I The Encyclopaedia oi Science Fiction edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls (Orbit £45) Weighing in with slightly fewer words than the Indian Railway has employees. this is seriously hardcore SF. aimed at those for whom the term ‘sci-ﬁ’ (spit) is totally repugnant. But these 1.3 million words. in 6.5 thousand entries. are not merely dedicated to obscure mid-60s bedsheet magazines. known and cared about only by spotty anorak-wearers. Here are fascinating little cpistles on everything from Fritz Lang's ﬁlm Metropolis through Edgar Allan Poe and the Rocky Horror Picture Show to ‘thcme' entries on fabulation. feminism and futurology.
the 1979 edition heralds the promotion of science ﬁction into the ranks of ‘real‘ literature remains to be seen. The cause is not helped by the fact that much of what is healthy cynicism comes across as a touchy belief in the superiority of genre SF over more populist strands. However. those sci—ﬁ doubters who pick this up to glean such stonking insights as the existence of Star Trek pornography. (underground. fan-generated stories of sexual intimacy between Spock and Captain James T. no less) are more than likely to ﬁnd themselves absorbed by an erudite entry on someone like Ursula Le (iuin who possesses true cross-over appeal.
I Wasted Years John Harvey (Viking. £8.99) The detective genre is rapidly becoming crowded with sensitive. world-weary sleuths but Harvey‘s Nottingham polis. Charlie Resnick. remains one of the more interesting examples. thanks not only to his quirky fondness for modern jazz and elaborate deli sandwiches (obligingly described in detail for fellow fast-food gourmands). but to his creator’s spare. sharp characterisation. Here. on the trail of an armed—robbery gang following a series of heists. Charlie ﬁnds himself once more on a collision course with a dangerous criminal he put away ten years before. a path which also leads him into the murky world of bent coppers. Bit parts include two alumni of a young-offenders‘ institution. one of whom is determinedly seeking to graduate to big-time crime. Resnick’s ex-wife. and the past. as the narrative flashes back and forth between 1969. 1982 and 1992. providing a nicely understated and fortuitously pertinent subtext about urban/moral/youth decline. and plenty of human interest about the unhappiness of the policeperson‘s marital lot. Harvey‘s eye for the kind of tellingly speciﬁc details which pin down period. setting or atmosphere is exceptional. and while his depiction of today‘s yoof is tinged with caricature.
it's probably partly because the rest of the character portraits are so admirably fully-fleshed. (Sue Wilson)
Whether this vastly updated version of
Some of the world’s greatest thinkers have abstained from eating meat. Catherine Fellows reviews Colin Spencer’s new history of vegetarianism. which gives the subject the political and cultural weight it deserves.
‘I shall admire you then only . . . if you shall recognise that vegetables are sufﬁcient food for the stomach into which we now stuff valuable lives.‘ Considering the history of vegetarianism. Seneca's stipulation is highly ironic. but it goes right to the heart of (‘olin Spencer‘s Heretics Feast. the most thorough book on the subject to date. Since the days of Pythagoras. the ﬁrst great ideological abstainer from meat. far from being admired. vegetarians have been mocked. derided and persecuted. as blasphemous heretics. lily-livered cranks or ungrateful nuisances. But as Spencer demonstrates. some of the most brilliant thinkers the world has seen were non-meat-eaters — Plutarch.
Porphyry. Leonardo da Vinci. Voltaire. Shelley and Tolstoy were all vegetarians — as. perhaps more importantly. were groups of lesser- known individuals who have asked fundamental questions about their cultures and responsibilities. and who have had the courage to dissent.
In writing the book. Spencer was excited to discover how many ideas we think of as contemporary have very ancient roots. Though primarily motivated by a horror of taking life. vegetarians throughout the ages have drawn attention to the cruelty of farming methods. the deleterious effects of meat-eating on health. and its brutalising effect upon us. Way back in 1516. Thomas More argued that rearing livestock damaged the environment and was a singularly inefﬁcient means of
feeding a growing population.
The recently popular concept of a holistically-interdependent planet goes back to pre-Socratics: ‘They believed in the spirit in all things. and there is a thread from them through to the early Christian heresies — it was that same metaphysical concept that stopped them eating meat. If it hadn't been for Pauline Christianity. we might have had something much closer to the Eastern religions and the wisdom of Buddhism.’ Spencer has little patience with orthodox Christianity: ‘It has done some dreadful things in general terms. but speciﬁcally with regard to animals — what would we think now if a religious leader exorcised evil spirits by putting them in a herd of a thousand- odd swine. then drove these poor creatures over the cliffs to their dcaths‘."
In the context of a meat-eating civilization. being a vegetarian has been. and to a large extent remains. a subversive and highly political stance. Whether in ancient Greece. where abstention from ritual sacriﬁces undermined the religion upon which the authority of society‘s leaders was based. or in contemporary Britain. where John (iummer produces spurious biblical arguments to placate the meat industry. vegetarians battle against power and vested interests. Spencer hopes that. by telling this story. he has shown how profound and all-embracing an issue vegetarianism is and that henceforth. abstainers from meat will be treated with the respect and seriousness they deserve.
The Heretic Is Feast. A History of Wgemriunism by Colin Spencer (Fourth Estate [20).
‘Street party in Antield during the Liverpool-Everton FA Cup Final, May 1986’, irom Liverpool: Looking Out To Sea, by Peter Marlow (Jonathan Cape £20 pb/E35 hb). A ‘continuous expression of gratitude’ to Liverpool and its people by the Magnum Photos president, sent to Liverpool on
58 The List 9-22 April 1993
by the devastation he found, he returned repeatedly over the next ﬁve years, building up a damning photo- portralt oi Thatcherlte urban blight which nevertheless brings out the humanity and hard-pressed resilience of the individuals featured with a
assignment in the early 80s. Appalled
movineg tender touch. ills cool, atmospheric black-and-whites trace the diverse themes of Liverpudlian lite - football, the Afro-Caribbean community, racing, the river, the heroin subculture, the bleakness oi the inner-cityscape - resonating with compassionate anger. (Sue Wilson)