kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 something incredible)
[personal profile] kaigou
An intriguing, somewhat ambivalent, essay by a [male] Harvard professor: "My Life as a Girl".

Worth reading: Advertising: the Real Reason Women Wear Provocative Clothes.

A short essay from Guy Gavriel Kay, "Home and Away", about why he writes historical fantasy and not historical fiction.

Last, an excerpt from Mike's Review of Amanda Downum's The Bone Palace, about fantasy versus science fiction.
I was struck [by] how much nostalgia is coin of the realm [in fantasy]. Not just in the return to tropes of feudal society, a fetishized love of the baroque hierarchies of bloodline and class systems, or the reliance on tropes of wizardry, swordplay, medieval ordnance, etc.... ...Fantasy novels romanticize the past. But note the definite article there--"the" Past, as a concept, an Idea/l--which is separated from, even utterly disavowing, history. Sure, characters go on and on about who did what in which battle, or how so and so came from so and so's bloodline, but such historicizing is not about causes, or the way different factors alter historical outcomes. Instead, it's all destiny, Quest, fate, blood. There is a fixity to what happened, and thus--I'd argue--to what will happen. I'm being vague, so let me trace a counterpoint.

Science fiction, on the other hand... romanticizes the future, sure, but it does so to reveal and engage an historical consciousness. (H/t to Frederic Jameson...) Whatever future is outlined, the genre conventions are to untangle and examine the conditions which led to this new future--changes in tech, or species interactions, or.... you name it--the future is extrapolated extravagantly to reveal how such conditions (environment, biology, commerce, technology) alter culture and society.

In fantasy, the tropes of Identity, Family, Character are echoed in what happens. But in science fiction, History has the upperhand, and changes/alters identities, families, character.

The comments are worth reading. I may be giving the wrong impression with the quote, but Mike doesn't seem to be positing a theory or an explanation so much as thinking out loud. Not really something to argue with, that is, so much as to use as a jumping-off point for own thoughts.

I've been pondering the tropes he outlined, and thinking of how they (most often) show up. One would be the use of prophecy in a story, especially when the prophecy is tied to a bloodline. (A child of this family or that heritage, with such-and-such a destiny identified often early in life, if not at birth.) I seem to recall debates somewhere over whether Dune is science fiction or fantasy, and that like Star Wars it's really a fantasy masquerading as a space opera. Given that Dune does pivot on the notion of whats-his-face fulfilling a longstanding prophecy, I guess that would be a fantasy trope. I can't think of any full-on SF stories with heritage-based prophecies being a pivotal point, but it's not like I've read all the SF out there.

Thoughts?
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kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
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to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

October 2016

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