Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Cinema Retro; Forgotten Books

What're you waiting for? The new Cinema Retro is packed with goodies. Of major interest for me is the lengthy piece on The Haunting with commentary by director Robert Wise. But you can read the cover copy for yourself. get it now!

----------Forgotten Books Women of Wonder ed. by Pamela Sargent

Duffers like me seem to have a difficult time reading a fair share of contemporary science fiction. I always says it's because we're not smart enough to appreciate it and I'm only half-joking. The majority of sf I've read in the past five years is better written and generally better conceived and contrived than most of the work I read when I was a major fan of the stuff.


Pamela Sargent is one of my favorite sf writers. She's been at it for decades and has produced a major body of work. She writes with a style and grace that makes reading her a real literary pleasure. Same for her characters. They are complex, sometimes even unlikable but always real and relevant.

She's done double-duty as an anthologist of note. For no particular reason I took her 1974 anthology Women of Wonder ("SF Stories By About Women")down from the shelf and damned if it didn't remind me of how much I enjoyed and admired the sf of the late 60s and all the of the 70s.

While there are classics here such as Judith Merrill's That Only A Mother and The Ship Who Sang, the splendor lies in the women shrugging of the strictures of the old male-dominated field and kicking some ass all on their own. Kit Reed's The Food Farm is flat out startling and as pertinent today as it was several decades ago. A scathing commentary on body image.Then we have Kate Wilhelm and Carol Emshwiller ransacking coventional notions of gender and sex and Ursula K. Le Guin establishing her genius with a single story, Vaster Than Empires and More Slow.

There's even a pulp story not intended for the faint of her. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's False Dawn (The basis for her later novel of the same title) is a grisly but effecting adventure story set in a future earth turned back to savagery.

So many different styles, structures, tones. And so much fine storytelling. If you want to wander off the crime reservation for the length of one excellent anthology, pick this one up. I think you'll like it as much as I did.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Got it, Ed. Thanks!!

Todd Mason said...

From no later than the 1950s onward, the ingroup sf was at times as well-written as anything one might want...particularly in the hands of Kate Wilhelm or Carol Emshwiller (or Joanna Russ, whom I think is in that first WOW, too), whom, along with Kit Reed (aka Kit Craig) and Ursula Le Guin never let market concerns keep them from writing or publishing across artificial boundaries. Dunno if Anne McCaffery ("The Ship Who Sang") ventured as widely, but she seemed to love what she did in the field.

Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

I don't have that anthology but all the stories you named I have read elsewhere. They are all great.