Science Fiction Studies

#83 = Volume 28, Part 1 = March 2001


Stanislaw Lem—A Moralist Who Doesn’t Moralize. (The following address was delivered at the International Stanislaw Lem conference at Krakow in November 1999.) Nothing goes out of style as quickly as the future. Even the books of Stanislaw Lem have to face this problem. In spaceships cruising beyond the milky way—Lem’s flying monasteries—we find computers fed by punch cards, old-fashioned libraries with folios, and control rooms where pilots operate with compasses and drafting boards. There are authors who fail to survive this incongruity between technological fantasy and real progress. I don’t know a better argument against Erich von Däniken than the fact that the extraterrestrials he presented to the public 30 years ago have utterly gone out of style. Since 1968, when von Däniken published Chariots of the Gods, technological progress has far surpassed all the inventions that von Däniken considered technical features of a civilization more advanced than ours. The telephone used by Moses, which von Däniken believed he recognized in an ancient relief, reminds us of radio equipment of the 1950s, not of contemporary devices.                

Lem need not fear such arguments, and for three reasons. First, we can see today how some of his predictions have been realized—let me mention only virtual reality, genetic engineering, and the information revolution. Secondly, the philosophical core of Lem’s work is as old (and as new) as the philosophy of our civilization itself. (You know the trick: while scientists try to find solutions, philosophers invent problems. They know that problems have a longer life-span and therefore a better reputation.) The third reason that Lem’s work doesn’t go out of fashion is that he is questioning the conditions of human existence in a world that is facing changes more radical than ever before in history. In a world where you can buy the eggs of super models on the internet, or clone and patent animals commercially, the ethical foundations of society are in transition. Already a child today can have five parents—two biological ones, a surrogate mother, and two social ones. If such a child wants to follow the Bible, he or she has to honor five parents for a lifetime. Some of us are quite fed up with only two.               

The question is: should one adapt morality to new technological realities or vice-versa? Stanislaw Lem has never had the illusion that technological innovations could be suppressed: they will be implemented sooner or later, for good or for ill. Indeed, one of his most fascinating ideas, with which he has been experimenting in various books, is that ethics itself might be susceptible to technological manipulation: we find in Lem’s fiction societies whose members are vaccinated against evil. But his readers know that such well-meaning schemes will certainly provoke some sort of trouble.                

But let me begin with something less complex, with the stories of Pirx the Pilot. As in the classical Bildungsroman of the nineteenth century (novels concerned with the intellectual or spiritual development of the hero), Pirx goes through a series of adventures. To get to know oneself means to get to know the world. This idea is out of fashion nowadays, when everybody wants to know him or herself as quickly as possible—in a workshop over the weekend, say (become a Buddhist in three days, breakfast included). By contrast, in spite of his rocket ship, Pirx is a more leisurely type. His growth from cadet to commodore is a progress from an eager, awkward youngster to a lonely old man searching in the mirror for the traces of his youth, which he wanted to lose as quickly as possible when he was young. His wish to be a romantic hero fails in a world that has long ago lost its romance. But what makes Pirx so special? His intelligence isn’t outstanding—at least not as outstanding as the intelligence of his author. But he has instinct, a way of looking at people and machines that differs from his often technocratic colleagues. Pirx’s personality is shown in the way that he deals with a problematic situation as a whole. Sometimes he finds his solutions by chance, but this is exactly the point: he gives chance a chance. He recognizes its signs.               

Confronting technology, humanity is confronted with itself. If it doesn’t realize that, it may even lose its life, as we can see in the stories “Patrol” (1959) and “The Conditioned Reflex” (1963). When facing technological problems, Pirx recognizes their human factor and even their human core. In the story “Ananke,” the last and the most mature of the Pirx stories, Pirx discovers that the computer of the spaceship has the same mental illness as its designer, a man who wanted his machine to be so perfect that the machine does everything perfectly—except fulfill its task. Pirx, who as a young man was fascinated by technology, in this story has become skeptical. He has learned that nobody is perfect.                

We find this motif—technology versus human imperfection—also in the story “The Inquest” (1968). But here it is turned upside down. Pirx, one of the most experienced pilots, has to investigate the crew of a spaceship to determine those among the crew who are human beings and those who are not. A new generation of robots has been created, raising the question of what’s the difference between a perfect copy and the original. In Lem’s story, the original is imperfect. It is fallibility, the fact that human beings make mistakes, that leads the way out of difficult situations that the robot, programmed for perfection, would guide into catastrophe. Lem presents us with a kind of advanced Turing-test, and the machine fails the test because it’s just too good. 

To see the human factor in technical issues means also that Pirx respects robots in a way that other people do not. If there is something like human dignity, there must also be something like nonhuman dignity. Whatever humans have created in their image should be treated as a partner, though perhaps not exactly a partner of the same class. In the story “The Accident” (1968), there is an interesting comment about this: humanity, in creating thinking machines, has given them limited capabilities and consciousness to prevent them from taking control of the world. And this story argues that if the robots should organize a revolution one day, Pirx would side with them. On the one hand, this is a paraphrase of the paradise theme: human beings revolt against god precisely because god has given them a limited capability to understand the world. The only thing that we are perfectly capable of understanding is our imperfection. On the other hand, like every idea that Lem has experimented with, he takes it to the limit, making us think of possible consequences. Personally, I don’t fear that Lem will one day lead the robots in a war on humanity. I don’t even think that Pirx would do so. Lem is just conducting what Einstein called Gedanken-experiment, a thought-experiment.

The technological world that we live in has brought an enormous expansion of our senses. Even more, it has created new senses with which we are exploring our universe. This evolution has just begun, and we don’t yet know what the consequences will be. It is interesting to see how the artificial space that surrounds us right now, and will surround us even more in the near future (this expansion of our capabilities by technical means), is treated in the Pirx stories. This space itself becomes an ethical one. The human body is no longer the locus of morals. Lem deals with this idea in some of his novels, as we will see: the future societies he describes have created an ethical space by technical means. They have tried to implant morals in a way that prevents anyone from doing any harm to others.  

Of course, Lem’s books have also been influenced by the times in which they were written. Norbert Wiener’s work on cybernetics and artificial intelligence from the late 1940s gave birth to many illusions, to hopes that did not pan out. Today, it is only a question of time until we build a computer that is better at chess than any human being. But robots still have major difficulties even building a tower out of pieces of wood—a job most three-year-olds are quite good at. In his later works, Lem is even less fascinated by technology than he was two decades ago; and he was never seduced by technology itself in the way that American sf authors have been. Something else is important for him. In confronting strange worlds on their space odysseys, Lem’s heroes are, like Pirx, confronted with themselves. Human beings, as a species and as individuals, get to know themselves only if there is another side, something completely different that they can compare themselves to. The ocean of Solaris or the necrosphere of The Invincible (1964) don’t give human beings a chance to find out what they are—human beings can only attempt to find that out by themselves. Lem’s heroes, the psychologist Kelvin from Solaris and the navigator Rohan from The Invincible, are not only driven by scientific curiosity or the thirst for knowledge. They also show respect for things that they don’t understand. This is reasonable in Kelvin’s case, since he feels guilty. His wife killed herself because of him, and now, as her simulacrum is brought to life, his feelings towards this strange emanation do not differ much from the feelings he had for the real person. But Rohan seems strange: his goal is to save an environment of small and deadly things that have killed his companions.                

The adventure to get to the limits of our known world means for Lem that we must also respect the borders between our own world and others. Lem’s heroes, especially Kelvin, are driven by the hope of salvation; but what they find is nothing but a mirror, and often a blank one. The real alien is human. And just as human beings shouldn’t kill each other, they also shouldn’t kill what they do not understand. Snow, Kelvin’s colleague on Solaris Station, declares that their situation is “beyond morals”: they are allowed to use any means, even brute force, to analyze the ocean. But Kelvin, like most of Lem’s heroes, doesn’t agree. Kant’s categorical imperative is a principle not only to be respected in terms of human beings, but also in terms of aliens—even when they haven’t any human touch. In religious terms, we would define this as a respect for creation, a principle that all the world religions have in common, though it hasn’t been followed much by Christianity. There are social reasons for that principle, but there is, as far as Lem is concerned, also a philosophical one—his famous ignoramus et ignorabimus. Since we will never know what the truth is, and since we will never make contact with life that hasn’t grown on earth, we had better keep our hands off. We don’t know what the ocean on Solaris is really doing—is it cruel and performing some sort of psychic vivisection, is it offering gifts, or is it stealing the most private, hidden parts of our soul?                

It is impossible to say. The parameters of this strange world remain a mystery, and the only thing that Kelvin can do is to follow his earthly moral principles. Humans have no right to treat something inhumanly just because it is not human. As they travel in outer space, the most important thing human beings carry with them is their inner space. Furthermore, morality is not a matter of simple declarations. In his early, realistic novel Time Saved (1955), Lem demonstrates how people react when they are confronted with a brutal regime that doesn’t follow any of the rules of our civilization. One simply cannot predict what people will do under such circumstances, when their lives or careers are in danger. The most unlikely person may become a hero, or there may be no hero at all.                

We no longer live in a culture with rules that have grown out of a long tradition and over generations. People in the Middle Ages did not know that the rules that they were following were once made by themselves. Rules and ethical codes were simply there as eternal values. But look at the world now. During the last ten or twenty years, biotechnology and genetic engineering have changed the world radically. Philosophers try desperately to establish a status quo and to formulate ethical principles for this brave new world, but they are always too late. Science and technology move much faster than those who try to synchronize them with new ethical rules. I am convinced that the time is not far off when people will wonder why we didn’t want to accept the cloning of people, genetic engineering, and the patenting of animals and plants. You don’t believe me? Read Lem. In 1968, in His Master’s Voice, the narrator states that our ability to adapt to and accept everything is one of our greatest dangers, and that our flexibility is so great that it even affects our ethics.                

One of Lem’s themes is the society that has managed to control ethics by technological means. I want to mention the “Betrization” in Return from the Stars (1961), which is an attempt to domesticate human aggressivity by implanting a tranquillizer. Other solutions are the “Ethicosphere” of Report from the Scene (1982), the invention of the “Altruizin” in The Cyberiad (1965), and the synthetic ethics in the story “The Education of Cyprian” (1976), where aggression filters are used. (Naturally, everybody tries to destroy them to be free to keep exploiting and harming their neighbors.) These examples show that what is intended to be good isn’t really good if it lacks freedom: one must have a choice between good and evil. Even soft dictatorships are dictatorships. All of the “Experimenta Felicitologica” of our beloved engineer Trurl, hero of The Cyberiad, fail. Too much of the good kills itself. Some evil is necessary in this world to keep the good alive. Besides, the good is extremely boring. Hell has always been more fascinating. That’s why literature includes so many fantasies about hell and practically none about paradise.  

There are authors who write the same book over and over, like a pupil who is forced by his teacher to write down the same sentence a hundred times as a punishment. Lem certainly doesn’t belong in that category. Our world is simply too interesting to look at it from only one perspective. So there isn’t just one Lem—there are many. Some of them agree with each other, and some do not. But all of them make us think, showing us a new way to look at our species and ourselves. Still, we can see some evolution from early work such as the ideological novels The Astronauts (1951) or The Magellan Nebula (1955), through an earnest phase from the novel Solaris to the satirical Lem of Report from the Scene. Lem has become more and more satirical in his literary work, full of irony and too wise to take seriously all our plans to make this a better world. Nonetheless, Lem himself has made this world better by making us laugh. He has shown us how ridiculous we are, as individuals and as a species, and how all our great plans to make something perfect must fail. In his talks with Stanislaw Beres, Rozmony ze Stanislawem Lemem (Conversations with Stanislaw Lem [Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1987]), Lem says that one of his goals in writing is to deprive humanity of as many illusions as possible. Certainly he has been doing that—but like a dentist who treats his patients not with a drill but with a bag full of sweets.

I would say that Lem stands outside the tradition of Polish literature, whose goal for decades has been to serve the nation. Lem hasn’t served the nation; he has served the people who had to live in the nation during socialism. But the way he did it reached far beyond political borders. That’s the reason why Lem does not remain within the borders of a national literature. Mickiewicz may be the Polish Goethe, but nobody reads Mickiewicz outside Poland. With his satirical work, Lem joins a tradition in which we can find the best and most interesting books ever written, such as the work of Cervantes, Diderot, Flaubert. What have they done? They have made us laugh, just by showing us who we are. Cervantes, in his Don Quixote (1605), took us on a trip to Spain for this purpose. Diderot and Flaubert, in Jacques le Fataliste (1765) and Bouvard et Pécuchet (1881), took us on a trip through France. Lem simply takes us on a trip through the universe.

Let me close with a personal remark. The spectrum of Lem’s work is immense. But the most important thing seems to me that Lem has closed the gap between the “two cultures” of C.P. Snow’s famous essay: humanities on the one side, natural sciences on the other; or, if you wish, hard science and poetry. I don’t know anyone else who has closed that gap so successfully. Lem’s genius is really unique. Maybe you are wondering why he has not yet received the Nobel Prize. I am not wondering, for I can tell you why. Have you ever heard of Carl Spitteler? or Rudolf Eucken? or Paul von Heyse? They all are Nobel Prize winners. Has anybody heard of Marcel Proust? Vladimir Nabokov? James Joyce? They never received the Nobel Prize. Lem is in that club, and some would say that it’s not bad company.—Peter Haffner

Appeal for Support. A potentially devastating blow has recently fallen on Extrapolation. The Kent State University Press has decided that it will no longer publish the journal after the calendar year 2001. If this decision stands, Extrapolation must find a new publisher or discontinue publication; the latter course would obviously be a serious loss to the sf community. There may, however, be hope that the Kent State Press can be persuaded to reconsider. Letters from scholars around the country (and the world) can be very effective in such situations, and I urge all SFS readers to consider writing one. Such letters should be brief, courteous, and to the point—namely, the esteem in which Extrapolation is held nationally and internationally, and the honor it brings to Kent State University and the Kent State University Press. Letters should be addressed to the Director of the Press, with a copy to the University Provost. The addresses are as follows: Dr. John Hubbell, Director, Kent State University Press, Lowry Hall, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242; Dr. Paul Gaston, Provost, Executive Offices, Kent State University.—Carl Freedman, Louisiana State University

Dating the “Rise” of SF. When Gregory Benford says (in SFS 27.3: 385) that “the era marking science fiction’s rise” falls between 1930 and 1967, we know the first date is off by four years, but we don’t know in which direction. If “modern science fiction” is a code phrase for sf published in dedicated American magazines, the correct date is 1926, when Hugo Gernsback published the first issue of Amazing Stories. If it means the sf that first takes on the comfortable shape and substance of the American magazines we are familiar with, the proper date is 1934, the year when the Street & Smith Astounding hit its stride. I hope Greg’s Civil War dates are better.—Damon Knight

To Damon Knight: I chose 1930 as a start date not because of the beginning of any magazine, but because it’s a rough date for the cultural emergence of sf. I could count all the mainstream prizes from then without ambiguity, since several were just beginning in that era. My main point was that the South blossomed in literature without any sf presence, alas. Even today, what writer is the most outstanding sf figure from the South? Hard to say.—Gregory Benford

Alternative World? On Gregory Benford’s “The South and Science Fiction”: Sf has often chosen the theme of the alternate world when dealing with the American south, e.g., Ward Moore’s Bring the Jubilee (1953). This article is striking in the way that Benford subtly reveals that this piece was also written in an alternate world. Anyone who can state that “of course, the great Constitutional question of whether a state may leave the union” is not settled clearly is living on a planet the rest of us don’t inhabit. That he is writing in an alternate world is made even more evident when he suggests that the United States somehow “resembles a prison” because Alabama (which did not even exist when the Constitution was adopted) was not permitted to secede from the Union.—Paul M. Lloyd

To Paul M. Lloyd: I do indeed believe that any political institution that holds leaving its union as a matter for warfare is simply asking for trouble down the line.—GB

Puttering About in an Italian Town. I do not know if a Dick World Atlas has ever existed or ever will, but as a reader and apprentice-scholar of his work, I know that it should contain maps of all Dickian cities and territories. Northern California should be there, especially San Francisco and Marin County, and also Los Angeles (A Scanner Darkly and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said); New York City (The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch); nondescript Des Moines and European Zurich (Ubik); and further-flung regions, too, from the Sinai (The Transmigration of Timothy Archer) to the wastelands of Dickian Mars. Also included in that imaginary atlas should be Morigny, France, where the first international Philip K. Dick conference took place in 1987.                

Until last Fall, only one Italian city would have appeared in this Dick World Atlas: Courmayeur, the Alpine resort where a one-day meeting took place in 1988. And yet in Italy Dick has been widely admired since the mid-1970s and is becoming ever more popular among scholars and cultural critics. Italy is the only country where a single publisher (Sergio Fanucci) is committed to publishing all of Dick’s novels and stories within the next ten years, with high-quality translations and the well-known Dick scholar Carlo Pagetti as editor. But, as in Dick’s novels, there has been a sudden change. For three days last Fall  (October 5-7, 2000), Macerata, a picturesque medieval walled-town, was capital of the World of PKD, thanks to a small but enthusiastic group of Americanists, journalists, writers, intellectuals, and musicians who met at the University and discussed (in English and Italian) Dick’s works and world, as well as the films made from his novels.  

The original idea for the conference was simple: to invite a number of major foreign and Italian Dick scholars to engage in discussion with publishers, philosophers, film-makers, and others, examining his fictional and hyper-fictional world from their different perspectives. We wanted to read Dick according to both “traditional” and innovative academic approaches, but also hoped to survey current boundaries, to understand why he is quickly becoming the writer of science fiction most widely read by those who ignore or dislike the genre. (Something similar happened to Isaac Asimov here in the 1960s.) We also wished to summarize what has been understood about Dick to date and to begin to see how, thanks to Dick, our own perceptions of the world have been changed. Finally, we hoped to suggest possible paths for future research and to map new territories belonging to (or bordering on) the Dickian world.                

Obviously, it is the participants (and the readers of the forthcoming conference proceedings volume) who will declare the event a success or a failure. But some positive aspects can be outlined now. Some who attended had participated in previous celebrations of Dick, from the 1975 special issue of Science Fiction Studies to the 1988 conference in Courmayeur; among these were Peter Fitting, Carlo Pagetti, Oriana Palusci, Vittorio Curtoni, and Gabriele Frasca. (Our best efforts notwithstanding, we were unable to have any participant of the Morigny conference with us, which is our biggest regret.) There were also new perspectives from Luca Briasco, Nicoletta Vallorani, Mattia Carratello, Carlo Formenti, and many others. A much longer report would be needed to describe all the strong papers, but I cannot help mentioning Tony Wolk’s paper on the relationship between Dick and early cybernetic research by Turing and Wiener, and also Paolo Prezzavento’s elegantly ironic discussion of Dick’s paranoia.

Apart from the merit of individual papers, some important collective trends could be discerned. First, several critics read the opus as a system, an approach that has been encouraged by Fredric Jameson. We are beginning to acknowledge that Dick’s novels are a vast, active, living system in which characters, themes, images, and metaphors mirror each other in an interplay that is too dense not to be the result of deliberate (or partially deliberate) design. Besides, such correspondences were noted by Dick himself in the maze-like Exegesis, his enormous but incomplete philosophical work. Another trend seen in the conference papers is a re-evaluation of the works of the late 1970s and the 1980s, especially The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, Valis, and A Scanner Darkly. In Gabriele Frasca’s outstanding reading of Pauline elements in Transmigration, this reevaluation almost amounted to  rediscovery. Dick’s later works, previously under-rated because of the disconcerting density of religious images and themes (Christian as well as Jewish or Gnostic), are now being read as some of his boldest experiments.

The search for Dick’s literary and non-literary sources preoccupied many participants. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s influence on The Man in the High Castle was brilliantly detected by Valerio M. De Angelis. Dick’s borrowings from “traditional” sf were considered in depth by Carlo Pagetti. While Dick was read as exemplifying the confluence of several American literary traditions, the papers for the conference also showed  that he was sensitive to emerging ideas in science and technology. Other papers examined Dick’s impact on collective cultural imagination, especially on cinema: Peter Fitting and Franco La Polla showed us films that more or less overtly acknowledge a Dickian inheritance: in some, such as The Truman Show or eXistenZ, there is more Dick than their directors admit (due to copyright reasons). And the Dickian invasion of Hollywood is not over yet, since we await Impostor and The Minority Report. A matter addressed in several papers was PKD’s influence on writers of avant-pop fiction, including Jonathan Lethem, Patricia Anthony, and Steve Erikson.                

I hope I have offered enough reasons to justify the inclusion of Macerata in the Dick World Atlas. The conference volume, sponsored by Regione Marche and the University of Macerata and published by Fanucci Editore, will allow readers to appreciate the quality and importance of the contributions. In the meantime, reading and studying Dick remains a worthy occupation, whether in Des Moines or Macerata.—Umberto Rossi

Special Issue of FEMSPEC. Articles are invited on any aspect of the work of Gwyneth Jones. Since 1977, she has published seven sf novels, including the Tiptree Award-winner White Queen (1991), and collections of short stories, fairy tales, and criticism. Mainly under the pseudonym Ann Halam, she also has produced twenty horror, fantasy, and sf novels for young adults, including The Fear Man (1995), winner of the Dracula Society’s “Children of the Night” Award. Her short fiction has won two World Fantasy Awards, and her reviews and criticism have appeared in Foundation, Interzone, The New York Review of Science Fiction, SF Eye, and Science Fiction Studies. She has been surprisingly neglected in critical terms, however, and this special issue should constitute the first substantial exploration of her work, including not just her adult sf but also her criticism, fairy tales, and young adult fiction. Possible topics might include the politics and practices of gender, sexuality and identity, the structures and operation of domestic and social power, post-colonial/End of Empire sf, critical feminist praxis, the interrelations of class/race/gender, alternative sexual and social relationships, feminist gothic fantasies, socialist-feminist sf in the postmodern era, cyberpunk, and reactionary retrenchment in the 1980s and 1990s. Enquiries and outlines should be addressed electronically via e-mail to <>, or by post to Dr. Mark Bould, Department of Arts and Media, Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, Queen Alexandra Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP11 2JZ, UK. The deadline for completed work is August 1, 2001. Please ensure any diskettes or e-mail attachments are in Word 95 (or earlier), or RTF.—Mark Bould

Call for Papers: The Society for Utopian Studies. The twenty-sixth annual meeting of the Society for Utopian Studies will be held in Buffalo, NY on October 4-7, 2001 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Founded in 1975, the Society is an international, interdisciplinary association devoted to the study of utopianism in all its forms, with a particular emphasis on literary and experimental utopias. Scholars representing a wide variety of disciplines are active in the association and approach utopian studies from such diverse backgrounds as American Studies, architecture, the arts, classics, cultural studies, economics, engineering, environmental studies, gender studies, history, languages and literatures, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, and urban planning. The Society publishes the journal Utopian Studies and a newsletter, Utopus Discovered, which contains information about future conferences and workshops as well as a bibliography of recent publications in the field.                

The Society’s annual meetings provide an ideal venue for intellectual interchange in a cooperative, non-competitive, congenial, and convivial environ-ment. At each meeting, the Society presents the Arthur O. Lewis Award for the best paper by a junior scholar given at the previous annual meeting and the Eugenio Battisti Award for the best article in each volume of Utopian Studies and Utopus Discovered. Dues are $45.00 for regular membership, $20.00 for students, retired, and unemployed members. One can become a Sponsor for $100, a Benefactor for $200.00, or a Patron for $300. For more information, see our website at <>.                

If you wish to organize a panel or present a paper, submit a 1-2 page abstract by May 15, 2001 to our Program Chair: Phillip E. Wegner, English Department, PO Box 117310, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-7310, <>, telephone 352-392-6650 ext. 261, fax 352-392-0860. For more information about registration, travel, and accommo-dations, please contact our Local Arrangements Chair: Lynda Schneekloth, 601 W. Ferry St., Buffalo, NY 14222, <>, telephone 716-883-4075, fax 716-882-3722.—ABE

Call for Papers: Modern Language Association. I am soliciting one-page abstracts (by March 15) for a proposed MLA special session for the 2001 New Orleans conference on Women’s Speculative Fiction—alternative fiction by, for, and about women. What concerns (political, pedagogical, professional) reside within the study of these texts? Papers on utopianism, transgression, and non-canonical works appreciated. No restrictions on genre and/or historical period. E-mail submissions are welcome. Send to: Michelle M. Sauer, Assistant Professor of English & Linguistics, Minot State University, 500 University Avenue West, Minot ND 58707, (701) 858-3895, <sauer@>.

Call for Papers: Science Fiction Research Association. “Science Fiction in the Next Millennium: Looking Forward While Remembering the Past,” will be held Memorial Day weekend (May 24-27, 2001) at the Schenectady, NY, Ramada Inn. Guests of Honor will include C.J. Cherryh, David Weber, Jane Yolen, and Vincent Di Fate. SFRA solicits paper and panel proposals from scholars interested in any aspect of sf. In particular, the 2001 conference will focus on the prospects for sf in the coming millennium and its historical roots (including space opera, Tolkien, storytelling, the media, literary criticism, teaching sf from an international perspective, and globalization). Topics that demonstrate sf’s connection to, and relevance for, other disciplinary studies are particularly welcome, as are papers on the guests of honor. For a paper proposal, send a 250-word abstract (maximum 20 minutes reading time for the finished paper), including the title and your name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address. For a panel proposal, send a panel title and 250- word abstract that includes the panel title, panel chair (who may be one or more of the presenters), mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address of each presenter. Receipt of all proposals will be confirmed by e-mail. Mail or e-mail submissions to Barbara Chepaitis, Programming Chairman, SFRA 2001, 19 Hillside Avenue, Schenectady, NY 12308; e-mail: <>. The deadline for all submissions is Thursday, March 15, 2001. For further details visit our website at <>.—Barbara Chepaitis

Feminist Fantasy Volume. The 1st Deutsche Fantasy Club, Passau, Germany, would like to invite all those interested in women’s/feminist fantasy studies to contribute to a volume of essays on “Female Fantasy Writing.” The book will examine fantasy literature written by women from different cultures, past and present. The essays will be translated into German and published in 2002 in Germany. The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2001. If you’d like to contribute an essay to the project, please contact Dr. Jacek Rzeszotnik at <>.—Jacek Rzeszotnik, University of Wroclaw, Poland

Quarber Merkur. The current No. 91/92 issue of the German critical sf magazine Quarber Merkur contains essays on the German response to Martin Amis, African fantasy, the German sf writer Marcus Hammerschmitt, some vampire plays staged in Austria, H.P. Lovecraft, Barbara Neuwirth and Barbara Frischmuth, the golem figure in popular literature, and an extensive annotated bibliography on parahistorical literature. Quarber Merkur is available for DM 30.00 from EDFC e.V., Box 1371, D-94003 Passau, Germany. For additional information, e-mail inquiries to <>. —Franz Rottensteiner, Vienna

Freedman Honored. Carl Freedman’s Critical Theory and Science Fiction (Wesleyan, 2000) has been named an Outstanding Academic Book of 2000 by Choice.—CM

Correction: The editors apologize to John Huntington, whose Eaton Award- winning book, The Logic of Fantasy: H.G. Wells and Science Fiction (Columbia UP, 1982) identifies (on p. 177, n. 7) the same passage in T.H. Huxley’s “The Struggle for Existence: A Programme” that John S. Prince identifies as a possible source in his note “The ‘True Riddle of the Sphinx’ in The Time Machine” (SFS 27.3: 543-46). Both the editorial review and the referee process missed this earlier important discussion of Wells’s debt to Huxley.—CM

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