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shawna mccarthy created a space of her own

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.” [Continue reading]

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on poul anderson’s brain wave

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. [Continue reading]

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

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. [Continue reading]

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

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. [Continue reading]

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

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. [Continue reading]

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modern science fiction and the gimme part 3

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. [Continue reading]

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

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.” [Continue reading]

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

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. [Continue reading]