Sonja Fritzsche’s Science Fiction Literature in East Germany

I finished reading Sonja Fritzsche’s Science Fiction Literature in East Germany (2006) for a review that I’m writing for The German Quarterly.  Before writing the review, I do want to share some of my first impressions as I organize my thoughts for the official review. 

This is a fantastic synthesis of history and cultural analysis of Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) SF.  Fritzsche opens up an often-neglected field of SF research with this work.  Building on a dearth of earlier scholarly work on DDR SF, she builds a history of the DDR, SF authors, SF publishers, and DDR fandom through a contextualization of Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschland (SED) policies and the thematic and theoretical elements of a variety of DDR SF, but focusing a deep analysis on three emblematic works:  Eberhardt Del Antonio’s Heimkehr der Vorfahren (Return of the Forefathers, 1966), Johanna and Günter Braun’s Unheimliche Erscheinungsformen auf Omega XI (Uncanny Manifestations on Omega XI, 1974), and Angela and Karlheinz Steinmüller’s Der Traummeister (The Dream Master, 1990).

Fritzsche’s Science Fiction Literature in East Germany succeeds at adding to SF history as well as DDR history.  I recommend this book to SF and German Studies scholars alike–it has much to offer to SF and German discourses.  Also, I have to find translations of some of these books that she writes about, because they sound so damn interesting!

Keep an eye out for my full, very positive review in an upcoming issue of The German Quarterly.

Work and Relaxation, or Introduction to Wood Shop

I haven’t taken much of a break since Spring semester ended in May.   I took a pedagogical course with Brian Huot, and wrote and presented a paper at the 39th annual SFRA conference in Lawrence, Kansas.  I picked up a new hat from SFRA and became its Publicity Director.  As such, I wrote a press release on the Lawrence meeting, which I’ll send out to the great SF magazines and journals once I finalize photo permissions.  Now, I’m doing two book reviews–one for The German Quarterly and another for Foundation.  I have a few weeks left before Fall semester begins and I still have to develop a syllabus for my writing class.  I know that I’ll get it all done, but I need some extra relief from all this academic work!

One fun project this past week was building a new stand for Yufang’s electric piano.  Her “professional” stand was too high for her to comfortably tickle the ivory, so I suggested that I build her a lower stand at a fraction of the cost of a store-bought stand.  After a lot of planning, measuring, and figuring, I picked up some lumber from Lowes and put together a new stand to accommodate her Yamaha.  Unfortunately, I didn’t consider the placement of the piano’s speakers, which are underneath its body.  So, I added a Ryobi jigsaw to my toolbox and opened up the table top with spacious sound holes.  Again, something wasn’t quite right–the keyboard wasn’t level.  For some reason, the back of the Yahama is 3/4” lower than the front, which makes the keys skew upwards at about 10 degrees.  Back in the garage, I added 3/4” stands behind the sound holes to elevate the rear of the piano so that it was properly level.  Now, she has a badass stand that assists her showing off her mad skillz.

Logically, the next thing I wanted to do after handling power tools is kill monsters in an immersive virtual environment–World of Warcraft.  I hadn’t played my two accounts in a long time (one of these gratis Matt Jasper), so I wanted to get back into the fray on Ner’zhul and kick some PvP ass.  Since I last played, I had installed Apple’s Mac OS X 10.5.4 software update.  When I launched WoW I learned that this update nerfs WoW and my OS in a big way.  As a result, I reinstalled Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard twice (Why?  Because that’s how I roll) troubleshooting the problem.  Now, I’m running 10.5.2 and WoW without any problems. I expect to enforce Horde values later this evening–beware.

In two weeks, Yufang and I are traveling to Washington, DC for a few days to check out an SR-71 Blackbird and a Space Shuttle at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum annex next to the Washington-Dulles International Airport.  We’ll also do some other sightseeing while we’re there, and maybe we’ll have a chance to hang out with my cousin Angie.  More on this when we get back!