0 Cargo Jane Rawlinson (Andre Deutsch £10.95) Two confused and contrasting cultures are thrown into sharp reliefin this fluid and disturbing work. America. unflatterineg caricatured in Harry and Betty Stillman. archetypal cruise

‘If you can make it through hell and back, there are tremendous rewards.’ Crunching a digestive, Stephen Donaldson smiles. He can afford to now. For most of us, fantasy is an angst-ridden subject, swept underthe shag-pile and rarely discussed. For this man, it's the most real - and lucrative- part of his life. Firmly cornering the market in the Seventies with his six-volume chronicles of Thomas Covenant, leper of little faith, he has been hailed as ‘the supreme master of science fantasy’.

Visiting Britain on a promotion tour for his latest novel, The Mirror Of Her Dreams, he is by now a seasoned celebrity. Even so, recalling the agony of hawking Lord Foul’s Bane across every editor’s desk in the USA still makes him wince. ln classic Forsyth vein, itwas not until he’d suffered forty-seven rejections and serious thoughts of suicide, orterminal alcoholism at least, that is was accepted. Then, in less time than it takes to load a floppy, he soared to fame.

Born in Cleveland, 1947, he lived in India with his missionary parents from the age of three to sixteen. A precociously verbal toddler, he learned very early how to use the imagination to bolster self-confidence, first creating ’a fearless friend“ who followed him like a shadow, then inventing increasingly complex stories. When he finally realised the emotional impact these could have, it was ‘a revelation“. At that point he knew he had to be a writer. Switching courses at college from chemistry to

tourists. is placed alongside the West Indies. seen through Ophelia. abortive secretary who sails into the sunset leaving her brood with her long-suffering family; and Thomas. her ex-lover and Betty‘s favourite cabin steward. who cannot fathom her defection.

With Harry revelling in cowboy


English, he was determined to learn how to write. ‘I knew I had along way to go.‘ Some would say that any fantasy writer still has. Well-used to such jibes, Donaldson launches into its defence. ‘The purpose of all literature is to answer the question “What does it mean to be human?” Magic becomes a metaphor to allow writers to talk about this by tackling the part of being human that transcends the physical. It’s an inward literary form, butjust as valid as any other.’

An enthusiastic talker, with a dry sense of humour, Donaldson clearly lives for his work. Remarkany unaffected by fame, he’s almost convincing when he says that writing, for him, has nothing to do with money. While holding no religious dogma, as such, he admits to having a lot of questions he wants to ask. Though particularly interested in the idea of internal struggle, physical strife is a keynote in his works. Yet he was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. lsn’tthere some

dreams. Bett icturing the joys of

life without him ( and fully prepared to turn treacherous hope into fact) and Ophelia living for the glamorous opportunities of New York street life. Cargo is a tense and skilful tale ofself-delusion and fantasy. lnterweaving the dreams and realities spawned in two very different environments. Rawlinson presents a graphic sketch of the Caribbean, its appalling slave-history. ambiguous modern lifestyle, and the white world‘s lorelei lure. ironically juxtaposed with her hapless cast‘s fate. as they drift towards disaster with no more control than flotsam on the tide. (Rosemary Goring)

o Hazards of the Profession Colin Douglas (Mainstream £9.95) With a

contradiction? With a wry smile he concedes that there are things worth fighting for, ‘but I didn’t want that part of myself which is capable of violence to be given a gun and taught how to function. I was afraid that once it was switched on it might never turn itself oft.’

Easily conscience-stricken, he still feels twinges of unease about The Mirror Of Her Dreams. The first of a two-part series, it ends in ‘an obnoxious cliff-hanger’, the arch-enemy grasping the heroine and crying, ‘Now you’re mine!’ Cruel, he agrees, ‘but there was nowhere else to break it.’ For British readers, chafed raw with suspense, the sequel, A Man Rides Through, won‘t be out till next spring. Donaldson looks guilty.

Called an intellectual snob by some in the States who can’t follow his vocabulary, his books sell better over here. ‘You’re more literate,’ he explains. Writing occasional crime novvels under a closely-guarded pseudonym, he sees this as ‘exercising another set of muscles’, but they might be better left flabby. Are they popular? He laughs. ‘Notat all. We can't even give them away!’

But while his main interest lies in fantasy fiction, he remains unperturbed. Optimistic for the future, his only regret is that his parents didn’t live to see his success. Then he grins, picturing his mother. ‘I think she would have looked at my books and said, “What’s all this, Stephen? Why aren’t you praising the Lord?” '

There’s not a lot anyone could say to that. (Rosemary Goring)

v' {x 3“

psychopath and probably hypermanic at the helm. disease is by no means restricted to patients in the germ and insanity-riddled world of Edinburgh medicine. Dr David Campbell. ‘survivor‘ ofthe Houseman‘s Tale series. watches with growing anxiety as the hospital falls under the despotic dictate of a brilliant neurosurgeon with an effective. ifunpleasant. line in baboon experimentation. A front-runner in Parkinson‘s research. his eyes are set on international fame. and as he ruthlessly sweeps through hospital tradition and ethics. nothing seems able to halt his meteoric and murderous progress.

Campbell alone steps out of line to question his methods. but quickly discovers that the barriers of physicianly inertia and stethoscope brotherhood are. disturbingly entrenched. A fascinating glimpse into the dark side ofa still-feudal profession, Douglas spins a racy and wry tale that. while perhaps not the best thing to read half an hour before hitting the surgeon’s slab. nevertheless reinforces the comfortable view of basic decency behind the over-worked white coat and clipboard. (Rosemary Goring)

0 In Sunshine or in Shadow Danny McGrain (with Hugh Keevins) (John Donald £8.95). Some Celtic fans may view their former captain‘s book with ambivalence. His caustic. deprecatory observations on the running ofthe club might appear treasonable to many a Glasgow eye. Such candidly expressed views. clearly accentuated by his belief that the club he served so magnificently for twenty years ultimately turned its back on him. may earn him the respect ofmany. but perhaps the resentment ofa few. Still. for those who prefer their soccer to be the stuff ofmyth and legend. there are many glorious occasions recorded for posterity. from Lisbon ’67 (when McGrain was a rookie) to Paisley ‘86 (his last triumph with Celtic).

He speaks with genuine affection for the club and (most) of the people involved with it. and with reverence for the late Jock Stein. the genius who shaped McGrain‘s brilliant career. The book is devoid of the narrow invective and crass patronising which underscores so much ofthe literature emanating from the Old Firm. Instead. he offers an honest. cogent and perceptive testimony (albeit one which

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