Manual The Anticipation Novelists of 1950s French Science Fiction: Stepchildren of Voltaire

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One of the strongest features of the project is that it catalogues so many atomic sf works that would otherwise be spread across the disciplinary ether. Williams also finds creative ways to read less obvious geographies of post-nuclear sf. Moreover, Williams often does not adequately represent and respond to other scholars in atomic sf and other fields. Richard Dellamora and with more or less the same space, scope, and critical approach. Such points in the book present frustrating missed opportunities for Williams to add substantially to already existing critical race discourse in atomic sf criticism.

Although Race, Ethnicity, and Nuclear War covers a wide, eclectic range of texts, what is included and what is omitted in this book is sometimes puzzling. My largest concern with the book is the sizeable gaps of time that are spanned and conflated without carefully identifying historical differences.

Williams also underutilizes or omits large bodies of relevant scholarship.

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While the writing sometimes felt uneven, I appreciated that Williams admirably avoided the use of jargon-laden prose. Fantasy and the Ironic Imagination. Michael Saler. New York: Oxford, There is very little in the book about virtual reality, nor is there any need to tie fantasy into a presumably trendier cybernetic successor.

What Saler is really looking at is the creation of shared imaginary worlds, something that long precedes the examples he considers and that spans many storytelling modes and genres. His central question is what makes an imaginary world catch hold in the popular imagination. I am not sure he is entirely correct in drawing this distinction what about devotees of Jane Austen or celebrators of Bloomsday?

But re-enchanting the world is easier said than done, especially when the marvels are always and necessarily fictional. Irony is self-aware and rational, and the imaginary realms discussed here are particularly characterized by both reason and self-criticism. These are all shared worlds, though shared in different ways. Holmes has figured in films, fiction by writers other than Doyle most notably Laurie R.

King, who is not mentioned by Saler , mock-scholarship, and costumed role-playing.

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That does not prevent imitation, and all heroic fantasy and fantasy gaming computerized or role-playing of the past half-century owes something to The Lord of the Rings Not solely to The Lord of the Rings , however—though Saler briefly mentions other influential secondary-world fantasists such as William Morris, E. Eddison, and C. Lewis, he does not really treat fantasy as a genre with multiple taproots and branches, a perspective that is needed to account for either the fiction or the games. Nor does he tap into existing criticism of the fantastic. Wolfe are missing from his bibliography.

And, yes, I looked: I am not there either. To be fair, Saler is not really looking at fantasy as a form of storytelling—there is very little discussion of plot or character—but rather as an act of deliberate departure from observed reality. He is interested in how and why a writer might construct an internally consistent, counter-factual universe and how such a universe is received and used by audiences. And his investigation of each of the three major examples is well worth reading on its own.


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He treats each writer with respect and makes a solid case for reading them together: London master criminals have much more in common with ring-wielding Dark Lords than one might expect. I have never enjoyed reading Lovecraft, but Saler shows me how I might do so. Saler does not claim to be writing a survey of all shared worlds, so one cannot fault him for omitting specific examples, but I would like to know what he would do with such widely imitated or reworked creations as L. I wish he had included at least one woman writer. Besides Bradley, Andre Norton, C.

Moore, and P. I would also like to know more about a term he uses regularly: the New Romance. He writes as if this were a standard descriptor for imaginative fiction of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, but there is little discussion of its coinage and use. It was new to me. He explains how the New Romance breaks with predecessors—it incorporates modern scientific skepticism about the very marvels it invokes—but undercuts his argument by pointing out continuities from Poe to Doyle and even from Beowulf to The Lord of the Rings.

My own sense is that the ironic imagination has always been a part of the literature of the fantastic, including many branches of folk narrative. Perhaps the newness of the New Romance lies in the systematic nature of its world-building. The Science in Science Fiction. Martin Willis. Vision, Science and Literature, Ocular Horizons.

Science and Culture in the Nineteeth Century. London: Pickering and Chatto, Martin Willis has a weakness for trinomials. His new book, described as a project in cultural phenomenology, is still more determinedly interdisciplinary. Not only is Willis closely familiar with recent work in the history of science, but he also draws on research in several scientific archives, including those of the Lowell Observatory at Flagstaff, the Egypt Exploration Fund, and a source already mined in his excellent chapter on Wells in Mesmerists, Monsters and Machines the British Institute of Preventive Medicine.

His attempts to enlist storytellers such as Le Fanu, Stoker, Rider Haggard, and Conan Doyle in the army of disciplined seekers after knowledge are much less successful, partly because their writings demand more careful attention than Willis often seems inclined to give them. Fiction plays a diminishing role as the book proceeds, and, in the final chapter, it is the escapologist Harry Houdini who emerges as an unlikely hero of cultural resistance against what Max Weber understood as the scientific and political rationalization inherent in modernity.

It is, of course, not difficult to demonstrate the dominance of epistemological uncertainty in the two fictional examples examined in this section, J. The evidence for this is slender even though at least one early reviewer of The War of the Worlds read the novel in Lowellian terms. As Crossley has pointed out, Lowell is not named in the text and Wells is likely to have known little about the champion of the Martian canals until several years later. Willis also describes R.

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The remainder of the book may be summarized briefly. Here the Gothic tropes exemplified by Stoker and Rider Haggard are shown to proliferate in contemporary archaeological field notes, diaries, and tourist guidebooks. Houdini was not only a prolific writer about his craft, but the co-author, with H. Lovecraft, of a short story published in Weird Tales. Vision, Science and Literature is not the kind of follow-up to Mesmerists, Monsters and Machines that SFS readers may have looked for, but there are, nevertheless, lessons to be learned from this flawed but ambitious and wide-ranging book.

The interdisciplinary study of science and science fiction would do well to pursue the combination of archival research with engagement in current debates on the history of scientific culture that Willis exemplifies. Lesbian Dreams. Phyllis M. It offers a basic introduction to the history and theory of each genre followed by more detailed analyses of a number of little-examined lesbian-authored texts dating from the s through Desire, the body, and the Other become objects of focus, with both heroes and monsters engaged in quests for self, gendered identity, and a place in the wider community.

Betz clearly views these subversive functions of fantasy as central to lesbian productions, which question the dominant paradigm of compulsory heterosexuality and offer readers alternate realities in which lesbian identity is normalized or even made heroic. It is clear that Betz adopts the term gothic in its broadest sense, including the ghost story, the tale of terror, dark fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance in this category.

This leaves little space for the primary task of the study, analyzing actual lesbian sf novels. Betz offers an eloquent apology for the use-value of fantasy literature broadly defined in her conclusion. Also the author of Lesbian Detective Fiction and Lesbian Romance Novels , Betz has certainly contributed to the field of queer literary studies. Because of the scope of her primary corpus and the background materials on three distinct genres, the analysis may appear to lack depth, however.


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  8. And while her coverage of genre theory is generally up to date and takes into account key theorists, I found limited support in the areas of gender studies and queer theory. Its greatest contribution is its decision to focus specifically on a corpus of little-studied lesbian genre novels; unfortunately for those solely interested in sf, that is her smallest corpus of study.

    Although the book offers little new theory for specialists, Betz is to be praised for her willingness to introduce readers to less known, highly contemporary objects of study. Anthony Burgess. A Clockwork Orange. Mark Rawlinson. Norton Critical Editions.

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    New York: Norton, Like any NCE, this edition is complete to the point of exhaustion, and many of the inclusions seem repetitive, but there is enough diverse content to assume that anyone interested in either novel or film will leave satisfied. Despite its awful jacket design, the Norton Critical Edition will no doubt sell—the real question is whether or not its critical apparatus can recuperate a fairly good piece of literature from its circulation as kitsch image, mere fodder for last-minute Halloween costumes and college dorm walls. And all that cal.

    Pining for More Utopia. John Scheckter.

    The Anticipation Novelists of 1950s French Science Fiction: Stepchildren of Voltaire

    Surrey, UK: Ashgate, The first is an account by an Englishman, George Pine, telling how he and four women, the only survivors of a shipwreck, set up housekeeping on an uninhabited island where they landed and then, for want of anything better to do, busied themselves populating it with their offspring.

    Neville does not dwell on the sexual details of this idyll if it is an idyll. Fifty-nine years later George tallies 1, of his descendants. There is no dust jacket. Davis acknowledged the importance of these artists for his work He experimented in form, working first towards flatness and a negation of illusory depth, then negating the importance of subject matter. I care nothing for Abstract Art as such, but only as it evidences a contemporary language of vision suited to modern life.

    In these paintings, having essentially fixed the contours of various shapes, Davis changes mainly the color configuration of each work and in some cases the size of the canvas. The series thus appears as a formal exploration of color relationships within a given pattern. However, if taken with other works of the same period, the group of paintings establishes relations with one another, with the visual environment of popular culture, but also with earlier French and American modernism. Davis also borrows from Cubist collage, taking elements from advertisement as the Cubists took elements from newspapers.

    Working in a Cubist-inspired language, with similar concerns to the Cubists places him in a backward-looking position primarily concerned with perpetuating a tradition of the past. New England blue skies and waters, superhighways, the proportions of story buildings, gasoline pumps, taxis, billboards, cigarette packages, garages, neon tubes, music through radio, motion-picture juxtapositions, skywriting, etc. These references to past aesthetics place Davis in the French Cubist territory.

    And according to the post-WW2 canon essentially as defined by critics Greenberg or Rosenberg , the younger generation of American artists had to break free from the first modernists who worked with and around Alfred Stieglitz, Duchamp and Picabia, and were considered too European.