The Spaced Out Library is pleased to announce that
Judith Merril is the official writer-in-residence from 1 May 1987 to 31 October 1987. The Writer-In-Residence
program is funded by the Libraries and Community Information Branch of the
Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Culture.
As official writer-in-residence, Ms. Merril critiques
manuscripts submitted by the public and offers advice relating to both
writing and marketing to prospective writers. If sufficient demand exists
she will organize writers' workshops. She has instituted a series of
Tuesday night programs comprised of both author readings and panel
To date the program has been extremely popular, with
approximately one manuscript per day being submitted. Ms. Merril says the
average quality of the manuscripts is high and she is happy with the
Second part of the edited transcript of an interview with
Robert Hadji, 24
July, 1986. The interview dealt with the origins of science fiction as a
genre. The Interview was conducted by Lorna Toolis,
Head of the Spaced Out Library. The transcript was prepared by Michael
Skeet. The interview was edited and corrected by Robert Hadji.
was really, I think, a lot of the impetus in the 1960s, and just when what
you call the 'swan song' was taking place, he must
have just been beginning to start writing The Lord of the Rings.
HADJI:Yes, he was puttering away on parts of it all through the 1920s
and 1930s. The Depression is one of the things that brought the collapse.
They say fantasy does well during hard times, which is interesting, because
if there's one thing I've noticed in my bibliographic research in the
genre, it's that the 1930s, the Depression was an appallingly lean period
for fantasy. Horror was booming, particularly in England, and political thrillers, but
damned little fantasy per se. Not like in the 1920s. Of course, high
fantasy had not fully emerged yet, and 'lost race' was on its last legs.
But horror does well in hard, or rather, anxious
times. The genre was becoming established as such. Not respectable, but
certainly successful commercially. To some extent, modem horror fiction is
descended from Machen by way of Poe—the
rich vocabulary, sense of locale, a whiff of diabolism. Also the cruelty,
the morbidity. I'm referring to actual horror fiction, as opposed to the
gentler ghost story of the Victorian period; when the moral order broke
down post-WWI, that form dwindled rapidly. In fact, the American ghost
story virtually died out, except in regional survivals, collected by
folklorists, or adapted by writers with an affinity for the material, such
as Stephen Vincent Benet and Manly Wade Wellman.
But yes, once that sense of a pervasive moral order broke down, while older
writers like Edith Wharton carried on to the end of their lives, no younger
authors followed in their footsteps. Russell Kirk is an exception, of
course; he's also an anachronism, and knows it.
The swan-song of the American ghost story was sounded
in the magazines like Scribners and Harpers
in the teens. From what little I know of this—Jessica Amanda Salmonson has done a great deal of research in the area—a
surprising number of the later writers were women. There was a very
productive period, first two decades of this century, then a very marked
dropping-off when we reach the 1920s—very sharp, very fast. In part
because the old fiction magazines were dying off; superceded by the pulps.
But I suspect there are more factors involved. It's a phenomenon that would
probably benefit [from] closer study.
The rise of the pulps, of course—that's a story
in itself. That reinforced the negative attitudes developing within the
literary community, certainly towards horror.
TOOLIS: Do you think this is why the
American attitude toward fantastic literature became so distinctly
different from the European and British attitudes—because of the
HADJI:In large measure, yes, though I think that there has always
been a broader, more generous acceptance of the fantastic overseas. There
was an appreciation of the imagination, the serious ambition that underlies
much fantastic fiction. Not to mention the literary craftsmanship. It was
the difference between something like Robert Louis Stevenson's Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and a
piece of sensational rubbish like Fergus Hume's The Gentleman Who Vanished. Now, both these would have been considered
Shilling Shockers in commercial terms, but there's a world of difference in
quality between the two. Serious purpose is not necessarily determined by
subject matter, but by personal standards. And I think there had always
been an awareness of thisdistinction,
else writers like Chesterton and Ford Madox Ford
wouldn't have written fantasies at all. Whereas, unfortunately, in America,
the 'high road' of fantastic literature was a high road indeed, Hawthorne,
James and such; when the literary establishment abandoned it, that left
moody hacks to carry on… You rarely found major American writers
handing supernatural material, after the teens—excepting
sophisticated fantasy, at least while Cabell was fashionable. That fad died
with the coming of the Depression though… Edward Lucas White was a
rare exception, respected for his historical novels—but he also wrote
the collection of stories, Lukundoo, a
very famous collection of horror stories, based on his own nightmares.
Leonard Cline's The Dark Chamber
is another exception, but he was very much the odd man out—an
American decadent. And the literary community dearly rejected 'decadence'
in American letters during the 1920s, preferring Hemmingway to Huneker. Of course, the American idea of culture became
too strongly imbued with rational positivism to seriously acknowledge
spiritual powers—reducing them to cheap bogies on the newsstands.
Odd, isn't it, for a people who take their religion so seriously? There's a
real ambivalence there. Of course, the sophistication of the Jazz Age, the
pervasive sense of irony—that was deadly for the supernatural tale,
right there. And I suspect in the wake of WWI, the British incorporated a
mordant irony into the supernatural tale, so that you find Georgian
writers, such as L.P. Hartley and John Metcalfe writing these
sophisticated, rather nasty stories. Of course, their war experience had
put paid to the Victorian moral order for good and all. A Pandora's Box of
malevolent sprits opened up, enjoying post-Freudian liberties. The 1920s is
the period, both in England and America, when schlock horror as we
understand it really comes into its own. The original 'nasties':
Weird Tales in America, the Not-At-Night anthologies in England. Hitherto, that had been
considered pretty much a penny-dreadful approach; it was vulgar. You found
the occasional Victorian writer like Dick Donovan, who would take this
route, but it was very consciously lurid, a bit past the edge of
'sensational' fiction; and most of the major ghost-story writers old not
deal in such graphic horror—they wanted “to make your flesh
creep,” without resorting to raw heads and bloody bones.
TOOLIS: Did you want to mention
anything about [Jorge Luis] Borges and the European movement? They
don't—at least, Borges doesn't seem to have
any prejudice against the fantastic in literature.
HADJI: No, quite the contrary, he
was fascinated by it. Borges was a true scholar; he edited a major
anthology of fantastic literature; during the 1940s, in Buenos Aires. I've seen the Table of
Contents; it's very impressive, in terms of its size and scope. He was a
very perceptive critic, as well. He was one of the first to recognize Lovecraft's virtues and faults. So the man was quite
comfortable with the genre—although he did not consider himself part
of it, by any means. He did not consider himself a fantasist; he wrote
fantastic 'fictions,' because he was intrigued with the notion that all
literary constructs are, in a sense, artificial fancies of the writer.
Within the genre, however, there is still a basic concern with plot,
telling a good story; also establishing mood, an atmosphere, and
There's no sense of an invasion or disruption, and
usually, within the fantasy world, the inhabitants are basically secure in
their assumptions regarding the world in which they exist. That's where you
really need the collusion of the reader in the fantasy, of course, because
it's also up to the reader to accept this world which the characters, of
course, fully accept because it's their reality. It's unusual to find a
fantasy which will deviate from this; Guy Kay's recent Fionavar
Trilogy is one of the rare cases I know where a writer has actually tried
to introduce the sense of dislocation that one usually finds in dark
fantasy, into a high fantasy. He is more successful at this than Donaldson;
the psychology of his characters is more plausible. Better stylist, too.
TOOLIS: He also uses the Arthurian
mythic characters with considerable effect.
Well, of course, he has a very, good grounding in that material and an
excellent knowledge of myth and epic, which helps a great deal in doing
this sort of thing properly.
To digress yet again, it's interesting to note that
many critical studies of the fantastic are mainly concerned with
establishing literary terms, definitions for the fantastic. As if critics
are discovering a science of literature, with weights and measurements. So
cold, so passionless, and utterly divorced from the actual writing of
fiction. But I must admit, I have my own terms, or
at least a notion I favour. I think the fantastic
in a broad sense offers another means of understanding reality. It's
defined precisely by its difference from the analytical, in that the
fantastic is essentially unreasonable. Given the actual chaos of reality,
as it is rather than as it's perceived, the fantastic may be less logical,
but more sensible. The Surrealists had a handle on this, at least in the
beginning. The free play of the imagination is important; structure will
follow, simply because language is the medium. This violation of reason is
probably one of the key things that attracts me,
personally, to the fantastic. Ironically a great deal of fantasy tries to
pass itself off—as does a great deal of science fiction—as
eminently reasonable and logical. And therefore real.
TOOLIS: Well, it is a technique,
after all. If you can convince your reader that you're being reasonable in
any one of those three groupings, you're halfway home.
HADJI:Yes. But it all works from a set of illusions, in the final
analysis; so-called realist novels are created illusions as well, no matter
how closely they try to duplicate what life is actually like. A skillful
writer who is sufficiently aware, Proust for
example, will try and incorporate all the different shadings, because he
understands that life is variable, perceptions are variable, and—on
top of that—human beings are variable; they're different people day
to day. He tried to incorporate that into his novels.
Many literary figures have been writing personalized
fantasy. They've simply become more conscious of it because of the literary
credibility which has accrued to Magic Realism, particularly Marquez, and
his amazing novel One Hundred Years
of Solitude a work of genius. So now we have fantasy coming back into
the [mainstream], not through the back door, but on a red carpet carrying a
Nobel Prize, though it's not called fantasy; try metafiction,
or fabulation or Magic Realism. It's a beginning,
it’s opening doors and windows.
TOOLIS: So you feel that, in the
next couple of decades, fantastic literature will again rejoin the fold,
and leave the ghetto?
HADJI No, I don't know whether that
will happen or not. There are so many entrenched interests within the
ghetto, who probably could not survive, certainly could not prosper,
outside the ghetto. Marketing considerations shape so much of what is
published now, within the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres.
Publishers and readers alike have preconceptions, and expect these to be
fulfilled. The product is supposed to be consistent in content more than
quality. So, I don't know. You will find writers emerging within the genre
however, who have greater ambitions, and when they realize they cannot
change the genre; they may feel compelled to strike offinto the wider world of literature in hopes, not so much of
finding a safe haven, but perhaps of finding a certain acceptance, an
audience that will be more appreciative of what they're doing. I find this
the case with Thomas Disch and with John Crowley
as well. This will be paralleled, I believe, by a growing use of the
fantastic within the literary mainstream. But genre will remain as it is;
it's the nature of the beast.
Relevant sources to supplement this discussion are:
Pierrot, Jean. The decadent.
Swattuck, Roger. The banquet years.
Scarborough, D. The supernatural in modern English fiction.
It has been a mysterious year for me. Perhaps what I
should be saying is that it has been a mysterious
year for me, for I am using the adjectival form of the noun mystery in a specific rather than in
a general way. In the same vein, I am writing this column on 24 June 1987, so to date only six months of the year have passed.
Thus so far it has been only a half-year of mysteries. And Canadian
mysteries at that.
The Canadian mysteries that I
have in mind are not those wonders that bedevil the homo politicuscanadiensis—free
trade, capital punishment, unemployment, regional disparity, senate reform,
survival, ad nauseum—but bona-fide Canadan mysteries. For the last six months I have been
working on the manuscript of a book to be called Mysterious Canada: a guide to strange sights and peculiar places. It will be published next
Spring by Doubleday Canada. It will be a bulky book,
illustrated with a hundred or so black-and-white photographs, maps,
portraits, and drawings.
The new book will for the first time survey the entire
range of mysterious Canadiana—from native
myth and legend to the glitches of high-tech…from the Grey Ladies and
the Fire Ships of the Maritimes to the Sasquatches
and Ogopogos of the West Coast…from
artifacts like the Manitou Stone to sightings of UFOs…from
Spiritualism to Canadian SETI. Although I have been researching such
matters for the last ten years, the writing will take me to the end of this
year to complete. Mysteries abound and wondering about them never ceases.
In my files are between six and seven hundred mysteries. I hope there will
be precisely 666 mysteries in the finished book.
The problem is that most Canadians (and especially
science fiction fans) are ignorant of and indifferent to their indigenous
fantastic tradition. We would scoff at the person who before he steps out
of his apartment in Victoria, BC, checks the daily weather
report for London, England. But we read books and
magazines and watch movies and television that tell us more about life in California than about life in Canada. Our imaginative lives are
conducted as if the latter had more effect on us than the former. In the
same way we regard Canadian history, society, culture, art and
entertainment as dull as ditchwater. We do this principally because
we—the Puritans and pussycats that we are—shut our eyes to the
Mysteries are among the juicy morsels. Here are some
"Believe It Or Not!"-like descriptions of our mysteries. Every
one of them is the subject of a longish entry in my manuscript:
most famous haunting of the 19th century occurred in Nova Scotia; it provided the paradigm
for themost famous
haunting in the 20th century; I have in mind the Great Amherst Mystery
and Borley Rectory, "The Most Haunted
House in England."
celebrated crystal skull, an archaeological artifact and curative cult
object dubbed the Skull of Doom, has resided since 1967 in Kitchener, Ontario.
modern Spiritualist movement was begun by two Upper Canadian girls in
1848; it was concluded with Harry Houdini's debunking of an Ontario-born
medium in Boston; it was resurrected in Toronto in the 1970s with a
landmark experiment in psychokinesis
involving the non-existent Philip of Diddington
of Ogopogo predate sightings of the Loch
man named Albert Ostman wrote a long,
gripping, and ultimately puzzling account of being abducted and held
captive by a curious Sasquatch.
most famous mystery ship that ever sailed the Seven Seas, the May Celeste—renamed by
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the Marie
Celeste—was designed and built at Spencer's Island, N.S.
is a UFO Lancing Pad in St. Paul, AB, and the Department of
Transport operated a flying-saucer tracking station near Ottawa in the early 1950s.
"spirit-photographs" of physical mediums in the act of
producing ectoplasms were taken by Dr. T. Glen Hamilton in Winnipeg than were taken anywhere
else in the world.
pioneer author Susanna Moodie experimented
with automatic writing and flirted with Spiritualism.
farmer and self-described inventor in Beauport, Que., is the only
person in the world to construct the "Tesla-Scope" which,
based on the secret, unpatented discovery of Nikolai Tesla, permits
the operator to communicate with the inhabitants of Venus!
UFOs are reported by Canadians than any other people on a per capita
basis. One researcher has a computerized print-out of over 2000
sightings reported in Canada.
These are only a few of the 666 or so mysteries I have
on hand. So I have more than enough mysteries to fill a curio cabinet if
not a couple of bulky books. But I am always on the alert for more. Any rears who want to share their strange or supernatural
experiences or knowledge of fringe disciplines or artifacts of power,
please write or phone or otherwise communicate.
One knock for yes. Two for
Colombo is publishing two books this year. One is a collection of poems
called Off Earth (Hounslow Press). The other, called Colombo's
New Canadian Quotations (Hurtig Publishers) includes 4600 quotations by
Canadians about everything under the sun, including science, fiction,
pseudo-science, and science fiction.
Margaret Atwood’s much-lauded 1986 novel The Handmaid's Tale won the first
Arthur C. Clarke Award for best SF book published in England. It was a runner-up for the
Beat Novel Nebula Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America.
Circus, a first
novel by Frederick Biro, was recently published by Seal/Bantam. It had been
short-listed for the $50,000 Seal Books First Novel Award.
Farewell Tour, a short story collection by
Virgil Burnett (The Porcupine's Quill, 1987) contains two fantasies,
"A Masked Ball" and "Fallowfields."
Chancier Davis's "The Aristocrat"
is in Jerry Pournelle'sThe Imperial Stars. Vol 1: The Stars at
War (Baen Books, November 1986). The story
was first published in the October 1949 issue of Astounding.
Charles de Lint's Yarrow
was published in September 1986 by Ace. His fantasy novella Ascian in Roseappeared in March
1987 from Axolotl.
In June 1986, Ballantine/Del
Rey released The
Master of Norriya by Wayland Drew, the
concluding novel of his "Erthring
Cycle." In September 1986, the Science Fiction Book Club released The Erthring
Cycle,containing the entire trilogy in a single volume.
Augustine Funnell had a
novelette in the August 1986 F&SF
and short stories in the Spring 1987 Night
Cryand the June 1987 F&SF.
Leslie Gadallah'sCat's Pawn was published by Ballantine in March 1987.
Count Zero by 1985 Hugo Winner William
Gibson was published last year in hardcover by Arbor House, after being
serialized in Isaac Acimov's Science Fiction Magazine beginning in
January 1986. It's a 1987 Hugo nominee, and was both a Nebula finalist and
a Science Fiction Book Club selection. The paperback, from Ace, was
released in March 1987. In April 1986, Arbor House published Burning Chrome: The Collected Short
Stories of William Gibson. A novelette from that collection, “The
Winter Market,” (first published in Interzone Spring 1986) is a
current Hugo Nominee. Gibson has contracted to write the screenplay for the
third Alien film.
Phyllis Gotlieb and Doug
Barbour are editing Tesseracts Squared an anthology of Canadian
SF, for Porcepic Books.
Terence M. Green has one book on the stands and
another about to be published. His collection of ten short stories, The Woman Who Is the Midnight Wind
was issued in March 1987 by Pottersfield Press of
Nova Scotia. Terry's first science
fiction novel, Barking Dogs, is
scheduled for February 1988 publication from St. Martin's Press. It's based on a
shorter work of the same name, first published in the May 1984 F&SF and reprinted in the Midnight Wind collection. Terry has
just finished writing his second novel, Children
of the Rainbow On the short story front,
Terry's "Point Zero" appeared in the May 1986 F&SF (it's also in Midnight Wind). His short story "Room 1786," first published in the
November 1982 Leisure Wayswill
be reprinted for a second time in a Prentice-Hall anthology designed for
the school market.Terry has a short story
collaboration with Andrew Weiner called "Twenty-two steps to the
Apocalypse" forthcoming in IAsfm. His interview with Andrew is slated for the
November 1987 Books in Canada.
TSR Hobbies has bought exclusive rights to an Advanced
Dungeons and Dragons world called The
Forgotten Realms created by Ed Greenwood. TSR .will be publishing books
and modules based on it and Ed will be writing a series of novels for TSR
set in that universe.
T. S. Huff's first novel, a fantasy called Child of the Grove, will be
published by DAW in May 1988. Her short story "What Little Girls Are
Made Of" appeared in October 1986 in Tor'sMagic in Ithcar
3, edited by Andre Norton and Robert Adams. "Third Time
Lucky" appeared in the November 1986 Amazing Stories. "And Who is Joah?"
is scheduled for the November 1987 Amazing
Stories. Also forthcoming in that magazine is "The Chase is
On." a space opera novella.
Guy Gavriel Kay's The Wandering Fire, book 2 of
"The Fionavar Tapestry," was published
in hardcover by Arbor House in 1986. Book 3, The Darkest Road, was released in October 1986 by Collins in Canada and Arbor House in the U. S.
All three Fionavar volumes have had Science
Fiction Book Club editions.
Crawford Killian's Lifter
was released by Ace in June 1986. His The
Fall of the Republic will be published by Del Rey
in September 1987.
Donald Kingsbury's The
Moon Goddess and the Son was published in hardcover by Baen in December 1986.
The late Edward Llewellyn's last novel, Word-Bringer, was published by DAW
in June 1986.
Gwendolyn MacEwen'sAfterworlds, just published by
McClelland and Stewart, is a collection of lyrical poems, five of which
belong to the realm of fantastic literature: "The Death of the Loch
Ness Monster," "Thunderbirds," "Manitou Poem,"
"Past and Future Ghosts," and "Halley's Comet, 1986."
Fiona Patton has made her first sale, a short story,
to Borderland, a Canadian dark
fantasy magazine. It's called "Roses at " and will be in issue 6.
Spider Robinson's third Callahan book, Callahan's Secret, was published in
June 1986 by Berkley. He had a story in the
mid-December 1986 Analog. The
Robinson family recently moved from Halifax to Vancouver.
A new "Imaro"
story by Charles Saunders appears in Weird
Book 22. He recently finished the screenplay for Storm Rebels, a fantasy film being shot in Argentina and has another script in the
works for Canada's Salter Street Films.
Robert J. Sawyer wrote and narrated three one-hour
radio documentaries about science fiction for the CBC series Ideas. The programs were first
broadcast in January 1986 and were repeated in November 1986. Rob's story
"Uphill Climb" was published in the March 1987 Amazing Stories. In April 1987,
Story Cards, a Washington, D.C., publisher specializing in greeting cards
containing short works of fiction, reprinted his "If I'm Here, Imagine
Where They Sent My Luggage," originally published in the 14 January
1981 Village Voice. Rob has been
commissioned to write the entry on Science Fiction for the second edition
of The Canadian Encyclopedia. He
will interview Terence M. Green in Books
in Canadaearly next year. Rob's story "Golden Fleece"
will appear in Amazing Stories in
the summer of 1988.
Last year, Eva Seidner
interviewed Stephen King for Maclean's.
S.M. Stirling and Shirley
Meier co-authored The Sharpest Edge,.published
by Signet in March 1986. Steve's third novel, Marching Through Georgia will be released by Baen Books in the Fall of 1988. Shirley has a story
called "Trave" in Magic in Ithcar 4, Norton and Adams,
editors, to be released this June by Tor. She's
also sold a story called "Peacock Eyes" to Andre Norton's Tales From Out of the WitchWorld.
Karen Wehrstein has sold a
story called "I Have Seen the Enemy" to Borderland.
Andrew Weiner's first novel, Station Gehenna will be published
this fall by Beaverbooks as part of the
"Isaac Asimov Presents" series. Station Gehenna is based on a shorter
work of the same name originally published in F&SF, April 1982. Andrew has also been busy writing short
stories. His "Going Native" appeared in the Winter 1985/86 Night Cry. "The
Investigation" was in the Spring 1986 Borderland. "The Band from Planet Zoom" graced the
July issue of IAsfm.
"This Time Next Year" was on the stands this time last year, in
the August 1986 issue of Rod
Sterling's The Twilight Zone Magazine. The novelette "The News
from D Street" was published in IAsfm’s
September 1986, "Waves" was in the same magazine's March 1987 issue, and "Rider" in its July 1987 issue.
"Going to Meet the Alien" was in F&SF's September 1987
issue. Forthcoming are "Fake-Out" in Amazing Stories and "The Alien in the Lake" in IAsfm. Two of Andrew's short
stories, "Going Native" and the 1984 "Distant Signals"
were produced as episodes of the syndicated American TV series Tales from the Darkside
(Laurel Productions). Both were first broadcast in 1986.
Robert Charles Wilson's fast novel, A Hidden Place, was published by Bantam Spectra in November 1986. Rob had short
stories in the January 1986, July 1986, and April 1987 F&SF.
Robert J. Sawyer
is a Toronto freelance writer and an active member of the Science
Fiction Writers of America. John Robert Colombo calls him "the Boswell of
Donaldson, Stephen R. The Mirror of Her Dreams. New York: Ballantine,
1986. (Mordant's need; bk. 1) 642 pp.
Hambly, Barbara. The SilentTower. New York: Ballantine,
1986. 369 pp.
Kay, Guy Gavriel. The Darkest Road. New York: Arbor House, 1986. (The Fionavar Tapestry; bk. 3) 420 pp.
This column features two beginnings and an ending. It
also points up what has become a major problem in contemporary fantasy: the
multi-volume novel. It seems as if everyone does them, but no-one claims to
like them, except maybe the publishers (after all, two or more books make
more money than one, even a fat one) and one sometimes suspects that an
author has been encouraged to pad a story in order to make it long enough
to split. It does seem unfair to the reader, though, forced to wait months
or even years for the next installment, while the heroes hang in dire
peril. The wait is most excruciating in the case of a really good series,
where the reader really wants to know what happens next. In the case of a
mediocre or poor story, the wait could work against the publisher, as a
reader might simply not bother with later volumes which he or she might
have read had they been available with the first. And what if the author
dies without finishing the story? The publisher then must find someone else
to finish the story, or let it drop. It would be better to have all the
books in hand before publishing the first, and then to issue them all at
once or close together. Thus the publisher gets the benefit of selling two
(or more) books and the reader gets the whole story at once.
The Mirror of
Her Dreams is
part one of two, and it’s a very fat book. The librarian who got it
for me said, "I think I should warn you, it doesn't have an ending. In
over 600 pages there ought to be an ending." She was right. Not even a
pause in the action. Mordant is a land in turmoil, caught between
aggressive neighbours and ruled by a king who'd
rather play hop-board (checkers) than govern. The Congery
of Imagers, a group of wizards who use mirrors to perform magic (the only
thing mirrors are used for in Mordant) create a mirror picturing a champion
whom they wish to translate through the mirror to save Mordant. To fetch
him they send their most expendable member, an inept apprentice named Geraden. However, what he finds on the other side of
the mirror is not the chosen champion, but Terisa
Morgan, a poor little rich girl so unsure of her own existence that she
lives in an apartment panelled with mirrors. Geraden, assuming that anyone who can live with that many
mirrors and stay sane must be a powerful Imager, convinces Terisa to return with him to Mordant. There she is
caught in palace intrigue and in the thrall of Master Eremis,
an Imager whose masterful manner and powerful sexual attraction overwhelm
her, blinding her to his untrustworthiness. She's irritatingly obtuse, at
times inspiring an overwhelming desire to throttle her, but over the course
of the story she does learn to assert herself a bit. Geraden
also improves, becoming slightly less inept, although neither has much
common sense. It's a long book, and it seems longer. It's all too possible
to put down and one never feels any rush to pick it up again. Not a really
bad book, just mediocre.
The Silent Tower is also the first book of a
series, has no ending and brings a woman from our world (well, California, slightly into the future)
into another, in this case the Empire of Ferryth.
In Ferryth the Industrial Revolution is just
beginning and belief in magic fading. Caris, a
young sasenna (sort of soldier, sees a wizard
murdered by a shadowy figure that disappears into the Void. The dying
wizard's last words lead Caris and his
grandfather, the Archmage, to AntrygWindrose, a mad renegade wizard, imprisoned in
the SilentTower, which nullifies all magic within
its walls. The Archmage disappears and Caris, blaming Antryg,
follows him through the Void to California and back. On their return,
they discover Joanna Sheraton, a computer programmer, has also been brought
to Ferryth, for reasons and by persons unknown.
The three must find out what is threatening the two worlds and why, and how
the Darkmage, supposedly long dead, fits in. The
characters are excellent. Antryg has an engaging
Doctor Who-ish lunacy, and one suspects that he “is
but mad north-northwest.” Joanna is intelligent and self-reliant
enough to be interesting, without being a know-it-all, and anyone with a
desk job will sympathize with her as she trudges across Ferryth
with Antryg and Caris. Caris, the human weapon, could be wooden, but isn't, as
his fears and uncertainties make him real. Ferryth
as a world also seems real and interesting. The plot is involving, and that
makes the non-ending all the more frustrating, although it does occur at a
logical hiatus point. Highly recommended, but it might be better to buy it
now and save reading it until the other parts are available.
Last, but far from least, the end of a frustrating
wait, the end of a trilogy. The
Darkest Road is the final volume in the Fionavar
Tapestry, a stunning, involving, moving fantasy. Fionavar
is a world with depth, a rich history and mythology and culture. Readers of
the two previous volumes (The Summer
Tree and The Wandering Fire
will find this one fully up to their high standards, as it weaves the
threads of the others together into an ending both tragic and triumphant.
It is impossible to describe it without revealing too much, but at the end
one is left with images: the eternal triangle of Arthur, Guinevere and
Lancelot, Diarmuid fighting a battle that should
have been Arthur's, the Wild Hunt, Imraith-Nimphais,
the four surviving Torontonians, and most of all, Darien, who must choose
for everyone the Dark or the Light. This is a superb book and a worthy