The Sunday Salon: Preserving SF History with Kickstarter

This past week, Kickstarter has been on my radar. (Kickstarter, if you don’t know, is a crowd funding website—it allows projects to seek funding from the public, instead of seeking traditional investors.) Kickstarter has been used to fund some high-profile literary projects—reprinting The Order of the Stick, saving a film adaptation of Blue Like Jazz, and backing a short film adaptation of a Neil Gaiman story. But today I want to highlight two recent (one of them ongoing) Kickstarter projects focused on preserving speculative fiction history.
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Review: Lavinia

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

Lavinia is a recommendation I picked up two years ago, on my graduation trip to Ireland and England with my parents. I had just started writing down books I wanted to read and book blogging a little, so I often found myself wandering Waterstone’s…eses… and drooling over UK editions of books, particularly Stephen King’s works and, of course, The Lord of the Rings. And that’s where I found Lavinia, with a little notecard from an employee extolling its virtues. I loved Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (I wish there was an audiobook of it; at least, an audiobook available on CD) in high school, so I wrote it down. And I only now got around to it. Ah, the joys of a reading list pushing five hundred.

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Booking Through Thursday: Queue

What are you reading now?

Would you recommend it?

And what’s next?

At the moment I’m reading my first piece of Dragon*Con swag, John Lenahan’s Shadowmagic, which I would not recommend—there’s zero set-up and it desperately tries to be funny without ever hitting the mark. Next up is Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Glow, which will be released next Tuesday, so I need my review up by Monday, even though it’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week next week. (Blindsides me every year. I should probably put it on my calendar.) It’s young adult science fiction, so I don’t foresee any problems with that. After that, probably Lavinia or Mélusine to cleanse the palette before A Fire Upon the Deep, then Blood Rights, then The Children of the Sky… my queue is so orderly at the moment, but I’m working with some advance reviews at the moment. Usually, it’s a lot more free and easy.

The Sunday Salon: NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Books

In June, I was alerted by my fellow The Lord of the Rings fans to NPR’s call to nominate books for their Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books. Setting aside the problem of conflating the genres—I mean, I get it, but it does mean a lot of good books in both categories will fall by the wayside—I enjoyed looking through the comments for new recommendations and, of course, taking the opportunity to peddle Jacqueline Carey’s The Sundering like it’s my job. (If you read and liked The Lord of the Rings, you should read it. End of story.) The nominations were counted, the votes were tallied, and on Thursday, NPR unveiled the fruit of its labors—their top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books (circa Summer 2011). I’m not going to copy the list verbatim—you can find a printable version here if you so desire—but I am going to talk about some of the selections that made it, be they good or bad in my book.

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The Sunday Salon: Literary Taxonomy

I’ve been following the dialogue between Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin concerning what exactly constitutes science fiction for some time, because it’s an important question–at what point is that line drawn? We tend to think that other people see genres the same way we do, as Atwood and Le Guin did. However, to their surprise, they discovered they did not, making their chief conflict quite complicated. When I attended one of Atwood’s lectures at Emory a few weeks ago, I was quite taken with her choice of phrase when she was discussing the many meanings SF has to her–it depends on your “literary taxonomy”. To further explore that idea, I’ve decided to clarify and contemplate my personal literary taxonomy.

(Obviously, we’re only dealing with fiction here–nonfiction and fiction are as different as the day and night. It’s only when you try to pick out the different phases of the moon that you run into trouble.)

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The Literary Horizon: The Memoirs of Cleopatra, Lavinia

My marvelous AP European History teacher during my senior year of high school occasionally said that, given the option to time travel, the menfolk could probably do what they wished in the past–the womenfolk, however, either ought to stay in the here and now or head for the future. As a feminist, somewhat of a feminist literary critic, and a mademoiselle in general, I’m always interested to see women throughout history who manage to break out and to see how they saw themselves–nobody is socialized in a vacuum, and whatever the society thought has be dealt with too. This week, I’m looking at two works of historical fiction focused on women–one famous, one forgotten.
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