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Apr 1998 Vol. 2.4
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SFRevu brings Science Fiction reviews and interviews to the web each month.
1998 by Ernest Lilley

Contents - News - New Releases - Interview - RetroReview - Movies - Paperbacks - Contact - Next Month


Contents:

NewsBits: News from friends and SF luminaries.

New Titles: Rogue Star by Michael Flynn Helm by Steven Gould Dragon's Winter by Elizabeth A. Lynn Someplace to be Flying by Charles DeLint The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce Empire of The Ants by Bernard Werber Between the Rivers by Harry Turtledove Steeldriver by Don DeBrandt

Interview: Michael Flynn

RetroReview: Slan by A. E. Van Vogt

SFRevu: Goes to the Movies Lost in Space Dark City

Now in Paperback! The Forest Of Time and Other Stories by Michael Flynn Book One of the Lost Millennium: First Dawn by Mike Moscoe Star Wars: Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin User Friendly by Spider Robinson 3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Contact: SFRevu's forays into the world of SF Fandom.

Next Month in SFRevu: An unusual concentration of Religion, Vampirism, Magic and Fantasy show up next month in SFRevu as I finally get to spend some quality time reading the sequel to Mary Russell's THE SPARROW, CHILDREN OF GOD, and we look forward to Darcy Richards to our reviewer ranks with some reviews of tales of the children of the night. Fear not, gentle readers…Science shall not be dethroned from these pages, and there will be enough hard SF coverage to slake our rational thirsts as well…

But first, a word from the Editor:

It rained yesterday, on the first day of April. When I went to sleep the trees outside my windows were bare, dreaming their last thoughts of winter. This morning a riot of green fills my windows, and I hear the song of birds proclaiming the spring's wakening. The world is born new again in a spectacle as fantastic as anything imagined in these pages.

Last month went by in a blur. March went around like lambs and lions fighting for turf, and the only snow and ice storm New York saw this year chose Lunacon to descend upon. On the second day of spring no less. Well, at least we had plenty of books (and authors) to amuse ourselves with. This is the truth: I pulled into the parking lot at the Rye Town Hilton muttering to myself, "I've got to get hold of Michael Flynn through Tor. I'm dying to run an interview with him to go with the ROGUE STAR review." That was when he pulled into the spot next to me. His interview appears this month.

We are delighted to be joined by Susanna J. Sturgis with a review of Dragon's Winter by Elizabeth A. Lynn. Susanna reviewed F/SF for Feminist Bookstore News for twelve years, chaired the 1994 Tiptree Award jury, wouldn't miss WisCon for a million bucks (well -- make her an offer), and is still trying to finish her first novel. Susanna had been saying good things about our coverage of authors (Nancy Kress and Gywneth Jones), and I sought her out after reading a piece she wrote on Melissa Scott, who we will have an interview with in a future issue.

After years of longing, I'm planning a WorldCon print issue with a full color cover and the works. Though I've helped others with their publications, and produced the newsletter for Sci-Fi Talk (Frequencies), this will be my first time at the helm of an actual print publication. And it's not like there's really a lot of time before WorldCon. Contributor Steve Sawicki, Copy Editor Sharon Archer, and SPFX editor Ted Bohus will be helping the effort. The first print issue will include review and interviews, (new and the best from the online zine) including an interveiw with Lois Bujold about the future and history of the Vorkosigan Saga, an article on Robots in film and print SF, and possibly even some original fiction.

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for? - Browning

Ernest Lilley, Editor / Publisher SFRevu

Subscribe now by Emailing SFRevu@aol.com with any of the following in the subject: 1) "Notify Me" to get notices when the WebPage changes 2) "Email Subscription" to have the text version sent to you via Email.

News: If you’d like me to consider a plug for your next book, congratulate you on marrying a space alien, or whatever, send your newsbits to SFRevu@aol.com with the Word NEWSBIT in the message title. Please keep bits down to 100 words or so, and brace yourself for my editing them anyway.

SFRevu: SFRevu is planning a WorldCon Print issue with a full color cover and the works. The first print issue will include review and interviews, (New and the best from the online zine) Including an interview with Lois Bujold about the future and history of the Vorkosigan Saga, an article on Robots in film and print SF, and possibly even some original fiction.

Omni Online: The following pair of brief statements verify the death of Omni On-line. Both are from Ellen Datlow. This is really a shame. "I'm afraid we're unplugged. I know no one will believe it because it's April 1st. Bad timing. But I'm ok; will be in the office on and off for the next couple of weeks to clean up and pack up. Best, Ellen" (Dave Truesdale forwarded this from Omni Editor Ellen Datlow. Omni has always been a bright star in the SF firmament, and to watch it fall is a sad event. - Ern)

David Brin: HEAVEN'S REACH, the sequel to BRIGHTNESS REEF and INFINITY'S SHORE, and volume three of the new Uplift Storm Trilogy, will be published by Bantam Books in June 1998. His first non-fiction book, THE TRANSPARENT SOCIETY: WILL TECHNOLOGY FORCE US TO CHOOSE BETWEEN FREEDOM AND PRIVACY?, will be published in May 1998 by Perseus Books (formerly Addison Wesley). It concerns threats to privacy and openness in the coming information age.

Dave Duncan: I have an unusual book coming out in May under a pen name (Sarah B. Franklin): DAUGHTER OF TROY to be published by Avon in trade paperback. This is not strictly Fantasy, but it is set in the Bronze Age, as recreated by both Homer and archeology, and stars the tragic warrior Achilles, doomed to die under the walls of Troy and the enslaved queen Briseis. Being largely a retelling of Homer's ILIAD, the first and greatest of all fantasies, this should appeal to Fantasy fans.

Sandra Kasturi's poem "On Reading Bradbury" which appeared in Tesseracts 6 (edited by Robert J. Sawyer and Carolyn is nominated for the Science Fiction Poetry Association's Rhysling Award. (Good luck Sandra!)

Allen Steele: The two-part audio adaptation of my Hugo-winning/Nebula-nominated novella "The Death of Captain Future" has appeared on the Seeing Ear Theater component of the Sc-Fi Channel's Dominion website. The dramatization was co-written by producer Brian Smith and I, and features actors Marina Sirtis and Neil Dickson. It's drawn favorable response from those who've heard it. You can find it at http://www.scifi.com/set/originals/captain. In conjunction with the Seeing Ear Theater, Brian Smith, James Patrick Kelly and I will make an online appearance on the Dominion on April 16 at 7:00 P.M. The address is http://www.scifi.com. (I was asked, by a friend and author who hadn't read Allen, is he as much fun to read as he is to talk to? Yes., I'm happy to say…he is. - Ern)

Nova Express: The latest issue (Volume 4, Number 4, whole #16) was just mailed out. There will be an Issue Release Party at Adventures in Crime & Space book store, 609 West 6th Street, Austin, Texas, Friday, April 3, from 7:00-9:00 PM. All who will be in or near the Greater Austin Area are invited to attend. Crime & Space:(512) 4SF-BOOK / acs@eden.com.

The issue includes an interview with Stephen Baxter, reviews of Baxter's Ring and Vacuum Diagrams, a Post/Cyberpunk Symposium, articles on Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars and Storm Constantine's Angels trilogies, Richard Calder's Dead Trilogy, and poetry by Holly Day. There will be a plethora of reviews on works including: Clute's encyclopedias, and books by Michael Swanwick, Paul Di Filippo, Ian MacLeod, C. M. Kornbluth, Iain M. Banks, Patrick O'Leary, Tim Powers, Thomas Pynchon, Robert J. Sawyer and others.

Nova Express was 1997 Hugo Nominee for Best Fanzine. The cover price of Nova Express is $4. A four issue subscription is available for $12 ($16 in Canada and Mexico, and $22 international) from P.O. Box 27231, Austin, Texas, 78755.

SFTV NEWS - BABYLON 5: (Sandra Bruckner) Well, on March 20, the last speech was given, the last exit made on Babylon 5. The series ended its five-year journey into Science Fiction history. Many will look back with tremendous satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. J. Michael Straczynski has written 91 episodes - the equivalent of some 50 movies! They have pushed the boundaries of production, bringing state-of-the-art computer graphics to new levels and building a production team that was not only efficient, but award-winning.

Babylon 5 celebrated their last day of filming by inviting the fans to participate in an on-line Wrap Party. Bill Mumy teased the fans mercilessly with supposed plotlines, twists and spoilers. JMS took a turn at the keyboard before leaving for the day. He was quite reflective, He said, "what is built, endures, and what is loved, endures and Babylon 5, endures.

"Ragged Edge", the show's 100th episode, will air at 8PM on April 8, instead of 10PM, with a repeat at 11PM. Hollywood Reporter will have a special issue in April documenting the show's 100th episode.

The second TV movie for TNT, "Thirdspace" will air on July 19. TNT's website has a complete schedule (http://tnt.turner.com/babylon5).

The third movie commissioned by TNT "River of Souls", will begin filming in April. Tracy Scoggins, Jerry Doyle, Richard Biggs and Jeff Conaway will headline the movie, based on a script written by J. Michael Straczynski. An ancient vault filled with relics, made by the Soul Hunters, believed to hold the secret to eternal life is unearthed by an archaeologist. The explorer releases thousands of enraged souls from the relic as they attempt to taste of life one more time. Babylon 5 is under siege and Captain Lochley must save the station from an impending attack of Soul Hunters and the wrathful entitles looking for retribution. Janet Greek will direct.

Contents - News - New Releases - Interview - RetroReview - Movies - Paperbacks - Contact - Next Month

New Titles: Rogue Star by Michael Flynn Helm by Steven Gould Dragon's Winter by Elizabeth A. Lynn Someplace to be Flying by Charles DeLint The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce Empire of The Ants by Bernard Werber Between the Rivers by Harry Turtledove Steeldriver by Don DeBrandt

Rogue Star by Michael Flynn

ISBN 0-312-86136-2 / Tor April '98 / Review by Paul J. Giguere

ROGUE STAR, the second book in a trilogy about a near-future space program, continues the saga that began with FIRESTAR. In FIRESTAR, Mariesa Van Huyten, heiress and rich industrialist, has recurring nightmares about a devastating asteroid impacting Earth. Driven by these fears, she starts a covert project called Prometheus to move mankind into space and prepare for disaster. She creates a for-profit education development firm to take over the public school system and develop the best and brightest to be the next generation of space explorers. Prometheus also spawns aeronautic and technology companies to provide the equipment and tools to make the return to space possible.

To complete her agenda, Mariesa reignites the world's desire for manned space exploration and meets that desire by developing a new multi-national/multi-corporate endeavor. She also finds those who would rather see her ambitions come to nothing for their own greedy reasons. FIRESTAR ends with plans in place to build a new space station and for a manned mission to a large asteroid that is passing through the galaxy.

ROGUE STAR takes place several years later. The opening chapter begins with the asteroid mission crewed by astronauts Forest Calhoun and Mike Krasnarov, rocket-jocks we met in FIRESTAR, and Nacho Mendes, a Brazilian geologist. Their story is interspersed throughout the novel and the discoveries they make (one of which I didn't see coming) have serious repercussions for humanity.

Back on Earth, Mariesa is again entangled in political battles to save her programs and keep her secret agenda, providing a defense against large asteroid impacts, alive. Along the way she makes some new friends and some new enemies.

Roberta "Styx" Carson, a former student of one of Mariesa's schools, has joined Phil Albright's People's Crusade, a Nader-like group dedicated to exposing corruption, environmental pollution and dozens of other social ills. Roberta, feeling betrayed by Mariesa's past manipulation of her and her fellow classmates, mounts a personal crusade against Mariesa that borders on obsession.

Another thread in the novel focuses on the construction of the space station as seen through the eyes of Jose Mercado, a new candidate for the next team of builders who will work on the station. The details of construction practices in a zero-g environment are very interesting and probably foreshadow the challenges we may face with this kind of construction in the future.

ROGUE STAR promises something for just about every Science Fiction fan's taste and Flynn delivers on that promise in a grand fashion by giving us an epic that reverberates with hope and possibilities. Writing a near-future epic is tricky stuff because you don't know when the fiction will become fact (or erroneous) but Flynn handles this deftly and with great skill. He keeps us interested by feeding us a steady diet of great storytelling and leaves the reader begging for more.

Once again, Flynn shows that he is not merely ahead of the speculative fiction curve but he is inventing and redefining it as he goes.

 Helm by Steven Gould

ISBN: 0-312-86460-4 / Tor March '98 / Review by Ernest Lilley

The temperatures at Earth's equator hovered around 4 degrees C. Snowstorms and high altitude dust clouded the planet.

"…There are seven thousand humans on the moon in facilities designed for six hundred. If we don't do something about reducing the load on our current resources, everyone will die. Given our current status, we might die even if we do reduce the load…so we send four thousand in the ship in cold sleep for one hundred and twenty five years. However, since it was designed for one thousand, we'll have to use cargo space as well. This is acceptable because we can't afford to send all that equipment and supplies away. We need it here to survive on Luna and, eventually, to rehabilitate the Earth."

"But they'll need that equipment!…It was in the original mission specs!"…

"Yes and no. They'll need that equipment if they're to have a high tech society at that end. It's been estimated that they won't need it to survive…" - HELM

Gone are the days when colonization vessels boldly went out to spread humanity across the galaxy. These days mankind seems only to seek the stars in desperate gambles to escape the ruined Earth.

Thus HELM begins in a huddled conference in the bowels of the Terran Lunar colony as the fate of thousands of refugees crowding their meager outpost's tunnels is decided. In order to make room for refugees on Earth's first colonizing mission, the ship is stripped of all the equipment intended to build their new home. Cut off from the Earth, Luna needs it to survive, while the colonists only needed it to build a technological society. In its stead the colony ship to Epsilon Eridani will take four thousand colonists (four times more than the mission profile) and the device that started the war on Earth in the hands of a religious zealot, the imprinter.

Capable of planting anything from memories to convictions, the helmet-like imprinter is a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. For the colonists it is the only hope they have of passing down the legacy of Man's knowledge and infusing the values that the haphazardly picked refuges will need to survive. When they wake up 130 years hence, as one member of the Lunar council points out, they'll have religion. In this case religion is an abbreviated version of the Hebrew laws, edited down for brevity and relevance to diet and sanitation and augmented by the life training of a master of Aikido. If you consider religion to be an artificial information virus, (WYRM, SNOWCRASH), you could say that this is an example of using Man's oldest information technology.

HELM takes place on Agutsu, a barren world not yet fully adapted to Terran life. Islands of Earth flora and fauna exist where conditions have allowed it to root. In the prosperous Laal region, each generation the eldest son is prepared through rigorous physical and mental training to receive the gifts contained in the only surviving imprinter. To download the sum of knowledge in the helm without preparation is evidentially a really bad idea, though I must have missed something, because I couldn't figure out why. That hole, if it is one, is about my only gripe with the book. When Leland de Laal, youngest son of the current ruling generation, climbs the forbidden needlelike mountain to wear the helm he barely survives the climb back, collapsing at his father's feet and laying for days in a coma. When he awakens he will begin the training that should have gone before, and with no guarantee that it can meld his mind with the lifetime of knowledge contained in the glass helm. Consisting mostly of Aikido, the training will be physically brutal, challenging young Leland to his limit in the hope that a greater strength can be forged.

Leland's trials remind me of a discussion between Kimbal Kinnison and an Arisian mentality in one of "Doc" Smith's Lensman books. "Consider the forging of a tool of ultimate strength…It must be beaten, heated to glowing heat, plunged into cold liquid and ground to sharpness." At first his brother's hands, and then those of the planet's master teacher of Aikido, Leland learns the truth of that description.

Along the way he meets Marilyn, a high born scholar seeking out the scattered remnants of the landing's library, and promised in marriage to an opportunist whose father seeks a political union. Not their stations, but their circumstances conspire to keep them apart, though mostly through Leland's thick headed sense of honor and obligation. Her father is embroiled in a plot to destroy the prosperous reign of Dillard de Laal, whose prosperity and generosity shame the other provinces. After receiving his training in the martial arts, Leland is sent to command 800 of his father's troops in the annual war against the Rootless with the armies of the other landholders, but while he's gone his father's lands fall under attack. The untested tool must forge itself to meet threats to Laal from within and without.

The author, Steven Gould, has been making a reputation for himself with coming of age novels placed at least in part on Earth, and as happens when any good SF author does, folks are comparing him to the usual suspects. While they are right to invoke the best golden age authors on the strength of his storytelling, these comparisons miss the depth of his character development and maturity of style, evident even more here than in his earlier books JUMPER and WILDSIDE. HELM proves that Steven Gould should not be dismissed as just a writer of captivating juveniles, but deserves recognition as an author of solid world and character building SF.

Dragon's Winter by Elizabeth A. Lynn

ISBN 0-441-00502-0 / Ace 4/98 / Review by Susanna J. Sturgis

To call the publication of Elizabeth A. Lynn's DRAGON'S WINTER a long-awaited event is no understatement. The two-time World Fantasy Award winner's last novel for adults, THE SARDONYX NET was published in 1981. It was a brilliant book, an unflinching stare into the realities of power and slavery, loyalty and love. It was an upsetting book, not just for its scenes of human cruelty but also for the questions it raised about justice, and about the human capacity to rationalize the intolerable.

Lynn's previous novels - both SF, A DIFFERENT LIGHT, and Fantasy, the Chronicles of Tornor trilogy (WATCHTOWER, THE DANCERS OF ARUN, and THE NORTHERN GIRL) - were far sunnier: not devoid of grief and pain by any means, but balancing these with joy, with choices made and challenges successfully met. THE SARDONYX NET signaled the beginning of a new stage in Lynn's already notable career. And then - nothing.

In an interview recently posted on her publisher's website, Lynn explained the long silence: "I stopped writing in 1984. Actually, I probably stopped writing before that, but 1984 was the year in which I recognized that the daemon had left and I had no idea how to call her back." Indeed, the creative source is mysterious, often elusive. But THE SARDONYX NET was a hard book to read, and taking it down from the shelf to consult or reread - this was like preparing to press one's finger to the hot handle of a cast-iron pan. How must it have been to write such a book?

The question is not frivolous, for THE SARDONYX NET rumbles on the horizon of DRAGON'S WINTER. In both books protagonist and antagonist are twins. Like Zed and Rhani Yago of SARDONYX, Karadur Atani (the Dragon of the title) and his brother Tenjiro are two halves of a whole. But here the whole is divided differently. Karadur possesses both Zed's rage and capacity for cruelty and Rhani's power and responsibilities as a ruler. Tenjiro has -- well, it's what Tenjiro doesn't have that controls him.

By genetic roulette, only Karadur inherits his father Kojiro's dragon powers, including the capacity to take dragon shape. Perhaps worse, with his vestigial claws he scratches his brother's face in utero, leaving both visible and invisible scars. When the story opens in earnest, the twins are young men. Karadur fashions the talisman without which he cannot shape-shift. Tenjiro, an accomplished wizard, steals it, enlisting by guile the aid of the harper Azil Aumson, Karadur's dearest friend and probable lover. Bent on complete revenge, he invokes Ankoku, the evil principle bound long ago by this world's mages, and becomes its human vessel.

The core of DRAGON'S WINTER is a threefold battle: Karadur must defeat Tenjiro-Ankoku, he must recover his talisman (and with it his full dragon nature), and he must come to terms with Azil Aumson's betrayal. For, after three years as Tenjiro's prisoner, Azil returns, having been himself gruesomely betrayed, his hands destroyed and unable to pick a harp's strings.

Such wars are staples of Fantasy literature, and there are few surprises in the outcome of this one. The story remains engrossing, however, thanks to the vividly realized yet enigmatic Karadur Atani. Like the man's subjects, we know what he is capable of; stories are told and retold of how his father Kojiro died in dragon form, after devastating a city and killing innumerable people, apparently in a fit of temper. Each time Karadur is crossed, we draw a sharp breath, and don't let it go till the moment passes.

As its title suggests, DRAGON'S WINTER is a stern book, set in a bleak season prolonged and deepened by evil. Of the main characters, all except Azil Aumson are shape-shifters; the strangeness of their nature and the grim focus of the novel combine to hold the reader at arm's length. The one subplot that draws the reader in to the ordinariness of love, work, and community ends when the novel is barely half done.

The cruelty is horrifying, but it doesn't haunt me the way that of SARDONYX NET still does, because it is mostly committed by evil wargs and a revenge-crazed wizard, not by human characters caught up in a not unfamiliar web of lose- lose choices.

Where DRAGON'S WINTER stands out is in its storytelling - not just the telling of the novel as a whole, but the telling of the several tales within the novel. These are as eloquent, as perfectly modulated, as the best of Lynn's earlier short work, notably "The Woman Who Loved The Moon". The real climax of DRAGON'S WINTER is Senmet of Mako's telling of Ankoku's origins and of how she slew Kojiro Atani and nearly destroyed her sanity in the process. The one non-shape-shifter who stands out from the supporting cast is Lorimir Ness, and it's because, at exactly the right moment, he tells a story.

Speaking of "The Woman Who Loved The Moon', incidentally, there are several hints that DRAGON'S WINTER takes place in the same world: note the references to the country of Issho, the Talvela family, and the goddess Sedi.

In an interview with her publisher, Elizabeth Lynn said she was working on a sequel. That's excellent news. DRAGON'S WINTER is complete in itself, but the epilogue points the way toward a warmer country of blue skies, buzzing bees, and blooming wildflowers. What happens when this land and its key people begin to thaw?

 Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint

ISBN 0-312-85849-3 / Tor Feb '98 / Review by EJ McClure

Charles de Lint's latest and most ambitious urban fantasy novel is set in the fictitious town of Newford. The backdrop is richly textured and instantly familiar: characters meet in the Cyberbean Cafe, keep in touch via email, watch The X-Files, and dodge in-line skaters at the public park. Kerry arrives in Newford to look for a new apartment, hoping to escape the dead sister who haunts her. Hank risks his life to rescue an unknown woman from a mugger, and is saved in turn by two young toughs who appear out of nowhere to heal him of a gunshot wound and leave the gunman dead in the alley. It doesn't take long to realize that many of the ensemble cast are not merely mortal.

Cody, easily recognizable as the American Indian demi-god Coyote, sets the plot in motion by trying to find Raven's "pot", a mysterious container from which the determined or obsessed can stir up powerful magic, though at terrible risk. When Cody first stirred the pot with his big bushy tail (back when he was manifested as a god), he let out human beings. The second time, he woke up death. He is determined to find the pot a third time, and to set things right once and for all - which in his simplistic view means turning the world back to the way it was before humans arrived on the scene.

The Couteau clan is in league with Cody, though they could care less about setting the world straight. They are just using Cody to get Raven's pot, which they think will be the ultimate weapon in their ancient feud against the shape-shifting corbae.

The corbae are, in the words of old Jack Daw the storyteller, the first people, the ones who "got here before the humans, when Raven and the crow girls pulled the long ago out of the medicine lands and set the world to wheeling through the sky." The corbae, for their part, loathe the Couteaus for their nasty habit of leaving their cuckoo eggs in other nests, and for their malicious cruelty when in human form.

Jack Daw finds himself caught up in the hunt for his twin daughters, part corbae and part human, one born of flesh and one born of spirit, but both in danger from the Couteau's plotting. He is helped in his quest by the crow girls, Maida and Zia, an assortment of fellow corbae, and a rag-tag assortment of human friends, some aware of his shapeshifting ability, some blindly mundane but well-intentioned. Among them are Hank, the gypsy cab driver, Lily, the photographer, Paris, the cynical tattoo artist, and Moth, the ex-convict who lives with his pack of dogs in the Tombs, a dilapidated slum in the inner city.

One of de Lint's recurring themes is the intrinsic value of human life and dignity. All of his books include a number of characters who live outside regular society. He likens them to the corbae, invisible to the rest of the world because we aren't paying attention to them. He handles these street people sympathetically, though he tends to gently romanticize the impoverished musicians and small-time hoodlums in a manner reminiscent of the Sixties.

Dialog is casual, descriptions of characters and settings quickly yet accurately sketched, and introspection never lasts more than a paragraph or two. The changing points of view and interweaving narratives obscure the main storyline for the first hundred pages or so, but toward the middle of the book the dramatic tension heightens, and the plot picks up speed as it narrows its focus to the world-shaking magic-filled confrontation between the cuckoos and the corbae.

The animal people's heritage clearly owes a great deal to American Indian mythology, just as Raven's pot harks back to the black cauldron of the Celts, or the grail of Arthurian legend. From these familiar elements de Lint has woven an elaborate and imaginative tapestry of surprising color and detail that will enchant the reader all the way to its graceful conclusion.

The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce

ISBN 0-312-86261-X / Tor Hardcover Feb '98 / Review by Steven Sawicki

Reviews of this book will begin by pointing out that this is not your normal fairy tale. The Tooth Fairy, in fact, as envisioned by Joyce is a rather mean spirited, sexually frustrated and downright revengeful sprite. The setting of the book is the English countryside sometime in the 1960's. It is the story of growing up and of growing in and of coming to terms with one's place and time. It is the story of Sam Southall and the few friends he possesses and what happens to them. As a metaphor, Joyce uses changes in countryside as parallels for the changes that take place in the characters as they age into young adulthood.

Central to all of this is the tooth fairy of the title. Sam, one night after losing a tooth, discovers the being lurking in his bedroom. This is not a good thing as it turns out as the fairy threatens Sam with harm for being so bold as to look and actually see. And just so you know right off that this tooth fairy is different, the meeting is fraught with cussing, sexual innuendo and fear. Thus begins the unusual relationship between Sam and the Tooth Fairy. It seems they are almost drawn to each other. Sam sometimes benefits from the fairy's malevolent interventions and sometimes suffers from the Tooth Fairy's kinder interventions. Sometimes the fairy is male and sometimes female. The being is almost always ragged however and the gender switches transpose with changes emotionally as well. The Tooth Fairy is at times protective, jealous, cruel, giving, manipulative and spiteful. Sam struggles with this as he grows and as his own relationships with his friends change over the years.

Joyce could have kept this all pretty straightforward, or at least as straightforward as you could be in a book about the above. He takes not the simple path though and interjects bits and pieces of foreshadowed clues that all this might just be taking place in Sam's head.

Joyce's writing in this book is incredibly clear and concise, each word working to drive the plot to conclusion. The characters are charming and real. The setting is mysterious and timeless and the story is enthralling. This is one of the few books I've read in a single sitting over the past ten years. Joyce writes with humor, with wit, with an understanding of issues and with a clarity that is too oft not seen in literature, never you mind genre fiction. This book will win major awards this year.

Empire Of The Ants by Bernard Werber (translated by Margaret Rocques)

ISBN 0-553-09613-3 / Bantam Feb '98 Hardcover / Review by Paul J. Giguere

A bestseller in France, EMPIRE OF THE ANTS is hard to categorize. At first it seems that it may be Science Fiction with Dark Fantasy and Horror elements but none of these categories fit very well for this unique novel.

There are two main plots. The first revolves around Jonathan Wells and his family who have just moved into an apartment in Paris that has been left to them by Wells' late uncle. The uncle has left behind a warning to never venture into the cellar (so you know what will happen here). The second plot concerns an ant colony that is living in a nearby tree stump. This is no ordinary ant colony but rather a whole civilization that is teeming with love, war, hope, and ambition. The colony has put together a small team of ants to investigate a weapon that is killing off other ants. The journey takes the team through various perils and eventually brings them to the forbidden cellar of the Wells family where both plots collide.

This is an extremely fascinating novel mostly due to the fact that Werber is a scientific journalist who has been studying ants for fifteen years. Everything you could ever want to know about ants can be found in various statistics that are sprinkled throughout the text. There is even a glossary of terms in the back of the book. You do however have to suspend disbelief to allow for ants to have the anthropomorphic qualities in the first place (given their brain mass, etc).

It is hard not to compare this book to WATERSHIP DOWN, as the editors point out on the inside dust jacket. I found that the book stands on its own and the only comparison that can be made between the two novels are the human-like qualities that the rabbits of WATERSHIP DOWN and the ants of EMPIRE share. These anthropomorphic qualities detract somewhat from the novel.

Werber took something that is very ordinary and commonplace to our world, ants, and instead of creating an entirely unique species, something so utterly alien that comparisons to our own world as we know would be impossible, he chose instead to basically make them human. If this had been a Science Fiction novel with aliens from another world that had the same motivations and thoughts as humans, the novel would have failed miserably because readers like their aliens to be, well, alien. This was a missed opportunity and could have really pushed this novel far beyond comparisons to WATERSHIP DOWN.

This caveat aside, EMPIRE is a well written and enjoyable novel. The plot moves you briskly along to a great conclusion and along the way you learn more about ants than you ever thought you would.

Between the Rivers by Harry Turtledove

ISBN / Tor Hardcover Apr '98 / Review by Linda Zimmermann

I chose to review BETWEEN THE RIVERS because the persuasive editor of this publication led me to believe that it was another of Turtledove’s SF/Alternate Histories, this one being set in ancient Babylon. Imagine my disdain when the very first line describes the hero jumping out of the way of a fever demon whose mere breath causes illness. This was quickly followed by his grandfather’s ghost chattering away in his ear, and city gods who rule men’s minds and occasionally take human form, if the right prostitute comes their way.

Oh no, I groaned, don’t tell me I’m in for almost 400 pages of magic and fantasy? This was supposed to be an Alternate History!

Why would anyone mistake this book for one of Turtledove’s heavy histories with a twist? Could it be because at the very top of the front cover, Tor chose to put the quote that Turtledove is "The master of Alternative SF"? Or perhaps it is because the back cover is filled with more quotes about his other Alternate History works, with no mention of what actually lay Between the Covers. One would get the suspicion that there was something to hide.

Well, fear not, BETWEEN THE RIVERS was not what I expected, but it also contained a more consistent and entertaining story than the other two Turtledove books I’ve reviewed (GUNS OF THE SOUTH and HOW FEW REMAIN). The hero, Sharur, is a merchant who discovers that the gods of other cities have forbidden their subjects from trading with him for the copper his city needs for the budding bronze trade. Sharur is from Gibil, a city whose lazy god has actually allowed men to start thinking for themselves. In addition to these sacrilegious ways, the Giblut are also dangerous to the foreign gods because these mere mortals have inadvertently come into possession of something that threatens the very power of the gods.

This is were the strength of BETWEEN THE RIVERS lies, as Sharur tries to unravel the puzzle of what this thing is, where is it, how can he get it and what can he do with it? The plot unfolds in a way reminiscent of a good Mystery novel, but unfortunately the rather shallow characters prevent it from rising to a higher level. Turtledove does strike just the right balance with all the magical elements, and demons, ghosts and gods alike soon appear perfectly acceptable.

What was never acceptable was the ancient-speak; Turtledove’s concept of how he believed everyone would have spoken thousands of years ago. For example:

"Yes, I am of Gibil," Sharur agreed. "I was likewise of Gibil when last year I also came here to trade. You were glad to see me then ... You were glad to trade with me. You were glad to buy from me."…"Yes, I was glad to see you then ... Yes I was glad to trade with you. Yes, I was glad to buy from you…I am still glad to see you…But... I may not trade with you. I may not buy with you."

Or how about this one that went on for pages:

"Take him to your village. Give him bread. Give him onions. Give him beer. Give him wine. Give him, for his pleasure, the loveliest of your maidens."… "We are to give him bread. We are to give him onions. We are to give him beer. We are to give him wine. We are to give him, for his pleasure, the loveliest of our maidens."… "They brought him beer…(etc. etc.) "You have brought me beer, as the god bade you. I have drunk your beer. You have brought me wine…(etc., etc.)".

Enough! For the love of sanity, enough! I felt like I was trapped in some early Bronze Age Mr. Rogers episode, fully expecting at any moment a rendition of, "It’s a beautiful day on the Eu-phra-tes…" Just because ancient texts and oral traditions use this formal, repetitive style of language, doesn’t mean everyone spoke like that, every minute of every day; everyone from the donkey-drivers and hired muscle of a caravan, to kitchen slaves and peasants in the field. Either Turtledove has some secret desire to numb his readers’ minds, or it’s just a lot easier to write a book by copying and pasting the same paragraph three or four times. While at first irritating, after a chapter or two, you do learn to tune-out these parts, like car sale-a-thon commercials during your favorite show.

Would I recommend BETWEEN THE RIVERS? All things being said, and all things having once been said, and having said all things once- sorry, now he’s got me doing it- yes, I would. Despite its little peculiarities, there is an interesting and imaginative story Between the Repetitions.

Steeldriver by Don Debrandt

ISBN 0-441-00520-9 / Ace Paperback Apr '98 / Review by Ernest Lilley

When John Henry was a little baby, sittin' on his daddy's knee,

Well he picked up a hammer and a little piece of steel,

Sayin', Hammer be the death of me lord, lord.

Hammer be the death of me. - American Traditional Song

Call him Robo-Miner. Jon Hundred is considerably more machine than man, except where it counts. For the cynical reader, I meant his spirit, but yes, they left those parts too, though why I can't imagine. He stands eight feet tall, and his skin's the same dark blue that the sunset fades into at the far edge of the horizon and is indestructible, nearly. Eighty percent of him isn't human, but the story of how he came to be a cyborg is locked in a cell in his mind that he threw up to escape from the hell of what the corporation that owned him used him for. He can remember when his massive body was used to anchor tools of immense force to level cities for rebuilding, whether or not the tenants would leave beforehand. What he can't remember is how he came to become a cyborg and what kind of man he had been. What he can't forget is the screams of people trapped in the rubble of those cities, and his inability to help them. Now on a planet so backwards that humans are used for labor to excavate a tunnel through a mountain, Jon hides from the corporation that's bound to want its cyborg back - or at least the parts they can reuse. Of course progress eventually comes to even the furthest backwater, and Jon and the miners are digging towards the cutting end of an intelligent cutting machine, racing towards it on a wager that will offer freedom to the winner.

Don DeBrandt has conspicuously retold John Henry's tale, and told it as tall as Paul Bunyan's Big Blue Ox was wide. The story of a man giving all he had to defeat a machine, winning and losing at the same time, is an important part of our technoculture's mythology. Here, DeBrandt has cast a distant planet with the face of the Old West during its railroad expansion. It comes complete with aliens as Chinese workers, Jon as the stuff of legend, and an assorted collection of genuine miners and paid actors hired by the mining company to provide local color for its tourist trade. Virtually every stereotype known to the Old West is rendered here, including the writer sending back stories to swell the real lives of people into the heroic doings of legends. In fact, the book moves along from one anecdotal scene to the next as we watch Jon's Herculean efforts to tunnel through the mountain faster than a boring machine and free the alien workers from their corporate slavery, as he freed himself.

Throughout the book you can hear an old geezer in a country store embellishing on the events of the story. The point of this book isn't nearly as much the struggle against human obsolescence as it is an exploration of the mechanics of mythmaking. While this theme allows the author plenty of barroom brawls and heroic situations, I had really thought he was going to get around to the meaning of this particular myth, and was disappointed when he stopped short by expounding on its mechanism instead.

I misjudged this book when I started it, then again before the end. It's certainly a raucous frontier free-for-all throughout, but at the very end the author steps in and pulls things together for a tad more meaning, springing the traps he has lain throughout and revealing the structure underneath the anecdotes strewn along the way.

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Interview: Michael Flynn

Michael is a regular attraction at Cons in the Northeast, holding forth on the art of writing or the trap of statistics, and gathering crowds around as he reads from works in progress with a wry, gravelly voice sparked by frequent whimsy. This month's publication of ROGUE STAR afforded us an opportunity to pose a few questions to the author.

SFRevu: Reading THE FOREST OF TIME, you mention your father's interest in SF, and the bedtime stories he'd tell about aliens and Martian exploration and strange inventions. Is he alive today? Does he still read SF? Do you know what started him? Has he encouraged you?

Michael Flynn: Joseph Francis Flynn is alive and well. He became interested in SF through his uncle, who used to tell (and illustrate) stories about a Flash Gordon-like character. While he does not read much SF any more, he does follow my own stories.

SFR: You've spoiled my fun by already saying that the first SF you took out of the library was...darn! I can't find it. What was it again?

MF: Space Captives of the Golden Men. I don't remember who wrote it. (Written by Mary (Osborne) Elwyn Patchett, originally titled KIDNAPPERS OF space, Lutterworth, 1953 and reissued as space CAPTIVES OF THE GOLDEN MEN by Bobbs-Merril, 1955. Now we can all relax…)

SFR: After you read all the Heinlein Juveniles you could find, who did you discover that really spoke to you? How do you feel about RAH toady?

MF: We read Norton and Asimov, too; and others whose names I forget. Later, I think L. Sprague deCamp and Poul Anderson were big influences; maybe more so than the Big Three. But unlike so many others, I don't make a fetish of trashing RAH, or using him as a Rorschach blot for things I dislike. I do think that his later books lacked something that he only rekindled with JOB and FRIDAY.

SFR: What does it mean when John Campbell rejects your story with a letter?

MF: When Campbell [or any editor] responds with a letter, it means s/he sees some promise in the story. It has possibilities. Perhaps a rewrite would help. No promises, though. Sometimes the letter is direct: "shorten by one-third." Sometimes less so: "I think you can do better."

I once received a three-page rejection from Campbell when I was in high school. This was for the story later published as "Ashes." I didn't know what Campbell meant. He never actually said, "Rewrite this along the lines I've suggested and try again." Had I known, my first publication might have come 20 years sooner than it did. OTOH, as a high schooler, soon to be collegian, what did I know about anything to write about? It would have been all derivative, stories based on other stories, rather than on real world characters and situations.

SFR: Who do you recommend as kindred writers. Do you have heroes in writing?

MF: Oh, Harry Turtledove, I think. Sheffield, Kress, McDevitt. John Barnes. Dan Hatch (who has written some fine short fiction, but no novels yet). Not that I write like any of them; but I find things I like in each.

Heroes? Not in the conventional sense. Writing isn't all that heroic. Writers I admire? Well, the aforesaid, including deCamp and Anderson. Maureen McHugh. Greg Feeley. Niven and Pournelle. Give me more time and I'll come up with others.

SFR: I saw a mention of Hercule Poroit in a preface to one of your short stories. Do you enjoy mystery (my favorite has always been Nero Wolfe)? What do you read besides SF?

MF: Mysteries: Anything by Lawrence Block; Westlake's Dortmunder stories. Cunningham's Masao Masuto. Chesterton's Father Brown. Travis McGee. The original Charlie Chan books. Holmes, of course. Anything by John Dunning.

I also read history and science. Historical fiction, like Cecilia Holland's.

SFR: In FIRESTAR, you privatized the schools in order to provide a strong enough technical base for the effort to move man into space. What did you think about your own educational opportunities? How much of the load could computers shoulder? What is your prognosis for our educational system?

MF: According to ed. current theories, I did not receive an education at all. The teachers were underpaid and did not have ed. degrees (they were nuns). The classrooms were overcrowded (e.g., 1st & 2nd grade were in one room with one teacher). We did not have a lot of equipment (no science lab; music was singing while the eighth grade teacher played the piano); there was no administration (the principal was also the 8th grade teacher; there was no "office" to get sent to.)

Computers are not the answer. Access to websites is not the same as learning.

Our educational system will not improve until those in charge stop blaming everyone else: parents, the kids, "society," minority culture, etc. As if none of these things were ever not a problem. The excuse that SAT scores declined for decades because "different mix of students" was taking the test is a coded way of saying "those people" aren't very smart. Naturally, the "solution" was to change the test, not the teaching. Yet, scores declined most sharply among white male students. Blacks and Hispanics showed modest gains during that time frame.

There may be some improvement via the pro-choice movement. Monopolies are inherently resistant to change because they lack the feedback that tells them when they are doing poorly. When parents have a choice, even a choice among public schools, there is information flow in the form of students "escaping." (The NEA actually used the term "escape" to describe students who left public schools to get an education.) Ironically, the greatest impetus for choice is coming from minority communities, since they are the ones most cheated by the current state monopoly system.

SFR: FIRESTAR came out substantially after LUCIFER'S HAMMER, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, both of whom you've written with. What triggered your decision to write an Asteroid Impact saga, or would you say that's not what it's about.

MF: The initial inspiration was a photo in The Planetary Reporter that showed a fireball streaking through the sky over Jackson Lake. I imagined someone so irrationally frightened as to jolt her from her comfortable rich-girl lifestyle. (Actually, though no one seems to have noticed, it was fear of sex that made the difference between "Oh, look at that" and "Oh no!" Oh well.)

Of course, the stories are not "about" an asteroid impact. I pondered a long time before deciding whether to include an actual impact as a plot thread. That Mariesa had a phobia did not require her phobia to be realized. But... even paranoids have enemies.

SFR: What's your favorite method for getting off the planet? What are the chances that we will get off our duffs…and the planet? FIRESTAR seemed to favor the Delta Clipper SSTO, which seems to have died off. Is there a story there?

MF: Don't have a favorite; but I suspect there is some interest in preventing cheap access to space. How else to explain what happened to the Clipper? Lockheed employs more ex-government officials than any other aerospace firm, I am told; that may be why they have been given a virtual monopoly on space by government officials, thinking perhaps past their retirement from government. So we will get Son of Shuttle instead of an SSTO. I don't know where Boeing stands on all this, but I had heard rumors that McDonnell-Douglas was contemplating going ahead with the Clipper anyhow.

SFR: You've been described as a hard SF writer, a sociological SF writer, and a pastoral SF writer. So which is it? Do you agree with these labels? Are they necessary? Do you try to write to a particular sub-genre of SF?

MF: Pastoral? Who said that?

Hard SF is SF in the following sense. A fiction is not science fiction unless some element of speculative science plays a leading role in the story. If it is only in the setting or milieu or atmosphere, it is "space opera," though still considered SF by courtesy. If it is intrinsic to the plot, it is the true quill. "Flowers for Algernon" is (hard) SF because if the experimental operation is removed from the story, the story disappears. Charly would not have foreknowledge of his impending fate. Of course, there are others who insist that there be a poltical or machismo slant to the story for it to be hard. Oddly, it is mostly those who disparage the subgenre who first insist on applying this criterion and then lament its application.

But no, I don't try to write a particular subgenre. Though I've sometimes described my stories as "high viscosity" SF. :-)

SFR: COUNTRY OF THE BLIND is a conspiracy story about an Asimov Foundation-like society that's trying to influence the world in secret. Have you considered a sequel? What do you think of conspiracy theories in general? Are humans capable of keeping a secret?

MF: Conspiracy? What conspiracy? I deny there is a conspiracy.

I've considered a prequel: "Brady Quinn," with Babbage engines and the Old West.

Alas, though they make good stories, the idea of that many people keeping that big a secret for that long is as likely as aliens at Roswell.

SFR: ROGUE STAR is the second in your Firestar trilogy and takes place on and in near Earth space. Where do you go from here? Will you be staying in the near future, or have you given thought to writing about the far future?

MF: Well, the 3rd book is farther along the arc: 2015 and 2020. Is that far future? I don't have anything like a Bujold in mind at the moment; but who knows?

SFR: Writing near future SF must be frustrating as you try to keep a few steps ahead of reality. Where do you get your technical concepts from, how do you research them, and how often does the present catch up to you?

MF: Way too often! I invented digital cameras for ROGUE STAR, but they came out already. Then I invented enephalographic control of computers for LODE STAR, and now the Japanese are doing it. Heck, I invented private contracting of public schools for FIRESTAR, and it was happening before the book was out. But that's because those dudes are reading the same sources as me. Only instead of saying what if we push this notion a little further for a story, they say what if we pushed it for a product?

SFR: Which is the greater impediment to progress: Energy, Education, Technology, or Litigation? Do we have too much or too little of any?

MF: Education. If kids are taught to believe in energy shortages or that technology is evil, that becomes self-fulfilling. (Take note of those Sat. AM cartoons. I'll never forget one exchange between two characters who witness the arrival of a third via a fantastic vehicle: First peasant (in awe): Are you a... WIZARD? Hero character: No, he's only a scientist.)

It's not too much litigation that's the problem; it's the kind of litigation. I was recently invited to join a class action against every computer maker on the face of the earth. The harm I received? Some computers were made where the screen image was smaller than the screen itself (i.e., bordered image). This caused (apparently) great pain and suffering. (Didn't they turn their machines on before they decided to buy them?) What would I get from the class action? A discount worth 13 cents (yes, cents) on my next purchase. What did the lawyers get for essentially inventing this terrible tort? More than 13 cents is my guess. That's not litigation. That's a shakedown. IMHO.

SFR: It's been said that there are three kinds of lies. Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics. I've managed to miss two talks by you on the subject…do you have an essay (is it on the web?)? Should Statistics be a required subject in high school? How about logic?

MF: No essays. Yes, statistics should be taught. And logic. It won't be because too many pet theories can be punctured by critical thinking. (A stat Prof. at a Michigan university was reprimanded because he gave real-world data to his students to analyze and they discovered that no way would it support their preconceived notions. So they complained that the professor was "insensitive.")

SFR: Some authors listen to characters in their heads and write down their stories. Some think of them as actors they place on stage to do their bidding…where do you fit in? Do your characters ever surprise you?

MF: A little bit of both. The problem with ordering characters around is that you may force them to do things which are not in character. I did this in the first draft to FIRESTAR. If you need a selfish person to do something altruistic, you must establish a priori that the person is capable of acting so. But.... Let the characters go as they please, and your plot may fall apart.

SFR: FALLEN ANGELS is largely responsible for getting me into Science Fiction Fandom. I was delighted by the yarn about downed astronauts in near future that had abandoned space and the SF fans that rescued them. Though I cut my teeth on MISSING MEN OF SATURN in 5th grade and have never looked back, I was used to the notion that reading SF was a lonely pursuit and owe you thanks for your part in that book. How did you come to be involved in writing it, and in a writing team effort, who does what?

MF: I was brought in by my agent. Niven and Pournelle were looking for a third author (for contractual reasons -- they could not write another Niven/Pournelle until they finished the MOTE sequel). Collaborations work differently. In Fallen Angels, I was given a draft of the first few chapters, some character sketches, an outline. I did first draft. N&P did rewrite. (How they split the work, I don't know. Neither do they.) Niven had final say on any disagreement.

SFR: Have you ever considered another Fan based story…or even a sequel?

MF: Not really.

SFR: When will the FIRESTAR trilogy finish? What comes after?

MF: Supposedly with book 3, SHINING STAR, which may or may not split in two. LODE STAR and FALLING STAR. What comes after, who knows?

SFR: Has there been any interest in making movies from your stories? Does the thought scare you?

MF: A few minor nibbles is all. IN THE COUNTRY OF THE BLIND and "Melodies of the Heart." No big offers. Considering how Hollyweird butchers books, I'd be scared indeed; though the money might help salve the pain.

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RetroReview: Slan by A. E. Van Vogt.

Review by Ernest Lilley

"We went to a lot of extra trouble to publish Slan well, because it used to be one of the five or six, if not the absolute first, essential SF novels that every reader had to read to pretend to knowledge of the SF field. By the 70s and 80s, it had receded into relative history but was still alive and in print. Now we brought it back for the 90s. Are fans Slans? Perhaps no longer, but it will still connect to some readers very strongly." - David Hartwell, Editor - Tor, NYRSF

He felt excited every time he came to Centropolis from the quiet suburb where they lived. The great parks, the miles of skyscrapers, the tumult of the throngs always seemed even more wonderful than his imagination had pictured them - but then size was to be expected of the capital of the world. Here was the seat of government. Here, somewhere lived Kier Gray, absolute dictator of the entire planet. Long ago - hundreds of years before - the slans had held Centropolis during their brief period of ascendance.

"Jommy, do you feel their hostility? Can you sense things over a distance yet?"

He strained. The steady wave of vagueness that washed from the crowds pressing all around grew into a swirl mind clamor. From somewhere came the stray wisp of thought: "They say there are still slans alive in this city, in spite of all precautions. And the order is to shoot them on sight." - SLAN

When nine year old Jommy Cross escapes the normals that kill his mother, he's not just running for his life, but for the freedom of every super-human, telepathic slan alive. He's running to fulfill his destiny and survive long enough to recover the super-weapon his father built to oppose the dictatorship that rules Earth and has decreed that slans be hunted down and killed (Whew!). At that time he doesn't know that he's also running to find his true love, the captive slan Kathleen, locked in the Dictator's palace, an achingly beautiful structure (the palace, but yes, Kathleen seems like a pretty nice structure too) built by slans in their brief period of freedom. And he doesn't even have a clue as to what the slans really are…but he'll find out.

As a story, it is both exciting and excruciating. Nothing happens that the author doesn't force the characters, or narrative, to explain in an orgy of exposition that would rouse modern SF editors like angry townspeople torches aloft. If you look at it as the period piece it is, you might find you like it anyway. The action keeps moving throughout, from Jommy's escape from the normals who hunt down his mother at the book's opening, through his recovery of the super-weapon that his father built, hid, and implanted memories of in his mind, to his challenge of the race of non telepathic slans he encounters.

Reading SLAN for the first time, as I just did, it's easy to see how it captured the affections of early SF Fans. "Fans are Slans! " was the cry that went up in the 1940's when A. E. Van Vogt's first novel was serialized in Astounding. Slans are bio-engineered modified humans. Smarter, faster, stronger, and thanks to wispy little tendrils on their heads, telepathic. They love Science, the wresting of order from accumulated fact. It still sounds like a description of my friends in Fandom…in our dreams.

Van Vogt likes to kill characters, I'll say that for him. They die quickly, with the occasional gasp of regret, at the end of atomic blaster or handgun, but when their job moving the story is done - Pow. To a certain degree he does this to bring Jommy into a state of resolve and independence. Remember the single man hypothesis from ANDROMEDA STRAIN? But I get attached to characters.

Though Van Vogt wrote along with Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov for John Campbell, his stories are rife with Super-Science SF, whose era was coming to a close as writers like Heinlein and Asimov expounded near future science to a young post WWII audience. SLAN has a Flash Gordon feel to it at times, complete with dictatorial government and too many council meetings in a grand palace, designed and built by slan scientists and architects, but now possessed by the inferior normals.

Nor does SLAN stand alone. Recognizable elements of SLAN can be found as far apart as in Ayn Rand's THE FOUNTAINHEAD (1943) and Nancy Kress's BEGGARS OF SPAIN (1992). It's been done on TV, as recently as the current series Prey, about a genetically advance race living amongst us, and determined to replace Homo Sapiens as we replaced Homo Neanderthalis. In SLAN, the heroic viewpoint belongs to the supermen, in Prey, the humans fighting them. And therein lies a tale. Which side are you on?

The reissue of SLAN is a nicely presented trade paperback, using the image by Hubert Rogers from the October 1940 issue of Astounding, where the story first appeared. Editor David Hartwell tracked down the Rogers estate and found that they still had access to the artwork, which he was able to present in better condition than the original.

SLAN remains required reading for anyone seeking a broader understanding of SF. Its themes still resound throughout both the literature and its devotees. Fans are still Slans, though perhaps our failing has not been the lack of super powers, but our fascination with those powers themselves, rather than the ends that we could turn them to.

(I came across a handy VanVogt bibliographgy at http://www.vslib.cz/pub/mirrors/OBI/Misc/Books/vanVogt_A)

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SFRevu: Goes to the Movies Lost in Space Dark City

Lost in Space

Cast : William Hurt (John Robinson), Mimi Rodgers (Maureen Robinson), Gary Oldman (Dr. Smith), Matt LeBlanc (Don West), Heather Graham (Judy), Jack Johnson (Will), Lacey Chabert (Penny), Dick Tufeld (Robot's Voice)

Director: Stephen Hopkins Screenwriter/Producer: Akiva Goldsman

LOST IN space is a blast! Of all the TV series remakes I've seen, LIS plays the deftest hand, updating the overly campy original series with a darker cast while incorporating style and substance from the original. Gone is the international tension that sparked sabotage of the Space Family Robinson's colonizing mission to Alpha Centuri, replaced by the Sedition, a movement to thwart the unified Earth government's project to establish a hypergate to Alpha Prime - a planet probes have identified as capable of supporting Terran life. With the Eco-systems of Earth on the ropes, Scientist John Robinson is willing to travel to Alpha Prime by normal space to establish the crucial "other link" and make two-way hypertravel possible. Driven by his work, and haunted by the specter of his own father's parenting failure, he insists on taking his family. It's a twisted idea, as the self proclaimed "Space Captive" Penny explains in her personal video diary, but he means well by it. Dr. Smith does not mean well by anyone, and in the pay of the Sedition sabotages the mission in classic style. His reward for avarice is an all expense paid trip to an unknown region of the galaxy with the Robinsons.

The elements of the original series are lovingly encoded into a very fresh work by writer/producer Akiva Goldsman, who deserves applause for mixing the old and new without making them look borrowed…and us blue. The tributes are many, from the appearance of five of the original LIS cast as support characters in the pre-launch segment, to morphing of ship and robot from old to new and the use of the familiar robot voice. Mark Goddard, the original Major West, belies his retirement from acting in his short but nicely realized role as "The General", giving orders to the upstart Major West. Throughout the film you will see shots coinciding with actual sequences from the series as your mind clicks into a place 30+ years ago, assuming you were around then. It will be curious to see the reverse effect on younger audiences if they ever see the series pilot, suddenly seeing the connections in the film.

While the old is well served, so is the new. The original cast cameos work to hand off their roles to the next generations, especially the ones by June Lockhart (the Principal) and Mark Goddard. The props echo or incorporate their predecessors, but they do it with cutting edge style. Even the storyline makes sense. It is excellent SF, and surprisingly consistent for a mass appeal Sci-Fi project. LOST IN space takes advantage of the audience's SF education in the intervening years. Goldsman has put together a complex project that would have been overkill not long ago but now deserves the accolade action packed instead.

The new cast does a super job of balancing old and new. Gary Oldman's Dr. Smith is a tribute to Jonathan Harris' performance, with just the right amount of the old ("oh, the pain…the pain…") and the new. Oldman's Dr. Smith happily acknowledges his evil - it's a philosophical choice, he explains. I liked the more competent villain he portrays as much as I liked Mimi Rogers as Maureen Robinson. In fact, I've always liked Mimi Rogers, and I think it's good to have a Maureen Robinson with a Playboy pictorial (Mar '93) in addition to her movie credits. Though she doesn't show an excess of skin, Mimi shows plenty of steel in the new role. William Hurt's John Robinson gets a 90's update too. Screenwriter Goldsman used the part to recall the splintered families that surrounded us as we watched the original, and to promise that among the wonders of future parents working to save their families will be the most precious. Hurt's character does beat us over the head with his awareness of the effect of his work obsession though, as we all got it the first time.

If you want a benchmark for how far CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) has come, compare the opening "bubble fighter" space combat sequence to the Babylon 5 Star Fury shots. The only things not CGI are Matt LeBlanc and the other pilots. Crisp and breathtaking. The B5 work has nothing to be ashamed of, but it's nowhere near the LIS sequence. Now go back and check the Star Fighter combat scenes from THE LAST STARFIGHTER. Ouch. And I thought they were so sharp when they came out in 1984. Or even more telling, take a look again at the Millennium Falcon jumping to hyperspace and then compare it to the Jupiter 2's fiery transit. Wow.

LOST IN space reunites us with an important piece of our Sci-Fi past . For those of us who watched, glued to the screen as Irwin Allen's first family in space launched from our black and white screens back in 1965, this timewarp serves a kindness no school reunion ever will, showing us our memories as we'd like to remember them - improved by the passing years. Incredibly, it even knows when to get off the stage, leaving us brimming with hope and wondering about what comes next.

Thank you, LOST IN space. Godspeed, Space Family Robinson. Robot, keep an eye out for them, they're our family too.

 Dark City Review by Steven Sawicki

Cast: Rufus Sewell (John Murdoch), Kiefer Sutherland (Dr. Daniel Poe Schreber), Jennifer Connelly (Emma Murdoch), William Hurt (Inspector Frank Bumstead)

Director / Screenwriter: Alex Proyas 

I saw this movie in the cut rate house down the street from where I live for $2. There was one other person in the theater. This film is a sleeper, folks. This is one of the best films I have seen in years. It's dark, moody, extremely well acted, very tightly plotted, graphically stunning, with a great score and an idea so bizarre it could only have been stolen from the Twilight Zone. (Or Was it the Outer Limits.) Imagine aliens who have stolen humans in order to study them. Imagine that the place where the humans live is changed every night, as are the human's memories. This is done to change the experiment. Imagine what would happen if one man finally woke up. See this film. See it in the theater before it disappears for good.

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Now in Paperback! The Forest Of Time and Other Stories by Michael Flynn Book One of the Lost Millennium: First Dawn by Mike Moscoe Star Wars: Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin User Friendly by Spider Robinson 3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

The Forest Of Time and Other Stories by Michael Flynn

ISBN 0-312-86587-2 / Tor Trade April '98 / Review by Ernest Lilley

Call it Michael Flynn: The Analog years. Ranging from 1982 through the beginning of 1994, here are ten fine pieces of short story SF. Sciffy, as Michael likes to call it. The importance of Sciffy, he will tell you, is that it provides a place for ideas to be tried out and tested - often to failure. If writing is to mount ideas on a test bed and run up the engines, then the author is a master engineer, nay, a genuine rocket scientist. I love these stories, and appreciate the personal schmoozing that follows each. By placing it after the story Michael protects the surprises in each and allows us to reflect with him. Another good idea from the author of FIRESTAR, and COUNTRY OF THE BLIND, as well as my favorite piece of Con fiction: FALLEN ANGELS (with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle).

The title story is one of the best treatments of Alternate Reality hopping I've ever seen, told from the viewpoint of a member of the defense forces in the mountains north of an alternate Pennsylvania where the Continental Congress didn't get enough votes to secede from England. The historical setup is only part of the story's strength though, as are the thoughtful examinations of technical and cultural development in an America bound by too many borders. The real beauty in this story comes from the realization of his characters. This was Flynn's fourth published story, and it well deserved the Hugo nomination it earned.

In "Great, Sweet Mother" the author pulls off a stylistic coup. Pulls it off I say, because even though I knew what he had done, writing a story with only half a dialog, and devoid of gender besides, none of that mattered for a second. The story mattered. The ideas, like the notion that we might recover abandoned genes like data on a corrupted hard drive, that we might turn ourselves back to something else, or that the sea's siren call might have a message in it.

And just when you think you might be gettin' a bead on this goldarn fine author's slant on things, along comes "The High Frontier". A rip snorting yarn about a space cowboy, a gal, some big ol' space cows and a few varmints (human and otherwise) thrown in for good measure. Flynn fools himself when he claims that he seldom writes for the fun of trying out a literary device, because all these stories do just that. "The High Frontier" takes a tall cowboy tale in the really wide open spaces, those being in the orbit past Uranus, and adds in most every Sciffy device the author can think of, from "hawking holes" to cyberships and space beasties. And makes them all at least entertaining, and at the most worryingly implausible. Amazingly, Flynn confides that it was a story that couldn't find a home for a while, gettin' rewrit and such before seeing print.

Another favorite of mine, as different from the others as the Big Apple is from Denver, is "Grave Reservations", which takes the reader on a tour of a Manhattan only slightly larger than life. One of my favorite movies is L.A. STORY, which is as faithful to the truth about L.A. as only a fantasy could be. Dis is like dat…only different.

Several of the stories make use of the Northeast as a backdrop. Like the author, I've lived in those environs most of my life, even frequenting a Barnes and Noble's that the author mentions perusing in an introduction. As I've said elsewhere, like Winnie the Pooh, I love stories about myself, or even my region, and Flynn's eye picks out details both familiar and new to me.

There are other stories; about demons on a battlefield that might be either aliens or hallucinations, about a doctor who listens to an old woman telling stories that give away just how old old can be and other stories yet. Flynn has the rare gift of balance, providing characters, plots and devices all of equal caliber. As often happens when I read the short fiction of an author I already like, THE FOREST OF TIME AND OTHER STORIES left me wondering that I hadn't imagined his breadth and depth. And chuckling now and then and shaking my head from time to time, thinking back on the characters I'd met within its pages, and wanting to share them with friends.

 Book One of the Lost Millennium: First Dawn by Mike Moscoe

ISBN 0-441-00392-3 / Ace Paperback Dec '96 / Review by Ernest Lilley

"YOUR MISSION IS GO…YOUR MISSION IS GO. It's been a week since we sent you. Plague stalks the planet. The California power grid collapsed the first day. We could not charge the accumulators to send reinforcements. We expect the mob to break into the bunkers at any time. We are destroying the machine…"

A streamer of paper flutters from a sky that has never seen anything without feathers fly. Two figures march towards it, a woman and a man. They read the message it bears, written in a language that will not exist for nearly five millennia. Lt. Launa O'Brien and Captain Jack Walking Bear are the first time travelers, trapped aeons before their births, and their mission is to save the world.

"YOUR MISSION IS GO…"

Six thousand years ago a peaceful way of life vanished from the face of the earth, and tomorrow weapons of mass destruction may finish the job with the annihilation of mankind. Mike Moscoe's Lost Millennium series is about a desperate effort to save the present by stopping the hordes of horsemen that overran the Neolithic farmers of early Europe. As the world collapses around them, Launa and Jack are sent back to the Danube valley just before the first wave of horse warriors sweeps over the People of the Badger. They bear a few precious tools, longbows, bronze knives, modern horses and all the skill and cunning gleaned from Man's bloody history. Their mission: to forge a defensive nation from the tribes of Europe and to prevent the transition from the worship of the Life Giving Goddess to the Male Destroyer. To give mankind a chance to turn down a different road than the one that ends with a religious zealot unleashing a virulent and unstoppable plague on the world.

This follows a well worn story path, that of the professional warrior/gunslinger who comes to defend a small town against the evil banditos and Mike Moscoe joins the last warriors and the first farmers to frame it. Lt. Launa O'Brien escaped her father the Colonel by going off to West Point and wound up fresh out of the Academy in command of a mission into the past. One that has to be led by a woman because the culture they are going back to save is matriarchal and the horsemen they have to stop, the essence of machismo and male dominance run amuck. I know just enough cultural anthropology to know that this struggle has actually been played out in Man's past at least once, and the author's idea provides an interesting look at the underpinnings of gender dominance and society. Captain Jack Walking Bear is a veteran of ground combat in the Middle East, an American Indian that grew up in the city, and a man finding his way in a time before Europeans existed, let alone colonized the New World. Jack is powerfully attracted to his young commander, who is, depending on how you want to look at it, either the first or last woman on Earth. Not counting the locals, which he may have to if she doesn't warm up.

They can teach the Neolithic farmers to soldier, to be hunters of the killers of women. What Launa and Jack have to find out is whether or not they can learn to accept the ways of the People of the Badger and join in the world they are trying to save. Ideas like cooperation and love can be as hard to grasp for those trained for war as the skills of defense are for farmers. The technological side of the story, time travel, isn't given a lot of emphasis. Which is good, because the implausible way he deals with temporal causality belongs more to Fantasy than SF. I take that back. Fantasy wouldn't sit still for it either, though maybe he'll repent in the remaining books of the trilogy. On the other hand, the discussions of longbow design and early social structures are both more convincing and more to the point of the story. Except for a bit of Pagan sex towards the end of the book I think this would be excellent reading for a high school Cultural Anthropology course.

I enjoyed FIRST DAWN, and am looking forward to reading the continued story in SECOND FIRE and LOST DAYS, all of which are now in print.

Star Wars: Rebel Dawn (The Han Solo Trilogy, Volume 3) by A.C. Crispin

ISBN: 0-553-57417-5/ Bantam Books, March 1998 / Review by Linda Zimmermann

I have a confession to make. I have harbored a not-so-secret passion for Han Solo since I was in my teens, when I first saw him blast his way across the big screen. Let's face it, there's a Force, and then there's a force

While REBEL DAWN makes only the vaguest reference to the Jedi brand of power, there is plenty of the other force, Solo style. HanFans (did I just coin a new word?) will not be disappointed in this latest edition of the boundless adventures of the galaxy's slickest pilot/gambler/Don Juan/warrior. (One note of caution, however, don't read Volume 3 before the first two as I did, as there are many references to earlier adventures. But hey, it's a trilogy, what did I expect?)

REBEL DAWN follows Han, Lando and Chewie through about a year and a half of smuggling runs, a marriage, a sabacc tournament, an old flame and a few Rebel battles. As if that wasn't enough, we get an intimate look at Jabba and Hutt society, including some references to Hutt hygiene and table manners you could probably live without. While there have been numerous books about Star Wars characters (and a lot of them have been real stinkers), what sets REBEL DAWN apart is the quality of the writing, as well as Crispin's ability to keep the action flowing without the need to turn the book into one prolonged running gunfight.

After some of the books I've reviewed lately, reading REBEL DAWN was a pleasure; unpretentious, a good story and just plain fun. And there is something comforting about getting reacquainted with characters you have known for twenty years, like visiting old friends.

Of course, there's a chance the book isn't that good and I was simply blinded by my passion. Who can blame me when there are scenes of the like with Han and a curvaceous rebel commander flipping a coin to see who gets the bed and who sleeps on the floor, and Han responding with, "Heads, we share the bed…" he said softly. "Tails…we share the floor." But have no fear, gentlemen, that this is a "chick book". There is enough blaster-seared flesh and testosterone-fueled space chases to satisfy the adolescent urges of any man.

As REBEL DAWN draws to a close, we find Han and Chewie in a smuggler's bar at Mos Eisley spaceport. They are about to strike a deal with "an old man and a kid" to try to pay off some of the debt they owe Jabba, but that's another story…

User Friendly by Spider Robinson

ISBN 0671-87864-6 / Baen Feb '98 / Review by Asta Sinusas

In most short story collections the reader gets an opportunity to see the range a writer is capable of. USER FRIENDLY contains not only various SF short stories but also essays that give insight into the life of a writer, as well as Spider Robinson.

In "Copyright Violation", the main character is a geek, who suddenly attracts the attention of one of the most beautiful women he has ever seen. Not only that, she wants to 'make a few memories' with him. After experiencing the most incredible (and only) sex he has ever had, the afterglow fades and he realizes that she was only using him to record his memories. Apparently, in the future the newest rage in pornography is 'real life' experiences. What better drama than a loveless geek finally 'getting lucky' for the first time? This story hints at some interesting questions about what we view as indecent material, as well as informed consent.

"Teddy The Fish" is a rap (jazz speak) in honor of Theodore Sturgeon. According to Spider he was, "...the sweetest...gonest...wailen'est... grooviest cat that ever stomped upon 'dis swingin' sphere!" "Admiral Bob" was written in the same style, but as a tribute to a cool cat named Robert Heinlein who, "... wailed so hard, everybody flipped their wig - people askin' each other 'Where do we go to surrender?'" In the same vein, but this time in English, "My Mentors" is about Spider's main influences, namely Heinlein, Sturgeon (surprise, surprise) and Ben Bova.

"User Friendly" is a short story where Sam is having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that his wife has been inhabited by an alien. But this is not at all like Heinlein's THE PUPPET MASTERS, where there is a total and irrevocable possession. The aliens, or "Users" only take over when they need to. The rest of the time the person is allowed to function normally. Sam, having trouble coping with the situation, goes to visit his friend Greg. Later on, Greg's wife comes home after a hard day of possession, with no pants or underwear on because the User interrupted her in the bathroom, proving that characters are human too, despite the dearth of toilet facilities in most writing.

There are two other works that I'd give awards for originality. "Plus Ca Change" is a hilarious extrapolation of Murphy's Laws for outer space. There might be a shuttle to the lunar colony someday, but your luggage will still get lost mysteriously. The other award goes to a neat story called "-And Subsequent Construction" where 'me' meets 'parallel reality I' and later on 'future me' decides to drop in. "When No Man Pursueth" is an fantastic whodunit that was reminiscent at times of Agatha Christie. The main character witnesses what he thinks is a crime. While seeing if justice can be done, he bumbles along, almost as well as Peter Sellers in THE PINK PANTHER. Through his efforts, he forces all the crooks on the ship to escape in lifepods because they think that they have been found out. In the midst of the chaos, he is also seduced by a lovely lady from the planet 'Do It', who has a very surprising secret...

My conscience was bothered for a bit that the women in his stories were too often victims. However, the moment was fleeting and Spider more than redeemed himself in my mind with a piece called "Seduction of the Ignorant". It was a speech he had given about the growing problems of illiteracy and some of his ideas on how to cure it. USER FRIENDLY is a well written and amusing collection. Every reader should find something between its covers that speaks to them.

3001: The Final Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke

ISBN 345-42349-6 / Del Rey Mar '98 / Review by Ernest Lilley

The final installment in the series that started with the sunrise over the monolith on the African plain ends with the release of Clarke’s latest book. This book is a rare treasure, as the author’s own output has diminished, and he has employed as he puts it "hired guns" to flesh out ideas with him. Like William Gibson, Clarke’s future has changed substantially since he first envisioned it, and similarly, some of those changes have the effect of recanting the marvelous things to come.

A thousand years after we last saw his lifeless body drifting off into the void in 2001, Frank Poole wakens in a hospital following his resuscitation by medical marvels the author passes over lightly. A millennium may well be enough time for such miracles to become mere science, and certainly the body lay undisturbed, but for the initial trauma of decompression, which seems to have been passed over. Bringing in Poole as a point of view character serves the author well of course, as 3001 is genuine Clarke, the sort of grand tour of the future that he loves to produce, with a totally recognizable character standing in for the audience.

After Frank gets used to his Buck Rogers resurrection, and Clarke tires of parading the utopian future available to us beyond religion and thanks to technology, we whisk off to visit an old friend one last time.

Clarke has killed off the original creators of the monolith, invoking their own evolution, somewhat reminiscent of his classic THE CITY AND THE STARS, and supposes that the monoliths are simple, if powerful, supercomputers left around to monitor the experiments their creators started millennia ago. Evidence mounts that not all experiments are deemed successful, and failures sterilized by the monolith’s program. In one of the sadder losses of the book, Clarke rewrites both the wormhole and intent of the creators from the original book and screenplay. If anything was clear to us the first time around, it was that the creators knew that putting mankind on the path towards sentience was to put him on the path towards self-destruction. Now, the self-governing program in the monolith finds that on review, Man (circa 2001) is a nasty beastie with no real hope for improvement. Stars have been known to nova for less.

Is there hope for mankind? Can we learn enough in the next thousand years to merit a future? Failing that, can we defend ourselves against it, and what form would our weapons take?

When Clarke writes, it’s worth reading. 3001: THE FINAL ODYSSEY will hold a significant place in SF and the author’s soothing tone takes me back to a kind of SF I still love and occasionally miss. Like the story’s central character, though, Arthur Clarke is a man out of time, and reading his latest work offers us a telescope both into the future of Man and the history of Science Fiction.

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Contact SFRevu's forays into the world of SF Fandom.

It was the best of Cons, it was the worst of Cons. Chaos reigned supreme at Lunacon, but I thrive on chaos and it was a lot of fun. I did occasionally long for the certainty of a NESFA Con, but Lunacon reflected the personality of its home city - lots of activity, plenty of interesting people, no discernable order and everything working out anyway. Octavia Butler was a great guest of honor, and it was a pleasure to meet her. Besides being tremendously talented as a writer, she is a warm and gracious person. Steve Sawicki and I hosted (as threatened) the First Annual Unofficial Lunacon Breakfast at the Port Chester Diner, amid the only snow/ice storm of 1998 in the New York area. We still had a lively turnout and all the coffee I could hold. Dave Goldfeder, who is working on a Harry Turtledove interview for the next issue, stopped by to see us since he only lives down the road. Of course, that road goes the length of the East coast and he had to drive about 5 hours on iced roads but topologically speaking he's right. We especially enjoyed meeting Peggy Rae Pavlat, the WorldCon Chair and can report that if this years' WorldCon (August 5-9 - WorldCon 1998 BucConeer: Baltimore) reflects the personality of it's Chairperson, it will be entertaining as all get out. We saw lots of old friends and new, and even acquired a reviewer or two.

Cons, Discussion Groups and Appearances: (friends of SFRevu attending)

April 7th: NJ SFABC Classics Discussion Group - Barnes and Nobles Superstore, Rte 17 South, Paramus, NJ at 8:00pm. Book: RENDEVOUS WITH RAMA by Arthur C. Clarke / Moderator: Carol Smith

April 10-12th BALTICON 32: GOH: Harry Turtledove, Art GOH: Jody A. Lee, Sci GOH: Dr.Yoji Kondo,Filk Artists: Mary Ellen Wessels & Ed Stauff, 1997 Compton Crook Award Winner: Richard Garfinkle (Michael Flynn)

April 15th: Boston Area: Michael Burstein and Nancy Kress will be signing their books at Pandemonium Books & Games, the Boston area's specialty bookstore, from 3pm to 5pm. Afterwards, they will be lecturing at MIT (Room 6-120), from 7pm to 10pm. Contact: Tyler Stewart, Proprietor, Pandemonium Books & Games, http://www.tiac.net/users/pandemo (617) 547-3721

 

April 28th SFABC Author Discussion Group: William Gibson, Borders Books and Music, Wayne Town Center, Wayne, NJ. Moderator: SFRevu Editor Ernest Lilley

May 15-17, 1998 - Conduit Science Fiction Convention: Salt Lake City, Utah. (sjdavis@xmission.com): (David Brin)

May 31, 1998 - David Brin will Speak at the Nanotechnology Conference in Palo Alto, CA (Foresight.org)

July 4 weekend, 1998 - Westercon: San Diego, California. (http://www.westercon.org/sandiego/) (David Brin)

July 10-12 - Readercon 10: Guest of Honor: Bruce Sterling, Lisa Goldstein Location: Westborough, Massachusetts URL: http://www.mit.edu/~zeno/readercon.html

July 19, 1998 - Public talk at the Reuben H Fleet Space Center, Balboa Park, San Diego (for Space Week). (David Brin)

August 5-9 - WorldCon 1998 BucConeer: Guests of Honor: C.J. Cherryh, Milton A. Rothman, Stanley Schmidt, Michael Whelan; Toastmaster Charles Sheffield Special Guest J. Michael Straczynski / Location: Baltimore, Maryland http://www.bucconeer.worldcon.org/

November 27-29, 1998 -- Loscon: Burbank Calif. (David Brin)

Contents - News - New Releases - Interview - RetroReview - Movies - Paperbacks - Contact - Next Month

Next Month in SFRevu Among the titles we're considering... A Chill in the Blood by P.N. Elrod / An Oblique Approach by David Drake, Eric Flint / Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton / Children of God by Mary Doria Russell / Corrupting Dr. Nice by John Kessel / Dry Water by Eric S. Nylund / Fire Watch by Connie Willis / Halfway Human by Carolyn Ives Gilman / Iron Shadows by Stephen Barnes / Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle / Manjinn Moon by Denise Vitola / Outpost by Scott Mackay / Ports of Call by Jack Vance / Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb / Sisters of the Night: The Angry Angel by Chelsea Quin Arbro / The Face of Apollo Vol: 1 by Fred Saberhagen / Wyrm by Mark Fabi…and the usual much much more.

If you want to join the SFRevu crew I'm looking for a few wired writers to add to our ranks. Let me know if you'd like to enlist. Tell me what your point of view is and who you like to read. Include titles from our next month list that interest you. All submissions become the property of SFRevu. Contact: SFRevu@aol.com

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