REFLECTIONS AND REFRACTIONS

THOUGHTS ON SCIENCE FICTION, SCIENCE, AND OTHER MATTERS

A collection of magazine columns by a leading science fiction writer. The prolific Silverberg (Starborne, 1996, etc.) can trace his career as a columnist back to his days as a fanzine writer and editor. More recently, he has been the columnist—the keynote speaker, as it were—for such science fiction magazines as Galileo and Amazing Stories. This volume collects the cream of the crop; predictably, many of his columns address science fiction from the point of view of a longtime professional writer. Silverberg's critical comments focus on such matters as the unfortunate dumbing-down of the genre in the wake of Star Wars and Star Trek, which brought in huge numbers of new readers who cared more about slam-bang action than about the play of ideas characteristic of the best science fiction. While there was of course plenty of action-oriented science fiction in the pulp era, Silverberg believes that current publishers have aggressively promoted mindless work at the expense of more thoughtful fiction. Meanwhile, the audience for quality science fiction inevitably grows older, as few newer readers are attracted to today's bland, predictable offerings. Similar concerns mark his columns on genetic engineering and other controversial scientific advances to which the public has responded with what Silverberg sees as baseless and ill-informed hysteria. Silverberg is a perceptive critic and an appreciative reader, and his essays on fellow writers, including Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Phillip Dick, Harlan Ellison, and Jack Vance, offer excellent insights into their work. Perhaps the major shortcoming of these essays is a stylistic flatness; for all his experience, Silverberg lacks the popular touch and unpredictable wit that made Asimov's many magazine columns so delightful. Sophisticated, well-expressed, and often controversial, these essays are more for Silverberg's longtime fans than for new readers.

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-887424-24-5

Page Count: 450

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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