John Crowley (crowleycrow) wrote,
John Crowley
crowleycrow

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Once again I appeal to my learned Friends as a body to supplement my lack of erudition.  In the coming semester (a few shudder-making days from now) I am going to teach a course in genre writing, F&SF.  One of my contentions about fantasy novels, and scienc-fantasy and future-world novels too, is that the society of the disatnat future, or an alien species, or another planet, or an alternate universe, ought to be at least as complex and unlikely-seeming (to Western European/American-culture-based writers in English) as the societies, mentalities and cultures that humans have in fact produced.  So this year I am going to ask my students to read one book of travel, history, cultural anthropology, or similar account that will illustrate this contention, and shame them out of concocting another pseudo-medieval non-society peopled by folks like themselves (and a few dragons and vampires, also much like themselves). 

I've been saving up some titles, among them Allan Villiers' Sons of Sinbad, about Arab dhow sailors around 1900; and Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines; and Frances Yates's The Art of Memory; and Clifford Geertz's Negara.  Maybe George Lakoff's Women Fire and Dangerous Things (how to think like an alien).  There's a book about how Polynesian sailors cross uncharted Pacific distances by reading the water surace, bird flight, light at differnt times of day, etc., but I can't remember the title. 

I'd like to include a few titles for those as interested in scientific possibilities, but of these I am even less able to suggest any -- I mean I've read the reviews and can recognize the concepts, but have no titles, and no guidelines.

So any ideas, in any of these categories -- unlikely but actual human thought-systems; daily life in unexpected human realms; weird science; historical backwaters or forgotten empires? 
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  • jenlev

    Longtime readers of this journal will remember the constant follower who called herself jenlev -- a person I always sensed was a good and gentle…

  • Nobel Dylan

    I remember the firs time I listened to Blonde on Blonde. I'd been impressed by some of his songs, and lots of them I found weirdly artificial --…

  • Grim slide

    It's trivial -- so many other and far larger awful things lie around us on every side -- but it seems as though Americans are simply forgetting…