Hardfought & Cascade Point

A continuation of my Raw Feed series on Greg Bear works.

I’m going to call my younger self to task for accepting the clichéd notion that warring parties become more like each other. More how? Technologically, culturally, morally? I can think of plenty historical examples of wars where this isn’t true. (Though, in many, the losing side probably should have become more like their opponents to win.)

Raw Feed (1990): Hardfought, Greg Bear/Cascade Point, Timothy Zahn, 1988.Hardfought

Hardfought” combines some fairly good characterization with stylistic techniques (mainly in choice of nomenclature) that convey the alienness of the future and of the ostensible humans in it. There are some old, but nevertheless valid, themes here: that you have to see your enemy as something other than yourself in order to emotionally handle killing them and that in fighting the enemy you become more like them. Bear adds the additional corollary that to really defeat the enemy you must understand them, and this can also mean reaching an agreement. Here the humans develop a mandate much like the brood mind of the alien Senexi, and clone individuals who lose their personal identity. Aryz the Senexi becomes more a creature of his own by studying his captive humans. Continue reading

DAW 30th Anniversary Science Fiction Anthology

Another retro review while I work on something for another outlet.

From January 12, 2010 …

Review: DAW 30th Anniversary Science Fiction Anthology, eds. Elizabeth R. Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert, 2002.DAW 30th Anniversary

Apart from the introductions by Wollheim and Gilbert covering Donald A. Wollheim’s contributions to American publishing culminating with his founding of DAW Books, there’s nothing that makes this book stand out from DAW’s many other anthologies except it doesn’t have a theme. The ratio of good to adequate to bad stories is pretty standard – not nearly high enough for a celebration of 30 years of quality publishing. That’s probably inevitable for a group of all original stories, but this anthology, which features installments in several DAW series, also doesn’t serve as much of an enticing sampler of DAW’s goods.

The two stand out stories are Tad Williams’ “Not With a Whimper, Either” and Ian Watson’s “The Black Wall of Jerusalem”. Williams’ story is told through newsgroup exchanges as various users try to figure out what is behind several disruptions of communications and utilities. It’s a worthy and ambiguous addition to a science fiction tradition of sinister machines including Jack Williamson’s “With Folded Hands”, Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream”, and, especially, Frederic Brown’s “Answer”. Watson’s story is surprisingly Lovecraftian in structure and theme. Its poet narrator is troubled by dreams he’s been having since returning from Jerusalem where he went for inspiration to write a William Blake style work of religious mysticism. There he encountered the Black Wall, a gateway that pops up in different parts of the ancient city, and goes beyond it to investigate the lethal beings of another dimension. Continue reading