It Lives: Carter Kaplan’s Emanations: Second Sight Now Available on Amazon.com

Carter Kaplan has now published the second fantastically wonderful and weird Emanations anthology: Second Sight. It is available for purchase on Amazon.com here.

Sue Hassler has already written a review of the new book on Amazon, in which she says,  “The work of Marleen Barr in this collection of strange things is worth the price of admission alone.”

Horace Jeffrey Hodges has more to say about the new collection on his blog here.

I highly recommend the original Emanations, too. Check out both titles for your daily dose of the unknown!

I Finally Got Around to Writing My First Amazon.com Review: Heather Masri’s Science Fiction Stories and Contexts

I’m not sure why I never wrote an Amazon.com review–there are certainly lots of books that I have a strong opinion about–but I finally wrote my first review there today on Heather Masri’s Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts.

I suppose what put me over the edge was my outrage over 1-star reviews by people who take such a visceral disliking to something that they miss the point of the book. In all of the reviews that I have written elsewhere in the SFRA Review, Foundation, and The Journal for the Fantastic in the Arts, I never out-right attack a work. Instead, I find what is good and bad about the work, figure out the logic of the writer or editors, and then recommend who I believe might be interested in reading a particular book. Of course, journals generally don’t give stars for works. This grammar school throwback of Web 2.0 technologies on Amazon is an unfortunate system. Admittedly, it serves a handy function for would-be buyers, but it is easily skewed on books that will likely receive few reviews due to their specialized (and small) audiences. It was this skewing that prompted me to write a review comment and then a full review to fight back against this skewing and give a proper review for a book that I feel strongly positive about.

Paul Cook, a prolific reviewer by Amazon standards, wrote a lengthy 1-star review of Masri’s book. Since her book had previously only one other review (4-stars), her average stars plummeted. Pragmatically, stars on Amazon translate into sales, and Cook’s review could have consequences for the adoption of a first-rate anthology. Additionally, Cook’s review isn’t really a review of Masri’s book as much as it is a lament for the fact that Masri’s anthology isn’t like every other anthology that predates it–a catalog of important and popular stories. A lament for what a book is not is not in my opinion a reason to give a book a 1-star review, especially in consideration of what effect that review might have on sales for a book that obviously has value–an admission that Cook makes in a backhanded manner.

Overall, it seems that Cook took a lot of space to let would-be buyers know that he completely missed the point of the Masri’s book. Unfortunately, would-be buyers wouldn’t know that unless they had seen the book themselves. I have seen other reviews on other books on Amazon.com before, but today I decided to take matters into my own hands by giving potential buyers and readers of Masri’s quality anthology a properly contextualized review.

As I had written before on dynamicsubspace.net in 2009, Masri’s book is a good anthology that pairs a broad selection of SF stories with critical essays–something that no other current anthology does on the scale that she does in Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts. I have not yet had a chance to use her book in a class of my own, but after reading it, I plan to do so in the future.

I don’t want to give too much away here, but you should go here and read my review of Masri’s book and consider adopting it for use in your own science fiction classes. I believe it is very useful in a science fiction survey or theory course, but it could be used in a science fiction history class if carefully thought out in advance by the instructor. Essentially, I think Masri’s book is potentially versatile in literature and interdisciplinary classes. You can find my review here.

Finally, I would like to offer some advice for Amazon (and 0ther) reviewers. First, books are written or edited by real people who are trying to sell a book and disseminate the ideas in that book. If you have a bone to pick with a given book, remember that what you do has an effect on real people. Be fair and honest, but don’t be spiteful or inconsiderate. Look for the logic of the book and consider who might realistically want or need the book. I believe that the star-rating should reflect a myriad of things besides your gut reaction to the book. Take in account the book’s intended audience and the book’s effectiveness toward that audience before trashing a book on account that it doesn’t meet some arbitrary expectations that you might have for the book. This doesn’t mean that some books should only be read by certain people, but it does mean that I (a soon-to-be English literature professor) should give a 1-star review to Stephen Hawking and GFW Ellis’ The Large Scale Structure of Spacetime because I don’t follow the maths so well! We have a responsibility to wield Web 2.0 technologies, including those of simple book reviews, responsibly, because these technologies can have real consequences for others.

Book Talk & Signing at Georgia Tech, Lisa Yaszek & Rebekah Sheldon, Nov 4, 2010

If you are in Atlanta on November 4, 2010 at 11:00am, you should go to the Georgia Tech Barnes and Noble Bookstore, 2nd floor Technology Center, to hear a book talk by Professor Lisa Yaszek and Brittain Fellow Rebekah Sheldon. Prof. Yaszek is going to talk about her role as co-editor of the Practicing Science Fiction: Critical Essays on Writing, Reading and Teaching the Genre anthology in which my essay “Revealing Critical Theory’s Real-Life Potential to Our Students, the Digital Nomads” appears. Sheldon will present on her essay, “Joanna Russ and the Murder of the Female Child: We Who Are About To,” from the anthology.

CFP: Emanations: A New Anthology Series Devoted to Fiction, Poetry, and Essays

Carter Kaplan sent out a cfp for a new anthology (official blog here):

Emanations

The editors of Emanations seek fiction, poetry, essays, manifestos and reviews. The emphasis is on alternative narrative structures, new epistemologies, peculiar settings, esoteric themes, sharp breaks from reality, ecstatic revelations, and vivid and abundant hallucinations.

The editors believe that recognizable genres are fit points of departure—science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, local color, romance, realism, surrealism, postmodernism—but the idea behind the idea is the thing, just as the magician behind the magician is . . . the magician. In other words, Emanations seeks to say something new, but the illusion of something new can be just as important. Essays should be exuberant, daring, and free of pedantry. Length is a consideration in making publication decisions, but in keeping with the spirit of the project contributors should consider length to be “open.”

Send files with brief cover note to Carter Kaplan:

IAsubmissions@hotmail.com

Board of Editorial Advisors

Ruud Antonius

Horace Jeffery Hodges

Norman Spinrad, blog

Vitasta Raina

Michael Beard

Andrew Howdle

Elkie Riches

Mike Chivers

Carter Kaplan

Kai Robb, 2

Tessa Dick

Michael Moorcock

Joel K. Soiseth

Mack Hassler

Darren R. Partridge

Emanations is a not-for-profit literary project and contributors cannot be compensated at this time. All proceeds from the sale of Emanations will support the efforts of International Authors to publish new voices from around the world.

Published By International Authors

Representative New Science Fiction Collection, The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction

Rob Latham sent the following announcement and table of contents to the SFRA email list for The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction. It looks like an amazing lineup of stories, and I can’t wait to see the final product when it is released late Summer 2010.

The editors of Science Fiction Studies are pleased and proud to announce the imminent publication of a project we have been working on for some years. The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction is designed to provide a historical survey of the genre and includes 52 works ranging from Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” published in 1844, to Ted Chiang’s “Exhalation”(2008). The chronological table of contents follows; the anthology will also include a thematic table of contents that divides the stories into nine themes: Alien Encounters, Apocalypse and Post-Apocalypse, Artificial/Posthuman Lifeforms, Computers and Virtual Reality, Evolution and Environment, Gender and Sexuality, Time Travel and Alternate History, Utopias/Dystopias, and War and Conflict. An introduction offers historical and theoretical guidance to readers of sf, and individual headnotes for each text provide an overview of each author’s life and characteristic concerns as a writer, as well as historical/contextual information.

While we believe that the Wesleyan Anthology of SF will supply an abundance of reading pleasure for anyone interested in the genre, the work is geared for classroom use as well. Concurrent with the book’s publication, we will be launching a website to provide supplementary materials, including study questions for each story, possible topics for essays and exams, sample syllabi based on the anthology’s contents, and links to other online resources. Wesleyan has announced the book for August 2010, so we believe that it will be available for use in classes beginning in the Fall. If you are scheduled to teach a course in sf during the coming year, we hope that you will consider adopting the book; the paperback edition will be priced at $39.95.

Table of Contents

Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” (1844)

Jules Verne, excerpt from Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)

H. G. Wells, “The Star” (1897)

E. M. Forster, “The Machine Stops” (1909)

Edmond Hamilton, “The Man Who Evolved” (1931)

Leslie F. Stone, “The Conquest of Gola” (1931)

C. L. Moore, “Shambleau” (1933)

Stanley Weinbaum, “A Martian Odyssey” (1934)

Isaac Asimov, “Reason” (1941)

Clifford Simak, “Desertion” (1944)

Theodore Sturgeon, “Thunder and Roses” (1947)

Judith Merril, “That Only a Mother” (1948)

Fritz Leiber, “Coming Attraction” (1950)

Ray Bradbury, “There Will Come Soft Rains” (1950)

Arthur C. Clarke, “The Sentinel” (1951)

Robert Sheckley, “Specialist” (1953)

William Tenn, “The Liberation of Earth” (1953)

Alfred Bester, “Fondly Fahrenheit” (1954)

Avram Davidson, “The Golem” (1955)

Cordwainer Smith, “The Game of Rat and Dragon” (1955)

Robert Heinlein, “All You Zombies—” (1959)

J.G. Ballard, “The Cage of Sand” (1962)

R. A. Lafferty, “Slow Tuesday Night” (1965)

Harlan Ellison, “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” (1965)

Frederik Pohl, “Day Million” (1966)

Philip K. Dick, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” (1966)

Samuel R. Delany, “Aye, and Gomorrah…” (1967)

Pamela Zoline, “The Heat Death of the Universe” (1967)

Robert Silverberg, “Passengers” (1968)

Brian Aldiss, “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” (1969)

Ursula K. Le Guin, “Nine Lives” (1969)

Frank Herbert, “Seed Stock” (1970)

Stanislaw Lem, “The Seventh Voyage” from The Star Diaries (1971)

Joanna Russ, “When It Changed” (1972)

James Tiptree, Jr., “And I Awoke and Found Me Here On the Cold Hill’s Side” (1973)

John Varley, “Air Raid” (1977)

Carol Emshwiller, “Abominable” (1980)

William Gibson, “Burning Chrome” (1981)

Octavia Butler, “Speech Sounds” (1983)

Nancy Kress, “Out of All Them Bright Stars” (1985)

Pat Cadigan, “Pretty Boy Crossover” (1986)

Kate Wilhelm, “Forever Yours, Anna” (1987)

Bruce Sterling, “We See Things Differently” (1989)

Misha Nogha, “Chippoke Na Gomi” (1989)

Eileen Gunn, “Computer Friendly” (1989)

John Kessel, “Invaders” (1990)

Gene Wolfe, “Useful Phrases” (1992)

Greg Egan, “Closer” (1992)

James Patrick Kelly, “Think Like a Dinosaur” (1995)

Geoff Ryman, “Everywhere” (1999)

Charles Stross, “Rogue Farm” (2003)

Ted Chiang, “Exhalation” (2008)

Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts, Edited by Heather Masri

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I just got a copy of Heather Masri’s Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts from Bedford St. Martins as I build a science fiction course for (hopefully) future use. This is a really cool collection.

It is chocked full of fiction–short stories and excerpts–that are introduced by Masri. But that’s not the really slick feature. What I like about the collection is the thematic groups of stories paired with critical essays. For example, the first section on “Alien Encounters,” which includes stories by Wells, Weinbaum, Bradbury, Le Guin, Butler, Egan, and others, is paired with a selection from de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, Jung’s The Shadow, and Fanon’s The Face of Blackness.  The “Utopias and Dystopias” section has A. E. van Vogt’s “The Weapon Shop,” Ellison’s “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman,” Joanna Russ’ “When It Changed,” and more by Zamyatin, Knight, Varley, Ryman, and Hopkinson. With these terrific stories, there are Hannah Arendt’s Ideology and Terror: A Novel Form of Government, William H. Whyte Jr’s The Organization Man, and Jameson’s “Progress versus Utopia; or, Can We Imagine the Future?”.

Not everyone will agree with all of the selections, but I believe that this is a useful and well considered turnkey effort toward a theory centric science fiction course.

The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction

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I just received my copy of The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction today. After browsing through the entire volume, I’m amazed at how much amazing work is packed into this single volume by such a broad swath of the science fiction scholar community. I can see this anthology being useful in an SF survey course or as a companion for any scholar who wants a quick and thorough introduction to a particular field of study within SF scholarship.