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SF Reviews and Articles in General Publications

New York Times Book Review, Sunday Nov. 29th
Marina Warner reviews Mary Shelley's Maurice, or the Fisher's Cot: A Tale (edited by Claire Tomalin; Knopf) -- this is the long-lost children's story, written in 1820, discovered last year (as noted at the bottom of this page). The reviewer calls it ''a classic fairy tale about a foundling restored to family and high social status''.

Los Angeles Times, Sunday Nov. 29th
Under the headlines ''Maybe'' and ''Maybe Not'' are reviews of two nonfiction books. Martin Gardner reviews Amir D. Aczel's Probability 1: Why There Must Be Intelligent Life in the Universe (Harcourt Brace), calling it ''clearly and gracefully written, and ... up to date in its astronomical data'', though he questions some of the assumptions that go into his probability calculation. Brian Fagan reviews Erich von Daniken's Arrival of the Gods (Element Books), which draws amazing conclusions from the Nazca lines in Peru. Fagan calls the book ''a grotesque parody of scientific inquiry devoid of any intellectual credibility or literary merit whatsoever. ... [N]ot even well-written or imaginative science fiction.''

(Mon 30 Nov 98)

San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday Nov. 22nd
The ''Holiday Book Review'' issue includes Michael Berry's picks of this year's SF books:

  • Antarctica, Kim Stanley Robinson (Bantam)
  • Beaker's Dozen, Nancy Kress (Tor)
  • Darwinia, Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)
  • Dragon's Winter, Elizabeth A. Lynn (Ace)
  • The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, Thomas M. Disch (Free Press)
  • Flanders, Patricia Anthony (Ace)
  • Going Home Again, Howard Waldrop (St. Martin's)
  • Legends, edited by Robert Silverberg (Tor)
  • Mockingbird, Sean Stewart (Ace)
  • The Tooth Fairy, Graham Joyce (Tor)
  • The Review's fiction selections include Anne Rice's The Vampire Armand (Knopf) and Stephen King's Bag of Bones (Scribner), along with books by John Updike, Tom Wolfe, Patrick O'Brian, Ken Follett, and others. The extensive children's fiction selections include Nancy Springer's I Am Mordred (Philomel) and Avi Scholastic's Perloo the Bold (Scholastic). Science selections include Richard Dawkins's Unweaving the Rainbow along with recent books by Stephen Jay Gould and Ian Tattersall, plus an anthology of Rachel Carson's writings.

    Los Angeles Times, Sunday Nov. 22nd
    Susan Salter Reynolds briefly reviews Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Talents (Seven Stories Press). ''Most touching in the novel are the friction between generations, the kinds of faith each generation indulges in and the new families that form when traditional ones are splintered.'' Butler's novel debuts remarkably in 2nd place on the L. A. Times Fiction Bestsellers list, based on a survey of southern California bookstores.

    Washington Post Book World, Sunday Nov. 22nd
    Michael Dirda reviews The Search for the Giant Squid (The Lyons Press) by Richard Ellis, who also published Imagining Atlantis earlier this year. ''Both these books deftly mingle mythology with either biology or history, resulting in high-grade intellectual entertainment -- Ellis serves up, with equal relish, dispassionate scientific findings, the fantasies of obsessed crackpots, episodes from half-forgotten sensation novels, and scenes out of B-grade movies.''

    (Mon 23 Nov 98)

    Los Angeles Times, Friday Nov. 20th
    Anthony Day reviews John Allen Paulos's Once Upon a Number: the hidden mathematical logic of stories (Basic Books). ''Literature and science, [Paulos] says, share an uneasy complementarity, a complementarity Paulos explores in this collection of linked essays.'' The reviewer concludes ''Both delightful and wise, this little book cries out to be kept close at hand, to be looked into from time to time, to be treasured as an old friend.''

    (Fri 20 Nov 98)

    Salon, Nov. 18th
    Pat Cadigan, ''queen of science fiction'', is profiled by Andrew Leonard, who calls Cadigan's Synners ''probably the best science fiction novel with a rock 'n' roll theme'' and her new book Tea from an Empty Cup (Tor) ''a tightly plotted, crisply written novel that fits the classic noir mystery template set down by the likes of Raymond Chandler more comfortably than anything William Gibson has ever written''.

    (Wed 18 Nov 98)

    New York Times Magazine, Nov. 1st
    A ''Culture Zone'' column by Walter Mosley (Blue Light) called ''Black to the Future'' suggests that science fiction should have a special allure for African-Americans, despite the paucity of working black SF writers (he notes Butler, Delany, Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due).

    So where are the black science fiction writers? Everywhere I go I meet young black poets and novelists who are working on science fiction manuscripts. Within the next five years I predict there will be an explosion of science fiction from the black community. ... And following that explosion will be the beginning of a new world of autonomy created out of the desire to scrap 500 years of intellectual imperialism.

    (Wed 18 Nov 98)

    New York Times Book Review, Sunday Nov. 15th
    Gerald Jonas's science fiction column covers three novels. K. W. Jeter's Noir (Bantam Spectra) updates the crime genre into the 21st century ''with a cheerless tenacity Raymond Chandler might have applauded''. C. S. Friedman's This Alien Shore (DAW) borrows some big ideas from other writers, but the author ''succeeds in making the recycled material her own''. And Maureen F. McHugh's Mission Child (Avon Eos) is ''science fiction from the inside out, with the focus on character''.

    (Mon 16 Nov 98)

    San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday Nov. 15th
    Michael Berry's science fiction column reviews Robert Silverberg's fantasy anthology Legends (Tor), from which he judges works by George R. R. Martin and Terry Pratchett the most successful. Despite the author's ''considerable wit and style'', Pat Cadigan's Tea from an Empty Cup (Tor) is a tired entry in the cyberpunk sweepstakes -- ''It all feels so, well, 1992.'' Neil Gaiman and illustrator Charles Vess's graphic novel Stardust (DC Comics hardcover collection; first published in four volumes by DC Vertigo) is admirable -- ''the prose strikes just the right notes of humor and romance. Vess' generously detailed paintings perfectly capture the beauty, oddness and terror of Faerie'' -- but a forthcoming Avon edition in January will omit Vess's paintings. Dave McKean's mix of black and white drawings, color, photography, and puppets in Cages (Kitchen Sink) ''pushes the reader to look beyond the usual expectations of what a graphic novel should be''.

    (Mon 16 Nov 98)

    Washington Post Book World, Friday Nov. 13th
    Carolyn See, a literary type who once wrote a semi-SF novel (Golden Days 1986) herself, witheringly reviews Walter Mosley's Blue Light (Little, Brown). ''Mosley, whose Easy Rawlins detective mystery series has gained a large and respectful following, has decided to go into what he must think of as science fiction. ... But 'Blue Light' is terribly disappointing. In fact, it's derivative, solemn and frightfully dull, a mishmash of old 'Highlander' episodes (does anyone still watch that long-running syndicated television series?) that leaves you shaking your head.''

    (Fri 13 Nov 98)

    CNN, Wednesday 13 Nov. 8th
    Bob Winstead reviews Orson Scott Card's Heartfire (Tor). ''This is a delightful book, full of fantasy, magic, mystery, drama, intellectual debate, and backwoods humor.'' The review, unusually for CNN, quotes at length.

    (Fri 13 Nov 98)

    More Mosley
    Walter Mosley's Blue Light is reviewed in USA Today by Michael Jacobs, who generally approves. ''Mosley proves that good writing is good writing, regardless of genre. Mosley also shows a grasp for one of the oldest science-fiction tricks: setting up sequels. Blue Light leaves plenty of questions and a second generation of Blues to build a planned trilogy around.''.

    Paul Di Filippo's review in the Nov. 8th San Francisco Chronicle notes the danger of mainstream writers venturing ignorantly into SF, but finds Mosley's book ''a credible entry in the science-fiction genre''. Di Filippo cites numerous genre precedents including works by Stapledon, Sturgeon, Heinlein, and the ''infamous 'pink light' episode in the life of Philip K. Dick, when that grandly eccentric San Francisco writer claimed to have gotten real-life gnosis from a satellite transmission.''

    (Tue 10 Nov 98)

    Washington Post Book World, Sunday Nov. 8th
    Charles Platt reviews Hans Moravec's nonfiction Robot (Oxford University Press), a follow-up to the author's Mind Children and ''a more sober yet even more far-reaching study of the social impact of devices with superior brainpower.''

    (Tue 10 Nov 98)

    Washington Post Book World, Sunday Nov. 1st
    Martin Morse Wooster's SF column addresses short fiction, noting the gloomy state of the SF magazines while examining the scope of the SF story in four books. In Robert Silverberg's anthology Legends (Tor) the works that ''most closely adhere to traditional fantasy formulas'' are the poorest, while ''Special attention must be paid to Stephen King's offering. His Dark Tower series displays some of King's most personal writing, telling the story of gunslinger Roland and his epic struggle to find the Dark Tower.'' Wooster also covers Murray Leinster's First Contacts, the latest retrospective collection from NESFA: ''Libraries ought to place standing orders''; Paul Di Filippo's collection Lost Pages (Four Walls Eight Windows), which ''will delight sophisticated sf readers who pick up on the in-jokes, but may well baffle everyone else''; and Elizabeth Hand's Last Summer at Mars Hill (HarperPrism): ''Elizabeth Hand's work definitively refutes the notion that science fiction is not literature.''

    (Tue 10 Nov 98)

    Los Angeles Times Book Review, Sunday Nov. 1st
    Mark Rozzo's First Fiction column covers R. E. Klein's fantasy novel The History of Our World Beyond the Wave (Harcourt Brace). ''Klein's spirit of adventure is contagious in this first-rate post-deluge tall tale.''

    (Tue 10 Nov 98)

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