(urth) Palgrave History of Science Fiction (Eric Bourland)

Marc Aramini marcaramini at gmail.com
Sat Mar 17 19:09:03 PDT 2018

I agree. But that’s okay because lord knows I have snickered at academics
quite a bit. (Present company excepted; redeemed by interest in Wolfe)

On Saturday, March 17, 2018, Ab de Vos <foxyab at casema.nl> wrote:

> Roberts is also disparaging to Wolfe fans because he thinks they do more
> wrong than right by delving deeply into 'the matter of Wolfe'. My own
> impression is he used Wolfe as a  good example for his general thesis on
> the origin of SF and the dialectic between science and religion. I don't
> think he personally thinks Wolfe is a great writer because his treatment
> lacks the enthusiasm of treatments of other writers.
> Op 17-3-2018 om 17:26 schreef Marc Aramini:
> He also says that attempting to explore the symbols creates more textual
> insecurity (something I wholeheartedly disagree with - sometimes the only
> closure is symbolic, and wolfe’s use of symbols is surprisingly precise
> even in late work -see Julius smart, his orange association (Naranjo) and
> the Marid naranj, for example - 1 to 1 symbolic representation) and that
> comparisons to Proust are erroneous - wolfe rips off so many lines from
> Proust in New Sun it isn’t even funny. Is an intentional science fictional
> treatment of involuntary memory triggered through scrumptious chatelaine
> flesh rather than a madeline  not enough?
> many are not equipped to deal with Wolfe’s symbols, I suppose (like that
> memory palace of Latro where the symbolic manifestations of the gospel
> writers just happen to appear, mixing so well with the pagan, with three
> camels approaching from the south. That’s not truly ambiguous symbolism- it
> is very precise in its implications).
> On Saturday, March 17, 2018, Marc Aramini <marcaramini at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I just ordered the Kindle version of the Palgrave History of SF and am
>> glad that Wolfe takes up so much space. I love what he has done with Wolfe
>> because it creates a rich discourse (contra me, of course, though Roberts
>> might never know it) ...  I only had time to skim it, though at first
>> glance I have a completely and utterly opposite take on Wolfe compared to
>> Roberts (and all academics poisoned by post-Northrop Frye developments,
>> confused by the nature of the very words they use).
>> He states that to try to solve the puzzles and fill the spaces in Wolfe
>> risks missing the major stakes, and that as Long and Short Sun develop, the
>> ambiguity of New Sun is overturned by the enlightenment of The Outsider and
>> the undeniable existence of Ah Lah (Silk's enlightenment is artificial and
>> has a physical cause - though the will of God is done regardless - in many
>> ways higher powers are far more prevalent in Severian's abilities and
>> autonomous resurrections, given the red herring of the claw, powerful only
>> for its association with him, though the soul is of course a real thing in
>> all of the series).
>> These are my absolute statements about Wolfe, which don't tend to agree
>> very well with what Roberts is saying, though I am glad he says them in a
>> public resource that will be read:
>> There is nothing of the postmodernist about Wolfe save a mask. He mocks
>> and undercuts postmodern subjectivity by creating objectively solvable
>> puzzles at every turn - we do not have to be caught up in the character's
>> false impressions because we are external to the system. These objective
>> details include history and creed. Sometimes the only way to understand
>> certain events involves symbolism, however.
>> Those who do not solve the puzzles as the text directs cannot often fully
>> understand what Wolfe is getting at and risk following their own agenda.
>> (See Peter Wright's championing of Marsch and the abos in "Confounding the
>> Skin and the Mask" on Ultan's Library as one example where a colonial
>> agenda is pushed at the expense of the text's connotations, blaming humans
>> for the violence between abo tribes before they ever arrive on Ste. Anne.)
>> If we all knew everything, then we would see how profoundly connected to
>> tradition and objective reality Wolfe's works actually are. When all
>> information is available to us, the strangeness is no longer strange at
>> all, just an extension of patterns existing in our reality. (The caveat
>> here is who knows everything? Well, when you want a job done right ... who
>> can straighten what Wolfe has writ crooked?)
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