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Reviews and Articles in General Publications

Sunday 31 December 2000

London Review of Books 30 November 2000
Iain Sinclair's review of Michael Moorcock's King of the City and Mother London (page 34; not online) includes these comments:
Moorcock champions names who are no longer there, authors he can't rescue from the swamp of oblivion. They're not in the book, in Margaret Drabble's latest edition of the Oxford Companion to English Literature: no Gerald Kersh, Kyril Bonfiglioli, M. John Harrison, James Sallis, Keith Roberts, Derek Raymond, Harlan Ellison. No Jack Trevor Story. Moorcock is there. He's included, quite generously summarised, and not just as a "science-fiction writer of the 1960's. But how strange it must feel, to be allowed into the club, while most of your colleagues and former collaborators, the characters around whom so much of your work has been constructed, lead an extracurricular existence, banished from the official canon.
§ Now it's 2001
Arthur C. Clarke is everywhere, of course; here's an article (in German) in Stern, Der Mann, der das Jahr 2001 erfand.

Wednesday 27 December 2000

§ Almost 2001
Arthur C. Clarke has short articles in two January 2001 issue magazines: "Hello, 2001" in Playboy (this link provides only the opening paragraph); and "Beyond Gravity", an introduction to the cover story in the January 2001 National Geographic.

Tuesday's New York Times has an essay by Dennis Overbye, On the Eve of 2001, the Future Is Not Quite What It Used to Be.

§ Washington Post Book World December 24, 2000
John Clute reviews Bruce Sterling's Zeitgeist (Bantam Spectra), Andy Duncan's collection Beluthahatchie and Other Stories (Golden Gryphon), and Pat Murphy's Wild Angel (Tor).

Publishers Weekly
PW's December 18th issue gives a starred review to John M. Ford's The Last Hot Time (Tor):

Haunting, puzzling, even unsettling and deliberately obscure, this improvisatory jazzlike riff of good and evil in the context of a most unusual growing-up story is bittersweet as first love and loss, a minor-key elegy for the death of youth and innocence.
PW's November 20th issue awarded a star to Orson Scott Card's Shadow of the Hegemon (Tor, January), and features an interview with Card.
The complexity and serious treatment of the book's young protagonists will attract many sophisticated YA readers, while Card's impeccable prose, fast pacing and political intrigue will appeal to adult fans of spy novels, thrillers and science fiction.

Thursday 7 December 2000

§ Salon December 7, 2000
A long profile of Piers Anthony by Emily Jenkins addresses the guilty pleasures of the Xanth novels.

[T]here's something deeply uncool about liking series fantasy, especially in the New York literary circles I find myself in. But the fun Anthony offers is pretty huge, and if I can admit I like Adam Sandler and "South Park," I'm certainly mature enough to admit I get a huge kick out of Xanth. ...
That he is so incredibly prolific (he's written over 113 novels), and that he delivers his brand of pleasure so consistently, probably accounts for Anthony's poor critical reputation (though the sex jokes and puns shouldn't be discounted, either). Essentially, it is uncool to like him, and uncool to take any series author very seriously, so critics ignore him when in fact there's ample fodder in the novels for speculation and analysis: Anthony has a complicated relationship to feminism, sometimes ardent, sometimes dismissive (women exist to make men happy; rape is a constant threat; the patriarchy is a problem); he tackles issues like biased intelligence testing and racism with a complexity belied by his lightness of tone; and he consistently parodies cultural sexual attitudes and censorship, via the Adult Conspiracy.

§ CNN December 7, 2000
A profile of Robert Jordan and his fans.

Jordan does have his detractors. Disgruntled fans -- and not a few critics -- question his verbosity, and many have wondered whether he could be losing control of the story.

"No, I never feel that it's getting away from me," Jordan said. "I certainly am telling it in more detail, in which case, I think it's good that I'm telling it in more books than five. Trying to compress it into five would have made it not as readable or enjoyable."

He insists that he has known what will happen in the last scene of the last book before ever setting down a word.

§ January December 2000
Claude Lalumière reviews Richard Paul Russo's collection Terminal Visions (Golden Gryphon).

Russo's stories are gorgeously written, in a confident, understated style that lets the stories tell themselves (or, rather, such is the elegant illusion Russo creates).
And in November, Lalumière reviewed Theodore Sturgeon's Selected Stories (Vintage).
As a Sturgeon primer (but not a best of!), this is a fine selection, but not a fine book. Its lack of information about the stories and the author limits its ability to present Sturgeon to new and/or curious readers. However, I'm sure that anyone reading Selected Stories will feel compelled to investigate more deeply the delicate pleasures of Sturgeon's prose.

§ CNN November 22, 2000
L.D. Meagher reviews Terry Pratchett's The Truth, a Discworld satire on newspaper publishing.

Pratchett's barbs are placed judiciously. He does not belittle the profession. He knows only too well how printer's ink can get into one's blood.

"The [printing] press waited," Pratchett writes. "It looked, now, like a great big beast. Soon, he'd throw a lot of words into it. And in a few hours it would be hungry again, as if those words had never happened. You could feed it, but you could never fill it up."

That's as clear and concise a description of the reporter's relationship to his profession as you're likely to find. And it demonstrates that Pratchett is no mad bomber. He explodes pretensions with his prose, but he selects his targets carefully, and almost always scores a direct hit. "The Truth" is technically a fantasy novel, but an unconventional one. And a funny one -- the laugh-out-loud kind of funny that comes along all too infrequently.

§ Graphic Novels
Three Sunday book reviews on November 26 reviewed Chris Ware's graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Pantheon)...

  • In San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, Chris Lanier's review:
    Jimmy is another of Ware's stunted losers, chronologically an adult but mentally and emotionally still a child -- so interred in the private world of his fantasies and senses as to be nearly autistic.
    (Also in this week's SFC review: a review of The Vintage Book of Amnesia edited by Jonathan Lethem.)

  • Dave Eggers's review in The New York Times Book Review considers Ware's book and three others, as perhaps evidence of a trend. Ben Katchor's novella Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District (Pantheon) sounds surrealistic:'s a now-defunct area (which looks eerily like 34th Street and Broadway), where artists, musicians or writers can go, walk into this or that shoe-repair-looking storefront and order, over the counter, aesthetic balance or appeal, or even plain inspiration, for their unfinished projects. The establishments include Stark's Realism Foundry, Blonje's Ambiguity Warehouse and the Phallocentric Supply Co., but the business we get to know best is Sensum's Symmetry Shop...

    Eggers on Ware:

    But when it seems the story could not get any more bleak, it bleakens. ... All the while, Ware's sublime artwork, somehow both meticulous and utterly free, leavens the mood. Ware is the most versatile and innovative artist the medium has known, and though it's unlikely that anyone soon will tell a story as powerfully as did [Art] Spiegelman in ''Maus,'' in terms of sheer aesthetic virtuosity Ware's book is arguably the greatest achievement of the form, ever.
  • And there's a brief, unsigned review of Chris Ware's book in Washington Post Book World.

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