In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 121 occupied France in 1944. Evans does not let up in describing the grisly destruction ofwar. Part Three finds the protagonist back in New Mexico. There he meets a doctor and his aunt, “a weirdly gorgeous young woman”who supposedly is ninety-six years old. The three attempt to mass produce a wondrous health cure made from sage oil. The ending of the novel suggests further adventures for Blue. This is a memorable and rambunctious novel that is full of eccentricities. What it lacks in depth of characterization is compensated for in the sheer range of the story. MARTIN PADGET University ofCalifornia, San Diego Parable ofthe Sower. By Octavia E. Butler. (New York and London: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1993. 299 pages, $19.95.) Los Angeles is most hated of our cities because it makes our fears most visible. Here is its nightmare future: civil order collapses, and with it much of our technology. Mobs and drug-crazed criminals rule by night, and fires burn uncontrolled. Water, fuel, and food are nearly unobtainable; some homeless resort to cannibalism. Citizens with even modest property try to protect them­ selves within fortified communities, which become targets for siege. Groups of survivors try to escape, but only spread the chaos. This is a horrifying vision, but not difficult to believe in: perhaps easier than any other. Octavia E. Butler enters a now recognizable tradition of Los Angeles dystopian fiction with thisvery intelligent and finely crafted novel. Butler, who grew up in Pasadena, is the author of nine previous science fiction novels, including, most recently, her Xenogenesis Trilogy. Many of her earlier concerns with gender, race, and religion continue, especially her conviction that hu­ manity is deeply flawed and must evolve if it is to survive. But this novel, grounded in the landscape of California, and the recognizable wreckage of our world, is far more vivid and moving than Butler’s earlier work. Butler’s heroine, Lauren Oya Olamina, an African-American in a racially mixed Los Angeles community, keeps ajournal of her life from age fifteen to eighteen (the years 2024 to 2027). She records the decay of the city, and the destruction of her enclave, in which most of her family is killed. But Lauren is a natural leader and survivor, and gathers aband around her as she makes her way north. Much of the novel chronicles this longjourney by foot, which may remind the reader of other California “road”novels. At the end her group has reached a refuge in Humboldt County. It is an ambiguous victory. Many issues of plot and theme—tensions within the group, Lauren’s aspirations—are 122 Western American Literature unresolved, befitting an ambitious novel which apparently is to be the first volume of a trilogy. The West Coast has engendered the best of recent speculative fiction. While Parable of the Sower is such, it would be unfortunate if it reached only science fiction enthusiasts. This is a fine and serious novel, and worthy of a wide readership. CHARLES L. CROW Bowling Green State University Max Brand. ByWilliam A. Bloodworth,Jr. (New York: Twayne, 1994. 189 pages, $22.95.) Bloodworth gives us a Max Brand, the pseudonym of Frederick Faust (1892-1944), whose life resembles his work. Brand (and this is the most wellknown of the several names he wrote under) churned out a million words a year each year from 1917 to 1942 in the many genres he spanned: Westerns principally, but also detective fictions, the Dr. Kildare series of stories and films, even poetry. Bloodworth might overestimate Faust’s influence at times; I question, for example, whether the writer of Dr. Kildare stories really im­ proved the earning capacity of physicians. Mainly, however, Bloodworth’s book gives a very readable overview of Faust’s prodigious literary production. Whether he wrote under the name Max Brand or David Manning or David Challis, or John Frederick, Faust turned out riveting tales of adventure, heroism, and historical romance, often violent, action-filled narratives, which gave the writer a substantial popular market. As Bloodworth demonstrates in his careful analysis of the publishing and marketing of Faust’s stories and novels, his readership was large and made the...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 121-122
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.