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ISBN:0839824106
Author: Joanna Russ
ISBN13: 978-0839824107
Title: And chaos died (The Gregg Press science fiction series)
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ePUB size: 1828 kb
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Language: English
Category: Science Fiction
Publisher: Gregg Press; First Edition edition (1978)
Pages: 189

And chaos died (The Gregg Press science fiction series) by Joanna Russ



Series: The Gregg Press science fiction series. Hardcover: 189 pages. And Chaos Died is by far not only stylistically but also thematically the most challenging science fiction work I've ever read. It takes a while to figure out the tenants of Russ' utopia let alone the actual sequence of events of the "plot" or the exact meaning of the "actions. Everything starts to come together in the last third when the Earth sequence can be compared with the utopic society.

Used availability for Joanna Russ's And Chaos Died. April 1979 : USA Mass Market Paperback.

Russ also has an MFA in playwriting from the Yale Drama School, and she is a professor of English at the University of Washington. Thus, she blends her many interests to create some of the most intriguing science fiction being written in a field that is still dominated by male authors. And chaos died The Gregg Press science fiction series.

And Chaos Died is a strange, psychedelic book that, in many ways, doesn’t age well. And Chaos Died is definitively New Wave SF, concerned as it is with psychic phenomena, mind-bending imagery, nearly impenetrable-but beautiful-prose and an experimental sensibility. It’s not an easy book; in fact, after the of The Adventures of Alyx, it feels in some ways like a book written by a completely different person.

Joanna Russ (February 22, 1937 – April 29, 2011) was an American writer, academic and radical feminist. She is the author of a number of works of science fiction, fantasy and feminist literary criticism such as How to Suppress Women's Writing, as well as a contemporary novel, On Strike Against God, and one children's book, Kittatinny. She is best known for The Female Man, a novel combining utopian fiction and satire, and the story "When It Changed".

His name was Jai Vedh; he was an Earthman  . Joanna Russ (February 22, 1937 – April 29, 2011) was an American writer, academic and feminist. She is best known for The Female Man, a novel combining utopian fiction Joanna Russ (February 22, 1937 – April 29, 2011) was an American writer, academic and feminist.

The Green Millennium (The Gregg Press science fiction series). The Green Millennium (The Gregg Press science fiction series).

And Chaos Died (1970) is a science fiction novel by American writer Joanna Russ, perhaps the genre's best-known feminist author. Its setting is a dystopian projection of modern society, in which Earth's population has continued to grow, with the effects somewhat mitigated by advanced technology. The novel was nominated for, but did not win, the 1970 Nebula Award. James Blish praised the novel, saying "The totality is impressive not only for its inventiveness and the brilliance of its technique, but because the fantastic central assumption has been used to tell you real things about the real human psyche. Modern readers have been less welcoming, though: Brit Mandelo, writing for To. om, called And Chaos Died "a strange, psychedelic book that

Alyx (Gregg Press, 1976). And Chaos Died (Ace Special, 1970). Extra(ordinary) People (St. Martin's, 1984). The Female Man (Bantam, 1975). 2003: The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn. 1996: Age of Wonders, David G. Hartwell. Alyx (Gregg Press, 1976). 1996: Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, T. A. Shippey & A. J. Sobczak. Picnic on Paradise (Ace Special, 1968). 1994: Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, Edward James. The Adventures of Alyx (Timescape, 1983). The Zanzibar Cat (Arkham House, 1983).

Four-and only four-examine individual sciencefiction writers’ works; the last three of these presuppose recent if not repeated intimacy with the texts. This book is not an introduction to its subject.

Book by Russ, Joanna
Reviews: 3
Kriau
When a book is covered with more praise than synopsis, my instinct is to stay clear--within may contain an author's convoluted playground, an experimental foray, or a psychotropic explosion. Sometimes these books, like Delany's Dhalgren (1975), border on being an anti-novel but can also inspire and offer insight where the attention to detail is synergistic of the greater nebulous plot. Luckily for Dhalgren, the greater circumstances and lesser nuances meshed wonderfully--I was enthralled, immersed, and energized. This does not describe my affair with And Chaos Died.

Rear cover synopsis:
"The contemporary masterpiece that begins with a star voyage, ends on an autumn afternoon, and alters the very shape of science fiction between."

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Jai Vedh is stranded on an uncharted planet after the destruction of the ship he was on. The rash captain joins him in the initial exploration of the eerie planet and its curious inhabitants. Jai comes to understand their psionic talents but the captain, in his self-pity and ignorance, is shut out from their mental linkages. When rescue comes, the inhabitant Evne is psionicly thrust into the ship returning to an Earth overpopulated by humans and underpopulated by plants, animals, and insects. The dire state of the Earth contrasts Evne's eden-like home planet where "nobody works, nobody does anything, everything just grows" (36).

And Chaos Died was recurrently frustrating. The crests and troughs of plot building and plot destruction is tantamount to punishment. When the reader is becoming engaged with the discovery of a new planet or old Earth, Russ donkey punches (mmm, never used that word in a review before) the reader just at the point of deeper interest; thereafter she makes a mess of the whole debacle with rants of unpredictable violence and psychotropic dalliances. I can appreciate contrast but this was ridiculous. The words of praise from Robert Silverberg, "A work of awesome originality!" ring true... it's certainly original but it's as unpalatable as a durian fruit: enveloped in the taste but smacked by the odor.

Fritz Leiber praised, "A stunning achievement," but after reading the 183 pages, the only achievement produced was ending the entire kerfuffle altogether. As with Dhalgren, there actually ARE greater circumstances which render the reader in awe, but when Russ turns mean, the delicate nuances are barbed with vindictiveness. Delany's aimlessness and prose heightened Dhalgren's nebulousness, but Russ doesn't have the finesse or courtesy (?) to allow the dichotomous writing to work for her or her novel.

I mention Delany again because he offered more words of praise: "...a spectacular experience to undergo." I'd prefer to misquote this as "a[n]... experience to undergo," like that of suturing a lacerated upper lip. There's the two-faced experience of Russ's delicate world building then her wanton destruction of sense, a backhanded flinch empowering chaos. If chaos died, it must have been when "the ship exploded" (4) because chaos was then reincarnated in the form of the psi-phenomena.

But not all is chaos. Russ does actually play the psi card very well. I'm typically not a psi in sci-fi fan, but Russ pushed the envelope when she took it upon herself to write a clever psi novel:

"It's hard to distinguish from feelings and fantasies [...] it's direct perception of mass. If mass is energy, that means everything [...] There's no inside there's no outside. Mass affects space-time instantaneously and at a distance. This is all instantaneously and at a distance" (66-67).

Further:

"[...] if you can control heat you can control motion, if you control motion you can control mass, that the control of mass means the control of energy, and that both mean the control of gravity" (140).

With this stretch of logic in psi-control, the ability to not only manipulate minds becomes possible but also the manipulation of macro- and micro-scale matter, inertia, and space itself. I like the way this is implemented, but it becomes hard to "distinguish from feelings and fantasies," I'm lost in Russ's purple haze and pink elephants. When the characters are unable to distinguish from reality and fantasy, the reader is left to the random acts of violence to interpret the shades of gray between the two.

If another reader is more tolerant of chaotic swings between plot building and plot destruction, between psi control and psi chaos, and between intention and impulse... then perhaps you'd agree with the words of praise by Silverberg, Leiber, and Delany. Treat the praise as highfalutin backslapping amongst authors.
Daigrel
Psychological sci-fi short novel, inspired by a Chuang Tzu parable about Chaos and the five senses of human perception. A spacer from a doomed spacecraft crash lands among humans who have the gift of ESP which he is forced to accept and develop. He and his female tutor/mentor/lover return to Earth civilization where he struggles to reconcile his reality and his newfound ESP ability. Wildly hallucinogenic, this book reads like an acid trip, jumping from abstract reflection into dialogue and back, seemingly at random. Strange but thoughtful. An unusual novel that is frustrating and confusing at points but is written very well and stands above the usual action-adventure sci-fi of the day (circa 1970).
Ffan
Nominated for the 1970 Nebula Award for Best Novel

Joanna Russ, famous for her feminist sci-fi novel The Female Man (1975), weaves together a bizarre (and difficult) novel filled with strange images, peculiar characters, and a fragmented/layered/bewildering narrative structure. And Chaos Died (1970) is a startlingly original take on the staple sci-fi themes of telepathy and overpopulation.

This novel deserves be read (and re-read)! A lost classic...

But be warned And Chaos Died is a challenging (and occasionally baffling) experience/trip/stream of conscious hallucination. I echo Fritz Leiber's praise, And Chaos Died "explores more fully than I have ever seen done what telepathy and clairvoyance would actually feel like." If that is possible to gauge...

Brief Plot Summary ("plot" might not be the right word...)

The "plot" crops its little head every now and then in a few moments of straightforward prose. Pay special attention to the few pages before Jai Vedh gains his telepathic abilities and one hundred pages (pg 105-107) later to Evne's interrogation on the spaceship which summarizes a few salient points.

The last third, when Jai Vedh arrives on the overpopulated Earth, is also much more "straightforward." However, getting from the first point to the second point will require a dedicated reader -- and most likely, a reread. And a peek at Samuel R. Delany's review available online...

Jai Vedh, an intensely troubled individual, crashes (along with the captain of the the spaceship) on a planet with a lost colony of humans who have developed extraordinary skills including telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation. Their social system and stages of human development are highly unusual -- children talk like adults, adults refrain from verbal communication, they have no families/professions/or ranks, and wander around telepathically "communing" with rocks and birds and leaves and each other...

In short, humanity has completely reorganized its goals and entered a vaguely transcendent state -- a "spiritual" state? Here Jai Vedh meets a woman by the name Evne who "teaches" him her people's ways -- a section characterized by long passages of cryptic/beautiful images.

Eventually Jai Vedh is "rescued" by a spaceship which returns him to the diametrically opposed society of the overpopulated Earth. Evne, after interrogation by the ship's officers, flees/teleports from the spaceship to Earth. Jai follows after her. Russ at her most straightforward:

"[...] the human race slipped more and more under the sea along the continental shelf of the Atlantic; thickly settled three hundred, four hundred, even five hundred feet down, and further out the "floating cities," though few of these, and a prodigal scattering all the way across of ore-sweeps, floating refineries, and food manufactories. To the computers on the Moon the dawn-line revealed only more of the same and the sunset-line concealed more of the same; up to the altitude of twenty thousand feet people lived, died, bred, and analyzed themselves [...]" (123)

Humans living in this overpopulated world have lost their individuality and live in a state of oppression (mental, physical, governmental) -- meaning is gained (somewhat) by unusual acts of violence -- vending machines dispense weapons.

Jai Vedh wanders aimlessly with a young man named Ivat across this disturbed/drugged landscape inhabited by humanity drained of sensation:

"[Jai] wondered why the crowd-mind is so flat, drug-bound, silence, individuality is all lost, found he could not tune out either the silence or the blast of sound, an unpleasant business of tearing his brain to pieces, falls over a couple in continuous orgasm, a drug thing, lasts hours and hours until the nervous system is used up (he's heard about it,) clutches at his groin, and thinks [...]" (162)

A world consumed by violent desires...

"In the nearest house a young lady, taking off her clothes, steps with a wink into boiling sulphur and lasciviously dies; this is a fantasy and what is really happening is that some dozen people are pulling down the walls and feeding them to a fire; when they finish the'll have nothing else to do" (162).

Final Thoughts

And Chaos Died is by far not only stylistically but also thematically the most challenging science fiction work I've ever read. It takes a while to figure out the tenants of Russ' utopia let alone the actual sequence of events of the "plot" or the exact meaning of the "actions." Everything starts to come together in the last third when the Earth sequence can be compared with the utopic society.

The persistant reader will be deeply rewarded... And Chaos Died explores the social ramifications of overpopulation, loss of individuality, de-sensitivity towards violence, etc. I'm still peeling away the layers.

This is social science fiction close to its best.

What an experience!