I2: Ivory and Ivy:
An Overview of Notable Academic and Reference Works About SF and Fantasy
by Edward Carmien
(Copyright 2004 Edward Carmien)
Another month of light-lifting in the academic and research category, as I have two items to share with you. David Sandner’s Fantastic Literature: A Critical Reader is a pricey (read “academic course market”) text that may do for “imaginative literatures” what Gunn’s mighty Road to Science Fiction series does for science fiction. His publisher lists Sandner as being an Assistant Professor of Romanticism and Children's Literature at California State University, Fullerton. This makes Sandner a kindred soul to yours truly, for he publishes fantastic fiction while serving also in the ivory tower. One hopes this text will cross SFRevu’s threshold for review—in the meantime, Sandner’s background and the book’s description suggests this text is worth a look.
At the other end of the spectrum, Enslow Publishing has initiated a new series of author biographies about various authors, aimed at readers in the Grade 6 and up category. This interesting gambit seems aimed at classroom teachers interested in finding an alternate route to the interests of their students. If The Hobbit isn’t enough to get one’s seventh-graders reading, perhaps J.R.R. Tolkien: Master of Imaginary Worlds by Edward Willett, a literary biography, will do the trick. If Something Wicked This Way Comes needs a hook, perhaps Ray Bradbury: Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy by Wendy Mass will reel them in. This series, subtitled “Authors Teens Love” also includes a look at mystery writer Joan Lowery Nixon, Perhaps more titles are to follow.
It does not appear that these biographies, some of which include an interview with the subject author, actually present any of the fiction written by their subjects. If that’s the case, pity the lack—though in the context of a primary, middle, or high school academic setting, perhaps it is presumed all the fiction one could wish for is available via the school library. That minor concern aside, it is interesting to imagine the resource these biographies provide for student writers. Perhaps with these texts available, English teachers who despair of prying student minds out of the fantastic worlds of Tolkien and Bradbury will have an avenue to broaden these student’s minds with a look at non-fiction texts.
These books are also priced for the schools, not for the commercial market—they list at about $25, are discounted at about $20, but have low page counts, around 100 or so. Even so, one hopes local and school libraries will seek out one of the series, just to see how it fares in the hands of young readers.
That’s the month of July—a light month, to be sure, but one with a nice contrast in offerings. See you next month!
Joan Lowery Nixon: Masterful Mystery Writer
Ray Bradbury: Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy
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