In recent weeks, I’ve been on a biography reading jag, first tearing through The Hidden Library of Tanith Lee, then James Tiptree, Jr., the Double Life of Alice Sheldon, and This is Me, Jack Vance! The Hidden Library of Tanith Lee by Mavis Haut begins with a heavy academic tone, delving into the mythopoeic layers of meaning in Lee’s writing. Although this is perhaps a necessary piece of work, since Lee’s writing is so dense with mythology, metaphor, and explorations of the subconscious, it doesn’t exactly flow off the pages. Fortunately, for all those pages which made me feel like I was treading in molasses, there were an equal number of more conversational sections, in which Lee’s many books in many genres are summarized. There is also a long and valuable interview with the author which I have not seen elsewhere. Not a book for everyone, but a must read for all of you Tanith Lee addicts out there, and I know you are legion! It has taken me years to get up the nerve to read Julie Phillips book on James Tiptree, Jr., one of the unique voices in sf literature. Perhaps other readers of sf in the 1970s had the same introduction to Tiptree that I did: reading through 800 pages of Again Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison, only to be shocked with 50 amp jolt of electricity in the concluding story, Milk of Paradise, which opens: “She was flowing hot and naked as she straddled his belly in the cuddle-cube and fed him her hard little tits. And he convulsed up under her and then was headlong on the waster, vomiting.“ This was clearly a writer who could grab anyone by the scruff of the neck and rattle them around like a rag doll.
In June, I read the strange news of F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre’s apparent suicide, and followed a link on Making Light to a presumed autobiographical sketch. It told a story of incredible suffering, poverty, and eventual escape from an orphanage in Australia and from abusive relatives. Although there has been a torrent of speculation about the strange odyssey of “Froggy” MacIntyre, as he was known to his friends, the straight depiction of those childhood details struck me as utterly true and made me curious about his other writings.
When the extremely homo-phobic and generally insane self-described Christians led by Fred Phelps and the Westboro Church decided to protest the “idolotry“ and “skimpily clad whores“ of San Diego Comic Con, there was bound to be an interesting response. You have to wonder why a few brain dead “true believers” (read: provocateurs) go up against the teaming throng of tens of thousands of comic book nerds…when you know the reaction is going to be an absolute trash fest. But, thank heavens, the comic fans didn’t fail! Bender, of Futurama fame, had his moment in the sun, holding a KILL ALL HUMANS sign and shouting: “Westboro Church, bite my shiny metal ass!” Wish I had been there for that one! _ _