14 [p 51] despite my vehement protests), but this famous novel, in Haggard's words, is the story of "an immortal woman inspired by an immortal love" (The Days of My Life [UK 1926], 1:245). Its hegemonic marvel is the marvel that entranced Carl Jung, Henry Miller, and many a less famous critic, the divine Ayesha herself, She-who-must-be-obeyed because she can and sometimes does kill with a look, she whose love for the hero eventually has the same result as Jove's for the foolish Semele. In sum She should have been listed in Class 1:13, Mythic Fantasy.

Haggard's The People of the Mist, on the other hand, is a lost-race story, and on this matter I must say a word or two. If the term "lost race" means anything, it designates a community which was once part of the civilized Ekumene but which has been isolated for such a long time that it knows of the Ekumene, and the Ekumene of it, only through legend, if at all. The Amahaggar of She, the "people who put pots on the heads of strangers," are a savage tribe with some admixture of the blood of a now long dead civilized race; although off the beaten trails, they are not isolated from the world, as is indicated by the fact that they have standing orders from Ayesha not to eat any white men who happen through but instead to bring them to her (just in case one of them is the reincarnation of the Kallikrates she killed with a look 2000 years ago). The people of the mist, in contrast, are a Semitic community of Manichean faith who have been isolated for many centuries by African jungle and savagery.

The lost-race community is different from "the forbidden world," a community that has cut itself off from the Ekumene, as in Lost Horizon, to preserve its culture from infection. Such a community is not lost, for it knows exactly where it is and may indeed have one-way contacts with the Ekumene, as in its ruling families sending their sons to Oxford -- or to Harvard, as in Islandia. And both the lost race and the forbidden world are of course different from the "noble-savage" community, as in Haggard's King Solomon's Mines or Nada the Lily (books not listed by Ms Waggoner).

Now as I have already said, there is nothing whatever of the supernatural or pseudonatural in the Islandia dilogy, and very little of either in The People of the Mist, or in the vast majority of lost-race, forbidden-world, and noble-savage novels. Such novels are adventure stories in which supernatural events and pseudonatural creatures, if they occur at all, are taken in stride, so that the reader is surprised neither if they appear nor if, at the end of the story, he realizes that all its events and creatures have been entirely natural. What is it, then, that causes scholars and fans to regard such books as fantasy, if not indeed science fiction? It is, I think, the contrast of cultures: the lost race, the forbidden world, the noble-savage community is a sociocultural marvel.

As for Islandia, which is much the most important book of the type treated here, it may be sufficiently concerned with the sociopolitical and socioeconomic to justify scholars in calling it a utopia, but those things are in the background. The foreground is occupied by the sex life of the hero, a virgin too fastidious to resort to prostitutes, too honorable to attempt a nice girl, and in a situation that precludes marriage. For him the chief marvel of Islandia is the culture that allows him to come to terms with his sexuality.

Although we would not think of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court as a lost-race, forbidden-world, or noble-savage story (though an argument could be made for the last), its theme is still one common in such stories (a hero from the technologically advanced world attempting to transform a backward society), and it can certainly be seen as Sociocultural Fantasy.

In Titus Groan and Gormenghast we also have two novels universally regarded as Fantasy even though there is nothing of the supernatural or pseudonatural in the Secondary World (Titus Alone, the third volume of the trilogy, is science fiction). Here again I think we may say simply that we have Sociocultural Fantasy.

There is no logical place in Ms Waggoner's scheme for Class IV, Science Fantasy. The stories listed here in which the science-fictional predominates over the supernatural and pseudonatural should be removed from the list altogether and described elsewhere as "science fiction contaminated by fantasy" (Dr Suvin's term for something all too common in SF). Those in which the supernatural and/or pseudonatural predominate should be distributed among the other classes. (Blish's A Case of Conscience is pure science fiction, for in its Secondary World, Ms Waggoner to the contrary [see pp 20 and 143], the existence of the supernatural is a "matter of religious faith" not "subject to material proof." Black Easter, on the other hand, since it depicts no science-fictional marvels but only the magic of magicians and devils, is pure fantasy and should be listed in Class I:B, Mythic Fantasy.)

The marvels of Barsoom in A Princess of Mars and its "nine sequels" (Ms Waggoner fails to list Llana of Gathol, the only one of the sequels that does not have "Mars" in its title) are predominantly science-fictional; it is absurd to call these stories Fantasy simply because of the supernatural framing device. Virginia Woolf's Orlando is a dream-story, and George MacDonald's Phantastes and Lilith combine dream-narration with Spenserian allegory. There are doubtless a number of other books listed as Fantasy in the bibliography even though defined out of Fantasy in the introduction.

--R.D. Mullen

A New Wells Bibliography

J.R. Hammond. Herbert George Wells: An Annotated Bibliography of His Works. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1977, xvi+257, $24.00.

Hammond, in the preface to his descriptive primary bibliography of Wells's first editions, acknowledges his "indebtedness" to The Works of H.G. Wells 1887-1925: A Bibliography, Dictionary, and Subject-Index by Geoffrey H. Wells. But Hammond fails to make clear the magnitude of his debt. In actuality, Hammond's volume is an updated, slightly amended version of the bibliographical section in Geoffrey Wells's standard work, the form of which -- with a few insignificant exceptions -- Hammond has adopted. It is worthy of note, in this regard, that Hammond, in following Wells's form, deviates from currently accepted bibliographical procedure by not distinguishing between upper- and lower-case letters when describing a title page. And no less noteworthy is the fact that, in at least one instance, Hammond has copied one of Wells's descriptions mistake for mistake (the number 312 in line six of the description of item A1 in Hammond's bibliography should read 314; the same error is made by Wells in his item 9).

Another, far more significant legacy of Hammond's borrowing is his citing as first editions the first English editions of four works that enjoyed prior American publication.

By some perversity of logic, both bibliographers have seen fit to exclude from consideration all American editions, save for those of H.G. Wells's works published solely in this country. The four improperly labeled "first editions" are A4, Tono-Bungay, which was first published in New York by Duffield & Company in 1908; A7, The New Machiavelli, released by the same firm in 1910; B1, The Time Machine, published in New York by Henry Holt & Company in 1895 (in this case, though, it is the first English edition which is definitive); and E30, The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind, published in Garden City, New York, by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, in 1931.

There are two prominent ways in which Hammond, in adapting Geoffrey Wells's entries, has departed from his source. He has deviated from Wells's findings in those cases in which he felt that author's data to be incomplete or found them to be inaccurate; and, instead of structuring his descriptions of H.G. Wells's books in a simple chronological configuration, as does Geoffrey Wells, Hammond has separated the works by genre-novels, romances, short story collections, essay collections, non-fictional books, and non-fictional pamphlets -- and arranged the descriptions chronologically within each genre. Those of H.G. Wells's works published after the appearance of Geoffrey Wells's bibliography, of course, follow the same arrangement. Although one may question some of Hammond's classifications (E5, A Modern Utopia, for example, rests uneasily in the category nonfictional book), his division-by-genre of H.G. Wells's works represents an advancement over the arrangement found in Geoffrey Wells's volume, since most users of the bibliography, I assume, will be interested in one facet of Wells's varied literary career more than, or perhaps to the exclusion of, any other.

Hammond's volume develops through a series of additional listings. Wells's posthumously published works and letter collections are fully described. The collected editions of Wells's writings are cited, but only the first volume of Wells's well-known Atlantic Edition is described. Simply noted are books by other writers containing prefaces by Wells, books by other writers containing contributions by Wells, and Wells's illustrations. Among the appendices that follow are a chronological catalogue of Wells's works, a note on his "more important unreprinted writings," a chronological list of book-length Wells criticism, and a skeletal description of the Wells material at the University of Illinois-Urbana Library and the Bromley Central Library in England. An alphabetical index of Wells titles concludes the book. As Hammond makes clear in his preface, he has attempted to catalogue neither Wells's unreprinted journalism nor the article-length criticism of his works.

The fact that Hammond's book, for all its bibliographical shortcomings, provides much new information about H.G. Wells's works, coupled with Wells's stature as a writer of science fiction, will, no doubt, make this volume a must for many specialists in the field. And, in the last analysis, some of the responsibility for the book's deficiencies must rest with its publisher, who did not provide the author with the editorial assistance which might have led to Hammond's remedying those things which make it less than satisfactory. If the Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, of which the Wells bibliography is Volume 84, is to achieve the sort of reputation for uniform scholarly excellence currently shared by the Pittsburgh Studies in Bibliography and the Soho Bibliography Series, the firm must make sure that it, not its authors, establishes solid guidelines that can earn Garland that esteem.

-Joe Weixlmann

[A response by J.R. Hammond, and Joe Weixlmann's reply, appear in SFS 18 (July 1979).]

Two Specimens of the Cliff Notes Series

L. David Allen. Asimov's Foundation Trilogy and Other Works. Cliff Notes, 1977, 90p, $1.95; Herbert's Dune and Other Works. Cliff Notes, 1975, 101p, $1.50.

Despite disclaimers that they are not substitutes for the works themselves, these summaries, with their plot synopses are clearly intended for persons unwilling or unable to read the literature discussed. They answer the question, "What happened?" and little else. They are cribs in which Allen attempts no serious criticism nor provides any bibliography which might lead the interested reader to responsible discussions of the authors and their works. The real puzzle remains: why would anyone subject him- or herself to memorizing the essentially banal and indisputably boring plot summary, rather than reading the works themselves (which are easier to remember than the plot summary)?

Published two years before his discussion of Asimov, Allen's work on Frank Herbert's fiction is better than his treatment of Asimov. His biographical sketch of Herbert is more objective and balanced, his prose less florid and gushy than is the case with the handling of Asimov's life. In addition, by demonstrating that there may be more than one way to summarize a story -- depending on what the reader wants to emphasize -- Allen makes some effort, however minimal, to educate his audience in an obvious but nevertheless important element of literary criticism (pp 29-30). He also exposes his readers to a particular critical approach -- archetypal criticism -- with his observation that the archetype of the Heroic Romance is the unifying element binding Dune and Dune Messiah. Nevertheless, Allen usually is content with unsupported generalizations of praise or blame for the author and his work.

Allen's discussion of Isaac Asimov has all of the faults but few of the virtues of his review of Herbert's work. Allen's adulation of Asimov is positively embarrassing. Discussing Asimov's presence at DISCON II (World Science Fiction Convention, 1974, Washington, D.C.), Allen writes:

With trembling, the fan approaches and asks for his autograph. Asimov turns his attention to the fan, and, for the moment, that fan receives all of Asimov's attention. This man with one of the most renown [sic] reputations in science fiction seems genuinely interested in the neophyte; in fact, were the fan less bashful, a more extended conversation might have taken place. [p 5]

Along with this fulsome picture, the reader is subjected to such nonsense as: "Reportedly his [Asimov's] IQ is so high that it cannot be measured" (pp. 5-6). Even more mind-numbing statements follow. Introducing the Foundation Trilogy, Allen declares: "Elsewhere, Asimov has demonstrated that history does indeed follow general patterns, providing an outline which can be filled in by at least three periods in European history" (p 12). Really! This statement should relieve many historians; now, at last, they can put the problem to rest.

Allen's veneration of Asimov leads him into some curious statements. At one point in his discussion of the Foundation series, Allen praises Asimov's individuation of characters which enables the reader to "know them [the characters] as individuals with strengths and weaknesses" (p 19) -- a reading entirely at odds with my experience of the work. However, a few pages later, Allen concedes than "on very close analysis, we can see that they [the characters] are not all that well-developed,... they are really quite flat." Yet, in the next sentence, Allen reverses himself again: "This is not to suggest that Asimov should have done a better job of characterization, but rather to congratulate him for choosing those details of characterization so carefully and making them fit the character in a particular situation so well that we feel they are real and solid" (p 30). Nonsense. This is fuzzy and weak criticism. Why not "suggest" that while Asimov has some "interesting" stories that make for "pleasant reading," his skills in characterization are very weak indeed? Even on the level of discussing Asimov's ideas, Allen fails to consider the implications of some of Asimov's outrageous notions. He epitomizes the idea in The End of Eternity by saying, "Asimov seems to advocate that mankind bumble its way into the future. Even if 'bumble' is not quite the right word, making decisions whose consequences cannot be eliminated is considered preferable to being able to change the effects of any given decision..." (p 74). Allen is content to paraphrase Asimov's idea without exposing its silliness.

Most insidious, however, is Allen's remark that "it is, of course, not always fair to measure science fiction against the standards of other kinds of fiction, since its emphases and purposes are not the same as those other kinds;..." (p 63). Yet. the reader is never given any framework, whether traditional or otherwise, for judging SF.

One can only speculate as to what effects these cribs have on young readers. They are certainly useless for providing any models of serious, responsible literary criticism. It is to be hoped that readers will simply dismiss or ignore the evaluations. If they do this, then the worst these Notes can do is substitute for the first-hand experience of the works themselves.

-C.L. Elkins

Balls and Breasts in Science-Fiction Illustration

Harry Harrison. Great Balls of Fire! A History of Sex in Science Fiction Illustration. Grosset & Dunlap, 1977, 10x10, 118p, $14.95; also UK: Pierrot, £3.95.

The naive reader of this book might well assume that "balls" was a familiar expression for women's breasts. Big, round, breasts abound; on virtually every page, well highlighted, a large pair of globes protrude almost three dimensionally, attached only coincidentally to a female body.

The book traces the course of sex in SF illustration from its simple beginnings (in the thirties) to the present. In the first few chapters Harrison's commentary provides an amusing if not very serious analysis of the various standard elements of early SF art -- rocketships, robots, the hero in rubberized spacesuit, the gleaming brass breastplate (or as Harrison aptly abbreviates it, the brass bra) of SF women's fashion. He points out the fairly obvious Freudian symbolism of the powerful ray gun the hero inevitably carries, the groping multi-tentacled extraterrestrial monsters who menace the maidens, and explains (for the uninitiated) the implications of the "rescue-by-flying" illustrations: "In Freudian terms flying is synonymous with intercourse; even the staunchest non-Freudian, after one look at this art, would have to agree with that."

Harrison moves from the relatively simplistic early art through more complex areas -- sado-masochism, fetishism, homo-eroticism (each with its own chapter) -- before arriving at the present stage, a new form which he says, indicates "we have finally reached Maturity in science fiction art." This new mature art is characterized, according to Harrison, by a "candid and realistic approach towards sex"; in the accompanying illustrations, however, maturity is essentially the removal of the brazen brassieres to facilitate a closer examination of yet bigger, rounder breasts. For example, a two page spread depicting the story of a man and woman encased in protective metal who "rediscover their own sensuality": the caption says "their" but the focus of the sequence is on her, mainly her breasts which for several frames are, apparently, the only part of her body which she has been able to free from her armour; one frame features nothing but a single, balloon-round, breast in profile, nipple erect, with male thumb and two fingers closing in.

There are many more of these miracles of inflated spherical plenitude. Among them: a naked star maiden navigator whose enormous and perfectly circular breasts rest on a control panel, a support which makes possible what gravity would not permit; a helpless victim of Dracula whose breasts are thrust up since her tormenter has bent her backward over some rocky altar; a female Dracula whose bursting bosom is emphasized by her peculiar stance -- on all fours over her victim but with head and shoulders flung back. This woman Dracula is on the page facing the male Dracula and the picture is captioned "Genuine femlib, even among the monsters, although her victim is not quite so tender as his." Femlib for Harrison does not mean there is any change in the object on view. Despite the shift in roles, the focus of both Dracula pictures is the same, the singularly round breasts of the female. Whether the monster is male or female, the woman is the physically desirable figure, the male ugly and loathsome. In each of the pictures the viewer is implicitly challenged to replace the male figure, either to rescue the maiden victim (and thereby to possess her himself) or else to replace the male victim, wrestle successfully with the monster woman, and enjoy the fruits of victory. In both illustrations the objects of viewer attention are the two fulsome spheres which project from the women's chests.

In Cat's Cradle Vonnegut's narrator comments about Mona, the novel's dream woman, "Her breasts were like pomegranates or what you will, but like nothing so much as a young woman's breasts." Others apparently are not satisfied with such ordinary fare. The illustrations in Harrison's book go beyond the old grapefruit or pomegranate metaphors; these breasts are like nothing so much as volleyballs or footballs.

Their size suggests another quality implicit in the illustrations. If the fruit metaphor assumed women's breasts were something to be enjoyed, albeit non-reciprocally, the larger volleyball sized breasts in these illustrations present these great balls as a test of skill; the sense of challenge may be exciting but one must assume, it is also intimidating.

For all the naiveté of early SF illustrations with their brass bras and ray guns, the recent illustrations are a long way from maturity. The illustration depicting the largest breasts in the book suggests that just beneath this fascination with jumbo sized mammary glands lurk infantile feelings of dread as well as desire. The picture shows a sweet young thing whose breasts are so prominent (and so much in the foreground of the picture they seem to come between the viewer and the scene depicted) that an adolescent Tarzan figure, coming upon her in the forest, has dropped his hunting knife in terror. In a not so subtle bit of imagery, the knife's blade was buried in the earth, just beneath his groin, between the muscled legs spread wide apart as he prepares to flee. The teenage Tarzan's panic, like the Woody Allen character in "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex" trying to capture the giant wild breast running loose across the countryside, makes explicit the other, usually unstated, side of the preoccupation with bigger and bigger breasts: all that desire for the source of earliest gratification held in check by the fear of being smothered by the incarnation of that desire.

At least with the brass breastplates in place sexual relations were not depicted as a test of skill in some fantastic sudden death ball game. There must be a better route to maturity than presenting women as the ultimate challenge team in a sexual Super Bowl.

--Alison Szanto

A New Bibliography of Jack London

Joan R. Sherman Jack London: A Reference Guide. G.K. Hall & Co., 1977, xxviii+323, $22.00.

The introduction provides relevant information on pioneer publications of London's Collected Works abroad (Russia, Germany, Sweden) long before they ever became popular in the U.S. It also briefly assesses his non-artist, "writer of potboilers and juvenile thrillers" hard luck with Beacon Street litterateurs. The extensive bibliography of writings about Jack London is arranged chronologically and very indiscriminately by year of publication from 1900 to 1976. Otherwise the Guide contains listings of Master's theses (but no Ph.D. ones) on London, manuscript collections and even poems about old Jack. Those interested only in entries in English will find here a complete display of items in this language. Those with more international orientations (especially regarding a writer who provoked more interest abroad) will have to seek other sources. For complementary and more specific reference to London's SF, see Darko Suvin and David Douglas's listing of secondary material in English, French and Russian in their short "Jack London and His Science Fiction: An Annotated Chronological Select Bibliography" in Science-Fiction Studies, 3:181-87, July 1976.

--Nadia Khouri

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