1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11  |  12  |  13  |  14  |  15  |  16  |  17  |  18  |  19  |  20  |  21  |  22  |  23  |  24  |  25  |  26  |  27  |  28  |  29  |  30  |  31  |  32  |  33  |  34  |  35  |  36  |  37  |  38  |  39  |  40  |  41  |  42  |  43  |  44  |  45  |  46  |  47  |  48  |  49  |  50  |  51  |  52  |  53  |  54  |  55  |  56  |  57  |  58  |  59  |  60  |  61  |  62  |  63  |  64  |  65  |  66  |  67  |  68  |  69  |  70  |  71  |  72  |  73  |  74  |  75  |  76  |  77  |  78  |  79  |  80  |  81  |  82  |  83  |  84  |  85  |  86  |  87  |  88  |  89  |  90  |  91  |  92  |  93  |  94  |  95  |  96  |  97  |  98  |  99  |  100  |  101  |  102  |  103  |  104  |  105  |  106  |  107  |  108  |  109  |  110  |  111  |  112  |  113  |  114  |  115  |  116  |  117  |  118  |  119  |  120  |  121  |  122  |  123  |  124  |  125  |  126  |  127  |  128  |  129  |  130  |  131  |  132  |  133  |  134  |  135  |  136  |  137  |  138  |  139  |  140  |  141  |  142  |  143  |  144  |  145  |  146  |  147  |  148  |  149  |  150  |  151  |  152  |  153  |  154  |  155  |  156  |  157  |  158  |  159  |  160  |  161  |  162  |  163  |  164  |  165  |  166  |  167  |  168  |  169  |  170  |  171  |  172  |  173  |  174  |  175  |  176  |  177  |  178  |  179  |  180  |  181  |  182  |  183  |  184  |  185  |  186  |  187  |  188  |  189  |  190  |  191  |  192  |  193  |  194  |  195  |  196  |  197  |  198  |  199  |  200  |  201  |  202  |  203  |  204  |  205  |  206  |  207  |  208  |  209  |  210  |  211  |  212  |  213  |  214  |  215  |  216  |  217  |  218  |  219  |  220  |  221  |  222  |  223  |  224  |  225  |  226  |  227  |  228  |  229  |  230  |  231  |  232  |  233  |  234  |  235  |  236  |  237  |  238  |  239  |  240  |  241  |  242  |  243  |  244  |  245  |  246  |  247  |  248  |  249  |  250  |  251  |  252  |  253  |  254  |  255  |  256  |  257  |  258  |  259  |  260  |  261  |  262  |  263  |  264  |  265  |  266  |  267  |  268  |  269  |  270  |  271  |  272  |  273  |  274  |  275  |  276  |  277  |  278  |  279  |  280  |  281  |  282  |  283  |  284  |  285  |  286  |  287  |  288  |  289  |  290  |  291  |  292  |  293  |  294  |  295  |  296  |  297 

February 28, 2013

World Without Gender, World Without War

Noah Berlatsky takes a look at Ursula LeGuin's stunning LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS. World Without Imperialism -- The Hooded Utilitarian
Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel The Left Hand of Darkness is best known for its imaginative take on gender — the inhabitants of the planet Gethen (Winter) are human-descended hermaphrodites, who become male or female (depending on their partners) only during a brief mating cycle (called kemmer) every month. imagesFor Le Guin, though, the ambisexuality of the Gethenians is about much more than just sex. As she says (through the mouth of a Terran-normal human observing the Gethenians,) the structure of the kemmer cycle rules the Gethenians; all their stories and culture is focused on it. This, she says, is relatively easy for outsiders to understand. But What is very hard for us to understand is that four-fifths of the time, these people are not sexually motivated at all…. Consider: Anyone can turn his hand to anything. This sounds very simple, but its psychological effects are incalculable…. Consider: A child has no psycho-sexual relationship to his mother and father. There is no myth of Oedipus on Winter….. Consider: There is no unconsenting sex, no rape. Gethenians, Le Guin goes on to make clear in the rest of the book, are not ruled by the dualism or binaries which structure our thought. Perhaps in part for that reason, they have no war. I say “perhaps” here advisedly — Le Guin is careful not to absolutely link the absence of masculinity to the absence of violence. There are other possible reasons for the lack of warfare; Gethen is an extremely cold planet, and its inhabitants are in a constant struggle for survival — their battle against the cold is so all-consuming and fierce that they have had little time to develop large scale states or armies. They do, however, have assassinations, and murders, and torture, and even occasional small battles. During the time of the novel, two Gethenian nations have even gotten large enough and powerful enough that it looks like a border dispute might turn into war. Still, with all these caveats, the fact remains — the Gethenians don’t have men, they don’t have sexual violence, and perhaps not as a direct result, but not incidentally either, they don’t have glory of arms, and they don’t have war. . . .

February 24, 2013

The Ten Rules of Detective Fiction, circa 1928

How crime fiction has moved on - Features - Books - The Independent
At the entrance to the Murder in the Library, a compact new exhibition that charts the A-Z of crime fiction at the British Library, there's a panel that lists Monsignor Ronald Knox's 10 rules of detective fiction, which are as follows: 1) The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow; 2) All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course; 3) Not more than one secret room or passage is allowed; 4) No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end; 5) No Chinaman must figure in the story; 6) No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right; 7) The detective must not himself commit the crime; 8) The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader; 9) The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader; 10) Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them. Knox came up with these commandments as a preface to Best Detective Stories of 1928-29 (hence the murderously un-PC "Chinaman" comment), so he was writing about the Golden Age of detective stories. This era is represented in Murder in the Library by examples of the work of Agatha Christie, of course, Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh, as well as exhibits of less well-known whodunits that variously reveal the identity of the killer via a jigsaw (The Jigsaw Puzzle Murder by Walter Eberhardt, 1933), or let readers work out the culprit by studying real clues (cigarette ends and hair clippings in the case of Murder Off Miami, by Dennis Wheatley and JG Links, 1936) that come neatly packaged for that purpose. Whodunit was both the genre, and what every reader wanted to try and work out. It was about reading, but also about solving a puzzle.