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  1. Edging Past Reality a Collection of Short Stories
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Edging Past Reality a Collection of Short Stories

After working over twenty years in the Hennepin County Court system, he walked away to do what he loves to do - write. Again, no regrets. He has published over twenty short stories appearing in magazines and anthologies, and recently published "Edging Past Reality" a book of speculative fiction short stories.

He is currently working on a sequel to "Silent Kill. Posted by Beth Solheim at PM. No comments:. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom. Another cluster of essays explores the perennial question of where the boundaries of the field lie. Neatly categorizing sf as concerned with the geography of reason, horror with the geography of anxiety, and fantasy with the geography of desire, Wolfe convincingly shows how sf is colonizing these and other genres and also being colonized by them.

The alternatives to boundary-breaking, he argues, are narratives that remain bound by formulaic rules and conventions that quickly become all too predictable. A particularly powerful group of chapters clusters around social and cultural issues. In a brilliant chapter, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr.

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In his conclusion he cogently points out that almost all of the novels discussed in his encyclopedic survey come from first-world authors. The implication is that the smaller and less powerful nations may feel somewhat like the feminist who hears that the self is being deconstructed just about the time she discovers that she is one. A final pair of essays, rather different than the rest of the collection, are by Gwyneth Jones and Brian Stableford on their own futuristic fiction.

While I found the essay informative, I admit to being put off by the style, no doubt because of a personal prejudice against folks who speak about themselves in the third person, a practice forever identified for me with President Richard Nixon. Gwyneth Jones, self-identifying as a feminist sf author, writes about her Kairos novels in terms of a growing realization that the novels hit closer to home than she had at first imagined, as they begin consciously to contest and subvert the reigning male paradigms of how to write sf.

A perennial problem with essay collections is quality control. They are rather like the plastic bags of apples one buys in the supermarket, packaged so it is impossible to see all the apples. While there are usually many good ones, there are almost always some bad ones hidden in the middle. This collection is noteworthy for the uniformly high quality of the contributions and the fine insights that emerge from them. Perhaps the most important of these is implicit rather than explicit: the range of contemporary literature that can be considered sf, the diversity of its concerns, and the extension of the boundaries—linguistic, stylistic, and conceptual as well as generic—that define its limits.

One of the services that a collection like this can perform is to define a canon, however provisional and tentative, for contemporary sf. Judging by the works discussed here, the field has never been as robust, experimental, and exciting as it now is. Women Take Back the Genres. Merja Makinen. Feminist Popular Fiction. New York: Palgrave, In this book, Merja Makinen challenges what she sees as the feminist assumption that genre fictions—i.

Nevertheless, the reader new to genre studies or interested in an overview of the critical debates each genre has produced among feminist scholars will find much in her book that is helpful. She does this in five chapters. The first is an overview of the relationship between feminism and popular fiction.

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The four chapters that follow are close examinations of both the history and context for feminist involvement in each genre and the debates that have arisen over feminist attempts to appropriate the genre in question. How successful were these efforts? The answer seems to vary for each genre. Though Makinen does a good job of supporting her contention that each genre is fluid by charting the various shifts and transformations each has undergone from the nineteenth century to the s, some genres are, nevertheless, more resistant to change than others.

In contrast, feminist appropriations of other genres, specifically detective and science fiction, have been more successful, because there is less tension between feminist ideology and those characteristics seen as definitive of the genre. Detective fiction, for example, though long seen as a genre intent on reinforcing the status quo, always has at its center, no matter what form it takes, a character actively engaged in pursuit of the solution to a mystery.

The passive, pursued heroine of romance fiction serves only as the victim in detective fiction, not as the active solver of problems. Warshawski, both of whom are clearly and consistently feminist, populate contemporary detective fiction. This is the case, she maintains, because of an innate sympathy between science fiction, which is by definition speculative and which has historically been a tool of social critique, and feminism, which both needs and demands those tools when imagining a more or less equitable world.

It is not surprising then that there has been little debate among feminists over the viability of appropriating science fiction as an arena for feminist practice. Unfortunately, most of the texts she discusses were written before , leaving her readers wondering whether what has been written since then supports or undermines her argument. But what I see as a weakness in the text, Makinen might well see as a reflection of the declining popularity of feminist science fiction. This may well be the case in Great Britain, but I have no sense that a similar phenomenon has occurred in the United States.

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Equally helpful is her discussion in each chapter of critical debates among feminists over appropriation of the different genres—though readers should be warned that most of her cultural analysis focuses on Great Britain under Thatcher. In sum, this book is a good introduction to feminist popular fiction, though limited by its narrow chronological scope and lack of a conclusion. Clair, Simpson College.

An Index to Vancean Linguistics. David G. Studies in American Literature Lewiston: Mellen, Jack Vance is arguably the greatest onomastician ever in the fantasy and sf fields. He faces severe competition for such a title, of course, from Tolkien, whose indices to The Lord of the Rings list many hundreds of names of places, people, and things in at least seven languages, while Tolkien also scores heavily in that his names and languages have clear and consistent historical relationships to each other.

It is possible to write about Tolkienian linguistics in a way that one cannot about Vancean linguistics. Nevertheless, Tolkien created only one world, that of Middle-Earth. Who could forget the bravura performance in The Star King , where Vance describes the discovery of the twenty-six planets of the Rigel Concourse and their naming by their discoverer Sir Julian Hove for his childhood heroes Lord Kitchener, Rudyard Kipling, etc. Not many authors would bother to write a complete list—with a joke buried in the middle of it—just as background.

Was it labor wasted? Apparently not, for if one has the name, and it convinces, then one is half way to the thing, or the idea of the thing. The Killing Machine introduces Billy Windle, the hormagaunt, but it is not until nearly the end of the novel that we find out what a hormagaunt is: according to the volumes reviewed here, it refers to a person who extends his own life by using the extracted life essences of live children.

That is what Kirth Gersen thought about hormagaunts, of course, but it turned out he was mistaken about them—possibly about linderlings, too. Their story remains to be written. Clearly fascinated by the kind of invention hinted at above, Dr. The entries are short, averaging no more than twenty words and rarely reaching as many as a hundred. They add nothing to what one finds in Vance, and were not intended to do so.

Edging Past Reality: A Collection of Short Stories

They seem rather an index than an encyclopedia, and an index to essentially unrelated material. There is no doubt that this has been a labor of love, but there is more effort in it than thought. One has to ask: is this, too, labor wasted? There are two arguments to suggest that it is not.

It has been very easy, for instance, for this reviewer to check his fallible memory of items mentioned. Furthermore, the whole encyclopedia exists also in electronic form, as a data-base file searchable using askSam, a well-known database management program. With this, as Walter E. A final point is that Edwin Mellen Press still presents a rather wasteful page, showing a good deal of white paper.

These three volumes and plus pages could have been two and with no more than normal type-setting, with, one imagines, a considerable saving for the potential buyer. Does Not Grok in Fullness. William H. Patterson, Jr. Yet the pitfall of tendentious argument is nothing to the abyss that opens up when consistency is refused altogether. If there is no method, no defined approach, then critics, to be sure, will never cast a false light on their subject. But that is only because they have chosen to work in the dark.

This book is benighted in that way. Tracing his ideas is a complex Unfortunately, this is a fair description of the book that ensues. There is no sustained analysis of the style, plot, or characterization of Stranger in a Strange Land. Much of the book is preempted by exposition of these philosophical and religious ideas, though the writing is so eccentric that even a reader seeking this kind of distant background information will close the book more puzzled than enlightened. The discussion of genres is similarly sketchy and willful.

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  • Genres and contexts of lower perceived status are given short shrift. Heinlein does practice a sly art and he suspects that he does it rather well, as may be seen in his sympathetic portrayal of tricksters who create illusions that astonish even themselves. But calling Heinlein an artist does not do the work of establishing his artistry through coherent analysis of how his fiction is constructed. Jubal is patron saint of makers of musical instruments , producing this associative flight:. The ethos of music has been taken over in our time by fiction, and a maker of musical instruments would translate to a maker of printing equipment.

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    Twain was a printer in his earliest job Yet the topic of sex is approached quite vaguely. The authors here have only half-mastered the languages of literary and cultural analysis, limiting the usefulness of what has evidently been a great deal of work and study. The sporadic but intriguing discussion of James Branch Cabell— Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice was published in —invites a more sustained future analysis.

    An Array of Austrian SF. Franz Rottensteiner, ed. The Best of Austrian Science Fiction. Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, Science-fiction literature is almost exclusively associated with authors from the English-speaking world—a judgment that is confirmed by a quick look at the list of Hugo Award winners. Occasionally, the odd book by a foreign writer is translated but that is about all. The stories are excellently translated by Todd C. Hanlin, with only an occasional echo of the original German noticeable. Since Austrian writers are obliged to publish through German publishing companies and turn to the much broader German market in general, there is a tendency among them to move to Germany.

    Their writing thus becomes part of sf in German, influenced by it and, one hopes, influencing it, though perhaps sacrificing specific national characteristics in the process. Other central writers described in some detail are Herbert W. This made me wonder who is considered a young writer in Austria; the majority of the writers included in the anthology are between 50 and 70 years of age, and none is younger than A short note on each of the stories to explain why it merits inclusion would not have been amiss.

    While there are some really good stories in this anthology, many seem derivative and a few are downright unexciting. Rottensteiner points out in the preface that sf writers in Austria generally cannot make a living from their writing the exception to this, Ernst Vlcek, is not included in this anthology. Regrettably, the publishing information is incomplete, which makes it difficult to say exactly how old some of these stories are. Original titles are not given, nor is the date of first publication given for some of the stories. I am not sure if this is the best of Austrian science fiction—the selection seems too narrow in more ways than one—but it gives a good introduction to the historical background and to the field in general, and provides some quite interesting stories.

    On the whole, however, and unfortunately, I suspect that The Best of Austrian Science Fiction is going to be just another one of those occasional and odd foreign books. The Other in SF Film. Ziauddin Sardar and Sean Cubitt, eds.