May 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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I2: Ivory and Ivy: May 2004 - A survey of Scholarly works in F&SF
by Edward Carmien
(©2004 Edward Carmien) 

First, the Tolkien material: two books that merit further review here at SFRevu are Understanding The Lord Of The Rings: The Best Of Tolkien Criticism, edited by Neil D. Isaacs and Rose A. Zimbardo and J.R.R. Tolkien Companion (Two Volume Box Set), by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. Isaacs and Zimbardo, together again, are prominent in Tolkien criticism and any work they set their collective mind to is bound to be valuable. In this case, the highlight is “The Best of Tolkien Criticism,” as much valuable work is hard to find, surely a reason behind the publication of this volume. The Companion is a much-anticipated text that promises to be well worth the wait. Both of these books are must-haves for libraries that wish to remain current with their critical holdings that address this aspect of fantastic literature.

Also of particular value to libraries is Memoirs Of The Life Of Henriette-Sylvie De Moliere (The Other Voice In Early-Modern Europe), by Madame De Villedieu & Donna Kuizenga. As our understanding of the real role women have played in our cultural history improves, texts like this become more relevant to our understanding of our place in the stream of time and culture.

In a lighter vein is Anne C. Petty’s Dragons Of Fantasy: Scaly Villains And Heroes In Modern Fantasy Literature. Petty, who has done some work on Tolkien in the past, presents a familiar type of text in the fantasy field done in a slightly more literary fashion. This good-sized text is inexpensive and should be of interest to fans of the Dragon.

What American cinema often does to the Bible, Ramesh Menon does for The Ramayana, a scripture-like story—not the right word but it will have to do—from India’s rich religious tapestry. The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling Of The Great Indian Epic is a novelized version of this ancient and powerful story of Prince Rama, who loses his throne and wife to a demon and struggles to regain both. For readers who wish to appreciate something beyond the bounds of the usual Celtic feudal epic fantasy, this looks to be an interesting choice.

Finally, if there is any doubt the lines between not only genres such as science fiction and horror but also the line between genre fiction and so-called mainstream fiction are blurring, a peek at Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife should dispel it. This text, mainstream enough to make popular reading lists, has a science fiction title yet is essentially a romance, as it follows the relationship of a man who pops in and out of what he considers to be “his” time with the woman he loves.

At the recent Fantastic Genres conference at SUNY New Paltz this blurring was a central topic of discussion, and of course the conference served as another venue for an academic paper on my new favorite topic of Romantic (as in the literary movement) Literature (as in not “sub” literature). I won’t offer up the conference paper this month, as I did last month, but I do suggest a peek at the conference report is worth the time.

Such are the Books of May. Until next month, farewell.

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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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