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Reading Rieder by Lamplight
Published June 28, 2020

Book review:

Rieder, John. Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2017. 224 pages. ISBN 9780819577160. Pbk. $22.95.

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Orson Scott Card’s Speculative Fictions: Blending Science Fiction and Fantasy
Published January 4, 2021

A prolific author, Orson Scott Card has written works that encompass a range of genres including a large body of commentary, Mormon drama, science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and often melds elements of one into another. In particular, as John Clute notes, “a ‘feel’ of fantasy pervades much of his s[cience] f[iction] work.” In fiction...s such as Enders Game, Treason, and Wyrms, and stories like “The Originist,” his tribute to Asimov’s Second Foundation, he employs traditional elements of fantasy: its language in references to wizards, dragons, magic, and such characters as dwelfs, a portmanteau of “elf” and “dwarf”; the episodic quest narrative of escalating perils undertaken by the protagonist, who moves from isolation to community; and the conventional, often medieval, fantasyscape of fabulous forests, rivers, and mountains. Through such a strategy Card establishes a heightened significance to human experiences that both genres address, and opens another portal to the sense of wonder that informs each. (WAS)

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Policing the Boundaries: The “Mission Street Station Scene” in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
Published January 4, 2021

The essay focuses on the “Mission Street Station” episode in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968). The episode revolves around two central problems: the human/android divide and fake realities. The first part of the paper concentrates on theories of classification and analyses the problems of the Voigt-Kam...pff test understood as a classificatory apparatus. The second part focuses on the Mission Scene as a fake reality and identifies a potentially problematic race-focused reading. Dick, a prolific essayist and public speaker, expressed his preoccupation with questions that constitute the conceptual core of the scene on several occasions. Therefore, the essay also relies on the author’s nonfiction to discover and establish the importance of the oft-neglected Mission Scene in the novel’s critical reception. (DP)

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Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Home Planet: The “Other” in Robert Heinlein’s Juvenile Science Fiction
Published January 4, 2021

This essay examines Heinlein's Young Adult (YA) stories—commonly referred to as his “juveniles”—and argues that Heinlein's "Others" are not defined by race, gender, or planet of origin but by their inability to understand and deal with the changes that inter-planetary travel will bring. (CWS)

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The Cultural and Intersectional Politics of Nomadism in Zadie Smith’s Swing Time
Published February 1, 2021

Zadie Smith’s most recent novel, Swing Time (2016) continues her exploration of individual identity in relation to the broader social context by telling the story of an unnamed narrator and her childhood friend, Tracey, members of the second-generation British-Jamaican diaspora in London, whose cultural and racial hybridity positions... them against hegemonic discourses in contemporary British society. The text vividly portrays the consequences of their deviance, particularly how the specific intersections of race, gender, and class they embody limit either their cultural or socio-economic agency, and impair their capacity to construct a sustainable identity. Since the desire to transcend bodily determination in performative ways is as crucial a dimension of the characters’ life journey as is the experience of the effects of socio-economic stratification arising out of intersectional difference, this essay explores the complex relationship between intersectional difference and agency in Swing Time through the double theoretical lens of Rosi Braidotti’s nomadic performative model of identity and Kimberlé Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionality, arguing that Smith’s novel does not simply bear out Braidotti’s theory but rather interrogates it, especially its insufficient attention to the diverse and disempowering effects resulting from certain intersections of what Braidotti calls “variables” or “axes of differentiation.”  (MK)

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The Most Monstrous Kind of Art: Frankenfictions
Published June 28, 2020

Book review:

de Bruin-Molé, Megen. Gothic Remixed: Monster Mashups and Frankenfictions in 21st-Century Culture. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. x + 264 pages. ISBN 978-1350103054. Hb. £76.50.

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Dracula Addressing Old and New
Published June 24, 2020

Book review:

Crişan, Marius-Mircea, ed. Dracula: An International Perspective. Palgrave Gothic. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. xi + 280 pages. ISBN 978-3-319-63365-7. Hb. $101.51.

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Theater within the Graphic Novel about Theater: Neil Gaiman’s Concept of the Artist in His “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Published June 24, 2020

In his own version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Neil Gaiman exploits the possibilities in doubling: he presents the Shakespearean comedy as a play within the artistic space of his graphic novel and Such a reading reveals that what is a tool in Shakespeare’s play to visualize that art is capable of mirroring reality becomes a means... to express the interchangeability of the realistic and the fantastic realms. Gaiman’s strategy of doubling thus suggests an understanding of life that surpasses the narrow interpretation of historical facts, and thereby it may offer a viable alternative to what we experience as reality.

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“. . . one part life and nine parts the other thing”: Painters and the Stage
Published June 24, 2020

Bringing the act of artistic creation to the stage involves a multiplicity of strategies and interrogations that are not easily contained within the boundaries of the “drama of the artist” as understood in its quasi-biographical sense. This is especially true of visual art which cannot be represented by words only but requires a different k...ind of presence on stage. In many Künstlerdramas the biographical presence tends to impose recognizable limits to the fictionalization exercise, which frequently turns to the individual creator as the center of an inquiry into the problematics of artistry. This paper discusses how two contemporary Künstlerdramas, John Logan’s Red (2009) and John Murrell’s The Far Away Nearby (1996), attempt to reinvent the trope by weaving the biographical record with the performative presence of acts of staged visuality that re-center the act of artistic creation. (TB)

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"The Very Seeds of Fire”: Chris Lee’s The Map Maker’s Sorrow
Published June 26, 2020

Chris Lee’s The Map Maker’s Sorrow (1999), produced at the Abbey Theatre only six years after Ireland decriminalized suicide, proved prescient in focusing on this national health problem among the young. The very structure of the play mirrors the fragmentation and messy aftermath that suicide almost inevitably produces. The abrupt ...beginning, where a character that the audience does not know and cannot know kills himself, leaves the audience in a position similar to that of survivors who find a suicide. Drawing on the work of Ludwig Binswanger, Kay Renfield Jamison, and national studies of suicide the essay argues that young Jason’s suicide represents a direct challenge to life understood as an orderly progression from birth to death and as an attempt to deny the very premise of lived life itself. (DEM)

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