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SF-Related News

First of all, happy 199th birthday to what is perhaps my favorite novel and definitely the pioneering work of modern science fiction, Frankenstein! Here are five reasons to celebrate Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley today.

Also, the latest episode of StarShipSofa includes my new "Looking Back on Genre History," part one of a two-part discussion of the relationship of one of my very favorite authors, Lois McMaster Bujold, to fandom (and fan fiction, in particular). Here it is! If you listen, I hope you enjoy!

(And speaking of StarShipSofa, heartfelt thanks to those of you who have helped make Everyone: Worlds Without Walls a reality! We're most grateful to you!)

Last but not least, it seems that I've embarked on an in-depth study of the films of award-winning actor-director-writer Jiang Wen, sort of a personal (and multi-month-long) film festival that also includes reading the popular and scholarly analyses of his work that are available in English. (I've found that his films are kind of dream dining for someone who does intellectual history, though I'm having to brush up a bit on my knowledge of recent China, which, hey, is a good thing.) When that's all done, expect a report, including breakdown of his films with brief reviews/reactions. Consider yourself warned, ha!

I am still recovering from The Ick That Wouldn't Die, but I'm much better than I was. And we're expecting snow tomorrow, which makes me very happy indeed. I hope all of you are doing well, my friends!


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 11th, 2017 11:18 pm (UTC)
Off to read the link! So good that SF academics now accept what Brian Aldiss was saying all those years ago in _Billion Year Spree_ . Excellent history of SF. He did update in _Trillion Year Spree_, btw.
Mar. 12th, 2017 12:34 am (UTC)
Oh, yes! *high fives* Aldiss is one of the ones I acknowledge on the first day of class (and recommend, of course) when I teach SF. His work's been a huge influence on me.
Mar. 12th, 2017 01:29 am (UTC)
:) Great to hear! *high fives back*
Mar. 12th, 2017 05:01 am (UTC)
I don't actually agree with you about Frankenstein. Certainly it was an important early work. But an even earlier and also major work is Gulliver's Travels. It's primarily in the tradition of science-fiction-as-a-safe-language-for-social-satire, but that's a valid mode; many of Lem's works fall into it, for example. And I think it's SFnal in that Swift doesn't just handwave his giants being whatever size is impressive and narratively conventient; he make them so many feet tall, and so many times heavier than Gulliver, and tries to work out the consequences, and likewise for his other races—that is, he literalizes his tropes, in very much the way SF writers of later years do. I'd also note his crucial influence, for example, on Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau, whose denouement is remarkably like that of Gulliver's sojourn among the Huoynhms.
Mar. 12th, 2017 12:01 pm (UTC)
I definitely think Swift is an important part of the SF story. When I teach, I put Gulliver's Travels in the proto-SF category but also talk about its resonance with later, modern SF. (I love your Moreau example!)
Mar. 12th, 2017 02:39 pm (UTC)
I'm reminded that when I first bought Stranger in a Strange Land, back in the 1960s, the dust jacket compared it to three works: Gulliver's Travels, Candide, and Jurgen.
Mar. 12th, 2017 02:45 pm (UTC)
Frankenstein is a wonderful book and a real favorite of mine. I just wish they would finally make a movie about it that sticks to the actual plot!

Anyway, Happy Birthday to Mary Shelley!
Mar. 13th, 2017 11:04 pm (UTC)
I just wish they would finally make a movie about it that sticks to the actual plot!

I know what you mean! There have been so many adaptations, and all of them are unfaithful!
Mar. 17th, 2017 03:18 am (UTC)
Actually, I find it interesting that the novel tells us that the creature is brilliant and originally of good will, but is turned against humanity by the cruelty of society, whereas in the classic movies, he has a defective brain that makes him both brutish and criminal. Those two versions neatly reflect, on one hand, the theory that crime is a product of social abuses, of which William Godwin, Mary Shelley's father, was one of the pioneering advocates; and on the other hand, the theory that criminals are atavistic or otherwise biologically defective, put forth by such writers as Lombroso, which was one of the inspirations for eugenics in the period when the films were made.
Mar. 13th, 2017 07:28 pm (UTC)
Bujold? Discussed on the Sofa??? Woo! So glad I got that one on my ancient iPod. Will listen soonest.
Mar. 13th, 2017 11:05 pm (UTC)
Woot! I hope you enjoy it. The most fun part (for me) is coming up in the second half, but I hope the first works for you, too. Thanks a million for listening!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )