Locus Online



DEC 2000


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Reviews and Articles in General Publications

Monday 26 February 2001

§ New York Times Book Review February 25, 2001
Gerald Jonas's SF column covers Gene Wolfe's Return to the Whorl (Tor), L.E. Modesitt Jr.'s The Octagonal Raven (Tor), What If Our World Is Their Heaven? The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick edited by Gwen Lee and Doris Elaine Sauter (Overlook Press), and the new edition of Keith Roberts's Pavane (Del Rey Impact). On Wolfe:

"Myth is neither irresponsible fantasy, nor the object of weighty psychology. . . . It is wholly other, and requires to be looked at with open eyes.'' So Gene Wolfe informs his readers in the third volume of his third series of epic tales about faith and its consequences... His great achievement is not the complex fictional universe he has shaped over the last two decades but the people who inhabit that universe, especially the reluctant believers like Patera Silk, an unorthodox priest whose faith grows more subtle with every shock to traditional dogma. ... Sentence by sentence, Wolfe is as fine a writer as science fiction has produced. He demands a lot from his readers. It is worth meeting him more than halfway.

§ The New Yorker February 25, 2001
The magazine's new website has brief notices this week of Tim Powers's Declare (Morrow) and David Searcy's Ordinary Horror (Viking). On Powers:

Powers creates an appallingly life-like portrait of the British traitor Kim Philby, and he orchestrates reality and fantasy so artfully that the reader is not allowed a moment's doubt throughout this tall tale.
On Searcy:
In controlled and lyrical prose, Searcy imbues the ordinary with the horrific: dogs disappear; a swarm of cicadas descends; an unidentifiable red powder coats the old man's kitchen; and the little girl next door starts to communicate with him in ominous ways. Searcy's skill is to keep us guessing--never quite letting us know whether the disaster is all in Delabano's mind or whether something has gone terribly wrong with the universe.

§ Amazon UK
Recently posted author-articles include Michael Moorcock, Raymond E. Feist, and Iain M. Banks.

Thursday 22 February 2001

§ Salon February 22, 2001
Laura Miller reviews Stephen King's Dreamcatcher (Scribner) and David Searcy's first novel Ordinary Horror (Viking). King wrote this book in six months following his accident -- 600 pages in longhand. Miller says King returns to form...

"Dreamcatcher," his first full-length novel since [Bag of Bones], features more explosions and car chases, more gore and more skin-crawling horror. It will make you see bacon and the mold that grows on food left too long in the fridge in a whole new and unsettling light. The fate of the world hangs in the balance, with a breathless race leading up to a denouement designed to induce nail-biting. In short, it's a more reliable genre vehicle, with the kind of panoramic framework, large cast of characters and grandiose themes that work so well, in entirely different trappings, for Anne Rice.
...but that ultimately the book just isn't creepy.

Monday 19 February 2001

§ Washington Post February 19, 2001
Despite a climactic war in Heaven resulting in the death of God, writes Alona Wartofsky, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy has stirred very little controversy. Pullman discusses how his work differs from Tolkien's and Lewis's, and what he's working on next. A side article quotes several teenagers on their reactions to Pullman's books. (And here's the trilogy's official website.)

§ San Francisco Chronicle February 18, 2001
Michael Berry reviews Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill's graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. One (America's Best Comics)...

What might have happened if the great heroes and villains of Haggard, Verne, Stoker, Stevenson and Wells got together as a kind of Justice League of America for the Victorian Age? ... Smart, creepy and very, very amusing, "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" is jolly good fun for all, a graphic novel that's more than just a collection of its original parts.
...and current books by Joe Haldeman, John M. Ford, Kage Baker, and Andy Duncan.

Publishers Weekly February 5, February 12, 2001 [not online]
Starred reviews for Harry Turtledove's Colonization: Aftershocks (Del Rey) [Feb. 5]...

Hugo winner Turtledove lives up to his billing as the grand master of alternative history... The author shows he can be just as deft with relationships as with action. Having already discovered politics, change, intrigue, treasons and cold weather, the invading Race is now learning about bribery and monogamy. ... This novel is altogether excellent of its type, even if the ending will leave readers wondering hopefully about possible sequels. well as moderately positive reviews of new books by Nagata, Marco, Sheffield, and Modesitt.

The Feb. 12 issue has a starred review of Stephen King's Dreamcatcher (Scribner), which is due in stores March 20.

[D]espite its excessive length, the novel -- one of the most complex thematically and structurally in King's vast output -- dazzles and grips, if fitfully. In its suspenseful depiction of an alien invasion, it superficially harkens back to King's early work (e.g., the 1980 novella "The Mist"), but it also features the psychological penetration, word-magic and ripe imagination of his recent stuff (particulary Bag of Bones).
There are also reviews of SF/F/H books by Michael Moorcock, Raymond E. Feist, Nancy Holder, and Simon Clark.

§ February 15, 2001
The website's "Very Interesting People" section has an interview with Jonathan Carroll by Gavin J. Grant. Coming Feb. 20 is an article by Jeffrey Ford; in March, interviews with Gina Nahai and Sean Stewart.

§ January Magazine February 2001
The online review magazine is running a contest to win a copy of Spider Robinson's new collection By Any Other Name (Baen). Deadline for entry: February 25.

Monday 12 February 2001

§ Florida Today February 11, 2001
Gary Westfahl contributes a balanced appraisal of 2001 in 2001 for the general readership (in contrast to his Heinleinian take on the theme in the current, January issue of Interzone).

§ New York Times Book Review February 11, 2001
Alan Cheuse reviews Jonathan Carroll's The Wooden Sea (Tor), characterizing Carroll as a cult writer whose time is bound to come.

In ''The Wooden Sea,'' Carroll confounds the genre-rigid standards of most literary criticism, crossing from fantasy to psychological thriller to science fiction as easily as Frannie ventures back and forth in time. In the end, whether what happens in this novel is mischief or metaphysics doesn't really matter. What does is that Carroll turns them both into his own distinctive kind of intelligent entertainment.
§ Chicago Tribune February 4, 2001
And in Chicago, the busy Alan Cheuse looks at Arthur C. Clarke's collected stories...
Science fiction is the century's true literature of ideas and, among the various types of genre fiction, certainly the most intellectually rewarding. I imagine some travelers in need of entertainment plucking this thick volume from the shelf of a cabin in space on some long journey, centuries and centuries hence. I imagine their pleasure as they read. I imagine their rising respect for the particular genius of the man from 2001.
§ The Stranger February 14, 2001
Dallas Taylor contributes a note [scroll down] on Norman Spinrad's out-of-print The Void Captain's Tale.
If, as Milan Kundera claims, the purpose of the novel is to explore and expand the territory of living-in-the-world, then the purpose of the science-fiction novel must be even more far-reaching: to explore and expand living-in-the-world through the lens of a credibly fabricated future extrapolated from the present. ... [This book] is the work of a respected master, arguably at the height of his powers--a finely crafted sci-fi milieu built up from the very language it uses to describe itself, in which the largest possible questions of conscious existence are explored and expanded. It's out of print, but if you ever come across a copy, buy and read it. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday 4 February 2001

§ Los Angeles Times Book Review February 4, 2001
A front-cover, full-page review by Thomas M. Disch of Arthur C. Clarke's Collected Stories (Tor).

"2001" ...and to a lesser degree the novel that mirrors it, is the jewel in the crown of Sir Arthur (as he has become), the guarantor of his immortality, as "Frankenstein" was Mary Shelley's. Anyone who has managed to read "Frankenstein" knows it is not a very good novel. Had Mary Shelley not enjoyed the good luck of marrying a poet bound for glory and the further good luck of having her novel become a classic film, her creation would not have attained the status of a modern myth, a constellation in the postmodern heavens.

A similar confluence of luck has done the same for "2001." Without Stanley Kubrick's ability to limn and adorn Clarke's naked vision of a chill, mechanistic and yet awesome future (a vision that underlies all SF like a sub-dermal tumor), the presence of that archetypal element in his work might well have remained a mere glimmer at the edges of the genre, like the aura of dread around the best fairy tales. But "2001" revealed the familiar landscapes of boys' adventure sci-fi to be just as suitable for adventures of the soul. Read in that light, Clarke's oeuvre of 50 years bears pondering as much as those of the great Goths--Poe, Hoffmann, Shelley.

§ Washington Post Book World February 4, 2001
Martin Morse Wooster reviews Joe Haldeman's The Coming ("Joe Haldeman is a very good novelist. But he seems less and less interested in being a science fiction writer."), Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen's Wheelers (a "goofy science fiction epic ... as tasty as a sugar-coated steak."), and Paula Volsky's The Grand Ellipse ("Volsky is a vivid and imaginative writer, and The Grand Ellipse is a very entertaining novel.").

§ New York Times February 4, 2001
Peter M. Nichols looks back at Space: 1999, the 1970s TV series with Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, on the occasion of its video and DVD release.

§ January Magazine January 2001
Claude Lalumière reviews Kim Newman's Unforgivable Stories (Pocket): "stimulating, fun, clever, erudite and thought-provoking".

Publishers Weekly January 29, 2001 [not online]
Starred reviews for Jack Dann and Janeen Webb's Dreaming Down-Under (Tor), an anthology of Australian short fiction ("even readers skeptical of all the hype won't be disappointed") and of Sean Russell's novel The One Kingdom (Eos) ("a perfectly plotted, beautifully written fantasy").

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