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Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction, Nicola Griffith and Stephen Pagel, eds. (Overlook 0-87951-856-1, $26.95, 375pp, hc, September 1998) This second volume in the series of anthologies of ''original gay and lesbian writing'' includes new stories by a wide variety of writers, gay and straight, mainstream and genre. The editors' ground rules require that the gay or lesbian element be identified with that enduring theme of SF, the science-fictional ''other'', and the result, somewhat dismayingly, is a book in which dystopias and repressive societies dominate, often, as Gary K. Wolfe notes in his review in the October 1998 Locus, ''with a decided lack of subtlety''. Wolfe also notes that ''the stories assembled are in no sense directed toward a particular gay readership'', and describes memorable tales by Nancy Johnson, Rebecca Ore, Shariann Lewitt, Carrie Richerson, L. Timmel Duchamp, Jim Grimsley, Elisabeth Vonarburg, and Ellen Klages. Mark R. Kelly's review in the November 1998 Locus expresses disappointment in the editors' limited thematic scope and hopes that a second volume might be assembled on other themes:
''SF has a rich history of imagining future societies that treat sexual and gender roles in nontraditional ways -- works by Delany, Russ, Varley, Gerrold, and others come to mind. More abstractly, SF (more so than fantasy) often deals with themes of estrangement -- one thinks of any number of stories about lonely telepaths in a hostile world. Such treatments of isolation and potential liberation would seem easily adaptable to stories that deal with being gay. Then there are any number of alternate-humanity stories involving variant sexualities that comment, indirectly, on the experience of being gay in a straight world, or that more generally suggest how human society might grow beyond the imperatives of biological reproduction. Such works range from Le Guin’s canonical The Left Hand of Darkness to Greg Egan's recent “Oceanic”. Alas, these themes are virtually absent from the present book.''
Nevertheless, there is much good work is in this volume, which is by no means directed at an unsophisticated gay readership. See short fiction reviews for more on notable stories.
(Mon 19 Oct 98)

Previous Profiles:
26 Sep 1998:
  • Stephen King's Bag of Bones
  • Iain M. Banks's Inversions
  • Stephen Baxter's Moonseed

    17 Sep 1998:
  • Brian Stableford's Inherit the Earth
  • Patricia A. McKillip's Song for the Basilisk
  • David Weber's Echoes of Honor
  • Wil McCarthy's Bloom

    10 Sep 1998:
  • David Morse's The Iron Bridge
  • Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring
  • Alfred Bester & Roger Zelazny's Psychoshop
  • Charles Sheffield's Aftermath
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    © 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.