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Voices of Vision: Creators of Science Fiction and Fantasy Speak
Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press, 198 pages

Voices of Vision
Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Jayme Lynn Blaschke writes science fiction and fantasy as well as related non-fiction. He serves as fiction editor for RevolutionSF.com. His web log can be found at jlbgibberish.blogspot.com

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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Science fiction is unique in that many of the authors and editors responsible for its production attend conventions, where they mingle with the readers and fans and talk with them over drinks or in panels. However, by their very nature, these conversations are fleeting and not widely available. In Voices of Vision, Jayme Lynn Blaschke collects seventeen interviews he conducted between 1997 and 2002. These interviews allow readers who don't attend conventions to learn more about these individuals.

Blaschke's interviews run the gamut of the field, including authors and editors and comic book writers. From recently published authors such as Patricia Anthony to stalwarts of the field such as Jack Williamson, these interviews give a broad look, not just at the history of the field, but at the breadth of topics which can be covered, and the manner in which they can be covered, under the rubric of science fiction.

The fact that science fiction isn't a monolith is one of the important aspects of Blaschke's book. Whether in his interviews with the editors or the authors, it is clear that speculative fiction can include traditional science fiction, fantasy, and more experimental forms. The addition of comic work appears as a further expansion on the same themes as the written form of science fiction.

The authors included represent different career paths as well. Anthony had a career which exploded on the scene, but hasn't published much recently. Both Elizabeth Moon and Charles de Lint have had extended careers marked by critical and commercial success. Robin Hobb's career hit a slow patch and she revitalized it by adopting a pseudonym, leading to greater success. A similar variety is provided by Blaschke's interviews with authors in the world of comics.

Blaschke's style and questions indicate that he conducts intensive research prior to his interviews. He isn't interested in asking the standard questions which his subjects will have heard so many times before, but rather trying to delve into new territory. Even more importantly, Blaschke listens to his subjects' answers and is able to ask intelligent follow-up questions and tailor the interview topics to those answers on the fly.

All the interviews have been published before except for that of Scott Edelman. Furthermore, Harlan Ellison's interview is substantially longer than it was in its originally published form. For the earlier interviews, especially, this means that the interviews are dated. Three of the five editors are no longer with the magazines they represented at the time of their interviews and Patricia Anthony can no longer be styled an up-and-coming author. Brief follow-up interviews, or even passages explaining where each subject is now, would have been a welcome addition to the book.

Voices of Vision provides a useful look at the current and recent state of science fiction and comics from a wide range of viewpoints. Blaschke provides a more personal introduction to his subjects than is possible by reading their novels, comics or the magazines they edited. The result is a look at a vibrant genre which has broadened in both scope and appeal from the days when Jack Williamson helped found the genre.

Copyright © 2005 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.


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