February 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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I2: Ivory and Ivy: An Overview of Notable Academic and Reference Works About SF and Fantasy. by Edward Carmien
(Copyright 2004 Edward Carmien)

In which our reviewer receives an urgent communication from that dark and mysterious figure known only as...the editor

It was night when the cloaked figures surrounded me. There I was, just a simple man, quill in hand, ink stains on my fingers, a bit tipsy from the tavern’s heady winter ale. As I was mostly broke I did not fear the loss of my purse so much as the head-knocking that might go with it. In my business, one’s head is an important commodity.

“Gentlemen?” I offered, hoping the compliment—for that surely it was—would soften their blows.

“Just you lissen good,” said the smallest of the trio. “What we gots for you is a message, see.”

“Yeah,” said the big one, which just goes to show that sometimes stereotypes are right on.

“Oh?” I asked, more curious now than afraid.

“Just you lissen good,” repeated the small one. “Dis column of yours ain’t makin’ the boss happy. He wants books in dat column. What was dis stuff from last month? Da em ell aye? Don’t nobody want dat stuff. Boss wants books. Plenty of books. You getting’ dis message?” He poked me in the chest to make sure I was listening. As he was holding a knife at the time, he had my complete attention.

“Right. No more MLA conventions. Books. The boss man wants books.” I tried not to sound nervous, but I did squeak just a tiny bit.

“Annnnnnd,” said the small one, “he wants ‘em, like, today. Today. You got dat?”

“Yeah,” said the big one.

They left me there in the dark with a sharp little pain on my chest. Suddenly, the ales had left me. Back to my garret it was, then.

Books of Note, February 2004

I find four such books this month. First are two books that feature notable American authors. Both authors changed America. Both authors see the individual in society in interesting ways. In The Vonnegut Effect Jerome Klinkowitz continues his Vonnegut scholarship with a book that examines Vonnegut’s anticipation of “sociohistorical trends”—buzzspeak for being on the cutting edge of perceiving the direction the world is going and saying so, in print.

Vonnegut, ever the poster child for the chasm between “literature” and “science fiction” (I hold that such a chasm is a fable, but that is another story) has lived a tremendous life and written tremendous books. Science fiction and fantasy readers who do not know his work should read him.

Tending bar on the other side of this metaphorical divide is Ray Bradbury, commonly known as a science fiction writer, albeit a “literary” one, seen as having merit by the mainstream and the slipstream alike. In Ray Bradbury: The Life Of Fiction Jonathan R. Eller and others address sixty years of Bradbury’s fiction, correspondence, and other archival material. According to the Kent State University Press, “ The Life Of Fiction examines the story of Bradbury’s authorship over more than a half-century, from his earliest writings…to his most recently published novel….”

Bradbury, like Vonnegut, has had an impact on our culture and our way of thinking. His was an early anti-imperial voice, suggesting that place be more important to identity than, say, ideology or technology. That perhaps the environment we live in will change us. (Sound familiar, Kurt?) That these books arrive on shelves during the same month is an interesting coincidence. I urge readers not familiar with Bradbury’s work to take a look. And Ray Bradbury: The Life Of Fiction as well as The Vonnegut Effect are both worthy additions to library holdings.

Two other books draw my eye this month. They are The Great Pulp Heroes, by Don Hutchison, and Blood, Bedlam, Bullets, And Badguys: A Reader’s Guide To Adventure / Suspense Fiction by Michael B. Gannon. As our culture continually mines our recent past for new and exciting things out of which to make blockbuster films, books like these are handy to have around in order to keep our pop culture oriented and in its proper upright position prior to flight.

Compilations of this sort are valuable because they bring together for researchers material that is otherwise scattered and not easily accessible to the non-collector who wishes to research these subjects. Without them, one is forced to trek to a central collection of such popular culture artifacts such as that at Bowling Green State University in Ohio (and if you’ve ever been there, you know it is a long, flat road).

As I was so gently reminded by the thugs in the alley—err, was that “me?” or just some imaginary me? Ah, the lies we tell called fiction. Anyway, as I was so gently reminded by SFRevu's redoubtable editor, I2 is to cover books and trends in the academic niche. If you have a text you believe should be addressed in this space, see our main page (www.sfrevu.com) for details on how to submit materials for review.

Now, just where did I put those bandaids….

© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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