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SF Reviews and Articles in General Publications

Dallas Morning News, Sunday August 23rd
The first of a new bimonthly SF and fantasy review column by Dorman T. Shindler briefly covers six books. Robert Silverberg's new anthology of fantasy novellas, Legends, is ''superb Baedeker to the fantasy worlds of 11 of the field's finest writers'' including King, Pratchett, Le Guin, Martin, and Silverberg himself. Also covered: Silverberg's new novel The Alien Years, John Shirley's collection Black Butterflies, Nancy Kress's collection Beaker's Dozen, and the annual Best of anthologies from Datlow/Windling and Dozois.
(Mon 24 Aug 98)

Washington Post, Thursday August 20th
SF Age editor Scott Edelman reviews Kim Stanley Robinson's ''epic new novel'' Antarctica. ''Remarkably, in the midst of his extended lessons on the history, ecology, politics and psychology of Antarctica, Robinson manages to create compelling characters and to tell a rich and dense story.''
(Thu 20 Aug 98)

CNN, August 19th
David Mandeville reviews David Drake's With the Lightnings. The reviewer says he's a Drake fan, but this book isn't the author's best. ''Drake's best stories have been military fiction, and he equals anyone in the genre. This novel tends more to intrigue, but doesn't stray far from his tried and true course. The problems lie in its pacing and characters. The novel reads more like a series of short stories strung together with the weakest one at the end. The plot never caught me up to push me to turn the pages. Instead, I got a few bright moments and a deflated, ho-hum ending.''
(Thu 20 Aug 98)

Los Angeles Times, Sunday August 9th
The Sunday Book Review focuses on books about atomic bombs and nuclear war, including Joyce A. Evans's Celluloid Mushroom Clouds: Hollywood and the Atomic Bomb. An essay by Dan Dailey, ''The Unthinkable for Kids'', examines children's books. ''It is interesting to note that there is a rich genre of science fiction books set in future, post-apocalyptic worlds, though most are not about the war itself but use nuclear holocaust as a distant event to set the stage--or sweep the slate clean--for a story.'' For that reason Dailey doesn't list such books, but he does profile Robert C. O'Brien's Z For Zachariah, Laurence Yep's Hiroshima, and Whitley Strieber's Wolf of Shadows. (No direct links available to these reviews; they can be accessed for a fee through the paper's archives
(Thu 20 Aug 98)

Los Angeles Times, Friday August 7th
Michael Frank reviews Richard N. Goodwin's The Hinge of the World, which is not science fiction but something far rarer: ''A thrilling novel of ideas -- about science, no less'' according to the headline. The book is about Galileo's conflict with the church, ''about scientific method and the threat it posed to Catholicism during the first decades of the 17th century'', subjects which ''receive an elegant and downright thrilling articulation by Goodwin''. (In contrast, note Kirkus's supremely unimpressed review quoted on the Amazon page.)
(Thu 20 Aug 98)

Washington Post, Monday August 17th
Martin Morse Wooster reviews David J. Skal's Screams of Reason: Mad Science and Modern Culture, a book by a former horror novelist examining the social history of the mad scientist. Skal pays special attention to the golden age of horror films in the early 1930s but his analysis ranges from Marlowe's ''Dr. Faustus'' to contemporary medical thrillers by Robin Cook. Wooster concludes ''given the vast territory that he has to cover, David Skal does a fine job. 'Screams of Reason' is a pioneering book that uncovers the deep roots of many common fears of our age.''

Also notable: Sunday's WP Book World reviews James Curtis's biography of the original ''Frankenstein'' director: James Whale: A New World of Gods and Monsters.
(Mon 17 Aug 98)

Washington Post Sunday, August 16th
Michael Dirda, who seems to have read more books than any other 10 people combined, offers his own list of 100 most amusing comic novels of the 20th century. Only one title per author is included, otherwise says Dirda ''half the selections would be written by P.G. Wodehouse, Evelyn Waugh, and Terry Pratchett.'' And a few non-novels creep in. SF and fantasy are well-represented: Terry Pratchett's Mort, John Sladek's Tik-Tok, Edward Gorey's Amphigorey, Daniel Pinkwater's Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy from Mars, T. H. White's The Sword in the Stone, Jack Vance's The Eyes of the Overworld, James Branch Cabell's The Silver Stallion, Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan, Avram Davidson's Or All the Seas with Oysters (a collection rather than a novel), George Orwell's Animal Farm, Robert Sheckley's Is That What People Do? (another collection), and -- by the way -- James Joyce's Ulysses. (But not Douglas Adams.)
(Mon 17 Aug 98)

The Sunday Times [London], Sunday August 16th
Advance word for US readers on Stephen King's latest tome, Bag of Bones, which is already out in the UK. Reviewer Stephen Amidon finds the book a bit overlong, but says King is a ''remarkable entertainer'': ''No other writer embraces the conventions of the gothic horror novel with King's skill, conviction or sense of unbridled fun. While his work remains polished by moody atmospherics and a cunning intelligence, it is also shot through with a slacker mentality that keeps it from becoming melodramatic or overly portentous.'' (No direct link to the review; The Times website requires free registration. Cover shown here is of US edition.)
(Mon 17 Aug 98)

The New York Times Book Review, Sunday August 9th
Thomas M. Disch's The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of gets front cover treatment on this week's Sunday Book Review. (The book was reviewed several months ago in the daily paper by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt.) The new review, by Alexander Star, ironically pairs Disch's book with Jodi Dean's credulous Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures From Outerspace to Cyberspace. ''Disch's book is consistently rewarding. Written by a caustic insider, it is both an expose of science fiction writers' foibles and an example of how to write serious literary criticism about a genre that is seldom considered literary. ... This is the jumbled, absorbing notebook of a convert and a skeptic.'' The NYT website also includes the first chapter of Disch's book, and a list of all previous NYT reviews of and by Disch, going back to 1974.
(Thu 13 Aug 98)

CNN, August 10th
Margaret Howell raves about Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens's Icefire, a thriller about terrorists detonating nukes under the Antarctica Ross Ice Shelf. ''Icefire [is] the kind of book you love to hate. You'll read like mad to get to the end, all the while secretly hoping that it will go on forever.''
(Thu 13 Aug 98)

Washington Post Book World, Sunday August 2nd
Elizabeth Hand reviews J. G. Ballard's Cocaine Nights, describing Ballard's position in the pantheon, and the novel's setup, better than most. She contrasts the plot's ''clever, if generic, mystery'' with Ballard's underlying ''metaphysical terrorism'', concluding: ''And so it all ends badly, with a resolution at once bloody, inevitable, and extremely satisfying.''
(Mon 3 Aug 98)

San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, Sunday August 2nd
SF columnist Michael Berry reviews Kim Stanley Robinson's Antarctica. He finds the book's pace ''stately, some might even say glacial'' and notes that Robinson sometimes ''indulges in lessons in geology, meteorology and politics well past the point of the average reader's interest.'' But eventually this pays off: ''In its last 250 pages, ``Antarctica'' becomes a suspenseful adventure, lyrically described and morally complex.''
(Mon 3 Aug 98)

The New York Times Book Review, Sunday August 2nd
Two paperback reprints are noted, of Jeffrey Ford's The Physiognomy, reviewed last year by Gerald Jonas: ''Ford writes equally well about the scientific cult of precision and the acceptance of ambiguity.'' And of Jacqueline Harpman's I Who Have Never Known Men, described last year by Sally Eckhoff as ''bleak but fascinating''.
(Mon 3 Aug 98)

Voice Literary Supplement, July - August
VLS consider several ''summer schlockbusters'', among them Danielle Steel's The Klone and I and Clive Barker's Galilee. Lynn Yaeger's review of Steel's book, a romance involving a man with ''a bionic doppelgänger he made in the cryonics factory he owns'' is deadly: ''The Klone and I manages to embrace the worst of two worlds: though Steel is determined to show us how groovy and socially relevant she can be, she remains unwilling to relinquish the conventions of the penny novelette.'' The distinguishing characteristic of the clone, apparently, is that he dresses badly (quoting Steel): ''He was wearing fluorescent green satin pants, skintight and startlingly revealing . . . and a pair of black satin cowboy boots I'd seen in a Versace ad, with rhinestone buckles.''

Gary Dauphin reviews Barker's Galilee, which is about a family of ancient spiritual beings called the Barbarossa and an Ohio clan called the Gearys. The book ''chugs along with the florid but workmanlike precision of a sandy summer potboiler, which isn't to say that this is a terrible book, just an inoffensive one.''
(Thu 30 Jul 98)

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