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1999 Archive

Linked titles can be browsed (or ordered) from Books.





Reviews and Articles in General Publications

§ Publishers Weekly, Jan. 17, 2000
Robert K.J. Killheffer surveys the current state of SF publishing in a long article about the recent track record of SF on bestseller lists, the phenomenal success of Terry Pratchett in the UK, the decline of the US mass market paperback, and much more.

(Wed 19 Jan 2000)

§ Salon, Jan. 18, 2000
Readers react (!) to Christine Schoefer's article about the sexism of J.K. Rowling's ''Harry Potter'' books.

§ New York Times Book Review, January 16, 2000
Gerald Jonas's SF column covers Stephen Baxter's Manifold: Time (Del Rey), Jeffrey Ford's Memoranda (Avon), Graham Joyce's Indigo (Pocket), and Gene Wolfe's Strange Travelers (Tor). On Baxter: ''Reading 'Manifold: Time' is like sending your mind to the gym for a brisk workout. If you don't feel both exhausted and exhilarated when you're done, you haven't been working hard enough.'' On Wolfe: ''It is never easy to tell in Wolfe's short fiction where reality ends and dream begins. People who may be dead dream of dying, and even their waking may signal a kind of death. Wolfe can write about ghosts and demons in a style entirely free of whimsy or conventional horror, and he can make straightforward science fiction sound like folk legends and wisdom tales.''

§ Washington Post, January 16, 2000
Kit Reed reviews Robert Olen Butler's Mr. Spaceman (Grove Press), a novel about an alien who comes to Earth. Reed points out that the alien, Desi, first appeared in Butler's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain. ''With a narrator from outer space riding in on an old story, a writer with a literary reputation runs the risk of looking silly. The triumph is that Butler has brought his own lyric prose and quirky vision to a hoary premise and created a lovely and thoughtful tribute to the nature and power of the word. Mr. Spaceman is intelligent, funny and enormously likable.''

§ San Francisco Chronicle, January 16, 2000
Tony Mastrogiorgio has an opposite reaction to Butler's novel in his review, which runs under the headline ''Pulitzer-winning author's talent apparently abducted by aliens''. ''Part of the problem in reviewing 'Mr. Spaceman' is that it is nearly impossible not to improve it when describing it. ... Sadly, 'Mr. Spaceman' is not very funny. Its jokes read like second-rate 'Mork and Mindy' without Robin Williams' manic delivery.''

§ Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2000
Robert Lee Hotz reviews the two Carl Sagan biographies.

(Tue 18 Jan 2000)

§ Salon, Jan. 13, 2000
Christine Schoefer takes issue with the sexism of J.K. Rowling's ''Harry Potter'' books.

(Thu 13 Jan 2000)

§ San Francisco Chronicle, January 9, 2000
Michael Berry's SF column covers Nina Kiriki Hoffman's A Red Heart of Memories (Ace), Stephen Baxter's Silverhair (HarperPrism), Jonathan Carroll's The Marriage of Sticks (Tor), Robert Charles Wilson's Bios (Tor), Paul Levinson's The Silk Code (Tor), and Michael Moorcock's Multiverse (DC Comics/Vertigo). Berry likes all of them, more or less, but he's most enthusiastic about Hoffman, who is ''an expert at creating battered yet resilient characters who confront the world with odd powers and offbeat perspectives. Her empathy for the underdog is deeply felt, without ever stooping to sticky sentimentality, and her latest book displays her narrative strengths to full advantage.''

(Mon 10 Jan 2000)

§ Washington Post Book World, January 2, 2000
Michael Dirda chooses Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness as his favorite work of literature to recommend for the Post's Book Club.

Many readers, I know, still imagine that sf is a mishmash of star wars and ray guns, bug-eyed monsters and scantily class space rangerettes. Not so. Science fiction can be shlocky, but it can also be radically experimental, cunningly artful, and sometimes, as in the final pages here, almost inexpressibly moving.

§ Village Voice, December 29, 1999 - January 4, 2000
A feature by Samuel R. Delany speculates about New York City in 3000.

§ The Atlantic, January 2000
Michael Joseph Gross contributes an incisive essay/review on Jenkins and LeHaye's ''Left Behind'' novels, including an extensive summary of the plots of the several books. What they reveal to Gross is Jenkins' desire for fame. ''His books suggest that he fears being left behind by a secular, global, technological culture bereft of Christian messages, and the popularity of his books confirms that he's not alone in his fear.''

§ New York Times, The Millennium
A special Art of the Millennium section includes an interview with Octavia E. Butler. The same section features a 'very early edition' of the paper's front page for January 1, 2100 (unfortunately mostly illegible online).

§ San Francisco Chronicle, December 26, 1999
William Linne reviews William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties.

'All Tomorrow's Parties' showcases all of Gibson's strengths and weaknesses. He can craft sentences of uncanny beauty, and he is a great poet of crowds... The problem is that Gibson's flights of imagination are not enough to make you care one bit about the characters or the plot. He has constructed a curiously suspense-less detective story.
Also in this Sunday's Chronicle Book Review: reviews of current nonfiction by Theodore Roszak, Steven Pinker, and Henry Petroski.

Also, the Review offers a selection of 37 of the Century's Best Children's Books (including the first Harry Potter book) and invites reader suggestions of other titles.

§ New York Times Book Review, December 26, 1999
Gerald Jonas briefly reviews Arthur C. Clarke's Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!. ''Arguably, Sir Arthur (he was knighted in 1998) has done more than anyone in the 20th century to explain science to the multitude.''

(Fri 7 Jan 2000)
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