Biographies of Tanith Lee, James Tiptree Jr, and Jack Vance

In recent weeks, I’ve been on a biography reading jag, first tearing through The Hidden Library of Tanith Lee, then James Tiptree, Jr., the Double Life of Alice Sheldon, and This is Me, Jack Vance! The Hidden Library of Tanith Lee by Mavis Haut begins with a heavy academic tone, delving into the mythopoeic layers […]

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Are you a werewolf, or not? Who can say…

   Having just finished a riveting gothic fantasy novel about werewolves by Tanith Lee, it occurs to me that moral ambiguity is the core theme of the books I have been reading lately.  In Lycanthia, Lee portrays the vagueries of a consumptive city-dweller, a self-involved pianist, who comes into a large country manor in the […]

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Soviet Pop Dirvishes: Ensemble Birch

On BoingBoing there is a link to this “hypnotic folk dance,” which only one commentator identified correctly as Nadia Nadezhdin’s ensemble Birch founded in 1948.  (Thanks, Terry di Paolo!)  However, it is worth pointing out that the name of this particular piece, Прялица, means “spinning jenny,”  as in spinning of thread for weaving cloth.  This should […]

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Bob Dobbs was right… Wage Slaves must slack

Reading Jennifer Szalai’s article on Dwight MacDonald’s Masscult and Midcult in this week’s Nation, gave me pause to reflect on that seemingly outmoded way of characterizing the tension between high culture (the art of museums and mid-town cinematheques) and the kibble for the rest of us low-lifes, otherwise known as kitsch. When I first encountered MacDonald’s […]

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Readercon 22 – Goodspeak From the Jewel Hinged Jaw

Yet another great time at Readercon this year!   The panel topics had their usual sweep of the field, from Mark Twain, to Mark Clifton, and most places interstitial…yet the mood of the conference was clearly influenced by the passing of two major figures in SF’s new wave:  Joanna Russ and Tom Disch.   In […]

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Synchronicity of misremembered skulls

The fascinating novel Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald captured my interest at the outset when he described the journey of Thomas Browne’s skull.   The intrepid adventures of Browne’s skull, included an interlude beneath a glass bell jar at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital Museum, as well as two burials.  This gives Sebald ironic […]

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Three Gems of Metahistorical Science Fiction

It is rather hard to believe, but by pure chance the last three novels I read in sequence were all Metahistorical narratives–not in the sense of Hayden White or Gaian ecology…  What I am referring to in the case of these three books is a Metahistory as a condition, or perhaps even a technique, for […]

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