resolved in a happy ending. Thencharacters are about as human asnthe Luftwaffe fighter planes thatnare desctibed in painstakingndetail. When not convulsingnwith grief or exulting with joy,neveryone in the novel seems intentnupon speech-making.nSchrrtidt hasTiot learned thenvalue of understatement. Thenexamination of the psychic significancenof fascism and anti-nSemitism is superficial, offeringnlittle more than cliche and stereotype.nWhile the values affirmed—faithnin God, toler­nTruth through BlabnMark Baker: Nam: The VietnamnWar in the Words of thenMen and Women who FoughtnThere; William Morrow & Co.; NewnYork.nPerceptive things have occasionallynbeen written on thenstalls of men’s rooms. Notnmany, though, and an indiscriminatencompilation of testroomngraffiti would probablynread something like the chaoticnjumble Mark Baker offers innNam. Baker’s assemblage ofnVietnam war stories, collectednthrough interviewing hundredsnof Vietnam vets, does providenthe raw material for a book, butnunfortunately the reader willnhave to write it. Baker has chosennsimply to dump his research betweenntwo boards and to call it anbook. Nam is not even a goodnsource book: there’s no indexnand no effort to organize thisnrandom collection of vignettesnbeyond clumping them intoneight groups under such discriminatingnheadings as “Victors,”n”Victims,” and “Baptismnof Fire.” He provides no identification,nnot even generic, ofnthe sources of his material, andnhe haphazardly juxtaposes thenderanged ravings of the sadisticnlunatic with the perceptive ob­n44inChronicles of Cultttrenance, commitment to duty—arenunexceptionable, the explorationnof these values is too facile tonbe illuminating. Even the plot isnweak, relying too heavily onnhairsbreadth escapes and improbablencoincidences. Afternwatching Hans’s Messerschmidtnexplode in “a ball of fire andnoblivion” in the penultimatenchapter only to learn five pagesnlater than Hans miraculouslynescaped serious injury, thenreader cannot but feel that he isndealing with a comic-strip serial.n(BC) nnservations of the conscientiousnsoldier, with nothing in betweennbut three asterisks. This, we suppose,nhe sees as a dramatic cognitivenachievement. Most of the recollectionsngathered seem to addressnsuch philosophically subtleninterview questions as, Whatnwas your most awful experiencenin the war? The answer, as Bakernsees it, consists of short, modishlyncynical blurbs at the headnof each section—and a pretentiousnpreface which arrogantlynannounces that this hash “maynbring us closer to the truth thannwe have come so far.” Yet Mr.nBaker admits that many Vietnamnvets tefused to talk withnhim. This makes sense to us. Notntoo many men bother to scrawlntheir thoughts on rest-roomnwalls. (BC) DnA Star Burns OutnRobert A. Heinlein: Friday;nHolt, Rinehart & Winston; New York.nAs it’s practiced today,nscience fiction is at least one ofnthree things. At the most basicnlevel, it is a vehicle for an adventurenstory, wherein it is not unlikena Western, war story, detectivennovel, thriller, or Tarzanntale. It can be a form in whichnthe author is able to experimentnwith the craft of fiction. In a fewnof his novels—The Sheep LooknUp, most notably—John Brunner,nfor example, uses some ofnMarshall McLuhan’s theories ofncommunication in structuringnthe works; Phillip Jose Farmernoften pays homage to JamesnJoyce and other writers in hisnadventure science fiction. Finally,nit can be a soapbox fromnwhich the author is able to criticizenhis society by extrapolatingnwhat could be from what is, ornby creating a more-ideal (Utopia)nor less-ideal (distopia) societynthat serves as a contrast to thenpresent. The third approach hasnbeen used for centuries, fromnBacon to Huxley to many ofnthose practicing science fictionntoday.nScience fiction is experiencingna certain vogue that is unusual innits histoty. This is evidencednmost clearly by the popularity ofnscience fiction-based films, suchnas the progenitor of the recentnspate, Star Wars, which has beenncorrectly criticized as nothingnmore than a refurbished horsenopera. In the 30’s and 60’s,nscience-fiction movies—evennthose now hailed as “greats,”nsuch as Forbidden Planet andnThe Day the Earth Stood Still—nrated nothing more than then”B” grade; the television shown”Star Trek” was unceremoniouslyncut from NBC’s lineupnwith protests only from approx­nnnimately the same number of loyalistsnthat most TV shows have.nSociologists, busy trying to explainnwhy this resurgence innscience fiction exists on an unparallelednscale, are puttingnforth such theories as the onenthat things are so bad in thenworld that people need to escape,nwhich can be done mostnreadily through science fiction.nWhich is nonsense. In a lessintrospectivenage, detectivenstories and films—think ofnChandler and Bogart—were acceptednsimply as forms of entertainment,nperiod. Today’snprime consumers are products ofnthe post-World War II babynboom, which means that theynwere brought up with the U.S.nspace program: how many spentnnights in pajamas on their frontnlawns looking for the Echo satellitento pass by? There should benlittle wonder that they readilynaccept science fiction.nRobert A. Heinlein is 73. Henhas been writing science fictionnfor some 40 years. This means henwas writing it when the primarynform of publication was the pulpnmagazine. Friday, although it isna novel of respectable size andnscope, is nothing more than anpulp story, gushing dust-jacketncomments from leading sciencefictionnauthors nothwithstanding—commentsnthat may simplynbe the result of venerationnfor age. Heinlein’s book (thenforty-third bearing his name) is ancombination of the first andnthird approaches stated above: itnis an adventure story and it is ancriticism of the modern world.nWhile certain authors are able toncombine the two—and it is innthis respect that Wells shines innthe science-fiction sky—here itnseems that Heinlein wasn’t ablento make up his mind whether henwanted a spy-type adventure orna propaganda tract against prejudicen(not black and white, butnnatural and artificial people,ntest-tube creations perfected).nThe consequences are sad. (GV)n