More Early Modern Women Adventurers (… and others)

You read my post about Mary Ambree and Dianne Dugaw’s scholarship on women warriors in popular 16th-18th century English culture, and now you want more, you say? You’re in luck: the excellent Stuff you Missed in History Class podcast (which I listen to a lot these days, while driving) has made a few pertinent episodes […]

Ballard, Burroughs, and “Truth” in Writing

Today I read a rather interesting interview with JG Ballard at Salon. It’s mainly about Ballard’s thoughts on his own work and the work of William S. Burroughs, and I found it interesting because he had some very intriguing things to say about what he terms “the bourgeois novel”.

Hesse’s Demian

One night during a discussion between some friends, including my girlfriend, Hermann Hesse’s book Demian came up. One of the things I like about our relationship is that while neither of us simply runs out to read books that the other has read, we sometimes do recommend books to one another and eventually talk about […]

Technique and Politics in Hard SF

In his famous Harper’s piece,“Perchance to
Dream: Reasons to Write Novels in an Age of Images”, the now oft-discussed
Jonathan Franzen articulates his personal motivation for writing literature
in an age where the most powerful media is not print but image-based technology
like TV and film. He starts out the description of a retreat from the world
— a world that his persona in the essay feels has gone mad. He writes:
“I began to think that the most reasonable thing for a citizen to
do might be to enter a monastery and pray for humanity.” This, from
a man who describes his connections with the outside world as “the
twin portals of my TV set and my New York Times subscription.” He
decants nightmares of a Silicon Valley VR-helmet plague, and derides rampant