Science Fiction & God

From the Guardian, the author, Francis Spufford, asks, “What can science fiction tell us about God?”

He then says, “not much, really,” and gives us a plausible explanation.

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‘The Cougar Behind Your Trash Can’

Since I live where we have cougars and bears roaming the local area, I found the  The New York Times op-ed piece by David Baron quite interesting—a cougar from South Dakota travels all the way to Connecticut. Indeed, “America has grown a bit less tame.”

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

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Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s ‘last stories’

From the Guardian,

A collection of nine short stories by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, described by scholars as ranking alongside his best work, is to be published in English for the first time. In one of the publishing events of the autumn, the collection will appear under the title Apricot Jam and Other Stories, fulfilling a long-held desire of the author that the work be available to the English-speaking world.

The collection reveals that Solzhenitsyn was still experimenting with literary form towards the end of his life….

People think of Solzhenitsyn writing these huge books… with a thunderous voice. [With these stories], it’s a different voice. It’s not heavy-handed, even though these stories are full of moral import. They’re not preachy. They’re not didactic. They let the story convey certain historical and moral messages… We see a great literary craftsman and an historian at work.”


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A prize for bad writing

American academic takes honour inspired by famously awful Victorian novel:

American academic Sue Fondrie’s disturbing description of thoughts like mutilated sparrows has been declared the worst sentence of the year.

Fondrie, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, beat an impressive display of terrible writing to win the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest, named in honour of Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel Paul Clifford and its much-quoted opening, “It was a dark and stormy night”.

Bad writing can be quite funny, as the Guardian article shows.

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Wanting to meet an author…

From ZMKC, Shut Up, I’m Reading, with this great quote from Margaret Atwood:

Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like paté.

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Science Fiction Great, Robert A. Heinlein—His Biography

A book review of William H. Patterson Jr.’s biography of Robert A. Heinlein, Volume One: Learning Curve. An excerpt:

Better late than never. Robert A. Heinlein, the “dean of science fiction,” eldest (and some say greatest) of the “big three,” finally has his authorized biography – the first half of it, at least. Volume One: Learning Curve, covers approximately the first 40 years of his life, covering his childhood, Navy service, political career, first forays into the writing world, his service during WWII, and then his return to writing, for good this time. As the volume ends, he is just beginning to pick up momentum, and there seems a promise of great things to come.

It’s about time, certainly.


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Why fiction’s narrative and emotional integrity will always transcend the literal truth

In an article called Don’t Write What You Know from the Atlantic, the ‘teacher’ explains:

Another confession: part of me dies inside when a student whose story has been critiqued responds to the workshop by saying, “You can’t object to the _________ scene. It really happened! I was there!” The writer is giving preference to the facts of an experience, the so-called literal truth, rather than fiction’s narrative and emotional integrity. Conceived this way, the writer’s story is relegated to an inferior and insurmountable station; it can neither compete with, nor live without, the ur-experience. Such a writer’s sole ambition is for the characters and events to represent other and superior—read: actual—characters and events. Meaning, the written story has never been what mattered most. Meaning, the reader is meant to care less about the characters and more about whoever inspired them, and the actions in a story serve to ensure that we track their provenance and regard that material as truer. Meaning, the story is engineered—and expected—to be about something. And aboutness is all but terminal in fiction.

Stories aren’t about things. Stories are things.

Stories aren’t about actions. Stories are, unto themselves, actions.


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