Reviews and Articles in General Publications
§ Time December 6, 1999
William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties gets a thumbnail review by Michael Krantz: ''The ferociously talented Gibson (Neuromancer)
delivers his signature melange of techno-pop splendor and postindustrial squalor, but this time his teasing, multicharacter narrative leads only to an irritating head scratcher of a conclusion.
Genre freaks: this appears to complete the trilogy. Connoisseurs: just reread Neal Stephenson.''
(Fri 3 Dec 1999)
§ New York Times November 30, 1999
A Critic's Notebook article by Richard Bernstein interprets the success of the Harry Potter books in terms of Bruno Bettelheim's lessons in The Uses of Enchantment.
§ New York Times Magazine November 28, 1999
''Parents Just Don't Understand'' offers insight into the latest kid crazes -- including Harry Potter, Pokemon, and Stuart Little.
The New Yorker
The Nov. 22 issue has a short unsigned review (on page 202) of William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties that says pretty much what everyone else has said about it: ''The pleasure is less in the plot, however, than in Gibson's coolly elegant prose, which creates a future that looks like Simon Rodia's Watts Towers: a science fiction constructed from glittering, broken artifacts of the present.'' Also, a books essay by Thomas Mallon (page 196) about the two Carl Sagan biographies. The Nov. 15 issue has brief reviews of José Saramago's The Tale of the Unknown Island -- a ''pared-down fable'' that shares with the author's Blindness an ''amused cynicism for absurd social systems and its compassion for the people ensnared by them'' -- and Kurt Johnson and Steve Coates's Nabokov's Blues: The Scientific Odyssey of a Literary Genius (Zoland), a book about the Russian writer's passion for butterflies. [Reviews not online]
The lead book review in the November 27 issue is by Tom De Haven of Michael Crichton's Timeline; De Haven gives it a B. The December 3 issue has a short review of one of the most widely-reviewed nonfiction books recently, Wendy Kaminer's Sleeping with Extra-terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety; grade A-. The November 19 issue has an article (page 136) about the mob scenes greeting J.K. Rowling (ROE-ling, not ROW-ling, she says) on her Harry Potter book tour in the US, and a profile (page 91) of Dava Sobel, author of the surprise nonfiction bestseller Galileo's Daughter. Also: William Poundstone's bio of Carl Sagan gets a B+. [Material not online]
(Tue 30 Nov 1999)
§ New York Review of Books December 16, 1999
Alison Lurie reviews the Harry Potter books.
§ New York Times Book Review November 28, 1999
Gerald Jonas's science fiction column covers Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's Dune: House Atreides (Bantam Spectra), Pat Murphy's There and Back Again (Tor), and Paul Levinson's The Silk Code (Tor). On the Dune book:
The good news is that the new work captures the sense of seriousness that distinguished the earlier books. ... Although the story is thick with plot and
counterplot, most of the narrative, as in the original series, is taken up with
talk, as conspirators assess openings, formulate plans, then try to figure out
what went wrong. This accent on analysis is just as well, since Brian
Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson fall far short of their model when it comes
to describing action. But those of us who fondly remember the charged
atmosphere and intellectual gravity of the Dune series will rejoice in this
chance to return to one of science fiction's most appealing futures.
I cannot imagine a less likely premise for a science fiction novel than turning J. R. R. Tolkien's classic fantasy ''The Hobbit'' into a space opera. Yet...the result, to my great surprise, is a delight.
As a genre-bending blend of police procedural and science fiction, ''The Silk Code'' delivers on its promises, although the episodic structure betrays its origin as a series of short stories.
Also in this NYTBR:
Reviews by David A. Hollinger of both current Carl Sagan biographies;
A short review by Matt Polazzo of Samuel R. Delany's Times Square Red, Times Square Blue;
A review by Mark Aronoff of Steven Pinker's Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Langauge (Basic Books);
A review by Michael Gorra of J.M. Coetzee's Booker Prize winning novel Disgrace (Viking).
§ Boston Globe Nov 28
Robert Taylor reviews Steven Millhauser's Enchanted Night: ''Though brilliantly written, it is an elusive work to label, consisting of some 74 evocative sections, prose poems actually, about the smiles of a summer night during a small town's freedom from realism.''
§ London Times November 28 1999
The Books for Christmas issue includes lists for fiction, science, art, etc. (but not one for science fiction). The science selections by John Cornwell include books by Steve Jones, Martin Rees, Dava Sobel, John Naughton, and Paul Davies.
§ Denver Post Nov. 28
Fred Cleaver reviews new books by Connie Willis, James Morrow, and Greg Egan, plus Y2K novels by Jadrien Bell and Andrew Burt. The Holiday Gift Guide's list of 1999's best fiction includes Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis, Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn, and Michael Crichton's Timeline.
(Mon 29 Nov 1999)