This is a copy of the review I wrote for amazon.com.
"Don't trust their innocent charm. Lurking beneath are demonic talents and a ruthless intention toThis is a copy of the review I wrote for amazon.com.
"Don't trust their innocent charm. Lurking beneath are demonic talents and a ruthless intention to use these strange powers. Here are eleven dark, frightening stories of fantasy and science fiction, introducing you to super-children who know no limits, now any sense of right and wrong. They only know themselves, and their frightening ability to control anything or anyone standing in their way."
Well, that's going a bit far. They're not all like that, and in this book they're just plain strange.
Possibly there wasn't as much of a demand for things like this in the mid- to late '70s because there had been a kind of fad for theme anthologies (which Elwood had been putting out a lot of) and now it was slowing down. He had another anthology that was science fiction stories -for- kids, but that was something else.
The stories in Demon Kind are not really horror stories, nor are they necessarily about children with superior abilities, although both are represented.
"A Proper Santa Claus" is one of the saddest stories I've ever read, along with "Child", which seems to be based on the Japanese fairytale about the snow maiden and has what I can only (and in retrospect) call a Greer Gilman feel to it.
"Bettyann's Children" is nice -- it's the sequel to the classic Bettyann, which for some reason is not reprinted in any of these anthologies (find it if you can -- it's good). I think Terry Carr's contribution won a Nebula. Laurence Yep was just getting started, but you could see where he was going. "The Marks of Painted Teeth" mixes juvenile scavengers in post-apocalyptic scenes with a narrative lifted from a dream reported by a child patient of Carl Jung's.
I would have this book mostly to complete the collection, and because of the wonderful cover art (by whom?). The stories are good, but not great -- not as memorable as the ones in Tomorrow's Children or Outsiders (granted that many of those were just plain classics on their own merit), or even Elwood's two other "weird children" books. Most of it leaves kind of a dark, foggy taste in your mouth. You'll have to be in the right mood for it.
Barry Malzberg - Linkage R.A. Lafferty - Mud Violet Kris Neville - Bettyann's Children Joan C. Holly - Child Norman Spinrad - World of Gray Anne McCaffrey - A Proper Santa Claus Jack Dann - The Marks of Painted Teeth Laurence Yep, The Eddystone Light Terry Carr - From Darkness To Darkness Philip Jose Farmer - Monologue ...more
Giles Chulainn dwells in the harsh realm of Niflhel, where soot and ash fall from the sky and rain is just a rumor. He devotes himself to planning devGiles Chulainn dwells in the harsh realm of Niflhel, where soot and ash fall from the sky and rain is just a rumor. He devotes himself to planning development of new roadways, bridges and mining towns, and is considered a model citizen, but has always felt a vague dissatisfaction with life as it is, although (or because) he has been taught that Niflhel is the only reality. He becomes acquainted with a sect of "Earth worshippers," mostly youthful and elderly people who preserve a legend about a strange green world of abundant water, where amazing things grow from the ground and four-legged creatures roam. While he doesn't believe in Earth, he is appalled to discover that the group has been declared a cult and its members set for imprisonment and eventual extermination. Why, if Earth is just a dream, are the authorities over-reacting like this?
Hope Campbell's compelling story is interlaced with fragments of Irish poetry -- most of it in the original language. This was the first place we discovered the Song of Amergin and the Rune of the Peat-Fire. Look for it as an Ace double paperback, with Leigh Brackett's excellent Alpha Centauri or Die, in used book stores. It has never been reprinted....more
This started out as a comment to Christy's review.
I've read this book since I was twelve years old and it makes less sense and gets me more angry everThis started out as a comment to Christy's review.
I've read this book since I was twelve years old and it makes less sense and gets me more angry every time I read it. It's got too much of what one of my colleagues likes to call sugarcoated fascism.
When I was twelve, I loved the opening chapters. In the not too distant future we will have waterbeds and air cars and restaurants will have tables in trees and we will go to Mars. Oh yeah. I thought the idea of Michael Smith being the first human born on Mars and learning their skills was really something. I liked the Fair Witnesses. I even liked Jubal, because he was like a lot of pontificating old codgers I'd known. He gave me my first taste of comparative sociology. The women were smart and clever and I thought highly of them. Mike acclimates and starts learning English and levitates stuff and there's government skulduggery and Jubal does some brilliant legal stuff and the rest of it, gosh gee wow. I wasn't crazy about the dismissal of astrology as fraudulent nonsense, but I still think Heinlein's portrayal of Joe and Alice Douglas (Ronald and Nancy Reagan) is perfect.
What I didn't notice at the time was that the women were interchangeable set dressing like on Star Trek. I had such a clear picture of them as individuals that I didn't realize till later I was filling in details for them in my mind that didn't actually exist in the book. I also didn't realize exactly what was involved with the Fosterites, only that they made the blood-and-thunder radio evangelists I was familiar with look mild by comparison while disguising it in "happiness".
And then Michael leaves and takes Jill on his search for truth, and from working in a carnival and visiting strip joints he ends up being SuperGuru, and it started tying in with the New Age mysticism with which I was already too familiar. (As another reviewer shows, Mike still has the idea that people joining the church are "marks" and "chumps" who have to be conned with religious paraphernalia. How is this different from Church Universal and Triumphant?) At the end they were all thinking, moving and behaving alike. Dissolution of personal individuality in the All-One. It was depressing, especially since they were supposed to have total sexual liberation but were still calling women "whores" and "tarts", talking about "tail". I felt as a twelve-year-old, and still do, that these terms let sex and women down. And these people were supposed to inherit the earth?
I still think the first part of the story is fine although I'd have loved to see more about Ben Caxton. Heinlein's attitudes as presented through Jubal I don't mind. I don't agree with everything he says, but he makes me think, which is always good.
What I can't accept is Heinlein's attitudes as stated through his characters. Along about my mid-teens I realized Heinlein was Jewish but portraying anti-Semitic characters and images. It hit me that his view of women was unreal. Even for the period, it was unbelievably outmoded. It's antediluvian. It's June Cleaver in the nude. Fulfillment, to them, is to have sex with SuperMike and pop out lots and lots of babies. This did not tie into reality, the real women I knew, for whom fulfillment was a lot more than that. Including the ones who were happily married and had kids.
In my early twenties I read it again and caught that little snipe about the gays -- "confused in-betweeners who would never be offered water". Wait a second! Don't they grok too -- aren't they God just as much as the straight people? This strikes me -- a straight, Jewish man -- as damned presumptuous. And why isn't anybody black or Asian?
In the 1960s, this was one of the Bibles of the counterculture. A lot of people were into the idea of communal living and group marriages. Communes were supposed to be based on cooperative productivity but most of them were just an excuse to have sex with and exploit numerous women. Heinlein ridicules monogamy and privacy, and proposes "sharing" as an ideal; that's where the book crosses the line from science fiction to fantasy.
In such a commune, if a leader emerges and takes charge, the women all end up as his. The last time I read this book, Michael started to remind me of the way David Crosby has been described in the 1960s, constantly surrounded by a pantheon of women who were "always naked and always ready."
This was also one of the books that formed the foundation of the New Age religion (Love yourself, you are God. Oh, no, I'm not). I can accept a science fiction premise whereby people learn to become true telepaths, to control psychic abilities, and the world is changed (not necessarily for the better) as a result, but that this can be accomplished through acceptance of the grok premise does not hold (you should pardon the expression) water. There has to be more to it than that. As such, I'll be one of the people who does not survive the ultimate takeover Michael describes at the very end of the book (I wonder how many hippies read that far). He isn't the Messiah; if anything he's the other guy.