Young Adults Books

TALES FROM THE GREAT TURTLE, edited by Piers Anthony and Richard Gillam, Tor Books, c. 1994, Tom Doherty and Associates, 175 5th Avenue, NY 10010. 500 pp, afterword, author bio notes, $5.99 US paper, $6.99 Can, 0-812-53490-5

Only 9 out of 29 stories in this book of fantasy tales are by authors with some kind of Native ancestry -- in most cases, pretty remote and tenuous. Where it appears to be real, unfortunately the stories are not competitively with those of the pro writers whose tales comprise the bulk of the book, though they are on a par with the tales by non-Indian amaturs. The remainder are fantasies upon some sort of Native theme, by some well-known sci-fi and fantasy professional authors and a lot of unknowns. The book began as a project of editor Gilliam -- Anthony (who has written hundreds of fantasy and a few sci-fi books, and one reconstruction of Native life from an ancient burial mound -- top sellers, many -- was taken aboard for the recognition his name would bring. Gilliam publicized the project in tribal newsletters and journals, receiving little response. But he seems to have met and launched on a writing career Owl Goingback (whose tribe is not identified). I was interested in this book -- I'm a sci-fi and fantasy fan reader from early childhood, I hoped for a lot. Unfortunately, these are mostly tired, stilted tales (with little plot or point) heavily influenced by a mish-mash of anthro transcriptions of Native tales for children -- legends and myths. As pastiches, imitations, they lack cultural content that is gained from knowing tribal historical contexts. Though there are a handful of good stories, the amjority are not. Regrettably -- no one was more interested in this anthology than I -- I must say it is a failure. Reviewed by Paula Giese

File: ya331

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 1996 - 7:19:04 AM