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Defining Science Fiction: Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov

By Brian Hoey. Jul 7, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Science Fiction

Defining science fiction has always been a tricky proposition. It has been suggested that "you know it when you see it," but that hardly seems a sufficient rule. Still less helpful is the notion that the science fiction moniker applies to any fiction dealing imaginatively with concepts borrowed from science. The fact of the matter remains that select staples of the literary cannon have displayed an interest in science from Shakespeare’s work through the likes of Thomas Pynchon. This does little to change the fact that when we speak of science fiction we hardly ever mean The Tempest (1610), and we usually don’t mean Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) either.

     
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Mostly Harmless: How Eion Colfer Took Over The Hitchhiker’s “Trilogy”

By Brian Hoey. Mar 14, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science Fiction

One of the best running gags in fiction (in this writer’s humble opinion) comes, unsurprisingly, from Douglas Adams’ beloved Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy series (1979-2008). On the cover of some editions of the series’ fourth book, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish (1984), readers are helpfully informed that they’ve picked up “the fourth in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker’s Trilogy.” The original cover of the fifth book contained, mutatis mutandis, the same joke—Douglas Adams’ wry comment on the fact that, in terms of plotting out the series, he was just making it all up as he went along. Sadly, after Adams’ death in 2001, the joke itself had become inaccurate. The “trilogy” was inaccurately named, but no longer, with the literal death of the author, increasingly so. Or at least that’s the way it seemed until Eoin Colfer came along.

     
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J. R. R. Tolkien, Inkling and Hobbit

By Andrea Koczela. Sep 2, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: J. R. R. Tolkien, Science Fiction

 

“I would that I might with the minstrels sing
and stir the unseen with a throbbing string.”
-J. R. R. Tolkien, “Mythopoeia”

 

Today we celebrate the life of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, author of The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955).  The tremendous success of these novels has earned Tolkien the title “father of high fantasy”, yet he did more than create tales of elves and dragons. An Oxford professor and expert in Old English and mythology, Tolkien believed that all myths contain “fundamental truths” that speak deeply to the human condition. He imbued his novels with these primordial themes, and it is perhaps for this reason that his works have maintained such enduring popularity.

     
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Isaac Asimov, Pioneer of Science Fiction

By Kristin Masters. Aug 20, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature, Science Fiction

Isaac Asimov celebrated his own birthday on January 2. He was born sometime between October 4, 1919 and January 2, 1920 in Russia. According to his father, he was one of the healthiest children around, a fact put to the test when he contracted pneumonia at age 2. Asimov was one of 17 children to fall sick in the town where his family lived, and the only child to survive. The family moved to United States the following year, and Isaac Asimov grew up in Brooklyn, New York. 

     
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Dean Koontz: Collectible Writer with Staying Power

By Carrie Scott. Jul 9, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror, Science Fiction

Dean Koontz is an American master of suspense and horror who has sold over 450 million copies of his books worldwide. His works have frequently appeared on The New York Times bestseller list and more than 20 of his novels reached the coveted number one position.  

     
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Twelve Women to Read on International Women's Day

International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8. It was inspired by a National Women's Day held in New York in 1909 as a response to a 1908 march for equal rights undertaken by 15,000 women. However, by the second year, the International Conference of Working Women decided that the holiday should expand worldwide. It was adopted by the United Nations in 1975 and declared an international holiday in all participating states. International Women's Day is dedicated to fighting for gender equality and to celebrating the social, political, and cultural achievements of women. While a common opinion today is that all the battles for women have been won, International Women's Day urges women to fight to close the pay gap, to end violence against women, and to push for more visibility for women both in the workplace and in national and international leadership positions. The following 12 women writers exemplify the goals of International Women's Day in their writing and activism.

     
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A Brief History of Robots in Literature

By Matt Reimann. Jan 25, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book History, Science Fiction

The Czech writer Karel Čapek introduced the world to the word robot, by way of his play, RUR, (Rossum’s Universal Robots) in 1920. The name, deriving from robotnik, Czech for “forced worker,” has been used since by countless high-minded writers and storytellers to answer two principal questions: What would civilization look like if androids liberated humans from the work they perform today? And would these androids ever be exploited by their creators, or develop competing interests of their own? Though some authors, of course, have been less ambitious, answering the more simple question: What if a character happened to be made out of nuts, bolts, and software, or perhaps synthetic flesh?

     
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Three Interesting Facts About H.G. Wells

By Matt Reimann. Sep 21, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science Fiction

Herbert George "H.G." Wells, writer of The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Island of Doctor Moreau, is the most durable of the so-called fathers of science fiction. His stories influenced voices as diverse as Nabokov and Borges. He anticipated, in some form or another, developments such as lasers, genetic engineering, and email. His political and scientific writing influenced the following generation of thinkers, leading George Orwell to conclude that “thinking people who were born about the beginning of this century are in some sense Wells’s own creation. . . . The minds of all of us, and therefore the physical world, would be perceptibly different if Wells had never existed.”

     
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Politics Aside: Robert Heinlein's Long Transformation

By Matt Reimann. Jul 7, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science Fiction

Robert Heinlein left behind a body of work with a bewildering diversity of imaginings and ideas. It would be difficult to reconcile the free love, communal interests of the novel Stranger in a Strange Land, with say, the martial authoritarianism of Starship Troopers, or the anarchic libertarianism of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Indeed, doing so would be impossible. And there is little doubt this has much to do with why his readers appreciate his writing so much.

     
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The Recent Translations of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

By Audrey Golden. May 24, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Science Fiction, Literary travel

Any lovers of twentieth-century Russian literature should learn about—and purchase as soon as possible—the recently translated works of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. The Soviet author was born in Ukraine and studied law before traveling across much of Western Europe. In 1922, when he was thirty-five years old, he moved to Moscow, where he wrote most of his works in that same decade and shortly thereafter. His fiction was never published during his lifetime, likely due to the threat of Soviet censorship. Some have called him a postmodernist, trapped in the post-Revolutionary world of the Soviet Union in which literary dissent was unwelcome. Others describe his work in terms of science-fiction, fantasy, and even the magically real. Yet we don’t know that Krzhizhanovsky’s fiction is capable of being packaged so neatly. His works are at once reminiscent of postmodern novelists and short-story writers, true, yet they’re also some of the few works of fiction that seem to be truly unique.

     
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