|One of the less well-rendered F&SF covers so far|
Amusingly, the Disch review, which also includes a rave assessment of Gregory Benford's novel Timescape, is in the form of dealing with the three best of the year sf annuals published in 1980, devoted to the presumed best short fiction of 1979: those edited by Terry Carr (Ballantine/Del Rey), Gardner Dozois (E. P. Dutton) (the early series of rather slim volumes, which he'd taken over from Lester Del Rey; Ace Books, then Dell, had been doing paperback reprints), and Donald Wollheim and Arthur Saha (DAW Books)...amusingly to me, anyway (quite aside from my fascination with BOTY volumes and their sometimes eccentric selections), since the example of Bruce Sterling's writing in Cheap Truth I quote in the Friday piece was also a BOTY review, for the first of the current series of fat volumes of sf edited by Dozois...and it, too, is at least as much an attempt to catalog schools of sf writers). (The Disch link above is to the University of Michigan Press's site, which reprints the essay from their volume of Disch, On SF, without crediting F&SF nor fixing the typo introduced somewhere along the trail that renders Benford's short story "Time Shards" as "Lime Shards"...tasty, the latter, I'm sure, and no more sour than some other things.) (Gregory Feeley notes on FaceBook that the text as posted also mispells Judith Merril's name, with an extra L.)
The Disch essay, on publication, stirred no little controversy, including this response by George R. R. Martin, one of the writers Disch considered part of the group. (Martin in his rebuttal does note a factual error of Disch's, citing Connie Willis's "Daisy, in the Sun" as her first published story, or at least--rather more true--the beginning of her career...her "Santa Titicaca" in the magazine Worlds of Fantasy in 1970 was for some years her only published story; "Daisy" was more like her sixth.)
And a year ago, on the F&SF site, publisher and former editor Gordon Van Gelder (utterly coincidentally 50 years old today) published links to a reprint of the Disch essay (perhaps since taken down at the request of the U Michigan Press) and to the Martin response as transcribed on his website...which post drew a comment from none other than David Truesdale, the short fiction reviewer who was rather famously ejected from the WorldCon last month after turning a panel discussion of short fiction today into a forum for his dislike of "PC bullies" in SF publishing today...an event that isn't quite prefigured by Truesdale's comment to Gordon (who coincidentally was a late arrivee to speak on that panel), but it comes close to being so...(further utter coincidence, or evidence of how small the sf community can be: some objected to Truesdale at the panel trying to use the recently late David Hartwell as an example of sf editor who agreed with Truesdale's resentment of perceived PC trends in sf, and one of Hartwell's more important projects had been the Timescape line he founded at Pocket Books, named for the Benford novel Disch praises highly).
Literary history doesn't exactly repeat itself, but patterns do recur. This will come as news to almost no one, I'm sure...