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What Are You Currently Reading? > Books other than speculative fiction I am currently reading

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message 1: by Dan (last edited Apr 13, 2019 10:03AM) (new)

Dan | 745 comments Some time ago I picked up a copy of Science Fiction: What It's All About in a used bookstore for less than two dollars. I have since received many times over my money's worth in terms of reading pleasure. Written by a Swede in 1971 about the state of American science fiction, many of the observations are now seriously dated, but still of great interest because of the outsider European perspective. Best of all, the observations are not confined to science fiction, but span the entire range of speculative fiction, even Weird fiction.

Here are just a few gems:

"These days, Poe is most well-known for the numerous films that he has been subjected to--chiefly by American International Pictures, whose vigorous director Roger Corman has been grinding out for years a steady flow of low-budget, low-quality adaptations from Poe's stories. These mostly have very slight connections with the original works--characterized by lots of fire and gore and sepulchers and burning castles and Vincent Price." (p.93) The way poor Vincent is put at the end of this list of items! Anyone have any idea what films Lundwall is talking about here?

"Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961) is the third of the Big Three of the magazine Weird Tales "golden years" of 1928-1939, the others being H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. His works consisted of 'Weird Heroic Fantasy' (another sub-branch; they come and come) that stands closer to the old Gothic school of magicians, ruins and ghosts than any contemporary fiction. His Zothique stories are set in a dim and distant future, millions of years hence, in which magic has reappeared and incredibly ancient empires are slowly sinking back into oblivion as the deserts spread out...." (p. 107) Who ever hears of Clark Ashton Smith these days? Anyway, I'm rather interested in this sub-genre, Weird Heroic Fantasy. I suppose Tanith Lee and Michael Moorcock would be key later practitioners.

And now for a dated cultural observation: "Homosexuality is a theme that science fiction has kept its hands at a good distance from, even if cautiousness now seems to lessen here as well as in other literary fields. Theodore Sturgeon, one of the utterly few sf writers who isn't afraid of stepping outside the nice, solid and secure parameters of accepted sexual mores has described a smooth-functioning space ship team of two men, bound together by a homosexual relationship of a rather complex nature, in the short story 'The World Well Lost' (1953).... Predictably, Sturgeon became the target for much attention...." (p. 157) and Lundwall goes on briefly to describe the ensuing controversy. We've come a long way as a society since then.

Books about speculative fiction sure do make for fun reading.

message 2: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Dan wrote: "Anyone have any idea what films Lund is talking about here?..."

Yeah, "The Masque of the Red Death" is quite fun, though it doesn't stick close to the original story.

"Homosexuality is a theme that science fiction has kept its hands at a good distance from..."

That topic was only beginning to become touchable in mainstream fiction around that time. (1960's onward.) Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, Christoper Isherwood, ....

message 3: by Merl (new)

Merl Fluin | 99 comments Corman's Masque of the Red Death is a visually gorgeous masterpiece, with cinematography by Nic Roeg. One of my all-time favourite movies, and easily Price's best.

Other Corman/Poe films, in descending order of actually relevance to Poe, include Pit and the Pendulum (Vincent Price & Barbara Steele, with a screenplay by Richard Matheson), House of Usher, The Tomb of Ligeia, and The Raven (a hoot, with Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and virtually no Poe whatsoever).

There are more to be found if you look Corman up on IMDb, but I think those are the best.

message 4: by Paul (new)

Paul Cowdell | 11 comments Merl wrote: "Corman's Masque of the Red Death is a visually gorgeous masterpiece, with cinematography by Nic Roeg. One of my all-time favourite movies, and easily Price's best.

Other Corman/Poe films, in desc..."

Also worth checking out Argento/Romero's 'Two Evil Eyes/The Black Cat' for some Poe-derived mayhem.

message 5: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin I just read two plays from the "Theater of the Absurd". "The Empire Builders" by Boris Vian and "Picnic in the country" by Fernando Arrabal.

While "Theater of the Absurd" isn't the same thing as Weird fiction, it isn't all that far from it. Anyway, I enjoy it.

Reading about these authors led me to study the Pataphysical Calendar, and learn that my birthday is a very special day. This calendar has 13 months, each with exactly 29 days, but in all but two months the 29th day is imaginary. In the month of Gueule, the 29th day is non-imaginary in leap years. But my birthday, the 29th of Gidouille is never imaginary!

Since every month begins on Sunday, there are 13 Friday the 13ths every year. When the 29th is not imaginary, it is neither on Saturday or Sunday, but always on Hunyadi.

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