Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A Critics in Wolfe's Clothing

Gary Wolfe's collection of reviews, Soundings, has just been published
by Beccon press in the UK. Although John Clute is probably the best
known genre critic, Wolfe is definitely worth a read. There is a
refreshing honesty to this collection. It has not been collected to
justify a position and altered (much if at all - I'm still reading the
book) to fit a new world view.

Wolfe, for those who may not know who he is, is a reviewer for Locus
magazine as well as being a professor at Roosevelt University. Soundings
is not a dry book, rather it is a lively trip through some of the best
and most interesting novels published between 1992 and 1996.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Damn Hogwarts

I'll come clean. Like a few people, I bought the new Harry Potter and spent the (next) day reading it - I had other things to read and do on Saturday. I found it to be like Spiderman 1, setting matters up for the next installment but still enjoyable (despite the correct rumours flying about various websites).

I've just come out of reading the Time magazine interview with JK Rowling which has had writers such as Terry Pratchett muttering wildly. What has not been commented upon (mainly because the commentators are in the same boat) is that she comes from the idea that fantasy is Narnia and Middle Earth (which she gave up on according to the piece). Her point of reference is the genre as symbolic and an analogy for religion.

Fantasy is a broader field than that and, unfortunately, the perception is not always solved by the often poor ranges in the shops.

The interview does give an twist of spin with the oh-so casual mention of Rowling's church membership and Dumbedore. Does this mean that he will rise again? I doubt and fervently hope not but there is the phoenix who may well come back in book 7.

Rowling sees herself as a subverter of the genre, a task that, as any fule kno, has already been done - several times. In fact, she is reinforcing not only the fantasy genres but also the boarding school dramas and pushing Enid Blyton's worlds back a little further. Will we know what her intentions for the closing of the world are? Not for another few years.
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