Blogs > Cliopatria > HAPPY TO BE HERE ...

Dec 27, 2003 1:43 am


I'm really happy to be joining Cliopatria, most of whose members are HNN contributors I've come to deeply respect over the last year or so. I'm deep in the middle of grading this weekend, but I'll be coming out from under shortly. Until then, I'll just open with something that my students know but my colleagues don't....

I'm a life-long science fiction and fantasy fan, with a preference for short stories, and for novels that take exeptionally long historical perspectives. This is an exciting time for an F/SF fan, because the technology now exists to depict on the screen anything that can be pictured in the mind. The reason nobody's made a really good version of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings until now (though I still have a fondness for the old animated version, which is a little more whimsical but no less rich) is that the technological hurdles were too great. The final frontier in movie/TV, though, is not smell-o-rama (though I wouldn't be surprised to see USB-ready aroma peripherals in a few years) but really good emotional and historical and philosophical background/context. Perhaps the DVD, with it's hypertext-like flexibility and supplements, is the format in which the novel will truly be realized on screen.

One of the reasons I still enjoy F/SF is its experimental nature. Not so much as a literary form (I'm pretty conventional when it comes to the writing I like) but as an emotional and historical test-bench."What if" is a far more fundamental question in history than we like to admit (though I'm ironically leery of large-scale alternative history) and futurism is a powerful tool for thinking through the implications of ideas and processes, alternative visions, and the human potential under different circumstances. Plus, why should our imaginations always be limited by convention and reality?

OK, just to give people something to complain about, here's my off-hand, very incomplete list of favorite authors and works: Frank Herbert (Dune series of course, though White Plague is frighteningly, increasingly plausible); Isaac Asimov; some Robert Heinlein (especially his future history series); Harlan Ellison (Deathbird Stories is my candidate for single-author short-story collection of the century); Olaf Stapledon (deep and rich stuff); Ursula LeGuin (Left Hand of Darkness is a mind-bending experience); Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams for humor (also Asimov); Ray Bradbury (indescribably powerful ideas and writing);  Neil Gaiman (probably the finest fantasist at work today, and one of the best word-on-paper writers since Bradbury); Henry Kuttner (energetic writing and ideas that will trouble you for days, if not years) and C.L. Moore, his wife and collaborator and a fine writer in her own right (I'm particularly fond of her Jirel of Joiry stories, which look like pulp fantasy but are much deeper meditations on humanity). I'm a current subscriber to Fantasy and Science Fiction. I'm sure I've left stuff off the list.

OK, back to the grading. Next time, some history, or politics, I promise! Happy Hanukah, everyone!

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