I have spent a lot of my time in graduate school thinking about how to talk about literary canons and ways to disrupt them. The literature classes I teach always include works that have otherwise been excluded from the Western Canon in a deliberate attempt to draw into question how canons are formed and the limited scope they present to us as readers. It's a tightrope game. On the one hand, survey courses have to teach students about crucial works of literature in an effort to provide some kind useful and repeatable literary knowledge base. On the other hand, simply repeating the canon is sort of like reading the headlines in a newspaper without ever looking at the article itself; sure, you'll have a firm understanding of a literary tradition, but you're missing out on a wide range of compelling material that could make for an even deeper reading of a field. In the realm of science fiction, that can be a bit tricky. Because science fiction is already a small bubble of a much larger literary world, text selections are often arbitrary or based on vague notions of what appears to be the "common core" of the field (we'll come back to this in a bit). Worse, science fiction "people" too often assume they know what the canon "is" and push that perspective on others as if it has weight -- which it does due to the power of cultural suggestion. I've heard too many stories of someone in the science fiction community telling someone else that they have to read X and Y if they want to be considered "educated" about the field; ironically, you'll hear the same ten names repeated in these claims, suggesting such individuals have a less comprehensive knowledge of the field than they assume. There are two false assumptions in these claims:
@renay How do we create an inclusive sf canon that also recognizes the impact publishers had on which works we influential?
— Grand Moff Duke🐍🚀 (@shaunduke) December 21, 2016
- That they speak using the authority of an existing literary canon.
- That the purpose of a canon is to provide a reading list one must consume to be considered "knowledgeable" about a field.
ost about "strong male characters" that took to task some comments made in a review by Todd McCarthy. At the time, I had not seen Rogue One, so my argument essentially rested on the idea that we don't need "strong male characters" in every movie. Now that I have seen the movie, I feel it necessary to come back to McCarthy's review to address the substance of the claims. Expect some spoilers ahead! As a reminder, here is the relevant quote from McCarthy's review:
What the film really lacks is a strong and vigorous male lead (such as Han Solo or John Boyega's Finn in The Force Awakens) to balance more equally with Jyn and supply a sparring partner. None of the men here has real physical or vocal stature, nor any scenes in which they can decisively emerge from the pack in a way that engages audience enthusiasm. Both Luna and Ahmed have proved themselves repeatedly in big-screen and television performances, but their characters never pop here, to the film's detriment. And given that Jyn is rather less gung-ho and imposing than was Ridley's Rey, there's an overall feel of less physical capacity on the part of the main characters.None of this is remotely accurate. Actually, I'd hazard to call it complete and utter bullshit. Read More
here.[/note] That's been the way of things for decades, and only until recently has that power been properly challenged, with more and more female-led action franchises hitting our screens. It's a good thing. Some of those new franchises are fan-friggin-tastic. And those other franchises are fantastic, too. We can have both! Which brings me to the latest "men aren't getting their fair share" argument in film... By now, some of you have seen Todd McCarthy's review of Rogue One at The Hollywood Reporter. As far as reviews go, it's a fairly standard piece; read it if you like, but be warned there are some spoilers. Part of the reason McCarthy's review has garnered a lot of attention, particularly on Twitter, is the following quote: Read More
- The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr. (1978)(podcast forthcoming)
- Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler (1991)
- To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (1997)(almost done)
long list, which you should check out to see all the great stuff I enjoyed. You might also check out the 2016 Hugo Awards Reading/Watching List, which includes works from my original list and works suggested by readers. As with every year of the awards, these selections are based entirely on my own tastes, which are imperfect, narrow, and weird. The winners are below the fold. Some of the categories include runners up; the categories that do not contained far fewer entries on the long list, and so including a short list would basically have included the long list anyway. Read More
Shaun’s Rambles 013: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (w/ Special Guest Mareen Kincaid Speller)Geek references + the Dominican Republic = instance classic. In this episode, Maureen Kincaid Speller joins me to discuss the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. We tackle the novel's treatment of geekery, its exploration of masculinity, romance, and the coming-of-age narrative, and much more! I hope you enjoy it! Read More
- Best Fancast: The Skiffy and Fanty Show (Shaun Duke, Julia Rios, Paul Weimer, Mike Underwood, Rachael Acks, David Annandale, and Jen Zink); Totally Pretentious (Shaun Duke and David Annandale)
- Best Non-Fiction Work: Speculative Fiction 2014: The Year's Best Online Reviews, Essays, and Commentary edited by Renee Williams and Shaun Duke (Book Smugglers Publishing)
The form will remain open for the next month or so, so if you haven't submitted anything or want to submit some more stuff, go for it! So, without further delay, here is the big massive monster list of stuff I'll be reading or watching for the next few months: Read More