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May 29, 1970 - Image 5

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Friday, May 2x 1970

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Five

Friday, May 29, 1970 THE MICHIGAN DAILY

sbooksbobkk.

Choice selections of Science Fiction

Crufi
Arthur Gregor, A BED BY
THE SEA, Doubleday & Co.,
$.95; Thomas McAfee, I'LL BE
HOME LATE TONIGHT, Uni-
versity of Missouri Press $3.50;
Mark Perlberg, THE BURNING
FIELD, William Morrow a n d
Company, Inc., $6.00; Tuomas
Anhava, IN THE DARK MOVE
SLOWLY, Anselm Hollo, trans.
Cape Goliard Press and Gross-
man Publishers, $4.00.
By FELICIA BORDEN
Wallace Stevens' definition of
poetry as "abstraction bloodied"
stands against this current se-
lection of verse, incongrouous
and isolate as t h e statue of
Schiller on Belle Isle, These au-
thors might profit by recalling
the German poet's comment
that "the artist may be known
by what he omits."
The first three books, A Bed
by the Sea, I'll be Home Late
Tonight, and The Burning Field,
are all, in some sense, typical
of the conservative poetry of
well-established Romantic idi-
om being written now, a poetry
of objects carefully described, of.
imagination at smug harmony
with itself. As such books flour-
ish and continue to be printed,
the reviewer comes to approach
his task with all the grim en-
thusiasm of a paterfamilas
making his annual trip to the
whorehouse. After this diet, one
is tempted to fete one's appe-
tite on the grossest teratisms of
the small, underground presses.
As temporal miscarriages of
eternity, they are perhaps far
more appealing than flatulent
convention.
James Dickey, the advertising
man of American poetry, tells us
that Arthur Gregor is writing
.% "in the great tradition of Hof-
mannsthal and Rilke." However,
A Bed by the Sea confronts us
with pathetic cliches:
. . . In a dark street
a woman sings of
the death of love,
of youth that must burn,
of fate that must come.
For Gregor, sadness and suf-
fering are always ennobling, for
these qualities contribute to the
genesis of poetry. In "A Court-
ship" ("Intentionally or not
I have courted loneliness"), he
laments:
The yearning, the yearning
that grips me even now
when I think of sunset eyes
and the face of love
in the evening sky.
There is, in this poet's search
for identity, a shockingly pro-
vincial, out-dated, pre-Kantian
naivete. Gregor's conventional
concepts are often embarassing
as in "The Statue":
The statue in a shadowed
lane-
like a figure when a storm is
gone-
breaks through in me, comes
forth again:
and I observe with stone-
like eye, the dying
of what is meant to die.
His use of rhyme tends to make
one recall Sir Toby Belch's com-
ment on dancing: "Marry, I
would not so much as make wa-
ter, but in a sinkapace."
Gregor's jerry-built lyrics re-
veal a personality easily satis-
fied with his achievements. This
is all the more unforgiveable, as
this is his sixth publication.
Thomas McAfee's I'll Be Home
Late Tonight is a second vol-
ume. If Gregor is concerned <?
with quaint, twisting streets,
fogs, swans, and the mystical
concept of Self, so McAfee avid-

ly discusses martial quarrels,
hotel-room assignations, at-
tempted suicide, and Eichmann.
He is distressed 1 e s t certain
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suburban hypocrisies cease to
flourish. In "Extreme Unction:
AcL Three," he lectures the ad-
dressed lady:
Do your jungle duties
at home, where the flushing's
loud
and no one can hear you yell.
The poet seems to feel that the
confessional and the common-
place, if tinted by puerile gro-
tesque, will take on the consis-
tency of true poetry, as in "My
Lady of the Black Raincoat":
my wrist
against the razor blade
tells me" you're as real as
nausea and delirium and
electric shock racing the
bones.
You're My Lady of the Stones,
of the Black Raincoat,
of Despair.
The poet's attempts at an ex-
pressionistic depiction of in-
sanity suggest Dr. Kildare more
t h a n Dr. Caligari. McAfee is
what is left of bourgeois pride
near the end of its rope. For
him, everything is possible,
nothing fatal. It is a mark of
his poor taste that this predic-

ings have not found enabling
form. In "R. F. K.," the poet
states:
Kennedy and Kennedy
And Luther King.
Schwerner and Cheney,
Liuzzo, Evers.
This is a nation that butchers
its heroes.
"Sure," says the carrion bird,
"It's the voice of the people."
I do not impugn Mr. Perl-
berg's feelings. I o n 1 y regret
that, it did not transpire into
words.
In contrast to the first three
selections, Tuomas Anhava's
In the Dark, Move Slowly, trans-
lated from Finnish by Anselm
Hollo, expresses- an instinctual
economy and restraint. Unfor-
tunately, these qualities are not
coupled with imagination. An-
hava's lyrics have a certain for-
lorn charm:
Having a sad time
in a forestful of wind
one morning
I wake up
remember my father's name
times houses islands
soft childhood waters

Robert Silverberg, editor, THE
SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF
FAME, Doubleday, $7.95.
By LAURENCE COVEN
W h e n e v e r I see something
billed as the "Greatest" or
"Best," I a 1 w a y s become im-
mediately suspicious. Usually
such catch-words are m e r e 1 y
thrown out to ensnare an
American public that love to be
told that whatever they see,
read, or listen to is the most ex-
cellent of stuff. Thus they are
relieved of their own value de-
cisions. So, when I first picked
up The Science Fiction Hall of
Fame (subtitled "The Greatest
Science Fiction Stories of All
Times"), I felt disappointed that
now even good old honest SF
had given w a y to this cheap
form of commercialism.
However, since the book was
edited by Robert Silverberg, it
definitely deserved s o m e con-
sideration. After all, Silverberg
is President of the Science Fic-
tion Writers of America and
that lends him some stature
The Table of Contents shows
that all of the right names are
there Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke,
Bradbury,, Weinbaum, Zelazny,
and twenty others, almost all of
whom would be well known to
even a beginning SF enthusiast.
As veterans well know, how-
ever, "big-time" n a m e s mean
little, for most SF writers, ex-
traordinary prolific, turn out a
significant amount of trash.
Silverberg's introduction ex-
plains how these elite stories
were selected. Apparently the
Science F i c t i o n Writers of
America were concerned that,
since they had been giving the
"Nebula Award" for SF litera-
ture only since 1965, something
should be done for all that great
stuff written before then. Mem-
bers s u b m i t t e d nominations
(their own work excluded), se-
lecting the ten best stories of all
time. Works over 15,000words
or written since 1965 were ex-
cluded. Already certain qualifi-
cations creep in. Silverberg in-
forms us, furthermore, that no
author could have more than
one story in the sacred anthol-
ogy; he admits that this caused
the exclusion of at least one
story by Arthur C. Clarke. In
addition, Silverberg exercised
the editorial perogative of de-
leting a few stories near the
bottom of the list. In actuality,
then, these are the greatest SF
short stories of all time except
for those written in the last five
years, those which were unfor-
tunate enough to be penned by
an author who had written an
even better story, a n d those
which Silverberg felt really did
not deserve mention. The top
fifteen stories selected are:
"Nightfall," Isaac Asimov
"A Martian Odyssey," Stanley
G. Weinbaum
"Flowers for Algernon," Dan-
iel Keyes
"Microcosmic God," Theo-
dore Sturgeon
"First Contact," Murray Lein-
ster

"A Rose for Ecclesiastes," Ro-
ger Zelazny
"The Roads Must Roll," Rob-
ert A. Heinlein
"Mimsy Were the Borogroves,"
. Lewis Padgett
"Coming Attraction," Fritz
Leiber
"The Cold Equations," Tom
Godwin
"The Nine Billion Names of
God," Arthur C. Clarke
"Surface Tension," James
Blish
"The Weapon Shop," A. E.
Van Vogt
"Twilight," John W. Camp-
bell
"Arena," Fredric Brown

world based on different logic,
different geometry, and a com-
pletely different sense of real-
ity. Their effect on two 20th
century youngsters seems both
awesome and wonderfully ab-
surd.
"Nightfall," by Isaac Asimov,
billed as the best of the best.
employs a neat, and as far as
I am a w a r e, unique reversal
among SF stories. Instead of
confronting humans with the
strange and unfamiliar, Asimov
demonstrates what might hap-
pen w h e n people of another
world experience for the first
time something as common to
all earthmen as the setting of

him ferret out for himself howv
things work. Heinlein does it
beautifully in "The Roads Must
Roll" and Van Vogt adequately
in "The Weapon Shop," b u t
C. Smith fails in "Scanners
Live in Vain." Given a world far
too strange, the reader has
nothing to g r a b on to. One
stumbles through the story nev-
er really grasping a sense of the
world Smith has created. This
is unfortunate because "Scan-
ners" holds s o m e original,
worthwhile ideas about man's
function and purpose.
The only other really p o o r
story in the collection is Fritz
Leiber's "Coming Attraction."
jiust another undistinguished
tale of what life will be like af-
ter the next War.
Thus, out ofatwenty-six stor-
ies, twenty are absolutely top-
Three other quality antholo-
gies of science fiction have been
recently published.
To celebrate the twentieth
anniversary of The Magazine of
Fantasy and Science Fiction,
which has been, a 1o n g with
Analog, the most respected pub-
lication in its special field, edi-
tors Edward Ferman and Rob-
ert Mills have selected twenty
stories which they feel represent
the peaks of their monthly is-
sues. Isaac Asimov provides an
introduction, and included in
the anthology are not only reg-
ulars such as Bradbury, Bloch,
Bester, Sturgeon, and Korn-
bluth, but also a literary effort
by that freaky cartoonist of the
macabre, Gahan Wilson. This
collection entitled, oddly
enough, Twenty Years of The
Magazine of Fantasy and Sci-
ence Fiction, is published by
Putnam, $5.95.
The original co-founder and
editor of The Magazine of Fan-
tasy and Science Fiction w a s
Anthony Boucher, who later
went on to be the fine (and per-
haps irreplaceable) reviewer of
mystery novels for the New York
Times. Boucher, died in 1968,
and as a tribute to his concern
for and admiration of the sci-
ence fiction genre, an anthology
edited by J. Francis McComas
and entitled Special Wonder has
been published by Random
House ($7.95), Twenty-nine au-
thors whom Boucher aided and
thought highly of were asked
to submit one story apiece for
this collection. Each author
comments on his choice and on
his relationship with Boucher.
(A companion volume of mys-
Today's Writers .
Feilicia Borden received her
M.A. in English. She was pro-
foundly influenced by John
Barton Wolgamot's In Sarah,
Mencken, Christ and Beethov-
en, There Were Men and Wo-
men. An SF enthusiast of long
standing, Laurence Coven has
talked on the telephone with
August Derleth.

notch and three more are above
average - which makes this the
best anthology I have ever come
across. At 558 pages, it is also
the largest anthology known to
me.
If you lend t his volume to a
friend and in a week or two he
returns it to you and tells you
that Sturgeon's "Microcosmic
God'' could not excite his ima-
gination a n d that Simak's
"Huddling Place" did not haunt
him when the lights went. out
and that Clarke's "The Nine
Billion Names of God" did not
make him doubt. even for a sec-
ond, where man was headed and
why the universe existed, then
I w o u l d seriously consider
breaking off your friendship
with him for you are speaking
to an android.
Other SF
tery stories. in similar format,
titled Crimes and Misfortunes,
was simultaneously published
by Random House.)
Certainly the most unique an-
thology-and one of special in-
terest to the SF faddist and col-
lector of nostalgia alike - is
Under the Moons of M1ars, a
history and anthology of "The
Scientific Romance" in the
Munsey Magazines. 1912-1920.
(Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
$7.95). The editor and anno-
tator of this collection is Sam
Moskowitz, who, we a r e told,
owns a copy of "virtually every
science fiction periodical ever
published, 10,000 books, 30,000
special publications and pa-
pers." Mr. Moskowitz presents a
150 page history of the pulp
magazine business and of the
writers, such as Edgar Rice
Burroughs, Upton Sinclair, The-
odore Dreiser, Zane Grey, and
Fannie Hurst, who published in
the pulps. In addition to Mos-
kowitz's essay, nine stories are
offered, including Burroughs'
"Under the Moons of Mars" and
Ray Cummings' "The' Girl in
the Golden Atom;" the latter
story still holds a tremendous
power of expanding the imagi-
nation. The illustration on this
page comes from the cover of.
Moskowitz's anthology.
-R. A, P.

Silverberg intelligently places
the stories in chronological or-
der according to original pub-
lication date (rather than by
their ranking) t h us giving a
small idea of how SF has
changed in the last thirty-five
years. For the most part, the
stories deserve to be in the Hall
of Fame. They are widely di-
vergent in their styles and sub-
ject matter, and the book as a
whole demonstrates the vast
arena that good SF can encom-
pass.
The first story, Weinbaum's
"A Martian Odyssey," first pub-
lished in 1934, is quite simply
a great story. In this amazing
tale of weird p n d wonderful
things in a strange and distant
4 place, Weinbaum attempts no
quasi-sophistication or cute end-
ing. He just lets his imagination
go and we are the better for it.
Padgett's "Mimsy w e r e the
Borogroves" is my personal fav-
orite. In a light, entertaining
style, Padgett gives free reign
to his insane imagination and
presents a story which concerns
.two young, modern-day chil-
dren who chance to find toys
intended for children of a far
distant time. The toys, describ-
ed with great inventiveness, are
intended to help shape the
minds of children who live in a

the sun: namely, the setting of
the sun.
Of course, a book s u c h as
The Science Fiction H~all of
Fame is bound to cause a great
deal of discussion and e v e n
heated argument among devot-
ed SF fans. Favorites were
bound to be left out. The fact
that neither Fredrick Pohl nor
Poul Anderson made the final
cut will undoubtedly raise a few
eyebrows. More startling, Ray
Bradbury did not make the top
fifteen, although his "Mars is
Heaven" did m a k e the book.
Personally, I was upset to find
that Clark Ashton Smith failed
to gain entrance, but then he:
never has been in the main-
stream of SF.
I do not, however, want to
make this anthology sound like
a pure diamond mine. J o h n
Campbell's "Twilight" would not
have been out of place in "The
Most Mediocre Stories of All
Times." It is a banal descrip-
tion of a future time traveller
who journeys even further into,
the future only to find that men
are dying out because, having
let machines do everything for
them, they no longer have any
curiosity. Yawn.
SF authors often like to stick
the reader right into the middle
of a strange world and then let

I

ament issues .in lugubrious poe-
try.
"Despedida" and "El Nino Lo-
co," after Lorca, are spare and
stringent. They are written in
the tradition of Spanish sur-
realism which McAfee and an
entire generation of American
poets have disastrously tried to
adapt to Anglo-Saxon sensibili-
ties.
McAfee's most successful poem
somewhat resembles an Edward
Arlington Robinson portrait:
Henry Gentle, bloated with
too much butter
And sugar on biscuits at
breakfast and supper,
Talked about fhe Bible the
way you'd talk
About it if you wrote it.
The imagery is clear, the po-
et's voice unpretentious.
Mark Perlberg's The Burning
Field is hard to discuss, because
it is so uniformly poor. He is
the author of what the Wolga-
mots would have called down-
right awful poetry. Richard
Blackmur wrote damningly of
poets who think that there is
life in their poems merely be-
cause there was life in the feel-
ings which the words represent.
None of Perlberg's poems ach-
leve a natural authority, and I
can only conclude that the feel-

but his is a talent not a sus-
tained vision. Anhava and his
translator might well remember
Henry James' dictum: "Don't
state, render."
If these writers fail to create
a viable idiom because the re-
lation, between feeling a n d
words is difficult, there are po-
ets as diverse as Marc Alyn and
Raymond Queneau, Gary Sny-
der and Richard Brautigan, in
whom this difficult art is ac-
complished. One recalls that T.
S. Eliot, in ebullient youth,
wished to write for a totally il-
literate audience. We must seek
form and meaning through poe-
try, ,though it be the creation
of a toppled Prospero.
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