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From: "Alice K. Turner" 
Subject: (urth) Tut, tut, and a little history
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 01:26:40 -0400

It seems to me that there is enirely too much ad hominen squabbling going on
here--if this list degenerates into Usenet, I, for one, will depart. Take it
to e-mail if you want to insult one another, especially wrt race or

Or sexual preference. Which reminds me...

Let me give you a little bit of sf history. Back in the 70s, an experimental
time in all sorts of ways, there was a small group of ambitious young sf
people living in New York. They had been influenced by the New Wave, of
course, and wanted to bust out of genre. Two of them, Samuel Delaney and Tom
Disch, were out-of-the-closet homosexuals, as was Baird Searles, a prominent
reviewer and bookseller. Crowley, a little younger than the others, was a
good friend of Disch's. Spinrad and even Ben Bova{!!) were also around, but
let's leave them out of it, except to note that Spinrad was also pushing the
envelope wrt to explicit sexual writing. But I get ahead of myself.

Now about Delaney specifically. First, he is a very nice (by which I mean
affable, amusing and generous), very intelligent man and a beloved teacher.
Second, even with the support of his friends and the temper of the times, it
took a lot of nerve for him to "come out" in print in a notably conservative
field (think of poor old Sir Arthur who had to hide out in Sri Lanka in
order to live what for him was a "normal" life). Did Delaney go too far?
Yes, probably, but he was a pioneer, and they often do. But I can tell you,
with certainty, that the publication of "Dhalgren" and of "Little, Big" at
just about the same time, two big genre-busting books, was quite an event in
the sf world. Interestingly, in both cases the publishers were afraid of the
books and put them out as paperback originals, thus virtually guaranteeing
that they would get no review attention except in genre--had they come out
in hardcover things might have been quite different, by which I mean that
the lines between genres might have blurred somewhat, as they do in Britain.
My point is that this group wanted to write books for grown-ups, relevant to
the times, and they also wanted the kind of liberation that the fantastic or
"magic realism"--a term just then coming into use--can give. (Joyce Carol
Oates published "Belle-Fleur" at the same time, which is the closest book to
"Little, Big" that you will ever encounter--the two books make up the entire
school of Hudson River Gothic. Mark Halprin published "The Winter's Tale,"
same sort of book, widely reviewed, but I never could finish reading it.
"One Hundred Years of Solitude" was being translated into English.)

So what happened next? Judy-Lynn del Rey happened, that's what, a brilliant
publisher with a crass, commercial mind (and a conservative old fart of a
husband). They launched Terry Brooks upon the world, set firm guidelines as
to what would or would not fly in sf (which did not include any of the above
except for Bova) and more or less defined sf/fantasy As We Know It, which is
to say, mostly crap. (Sorry if that's offensive to some who love it
indiscrimately, but at least it's not about race, religion or sex.)

How do I know all this? Well, at the time I was the paperback editor (i.e.
reporter and reviewer) of Publisher's Weekly, the beating heart of the
publishing universe, and I knew a lot of things. Sorry for the pedantry.
Also sorry if my pub-dates are a little muddled--I don't have time to check
them. But the above is *generally* true.



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