NESFA Members' Reviews


edited by Michael Resnick and Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Wildside Press, ISBN 1-880448-54-8, 1997, 123pp, US$9


edited by Michael Resnick

AvoNova, ISBN 0-380-76643-4, 1992, 246pp, US$4.99

Book reviews by Evelyn C. Leeper

Copyright 1998 Evelyn C. Leeper

In their introductions, Resnick and Nielsen Hayden tell two different stories of how this anthology came about. Both are obviously from alternate universes. But Resnick has cruised these waters before--see the comments on INSIDE THE FUNHOUSE at the end of this review.

This seems to me to be a sort of cousin to Resnick's ALTERNATE WORLDCONS and AGAIN, ALTERNATE WORLDCONS. The main difference to me is that these stories seem more professional and less "fannish." In fact, one had already appeared in INTERZONE: Dave Langford's excellent G. K. Chesterton pastiche, "The Spear of the Sun."

There are a few other stories which stand well on their own. Gregory Feeley's "Scatchophily" has Samuel Beckett and James Joyce in an unlikely situation, but Feeley's writing style, including subtle literary puns, compensates for that.

Nick DiChario, who burst upon the science fiction scene with his Hugo-nominated "Winterberry" in Resnick's first alternate history anthology (ALTERNATE PRESIDENTS) turns in "Mission 51-L," in which a science fiction author rather than a teacher is chosen to go into space. It has a realistic feel as a possible history, in addition to examining several famous (and infamous) science fiction authors.

Anthony R. Lewis's "Plus Ultra" has Hugo Gernsback heading up the League of Nations rather than AMAZING STORIES (a fairly low probability event, given Gernsback's background) with results more colored by wishful thinking than likelihood. Still, this at least tries to stay in a serious path rather than straying into the cutesy byways that some of the stories head down.

Barry N. Malzberg can always be relied on to produce a good story, and his "Science of the Mind" delivers, with Theodore Sturgeon attempting to invent a religion. (Well, at least he had the name for it.) And eluki bes shahar's "My Object All Sublime" makes some interesting observations on media fandom and book publishing and marketing.

The rest of the stories vary in quality from passable to real groaners. Some seem to have been created by saying, "Let's take author A and move him arbitrarily to situation B." Some seem to throw in gratuitous comments about science fiction authors who have nothing to do with the story.

Let's face it, either you were interested in this book as soon as you heard about it, or you're still not interested. It's quirky and focused enough that the function of a review is more to announce this than to review it.

If you are interested in this, the best way to get it is by ordering directly from Wildside Press, 522 Park Avenue, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922. Add US$3 for postage in the United States, and 6% sales tax if you live in New Jersey.

Resnick previously edited INSIDE THE FUNHOUSE, a reprint anthology of "SF stories about SF." Not all of those were alternate history, but a few were and are worth mentioning here: Patricia Nurse's "One Rejection Too Many," Frederik Pohl's "The Reunion at the Mile-High," Allen Steele's "Hapgood's Hoax," and Barry N. Malzberg's "Corridors.".

%B      Alternate Skiffy
%E      Michael Resnick
%E      Patrick Nielsen Hayden
%A      Barry N. Malzberg
%T      A Science of the Mind
%A      Frederik Pohl
%T      The Golden Years of Astounding
%A      Anthony R. Lewis
%T      Plus Ultra
%A      Brian M. Thomsen
%T      Oscar Night at Swifty's
%A      Linda J. Dunn
%T      Fritz Leiber: Actor Extraordinaire
%A      Greg Cox
%T      GoH: H.P.L.
%A      Louise Rowder
%T      Siren Song
%A      Lyn Nichols
%T      Kidnapping Koriba
%A      Madeleine E. Robins
%T      Six Weeks, No Exit
%A      Leah A. Zeldes
%T      Hemingway, Remarks Are Not Literature
%A      Gregory Feeley
%T      Scatchophily
%A      Nicholas A. DiChario
%T      Mission 51-L
%A      eluki bes shahar
%T      My Object All Sublime
%A      Jack C. Haldeman II
%T      History Lesson
%A      David Langford
%T      The Spear of the Sun
%C      Berkeley Heights, NJ
%D      November 1997
%I      Wildside Press
%O      trade paperback, US$9
%G      ISBN 1-880448-54-8
%P      123pp
%B      Inside the Funhouse
%E      Mike Resnick
%A      Patricia Nurse
%T      One Rejection Too Many
%A      Frederik Pohl
%T      The Reunion at the Mile-High
%A      Allen Steele
%T      Hapgood's Hoax
%A      Barry N. Malzberg
%T      Corridors
%C      New York
%D      August 1992
%I      AvoNova
%O      paperback, US$4.99
%G      ISBN 0-380-76643-4
%P      246pp

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