I2: Ivory and Ivy: An Overview
of Notable Academic and Reference Works About SF and Fantasy- March 2004
by Edward Carmien
(Copyright 2004 Edward Carmien)
As March exits a wet and grumpy lion I find the pickings are thin for the month of April. Of note is The Selected Writings of Edgar Allen Poe ($16, W. Norton & Company) , the new Norton Critical Edition edited by G. R. Thompson. To understand contemporary American genre fiction, know Poe—and to know Poe one can do little better than to thoroughly explore the material in this Norton text. Academic, yes, but it is here one will find the perspective necessary to appreciate Poe’s contribution to the mystery novel and to the contemporary sense of Romantic Fiction in general. As this is a Norton edition, it goes without saying that this is a valuable reference text for libraries.
If more recently popular work is your bag, and if you’ve ever had one of those uncomfortable conversations with someone convinced that the Harry Potter books carry the message of you know who in the hot place consider God, the Devil, and Harry Potter: A Christian Minister’s Defense of the Beloved Novels ($22.95, St. Martin's Press). John Killinger probably provides some key ideas that might help if Potter comes up in certain contexts.
Two texts that collect useful popular culture detail are coming this month. Don’t be put off, but one is Disney’s Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters ($17.99, Disney Press). It is aimed at a younger audience, but still provides a lot of information about the subject in one place. Greg Rickman’s The Science Fiction Film Reader ($22.95, Limelight Editions), is of course for adults and should prove useful to those with an interest in science fiction cinema as well as to libraries seeking to maintain a good general collection about science fiction.
But enough about books of note. I want to take some time to discuss a recent conference presentation in which I discuss fantastic fiction and detective (mystery) fiction. I argue that from a marketing perspective if the two are mixed the result is invariably shelved with science fiction and fantasy novels, but that increased examples of such combinations, along with other factors, is a sign that the clear line between genre fiction and so-called mainstream fiction is beginning to blur. I invite you to read my conference paper here. Oh, and you’ll hear a bit about why I’d like to begin using the term Romantic Fiction as an umbrella term for all sorts of literature, such as horror, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and other kinds of fiction. (On then...Professor Carmien's Literary Laboratory, where he will reveal - at some length- the secrets of the ages!)
* * *