POLLACK, Rachel (Grace)

POLLACK, Rachel (Grace)
   US writer, resident in the Netherlands 1973-90. She published her first sf story with NW in 1972, "Pandora's Bust" as by Richard A. Pollack. Her first novel, Golden Vanity (1980 US), was an ornate SPACEOPERA whose large cast of aliens ransacks a venal Earth in search of a female runaway. Alqua Dreams (1987 US) is a rather flat drama of ontology set on an alien planet; the human protagonist, faced with the obdurate Platonism of the inhabitants, must argue METAPHYSICS with them in anattempt to suggest that the sensory world is sufficiently "real" for them to sell him the rare mineral he needs. The background is voluminously drawn, but the narrative is sluggish. In RP's third novel, Unquenchable Fire (1988 UK), winner of the ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD for 1989, a similarlyintractable narrative - the book is constructed so that a long flashback reiterates material already delivered - more closely models the situation it depicts. In the ALTERNATE-WORLD USA of the tale, shamanism actually works (MAGIC); and a lovingly described bureaucracy of shamans, revering the Founders who brought them to power generations earlier, are actually able to ask the Earth's roots for energy. The protagonist of the book, finding that her unwilled pregnancy is destined to make her the mother of a new revitalizing shaman, resists her role fiercely; the resume of her life, as given in flashback, only intensifies the sense of her deep stubborness; the sequel, Temporary Agency (1994 UK), reconfigures some of the same material. Throughout, RP's portrait of a radical different but alarmingly similar USA is densely drawn, and her depiction of life in an alternate Poughkeepsie is frequently hilarious. Several stories - like "The Protector" (1986 Interzone) - depict similarly transformed universes.An anthology of original stories, Tarot Tales (anth 1989 UK) with Caitlin Matthews, carries RP's professional interest in the Tarot (she has published nonfiction in the field) into fiction; each contributor used OULIPO techniques to extract story ideas from a Tarot pack. From issue 64to its demise at the end of 1994 with issue 87, she wrote Doom Patrol for DC COMICS. RP's subject matter and manner are narrow in their extent,compellingly intense in their focus.
   See also: PSEUDO-SCIENCE.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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