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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Science Fiction Non-Fiction and Related Books' LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
8:42 am
From Paul Kincaid
(NB: anyone can join this community and post direct to this journal).

The Shortlist Project by Maureen Kincaid Speller (http://paperknife.maureenkincaidspeller.com/2012/05/shortlist-project.html), which is simply one of the best pieces of sustained criticism I've seen;

and Cowardice, Laziness & Irony by Jonathan McCalmont (http://ruthlessculture.com/2012/10/03/cowardice-laziness-and-irony-how-science-fiction-lost-the-future/), polemical, short tempered, and a wonderfully invigorating piece of criticism.
Monday, October 8th, 2012
9:04 am
Just to remind people...
Anyone can join, anyone can post.
8:55 am
Not Your Grandmother’s Epic Fantasy: A fantasy author’s thoughts upon reading The Cambridge Companio
by Steven Erikson.

It's actually a flat out attack on me and Edward that is pretty upset we didn't use the term Epic Fantasy, and doesn't seem to notice that we actually have two chapters on it (Quest fantasy and Series Fantasy) and doesn't like that we don't cover some of the major newish authors (A, it's a text book and b) Martin wasn't that big when the book was submitted--academic publishing is *slow*) but it is worth reading (even if my current response to the cry "why don't academics talk about epic fantasy is "Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Erikson"*)

[I actually think Martin Lewis nails the real issues more neatly: http://everythingisnice.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/the-rich-poor-relation-of-genre-fantasy/]

*Actually, Mr. Erikson is actually Lundin PhD and a specialist in archaeology so technically, if he is writing about epic fantasy, then academics are considering it.
8:26 am
The Widening Gyre: 2012 Best of the Year Anthologies -- Paul Kincaid
A discussion of the current state of sf. See Here.

I don't actually agree with all of it, and I can't help but notice that those bemoaning the current state of sf are of a particular demographic (there is a reason the golden age of sf is 13), but if you are going to read one State of the Nation report, this is the one to go for. Cogently argued and grounded in a clear sampling. This is the best piece of criticism I've read this year.
8:21 am
Do Metaphors Dream of Literal Sleep: Seo-Young Chu
Worth reading despite my criticisms

She clearly knows her sf, but she seems to treat sf criticism with disdain. There is a quick round up of prior critics, whose indexes she has checked and found lacking, about four citations to Friedman and Ronay and a short discussion and rejection of Suvin. Then she proceeds to try and reinvent sf criticism from whole cloth -- completely forgetting on the way that she claimed to want to centre poetry and lyricism-- only to end with an epilogue that uses the term cognitive estrangement at least ten times with complete unself-consciousness and comes to the same conclusions as the rest of us.

The author is a weird kind of brilliant, but the book, while proclaiming its radicalness, mostly serves as a scientific experiment in proving results through duplication.

Rather brilliant chapter on the way Korean diaspora writing is influenced by trauma.
Friday, December 24th, 2010
11:32 am
Nonficawards for 2011
Dear All

I have been pretty much absent this year, and ninebelow's post does draw attention to the need to reactivate this site.

If people have suggestions for books they've heard of that would be worth someone blogging, please post them here during 2011. I will take responsibility for either reading it or hassling someone to read it and to comment.
Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
10:06 am
BSFA Non-Fiction Award
Some Waffle

Nominations for the BSFA Award have just opened so I thought I would start an open thread for potential nominees. This is particularly needed because so far this year this community has had just one recommendation:

Robin McKinley: Girl Reader, Woman Writer by Evelyn M. Perry

Other eligible books I can think of include:

Bearings by Gary Wolfe
Animal Alterity by Sherryl Vint

And it is not just whole books. Have there been any particularly notable papers in Foundation? Reviews in Interzone? Chapters from books such Narrative Power: Encounters, Celebrations, Struggles, edited by L. Timmel Duchamp? Suggestions in the comments please. I will edit the main body of this post as they come in.

The Rules

The Best Non-Fiction award is open to any written work about science fiction and/or fantasy which appeared in its current form in 2010. Whole collections comprised of work that has been published elsewhere previous to 2010 are ineligible.

Works published by the BSFA, or in association with the BSFA, are ineligible for a BSFA award.

A List

Notes From New Sodom by Hal Duncan
Narrative Power: Encounters, Celebrations, Struggles, edited by L. Timmel Duchamp
80! Memories & Reflections on Ursula K. Le Guin, edited by Karen Joy Fowler and Debbi Notkin
The WisCon Chronicles: Volume 4, edited by Sylvia Kelso
Blogging The Hugos Decline by Paul Kincaid
Beyond Cyberpunk: New Critical Perspectives, edited by Graham J Murphy and Sherryl Vint
Review of With Both Feet in the Clouds by Abigail Nussbaum
From Utopia to Apocalypse by Peter Y Paik
Robin McKinley: Girl Reader, Woman Writer by Evelyn M. Perry
Review of Wheel Of Time by Adam Roberts
H.G. Wells: Another Kind Of Life by Michael Sherborne
Yesterday's Tomorrows by Graham Sleight
Defined By A Hollow by Darko Suvin
Animal Alterity by Sherryl Vint
Bearings by Gary K Wolfe
Evaporating Genres by Gary K Wolfe
Monday, November 1st, 2010
6:40 pm
Robin McKinley critical work
Looking ahead to the 28th of December this year, I see there's a critical volume on Robin McKinley coming out!

Robin McKinley: Girl Reader, Woman Writer
Series: Scarecrow Studies in Young Adult Literature #41
Evelyn M. Perry
Sunday, October 24th, 2010
4:19 pm
Is this blog dead?
I hope not.

I've spent the past six months moving house so buying new books has been a non-starter. I would be really grateful if other people were posting because otherwise I'll have no idea what I need to catch up on.
Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
8:14 pm
Locus recommended non-fiction
Non-Fiction / Art Books

* Powers: Secret Histories, John Berlyne (PS Publishing)
* The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction, Mark Bould & Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts & Sherryl Vint, eds. (Routledge)
* Canary Fever: Reviews, John Clute (Beccon Publications)
* Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary, Jane Frank (McFarland)
* Imagination/Space: Essays and Talks on Fiction, Feminism, Technology and Politics, Gwyneth Jones (Aqueduct Press)
* Starcombing, David Langford (Cosmos Books)
* Cheek by Jowl: Essays, Ursula K. Le Guin (Aqueduct Press)
* The Inter-Galactic Playground: A Critical Study of Children's and Teens' Science Fiction, Farah Mendlesohn (McFarland)
* On Joanna Russ, Farah Mendlesohn, ed. (Wesleyan University Press)
* Hope-in-the-Mist: The Extraordinary Career and Mysterious Life of Hope Mirrlees, Michael Swanwick (Temporary Culture)
* This Is Me, Jack Vance!, Jack Vance (Subterranean Press)
Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
3:37 pm
Updated Non-Fiction/Best Related LIst
These are not suggestions as such, they are memory joggers for when you are trying to think of things for those awkward categories. More suggestions welcome. I'm happy to keep updating this until nominations close.

Clute, J. Canary Fever
Deepad: I Didn't Dream of Dragons: http://deepad.livejournal.com/29656.html?view=278744
Butler, Bould, Roberts, Vint., Routledge Companion to Science Fiction: Easterbrook, N. Alterity and Ethics, in The Routledge Companion.
Csisceray Ronay Jr., I. The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction.
Mendlesohn and James, A Short History of Fantasy
Mendlesohn: The Inter-Galactic Playground
Swanwick: HOPE-IN-THE-MIST: The Extraordinary Career & Mysterious Life of Hope Mirrlees
Okrent, A., In the Land of Invented languages
Vint, S (Ed). Extrapolation, Volume 50, no 2 Summer 2009: The China Mieville
Merrick, H.: The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms
Jones, G: Imagination/Space: Essays and Talks on Fiction, Feminism, Technology and Politics
Mendlesohn, On Joanna Russ
Duncan, H.: http://notesfromthegeekshow.blogspot.com/2008/08/notes-on-strange-fiction-seams.html
Henry, Liz, The Wiscon Chronicles
Peter Bramwell: Pagan Themes in Modern Children’s Fiction
Reid, R. (ed.) Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Robinson, KS, Introduction to The Very Best of Gene Wolfe
Ruddick, N., Fire in the Stone: Pre-Historic Fiction from Charles Darwin to Jean M. Auel
6:22 am
Non Fiction Nominations for BSFA and Hugos
If people send me more things that are eligible, I'll repost the list. This is what's caught my attention this year (and at this stage, happy to have listed my own work, as these aren't recommendations as such)

Deepad: I Didn't Dream of Dragons: http://deepad.livejournal.com/29656.html?view=278744
Routledge Companion to Science Fiction: Butler, Bould, Roberts, Vint.
Neil Easterbrook, Alterity and Ethics, in The Routledge Companion.
Istvan Csisceray Ronay Jr. The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction.
James and Mendlesohn, A Short History of Fantasy
Mendlesohn: The Inter-Galactic Playground
Swanwick: Hope Mirlees
Okrent, In the Land of Invented languages
Vint, special issue of Extrapolation on China Mieville.
*Merrick: The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms
*Gwyneth Jones: Imagination/Space: Essays and Talks on Fiction, Feminism, Technology and Politics
Mendlesohn, On Joanna Russ
Hal Duncan: http://notesfromthegeekshow.blogspot.com/2008/08/notes-on-strange-fiction-seams.html

*Haven't read these, or seen reviews as yet.
Thursday, December 24th, 2009
11:08 am
BSFA awards time
Don't forget your non-fiction.

Friday, October 30th, 2009
3:50 pm
Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass (please circulate/link to)
Science Fiction Foundation announces SF Criticism Masterclass for 2010

Class Leaders:
Istvan Csicsery-Ronay
Roz Kaveney
Justina Robson

The Science Fiction Foundation (SFF) will be holding the third annual Masterclass in sf criticism in 2010.

Dates: 11th June to 13th June 2010

Location: Middlesex University, London (the Hendon Campus, nearest underground, Hendon).

Delegate costs will be £180 per person, excluding accommodation.
Accommodation: students are asked to find their own accommodation, but help is available from the administrator (farah.sf@gmail.com)

Applicants should write to Farah Mendlesohn at farah.sf@gmail.com. Applicants will be asked to provide a CV and writing sample; these will be assessed by an Applications Committee consisting of Farah Mendlesohn, Paul Kincaid, Adam Roberts.

Completed applications must be received by 28th February 2010.

The Science Fiction Foundation (Registered Charity No. 1041052) was founded in 1970 by the writer/social activist George Hay and others as a semi-autonomous association of writers, academics, critics and others with an active interest in science fiction, with Arthur C. Clarke and Ursula K. Le Guin as patrons. Our aim is to promote science fiction and bring together those who read, write, study, teach, research or archive science fiction in Britain and the rest of the world. We also want to support science fiction, at conventions, at conferences and at other events which bring those interested in science fiction together.

Our main activities include publication of the journal Foundation: the international review of science fiction, and supporting the research library The Science Fiction Foundation Collection at the University of Liverpool. We have recently run successful conferences such as A Commonwealth of Science Fiction and the 2002 SFRA Conference, and published critical works on Ken MacLeod, Terry Pratchett and Babylon 5.

The four main objectives of the SFF are: to provide research facilities for anyone wishing to study science fiction; to investigate and promote the usefulness of science fiction in education; to disseminate information about science fiction; and to promote a discriminating understanding of the nature of science fiction.

Further information at: http://www.sf-foundation.org/index.html
Friday, October 16th, 2009
8:31 am
A not terribly sympathetic review of Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction, edited by Mark Bould and China Mieville by Michael Froggatt at Strange Horizons.

I'm part way through this book, hoping to finish it next week. I think I'm more in sympathy with the contents than Frogget but I do agree with some of his points. One day I will figure out why it is the Left, which believes in access to education, which prefers to write in the most inaccessible prose possible.
Monday, September 21st, 2009
12:51 pm
Just In
In my mail box today - Foundation 104 (I must check I have 103) and Mark Bould and China Mieville, Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction. Run down of contents later.
9:41 am
Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction
Out now, but not spotted other than in captivity

Edited by Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts, and Sherryl Vint.
Routledge (hardback and paperback) 2010 but, presumably, 2009.

1. Gerry Anderson by Nicholas J. Cull
2. Isaac Asimov by Carl Freedman
3. J.G. Ballard by Roger Luckhurst
4. Iain M. Banks by Andrew M. Butler
5. Jean Baudrillard by Andrew M. Butler
6. Greg Bear by Roger Luckhurst
7. Alfred Bester by Sherryl Vint
8. Leigh Brackett by Dianne Newell and Victoria Lamont
9. Octavia Butler by Michael Levy
10. Karel Čapek by John Rieder
11. Arthur C. Clarke by Andy Sawyer
12. David Cronenberg by Stacey Abbott
13. Samuel R. Delany by Carl Freedman
14. Philip K. Dick by Andrew M. Butler
15. Doctor Who by Peter Wright
16. Greg Egan by Graham J. Murphy
17. Hugo Gernsback by Gary Westfahl
18. William Gibson by Neil Easterbrook
19. Donna Haraway by Sherryl Vint
20. Robert A. Heinlein by Neil Easterbrook
21. Frank Herbert by Adam Roberts
22. Nalo Hopkinson by Michelle Reid
23. L. Ron Hubbard by Adam Roberts
24. Gwyneth Jones by Sherryl Vint
25. Nigel Kneale by Mark Broughton
26. Stanley Kubrick by Mark Bould
27. Fritz Lang by Mark Bould
28. Ursula K. Le Guin by Wendy Gay Pearson
29. Stan Lee by Abraham Kawa
30. Stanislaw Lem by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr.
31. George Lucas by Stacey Abbott
32. China Miéville by William J. Burling
33. Michael Moorcock by Rob Latham
34. Alan Moore by Jim Casey
35. C.L. Moore by Brian Attebery
36. Oshii Mamoru by Susan J. Napier
37. Kim Stanley Robinson by John Rieder
38. Gene Roddenberry by Robin Roberts
39. Joanna Russ by Douglas Barbour
40. Mary Shelley by Adam Roberts
41. Steven Spielberg by Mark Bould
42. Olaf Stapledon by Andy Sawyer
43. Neal Stephenson by Neil Easterbrook
44. J. Michael Straczynski by Jennifer Woodward
45. Darko Suvin by Philip Wegner
46. Sherri S. Tepper, by Gwyneth Jones
47. James Tiptree, Jr. by Lisa Yaszek
48. Jules Verne by Arthur B. Evans
49. H.G. Wells by Patrick Parrinder
50. Gene Wolfe by Joan Gordon

Obviously I declare an interest - and will say nothing more for now but a hope that reviewers read the title of the volume, and that we are gesturing towards (but still will not have reached) the multimedia nature of sf.
9:08 am
Extrapolation's special issue on China Mieville.
Extrapolation, Volume 50, no 2 Summer 2009: The China Mieville Special Issue, guest edited by Sherryl Vint.

Note for readers: this is a characteristically irritable write up. The short version is that the articles by Palmer, Rankin, Sanders, Vint and Bould are all very good. Burling's is very useful but expect the usual rant about my feelings towards a particular mode of Marxist scholarship. For Birns, Cooper and Kendrick, all I can say in brief, is that my teeth ache.

Also: I know how hard it is to put together a special issue. There was at least one from Foundation that turned into a running headache. It isn't anything at all like putting together an edited book.

And remember: second, third and fourth opinions are always welcome.

Read more...Collapse )
Saturday, August 22nd, 2009
9:42 pm
Okrent, A. (2009). In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan
Lovers, and the mad Dreamers who Tried to Build a Perfect Language. New York, Speigal and Grau.
I can't remember who gave me this proof, David Hartwell maybe. I brought it home for chilperic as it's just his thing, but in the event, I've read it first. (This makes a change, usually he reads my books before I get the chance.)

It's fantastic. Obviously I can't comment on the quality of the linguistic research, but I can comment on the style and the passion. Okrent begins with the philosophers of the seventeenth century concerned with rationality and reason, moves on to the internationalists of the nineteenth century and ends with Klingon and Loglan, the first a play language the second the kind of deadly earnest play that only a geek could love. ["When one heated exchange (in English) led a commentator to write 'Go Fuck Yourself!" in Lojban, it turned into a lengthy discussion of why he hadn't said what he meant to say, and what the proper Lojban expression for the sentiment mihgt be." p. 238] On the way she passes through all sorts of linguistic countries (including Suzette Haden Elgin's Laadan) and finds there a joy and obsession with language that she recognises in herself (although she comes to the conclusion that in the end, she is a critic, not a "conlanger") and passes her first Klingon exam.

If she comes to any conclusion at all, it is that an invented language only stands a chance if its inventor is ready to let it go and be spoken and resists the temptation for endless revision--in the end, only the emergence of a culture around the language turns it *into* a language.

I really loved this book. Highly recommended.
Friday, August 21st, 2009
11:45 am
Hugo eligibility extension for The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction.
I couldn't make it to the WSFS business meeting, so thanks to the people who argued for me (I don't actually know who they are).

Istvan's book, published November 2008, is now eligible for nomination for the 2010 awards. If you don't have nomination rights you can still mention it to people who do.
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