cover image The Hidden Side of the Moon: Stories

The Hidden Side of the Moon: Stories

Joanna Russ. St. Martin's Press, $15.95 (229pp) ISBN 978-0-312-01105-5

One of the best writers in SF today, Russ (Picnic on Paradise, The Female Man) uses the genre not as soothing escapism but to wake the reader up and get him thinking as she reexamines and challenges received notions about society, sex, cultural assumptions, etc. Not the ideal introduction to her work, the current book is something of a grab bag, going back to her first SF story in 1959 to gather up short fiction omitted from previous collections. If most of these brief stories have less of the elegant fictional flesh that one expects on their polemical bones, it is still a privilege to observe the author's mind at work. The outstanding pieces are nongenre tales from the '70s that probe sexual roles: student lovers in ""The View from This Window,'' family ties and traps in ``The Autobiography of My Mother'' and, at her most dazzling, the sensual, venomous ``Daddy's Girl,'' recalling Sylvia Plath. (January 25)