The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury, Volume One (1938-1943) Released

I received a letter from The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University that the first volume of The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury: A Critical Edition is now available. It is a critical collection of Bradbury’s stories in the order that they were written, and it includes commentary by the editors William F. Touponce and Jonathan R. Eller on the stories, thirteen of which have never been anthologized. This is the first of a proposed three volume series. More information is available on the publisher’s website here.

I’m a big fan of Ray Bradbury. I fell in love with his writing shortly after beginning my early science fiction explorations with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. I figured if I were to begin reading SF, I should begin with the three Grand Masters. My favorite titles by Bradbury include The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, and The Illustrated Man.

Kent State Colleagues CFP, Critical and Transnational Approaches to American Popular Music

My colleagues Professor Babacar M’Baye and fellow PhD student Alex Hall have sent out the following cfp for a collection of essays on American popular music. If you study the cultural significance of American music, you should consider contributing. Read on for the full cfp:

CFP: Critical and Transnational Approaches to American Popular Music

Babacar M’Baye & Alexander C.O. Hall, eds.
Critical and Transnational Approaches to American Popular Music is an ambitious project that examines both the local and transnational significance of American popular music such as Blues, Rock and Roll, and Hip Hop. The first part of the book will situate these musical genres in the large and complex framework of American popular culture in which language, utopia, and traditions have played major roles in the construction of identity, activism, and social change. The second part of the book will put American Blues, Rock and Roll, and Hip Hop in conversation with similar or different musical genres from other parts of the world in which identity, resistance, and social transformation are also crucial parts. By inviting contributions about the local and transnational significance of American popular music, this edited volume wants to encourage original and theoretical analysis of American musical genres such as Blues, Rock and Roll, and Hip Hop while recognizing and studying the connections between such genres and their parental cousins or progenies from around the world.

Theoretically, Critical and Transnational Approaches to Popular Music is a collection of essays whose project is to study popular music using critical theory, equaling a collection of essays that is rooted in what has come to be known as “new” or “critical” musicology, but is also known simply as critical music studies. This book will employ a variety of critical perspectives in its treatment of the works it deals with, thereby widening the book’s audience via its interdisciplinary and transnational situation within the discourse of critical music studies. Looked at another way, the book fits comfortably under the umbrella of cultural studies—indeed, the book will be dealing with the cultural ramifications of the musical works. Nevertheless, each essay will employ a critical perspective relevant to the study of its musical subject. Some of the essays will, for instance, use literary theory to examine works at the level of narrative, while others will be interested in the political critique inherent in certain works. Still other essays in the collection will deal with the cultural collisions that result in, for instance, transnational forms of American popular music genres such as Rock and Roll, Hip Hop, and Rap.


All manuscripts must be original (hence, not under consideration for any other journal or book) and submitted in MS Word format. The entire essay (including endnotes and bibliography) should not exceed twenty five double-spaced pages and must include a concise title and a 200-word abstract. The essay must follow the conventions of The Chicago Manual of Style (latest edition). Articles in languages other than English will be considered; however, they must also be presented in English. All submissions must include the author’s current affiliation and contact information (e-mail and postal addresses, etc.) as well as an up-to-date curriculum vitae. The deadline for receipts of contributions is May 31, 2011.

Please address queries and papers to:


Dr. Babacar M’Baye
Associate Professor
Department of English
113 Satterfield Hall
Kent State University
Kent OH 44242

Alexander Charles Oliver Hall, M.A.
Teaching Fellow
Department of English
Kent State University
Satterfield Hall 209-F
Kent, OH 44242-0001

The Postnational Fantasy, my coedited volume with Masood Raja and Swaralipi Nandi, Now Available for Preorder on Amazon


You can now pre-order The Postnational Fantasy: Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics, and Science Fiction, my coedited scholarly collection of essays with Masood Raja and Swaralipi Nandi, on here! Read more about the volume here and the original cfp here.

My First Book Chapter in Practicing Science Fiction: Critical Essays on Writing, Reading, and Teaching the Genre

I received a nice Media Mail surprise today: Karen Hellekson sent me a complimentary copy of the book that she edited along with Craig B. Jacobsen, Patrick B. Sharp, and Lisa Yaszek from McFarland Publishers titled Practicing Science Fiction: Critical Essays on Writing, Reading, and Teaching the Genre. I’m particularly tickled about this arrival, because this is my first book chapter! My long ago essay, originally written for Masood Raja’s Postcolonialism course during my first year at Kent State and substantially rewritten since then for conferences and now this book project, has finally seen the light of day in print as chapter three of this collection titled, “Revealing Critical Theory’s Real-Life Potential to Our Students, the Digital Nomads.”

I have included a copy of the Practicing Science Fiction’s overview and chapter abstracts below, copied from Karen’s website. Please pick up a copy from the publisher here or on here. Royalties from the collection go to the Science Fiction Research Association, of which I am a member and the organization’s publicity director.

About the book:

Practicing Science Fiction

Karen Hellekson, Craig Jacobsen, Patrick Sharp, and Lisa Yaszek

The edited volume Practicing Science Fiction: Critical Essays on Writing, Reading and Teaching the Genre (ISBN 978-0-7864-4793-0) seeks to add to the academic literature related to reading, writing, and teaching science fiction. By presenting these ideas together, we hope to show the synergy between these modes of engagement and analysis. No edited volume has addressed the intersection among these three topics. The concerns of reading, writing, gender, and media—the topics that comprise the four sections of the book—are used to distance and critique concerns of interest to those interested in intellectual growth. The contributors to the teaching section discuss how science fiction texts lend themselves to teaching things other than SF literature. The writing section is not a how-to, but rather analyses of inscription and reinscription of knowledge and tradition through reading and writing. Finally, the sections on media and women contain close readings of exemplar texts related to larger issues such as female agency, memory, and ecodystopia that are usefully articulated through the distancing of SF.

From Practicing Science Fiction: Critical Essays on Writing, Reading and Teaching the Genre (c) 2010 SFRA by permission of McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers,
Part 1. Teaching
Teaching with Science Fiction
Section edited by Craig Jacobsen
The essays in this section demonstrate that pedagogical studies are integral to, rather than tangential to, the scholarship of science fiction. Understanding science fiction requires more than just being able to dissect a story or novel, or apply a theoretical viewpoint to a film. A profound understanding of science fiction means realizing what science fiction can be made to reveal about the world. (pp 7–12)

1. Grokking Rhetoric through Science Fiction: A Practical Examination of Course Construction
Jen Gunnels
Traditional teaching methods and materials for core curriculum all too often leave the student disengaged, or worse, confused. A text’s placement in the Western canon does not automatically make it accessible or engaging. It can leave the students bored and unconnected, and it can give them an inaccurate perception of rhetorical thought and the writing process. That is not to say that the canon is not important—it is—but often undergraduate core courses, especially mass courses such as rhetoric and composition, fall back on the same few texts. A reliance on canonical material—canonical to the instructor, but often unfamiliar to undergraduates—splits student focus between understanding the materials used to illustrate the concepts and the concepts themselves. A more accessible literature has the potential to free the student to concentrate on the new, often complicated, ideas being presented, and science fiction in particular can engage students who are studying core subjects by providing exemplar texts that clearly and compellingly illustrate major fundamental points. Here, I examine the use of science fiction in teaching basic undergraduate rhetoric and composition, and I reenvision its implementation. I include basic rhetorical elements that a course should cover, and I analyze a sample assignment, a brief rhetorical analysis of Tom Godwin’s 1954 story “The Cold Equations,” to illustrate basic rhetorical tools and wider arguments affecting rhetorical choices. (pp 13–23)

2. Incorporating Science Fiction into a Scientific Rhetoric Course
Michael J. Klein
Many of the scientific and technological achievements of the past century were prefigured by writers of speculative or science fiction. The scientific and technological achievements we view as commonplace (e.g., the Internet, wireless communication, advances in reproduction) were often discussed by literary authors decades before their “discovery.” Conversely, advances in science and technology drove authors to further their speculations and logically extend the discoveries of the day in their writing. In that spirit, I decided to expand the traditional canon of works I used in a scientific rhetoric course to include works of science fiction. The students in the course compared and contrasted the representation of science and scientists in fictional and factual accounts, examined the ways in which texts become important to a culture and a discourse community, and identified the means by which science informed science fiction, and vice versa, during the past century. I found that for undergraduates, the addition of literature made the concepts of scientific rhetoric more accessible and fostered greater conversation between students studying different subjects. The students in the humanities and social sciences used the literary works as a stepping stone to understanding the discourse within the scientific community. Conversely, students in the sciences and engineering recognized and appreciated the humanistic elements of science by seeing parallels in the works of fiction. These results speak to the benefits of increased dialogue among disciplines that address the concepts of science and technology. (pp 24–36)

3. Revealing Critical Theory’s Real-Life Potential to Our Students, the Digital Nomads
Jason W. Ellis
I propose a reading of Mike Resnick’s science fiction novel, Ivory: A Legend of Past and Future (2007), that engages critical poststructuralist theory and postcolonial theory for the purpose of providing a way to advance these theories in relation to the here and now of college undergraduate students. Ivory simultaneously promotes and challenges the practices of Orientalism, but my purpose is to engender further discussion regarding potential solutions to the problem of Orientalism presented in the text. Nomadology and rhizomatic resistance may provide a means to solve the problem represented in the novel. Ivory represents these concerns by showing how the fictional problem and its solution in fact epitomize our everyday digitalized and online existence. The novel explores models and provides examples of the online technologies that digital nomad students may use for self-empowerment and personal protection from the encroachment on their lives by the state and by global capital. (pp 37–50)

Part 2. Reading
Reading and Writing SF
Section edited by Patrick Sharp
The attempts of some to divide the sciences and humanities into two cultures ignore the fact that both contribute to the same system of genres that circulate throughout our culture. Scientists regularly draw on SF to make the case for why their science is important and worthy of funding. Authors of SF regularly draw on scientific narratives as they develop their “charming romances.” Though the system of genres in our culture has evolved over time, this interchange between science and SF has remained constant. The essays in this section explore specific texts as sites of this ongoing exchange between the interconnected subcultures of science and literature. They also address the importance of literacy—in regards to both science and literature—to the traditions of SF reading and writing. (pp 53–57)

4. Reading/Writing Martians: Seeing Technē and Poiēsis in The War of the Worlds
Charles Harding
From its opening lines, The War of the Worlds is concerned with seeing, or comprehending, through reading and writing. Wells’s novel emerges from a cultural environment in which a lack of foresight and illiteracy mark future-war stories and scientific discourse. Wells interrogates this cultural blindness and fosters competency by presenting his narrator as a scientific—that is, a knowing—spectator of the Martian invasion. The narrator strives to distinguish himself from those who exhibit nescience in relation to the attack. His insight proceeds from his ability to read—to comprehend and translate—what emerges from the Martian cylinders. The Martians figure as a prevision of a technologized future, and the narrator’s scrutiny of their features and annihilative machinery reveals a potentially dangerous element in humanity’s relationship to technology. This danger manifests in the Martians’ degenerate technē, their transformation of the world into a totally mechanized and depersonalized system. Despite the forbidding nature of this futuristic world, the possibility remains that it may be averted. This possibility lies in poiēsis, or artistic producing, which in The War of the Worlds culminates in the narrator’s rewriting of the invasion. According to Heidegger, poiēsis constitutes a space for an essential reflection on the danger for humanity in technology. Wells’s novel offers an opportunity for reflection on future humankind, embodied in the Martians, and its relationship to advanced technology by inviting readers to see alongside the narrator as he scrutinizes the Martians and their technē. With The War of the Worlds, Wells suggests that science fiction must be knowing fiction. (pp 58–73)

5. The Creation of Heinlein’s “Solution Unsatisfactory”
Edward Wysocki
Robert Heinlein’s short story “Solution Unsatisfactory,” which appeared in Astounding Science-Fiction in May 1941 under the pen name Anson MacDonald, is well known for its presentation of a precarious world situation after the development of a nuclear weapon. This story appeared well before the establishment of the Manhattan Project for the development of an atomic bomb. Knowledge of the state of nuclear physics in the time before the story’s creation is presented to show that its concept grew from an uncertainty regarding the means by which an atomic bomb could be constructed. The source of basic premise of the story, the use of radioactive dust rather than a bomb, is identified as Astounding’s editor, John W. Campbell Jr. Development of the story, while retaining the basic weapon concept, was then taken by Heinlein in a different direction than had been originally suggested to him. Possible sources of technical information available to Heinlein are then considered, and a connection shown to a friend of Heinlein who had just received his PhD in the field of nuclear physics, Robert Cornog. The dust idea presented in the story occurred shortly before the same idea appeared in a report developed to suggest possible military applications of atomic fission. Although the close timing between the work of fiction and the report has been noted previously in the literature, no effort had apparently been made to establish a connection. In this essay, I propose a definite connection. (pp 74–86)

6. Entropy, Entertainment, and Creative Energy in Ben Bova
Donald M. Hassler
Even though Ben Bova is discounted by some as an “easy” writer or, perhaps, even because of this fact, his usefulness as a representative of the genre has impressed me. Further, I like his storytelling both for its ease and for its consistency. So this essay is one of several I have written attempting to account for genre effects in SF. I discuss several recent Bova novels, each dealing with the extrapolation of what we know of one of the planets in our system; and I find, in fact, some rich resonance of what I call “genre effects” in these books. I write in part as a fan, as well as an academic who hopes to set enthusiasm into the larger context of literary study. Many of Bova’s storytelling techniques seem outdated because they appear in the same milieux as postmodern experimentation, and I evoke the family romance metaphor from Freud—we tend to seek out and to feel comfortable with the “generation” of our fathers. Much of my point, then, about Bova’s effects is captured in what I label in the title as “the entropy” of reading and genre. I argue that the vigorous generation, or family sense, in these science stories allows us to see beyond. (pp 87–96)

Part 3. Media
Media and Science Fiction
Section edited by Karen Hellekson
The proliferation of nonprint SF texts, such as film, television, Web content, comic books, and video games, indicates that SF remains a valuable and generative mode of storytelling. All three essays use close readings of exemplar nonprint texts to draw conclusions about contemporary concerns. And all three essays rely on texts that are themselves part of a larger multimedia megatext, be it the Doctor Who or Watchmen universes, or the film megatext created by the subgenre of the ecodystopia. All three essays rely on displacement—of genre, of medium, of message, of memory. They illustrate the power of nonprint SF as a tool to effectively engage with contemporary concerns. (pp 99–103)

7. Remembering Torchwood: Investigating the Postmodern Memory Crisis on the Small Screen
Susan A. George
In this analysis of the importance and reliability of memory in the context of postmodern SF, I use close readings of two exemplar episodes ( “Adam” and “Sleeper”) of the television program Torchwood (2006–9) to explore the fundamental nature of humanity. Torchwood asserts that some essential qualities escape quantification. These qualities define the human and separate the human from the nonhuman. Memory is the locus of these qualities, not some metaphysical or religious construct called the human soul. (pp 104–16)

8. Text’s Resistance to Being Interpreted: Unconventional Relationship between Text and Reader in Watchmen
Ho-Rim Song
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s graphic novel Watchmen (1986–87) experiments with postmodern literary devices, forms, and style to problematize the conventional concept of interpretation. In particular, the text deconstructs the conventional relationship between text and readers as the interpreted and the interpreter, and by doing so, it calls into question readers’ perception of their own reality as well as that of the text. Watchmen ultimately claims that interpretation, or the act of finding truth or meaning, is meaningless for our postmodern reality. (pp 117–29)

9. “Breathe, baby, breathe!” Ecodystopia in Brazilian Science Fiction Film
Alfredo Suppia
This analysis of four ecodystopian Brazilian SF films—Claudinê Perina Camargo’s 93° Tunnel (1972), José de Anchieta’s Stop 88 (1978), Roberto Pires’s Nuclear Shelter (1981), and Marcos Bertoni’s Armadillo Blood (1986)—demonstrates that ecodystopia is one of the most structured and long-lasting manifestations of science fiction in Brazilian cinema, offering critical and speculative visions at the crossroads of social, political, and environmental issues that continue to remain strikingly relevant today. These films shed light on Brazilian anxieties regarding modernization in the atomic era that reflect greater world ecological concerns that are only becoming more compelling. (pp 130–45)

Part 4. Women
Women and Writing
Section edited by Lisa Yaszek
Women’s science fiction has taken a wide variety of forms over the past two centuries, but nearly all such writers have grappled with two fundamental questions: who counts as a hero in a technoscientific world, and what story forms best convey this heroism to readers? These questions are very much at the heart of the four essays included in this section. The first two authors examine how two iconic women writers, Joanna Russ and Octavia Butler, complicate received ideas about the nature of the science fiction hero. The second set of authors explore how women writing science fiction use their narrative practices to meditate on the nature of storytelling itself. (pp 149–53)

10. Hail the Conquering Campbellian S/Hero: Joanna Russ’s Alyx
Eileen Donaldson
For many theorists, both feminist and not, the figure of an archetypal, active female warrior hero has been problematic. Many feminists believe it is gender stereotyping to suggest that women are unable to possess the force of the archetypal warrior hero and that this archetype is ultimately available to both men and women. I briefly define the nature of the archetypal hero and an argument is made for the active female s/hero who possesses the “masculine” powers of the hero and thus allows the archetypal power of the active warrior hero to pass to women. Joseph Campbell’s work on the archetypal hero of myth is drawn on extensively. One of the genres that allow an exploration of the s/hero is SF. I explore the s/hero in SF, particularly as she is evoked in Joanna Russ’s Alyx stories, published as short stories first and then collected in 1983 and published as The Adventures of Alyx. (pp 154–67)

11. Essentialism and Constructionism in Octavia E. Butler’s Fledgling
Kristen Lillvis
Although critics have argued that science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler confines her heroines to biologically determined sex and gender roles, in this article, I look beyond genetic predispositions and explore the influence of social and material conditions on her characters’ beliefs and actions. I use Butler’s final novel, Fledgling (2005), to investigate acts of sexual violence, demands of heterosexual sexual practices, and traditional notions of maternal roles as they affect the novel’s human and vampire species as well as Butler’s protagonist, a genetically engineered being whose biology aligns her with both species but whose amnesia frees her from a socially constructed consciousness. I posit that although biological tendencies may exist in the novel, Butler uses her heroine’s atypical beliefs about and responses to female behavioral norms to demonstrate that sex-specific characteristics become unavoidable truths only for the individuals and societies that choose to accept them as such. (pp 168–82)

12. Joanna Russ and the Murder of the Female Child: We Who Are About To…
Rebekah Sheldon
In this essay, I investigate the violation of the rescue of the female child theme in Joanna Russ’s 1977 novel We Who Are About To…. In stories like “The Second Inquisition” (1970), Russ positions the reader as the double of the child in the plot and rescues both by engendering the story as a hero. I assert that We Who Are About To… rends open this closed loop through its refusal of proper narrative structure and its murder of the female child. I interpret this murder as an interrogation of the metaphysics of presence implicit in the rescue thematic, a move to a deconstructive writing practice and a liberation of the child from service as the site of future redemption. (pp 183–96)

13. Learning to Listen, Listening to Learn: The Taoist Way in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Telling
James H. Thrall
Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Telling (2000) is more than simply a novel steeped in Taoism. It is, in fact, an attempt to make a political point by imagining a novel in a Taoist mode. Her protagonist moves beyond merely studying the Telling, a way of life modeled on Taoism, to becoming a practitioner herself. Le Guin contrasts her construction of the Telling’s grassroots system of communicating life wisdom through story with hierarchical systems of domination and control. By emphasizing the importance of properly engaged listening, which she sees as a key aspect of both Taoism’s and the Telling’s feminist principle, Le Guin advocates an alternative politics that embraces “peaceful anarchy” rooted in cooperation and discernment rather than conflict. (pp 197–212)

Citation information
Hellekson, Karen, Craig Jacobsen, Patrick Sharp, and Lisa Yaszek, eds. Practicing Science Fiction: Critical Essays on Writing, Reading and Teaching the Genre. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010.

The Postnational Fantasy: Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics, and Science Fiction Forthcoming from McFarland Publishers

I’m happy to announce that Masood A. Raja, Swaralipi Nandi, and I have signed a contract with McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers to publish our forthcoming edited collection on postcoloniality and science fiction tentatively titled, The Postnational Fantasy: Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics, and Science Fiction.

I would like to thank our wonderfully brilliant contributors who have submitted their work to be a part of this edited collection. And, I would like to thank my co-editors, Masood and Swaralipi, who have helped me nurse this project from an afternoon office conversation into a book that is nearing materialization.

I have included a brief description of the project below. As the publication process develops and a finalized table of contents is available, I will post it to and Masood will post it to his blog here.

The Postnational Fantasy: Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics and Science Fiction places itself at the nexus of current debates about nationalism, postnational capitalism, the reassertion of third world nationalism and its cosmopolitical counterparts, and the role of contemporary Science Fiction (SF) and fantasy in challenging, normalizing, or contesting these major conceptual currents of our times.  This new collection of essays, thus, brings together, in one volume, the interplay of critical and theoretical insights both from Postcolonial and Science Fiction studies.

In a way SF and Postcolonial Literature both have traditionally dealt with the question of the other.  Thus, while SF has been traditionally concerned with the issues of the alien and the ontological other, the leading postcolonial works have usually focused on giving voice to the silenced colonized others.  Just as the SF writer must ‘train’ the reader in his or her imagined setting, so does the postcolonial author feel the need to inform the reader while attempting to represent the postcolonial subjects. This combination of representation and didactics, crucial to SF and postcolonial writing, can therefore be an interesting starting point for bringing the two overlapping fields of artistic endeavor together, as both have a lot to offer in theorizing and debating the national, the postcolonial, and the cosmopolitan in the era of high capital. As of now, not many critical texts attempt to rewrite postcoloniality through a textual and theoretical reading of contemporary SF nor has there been a worthwhile attempt in postcolonial studies to incorporate the contemporary SF in the cultural and political debates. It is, therefore, one of the goals of this volume to enrich both Postcolonial Studies and SF studies with a nuanced borrowing and intermixing of their primary texts and modes of interpretation, which would, we hope, enrich both fields of study by sharing their common and particular modes of reading and responding to the texts. Important also in our study would be the nature of representation itself, but especially the affective value of the texts in generating and foregrounding the questions of feelings invoked by the SF and the postcolonial text, and the impact of this emotive state on the issues of national, postnational, and cosmopolitan identity formation.

R.D. Mullen Research Fellowship Deadline on April 1 (no joke)

If you want to get funding to research in the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Utopian Literature at UC-Riverside, then you have until April 1 to get in your application. See below for all of the details.

JUST A REMINDER: The R.D. Mullen Reseach Fellowship Committee has extended the deadline for receipt of applications for awards in 2010-11 until April 1. Please spread the word to any eligible students in MA and Ph.D. programs and urge them to apply. There is one month to go and we’d like to have a reasonable pool of candidates from which to select winners.

Call for Applications: R.D. Mullen Fellowship Science Fiction Studies announces the second annual R.D. Mullen Fellowship supporting research in the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Utopian Literature at the University of California at Riverside. Awards of up to $1500 are available to fund research in the archive during the 2010-11 academic year. Students in good standing in graduate degree-granting programs are eligible to apply. We welcome applications from international students. The Mullen Fellowship, named in honor of SFS’s founding editor, promotes archival work in the Eaton’s extensive holdings, which include over 100,000 hardcover and paperback books, over 250,000 fanzines, full runs of all major pulp and digest magazines, and the manuscripts of prominent sf writers such as Gregory Benford, David Brin, and Anne McCaffrey. Other noteworthy parts of the Collection are: 500 shooting scripts of science fiction films; 3500 volumes of proto-sf “boy’s books” of the Tom Swift variety; works of sf in numerous foreign languages, including Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish; a large collection of taped fan conventions and taped interviews with American, British, and French writers; reference materials on topics such as applied science, magic, witchcraft, UFOs, and Star Trek; an extensive collection of anime and manga; and the largest holdings of critical materials on science fiction and fantasy in the United States. Further information about the Eaton Collection can be found online at: <>. Applications should include a cover letter explaining the candidate’s academic experience and preparation, a CV, a 2-3 page proposal outlining a specific and well-developed agenda for research in the Eaton archive, a prospective budget detailing expenses, and two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the candidate’s academic work. Applications should be mailed to: Professor Rob Latham, Department of English, UC-Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521-0323. Electronic submission (as RTF or PDF files) to <rob.latham [at]> would also be welcome.
The deadline for submission is April 1, 2010. Applications will be reviewed by a committee of sf scholars, and successful applicants will be notified by May 1, 2010. Any questions should be addressed to Rob Latham at: <rob.latham [at]>.

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)

Vandana Singh’s The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories

Photo on 2009-10-17 at 15.18

Professor Masood Raja lent me his signed copy of Vandana Singh’s The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories (2008) a few months ago. Mrs. Singh is an Indian science fiction and fantasy author, who also holds a PhD in theoretical particle physics. You may read some of her work and learn more about her on her official website here.

Due to my PhD reading lists and an enormous amount of other work, I have only just now got around to reading the short story for which the collection got its name, and I can only say, wow, it’s a really great story. “The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet” is a whimsical answer to the more paranoid invasion stories of Philip K. Dick or the alarming nanotech transformations of Greg Bear. Her writing style reminds me of the fleshiness and texture found in the works of Ted Chiang and Ian McDonald. The “aliens” of this story are not from out there, but from the woman herself. She creates them, and they in turn care for the planet that gave them birth. Her creations, which she is trying to learn how to understand, and her changed behavior as a planet among human beings challenges the relationships of husband-wife/male-female while turning issues of class and face on their heads.

You should check out Mrs. Singh’s collection on the basis of this one story, and if you have the time, let me know what you think of the other stories.

Cho Woong’s Star Wars Collection

I found a link to Cho Woong’s fantastically amazing Star Wars collection on BoingBoing a few days ago, but I’m just not getting around to reposting the link.

The incredibly cool part about Cho’s collection is his presentation aesthetics. He went to great pains, not altogether successfully but close enough for Imperial work, to present his collection in a way that accentuates the many pieces of his collection. Overall, I am very impressed with his selection of Star Wars toys and collectibles. It is good to know that there are collections like this out there in the wild.

Stephen R. Donaldson at Kent State University

Stephen R. Donaldson, the well-known SF and fantasy author of the Thomas Covenant series, visited his alma mater today, Kent State University.  Before the glitz and glamour of professional writing, he was a graduate student at Kent State.  He earned his MA in English Literature here, and he began his PhD in which he was studying the works of Joseph Conrad.  Now, he’s an award winning author, and Kent State library curates his manuscripts and papers.  

This afternoon, Mr. Donaldson met with about 10 to 15 students and faculty in the NEOMFA office in Satterfield Hall.  I made a point of driving into campus today just for his visit, and I was very happy that I did after listening and taking part in the enjoyable conversation.

During the conversation, Mr. Donaldson talked about how he made a point of studying authors whose works he liked and respected in order to figure out how they did things rather than going into a creative writing program to hone his writing skills.  In particular, he commented on his studies of Joseph Conrad and Henry James.  When asked about The Mirror of Her Needs (1986), he mentioned some of his influences in the writing of that novel were Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, which has a great respect and love for but not Arthurian legends in general, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions.  

When asked if any of his books might be made into movies, he didn’t think that would happen.  He said that he would get an ego boost if it did, but then feel let down when the film didn’t replicate his work honesty.  He went on to say that movie adaptations of books are reinventions or recreations of the works that they take as their object.  In his case, a director that makes one of his books into a movie would be creating something that was theirs, and that’s okay.  As an example, he talked about Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Essentially, Peter Jackson created something new that isn’t the same thing as Tolkien’s novels–that if you read the novels you will feel something different than what you feel when you see the movies.  Why is that so?  It has to do with the differences in media.  In books, you can get into the head of a character, which you cannot do in a movie.  On the other hand, movies are able to combine sound effects, special effects, visuals, cinematography, and music–all overlaid one another–to create something different than what you get in the linear word-by-word world of books.  It’s not to say that one is better than the other, but rather they have different strengths and weaknesses.

When asked about completing a book, he remarked that, “It’s a lonely place at the end of a book.”  I knew that there was a lot of housekeeping tasks including copyediting, proofreading, etc. that take place after the manuscript is finished, but Mr. Donaldson said that there was a real “so, what have you done for us lately” attitude by publishers to authors when I book is done–meaning, when’s your next book going to be ready?

I asked him what his thoughts were on the recent court case between a Harry Potter lexicon writer and J. K. Rowling and her publisher.  Mr. Donaldson said that he wouldn’t take the time to deal with something like that if it came up in regard to his own work, but he talked about why Rowling and her publisher got pissed off in the first place.  Had the lexicon author, Steve Vander Ark, approached Rowling’s publisher with the idea rather than skirting them and approaching another publisher then there would have been the possibility of his lexicon coming out.  As it was, there was a broach of professional courtesy and the attempt at circumvention of the rights of the author and publisher.  Also, the money issue, which is a non-issue for Rowling and her Scrooge McDuck swimming pool of money, but it would have been a more real issue for her publisher.  So, had Ark made the proposal to the publisher with a stipulation that the author could give final approval of the factuality of the lexicon entries then he would have been on much stronger ground than putting it out through another publisher, RDR Books.

His last thought before leaving for his next scheduled stop around campus was that, “storytelling is our number one survival skill.”  Stories take on many different aspects of our lives from the mundane to the more fantastic.  I think this is even more poignantly made clear in the documentary that I recently saw called Darkon, which is about live action roleplayers, or LARPers, in their game and “real” lives.  I agree with Mr. Donaldson’s idea, because it’s the stories that we tell that make meaning for and about our lives.  And, it’s for that reason that I feel that I’m drawn to the study of SF and the stories that we tell about the only literature that, as Mr. Donaldson pointed out, “presupposes the future.”

I didn’t have an opportunity before his alloted time was over to mention this, but his elucidation of the decline in book sales across the board reminded me of a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago with Mack Hassler.  I am definitely integrated in a technological circuit, but I turn back to books to find the stories that I’m interested in.  Furthermore, the stories about technology are in books–pulp–paper.  Mr. Donaldson didn’t have an answer about the future of narrative forms and media (who could?), but the fact is that it appears, particularly with Border’s recent announcement to decrease SF and Fantasy stock in its brick-and-mortar stores, the current SF/Fantasy boom-bust cycle is on the bust side of things.  I don’t know how much this has to do with changing reading habits, non-reading habits, online and gaming culture, or the economy’s continuing nosedive trend.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see, or if I’m feeling entrepenureal, perhaps I’ll take it in the next big direction.

Many thanks to Mr. Donaldson for taking the time to speak with us today, and thanks to the folks that made his visit possible.  We sorely need more author visits to Kent.