Volume 1, Number 3, Summer 1983

Fiction Forum

Fiction forum was created so that Prometheus subscribers could exchange short reviews of, and ideas about, fiction—old or new, SF or mainstream. We welcome pour contributions. Please send them to: Victoria Varga. Editor. Prometheus. 121 McKinley Street. Rochester. NY 14609.


Rebirth by John Wyndham (1955, Baliantine) is science fiction with a profoundly libertarian theme: the right to be different. It takes place in the future after a world-devastating nuclear war. Unlike many novels that use this setting, Rebirth penetrates the human psyche and explores why humans do not let one another be free. A group of people in Labrador have escaped annihilation and re-established a society. What they fear most is genetic mutations, which are all too common and horrifying.

This initially rational fear gets turned into a fanatical religion enforced by society and government. For did not God create man in his perfect image? Any baby or animal born with the slightest deviation from normal must be destroyed for “the devil is the father of deviation.” Watch thou for the mutants.

A boy with exceptional mental powers—telepathy—keeps his aberration a secret. Then he meets a girl with another secret—six toes on each foot. Society would kill both of them if their flaws became known.

What results is a humanly warm and yet chilling story of oppression in the name of good, with insights into our own oppressive governments who also justify their horrors in the name of “morality and good.” Wyndham is a marvelous writer and, in my opinion, the book deserves not just reading but a place on the list of freedom fiction.

Fred Foldvary Berkeley, California


Being of the nonviolent persuasion I’ve always admired the Quakers and their ilk, and being a science fiction addict I’ve always thought a science fiction story about a Quaker planet had lots of possibilities. Unfortunately, Joan Slonczewski’s Still Forms on Foxfield (Ballantine/Del Rey, 1980) which deals with the idea, turns out to be disappointing.

Not that Foxfield is a bad novel—it’s just not all that good. Brief1y, it concerns a Quaker colony on a planet called Foxfield and how the colonists struggle to survive on their own, and then to adjust when a ship from Earth arrives to establish contact after many years. An intriguing—even dramatic—situation, but somehow Slonczewski fails to make it really intriguing or dramatic.

Some real issues are addressed in the novel, and it’s of interest to libertarians since the Quaker approach is essentially libertarian, at least in political terms. Yet there is no real fire here and I can only mildly recommend it, even though the idea still has great potential.

This is Slonczewski’s first novel, and it’s an honorable attempt. Let us wish her better luck next time.

Neal Wilgus
Albuquerque. New Mexico

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