Science Fiction Studies

#55 = Volume 18, Part 3 = November 1991


A Symposium on Utopia

Klaus L. Berghahn & Reinhold Grimm, eds. Utopian Vision, Technological Innovation, and Poetic Imagination. Reihe Siegen: Beiträge zur Literatur-, Sprach- und Medienwissenschaft, 91. Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1990. 130pp. DM 40 cloth, DM 28 paper

This volume of essays derives from a symposium held in 1987 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As the title indicates, these essays cover a wide variety of subjects, with topics ranging from Campanella's La Citta del Sole to Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture, and from extraterrestrial intelligences to the utopian aspects of the concept of Bildung. Unfortunately, there is also similar range in quality. Salvatore Calomino's essay on Campanella, for instance, too often belabors the obvious and arrives at the trite conclusion that "the mechanistic utopian structure seeks to model itself as a reflection of the universe. Personal Freedom within the structure must be defined in relation to all other units. In that sense, it remains collective" (41). Paul Alkon's discussion of "The Paradox of Technology in Mercier's L'An 2440 likewise is a disappointment. Alkon devotes a substantial portion of his essay to a summary of Gilles Lapouge's theory pointing out the parallels between utopian cities and mechanical clocks, and he proposes to demonstrate that the printing press plays a similar role in Mercier's work, but his demonstration that the printing press is used in l'an 2440 as "an instrument of morality" (54) hardly supports his sweeping claim of "crucial affinities linking utopia, uchronia, and the printing press" (48).

A number of the essays exhibit only a tenuous connection to utopian literature. William Coleman's essay "The Utopian Subject: David Friedrich Strauss' New Faith," for instance, presumably focuses on an attempt to envision a superior individual rather than a conventional utopian society. Yet the reader might not consider it a merely rhetorical question when Coleman asks halfway through his essay "what has this all to do with utopia?" Coleman seems unaware that the ideal of the improved individual does occur in utopias (for example, in Fourier), and thus he misses a chance to establish a more convincing connection between Strauss and the utopian tradition. In "Are We Alone? The Idea of Extraterrestrial Intelligence in Philosophy and Literature from Copernicus to H.G. Wells," Karl S. Guthke offers a brief summary of his book Der Mythos der Neuzeit (translated as The Last Frontier; reviewed in SFS #54); his essay, while intrinsically interesting, offers nothing new to those who have read his exhaustive study of this motif. Finally, Lars Gustafsson's "The Present as the Museum of the Future" presents a rather rambling meditation on a scene in The Time Machine, but fails to offer much of any conclusion.

Other contributions to this volume, however, are more rewarding. Klaus Reichert's essay on Bacon's Nova Atlantis emphasizes that the aspects of this work that have often been taken as expressing a blind faith in technological progress are actually balanced by an awareness of "the double-edged quality of the inventing spirit, of its dialectic of promise and threat, of destruction and benefit" (24). Reichert's discussion of Bacon's utopian society (which was christianized by St. Bartholomew) in the light of the apocryphal gospel of Bartholomew is particularly interesting; even though Reichert can offer no direct proof of a literary influence, he points out that both texts emphasize the dangers of insatiable curiosity.

The concept of Bildung (which is only approximately translatable as "education") is the focus of Wilhelm Vosskamp's essay. Vosskamp demonstrates how this term acquired an "exaggerated and ideology-laden meaning during the 18th and 19th centuries, and he emphasizes that this elevation of Bildung to a utopian level (referring not only to the individual, but to mankind as a whole) is a uniquely German phenomenon. Vosskamp traces the connection of utopia and Bildung back to Andreae's Christianopolis and also demonstrates its influence in the German reception of Rousseau, and particularly in the genre of the Bildungsroman, which "becomes itself a utopia of progressive perfection" (72).

Narciso G. Menocal's discussion of "The Sources of Frank Lloyd Wright's Architectural Utopia: Variations" is the last essay in the volume, and it is rather typical for the book, as it presents an interesting survey of utopian elements in Wright's work, but also includes a lengthy summary of Edward Bellamy's oeuvre which fails to offer anything new to students of utopian literature. Overall, this volume is rather uneven in quality. While several contributions are very informative, others seem to be unaware of much of the recent scholarship in the field of utopian studies.

-- Frank Dietz Austin Community College

Beam Me Up to Better Theory

Eric Cheyfitz. The Poetics of Imperialism: Translation and Colonization from "The Tempest" to "Tarzan". NY: Oxford UP, 1991. xx+202. $27.50

My inclinations in language are always toward "correctness" and decorum. I like to see SF criticism that deals with SF. I like to read literary history written seamlessly. Such inclinations, however, close out the new, the monster birth. Eric Cheyfitz reminds me of that about myself. His new book "translates," or carries one militantly in the direction of, other possibilites for literary study. That is what is science-fictional about his scholarship and why it can be reviewed here although all that he mentions from the SF family is a little bit of Burroughs. From what Cheyfitz tells us about "kinship economies," however, such systems broaden the notion of identity and of the identity of the family, or genre, so that for a true kinship economy, such as those found in some native American societies, everything participates in everything else.

Somewhere in such a realm (what he calls "place" when he writes heavily about finding a place on which "to ground" one's theory) of open-ended possibilities is where I would locate this short, intense book. The problem, however, is one that Cheyfitz does not seem to be aware of--he does not show the enemy's "place" well. If he is aware of the opposing complexity of theory and just chooses not to describe it, he weakens the historical thrust of his argument about how Western/American policies have foundered on the twin shoals of individualism and absolutism. In short, his "Whiggish" reading of history and literature since the end of the Middle Ages never acknowledges that the dilemmas inherent in "translation" and in the delineations of correctness and decorum were ever addressed seriously before; the story he tells, despite his own "high" language of scholarship, is too simplistic and melodramatic.

Western nations have used theories of eloquence and classical "correctness" in language cynically to create empire and to repossess "proper" property from other creatures. A few western writers (he likes Montaigne on cannibalism best) seem accidentally to have imagined, what native Americans have always known, "kinship" views of language and society where all separate distinctions flow into one another in a near sexual way. Utopia for Cheyfitz involves all new mixtures and couplings where neither Tarzan nor the apes in Burroughs are separate and distinct species and where Caliban and Miranda in Shakespeare are encouraged to produce ever new generations of monsters. These are exciting images and exciting possibilites for mixed genres and mixed speciation, and all of us who love SF and who are believers in Whig progress will like them. But the range of reference in Cheyfitz is so narrow--Burroughs, Shakespeare, Montaigne, a few native American writers, and a few theorists on anthropology and on the "rape" of imperialism. Furthermore, his reading of the few literary texts that he considers and of some the secondary literature is soaked with ideologic disdain. He does not like the classic texts. We recall the Puritan Jeremy Collier disliking Restoration plays for non-literary reasons. Cheyfits dislikes Shakespeare and Burroughs because they fail to image the the flowing sense of translation that he envisions.

Cheyfitz may be right, just as the Whig interpretation of history was right for a Macaulay or a Thackeray. On the other hand, the dilemmas inherent in translation may be genuine dilemmas. I urge Cheyfitz and his readers to look at Dryden on translation, at Swift on the "putting on of coats" of metaphor, at the continual wrestlings since Montaigne with the problems of the Ancient and the Modern. Some of our best SF, also, wrestles with exactly these problems; and so I think that it is strangely too "puritan" not to acknowledge such wrestling of serious thinkers. Thus though I may agree with the "pure" ideology that Cheyfitz promotes, his preaching methods leave too many gaps. Such theory is too "trekky" for my tastes.

-- Donald M. Hassler Kent State University

A Handbook for Frankenstein

Stephen C. Behrendt, ed. Approaches to Teaching Shelley's "Frankenstein." Approaches to Teaching World Literature Series #33. NY: MLA, 1990. x+190. $34.00 cloth, $19.00 paper.--

This is the first time I have had the opportunity to examine any of the volumes in this series; if the others demonstrate the same range and quality, I cannot endorse the series too highly. I certainly recommend this present volume to anyone who teaches Frankenstein; researchers who are not already experts may also find it helpful, as I myself discovered when I undertook a recent project which involved Shelley's novel.

According to Joseph Gibaldi, the series editor,

The principal objective of the series is to collect within each volume different points of view on teaching a specific literary work, a literary tradition, or a writer widely taught at the undergraduate level. The preparation of each volume begins with a wide-ranging survey of instructors, thus enabling us to include in the volume the philosophies and approaches, thoughts and methods of scores of experienced teachers. The result is a sourcebook of material, information, and ideas on teaching the subject of the volume to undergraduates. (vii)

It seems to me that these aims have been excellently served in the present volume. The breadth of research involved in its preparation is obvious, and has resulted in a teaching guide which, at the very least, provides an extremely informative overview of the heterogeneity of critical materials and approaches which are currently available on the subject. Many of these materials have appeared quite recently, products of the growing critical "rehabilitation" of Frankenstein in particular and of Mary Shelley's literary stature in general. The very existence of Approaches to Teaching Shelley's "Frankenstein" is an indication of this on-going critical reevaluation, which was recently discussed by Mari-Jane Rochelson in her review-essay, "Mary Shelley's Progeny" (SFS #51).

The organization of Behrendt's volume is both elegant and coherent; I would like to assume that this is typical of the series as a whole. Behrendt contributes a brief introductory section on "Materials," including useful information on available editions, recommended reading for students, and a list of the more influential and accessible film versions of Frankenstein. He then provides a succinct introduction to the 19 essays which form the body of the volume, and concludes with a usefully wide-ranging "Works Cited" section.

The essays themselves are grouped into four areas--"General Issues," "Contexts of Study," "Specific Course Contexts," and "Frankenstein and Film." As these headings suggest, the essays are intended to introduce readers to a wide range of critical perspectives, here including feminism, Marxism, and psychoanalytic criticism; they also call attention to many of the significant contexts within which Frankenstein may usefully be examined, from biography to aesthetic theory to literary history. Specific teaching contexts include SF courses, courses on literature by women writers, and general humanities courses. The last two essays provide a wide-ranging examination of the many transformations which Frankenstein has undergone in the hands of the film industry.

It is worth noting here that, while Approaches to Teaching Shelley's "Frankenstein" has been prepared as a guide for undergraduate teaching, the level of its own discourse is definitely not undergraduate. In general, I found the quality of these essays--as brief as they necessarily are--more than satisfactory and, in some cases, outstanding, which is more, perhaps, than one has a right to expect from such a wide-ranging collection. Behrendt has chosen his materials well, and has included contributions by such well-respected critics as Anne K. Mellor, author of Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters (NY: Methuen 1988) and also consulting editor for the present volume; Mary K. Patterson Thornburg, author of The Monster in the Mirror: Gender and the Sentimental/Gothic Myth in "Frankenstein"(Ann Arbor, UMI Research, 1987), and William Veeder, author of Mary Shelley and "Frankenstein": The Fate of Androgyny (Chicago UP, 1986).

It is unfortunate that there are no other volumes in this series which directly intersect with SF. However, several earlier volumes are relevant within the broader context of fantastic literature, including studies of Voltaire's Candide (1987), Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1988), and Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (1990). The fact that all these volumes are "sensibly priced" is a final--by no means negligible--point in their favor; if the present volume is any indication, the reader can rest assured that she will be getting her money's worth.


A Critical Edition of She.

Norman Etherington. The Annotated She: A Critical Edition of H.Rider Haggard's Victorian Romance with Introduction and Notes. The Visions Series. Bloomington: Indiana UP. xliv+241. $37.50

In recent years the term "critical edition" has most frequently been applied to books that reproduce a text together with a number of critical essays, often with little attention paid to the authority of the text reproduced. For SF the most notorious of such editions is Frank McConnell's The Time Machine/The War of the Worlds (1977), which David Y. Hughes excoriated in SFS #12 (July 1977) both for the ignorance displayed by the editor in his introduction and notes and for the choice of defective copy-texts, remarking "all they [McConnell and Oxford UP] had to do to avoid virtually any chance for error was to reproduce the text Wells intended them to, that of the Atlantic Edition" (4:196). Harry M. Geduld, general editor of the Visions series, when preparing The Definitive Time Machine, followed Hughes' advice, for which he was in his turn blasted in SFS #46 by David Lake, who, although he had once agreed that the AE text was definitive, had later demonstrated that Wells made additional revisions for the publication of the story in The Scientific Romances (1933). Having found a number of instances in which Geduld's text fails to follow AE exactly (primarily the fault of the proofreader, who presumably failed to the compare the texts word-for-word, rather than that of the editor, unless the two were one, though secondarily of the editor, who should have made certain that proper procedures were followed; but who am I, as a far-from-perfect compositor and proofreader, to make such judgments?) and being somewhat critical of Geduld's notes and appendices, Lake concluded his essay with harsh words: "I think, in the light of all the above, Hughes's summary judgment on McConnell applies to Geduld also: he botched it" (15:373). Although I agree wholeheartedly with Hughes on McConnell, I feel that Lake is a bit too harsh on Geduld, whose book is valuable, and far superior to McConnell's, in its introduction, notes, and appendices, which make up 155 of its 218 pages.

Hughes, Lake, and Geduld all apparently accept the theory that a copy-text should be the author's final version. I disagree, though perhaps only in defining the term "final." That is to say, I distrust an author's second thoughts, especially when they come many years later. For me the "final" version of The Time Machine, and the proper copy-text, is the London edition of 1895. Revisions made for editions as remote from the original as as 1924 and 1933 are from 1895 might well be termed postfinal and treated by an editor in the same way as variations from the copy-text in the versions that preceded it.

Norman Etherington can hardly be faulted in any way (if we can assume perfect proofreading) for his handling of the text of She, his copy-text being the "New Edition" of 1888 in which "Approximately four hundred minor corrections and emendations were made to orthography, punctuation, and individual words" of the first printing of the first edition of 1887 (xxii). His procedure for dealing with earlier versions differed from what is (or was) the normal procedure in ways made possible by the modern computer:

First the text of the Graphic serialization was typed into a computer. The text of the first edition was then correlated with the manuscript, and the results were used to change the Graphic text. Finally, the changes of 1888 were interpolated, excluding only mistakes in punctuation and orthography. This procedure has required more reading and rereading than would ordinarily be the case, but working backward from the text of 1888 might not have brought to light the most significant of the author's emendations. (xxiii)

If the edition that results can be faulted in any way, it is perhaps in Etherington's limiting himself to annotating "significant" emendations, though in this regard I can can cite only one instance: the failure to quote the text of the "manuscript version of chapter VII [which] strongly implies that Leo slept with...Ustane" (xx). Since it seemed obvious to me, when I was writing about Haggard, that Leo did that very thing (see Riverside Quarterly 6.2 [April 1974]: 136), I would like now to see the manuscript passage whose deletion has apparently persuaded Etherington that Leo refused the advances of the temptress.

Aside from quibblings about what is or is not significant and some differences of interpretation and evaluation, I can find no fault with Etherington's introduction and annotations. His knowledge of Haggard and his times seems complete, or at least sufficient to task at hand (he has also published a book and two articles on Haggard), as well as his knowledge of earlier critical work (even though he omits, perhaps properly, any reference to my RQ essay). Finally, this essential work for anyone studying Haggard appears in a handsomely printed and bound volume of 295 pages, well worth its price, especially if one compares it with other books reviewed in this issue of SFS.

-- RDM

Starmont, Borgo, and the English Association

  • Nicholas Ruddick. Christopher Priest.
  • Stephen R. Dziemianowicz. The Annotated Guide to Unknown & Unknown Worlds
  • Steve Behrends. Clark Ashton Smith.
  • Raymond Z. Gallun with Dr. Jeffrey M. Elliott. Starclimber: The Literary Adventures and Autobiography of Raymond Z. Gallun
  • Beverly Lyon Clark. Lewis Carroll
  • Scott Alan Burgess. The Work of Dean Ing: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide
  • Tom Shippey, ed., for the English Association. Fictional Space: Essays on Contemporary Science Fiction


Nicholas Ruddick. Christopher Priest. Starmont Reader's Guide #50. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1989. ix+104. $19.95 boards, $9.95 paper

Christopher Priest, now in his fiftieth year, has been publishing SF since 1966. He was closely identified with the New Wave in the 1970s, and indeed may have been first to use that term in SF criticism (3), and has been a frequent contributor to Foundation since 1973. His novels and stories have all been serious and literate; they have been (in the SF press) widely reviewed, and some of them have won SF awards. By 1989 it was certainly high time for a book on Priest's work in such a series as the Starmont Reader's Guides.

Ruddick's book was one of those in a box I received from Professor Elkins last fall upon becoming SFS book-review editor. The others I placed without much trouble, but I had to make fifteen telephone calls before I could find a North American scholar who not only recognized Priest's name but also felt familiar enough with his work to review the book; whether this indicates that Priest is less highly regarded in the US and Canada than in the UK, I cannot say. The reviewer I finally found has not met his commitment, so that it is also high time for a review of Ruddick's book in SFS.

The book has the standard SRG format: Chronology, Biocritical Introduction, a chapter on each of the novels and one on the short stories, and an annotated bibliography. Priest himself reviewed the book in the Autumn 1990 issue of Foundation: "It is...remarkably free of factual errors, his reading of CP's books and stories is close, sympathetic and well argued, and overall it is intelligently put together and highly readable, with a minimum of academic jargon" (#50:94). I have no quarrel with Ruddick's treatment of three of the four books by Priest I have read--Inverted World (1974), A Dream of Wessex (1977; US title, A Perfect Lover), and An Infinite Summer(1979; short stories)--and certainly none with Priest's discussion of them in his review, the finest self-critique of an SF author known to me. But the fourth book is a different matter.

It seems to me that Priest is ill-fitted and never comfortable while wearing the persona of Edward Turnbull, the narrator of The Space Machine: A Scientific Romance, which is offered us as a homage to H.G. Wells. The narrative voice, intentionally un-Wellsian, is also un-Priestian. The style, presumably intended to reflect that of Victorian popular fiction, is awkward and flat and so reflects that fiction at its worst rather than its best. The development of the relationship between hero and heroine is unpersuasive: that Edward should be attracted to Amelia is understandable, but not that she should be attracted to him. More important, this book, an account of events supplementary to those depicted in The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, "represents," in the words of Brian M. Stableford, "a gross misunderstanding of Wells's work" (Foundation #11 [March 1977]: 55), not least, one may add, in its depiction of Wells as heroic warrior and philosophical optimist. Also to be regretted are Ruddick's absurd statements that "Wells at thirty was a primitive as far as his literary education was concerned" and that "Priest is...far more consciously a literary writer than Wells ever was" (35).

Even so, Priest is one of the best contemporary SF writers, and Ruddick's book one of the best in the Starmont series.

Stephen R. Dziemianowicz. The Annotated Guide to Unknown & Unknown Worlds. Starmont Studies in Literary Criticism #13. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1991. 212p. $25.95 boards, $14.95 paper

In the 1920s Street and Smith was by far the largest of the pulp-magazine publishers, with four weeklies, four semi-monthlies, and four or five monthlies. In the 1930s new publishers entered the field with mass-production techniques in editing as well as printing; they flooded the newsstands with monthly, bi-monthly, and quarterly titles so that while the total circulation of the pulps increased, per-issue circulations went into a drastic decline, with returns running 40 or 50 percent. During the war, magazines could sell all the copies they could print, and the total pulp-magazine circulation reached unprecedented heights. Street and Smith, having more profitable use for its paper allotment in non-pulp titles, converted its weeklies and semi-monthlies into monthlies and killed most of its pulp titles; the last reported total for the S&S group was 274,027 for five titles in 1948 (The N.W. Ayer and Sons Directory of Newspapers and Periodicals, 1949), of which perhaps half was for Astounding Science Fiction, the one pulp not abandoned by the firm in 1949.

Astounding was perhaps the most profitable of the S&S pulps as early as the late thirties, and John W. Campbell by that time was perhaps the only pulp-magazine editor of any stature left in the firm; it was therefore not unreasonable for him to have been given four years, 1939-1943, in which to bring a new magazine to profitability, something that would surely not have been done for any other editor or by any other pulp-magazine firm of the period. Though profitability was evidently never achieved, Unknown, renamed Unknown Worlds in 1941, found a readership whose enthusiasm has hardly abated in the ensuing half-century.

The first third of this book is devoted to a history of the magazine, a discussion of its fiction in general terms, and a discussion of its influence on later fantasy and SF. The middle third presents issue-by-issue, story-by-story notes and comment. Appendices make up the last third: lists of accepted but never published manuscripts, stories transferred to Astounding, dates on which the stories were purchased, stories published in the UK edition; indexes to the stories, the authors, and letters-to-the-editor; and finally a list of the stories reprinted from the magazine, with publication data. All this (which amounts to much the fullest treatment I know of any pulp magazine) was made possible by the existence of the Street and Smith Collection at Syracuse University. One wonders whether that collection contains such information as would make it possible to ascertain things like word-rates paid to authors or the circulations of individual magazines in the S&S group.

Steve Behrends. Clark Ashton Smith. Starmont Reader's Guide #49. Mercer Island: WA, 1990. vi+112. $19.95 boards, $9.95 paper

For 52 years, from the time he was nine until his marriage at 61 in 1954, Clark Ashton Smith, lived in a cabin near the small town of Auburn in northern California, with his parents until their deaths in the mid-'30s and thereafter alone. His schooling ended with the grades. Except for a few brief visits to San Francisco, he seems never to have left the Auburn area, devoting himself to reading, writing, and painting and sculpture (in which he was entirely self-taught). He won a measure of fame at 19 with the publication in 1912 of The Star Treader and Other Poems, which was followed by poems in Poetry, Smart Set, The Yale Review. Four of his stories, characterized by Behrends as "contes cruels (biting) with Oriental themes" (5), had earlier appeared in The Overland Monthly and Black Cat.

"Sadly, this literary notoriety [sic] did little to change what Smith saw as his dull and tedious life" (6). During the years 1913-1921 he was in very poor health and published nothing. In 1922 and 1925 he had new collections of his poetry printed as booklets by the local newspaper. In 1927 he began, but apparently never finished, a translation of Les Fleurs du Mal; later that year some of his paintings were exhibited at the Salon des Independents in New York City. (Whether and were any sold, or mentioned by critics, we are not told.)

From such elite publications as Poetry, Smart Set, and The Yale Review, it was in 1928 a long way down to the garish Weird Tales. But Smith had been in correspondence with H.P. Lovecraft since 1922, and it was presumably through Lovecraft's encouragement that "Three Poems in Prose by Charles P. Baudelaire" was published in the August issue of Weird Tales, followed by a story, "The Ninth Skeleton," in its September issue. When in 1929 a girl friend demanded that he cease being idle, he decided to try to earn money by writing (7). During the next four years he sold about 100 stories to Weird Tales and the SF pulps. In 1932, outraged by the way Hugo Gernsback had mutilated one of his stories, he ceased to write for Wonder Stories, previously his most receptive SF market, and by the end of that year had almost entirely abandoned the writing of fiction. The extreme poverty in which he lived ended with his marriage, his wife having a house in Pacific Grove and a monthly Social Security income of $106.00.

In 1933 Smith had a collection of his stories printed by the local newspaper. Four volumes of his short stories and two of his poetry were published by Arkham House before his death in 1961. Since then fan and paperback publishers have gathered all or almost all of his work into books, including reproductions of his paintings. His following, if much smaller than that of Lovecraft or Howard, is still considerable. Behrends' purpose in this SRG volume is "to provide a spring-board for future Smith scholarship, and also to present little-known information and obscure material by Smith whenever opportunities arose to do so" (20). For scholars interested in studying the life and work of the most dedicated artist among SF writers, Behrends' book is perhaps the best place to start.

Raymond Z. Gallun with Dr. Jeffrey M. Elliott. Starclimber: The Literary Adventures and Autobiography of Raymond Z. Gallun. Borgo Bioviews #1. San Bernardino, CA: Borgo Press, 1901. 168pp. $24.95 cloth, $14.95 paper

Given the somewhat similar circumstances of their childhood, and that they both wrote SF and had problems with Hugo Gernsback, the lives, careers, and writings of two authors could hardly differ in more ways than those of Clark Ashton Smith and Raymond Z. Gallun.

Gallun was born in 1911 in a small town in Wisconsin. His parents were working-class people, somewhat eccentric, but solid citizens; he himself from an early age worked in a cannery and at odd jobs. His interest in science developed from reading through a large number of college-level textbooks left in the attic of his parents' house by a former owner. He decided to become a writer while reading the Martian stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, for a writer could be anybody he wanted to be for as long as he liked, and then somebody else (18). At 15, in 1926, he discovered Amazing Stories. At his high school a short story was required in junior and senior English toward the end of the academic year. For junior English in 1927 he wrote "The Crystal Ray"; his teacher gave him A-. In senior English in 1928 he earned an A without the minus for "The Space Dwellers" and thereupon sent both stories to Amazing. They were eventually published, not in Amazing, but after some typical Gernsback chicanery, in the November 1929 issues of Science Wonder Stories and Air Wonder Stories.

Having worked a year in a shoe factory and saved some money, he entered to the University of Wisconsin in 1929. His intention was to work his way through, but the attractions of life away from home were such that he squandered his savings in mildly riotous living and never got around to looking for part-time employment. In his composition class, stories from The American Mercury were offered as models. "I tried, but it was hard for me to bend my wits in their direction" (40). During the summer of 1930 he worked in the cannery, and in September, having decided against college, he returned to the shoe factory and the pursuit of a career in SF. After three years in which his stories were accepted and published by Gernsback but not paid for, he finally found a home in Astounding Stories, which during the 1930s published 32 of his stories. Always a provident young man, he now had money sufficient for vacations in New Orleans and, in 1938, for passage from that city to Europe. In Paris, while continuing to write, he found employment teaching English to refugees from Germany. After visits to Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, war having finally come in 1939, he joined the crew of a steamship in Bordeaux for passage to New York.

From then until the mid-'50s his life was one of working at this job or that by day (often physical labor) and writing for the pulps by night (once or twice he made the slicks), relieved by frequent journeys in the USA and abroad. He was known in the SF world as an idea man; much of this book is devoted to detailing the scientific concepts around which he constructed his stories. As might be expected, his best stories are those in which the concept dominates the narrative (e.g. "Seeds of the Dusk," Astounding, June 1938; in a number of anthologies) and his poorest those given over to melodramatic action. In the late 1950s, weary of a life of hard work at low pay, he became a technical writer for a corporation, a job that he held for eleven years, writing only when the spirit moved him. For twelve years his writing was devoted primarily to a novel of 1450 pages about the life of an SF writer, "Too long to be commercially viable" (127). All but forgotten by the SF world, his recent stories and novels (including Skyclimber, 1981) all but ignored by SF critics, he now in his eighties longs one last success.

Except for a three-page introduction, this book is a straight first-person account of Gallun's life. Why then is it attributed to "Raynond Z. Gallun with Dr. Jeffrey M. Elliot"? The style is colloquial, conversational (many paragraphs beginning with "No, I didn't"); perhaps it was talked into a recorder and later heavily edited by Dr. Elliot (whose name as editor or collaborator always appears with the honorific). Be that as it may, this brief autobiography is interesting enough to make me imagine that I would attempt to read the 1450-page autobiographical novel if a copy were at hand.

Beverly Lyon Clark. Lewis Carroll. Starmont Reader's Guide #47. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1990. viii+96. $19.95 boards, $9.95 paper. It may be possible to write a book on Lewis Carroll of special interest to SF scholars; this book does not attempt that task. Its value as a study of the author I am not qualified to judge.

Scott Alan Burgess. The Work of Dean Ing: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide. Bibliographies of Modern Authors #11. San Bernardino, CA: Borgo Press, 1990. 82p. $19.95 cloth, $9.95 paper

This book follows the format of the series as detailed in SFS #53 (March 1991): 151-53. Dean Ing, with degrees in speech and a doctorate in communications theory, seems to have minored in engineering, or to have made himself something of an engineer while in the Air Force and during later employment with aircraft firms. In the years 1962-65 he designed and built (in his back yard, as it were) "the Mayan Magnum, a state-of-the-art automobile which was featured at numerous auto shows in the late 1960s and early 70s" (13), an accomplishment that lends substance to his vividly expressed contempt for US auto makers, US industry in general, and the soft-living, wealth-worshipping American society. People, he says, should have status not for what they own but for what they have accomplished. With respect to the Mayan Magnum, "most idolaters gave me status for buying the bloody thing"(72).

Dean Ing is a man with a mission. In 1977 he resigned the professorial position he had held for three years in order to devote himself entirely to writing. Since then, through 1990, in addition to numerous magazine stories and articles, he has written 14 books (six SF novels, two spy thrillers, one story and one essay collection, and five collections in which SF stories are mingled with essays on related topics), all or almost all devoted to themes also propounded in three non-fiction books of which he was editor or co-author: High Frontier by General Daniel Graham (1983), a book supporting Reagan's "strategic defense initiative," Mutual Assured Survival, with Jerry Pournelle (1984), and The Future of Flight, with Leik Myrabo (1985). He has also edited and/or completed seven novels derived from manuscripts by Mack Reynolds, who died in 1983. The last book in Burgess's list is a half-book: Silent Thunder bound with Heinlein's "Universe" and scheduled for June 1991, but not yet received in Terre Haute as this is being written (July 10th).

On social, economic, and political matters, I find myself in full agreement with what Ing has to say in conversation with Burgess (5-11) and in his Afterword, "Excuse the Shouting" (71-74)--with his diagnosis of present-day ills, that is. And one could hardly disagree with the fundamental messages (self-reliance and social responsibility) that he wishes to convey through his fictions (95% entertainment, 5% message [9]). On the other hand, I am largely in disagreement with the politics of High Frontier and Mutual Assured Survival, and entirely so with his literary aesthetic as indicated by his choice of the thriller as the basic model for his SF. The three stories in Anasazi(1980), perhaps the least typical of his books, contain many good things, but each is vitiated by the bang-bang action of its resolution, not to mention the spiritualism (in SF terms, the psi stuff) that eventuates in a conclusion similar to that of Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil.

Tom Shippey, ed., for the English Association. Fictional Space: Essays on Contemporary Science Fiction. Essays and Studies 1990 (#43). Oxford: Basil Blackwell, & Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1991. vii+227. $70.00

This volume seems to be offered as an introduction to contemporary SF for college professors of English and thus is on a more sophisticated level than the "Welcome Mats for Newcomers" that I reviewed in our November 1990 issue. Shippey's preface, "Learning to Read Science Fiction," is quite good, and the seven essays (by John R.R. Christie, John Huntington, Robert Crossley, Shippey, Alasdair Spark, Alan C. Elms, and our own Walter E. Meyers) are all of the quality one would expect from these well-known scholars.

I do not know what the membership dues of the English Association are, though I imagine that they are reasonable and that they include the annual volumes of the Essays and Studies series, but why any non-member would pay $70.00 for this volume I cannot imagine.


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