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February 03, 2011

On the four ways of writing religious science fiction

Jo Walton lays it out. Religious Science Fiction | Tor.com | Science fiction and fantasy | Blog posts
It seems to me that there are four ways of doing religious science fiction. There’s the kind of SF where the writer is themselves a member of some religion and this imbues their writing—I think Connie Willis would be a good example of this. Look at the stories in Miracle, or her novel Passage. I don’t have a problem with this unless it spoils the story, but I don’t find it all that interesting either. Secondly, there’s theological SF, like A Case of Conscience, or Clarke’s “The Star” and “Nine Billion Names of God,” or Brunner’s “The Vitanuls,” where the writer rigorously extrapolates science fictionally the consequences of some religious dogma being true. I love this. Thirdly, there’s the story as analogy thing, which C.S. Lewis did so weirdly in Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra. I’m not much interested in this either—I think it works better as fantasy. Fourthly, there’s using the way religions have worked in history and extrapolating that into the future. Dune and Stranger are both, in their really different ways, about being a messianic figure starting a religion. Another Hugo winner that does this is Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light (post). If you look at these three you can see one clear use of Christian mythology, one clear use of Islam, and one clear use of Buddhism in a Hindu context. (Zelazny was fond of using different mythologies, he seems to take on a new one for ever novel.) These three are all using historical religions to show religion working in future worlds, with in all cases an additional dollop of mysticism. (The scenes in Heaven in Stranger, Paul’s prescience in Dune, the powers in LoL.) I tend to like this, too.

February 01, 2011

S. T. Joshi Interview in THE BELIEVER

Hey, I just did an interview with the esteemed S....

January 15, 2011

Stay Classy, "Today Show"

Snooki bumps 2011 Caldecott, Newbery winners : The Mommy Files...

January 14, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time in 90 seconds, performed by kids

"A Wrinkle In Time" In 90 Seconds from James Kennedy on Vimeo.

James Kennedy -- 90-Second Newbery

Inside Chicago's Poetry Brothel

Must Read. Truly. Pimp My Poem by Kathleen Rooney : The Poetry Foundation [article]
If you attend one of the Chicago Poetry Brothel’s monthly events, you will be greeted at the door of the House of Blues’ Foundation Room by a mysterious man in a mustache and top hat known only as the Good Doctor. He will take your $10 cover if you are not in period garb, or your five bucks if you are clad as a proper Victorian. (NB: Convincing Victoriana is all about the headwear: hats, flowers, feathers, and the like.) This man will hand you a bound menu of the evening’s performers, comely men and women with names like Calliope Belle, Jens Jensen III, and the Woodland Doll, and elaborate backstories to match. Durham Pure, for example, was “manifested from cigarette smoke and a gypsy’s lamp oil that caught a southern current and settled in Chicago,” and Nicola von Huntelaar was “raised by the captain of the sea ship No Hope, who found her raft skirting the Alaskan coast.” You will enter a dim room appointed with fireplaces, silk tapestries, velvet banquettes, and damask wall hangings flecked with tiny mirrors and sequins. Every available surface will be either carved hardwood or plated with gold leaf. Because no self-respecting bordello would be caught without a piano player, there will be one, alternating his sets with DJs spinning the greatest hits of the 1890s and early 1900s. You might order yourself a whiskey drink or some absinthe from the bar, and while you’re standing there, getting your bearings, you will almost certainly be approached by one of the Regulars, perhaps the Card Sharp, who “as a youth growing up in Bombay, India, learned how to use chicanery and card tricks to separate pigeons from their money,” or the Consumptive, who “rather than recuperate in warm and arid climes, has opted to dissipate here in the cold and muggy Middle West, living out his remaining days neither wisely nor well.” These gentlemen will gently persuade you to pay a further $5 per token for poker chips. These chips will facilitate secluded exchanges with the Poetry Whore of your choosing, the idea being that ladies of the night had best not handle cash. . . .

On the real allure of bad writing

Why we love bad writing - Laura Miller - Salon.com