SARGENT, Pamela


SARGENT, Pamela
(1948-)
   US writer and editor with an MA in classical philosophy from the State University of New York at Binghamton, where she taught for some time; she has lived with George ZEBROWSKI for many years. Although she published her first sf story, "Landed Minority", in FSF as early as 1970 - with much of her early work being assembled as Starshadows (coll 1977) - she first came to wide notice as the editor of an excellent ANTHOLOGY series comprising stories written by women about female protagonists. Though the tales assembled in Women of Wonder (anth 1975), More Women ofWonder (anth 1976) and The New Women of Wonder (anth 1978) are not all FEMINIST, the long and argued introduction to the first volume necessarily presents in feminist terms the case for a theme anthology of this sort. A further theme anthology, Bio-Futures (anth 1976), is also notable for the strength of the organizing mind behind it.At the same time PS began to publish the novels which confirmed a sense that she was one of those writers of the late 1970s and 1980s capable of making significant use of the thematic potentials of the genre; the range of themes so examined was very wide. Cloned Lives (fixup 1976) traces the lives of a number of genetically identical children brought up together, grippingly differentiating among them (CLONES). The Sudden Star (1972 NW as "Julio 204"; much exp 1979; vt The White Death 1980 UK), set mostly in apost-nuclear- HOLOCAUST Miami, examines through multiple viewpoints a world whose disintegration reflects a cogent ecological passion (ECOLOGY). In the Earthminds sequence of FAR-FUTURE sf tales for olderchildren - Watchstar (1980), Eye of the Comet (1984) and Homesmind (1985) - comet-dwelling nontelepathic descendants of humanity confront Earth'sown telepaths, whose culture is otherwise primitive; their eventual reconciliation comes after many trials. A kind of thematic pendant to this series, Earthseed (1983), carries its juvenile protagonists through a traditional rite of passage in which they escape a benevolent AI-monitored GENERATION STARSHIP (see also POCKET UNIVERSE) and earn the chance to landupon a new planet.The Golden Space (fixup 1982) examines questions of IMMORTALITY, The Alien Upstairs (1983) exposes a disheartened NEAR FUTUREfamily to the transcendental influence of the eponymous visitor, and The Shore of Women (1986) complexly subjects a traditional post-holocaustvenue to an analysis ambiguously feminist: women's dominance of science and technology has a punitive ring, and the world depicted seems less than stable. VENUS OF DREAMS (1986) and its sequel, Venus of Shadows (1988), depict the TERRAFORMING of VENUS in long-breathed epic vein; a final volume, Child of Venus, is projected. A late juvenile, Alien Child (1988), somewhat awkwardly presents the last human children with ethical questions about the future of their race as they approach adulthood in an ALIEN breeding complex which is both hospice and research institute. The Best of Pamela Sargent (coll 1987) ed Martin H. GREENBERG provides a conspectus ofher career from 1972; and "Danny Goes to Mars" (1992) won a NEBULA award for Best Novelette. Not all of PS's varied explorations can be described as fully successful, for a slight sense of cogitation sometimes causes her narrative sense to falter, and her continued interest in the permutations of human nature can seem abstract; but always a strong, serious, attentive mind can be reassuringly felt at work.
   JC
   Other works: Elvira's Zoo (1979 chap), juvenile; The Mountain Cage (1983 chap); Afterlives: Stories about Life after Death (anth 1986) ed with Ian WATSON; Ruler of the Sky (1993),associational.
   About the author: The Work of Pamela Sargent: An Annotated Bibliography \& Guide (1990 chap) by Jeffrey M. ELLIOT.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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