Visions of Paradise

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Why Science Fiction?

From my teens through my forties the vast majority of my reading was science fiction, occupying anywhere from 80% to 95% of my reading time. Somewhere during the 1980s my reading passed beyond the pleasure stage into the realm of obsession. I bought dozens of books and prozines that I considered required reading for any serious student of science fiction, and my pile of unread books grew accordingly. So I read three science fiction books per month minimum. Four prozines regularly. Best of the Year anthologies. I don't think it ever entered my head that what had begun as a pleasant hobby twenty years previous had become a chore. Did I still enjoy science fiction? Yes. Did I enjoy reading all the science fiction I did? Often not.

In the meantime, I began buying a fair amount of non-SF, particularly in the early 90s when my reading taste began expanding considerably. I bought everything from historical fiction to literature to various types of nonfiction. How much of it did I actually read? Well, not much.

Inevitably, my overdosing on f&sf led to burnout sometime around 1995. So I cut back on my reading of science fiction. No more required reading. I let all my prozine subscriptions expire. My reading of science fiction decreased considerably, soon reaching the point when I could not read science fiction at all. Whenever I picked up a science fiction book I immediately became bored. Other books were calling to me, many of which had been sitting patiently on my bookshelf for several years and whose patience had worn thin. It was beginning to look as if thirty years of science fiction reading had burnt me out entirely. I was on the verge of joining the ranks of many other devoted fans who loved the genre as youngsters, but who gradually drifted away as adults. I was just much slower maturing than other fans.

And yet, as one year passed into another, I found myself drifting back to science fiction again. Certainly nothing like my former obsession. Perhaps half my reading was science fiction, the other half either historical fiction or nonfiction. No prozines. But still SF was becoming important to me again, and the fact that I was reading it by choice and once again for pleasure made it seem almost as exciting as it had been thirty years ago.

So the question I asked myself was: why science fiction? The other genres I have begun reading contained aspects which also excite me. Historical fiction is especially fascinating, particularly when the story is so integrated with the milieu of the period itself that I come away feeling like I've been immersed in a different culture. Non-fiction can be equally exciting. Straight history is probably my favorite type of nonfiction, but I also enjoy studies of other cultures. Books such as Italian Days, in which second-generation Italian-American Barbara Grizzuti Harrison spent several months living in her ancestral homeland discovering her lost heritage. Since I happen to be a second-generation Italian-American who has never visited Italy, this book was a vicarious experience that really speaks to me.

Chinese culture is a particular favorite of mine. I've read numerous works of fiction, both classics (Journey to the South, Orphans of the Marsh, Story of the Stone) and contemporary (Red Sorghum, The Garlic Ballads), historical nonfiction (Wild Swans), and straight history book (The Good Man of Nanking, China: From the Long March to Tiananmen Square).

But still, with all these exciting books I’ve read, their pleasure cannot replace the enjoyment I get from science fiction. Hence, the mathematician in me assumes there must be some logical reason why one particular genre beckons me so strongly. So I analyzed the specific ingredients I look for in a work of fiction:

• The story must be character-driven. That is far more important to me than stories which are exclusively about the plot (such as a mystery or a thriller tend to be). That is true for science fiction as well, since I shy away from SF that is basically about science (hard-science stories) or most space operas. I am interested in human emotions, human concerns, human drives and failings.

• I prefer stories that are not set in the real world. I live in the real world twenty-four hours a day. Objectively, it has a lot of good points, such as a long lifespan, reasonably high health standards, and a general level of comfort far above that of most other cultures. But that's a rational opinion. Emotionally I love other cultures, the more exotic the better, whether they are fictional worlds set far away in time and space, or historical worlds far different from ours, or even contemporary cultures so far removed from 1995 America as to virtually be alien worlds themselves.

• I want fiction that is thought-provoking. Mindless plots that don't spark the thinking side of me at all ultimately bore me. There should be some food for thought in fiction, whether it makes me think about the characters themselves, or their society, or about some historical development far removed from routine daily life.

• I love sense of wonder, that *gosh wow* feeling that I get from settings or ideas or creations so unexpected and so far removed from my mundane world that they make me feel like a teenager again discovering science fiction for the first time.

Trying to find fiction that satisfies all four of the above criteria is not necessarily easy. Good fiction satisfies two of them. Great fiction satisfies three. An occasional masterpiece satisfies all four. For me at least, the best science fiction incorporates more of the four criteria than other types of fiction. Of course, I am knowledgeable enough in the genre not to be a victim of Sturgeon's Law. I keep up on favorite authors and book reviews sufficiently to eliminate most of the chaff before I ever buy a book. That's not true in other genres where I am much less knowledgeable. Thus I am much more likely to be satisfied with a science fiction novel that I pick up at random than I am with a work from some other genre.

But I doubt if my preference for science fiction is merely a matter of convenience. Quite frequently I find other fiction that satisfies three criteria to my satisfaction, yet still I keep returning to SF. Nor is my love of science fiction mere escapism from a real world I disliked forty years ago. I rather like the real world I inhabit at this moment more than at any time in the past, and hope I can remain part of it for another three decades at least.

I guess the bottom line is that science fiction is a part of me. With all its warts and weaknesses, it's still my favorite reading genre. It has given me forty years of enjoyment so far, so it must have something going for it. I can only assume that my reading will continue to be dominated by science fiction for many years to come, and that is just fine with me.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Catholics and Communists

Several times in the past I've read quotes stating that Communist governments learned how to manipulate their citizens by imitating the Catholic Church. Such comments generally annoyed me, since they seemed like typical anti-Catholic rhetoric which is one of the few bigotries which is acceptable in this politically-correct country of ours.

But in the past decade I've read several books about the People's Republic of China and, as a result, I've learned a lot more about the Chinese brand of communism than I knew previously. Of particular interest was the book Wild Swans in which author Jung Chang discussed how it was growing up and being educated in the Communist Chinese system. What amazed me about her childhood memories was how familiar some of them seemed.

One of the basic tenets of Chinese communism is the government's attempt to control its citizen's thoughts. Anti-revolutionary thoughts were forbidden, and anybody showing evidence of them was at least ostracized, often punished. I attended Catholic grammar school for nine years, and Catholic high school for another four years, and we were drilled repeatedly with the need to only have pure thoughts. Any thoughts contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church were sins, frequently mortal sins which could condemn the unfortunate thinker to eternal damnation. Remember Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's property and Thou shall not covet that neighbor's wife? As a youngster, I can recall going through periods when I could not control my thoughts as well as I was brainwashed into doing.

All right, you say, but at least the Catholic Church does not physically punish anybody who reveals unclean thoughts like the Communists do. That is true in the modern era since the Catholic Church has lost most of the temporal authority it enjoyed prior to the Renaissance. Previously the Catholic Church had no qualms about punishing those whose thoughts were dangerous and blasphemous. Remember the Inquisition? What was that but an attempt to force all Europeans' thinking in line with the approved tenets of the Catholic Church? And how many heresies were stamped out by military force in the centuries following the death of Christ?

Another facet of Chinese communism that struck a familiar chord was the practice of self-criticism. By this, anybody who had erred against the Revolution was required to make a public confession of their wrong thoughts or actions. In many cases, only the people making the self-criticisms knew how they had erred. They were required to examine their conscience and determine their own faults. How much different is this than the Catholic practice of going to Confession? True, the self-criticisms are public, while Confession is private, but everybody attending Confession can see each person as they exit the Confessional kneel down and perform their penance. The longer the penance, obviously the more serious that person's sins. In pre-Renaissance days, penances for serious sins were often performed publicly for all to see so that they amounted to public confessions, or self-criticisms!

The author of Wild Swans made it apparent that in the Communist system the government attempted to brainwash all students into accepting Communist policy wholeheartedly: the Communist party was the most important part of those children's lives, more important than family and friends, and the children should devote their lives to pleasing Chairman Mao and serving the revolution. In school, I was taught (and, in fact, the Catholic Church still preaches) that God is the most important part of our lives, more important than family and friends, and that we should devote our lives to serving God and Holy Mother Church. Nor was this just some abstract tenet we were taught: it was drummed into our heads day after day, year after year, until to believe otherwise was as foreign to us as not worshipping Chairman Mao was foreign to Jung Chang. By eighth grade I was convinced there was no higher calling than the priesthood, and most of my family believed that was the career that I would ultimately choose.

There are other similarities between the Chinese Communist party and the Catholic Church. One of the tenets of Chinese Communism that causes the most universal disapproval was the requirement that all schoolchildren memorize and recite the Quotations of Chairman Mao. I did not find that particularly unusual at all. All during grammar school I was required to memorize and recite the Baltimore Catechism: Who made me? God made me. Who is God? God is the supreme being who created all things. I still remember parts of it.

Any Catholic who received the sacrament of Confirmation must recall the agony we all went through memorizing the Catechism faithfully prior to Confirmation. Our big fear was the Bishop coming to our Church to question us about the tenets of Catholicism. Anybody who failed to answer the Bishop's questions adequately would be immediately expelled from the Confirmation and humiliated in front of all their family and friends. So believe me, my classmates and I studied that catechism well. My parents quizzed me nightly until I was confident I would not be humiliated by the Bishop.

There are other similarities. How much different is the Catholic Church's Cult of the Virgin Mary from Communist China's Cult of Chairman Mao? An argument could be made that the Crusades were the Catholic version of China's Cultural Revolution.

Of course, I had one advantage being a Catholic rather than a citizen of Communist China: since the Catholic Church lost most of its temporal authority during the Renaissance, anybody who resists their brainwashing in modern times is free to walk away without fear of reprisal. Twelve hundred million Chinese don't have that option. Hopefully, someday they will be free of their repressive government. And for the sake of my Chinese friends and their families, hopefully that change will occur sooner rather than later, and as relatively free of violence as the manner in which the Catholic Church ultimately lost its authority.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Wages of Guilt

One of the first tasks we did when we were organizing the Princeton Nanking Conference nearly a decade ago was to establish a network of scholars in that field. Fei Fei and her co-chair Ying spoke to several experts in the Princeton Asian Studies Department–such as Perry Link and Richard Falk–and then contacted other scholars recommended by them who recommended other names, and so on. The scholars receiving the most recommendations generally became our invited participants, so long as they covered a wide spectrum of areas so we would not have repetition in our talks and panel discussions.

One of the most highly-recommended names was Ian Buruma, a Swiss scholar and author living in England. However, we were told he was much too important to come speak at our conference for the meager honoraria we were paying. One thing you must understand about Fei Fei is that she has absolutely no fear of anybody; she respects scholars for their achievement, but she considers them ordinary people no different than anybody else.

So after much discussion and consideration, we decided Buruma should be our keynote speaker. At first we could not even contact him, but only his New York City-based American agent. She was very protective of him, doing all the negotiating herself, giving us neither his address nor his phone number. She demanded an incredible amount of money from us, including business-class travel from London–which itself would have put a serious dent in our budget since then we would have been obligated to pay business-class as well for our three speakers flying from Japan. For awhile it looked as if we would have to seek elsewhere for a keynote speaker.

But somehow Fei Fei found Ian Buruma’s email address and she and I began corresponding with him personally. He gave her his phone number and she had a long, friendly conversation with him. The eventual result was that he was much more amenable to speaking at Princeton than his agent was, and he agreed to come for a much lower honorarium and tourist-class accommodations.

What a fortunate acquisition he was. Buruma was a wonderful speaker, giving an insightful and thought-provoking talk on how dangerous it is to dwell on an historic event as an evil symbol so that one loses sight of the need for healing and preventing future such events. It was exactly the theme we were hoping to base the conference on. It was a logical and thought-provoking talk that approached history as a guide for the future rather than merely as a dwelling on the past.

Buruma himself was just as brilliant as his keynote speech was. I will never forget the night Fei Fei and I and several other committee members sat and chatted with him at a Princeton coffeeshop. His insight was incredible and he sparked so much thought with casual comments that we were virtually in awe of his intellect.

Much of Buruma’s fame in the area of Nanking came from his book The Wages of Guilt, and I determined to read it as soon as I had a chance. The book is a joint examination at how the German and Japanese people and governments have reacted during the past fifty years to their countries’ horrendous crimes during World War II. His book is as brilliant and insightful as the author himself, and it contains such excellent writing and language that it could have been a novel.

To give you some idea of the book, I’d like to quote from a chapter entitled “Auschwitz” in which he discusses the memory of the Holocaust in the German people and the effect it has on the populace, both those who lived through the Nazi years and those born since. While he was visiting Auschwitz himself, Buruma encountered a group of German tourists, mostly people in their fifties and sixties. They would have been teenagers during the war. A Polish woman in her thirties was guiding them. The photographs spoke for themselves. Yet the guide quietly explained in fluent German what people were seeing: giggling soldiers watching elderly rabbis crawling on their knees, Himmler peering through an eyehole to inspect the efficacy of the gas chambers, children driven through the ghetto with rifle butts, bony corpses piled high. The tourists looked stricken as they silently shuffled from one outrage to the next. Suddenly one of them became agitated. She was a woman of about sixty, in a green hat, a beige twin set, and thick brown shoes. She went up to the guide and clutched her arm: “You must understand,” she said, “We knew nothing about this, wir haben nichts gewusst...” The guide looked at the woman and said, quietly and contemptuously: “I’m, sorry, but I cannot believe you. I honestly cannot believe you.”

In the chapter entitled “Hiroshima” you quickly realize there has been an important difference between the German postwar attitude towards World War II and the Japanese attitude. In Germany, while many citizens have failed to totally come to grips emotionally with the enormity of what took place, their overall attitude is one of national and even individual guilt. In Japan, reactions are much more varied, and not necessarily guilt-ridden. The fact that the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan has allowed many Japanese people to honestly believe that they were the victims in World War II, that the entire war was due to Japan merely defending itself against racist whites wishing to destroy them. Buruma examines varying Japanese attitudes towards the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, many of them so extreme as to be ludicrous. He dismisses many arguments with a single, telling phrase, but ends the section by stating, Again, such opinions are extreme. But, judging from what appears in Japanese periodicals and on best-seller lists, not that far from the mainstream.

The section entitled “Nanking” serves as an interesting counterbalance to “Hiroshima”. Buruma spends considerable time in the company of Azuma Shirro a Japanese soldier in Nanking in the winter of 1937 who in 1987 went public with the atrocities he had both seen and participated in. His revelations are shocking indeed, as is the reaction of the Japanese people to his decision to reveal those truths. It is a much more disturbing reaction than that of most German people when confronted with the crimes of their countrymen.

What is interesting about this section, indeed about all three of these sections, is that Buruma never loses his factually-based logic in spite of the most potentially emotionally-charged topics. He is always calm, always probing for the truth beneath layers of emotion and ignorance. Ultimately his calm and thought-provoking comments leave you with much more of a lasting impression than mere emotionalism possibly could. In some instances, comments are hardly necessary, such as when he discusses how many Japanese know nothing of their country’s atrocities throughout Asia during the fifteen year period their Asian war raged, and in fact consider themselves to be both the heroes and the victims of that war. Consider the following quote: The revisionists argue that the war was in fact a tragic and indeed noble struggle for national survival and the liberation of Asia from Western colonialism. “As long as the British and the Americans continued to be oppressors in Asia,” wrote a revisionist historian named Hasegawa Michiko, who was born in 1945, “confrontation with Japan was inevitable. We did not fight for Japan alone. Our aim was to fight a Greater East Asia War.”

Which leads naturally into two sections entitled “Textbook Resistance” and “ Memorials, Museums and Monuments” where the book becomes very unsettling, even frightening. We westerners have always comforted ourselves with the thought that the German government has gone to great efforts to admit German’s war crimes and apologize for them profusely. But Buruma points out quite vividly that fact only represented the West German government. For decades the East German communist government went to great lengths to portray its populace during World War II as socialists who fought against the Nazis, often to great personal suffering. Several generations of East Germans grew up indoctrinated into believing that they had nothing to feel ashamed for as a group because they had never supported the Nazis at any time. But now that the Communists have been removed from power in the East, East German youth are free of their dictatorial control. So where do they turn their allegiance? Surely not to the democracies of the west, because they are still victims of a lifetime of anti-western anti-democratic rhetoric. Instead many youths are turning their allegiance to the past–to the Nazis!

The situation in Japan is as scary. One former Japanese Minister of Education told Buruma that there were no shameful episodes in modern Japanese history, an easily-accepted belief since Japanese textbooks have never taught the atrocities committed by the Japanese army. While West German education requires an average of 60 hours of teaching the history of the Nazi era–all of it with the goal of exposing the sins of the past–Japanese textbooks have always been carefully controlled by the government so as not to contain any information which might be embarrassing to Japan in any way. Buruma spends considerable time discussing Ienaga Saburo, an author of Japanese textbooks beginning in 1952 when the new Japanese constitution forbade the government to censor or control textbooks. Of course, by 1952, the American occupation was over, and the government was free to interpret the American-imposed constitution as it saw fit. Ienaga sued the government numerous times for their violations of the constitution but, except for one brief victory in 1970, he has lost every lawsuit in the past quarter-century.

The Wages of Guilt is a thought-provoking, educational, emotional, frightening book. Anybody who wonders why atrocities continue to happen worldwide, how populaces can permit their governments to wholesale slaughter entire groups or even support such atrocities, should read this book. It is an incredible reading experience.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Modern Classic Short Novels of SF

It’s been said dozens, if not hundreds, of times that the novella is the ideal form for a science fiction story. Gardner Dozois said it himself in his 1994 anthology Modern Classic Short Novels of SF. I quote: the novella is a perfect length for a science fiction story: long enough to enable you to flesh out the details of a strange alien world or a bizarre future society, to give such a setting some depth, complexity, and heft...and yet, still short enough for the story to pack a real punch, some power and elegance and bite, unblunted and unobscured by padding. Whether that is true or not is irrelevant; what matters is that I enjoy reading novellas more than any other sfnal length. That’s why my bookshelf is packed with collections of novellas, including this one by Dozois. It contains 13 novellas originally published between 1958 (Jack Vance’s The Miracle Workers) and 1991 (Nancy Kress’ And Wild for to Hold). The volume is not intended to be definitive since Dozois deliberately limited his selections by era, by not being too famous as to be available in countless other anthologies, and finally, in his own words again, selected on the appalling naïve basis that I liked them.

Whatever Dozois’ intent, it is my opinion that he is the finest editor of the modern era, so that an anthology of stories appealing to him is most likely going to appeal to me as well. And it did indeed. Dozois seemed slightly bemused that The Miracle Workers was Jack Vance’s only published story from Astounding that qualified as full-throated Vancian Future Baroque. What’s not surprising though is that the story was accepted by John W. Campbell, Jr. for publication. It is set in a futuristic world where magic has been formalized and serves as the foundation of the world’s culture. However, magic is proving inadequate in protecting a feudal keep against invasion from another more powerful keep and defeat seems inevitable. So it is not at all surprising that a seemingly minor character in the story–an apprentice jinxman, that is, expert in magic–has been dabbling in obviously useless remnants of ancient, discarded science. Precisely because this story was published in Astounding it is obvious very early on that science will ultimately supercede magic, thus draining the story’s conclusion of most of its power. But still it is an entertaining story worthy of the Vance byline.

The Longest Voyage was Poul Anderson’s first Hugo winner and many fans, Dozois apparently among them, consider it one of his very finest works. It concerns a world with a late medieval / early Renaissance culture in which a spaceman crash-lands in the midst of a warlike nation and is unable to make simple repairs on his spacecraft and return home. The story is told from the point of view of a representative from a less-warlike nation who accidentally discovers the existence of the spaceman. The conflicts which ensue are both fascinating and thought-provoking, as is the story’s quite unexpected denouement. While I disagree totally with the final actions of the main character–who until that point was the hero of the story–that in no way weakens the impact of the ending. This is as fine a first contact story as has ever been published in the SF genre.

The Star Pit was Samuel R. Delany’s first published piece of short fiction, appearing in February, 1967, shortly before he stunned the SF world by winning the Nebula Award for his only slightly-longer novel Babel-17. Fans of mid-1980s cyberpunk reading this novella for the first time would be amazed at how all the roots of that two-decades-later sub-genre were present in top-notch form, the only exception being the computers themselves. The Star Pit is a tale of loneliness and difference, about workers on planets which serve as docking ports for starships, none of whom will ever travel in the ships themselves since normal humans go insane and die at extreme distances from the galactic core. Only a relatively small number of people possess the emotional makeup which enable them to undergo extra-galactic travel, people called goldens who are automatically the envy of normal people trapped within our own Milky Way. But part of the reason goldens survive such extreme distances also causes them to be emotionally unstable as well. The Star Pit examines those workers who have accepted their fate at the edge of the galaxy and those who still learn to travel beyond, blending its analysis with the tale of one particular golden’s dealings with those workers. It’s a powerful story indeed, showing Delany at his peak form in his first published short fiction ever! Rereading it after thirty years, I cannot help wish Delany would write more fiction in his midlife during which he has seemingly been content to teach writing rather than practice it himself.

Perhaps the most powerful story in the book is Brian W. Aldiss’ Total Environment, the story of a scientific experiment in which 2500 Indians are voluntarily locked into a self-contained unit in which they are offered total freedom from the squalor and danger which has gripped the future Indian subcontinent. In the decades following their self-imprisonment they breed a seemingly new race of beings who mature much faster than people on the outside, breed faster, but who also die considerably younger. At the time of the story, 75,000 people are crowded into the structure in a society which both mirrors outside life but is considerably different from it at the same time. The majority of inhabitants are babies and those who would be children on the outside but who function as full adults inside. Among their numbers are holy men and local dictators, including one teenaged dictator who controls the top level of the structure totally, but unlike similar dictators inside, he shows absolutely no interest in extending his control to other levels. Rather, his pre-occupation is with life outside the structure, so when an outside spy falls into his hands, it sets into play a series of events both thrilling and thoughtful. This is an amazing story that absolutely cries out for expansion to novel form but, alas, since thirty years have passed without Aldiss showing any interest in doing so, we must be content with the perfect little jewel we have here.

And the novellas go on. Gene Wolfe’s The Death of Doctor Island; Kate Wilhelm’s Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, which became the basis of the Hugo-winning novel of the same name; Joanna Russ’ wonderful historical fantasy Souls; Lucius Shepard’s chilling A Traveler’s Tale; and five others nearly as good. I recommend this anthology quite highly to all SF fans. Science fiction doesn’t get any better than this!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Book and Album of the Year

It is time for me to make my annual selections for the favorite book and album of the past year. There are no restrictions here as to date of publication/release, only the best that I read or heard for the first time in the previous calendar year.

The best book I read all year was easy, and it was the first book I read last January: The Etched City, by K. J. Bishop. What a fabulous book it was, reminiscent of China Mieville’s Perdito Street Station in its evocation of a strange new world. As I said in my review of it on 2/27/05, if I were to list all the aspects of the “perfect” novel as I see it, The Etched City contains all of them in varying degrees. It is the type of novel which comes along too infrequently, and which I recommend wholeheartedly.

If I had to select a runner-up for the honor, it would probably be Jack McDevitt’s Polaris, a fabulous combination of future history and mystery.

For a listing of all my Books-of-the-Year, go back to my 2/13/05 blog.

My favorite album was Green Day’s American Idiot, a well-constructed concept album from a band which started out as a simple, but talented, punk band and have evolved into perhaps the finest rock band in America without losing any of their enthusiasm.

Runner-up here would be Richard Thompson’s Live from Austin, TX. He is perhaps the most consistent singer-songwriter in my pantheon, and this live set demonstrates all of his strengths.

Here is a listing of all my Albums-of-the-Year.

Year / Album / Artist
1967 / Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band / The Beatles
1968 / Bookends / Simon and Garfunkel
1969 / To Our Children’s Children’s Children / The Moody Blues
1970 / Bridge Over Troubled Water / Simon and Garfunkel
1971 / The Yes Album / Yes
1972 / The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust / David Bowie
1973 / The Dark Side of the Moon / Pink Floyd
1974 / Preservation Act 2 / The Kinks
1975 / Born to Run / Bruce Springsteen
1976 / Turnnstiles / Billy Joel
1977 / Bat Out of Hell / Meat Loaf
1978 / Darkness on The Edge of Town / Bruce Springsteen
1979 / Damn the Torpedoes / Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
1980 / The River / Bruce Springsteen
1981 / Long Distance Voyager / The Moody Blues
1982 / Night and Day / Joe Jackson
1983 / The Present / The Moody Blues
1984 / Man on the Line / Chris de Burgh
1985 / Songs from the Big Chair / Tears for Fears
1986 / Graceland / Paul Simon
1987 / The Joshua Tree / U2
1988 / Volume One / The Traveling Wilburys
1989 / Full Moon Fever / Tom Petty
1990 / Stolen Moments / John Hiatt
1991 / Places I Have Never Seen / Willie Nile
1992 / Automatic for the People / R.E.M.
1993 / Get a Grip / Aerosmith
1994 / This Way Up / Chris De Burgh
1995 / Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness / The Smashing Pumpkins
1996 / Load / Metallica
1997 / Ixnay on the Ombray / The Offspring
1998 / The Philosopher’s Stone / Van Morrison
1999 / Quiet Revolution / Chris de Burgh
2000 / All That You Leave Behind / U2
2001 / Love and Theft / Bob Dylan
2002 / Young, Guitar Days / Steve Forbert
2003 / The Old Kit Bag / Richard Thompson
2004 / Cropedy / Fairport Convention
2005 / American Idiot / Green Day