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Reviews and Articles in General Publications
Monday 26 March 2001

§ Dreamcatcher
Lots of reviews of Stephen King's new novel:


§ Profiles

§ Washington Post March 25, 2001
Tim Sullivan reviews new books by

  • Harry Harrison ("it's the headlong narrative rush that really puts this one across"),
  • Jeffrey A. Carver ("old fashioned, slam-bang, gosh-wow stuff, updated with a bit of cyberchat for current audiences"),
  • Orson Scott Card ("saving the world is the province of children in a long-running sf tradition"),
  • John M. Ford ("story and characters are disappointingly uninvolving and precious"),
  • and Stephen Baxter ("breathtaking in its originality and scope")

§ Denver Post March 25, 2001
Fred Cleaver reviews new books by Linda Nagata, Arthur C. Clarke, and Brian Lumley.

§ San Francisco Chronicle March 25, 2001
Here's a review by Erik Tarloff of Turning on the Girls, a futuristic feminist satire by Cheryl Benard (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), which Tarloff finds unconvincing on every level.

§ New York Times March 18 & 25, 2001
Last week, a short review by Jennifer Reese of This Shape We're In, a novella by Jonathan Lethem (McSweeney's); this week, Colin Harrison reviews Joyce Carol Oates's new collection Faithless: Tales of Transgression (HarperCollins).

§ Washington Post March 18, 2001
Michael Dirda contemplates becoming a movie critic.

More and more, the movies even validate our books. Reviewers frequently sum up fictional characters by saying "You can just see her played by Gwyneth Paltrow." Fiction is now so fast-paced and scripted that you know the book is merely the larval stage of the movie. Kids prefer novelizations to novels.

The Smithsonian Magazine [not online]
The March issue of this magazine has an article, "The Eternal Tarzan", by Bruce Watson, with b&w photos from the huge collection of ERBiana at the University of Louisville. The April issue has an article by Joel Achenbach (excerpted here) about H.G. Wells, with historical photos from the University of Illinois at Urbana.


Monday 12 March 2001

§ New York Times Book Review March 11, 2001
Two brief reviews, one by Etelka Lehoczky of Jack Womack's novel Going, Going, Gone (Grove), and one by Mark Athitakis of Arthur C. Clarke's Collected Stories (Tor). There's also a review of Exiting Nirvana: A Daughter's Life with Autism, noted because the book's author, Clara Claiborne Park, is SF writer Paul Park's mother.

§ San Francisco Chronicle March 11, 2001
Alan Cheuse reviews Stephen King's Dreamcatcher (Scribner), finding its themes familiar from other King novels.

But does identifying all this make the book worth reading? For readers who admit to picking up a good genre book from time to time in order to get away from it all, which means a chance to peer into the heart of darkness without too much fear of getting lost in it, it does.


Tuesday 6 March 2001

§ New York Press February 27, 2001
John Strausbaugh reviews [scroll down] What If Our World Is Their Heaven?: The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick, edited by Gwen Lee and Doris Elaine Sauter (Overlook Press), which contains a savvy evaluation of PKD's career.

Iíve never claimed that Dick was, strictly speaking, a great writer. In fact, the writing per se is often lousy. PKD novels contain some of the largest and most glaring plot holes and clunkiest dialogue Iíve ever seen in fiction that actually got itself published. Theyíre a speed freakís first drafts, put out by publishers who were hardly paying attention enough to ask for rewrites.

Theyíre great books anyway. For one thing, Dick mastered a delightful subgenre of lo-fi sci-fi in which the characters arenít big space-opera heroes and villains but everyday doofuses going about their humdrum lives when they suddenly find themselves caught in strange circumstances.

... [I]n January of 1982 Dick ... outlines for Lee in fascinating detail the next novel he was planning to write, to be called The Owl in Daylight. It sounds like it would have been a great Dick novel, and his lengthy discussion of it is the gem at the heart of this book.

Meanwhile, a documentary film about PKD, The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick, directed by Mark Steensland, has just opened in New York City at the Cinema Village. Elvis Mitchell's New York Times review (which gets the title of PKD's story "We Can Remember it For You Wholesale" wrong) calls it

an affectionate and prosaic documentary on Dick's life and contributions, [which] might as well be called "I Can Dream It for You Cut-Rate." ... "Gospel" seems better suited to small-screen viewing. It skims over Dick's life like a speed reader, not taking the time to distinguish between one incident and the next.

Publishers Weekly February 26, 2001 [not online]
Starred review for Tony Daniels novel Metaplanetary (Eos, April 20)...

...a cross between Bruce Sterling and Doc Smith that teems with vivid characters and surprising action.
...as well as reviews of new books by Mark Anthony, Paul Levinson, and Jack McDevitt.

§ January Magazine February 2001
Claude Lalumière reviews Richard Paul Russo's Ship of Fools (Ace):

At least five sciencefictional motifs congregate here: (1) first contact, (2) the colonization of space, (3) generation ships, (4) anthropogenic destruction of the Earth, (5) the far future. If we widen our focus from science fiction to fiction, we can then add "science fiction" as a sixth motif with which to look at this novel. ... Like a good scientist, Russo isolated his test subject, changed whatever variables were pertinent to his experiment and then let the experiment unfold. And like a good fiction writer, he layered his observations into a captivating and moving narrative without ever spelling anything out.

§ Greensboro NC News & Record March 4, 2001
A profile of Orson Scott Card, whose political thoughts are displayed on a new website, The Ornery American.


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