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Just as Science Fiction and Fantasy underwent fundamental transformations in the 1980s and beyond, the comic industry also pushed itself further and further into niche territory. It’s gone from books selling in the millions of copies to a new normal where now a few thousand people read a book. The gatekeepers of comicdom blame the […]

I’m not particularly interested in joining the recent brouhaha over genre, but it seems to me that there’s an elephant in the room that I need to point out. This may seem like a strange thing for a science fiction fan to say, but if we’re honest there’s no such thing as science fiction. OK, now […]

I recently read an essay by Jeffro Johnson about the term “hard sf” and it prompted me to think through whether or not I agreed with the use of that term. I concluded I don’t. So I propose that the “hardness/softness” axis be replaced with a pair of axes, “internal consistency” and “level of imagination.” […]

The book connoisseur podcasting scene has really blossomed this year. The best thing about it is that you can get the latest information that not even the blogs have managed to nail down yet! These are great shows. If you have’t given them a shot already, now’s a great time! The JimFear138 Podcast Ep.45 ft. […]

As the genre wars rage on, cool headed fans are stepping up to smooth things over. The subtext of some of this is, “ah, we’re not brutish and nasty like some people. We are not doctrinaire like those other sorts of fans. We don’t mistake our personal preferences for objective fact. We don’t poo poo […]

Lots of people make a series of errors when talking about chivalry, and the most common (and egregious) is conflating Chivalry with courtesy and Courtly Love. Chivalry is ‘Bravery in war; warfare as an art; the military qualities expected of a noble knight; a body of armed men’. Courtesy is ‘the showing of politeness in […]

John E. Boyle writes in with this astonishing anecdotal evidence for A. Merritt’s enduring appeal: Merritt’s Magic I’d like to give you an example of just how good A. Merritt was. I read the Ship of Ishtar years ago, and then loaned out the paperback to someone, who either moved or loaned it to someone […]

“My own politics are on the progressive side and they influence my writing. My concerns when writing a Cthulhu novel weren’t whether or not I should shun HPL’s creations: I don’t think that at all since if I’m going to do that then the literature of the past 2000 years is going to be a […]

A full appreciation of just what Campbellian style “Hard SF” really is all about is only possible with an understanding of when it happened and what cultural forces drove it into its temorary and artificial dominance. For that, the most concise summary you’re liable to find is in the preface to Gardner Dozois’s Modern Classics of Fantasy: […]

I want to talk about humility. And I know that’s going to seem like an odd thing, but the subject does come up extemporaneously even if it’s not a common choice for the subject of a blog post. And it does relate to several other things we spend a lot of time digging into around […]

(Note: my brief history of Japanese SF will continue next time as I track down some references.) Heroes. Who needs them! Just another holier-than-thou vehicle for someone’s personal hangups. Just another overinflated cardboard cutout, a power fantasy made flesh. Too strong, too competent, too perfect. Real life isn’t like that. Real people aren’t heroes. And […]

Rick Stump picks up on a couple of recent topics we’ve touched on here: the abuse of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey template in film, the way the industry relentlessly un-imagines characters from before 1980, and of course… Conan: This is another reason the arc of ‘avenge my father’s murder’ is slapped onto the Conan movies; […]