shawna mccarthy created a space of her own

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TWENTY ODD YEARS AGO, I was turned on to Glimpses, a novel by Lewis Shiner. I’d never heard of the au­thor but as I don’t keep up with much of any­thing any­more (it’s the old age thing), that wasn’t sur­prising. Be­cause of the source of the rec­om­men­da­tion, I read the book and thought it might be an Amer­i­can­ized form of “mag­ical re­alism.” READ MORE

on writing about knights and jousting with darragh metzger

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THE TRAILER for the 2001 movie A Knight’s Tale did not im­press us, but four­teen years later a friend brought the DVD over so we were obliged to sit through it. The star, Heath Ledger, had im­pressed us in his tour de force as the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008). With the silly trailer still in our minds, we sat back and watched. READ MORE

on poul anderson’s brain wave

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I FOUND MY AGING COPY of Poul An­der­son’s Brain Wave when I dis­cov­ered Joachim Boaz’s site Sci­ence Fic­tion and Other Sus­pect Ru­mi­na­tions. I read Joachim’s take on Poul An­der­son’s novel—he con­sid­ered it “vaguely good”—and the com­ments sub­mitted by his readers and I dis­agreed with cer­tain ob­ser­va­tions of theirs. So, I want to ad­dress a few of those is­sues here on my site. READ MORE

yet more on science fiction and fantasy (is this modern science fiction part 6?)

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I JUST HAD A ‘WHAT A COINCIDENCE’ MOMENT! They are not all that dis­sim­ilar from deja vu mo­ments, ex­cept the some­times slightly scary feeling that ac­com­pa­nies the latter is rarely part of the former. When co­in­ci­dence oc­curs to me, I am usu­ally de­lighted, rarely fright­ened into be­lieving some form of pre-determinism, as deja vu can do. But, first we deal with co­in­ci­dence …

Ac­cording to Merriam-Webster On­line, a co­in­ci­dence as “the oc­cur­rence of events that happen at the same time by ac­ci­dent but seem to have some con­nec­tion.” That’s READ MORE

modern science fiction and the gimme part 5 – on modern fantasy and the gimme

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IF I SAID that all ‘modern’ fan­tasy can be traced to one au­thor and one story, J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord Of The Rings, few would argue. While afi­cionados and his­to­rians can make ar­gu­ments for the in­flu­ence of Lord Dun­sany, James Branch Ca­bell, and others, al­most all the well-known fan­tasy ti­tles of the past four decades can be traced to the tales of the Bilbo and Frodo Bag­gins and the One Ring. READ MORE

modern science fiction and the gimme part 4 – on various genres and the gimme

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THIS IS THE FOURTH of five es­says (all ti­tled “modern sci­ence fic­tion and the gimme part 4” or 3 or 1) ad­dressing as­pects of the ac­knowl­edged “laws” of plot­ting and story-telling in modern sci­ence fic­tion. It is not nec­es­sary to have read the first two parts to un­der­stand this part. Here are a few very brief, easy-to-understand de­f­i­n­i­tions that de­lin­eate the pri­mary dif­fer­ences be­tween sev­eral types of fan­tas­tical lit­er­a­ture and how the use of the gimme varies. READ MORE

modern science fiction and the gimme part 3

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I CAME OF AGE as a reader of sci­ence fic­tion in the late 1960s and early ’70s. My ex­po­sure to what was hap­pening in sci­ence fic­tion was lim­ited, as I was never in­volved in any or­ga­nized fandom. For me, the early ’70s were spent turning on tuning in drop­ping out, protesting the war, ex­panding my con­scious­ness, and dis­cov­ering the dif­fer­ence be­tween girls and women. READ MORE

modern science fiction and the gimme part 2 – on the rule of the gimme

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ALL FANTASTICAL LITERATURE de­pends on a state of being known as the ‘willful sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief.’ That is, the reader en­ters the story pre­pared to toss all skep­ti­cism aside for the sake of the story! This term was coined by Samuel Taylor Co­leridge in 1817 in his Bi­ographia lit­er­aria (or ‘bi­o­graph­ical sketches of my lit­erary life’) and opin­ions he wrote:

“In this idea orig­i­nated the plan of the Lyrical Bal­lads; in which it was agreed, that my en­deav­ours should be di­rected to per­sons and char­ac­ters su­per­nat­ural, or at least ro­mantic, yet so as to transfer from our in­ward na­ture a human in­terest and a sem­blance of truth suf­fi­cient to pro­cure for these shadows of imag­i­na­tion that willing sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief for the mo­ment, which con­sti­tutes po­etic faith.” READ MORE

modern science fiction and the gimme part 1 – on certain laws of science fiction

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THIS IS THE FIRST OF FIVE in­ter­con­nected es­says on ‘modern’ sci­ence fic­tion and fan­tasy. They are in­tended to be read as a piece when all five are posted over the next week. This essay started off as an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into two as­pects of sci­ence fic­tion based on MY mem­o­ries con­cerning the field, most of them from the 1960s and ’70s. READ MORE