(1) FROM THE LIFE OF JMS. J. Michael Straczynski has released an unlocked Patreon post of a chapter he cut from his autobiography: “Chapter Cut from Bio: The Great Bible Battle”. Here’s his introduction:
As noted elsewhere, I cut a good chunk of material from my autobiography Becoming Superman because there was just too much stuff for one book and I didn’t want to do this in two volumes. It was already almost too long.
This is actually one of the better, and in part most heartfelt chapters in the whole book, but it was also one that could be cut without damaging the structure of the book because it was for all intents and purposes unconnected from what came before and what followed. It also marks one the first times that something I’d done earned me death threats (yes, there were others).
So I present this to you, good patrons, seen here for the first time anywhere, ever.
(2) AWARD RETURNING. Submissions are being taken for the 2022 IAFA Imagining Indigenous Futurisms Award through December 1, 2022.
The IAFA Imagining Indigenous Futurisms Award recognizes emerging authors who use science fiction to address issues of Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination.
(3) AWARD FLAMBEAU. Serge Ecker’s video takes you inside the foundry to witness the “Making of the European Science Fiction Award 2022 – LuxCon, the 2022 EuroCon”. Molten metal and flames aplenty.
(4) LOVE IS BLUE. Somtow Sucharitkul is creating “Terrestrial Passions: a Regency Romance with Aliens” on Kindle Vella. The wry titles of the first four installments set the tone — “A Most Peculiar Frenchman”, “Universally Acknowledged”, “Dissuasion”, and “Incense and Insensibility”.
The widowed Mrs. Dorrit lives a marginal existence with her brother, a vicar, and twin daughters in a cottage on the estate of her wealthy cousin, Lord Chuzzlewit, in the West London village of Little Chiswick. As the season dawns and a rakish Earl takes up residence in the once-abandoned Flanders House nearby, their lives, and the marital prospects of Emma’s daughters, become immeasurably complicated when a starship lands in her apple orchard. By World Fantasy Award winning author S.P. Somtow
Where did this art come from? Somtow says, “Hilarious cover created for my Vella Serial by an Austrian designer on Fiverr.” No name given.
(5) VERTLIEB HONORED. Steve Vertlieb shared today that he has been honored “for his dedication and tireless activity to keep Miklos Rozsa’s memory alive,” by the Hungarian Hollywood Council. Congratulations, Steve!
(6) HOW KENTUCKY LEGISLATION WILL AFFECT LIBRARIES. “New Kentucky Law Hands Control of Libraries to Local Politicians” reports Publishers Weekly.
In a move that has alarmed library supporters, a new law in Kentucky will give politicians control over local library boards in the state. According to a report in the Lexington Herald Leader, SB 167—which came back from the dead last week with a dramatic veto override—will empower local politicians to “appoint whomever they want to library boards and block major library spending.”
Last week, the bill appeared to be killed after Kentucky governor Andy Beshear vetoed it, and the Kentucky House of Representatives fell short of the necessary votes to override. But in a surprise maneuver, supporters of the bill were able to revive the bill for another override vote—and this time, four representatives who had not voted in the previous effort voted to override Beshear’s veto, carrying the measure into law. The law is scheduled to take effect in January 2023.
According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky Republicans say the issue is “accountability,” pointing out that most of Kentucky’s public library boards can levy taxes and should therefore “answer to someone elected by voters.” But critics say the bill is in fact a thinly veiled effort to “politicize” library boards, and give unprecedented control over library operations to politicians….
(7) CAN IT BE THEY DON’T LOVE US? Lise Andreasen sends “A warm hug to everybody who feels physical pain at ‘it’s not science fiction’ and ‘it’s science fiction but’” in her roundup of critics’ slighting comments about the sff genre in “They Bellow… Dune edition”.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1955 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-seven years ago, George Pal’s fourth genre film premiered. It was the Conquest of Space and it had two firsts, our first trip to Mars and our first space station, a marvel in itself. It was based off The Conquest of Space by Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell. The former author has a crater on the far side of the moon named after him. Later in life he became a believer In cryptozoology. Ohhh well. (I’ve actually met Loren Coleman, the prime proponent of that fake science. Don’t get me started on that subject.)
Ley and Bonestell would win an International Fantasy Award for the book. Bonestell would be recognized with Special Award for Beautiful and Scientifically Accurate Illustrations at DisCon II (1974). He later won a Hugo for Best Related Work for The Art of Chesley Bonestell at ConJosé (2002). He’d also pick up a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4 (2004) for Best Professional Artist.
(Pal had hired Bonestall to the technical adviser on Destination Moon buthe bought the book’s film rights at the urging of Ley.)
The screenplay was by James O’Hanlon from an adaptation by Barre Lyndon, Phil Yordan and George Worthing Yates. O’Hanlon had done the Destination Moon screenplay which won a Retro Hugo at the Millennium Philcon.
It was directed by Byron Haskin who is best remembered for directing The War of the Worlds, one of many films where he teamed with producer George Pal. Bonestell who is known for his photorealistic paintings of outer space, provided the film’s space matte paintings.
So what did critics think about when it was released?
The Variety said of it that, “When Byron Haskin’s direction has a chance at action and thrills they come over well, but most of the time the pacing is slowed by the talky script fashioned from the adaptation of the Chesley Bonestell-Willy Ley book by Philip Yordan, Barre Lyndon and George Worthington Yates.”
The New York Times likewise liked it: “THERE is very little doubt about who should receive a generous amount of credit and praise for ‘Conquest of Space,’ yesterday’s science-fiction entry at the Palace. They are the special effects artists, John P. Fulton, Irmin Roberts, Paul Lerpae, Ivyle Burks and Jan Domela. In telling the fanciful tale of man’s first trip to Mars, they created top-flight effects such as ‘the wheel,’ a self-contained station orbiting about earth, rocket flights in space and a horrendous near-collision with an asteroid. These facets of the Paramount production—and fortunately they are many and frequent—are much to marvel at. But then there is a story. As plots go in this type of unearthly entertainment—and it is nothing more than broad, undemanding entertainment—it is not offensive.”
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes do not like it at all giving at just a twenty percent rating. Damned if I know why this is so.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 20, 1908 — Donald Wandrei. Writer who had sixteen stories in Astounding Stories and fourteen stories in Weird Tales, plus a smattering elsewhere, all in the Twenties and Thirties. The Web of Easter Island is his only novel. He was the co-founder with August Derleth of Arkham House. He received the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and he’s a member of First Fandom Hall of Fame. Only his “Raiders of The Universe“ short story and his story in Famous Fantastic Mysteries (October 1939 issue) are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1987.)
- Born April 20, 1937 — George Takei, 85. Hikaru Sulu on the original Trek. And yes, I know that Vonda McIntyre wouldn’t coin the first name until a decade later in her Entropy Effect novel. Is it canon? Post-Trek, he would write Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe with Robert Asprin. By the way, I’m reasonably sure that his first genre roles were actually dubbing the English voices of Professor Kashiwagi of Rodan! The Flying Monster and the same of the Commander of Landing Craft of Godzilla Raids Again. Oh, and it won’t surprise you he played Sulu again in the fan fic video Star Trek: Phase II episode, “World Enough and Time.”
- Born April 20, 1939 — Peter S. Beagle, 83. I’ve known him for about twenty years now I realize, met him but once in that time. He’s quite charming. (I had dinner with him here once several years back. His former agent is not so charming.) My favorite works? A Fine and Private Place, The Folk of The Air, Tamsin, Summerlong and In Calabria. He won the Novelette Hugo at L.A. Con IV for “Two Hearts”. And he has the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is working on a new novel now I’m told by his editor Deborah Grabien, another friend of mine.
- Born April 20, 1949 — Jessica Lange, 73. Her very first role was Dwan in the remake of King Kong. Later genre roles are Sandra Bloom Sr. in Big Fish, Katherine Pierson in Neverwas, and the amazing run of Constance Langdon / Elsa Mars / Fiona Goode / Sister Jude Martin in American Horror Story.
- Born April 20, 1949 — John Ostrander, 73. Writer of comic books, including Grimjack, Suicide Squad and Star Wars: Legacy. Well those are the titles he most frequently gets noted for but I’ll add in The Spectre, Martian Manhunter and the late Eighties Manhunter as well. His run on the Suicide Squad is available on the DC Universe app as is his absolutely amazing work on The Spectre.
- Born April 20, 1951 — Louise Jameson, 71. Leela of the Sevateem, companion to the Fourth Doctor. Appeared in nine stories of which my favorite was “The Talons of Weng Chiang” which I reviewed over at Green Man. She segued from Dr. Who to The Omega Factor where she was in the regular cast as Dr. Anne Reynolds. These appear to her only meaningful genre roles. And she like so many Who performers has reprised her role for Big Finish.
- Born April 20, 1964 — Sean A. Moore. He wrote three Conan pastiches, Conan the Hunter, Conan and the Grim Grey God and Conan and the Shaman’s Curse. He also wrote the screenplay for Kull the Conqueror, and the novelization of it. All were published by Tor. He was active in Colorado fandom. He died in car crash in Boulder. (Died 1998.)
- Born April 20, 1964 — Andy Serkis, 58. I will freely admit that the list of characters that he has helped create is amazing: Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, King Kong in that film, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot series, Captain Haddock / Sir Francis Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin (great film that was), and even Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Last year, he portrayed the character of Baloo in his self-directed film, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. His readings of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings are truly amazing as well.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Bizarro reports a shocking defection from a well-known superhero team.
(11) PANTHER CHOW. In the Washington Post, Emily Heil interviews Nyanyika Banda, author of The Official Wakanda Cookbook, who explains how they tried to come up with a cuisine that wasn’t just pan-African but actually might have recipes that would come from that imaginary country. “Wakanda cookbook brings Black Panther food lore to life”.
The fictional worlds spun in many TV shows, movies and video games can feel as real and as meaningful to fans as places with actual Zip codes. Think of Hogwarts, the magic-filled, honey-lit boarding school in the world of Harry Potter books and movies; the faraway galaxy of “Star Wars”; or even the lovably quirky small town of Stars Hollow in “Gilmore Girls.”
Wakanda, the wealthy, technologically advanced, mountain-ringed land of the “Black Panther” comics and blockbuster 2018 movie, though, occupies an even more rarefied role. It’s not just the setting for the action in a beloved franchise; it has become a symbol of African greatness, a mythical place that feels like an actual homeland to many people, and not just to comics geeks with posters of King T’Challa on their bedroom walls.
This week, the mythical country is seeing its culture expand with “The Official Wakanda Cookbook,” a collection of recipes sanctioned by “Black Panther” publisher Marvel….
… Aside from the challenges posed by satisfying an avid fan base and respecting a cultural touchstone, Banda faced another, more practical task. Often, a cookbook author writing about a region of the world is concerned about staying true to the dishes, the ingredients, the people and the history of the land. But what does it mean to be faithful to something that doesn’t actually exist?…
(12) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was tuned into Monday night’s episode of Jeopardy! and watched as contestants drew blanks on several items about the fantasy genre:
Category: Fantasy Fiction
Answer: In George R.R. Martin’s saga of Westeros, this blustery & bloody volume follows “A Game of Thrones” & “A Clash of Kings”
No one could ask, What is “A Storm of Swords?”
Answer: Set in ancient China, “A Hero Born” by Jin Yong takes place in a world where this martial art is practiced magically.
Wrong question What is Karate?
Right question: What is Kung-Fu?
Answer: Victor LaValle’s “The Changeling” tells the tale of a human baby switched at birth with one of these Nordic creatures.
No one could ask, What is troll?
(13) FUTURE IS NOW FOR SJW CREDENTIALS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Maria Luisa Paul discusses ViaGen Pets, which will clone your dead cat for $25,000. But while the clone may look like the original cat, it won’t have the personality of the original feline. “A woman cloned her pet after it died. But it’s not a copycat.”
… When the beloved 5-year-old cat died in 2017, there was nothing her owner, Kelly Anderson, could do — or so she thought.
Chai’s body had not yet turned cold when Anderson remembered a conversation with her roommate about the Texas-based ViaGen Pets, one of just a few companies worldwide that clones pets. The next morning, she called them.
Some $25,000 and five years later, Anderson — a 32-year-old dog trainer from Austin — has a 6-month-old carbon copy of Chai curled up in her lap. Belle is nearly identical to Chai, down to her deep-blue eyes and fluffy white coat. The two cats share a couple of quirks, like sleeping with their bodies stretched out against Anderson’s back. But that’s where the similarities end, Anderson said….
(14) PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER. What could be more wholesome? Mecha Builders is coming from the makers of Sesame Street.
Catch a sneak peek of an all-new series from Sesame Street in this official Mecha Builders Trailer! Together Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby are the Mecha Builders! The Mecha Builders are always ready to save the day, and while they may not get it right the first time, they won’t give up until they do! There’s no problem too big or too small for this super team to solve … all before snack time. New series coming to Cartoonito! Watch on Cartoon Network May 9th and stream the next day on HBO Max!
(15) SUMMERTIME, AND THE CONCATENATING IS EASY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The SF² Concatenation summer* edition is now up, which is a few days later than usual so as to capture news announced over Easter. This edition has its full news page, articles and convention reports, including: Film News; Television News; Publishing News; General Science News and Forthcoming SF Books from major imprints for the season, among much else. Plus there is a tranche of stand-alone book reviews. Something for everyone.
* ‘Summer’ season here being the northern hemisphere, academic year summer.
v32(3) 2022.4.20 — New Columns & Articles for the Summer 2022
- Newscast for the Summer2022. This includes within it many key sections. See also the master newscast link index that connects to all its SF/F genre and science news sub-sections.
- My Top Ten Scientists – Ian Green (epigeneticist & SF author)
- Discon III – The 2021 Washington DC SF Worldcon. – Sue Burke
- Novacon 2021 – The 50th Novacon – Arthur Chappell
- Windycon 2021 – The 47th Chicago-region convention – Sue Burke
- Using SF/F to justify Putin – Jonathan Cowie
- A letter from Ukrainian artists to the World’s artists – Borys Sidyuk et al
- Ukraine’s Invasion: Something you can do free in 10 minutes
- Gaia 2022 – Annual whimsical SF and/or science snippets and exotica
- 16 years ago. One from the archives: The 2006 Eurocon – Kiev, Ukraine (pictures added 2022)
- 20 years ago. One from the archives: Should we trust scientists? – Peter Cotgreave
v32(2) 2022.4.20 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews
- Age of Ash – Daniel Abraham
- Jack Four – Neal Asher
- The Bone Ships Wake – R. J. Barker
- Galaxias; – Stephen Baxter
- The Way of the Worm – Ramsey Campbell
- Outcast; – Louise Carey
- The Quicksilver Court – Melissa Caruso
- Mestiza Blood – V. Castro
- The Silence – Don DeLillo
- A Clockwork River – J. S. Emery
- Deep Wheel Orcadia – Harry Josephine Giles
- The Apollo Murders – Chris Hadfield
- Echo; – Thomas Olde Heuvelt
- Gwendy’s Final Task – Stephen King & Richard Chizmar
- Empire of The Vampire – Jay Kristoff
- Hollow; – Jonathan Lethem
- Beyond the Hallowed Sky – Ken MacLeod
- A Desolation Called Peace – Arkady Martine
- Seven Mercies – Elizabeth May & Laura Lam
- The Charming Man – C. K. McDonnell
- Beyond the Veil – Mark Morris
- Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
- The Ninth Metal – Benjamin Percy
- The Unfamiliar Garden – Benjamin Percy
- The This – Adam Roberts
- Cytonic; – Brandon Sanderson
- The Kaiju Preservation Society – John Scalzi
- The Cartographers – Peng Shepherd
- The Cartographers (2nd review) – Peng Shepherd
- Termination Shock – Neal Stephenson
- The Justice of Kings – Richard Swan
- Ghosts; – G. X. Todd
- The Infernal Riddle of Thomas Peach – Jas Treadwell
- The Invisible Man – H. G. Wells
- Brothers of the Wind – Tad Williams
v32(3) 2022.4.20 — Non-Fiction SF & Science Fact Book Reviews
(16) E.T. FAMILY REUNION. Dee Wallace played Drew Barrymore’s mom in the iconic film E.T. almost 40 years ago. They will be reuniting at the 40th Anniversary screening of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on Opening Night of the: 2022 TCM Classic Festival. And Wallace got a head start by appearing on Drew’s TV show. Yahoo! has the story: “Drew Barrymore Reunites with E.T. Onscreen Mom Dee Wallace Ahead of Film’s 40th Anniversary”.
Drew Barrymore is taking fans on a trip down memory lane.
The Golden Globe winner, 47, reunited with Dee Wallace, who played her mother in 1982’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, as they reminisced about the film ahead of its 40th anniversary Monday on The Drew Barrymore Show.
“That was the first day on the set and I’m sitting in this really high director’s chair,” Wallace, 73, recalled of a photo of the two of them. “And Drew comes up to me and she says, ‘Hi, I’m going to sit on your lap now.’ And I said, ‘Well, come on up Drew.'”
“I mean, I knew you were going to be a director/producer back then,” she told Barrymore.
Barrymore raved about how “sexy” Wallace looked in the cheetah costume her character wore for the Halloween scene. “I still fit in it too,” Wallace proclaimed….
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Neil deGrasse Tyson was on Colbert last night to talk about his new book Welcome To The Universe In 3D. “Aliens May Have Been Watching Earth’s TV Shows For The Last 80 Years – Neil deGrasse Tyson”.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Michael J. Walsh, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(9) Totally agree with Cat on Ostrander’s fabulous Spectre run.
(4) As Beldar said, “We are from France”
11) The recipe included with the interview sounds interesting.
Steve Vertlieb: Congratulations on your award!
7: this has been true my whole life. When I first got into fandom, Real Litrachur was “oh, sf isn’t, there’s no character development and growth, and….” So then came New Wave. And we got “well, it’s not Real Litrachur because of…” They can’t ever admit that something that they don’t understand, because they skipped all science classes, and think that the past, the fifties, the twenties, was all so much more real.
And this is why Real Litrachur has gotten some genre authors calling it lit-fic… because it’s made itself a smaller and smaller audience. Anything that’s popular isn’t Real Litrichur.
Examples: Dick Peck once told us at a PSFS meeting how he and his wife had been at a faculty event – he was a professor at the time, and someone’s wife snootily came over to him, and commented that she’d heard he’d published a novel recently… and was scandalized to find out the publisher had paid him, rather than the opposite common in academia.
Or, for that matter, what were supposed to be popular books. I read Heller’s first novel after Catch-22, which was in the late seventies, called “Something Happened”. Nothing did – it’s three months of this guy’s life, no character development or growth, just him complaining. Or the review I read of the Beans of Egypt, Maine… which was about people I didn’t want to know, and wouldn’t want to live near, based on the review. They’ve forgotten that the point of fiction is to tell a story, one that draws in the readers, and not like someone watching a train wreck.
Thank you, I’ll stick to genre, and yes, it is science fiction.
8 Willy Ley published his first book on cryptozoology (The Lungfish and the Unicorn) in 1941, and he’d published a book (in German) on Konrad Gessner, a Renaissance writer who wrote on krakens etc., back in the 1020s, so he didn’t come to cryptozoology late in life. And his books touching on cryptozoology were amiable strolls through all sorts of zoological and botanical byways – he’d have chapters on dodos, beche de la mer, giant tortoises, the discovery of ichthyosaurs and what they really looked like, etc etc etc. He really was a polymath, and his interest in the odd corners of biology and palaeontology was infectious. I didn’t even realize that he was involved with all this rocket stuff until I was in my late teens.
(9) If Jessica Lange’s role in All That Jazz isn’t genre, I’ll eat my nonexistent hat.
(17) No, they haven’t. Television and radio signals are far too weak to be detectable, degrading into the background noise long before they reach even the nearest stellar system. Only a handful of man-made signals have ever been produced that could conceivably be detectable, mostly now-disused military radar systems. This is well-understood by the scientists actually involved in SETI.
PhilRM – are you sure they’re not listening to Border Radio, from the fifties and sixties? 100,000 watts. Or WABC, NYC, which I heard on a car radio in the sixties, as my father drove us through a quarter mile long underpass with no perceptible diminuation of signal….
1) Just read J. Michael Straczynski’s deleted bio excerpt. Holy cow! I have so much respect for him! I think it should have stayed in his bio. I haven’t ever read anything of his, but I’m making it a priority now.
(8) Media Birthday — 87 years ago today saw the release of James Whale’s “The Bride of Frankenstein”, one of those few sequels that is arguably better than the movie it is sequelling. Boris Karloff and Bill Barty in the same movie – what more could you want?
@mark: At one parsec from Earth (about 3.3 light years), which doesn’t even get you to the nearest star, that 100,000 watts has dropped to about 8e-30 W per square meter. (In the units radio astronomers find convenient, this is 0.8 milliJansky.) This is (a) very weak, (b) the sky is filled with sources that are as bright or brighter, (c) the Sun radiates far more power at those wavelengths, (d) that’s assuming that all of that 100,000 W escapes the atmosphere and ionosphere, which it does not, and (e) ignores scattering of the radio signal by plasma within the Solar system and in interstellar space, which both weakens and degrades the signal.
P.S. If you’re not familiar with the notation, that’s 29 zeroes between the decimal point and the 8.
Is anyone else having a lot of punctuation marks (especially apostrophes and colons) come up as a question mark in a diamond shape? Doesn’t seem consistent across the board (some sections look normal), so I’m wondering if some of the scroll was written with a somewhat incompatible font or wordprocessing program?
8) I’ll note that Chesley Bonestell also has a crater named after him, this one on Mars. See NASA’s photo
David Shallcross says I’ll note that Chesley Bonestell also has a crater named after him, this one on Mars. See NASA’s photo.
That I did pick up in my research. I’ll have Mike add a note to that effect. Thanks much for that catch!
I meant to say, and I am obviously not quite awake yet as I didn’t catch missing that modifying word, that I did not pick up his honor of getting a crater named after him. So once again, thanks for catching that.
Correction to my last comment, for the astronomically-inclined: that would only be 0.8 mJy if the signal all fell in a 1 Hz bandwidth. Since the actual bandwidths are ~ MHz, it would be about a million times weaker, of the order of a nano-Jansky. The technical term for this is “incredibly tiny”.
@ mark: FWIW, I was teaching science fiction (and other popular genres) in undergrad English classes fifty years ago in grad school, with the blessing of the department. (In fact, I designed the course.) One of my doctoral-level areas of study was SF/F. (There were seminar-level courses in the catalogue.) I then wrote a dissertation in the field. I continued to teach that material at another university after graduation and was given support when I presented conference papers in the field (SFRA, PCA, Midwest MLA). I published articles in each of the three major SF-centric academic journals extant at the time. And more journals and scholarly organizations have risen in the thirty-plus years since I left teaching.
So despite whatever snobbery one might have encountered however long ago–or that might exist at some pinky-lifting cocktail party–the line between SF/F and “literature” has become thoroughly blurred. In fact, no decently trained academic is going to evoke that canard.
As for the scandalized woman–there’s no end to the ignorance of some people about how the business of writing works.
8) and, of course, the Chesley Awards are named in honor of Bonestell.
I’m reminded of a story that Neal Stephenson tells:
I was fortunate enough that my high school English teacher let me write papers on SF (at least, once, anyway – I remember writing about Asimov’s “Bridle and Saddle”)
In 10th grade, Montgomery County (in MD) required the Social Studies honor students to write an essay about one politically-oriented novel from a county-wide list. Some enlightened soul put The Dispossessed on the list and it set my soul on fire. I had read the book and thought the working anarchy was a kick-ass concept. So I had a blast writing my essay and turned it in.
Later the teacher called my mother (well-known for teaching organic chemistry at community college) into school. “Did you write your son’s essay on Ursula K. Le Guin?” Nonplussed, my mother fired back: “I don’t know who Ursula K. Ke Guin is.” Maybe not to Mom’s credit, but her taste was for cozies and Louis L’Amour
I don’t think all fiction has to tell a story. I’ve read some books that were extremely slight of plot but amazing, such as Tinkers by Paul Harding. There should be room for experimentation, especially in literary fiction.
That isn’t what he’s talking about.
In what way is he discussing something else? Something Happened is as little about telling a story as Tinkers.
The public school system I went to was actually pretty good about not treating SFF as “not literature.” We read “The Tell-Tale Heart” and Fahrenheit 451, and I once wrote a book report on one of Ursula LeGuin’s books (I think it was The Eye of the Heron).
Treating anything with speculative elements as “not literature” is really silly, anyway. Hamlet has a ghost in it. So does Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” Macbeth has witches and prophesies. The Odyssey has a witch and sea monsters. Edith Wharton wrote some quite chilling ghost stories. Etc. etc.
I think the most genre text I was set in high school was Brave New World. And then in freshman comp I wrote a paper on BNW and Cyteen, which got an A and some very complimentary red ink.
(Winding up like a pitcher…)
I got really sick of the literary set when I read Orville Prescott’s condescending book about science fiction, in which he made it very clear that ‘if its good, it can’t be science fiction.’ I read a bunch more, including Kingsley Amiss’ “New Maps of Hell,” with all its factual errors, before I gave up reading that kind of crap.
All the elements which define the field are present in all the works which are the basis of what we call ‘literature.’
Thank you for the link to J. Michael’s out-take from his biography. Let me just say that I hold him to be the best writer working in television. If I were Elon Musk I would make a special fund to make sure he gets to finish his dream projects the way he plans them. The excerpt was wonderful, and beautifully written as well, with his usual command of structure and plot.
One of the epochal memories of my fannish youth was sitting at a table in a bar with Papa Willy (Ley) and a beautiful red-haired woman, and even some other fans, as Papa tried to teach us all to sing the “Prize Song” from Wagner’s “Meistersingers von Nuremburg.” He had already taught the redhead some of Brunhilde’s music, but the Prize Song was a special love for him. His effort was not on a par with his many other accomplishments in life. I don’t think any of us went on to careers in opera. (Well, not as singers, at least.)
A fellow in Florida has been agitating to get the Bible banned from schools, quite similarly to how JMS did it. No idea whether there’s any direct influence there. Here’s NPR’s story.