Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Roszak, Theodore

(1933-2011) US writer and cultural critic. His first book-length fiction was Pontifex: A Revolutionary Entertainment for the Mind's Eye Theater (1975 UK); his second, Bugs (1981; vt Bugs: A Novel of Terror in the Computer Age), is a Horror/Technofantasy/sf hybrid in which a telepathic child in fright causes literal bugs to infiltrate computer systems and then devour people. Dreamwatcher (1985) is a melodrama based on the premise that certain talented individuals have the Talent to enter, interact with and sculpt other people's Dreams. Flicker (1991) is a major novel, a complex and fascinating Technofantasy in which a movie buff, Gates, becomes fascinated by the legendary film noir director Max Castle, who vanished in the 1940s and whose movies have since become "lost classics". Gates revives the movies – including a portion of the unfinished Heart of Darkness (based on the Joseph Conrad novella) done in conjunction with Orson Welles (1915-1985) – and finds that all have a disquiet that goes beyond what is on screen. At last he discovers that Castle was making use of the "flicker" – the moment between each frame – in order to subliminally propagandize for a nihilistic, corrupting secret society. Castle disappeared when he developed qualms; Gates, getting too close to the conspiracy (> Fantasies of History), is likewise abducted by the society, discovering the aged Castle still alive on a remote Island. Although fading towards its end, Flicker is a distinguished example of the fantasy of paranoia and possibly the finest extant fantasy of the Cinema. The Recursive Fantasy The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein (1995) shared the 1996 James Tiptree Jr Award. TR's novels are difficult to classify generically; this is probably why they are not better-known within the field. [JG]

Theodore Roszak

links

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.