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review 2017-08-17 11:08
There Are no Golden Ages: "New Maps of Hell" by Kingsley Amis
New Maps Of Hell: A Survey Of Science Fiction - Kingsley Amis

“No wife who finds her husband addicting himself to science fiction need fear that he is in search of an erotic outlet, anyway not an overt one.”

 

In "New Maps of Hell" by Kingsley Amis

 

To put it in another context, imagine I'd be teaching F. Scott Fitzgerald to undergraduates, some of whom would be of African descent. Do we look at the casual racism found in the books and say "that's wrong?" No, we assume that everyone "gets" that it's wrong. But we look at the fact that this was considered normal/acceptable in F. Scott's day. He's still a magnificent writer, but he reflects his own era. Scott’s similar to Amis. His attitude to women is a reflection of the times. We can't shy away from that and pretend it isn't so, and we can't negate him as a writer, because of it.

 

Imagine yourself living in Lisbon as a young woman; wouldn’t you dread the endless comments, abuse, physical assaults that were part of your everyday experience. Maybe this young woman dreamt of buying an electric cattle prod and zapping those who threatened her. But it was the times in which they lived back then. Women had no rights in the 60s. The literature of the times, reflected that. Shall we zap Amis with a cattle prod for being a man of his time? No. First of all, I believe that all good books, whether niche or mainstream or somewhere in-between, must have an implicit message they are trying to put across, which should stick out almost like a sore thumb. That said, I in no way think this should make books programmatic. Writing a novel with the sole purpose of creating a text more politically correct than anything that has ever been written might take away, all at once, all the drama and conflict that all good novels - needless to say, I am merely expressing my own point of view here - play with to a certain extent. Secondly, SF (fantasy and science-fiction), possibly more so than any other genre, and even at their most mechanically chlichéd, are written and read not simply for "idle entertainment", but as a platform for escapism. And "entertainment" and "escapism" are definitely not the same thing. Sure, escapism includes enjoyment, but there are many other elements to it as well. 

 

 

If you're into SF Criticism, read on.

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review 2017-07-22 17:29
Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being - Ted Hughes

Over a year! Goof grief! Proper review to follow when I'm less tired...maybe.

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text 2017-07-14 18:36
Reading progress update: I've read 511 out of 517 pages.
Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being - Ted Hughes

Almost there - which is a relief!

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review 2017-06-22 18:09
Eye-Opening SF: "Saving the World Through Science Fiction - James Gunn, Writer, Teacher and Scholar” by Michael R. Page
Saving the World Through Science Fiction: James Gunn, Writer, Teacher and Scholar (Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy) - Michael R Page,Foreword by Christopher McKitterick,Donald E Palumbo,C W Sullivan III

“Thus, traditional criticism’s charge that science fiction isn’t, in general, ‘literary’ because science fiction writers don’t focus on or have the artistry to deeply delve into character misses the point that science fiction isn’t about character, it’s about ideas. And therefore, science fiction should be judged by a different set of criteria than mundane mainstream fiction is evaluated.”

 

In “Saving the World Through Science Fiction - James Gunn, Writer, Teacher and Scholar” by Michael R. Page

 

Don't critics ignore SF because there's far too much of it, and the vast majority of it - like any sector of genre fiction - is a bit safe, geared more to selling to a niche of fans than the mass market? Certainly SF fandom is obsessed with genre distinctions (steampunk, space opera, mundane, whatever) that have absolutely no currency in the mainstream world - just like crime fandom (maybe to a lesser extent) worries about distinctions between golden age, hard-boiled, procedural and so on.

In both cases the really good stuff, the stuff that transcends the formulae and has something worthwhile to say - Atwood, or Houllebecq, or Alan Moore, Ballard, or Gunn - it "does" get noticed, it's just that people don't call it SF anymore.

 

 

If you're into SF Literary Criticism, read on.

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text 2017-06-20 18:34
Reading progress update: I've read 471 out of 517 pages.
Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being - Ted Hughes

Are we there yet?

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