VOICES OF VISION
by Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
In Voices of Vision, author Jayme Lynn Blaschke collects seventeen interviews he conducted between 1997 and 2002 with a variety of authors and editors who work in the science fiction and comics fields. The interviews include established authors like Jack Williamson to newer authors, such as Patricia Anthony and cover a wide range of topics.
The book opens with interviews with editors (and authors) Gardner Dozois, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Stanley Schmidt, Gordon Van Gelder, and Scott Edelman. By including these interviews first, Blaschke's book is setting up definitions of science fiction which may be used throughout the rest of the book. At the time of the interviews, these were the people who needed to be sold on a story in order for it to be published in the science fiction magazines (three of the five have since moved on). At the same time, the interviews make it clear that there isn't any monolithic entity one can point to and say "this is science fiction."
The editors are followed by four author interviews, Robin Hobb, Patricia Anthony, Charles de Lint, and Elizabeth Moon. Each of these authors is at a different point in their career and has experienced different things. Robin Hobb's career is notable in this regard as having been restarted when she began using her current pseudonym. Patricia Anthony's career started with an enormous bang, at which time Blaschke conducted his interview. Both de Lint and Moon had been writing for several years to various amounts of commercial and critical success.
Five comic book writers are then represented in four interviews. Elliot S! Maggin, Frank Cho, Scott Kurtz, Brad Meltzer, and Neil Gaiman, the last also well known for his work in prose and film. The careers of these men span not only numerous years, but also different aspects of the field of comics, with Maggin representing Marvel Comics and Cho and Kurtz showing the independent comic world. Each brings his own experiences and views of the field.
Finally, Blaschke includes interviews with four men who he sees as giants in the field of science fiction: Samuel Delany, Gene Wolfe, Harlan Ellison, and Jack Williamson. These men have all had substantial careers and have seen their ups and downs, from Delany's discovery that his books were all going out of print to Ellison's insistence (with cause) that he is not a science fiction author.
Of necessity, the interviews in Voices of Vision provide snapshots of careers and the state of the field. With the oldest interviews only eight years old, this wouldn't seem to be a major impediment to the timeliness of the book, but as previously noted, three of the interviewed editors are no longer in the positions they were in during the interview. Similarly, and more notably, the authors' careers have moved on. Brief follow-ups with each of the authors, or even some of them, would have provided an additional degree of enlightenment.
Blaschke's interviewing style is clearly one which is informed by the research he does in preparation for his interviews. Similarly, while he often is able to get similar information from his various subjects, he does not resort to asking the same questions over and over again.
Voices of Vision provides a useful look at the current and recent state of science fiction and comics from a variety of points of views. The interviews are well conducted and organized. Blaschke's book deserves to be widely read and will surely be a well-referenced source for people interested in the state of science fiction at the turn of the millennium.
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