The Abstracts — Femspec 3.2, Vol 3, Issue 2, 2002

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EDITORIAL REMARKS:

“Editor's Notes” by Batya Weinbaum
In her introduction, Batya Weinbaum, editor of Femspec, presents short snippets on each of the critical articles included in this issue and background on the critics and the authors to be examined. Octavia Butler's visit to CSU (former home of Femspec) is mentioned in relation to Patricia Melzer's article. The editor also offers an invitation to the readers to subscribe to the journal and entices them with what the future issues of Femspec will include.

CRITICISM:

“Monkey Business: Planet of the Apes and Romantic Excess” by Louise Allen
This article may very well be or become the cornerstone in Planet of the Apes related criticism. Louise Allen's learned and complete essay offers a deep analysis of two of the Planet of the Apes films, as well as comparisons with other science fiction cinematic texts (Terminator 2: Judgment Day and 2001: A Space Odyssey).

“China” by Christine Doran
Doran's article is a fine study on Cixi: Empress of China, a cultural Chinese Icon with an important legacy in the Asian world of today. This essay explores questions of Cixi's sexuality, her lack of femininity, her animal-like nature, and whatever political aspirations of power, other than as a women ruler, she had or may have had.

‘All that you touch you change’: Utopian Desire and the Concept of Change in Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents” by Patricia Melzer
The author of this incredibly well-researched study left no stone unturned: an extensive end notes section, and a bibliography with more than 50 entries, makes her article a definite milestone in Octavia Butler-related criticism. Melzer, by examining Butler's Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, elucidates on "the notion of utopia, feminist politics and theory, and feminist science fiction" (31).

“Journey through Mlle de Scudéry's Carte de Tendre: A 17th-Century Salon Woman's Dream/Country of Tenderness” by Gloria Feman Orenstein
Orenstein's study of La Carte de Tendre is "a map of Mlle de Scudéry's desire, and of the emotional geography of the territory of her political ambition and her sexual imagination" (53).

“Cloning: On Cognition in the Discourses of SF and Technoscience” by Darko Suvin
Darko Suvin, one of the most important American writers and critics of science fiction, presents a condensed version of a longer work that was published in Domna Pastourmatzi's Biotechnological and Medical Themes in Science Fiction. While this shorter version of his longer essay does present good insights into what Suvin sees as a wonder of technology (cloning), reading the longer piece offers a complete immersion into such an interestingly contemporary theme.

FICTION:

“Protection” by Tananarive Due
This short story, in the form of a “Letter to the Editor” most common in newspaper and magazines, offers a disturbing tale of a mother, a boy, and a witness that signs the letter “Unsigned.”

“Love Story with Living Ghost” by Carol Guess
This story begins with a statement: "This is a novel" (79). In just under three pages, it offers an introduction, a complication, and a conclusion. A prime example of unrelenting, concise narration.

“A Dream Question for the Angels” by Rebecca Lesses
An innovative short story that presents a transition effect between the real world, the conscious state we inhabit during the daytime, and the unreal, unconscious life we lead at night when we are immersed in a sea of dreams and nightmares. Lesses resorts to the use of italics when she wants to express the dream state of the narrator, and goes back to normal font when the dream ends.

GIRLS' FICTION:

“The Lost Tribe” by Cathy Sadler
Sadler's short narration begins with an introduction, flashbacks twenty years earlier, jumps back to the present time, and flash-forwards to six months into the future. A story involving an archaeologist, Amazon women and Xena, warrior princess is what plays through the jumping back and forth of time.

POETRY:

“If Kay Sage Painted Self-Portrait as a Boy” by Nancy Kuhl
As the title already presents, this poem is a play on words, a lyrical explorations of emotions, feelings, smell, and touch.

“The Hundred-Headless Woman Opens Her August Sleeve:
Part 2” by Nancy Kuhl

Like the previous poem, this one is a post-modern canvas of words where the senses come to life, and again, the smell of turpentine, just like in “If Kay Sage Painted Self-Portrait as a Boy”, makes a strange appearance as the poem concludes.

“Sanitary/Sanity” by Tara Leonard
A musical poem, with an ever-constant question mark in almost every line, exposing the obsession of the poetic subject with washing clothes, which in so doing is a cleansing of the self and of the mind.

“Cornflakes” by Jane Liddell-King
This poem is a strange trip for an innocent subject, Cornflakes, through a universe of planets, flowers, family members, and hell.

“Remedios Varo” by Lorraine Schein
This text is a post-modern poem that travels to Mexico City, visiting Remedios Varo, name-drops Max Erns and Friday Kahlo, and paints with words the images of a surrealist painting worthy of Salvador Dali with a feminist twist.

INTERVIEW:

“Interview with Marge Piercy” by Batya Weinbaum
This short but interesting interview deals with narrative topics such as anti-Semitism, science fiction, and feminist Jews in WWII. A discussion of editorial practices at Knopf will serve as eye openers to the readers.

REVIEWS:

“Review of The Road to Fez” by Phillipa Kafka
The book reviewed by the critic is filled with different manifestations of desire. It is set in contemporary Morocco, but also takes the reader back to 1834 and 1492, a time in which Sephardic Jews and Moors were kicked out of Spain, when this latter country became almost as powerful as the once mighty Rome.

“Review of The Golden Notebook of Springfield” by Annis Vilas Pratt
After a couple of sentences that anyone writing a dissertation should read, Vilas Pratt begins to review Vachel Lindsey's at times difficult utopian novel, only made bearable (according to the critic) by a three-part introduction written by Ron Sakolsky.

“Review of The Politics of Women's Studies” by Erin A. Smith
Smith's review, seeming more like a short essay (with its own Works Cited section at the end of it), concentrates its close to three pages in the Florence Howe edited The Politics of Women's Studies: Testimony from 30 Founding Mothers. This book is undeniably "a success story, albeit an unfinished one," according to Smith.

“Review of Saddling la Gringa” by Gina Wisker
Phillipa Kafka, a constant book reviewer and contributor to Femspec, now gets her book Saddling la Gringa: Gatekeeping in Literature by Contemporary Latina Writers reviewed by Gina Wisker, another contributor of our journal. Kafka's book offers well written essays focusing on Judith Ortiz Cofer, Rosario Ferré, Magali García Ramis, Cristina García, and Julia Alvarez, with support from a critical framework that includes Michel Foucalt, Luke Irigaray, and Judith Butler.

“Review of (Out) Classed Women” by Gina Wisker
The reviewer finds this book well-informed, threading "the path of feminist cultural politics with sensitivity and brings to life the engaged work of several Chicana writers" (116).

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