March 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Exploring the MatrixI2: Ivory and Ivy: An Overview of Notable Academic and Reference Works About SF and Fantasy- March 2004 by Edward Carmien
(Copyright 2004 Edward Carmien)

Several Tolkien-related texts are available for the first time this March. I won’t be writing about them. My editor won't let me. He says all I ever talk about is Tolkien. Tolkien, Tolkien, Tolkien. Enough with the Hobbits he says. Fine. He's the editor and I guess that means he gets the last word. Last month he sent thugs to give me his message, and I don't want to go through that again. No way.

Instead, how about (though not actually SF/F, but certainly a wellspring for those genres) Hardboiled And High Heeled: The Woman Detective In Popular Culture ($85) by Linda Mizejewski a pricey but what appears to be focused look at a burgeoning element of the detective genre. While too expensive to serve in a general course about detective fiction, scholars with an interest in the field should have a look. This also appears to be a good choice for libraries seeking to bolster their selection of critical material relating to both detective fiction and feminism.

Or perhaps (and closer to my mandate) The Utopian Fantastic : Selected Essays From The Twentieth International ($65.00) Conference On The Fantastic In The Arts, Edited by Martha Bartter, is another expensive text also too specialized for most courses but which could serve as a good reference for scholars not only of utopian fiction but also those who study science fiction’s potential for use as a tool of speculation in the social sciences. “Fantastic literature (including science fiction and fantasy) is the only form of literature that takes utopia/dystopia seriously. Therefore, analysis of these works provides a basis for serious experimentation in social science,” says the preview text for this volume. More information about the book’s contents was not available as of this writing.

With so much being asked for these texts, it is nice to see something a bit more moderately priced. The talented Brian M. Thomsen has struck again, this time as editor of Cyberfilms: The Stories That Became The Films ($13.00). This  text looks very interesting, and as an anthology of stories by people like Gibson, George R. R. Martin, and Clive Barker has potential to serve as a text for a general science fiction/fantasy literature class. If I can get a copy, I’ll consider using it myself in the classroom this fall. Cyberfilms appears to be of great interest because in my experience students today commonly lust after visual expression of idea and story. This anthology has the potential to serve as an effective bridge between cinema and literature for such students.

Exploring the MatrixThe most interesting of this month’s new releases is Exploring The Matrix : Visions Of The Cyber Present ($14.95), edited by Karen Haber, a writer with a broad background in the science fiction field. Haber has collected 18 essays about contemporary science and technology by authors such as Brin, Haldeman, Kevin J. Anderson, Sterling, Goonan, Resnick, and Foster. Originally out in hardcover, it's now available in trade paperback. With an introduction by Pat Cadigan, this text is clearly a powerhouse of speculation and represents a broad spectrum of successful and active science fiction writers. In the blizzard of new titles it is unsurprising but unfortunate this text has not yet been reviewed in this space. Sight unseen, it appears to be a must-own text for any serious science fiction scholar, and libraries would be wise to consider acquiring a copy as well.

Hopefully the aforementioned collection of noirish and cyber-sciffy tomes will keep my editor at bay for another month. Should you want something with a little more Tolkien in it until then, you might take a look at The World of the Rings : Language, Religion, and Adventure in Tolkien by Jared C. Lobdell ($20.00) for a discussion of "philology, Roman Catholic theology, and...Edwardian adventure" in the tales of Middle Earth. If you don't tell the editor I suggested it, he probably won't hurt me.

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I2 keeps an eye on books and trends in the academic niche. The scope, as you see above, is broad—from science fiction and fantasy to detective fiction, I2 covers it all. (If you listen carefully you can hear as many as three different squeals of outrage at this linking of content areas. Do what I do: wear earplugs and enjoy it all anyway.) If you feel there is material that should be brought to the attention of this column, contact I2 care of SFRevu.

© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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