cover image Visions of Wonder

Visions of Wonder

David G. Hartwell. Tor Books, $32.99 (800pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85287-0

This third reading anthology from the Science Fiction Research Association offers the uninitiated an excellent and informed introduction to the genre while also supplying fans with plenty of new pleasures. Since this volume spotlights SF of the '90s, editors Hartwell and Wolf have gathered stories by Orson Scott Card, Terry Bisson, Walter Jon Williams and James Patrick Kelly, to mention a few of the 31 fiction contributors. While all of the fiction has been published elsewhere, the editors' introductory essays explain their inclusion: Judith Tarr offers a rip-roaring specimen of alternate history with a tale about the Kennedy boys as rock stars--Marilyn Monroe becomes the kickass feminist lawyer of JFK's nightmares. In the title story from his collection Bears Discover Fire, Bisson demonstrates how the boundaries of SF have expanded, with a story about bears discovering the use of fire that resonates with magical realism; similarly, Kate Wilhelm offers a hypnotic time-travel story that moves the heart more than a simple romance ever could. The editors balance these newer voices against writers who have shaped the genre, and so the work of Philip Jose Farmer, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Anne McCaffrey is also here to be appreciated. But best of all are the nine essays: Samuel R. Delany writes on how science fiction fits into literature; Damon Knight, on critics; John W. Campbell Jr. imagines explaining to a robot what a human is; while David G. Hartwell provides a hilarious and honest examination of the SF fan's psyche, the 12-year-old within each of us. And that kid is going to love this wise, witty and wonderful collection. (Nov.)