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SF Reviews and Articles in General Publications

Dallas Observer June 11-17
The alternative newspaper has a long feature story about local writer Patricia Anthony, her frustrations with the science fiction field, and her ambition to be taken seriously as a historical writer. Anthony's next novel, Mercy's Children, is described as ''a 700-page novel about the rise of Puritanism and the founding of America narrated entirely in Elizabethan English by an angel.'' While awaiting resolution of its publication fate from New York, Anthony is also eager to hear from Hollywood, where James Cameron has optioned her early novel Brother Termite.
(Tue 30 Jun 98)

San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, Sunday June 28th
J. G. Ballard's Cocaine Nights is reviewed by Brigitte Frase. She realizes the book is less like the ''realistic, humanely reflective'' Empire of the Sun and ''closer to the dark allegories of obsession and hubris'' of books like Crash, but is disappointed: ''The result, unfortunately, is a lame, at times silly book, with characters so pale and limp-brained you may want to dump them all off a cliff on the Costa del Sol, where the novel's shenanigans take place.''
(Mon 29 Jun 98)

USA Today, Thursday June 25th

USA Today tags this review of Jonathan Lethem's Girl in Landscape an ''Editor's pick''. The reviewer, Tom O'Brien, says ''Hugely ambitious is the best way to describe Girl in Landscape. ... What Lethem creates is sci-fi with a heart and a head and a minimum of contraptions.''
(Mon 29 Jun 98)

Scientific American May
A photo on page 54 shows astronaut Shannon Lucid floating weightless aboard the Mir space station and holding a paperback book by Stephen R. Donaldson. The caption mentions that Lucid read 50 books during her six months on Mir. (Links: the article is here, and the photo itself is visible but not quite clear on this page (upper right). Front page: Scientific American.)
(Sun 28 Jun 98)

The Planetary Reporter May/June
Kim Stanley Robinson has an opinion feature, ''The Green Space Project'', about antagonism between the environmental and space movements. (Article not online, but here's the website for The Planetary Society.)
(Sun 28 Jun 98)

The Advocate June 23
Clive Barker is interviewed about his latest novel, Galilee. Barker discusses how this book and his previous novel, Sacrament, define a ''new direction'' for his work, injecting a gay sensibility into more realistic settings than those of his earlier fantasy novels. Barker's next project: a book of short stories for children called Clive Barker's Book of Hours. (Interview not online; here's The Advocate's website.)
(Sun 28 Jun 98)

PW Interactive June 22
An ''In Depth'' interview/essay with Kim Stanley Robinson, ''Götterdämmerung on Ice'', visits the author in his Davis, California home, where he discusses eco-fiction, hard science fiction, and his newest novel Antarctica.
(Thu 25 Jun 98)

index magazine
An interview with Octavia Butler, from February. Front page: Index. The website archive also has a J. G. Ballard interview from November 1996, Survival Guide.
(Thu 25 Jun 98)

Voice Literary Supplement Winter 1998
A trenchant essay by Jonathan Lethem, Close Encounters: The Squandered Promise of Science Fiction, which analyzes the failure of SF to merge with literary fiction.
(Wed 24 Jun 98)

San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, Sunday June 21st
Harlan Ellison reviews a reissue of Eliot Asinof's 1955 baseball novel Man on Spikes.
(Tue 23 Jun 98)

Salon, Monday June 22nd
J. G. Ballard's Cocaine Nights is reviewed by Scott McLemee. Though not SF, the novel offers a taste of a ''leisure-dominated future'' at a Mediterranean resort populated by jaded British and French expatriates. ''Anyone familiar with Ballard's vision -- as it has taken shape, over the years, in a highly accomplished and often unnerving body of work, most of it in science fiction -- knows what to expect next.''
(Mon 22 Jun 98)

CNN, Monday June 22nd
A review by Margaret Howell of the paperback edition of Sheri S. Tepper's The Family Tree: ''The Family Tree'' stretches the limits of your imagination, but if you can put aside the real world, you'll find yourself in a highly entertaining fantasyland.
(Mon 22 Jun 98)

Los Angeles Times Book Review, Sunday June 21st
The LAT's literary critic Richard Eder reviews Richard Powers's Gain. It's not SF as his previous novel Galatea 2.2 was but sounds meaty nonetheless: Powers is ''a writer of blistering intellect; he has only to think about a subject and the paint curls off. He is a novelist of ideas and a novelist of witness, and in both respects he has few American peers.'' But Eder finds the new book, about the history of American technology and capitalism, less successful than the last.

Also in LATBR: review of a biography of Lawrence Durrell (though it does not mention Durrell's two quasi-SF novels); and of mythopoeic interest, a review of Kathleen Ragan's anthology Fearless Girls, Wise Women and Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World. (Note: direct LAT links last only a couple days before articles are moved into pay-only archives.)
(Sun 21 Jun 98)

New York Times Book Review, Sunday June 21st
Powers's book is also reviewed here by Bruce Bawer. Also, a short review of a ''hilarious time-traveling crime caper'' by Steve Aylett called Slaughtermatic (from Four Walls Eight Windows).
(Sun 21 Jun 98)

The Nation, Monday June 15th
Thomas M. Disch is reviewed in one of his favorite haunts. John Leonard's Culture Watch: Alien Nation devotes a long paragraph or two to Disch's The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of by way of discussing The X-Files, Jodi Dean's Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace, and what it all means.
(Fri 19 Jun 98)

New York Review of Books, Thursday June 25th
Like Leonard, Frederick Crews is fascinated but not much impressed by Jodi Dean, Whitley Strieber, and others of that ilk in a long, footnoted essay The Mindsnatchers in The New York Review of Books. Also there recently: an essay about Stephen Jay Gould's Questioning the Millennium; another in which Freeman J. Dyson considers Richard Feynman and John Polkinghorne; and biologist Steve Jones writing about Gina Kolata, Jeremy Rifkin, and Edward O. Wilson.
(Fri 19 Jun 98)

CNN, Thursday June 18th
Bob Winstead reviews Semper Mars by Ian Douglas (Avon Books, pb), a work of military science fiction using the 'Face on Mars' as a backdrop. The plot concerns ''A contingent of U.S. Marines is sent to the site to protect U.S. interests there. Protection from ... the United Nations! Yes, the UN!'' and the author is really William H. Keith Jr., author of several dozen previous military action novels. The reviewer concludes ''...if you like smart military campaigns, grunt level patriotic fervor, and don't care where the action takes place, there's ''Semper Mars''.

Speaking of other book reviews, Salon magazine's Media Circus feature today has an article about the current editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Steve Wasserman, whose taste for ponderous, academic subjects has driven out most of the fiction reviews (not to mention science fiction) and left many readers alienated.
(Thu 18 Jun 98)

CNN, Tuesday June 16th
L. D. Meagher reviews Thomas M. Disch's The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of under the headline ''If science fiction is a ghetto, we all live there...'' ''In the end, though, Disch doesn't seem too optimistic about science fiction, its future or its past. His iconoclasm begins to sound a bit whiny. He focuses on the weaknesses of SF, and dismisses its strengths.''

CNN also has a review by Scott Blakey of the video release of Walt Disney animated version of Disch's ''The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars''. Compared to the 1987 animated feature ''The Brave Little Toaster'', ''one of the most innovative and compelling pictures for family viewing'', the sequel falls way short: ''Let me put this into the highly technical language of the writer's trade: It stinks.''
(Wed 17 Jun 98)

The New Yorker, June 22 & 29
A paragraph review of (among other first novels) Ronald Wright's A Scientific Romance: ''In this elegant novel, Wright has great fun taking the conventions of Victorian science fiction out for a spin. ... Wright's narrative is gripping and lyrical: you struggle to slow down but find yourself rushing forward.''
(Wed 17 Jun 98)

The New Yorker June 22 & 29
The Summer Fiction Issue includes

  • A Stephen King story titled ''That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French''.
  • A ''Talk of the Town'' item about the effect of The Truman Show's success on the town of Seaside, Florida, where it was shot.
  • Letters by Martha Gellhorn about H. G. Wells
  • And of the numerous cartoons this issue on literary and publishing themes, one on page 68 with the caption ''Sometimes you just option it because your gut tells you this is a book that has to be butchered''.
    (Link: no, there's no New Yorker website.)
    (Wed 17 Jun 98)

    Newsweek June 22nd
    A cover story about The X-Files movie, which opens this Friday. Also a ''Society'' section profile of Edward O. Wilson and his book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, thoughtfully accompanied by a sidebar article explaining why Wilson is wrong. (Link: Newsweek's website is still in work. The current week's issue is available on America Online.)
    (Wed 17 Jun 98)

    Salon, Tuesday June 16th
    Salon's occasional Bestseller Hell feature by Jon Carroll gleefully eviscerates Robin Cook's Toxin: '''Toxin' is another example of the barely written, barely proofread big popular books that are plaguing this nation. They are the E. coli of the chain bookstores, apparently wholesome products that deliver the literary equivalent of eyeball sludge.''
    (Tue 16 Jun 98)

    CNN, Monday June 15th
    Stephanie Brown reviews Fritz Leiber's The Dealings of Daniel Kesserich (Tor): ''You should know that this is the first Leiber novel that I've read, therefore I can't compare it to others he wrote before or after. However, this tale of creepy science and quirky human behavior hits the page with a style that must belong only to Leiber himself.'' (Update 17 June: The misspellings of ''Leiber'' in the initial post are corrected today.)
    (Tue 16 Jun 98)

    Sunset May 1998
    ''The Magazine of Western Living'', in its 100th Anniversary Issue, portrays six of the West's finest authors, one of whom is Ursula K. Le Guin. Her short piece on the Oregon coast begins ''On the beaches of northern Oregon, we don't wear bikinis and loll in the sun. We wear yellow slickers, like a cross between Darth Vader and a giant canary, and we scuttle.'' and ends ''That's how I feel when I'm on our coast, like a green glass bubble in the water and the wind and the rain, totally fragile, totally buoyant, just a few barnacles on me.''
    (Sun 14 Jun 98)

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