Return to K-Mac's home pageThe Portable Universe 15
by Michael P. Kube-McDowell

originally published in The Elkhart Truth
November 24, 1984

Harry Harrison may be best known to many readers for "Make Room, Make Room," the book that was cannibalized (see below) for the Charlton Heston film "Soylent Green." Harrison is also the creator of Slippery Jim DiGriz, the protagonist of the popular, light-hearted Stainless Steel Rat adventures, and the author of the chilling novel "Deathworld."

"West of Eden" (Bantam, $15.95 cloth) is Harrison's most far-reaching effort. An odyssey of war and self-discovery, "Eden" is set in an alternate universe in which the dinosaurs survived their evolutionary trials. A race of intelligent reptiles has inherited the earth, and it is against them that the young human hunter Kerrick and his tribesmen must struggle to prevent their own extinction.

Harrison is one of the dozens of essayists whose experiences with SF cimena appear in Danny Peary's nonfiction anthology "Screen Flights -- Screen Fantasies" (Doubleday/Dolphin, $17.95 trade). Also included are pieces by directors George Miller, Nicholas Meyer, and Stanley Kramer, interviews with Ridley Scott, Leonard Nimoy, and Michael Crichton, and commentary by Robert Bloch and Harlan Ellison. Heavily illustrated, "Screen Flights -- Screen Fantasies" offers an intelligent, opinionated glimpse into the world of science fiction on film.

"Analog" magazine alumni Joseph Delaney and Marc Stiegler have produced a top-flight first novel in "Valentina" (Baen, $3.50 paper). The title character is a self-aware computer program, with not only a mind but a life of its own -- and a yearning to win recognition of its existance. "Valentina" is a worthy exploration of artificial intelligence, while Valentina herself is a memorable character in the vein of David Gerrold's Harlie and Robert Heinlein's Mycroft Holmes.

COLLECTIONS, WE GOT COLLECTIONS. Indefatigable anthologists Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg have worked their way up to 1950 with "The Great SF Stories 12" (DAW, $3.50 paper). Among the highlights is Damon Knight's story "To Serve Man," the genesis of a memorable episode of The Twilight Zone...The Thieves' World universe, the creation of Robert Lynn Asprin and Lynn Abbey, has expanded to include spin-off novels and role-playing games. "Wings of Omen" (Ace, $3.25 paper) is the newest collection of stories set in the "meanest, seediest, most dangerous town" in all of fantasy.

"AND THE WINNERS ARE" DEPT. David Brin, Timothy Zahn, Greg Bear, and Octavia Butler received the 1984 Science Fiction Achievement Awards ("Hugos") at this year's Worldcon in Anaheim, California. Brin's award was for his novel "Startide Rising" (Bantam, $2.95 paper), while the others earned acclaim in various categories of short fiction.

Recent publications by these honorees include Butler's "Clay's Ark" (St. Martin's, $12.95 cloth), Bear's "The Infinity Concerto" (Berkley, $2.95 paper), and a novella by Zahn in Elizabeth Mitchell's future-war anthology "Alien Stars" (Baen, $2.95 paper).

-- Michael Kube-McDowell is a special correspondent for the Truth and the author of the SF novel EMPRISE (Berkley, June 1985)

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Created: 12 March 2005
Last Revised: 07 July 2009