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SF Reviews and Articles in General Publications

§ Washington Post July 20
Martin Morse Wooster reviews Brian W. Aldiss' The Twinkling of an Eye (St. Martin's).

The last half of "The Twinkling of an Eye" details Aldiss's literary career. It's a chronicle of professional success--steadily rising sales, travel and occasional dalliances with television, theater and Hollywood, including a wasted year toiling for Stanley Kubrick. (Had Kubrick lived, his next project was to be based on an Aldiss short story.)

§ Salon July 19
Salon's occasional ''Book Bag'' feature asks prominent writers to select five favorite, usually neglected works. Among Michael Cunningham's selections:

Atlantis: Three Tales by Samuel Delany
If Samuel Delany were writing in the same innovative, intelligent way and his books were not science fiction, he'd be known to every serious reader and not just a relatively small band of us.

§ San Francisco Chronicle July 18
Michael Berry reviews Diana Wynne Jones' Deep Secret (Tor), Terry Pratchett's The Last Continent (HarperPrism), Larry Niven's Rainbow Mars (Tor), Orson Scott Card's Enchantment, and Frank M. Robinson's Waiting (Forge)

(Tue 20 July 1999)

§ Publishers Weekly Online July 12
Samuel Delany is interviewed by Michael Bronski about Delany's two new books Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (New York University Press) and Bread and Wine: An Erotic Tale of New York (Juno).

§ FTL undated [July]
FTL, an ''online magazine on space, science and science fiction'' edited by Wendy Graham, has an interview by Nic Farey with Norman Spinrad and Paul Di Filippo. They talk mostly about the state of science fiction and their individual reviewing styles. At the end, Spinrad grumbles

I think this period is the worst crisis in the history of ''sf'' as a literature, the end of it as a genre, the end of genre publishing. Mutate or die, for sure, but which it's going to be remains in doubt.

At the risk of being a bigger troublemaker than usual, I'd end with saying that anyone who cares about sf or its survival should make a strenuous attempt not to patronize any of the Star Wars enterprises. The Lucas empire is inimical to science fiction.

(Fri 16 July 1999)

Los Angeles Times July 12
Neal Stephenson is profiled. He defends cyberpunk from its critics:

I think if you sit down and read some cyberpunk fiction, it's not necessarily as nihilistic as the image it has. People tend to contrast cyberpunk with stuff like 'Star Trek,' which presents this extremely optimistic view of the future--the idea that if we just had better technology, we could make all our social problems go away. So compared to that, cyberpunk might look a little bleak, because cyberpunk writers think that view is ridiculous. They do see social problems; they do see human nature not at its best. But I don't think human nature in cyberpunk fiction is shown to be any worse than we've seen it to be in the 20th century.

§ Salon July 12
Rudy Rucker objects to the profile by Mark Dery of Saucer Wisdom as being principally about his spirituality. ''I have not turned into a button-holing street-corner evangelist and I haven't been zapped by a pink beam of light. I'm still the same kind of writer I've always been.''

§ Los Angeles Times Book Review July 11
Jonathan Levi reviews [link expired] J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Scholastic).

In the United Kingdom, Rowling has pulled off an Excalibur of a feat and has been hailed as the once and future Roald Dahl or Enid Blyton. But Harry has much more in common with the wistful Haroun of Salman Rushdie's noble "Haroun and the Sea of Stories," or the resourceful Belgian reporter Tintin, than with either James of "Peach" or Charlie of "Chocolate" fame. ... No, J. K. Rowling is no Roald Dahl. She is an original, who has ingested thoroughly the culture of her youth--the "Wizard of Oz" and "Tales of Narnia," the "Star Wars" movies and the E. Nesbit "Railway Children" adventures, the Cinderellas, Aladdins and A Thousand and One other visions--and, like the grown-up Wendy Darling that she is, has created a nursery universe with an innate sense of what a bedtime story should be.

§ New York Times July 12
More on Harry Potter in this article on the publishing success of the J.K. Rowling series. The third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban [UK link], was released in the UK on July 8th -- but not until 15 minutes after school let out that afternoon. Referring to the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:

All winter and spring teachers and librarians marveled at the speed with which children, particularly "reluctant readers," embraced "Sorcerer's Stone." But the biggest surprise, based on anecdotal evidence, may be the books' combined power to bring boys back to reading. Calls to sleep-away camps for children aged 8 to 15 around the United States early this month suggest that roughly a third of the children had already read them.

§ New York Times Book Review July 11
No SF reviews, but several of associational books, including this review of Sylvia Brownrigg's The Metaphysical Touch (Farror, Straus & Giroux), a philosophical first novel about romance in cyberspace; a review of philosopher Colin McGinn's The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World (Basic Books), a book that argues that the mystery of consciousness will never be unraveled; a review of Helen Fisher's The First Sex (Random House), an evolutionary psychological take on the difference between the sexes; and this review of John C. Greene's Debating Darwin (Regina Books), which addresses ways in which evolutionary ideas have been misapplied.

§ Washington Post Book World July 11
Michael Dirda reviews Richard Davenport-Hines' Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (North Point).

(Mon 12 July 1999)

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