If On A Winter’s Night A Linker

  • John Clute’s “Fantastika in the World Storm“, a lecture delivered in Prague earlier this month. Possibly notable for including a four-stage model of sf to go with the models of fantasy and horror outlined in the Encyclopedia of Fantasy and The Darkening Garden, respectively; at least, I think it’s the first time I’ve seen such a model written down:

    Science Fiction. The basic premise is that the world depicted has an arguable relation to the history of the real world. The underlying impulse of twentieth century SF has been to view the world in this manner in order to see what’s wrong; and then fixing it. SF is the most optimisitc of genres. SF bronco-busts the world. It rides the world storm. I’ve cobbled a narrative model for SF out of other writers’ work. Though it uses a different terminology, this model closely resembles an earlier model constructed by Farah Mendlesohn for similar reasons in her essay, Is There Any Such a Thing as Children’s Fiction: A Position Piece (2004):

    1. Novum. Darko Suvin’s term for that aspect of the SF world which differs measurably from our given world.
    2. Cognitive Estrangement. Suvin’s term — modified from Vikor Shklovsky and Bertolt Brecht — for arguable and therefore structured defamiliarization of the world, which derives in part from the fact of Novum, and which allows the defectiveness of the ruling paradigm to be seen whole.
    3. Conceptual Breakthrough. Peter Nicholls’s term, from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1979), for the thrust of release when a defective paradigm collapses and the new world — the true world — is revealed. A sense of wonder is often felt, sometimes in spaceships.
    4. Topia (U- or Dys-). The Jerusalem whose gates have been opened by conceptual breakthrough for those who have won through. From this point life is going to be led in accordance with the truths discovered.
  • Michael Swanwick’s “A Nettlesome Term That Has Long Outlived Its Welcome“, an essay about the term “fix-up” that first appeared in NYRSF.
  • I’m sure most of you have seen Ursula Le Guin’s review of Jeanette Winterson’s latest novel The Stone Gods by now, but in case not, here it is. And here is Tim Adams’ review from the Observer.
  • John Clute’s obituary for Robert Jordan (and Andrew Wheeler’s comment)
  • Jeff VanderMeer’s interview with M. John Harrison to mark the US release of Nova Swing (and Andrew Wheeler’s comment)
  • In The Guardian, Patrick Ness reviews Pratchett’s Making Money
  • Abigail Nussbaum reviews two novels by Anna Kavan
  • Jonathan McCalmont reviews Interzone 212
  • Another review of Jeff Prucher’s Brave New Words
  • Richard Larson’s thoughts on Spaceman Blues
  • Matt Cheney reports from a Jonathan Lethem/PKD event, and has the lineup of the next Library of America Dick volume: Martian Time-Slip, Dr. Bloodmoney, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, A Scanner Darkly, and Now Wait for Last Year
  • Jeff VanderMeer’s working definition of the New Weird
  • The winners of the British Fantasy Awards. In Best Novel, Tim Lebbon’s Dusk beat Nova Swing and various others; in Non Fiction, Julie Phillips’ Tiptree bio lost to Mark Morris’ Cinema Macabre
  • Fantasy Debut: a blog that tracks, well, fantasy debuts
  • Eugie Foster has been “summarily dismissed” from Tangent Online; Dave Truesdale will be taking over as managing editor.
  • And finally, not sf but interesting: Stephen King on the state of the American short story

2 thoughts on “If On A Winter’s Night A Linker

  1. A quibble – just as Suvin lifts estrangement from Brecht (etc) so he takes novum from Ernst Bloch’s Principle of Hope translated by Neville Plaice, Stephen Plaice and Paul Knight, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1986. 1, 146 [Das Prinzip Hoffnung, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1959]

    AS Bloch has alos written a book about utopia I suspect he’s due a look (I think some have already done this)

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