0$ CHEAP TRUTH 6 0$ EDITORIAL. radical, hard SF seeing signs that something new is imminen
CHEAP TRUTH 6
EDITORIAL. radical, hard SF
seeing signs that something new is imminent ---
new fiction from the bounty of new technology.
/// the perspectives opened up by contemporary science fight back, using guerilla tactics
new information systems f/a/s/h/i/o/n that new science fiction
for the *electronic age*
** ICE CRACKS UP WITH '83 BEST OF THE YEAR **
THE YEAR'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION FIRST ANNUAL COLLECTION, Gardner
Dozois, ed., Bluejay, $9.95.
With this volume, Bluejay Books has delivered a stinging duellist's
slap to the slack jowls of the anthology market. Bluejay's daring must be
roundly applauded and they've come through with a real bug-crusher in this
Veteran editor Gardner Dozois blithely ignores the stock list of Neb
and Hugo nominees to give us work of genuine merit from the most esoteric of
markets. The man's masochistic dedication to the genre -- he reads SF in
truly industrial quantity -- has never been more in evidence. His opening
Summation repays close reading for its quick-witted ideology and sagacious
grasp of industry dynamics.
The book is remarkable for its lack of clunkers. Even the worst
stories here can be read with a straight face. The best can stand with
anything written in the past ten years. More importantly, they show an
earnest effort by '80's writers to scrap old formulas and speak in a modern
Greg Bear serves as the exemplar. His two stories included here have
won dual Nebulas, itself a very promising sign. As co-editor of the SFWA
Forum, the man was in the heart of the beast, and his daring attempts to
transcend his own limits are therefore doubly praiseworthy.
His bizarre OMNI story of '82, "Petra," showed something odd stirring
in the Bear attic. With "Hardfought" and "Blood Music," the man has thrown
restraint to the winds.
"Hardfought" may be thick with jargon and laden with annoying
attempts at verse. But it burns with genuine visionary intensity and its
Stapledonian daring arouses real wonder. This is what SF is about.
"Blood Music" has a ludicrous plot and has filed the serial numbers
from Sturgeon's "Microcosmic God." But Bear knows what to borrow, and the
ending goes for broke. Bear's reckless energy has made him a writer to watch
-- and to emulate.
Efforts by more established writers show the effect of a real thaw.
Silverberg's "Multiples" is one of his best in years: smooth, devastatingly
plausible, a brilliant idea handled with great skill. Tanith Lee is at her
unique best with "Nunc Dimittis," a dark fantasy that shimmers with
necro-eroticism. R. A. Lafferty spryly tramples convention with a story from
his splendid small-press collection, "Golden Gate." Lafferty has always been
a cult figure. He will still be a cult figure a hundred years from now.
Particularly heartening are the efforts of the " '80's Generation,"
listed by Dozois as Bear, Cadigan, Gibson, Kelly, Kennedy, Kessel, Murphy,
Robinson, Shiner, Sterling, Swanwick, and Willis -- surely one of the oddest
groupings ever. Seven have stories here -- the rest figure prominently in
the Honorable Mentions.
If these heirs-designate were dropped into a strong magnetic field,
Gibson, Shiner, Sterling, Cadigan and Bear would immediately drift to one
pole. Swanwick, Robinson, Kessel, Kelly, Murphy and Willis would take the
Leigh Kennedy goes her own goddamn way. Her story, "Her Furry Face,"
demonstrates Kennedy's unique style: low-key, determined prose combined with
an unflinching and peculiar vision. Reading Leigh Kennedy is like having
your housecat show up with a small dead pterodactyl in its jaws.
Pat Cadigan's "Nearly Departed" is a psi story, not overly burdened
with technological literacy. But its tough-minded lack of sentiment keeps
reader interest up.
Bruce Sterling's "Cicada Queen" shows this ambitious writer manfully
wrestling with this complex Mechanist/Shaper future society. It should have
been a novel, and apparently will be.
No review could be complete without a mention of Jack Dann's "Blind
Shemmy." This story is so sharp-edged that it ought to be read with forceps.
Altogether, Dozois' collection is excellent, both for what it is and
for what it promises. Its Summation and thorough list of Honorable Mentions
are worth the price in themselves. Winter is over -- prepare for spring
** S F: A R h a p s o d y. After Swift **
All Human Beings would be Rich,
So many scratch where all must itch;
Though few will ever find a Cure
Except through CRIME or LUCK; and your
Best chance for Wealth is to inherit.
For those who have no skill or merit
A WRITER'S LIFE holds most attraction --
Requiring neither Mind nor Action.
The hack chews shreds of Literacy
To nourish those less read than he
(Thus we define Democracy).
If even this prove uninviting,
There's always Science Fiction writing;
Or baser still, if this he scorns,
He'll churn out stuff on UNICORNS,
Assured there is in Magazine,
Can spot the difference between
A future possibility
And rankest ancient Phantasy.
The SF Field! O, sore disgrace!
Where Dunces fight for bottom Place,
All forced to exercise their Spleen,
They're in such odious Comp'ny seen,
Where every mental Deviation
Is praised as true Imagination.
If on Parnassus' top you sit,
You rarely bite, are often bit:
Conversely, in Parnassus' ditch,
There's nothing but to BOAST and BITCH
As brother turns on savage brother
(e'en while they plagiarise each other)
As, writhing in low eminence,
They cannot make their Tales make sense.
Their failures clog the lists of DAW,
Del Rey, Ace Books, Avon, and Tor,
Where copywriters gild their sins
With "Greater Tolkiens", "New LeGuins",
"Beats Arthur Clarke", "Equal to Niven"
-- As if that awful thought were Heaven! --
Or "Starrier Wars"... And Sturgeon there,
Here Budrys, "Masterpiece" declare,
"Not to be missed...." Such feeble lies
Support a feebler enterprise
Of Royalties at 4%
Which scarcely serve to pay the rent
-- Or keep a Mistress in a Tent! --
Yet still these hacks are overpaid!
Such fools will never make the grade.
They have no Style, no Spark, no Topic.
Their very Pains are Microscopic.
Although they holler for attention
In Fanzine, LOCUS, and Convention,
With Asinine Insistence --
The World knows not of their Existence,
The World hears not their Lamentation,
And holds SF in... Detestation....
CHEAP TRUTH On-Line 809-C West 12th Street Austin, Texas 78701
Vincent Omniaveritas, editing. NOT COPYRIGHTED. Our special thanks this
issue to Thomas C. Squire, C.B.E., Lecturer in Future Culture at The
University of Texas at Austin. "Worthless But Not Valueless"
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank