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Quotes from Mainstream Reviews
April 1998

Entertainment Weekly, 17 Apr 1998
Mary Doria Russell's Children of God is achieving a kind of break-out status; it's sitting respectably on the Amazon bestseller list (see bestsellers), and it's getting featured notice in such popular media as Entertainment Weekly magazine. The theme of the review by Tom De Haven (who's more of an SF insider than Russell, actually) is not that it's a good book even though it's science fiction, but it's a good book even though it's a sequel.
Russell blends high adventure with serious theology and sophisticated political science, turning the collapse of Rakhat society -- the emancipation of one species and the near genocide of another -- into a powerful epic narrative. Unfortunately, though, the writing plods, and too many central events are summarized or reported second-hand. But if Children of God lacks The Sparrow's trippy splendor, as well as its neat, jointed structure, this is still an ambitious novel, and a tragic, haunting parable about moral justice that miraculously avoids all of the usual clichés and even subverts some of them. Here, for a change, is a sequel that counts. B+

Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr 1998
Lead book critic Richard Eder finds elaborate parallels in Jonathan Lethem's novel Girl in Landscape to a classic 1956 John Ford western, ''The Searchers''. He's not completely happy with the book though.

Whatever Ford's intentions, "The Searchers" has taken on a complex postmodern aura. It allows its viewers a fashionable double vision, a moral switchback that provides them a rush of dramatic journeying but drops them safely off where they started out. They are able to throb at Wayne's he-man grandeur and gruff sentiment, while condescending to his good cowboy-bad Indian bias. For some of us, nowadays, it is more comfortable to enjoy our heroes when not disturbed by the need to admire them.

Double vision unfortunately blurs a good deal of Lethem's story. He has turned out an allegory that attempts to reproduce the retrospective ambiguities of "The Searchers," but he has not been able to write an equivalent for the emotional force of the Wayne persona. Dramatic ambiguity requires placing its hesitation point between two highly charged opposites; in "Girl," the opposite charges are weak or obstructed.

New York Times Book Review, 12 Apr 98
SF columnist Gerald Jonas considers Phyllis Gotlieb, an alternate history novel by G. Miki Hayden, and Resnick's Kirinyaga.

If you have been wondering what a distinguished Canadian poet writes about when she writes science fiction, the answer is: sex and violence. The characters who inhabit Phyllis Gotlieb's FLESH AND GOLD have little time for anything else. ... As the sprawling story grinds toward an agreeably neat conclusion, much of the pleasure comes from Gotlieb's ability to suggest an exotic if all too recognizable future in which vast technological resources are mobilized to satisfy age-old urges.

In PACIFIC EMPIRE, G. Miki Hayden imagines a world war in which the Japanese have successfully brought most of the Pacific --including the Hawaiian Islands -- under their domination, while Hitler's early defeat in Europe has left the remaining powers in a state of temporary exhaustion. ... If the language sometimes sounds as if it had been translated from a Japanese original, this also works to the book's advantage; in a curious way, the two kinds of distancing -- of language and background -- cancel each other out, leaving us immersed in a world that never existed with people whose vibrant existence on the page is never in doubt.

By relying on non-Kikuyu technology and lying to his own people about it, Koriba is exposed as a sham almost from the first page, rendering anticlimactic his later confrontations with the forces of progress and rendering moot the life-and-death debate about social organization that alone could justify the novel's willfully schematic structure.

© 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.