These 31 interviews, most of which appeared in the New Jersey-based science-fiction journal Luna between 1972 and 1976, add up to an irresistible picture of the field and most of its major practitioners. The best are those that were conducted sequentially by mail, like correspondence chess games. Some of Walker's favorite questions are less than inspired; one can only agree with John Brunner's ""oh, gawd!"" at being confronted, for openers, with ""How would you define the terms 'hack,' 'professional,' and 'serious' writer?"" But in general he is remarkably good at getting toeholds on these idiosyncratic, often prickly intellects. Isaac Asimov, who answers Walker's questions like a man brushing away mosquitoes, is adroitly revealed as a mind driven--and trivialized--by some unfathomable competitive instinct; he resents anyone in possession of ""a fact I thought only I knew."" Frederik Pohl, on the other hand, responds somewhat acerbically but as to an equal, and permits himself to be drawn into the argument of real ideas (""The Age of Aquarius is a function of surplus production""). Half the fun of the book comes from the juxtaposition of contradictions. Anne McCaffrey proudly mentions the reported ""masculinity"" of her ""thought processes""; Joanna Russ neatly gives the shaft to the same sort of supposed compliment. Zenna Henderson says that science fiction gives weary humanity ""a chance to dream""; Michael Moorcock insists that it ""teaches you to examine society."" From all this lively disagreement, as well as Tom Roberts' excellent introduction, one does eventually gather just what it is that science fiction contributes to an age determined to surpass its wildest extrapolations: ""To walk on the moon must be a great thing,"" says Brian Aldiss; ""but to have imagined walking on the moon before anyone got there is a different order of experience.
Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1978
Page Count: -
Publisher: Luna Publications (655 Orchard St., Oradell, N.J. 07649)