SFRA Review

A publication of the Science Fiction Research Association

Turner, Gary and Marty Halpern, eds. The Silver Gryphon. Urbana, IL: Golden Gryphon Press, 2003. ISBN: 1930846150. 300p. $27.95.

A handsome volume of twenty stories largely by authors well established in the field of science fiction, this volume represents the best of what Jim Turner was hoping to achieve when he founded Golden Gryphon Press in 1996. The motivation for this, the 25th volume of fantastic fiction published under the imprint, is to feature both a number of writers published in the press’s annual volumes and the vision that Turner and his successors since his death in 1999 have for well-crafted, imaginative fiction. In order of appearance are James Patrick Kelly, Jeffrey Ford, Michael Bishop, Kage Baker, Richard Lupoff, Kevin J. Anderson, Howard Waldrop, Paul Di Filippo, Geoffrey A. Landis, George Zebrowski, Ian Watson, Lucius Shepard, Warren Rochelle, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Richard Paul Russo, Robert Reed, Andy Duncan, R. Garcia y Robertson, Neal Barrett, Jr. and Joe R. Lansdale. Each of the stories is original for this anthology. Each is paradigmatic in its performance of the English language. Most are both timely and vaguely disturbing in their extrapolations about our near and far futures. The most immediate has been noted by other reviewers, and that is Richard Lupoff ’s speculation about what would happen if Gore and Bush ‘shared’ the White House (if briefly). His “The American Monarchy” has just the sardonic twist that one expects from both Lupoff and other books in the Golden Gryphon pantheon. Or Michael Bishop’s ghost story, “The Door Gunner,” as it accurately represents the irreality of the Vietnam War to our soldiers on the ground.

While I can’t claim to have read other selections by all of these authors (I think I am missing three), I can attest that those 17 whom I have encountered before have put forth their best efforts for this anthology. While I lament the fact that there is only one female writer among them, there are also examples of male writers with a considerable grasp of the opposite sex and their dilemmas, such as Kelly’s “Mother,” which uses the pretext of birth-control out of control to create a forceful female hero. Richard Paul Russo’s “Tropical Nights at the Natatorium,” while tragic and amusing simultaneously, also functions as the anthology’s ‘cautionary tale’ about a far future where rich and poor are the only two classes, and a reminder of how revolutions come about. I can’t help but enjoy Rusch’s “Cowboy Grace,” which deals as badly with stereotypes females place on each other as it does with the techniques used by their unscrupulous male husbands and lovers. As Grace’s erstwhile female friend hears: “When I told you about my lumpectomy,” Grace said, “you didn’t care. I was scared. I told you that and you didn’t care. When I found out I didn’t have cancer, I called you to celebrate and you didn’t care. Seems to me like you vanished first” (247). To turn her life from tragedy to triumph, Cowboy Grace undergoes a series of psychological transformations that are lovingly detailed in her own entertaining monologues and dialogues, realistically embedded in the foibles of our own social system and much more satisfying than, say, “Thelma and Louise.” But for sheer inventiveness and wit, I enjoyed Paul Di Filippo’s “What’s Up Tiger Lilly.” The connected stories in this humorous tale are predicated on the recent-future travails associated with a new material called Proteopape. With infinite capabilities for morphing from one form into another, as programmed this invention becomes the center of a lover’s quarrel between the inventor and an old, apparently quite angry, girlfriend. The story contains a generous dose of in-jokes (“Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown;” 146), puns and inter-relational clichés which are bound to fascinate literati and techie alike. I’ve represented these few stories because they caught my fancy in particular, not because they are appreciably better than most of the others in this excellent example of the craft of science fiction.

— Janice Bogstad, SFRA Review, Oct/Nov/Dec 2003


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