Sveriges första steampunkkonvent

SteampunkSveriges första Steampunk-konvent kommer att äga rum i Alingsås den 11-13 oktober.

Hela programmet är ännu inte satt, men följande programpunkter är klara:

• Pysselworkshop: lär dig göra falsk metall
• Playforddans workshop
• Charlestondans
• Bartitsu lär dig slåss som Sherlock Holmes
• Paraplyfighting avväpna busset och håll frisyren torr
• Föreläsning med Jenny Sundén: ”Urverk, mässing och korsetter: Politik och drömmar i steampunkkulturer”
• Föreläsning med Anna Davour om steampunk-litteratur
• Tedueller
• Krocketturneringar
• Bal till storband
• Steampunk biograf
• Varietéshower med gycklargruppen Trix
• Burleskdans/jazz fusion
• Eventpresentationer
• Brädspelsbar
• Steampunkrollspel
• Steampunkparad
• Steampunk utställning på stadsmuseet
• Geartävlingar och dräkttävling
• En otrolig steampunk-marknad

Styx förlag kommer att sponsra konventet med tre signerade exemplar av ”Själlös” av Gail Carriger.

Steampunk-konventet i Alingsås är byggt med visionen att vara en mötesplats för alla som är intresserade av genren, vi vill verka som en plattform för genrens vidareutveckling.

Arrangör av Steampunk-konventet är den ideella föreningen Bruk i baljan i samarbete med Alingsås kommun.

Konventet sammanfaller även med evenemangen Lights in Alingsås och Alingsås kulturnatta, som i år har temat steampunk till konventets ära.

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Köp boken själlös på Bokus

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Om zombiekrig, oändlig kapitalackumulation och en rimlig framtid

varldskrig-zBoknytt
Max Brooks
Världskrig Z
Modernista
ISBN: 9789186629267

Om zombiekrig, oändlig kapitalackumulation och en rimlig framtid

Lennart Lundqvist konstaterade i Arbetet att det inte är så kul att spela tennis utan linjer. Hans poäng var att oändlig valfrihet inte är eftersträvansvärt. Han fortsatte med att berätta om sin brors roligaste dag i livet: dagen då radhusområdet belägrades av snökaos och all normal verksamhet kollapsade. Vilken gemenskap grannskapet utvecklade tillsammans för att överleva. Bristen skapade kreativitet och ömsesidighet men även trivsel. Temat genomsyrar Max Brooks fiktiva rapport Världskrig Z: En muntlig historik över zombiekriget.

Utbrottet av sjukdomen sker i Kina, bakgrunden är oklar men spridningen sker snabbt. Trots upprättandet av karantäner så finns det andra vägar för att sprida vidare den (o)dödliga smittan. Den globala kapitalismens infrastruktur är flerdimensionell där legala och illegala nivåer överlappar varandra. Med väl upparbetade kanaler för illegal organhandel och människosmuggling är det omöjligt även för en auktoritär regim som den kinesiska att kväsa utbrottet. Det som möjliggör zombifieringens globala karaktär är kapitalismens smörjmedel av korruption och trafficking.

Upplägget är enkelt men effektivt. Genom en serie intervjuer av olika personer återskapas händelseförloppet; från förebudet över den stora paniken till det totala kriget erbjuds vi brottstycken från alla kontinenter, från hög som låg. Tyvärr går det i stå mot slutet och det glider över i inträngande detaljstudier över hur man tvingades lösa zombieproblemet på militär taktisk nivå. Jag misstänker att denna aspekt tyvärr har dominerat filmatiseringen med Brad Pitt i huvudrollen som FN-tjänsteman (premiär senare i år.)

Levande döda i ett sammanhang

Zombier i all ära, men det var det övergripande samhälleliga ramverket som överraskade. De hungriga horderna av stapplande odöda befinner sig i ett politiskt och ekonomiskt sammanhang. Utan att bli skriven på näsan är det inte svårt att läsa in en hård kritik av den rådande marknadsfundamentalismens krassa människosyn. I ett lysande litet stycke återfinner vi kapitalismens kärna – den oändliga kapitalackumulationen – beskriven av en amerikansk general: ”För första gången i historien mötte vi en fiende som faktiskt kunde föra totalt krig. De hade ingen utmattningsgräns. De skulle aldrig förhandla, aldrig ge upp. De skulle kämpa till slutet eftersom var och en av dem, till skillnad från oss. ägnade varje sekund på dygnet åt att sluka allt liv på jorden.”

Enda sättet att hantera situationen var att agera gemensamt. Den effektivaste metoden att motverka asocialt beteende var att införa offentliga skamstraff – något som bekräftar bilden av oss som sociala djur, inte autonoma nyttomaximerare. När avgrunden knackar på, är det inte ”bostadsområden med yrkesarbetande människor ur övre medelklasen där alla saknade till och med de mest grundläggande kunskaper för att byta ut ett trasigt fönster” som behövdes. Där alla ”var någon form av ’verkställande’. ’representant’, ‘analytiker’ eller ’konsult’…  [och] fullständigt funktionsodugliga i den förestående krisen”.

När rollerna i ett slag ställs på huvudet uppstår problem. Arthur Sinclair Junior, chef för USA:s departement för strategiska resurser förklarar: ”Tänk dig att du är en högt uppsatt företagsjurist. Du har tillbringat större delen av ditt liv med att granska kontrakt, förhandla avtal, prata i telefon. Det är det du är bra på, det är det som har gjort dig rik och som har gjort att du fortsätter att prata i telefon. Ju mer du jobbar, ju mer pengar du tjänar, desto fler slavar anlitar du för att frigöra tid när du kan tjäna mer pengar. Det är så världen funkar. Men en dag gör den inte det. Ingen behöver få ett kontrakt granskat eller förhandla ett avtal. Vad folk behöver är fungerande toaletter. Och plötsligt är slaven din lärare. kanske till och med din chef. För somliga var detta mer skrämmande än de levande döda.”

Hoppet om en rimligare framtid

Där får vi nog även svaret på varför en del hellre kör planeten i botten än ställer om samhället för att undvika en klimatkollaps. De vet att de egentligen inte behövs, att deras välavlönade uppgifter är parasitära. Mellanskiktet är högst medvetet om sin priviligerade position under den nuvarande klassordningen. Så tyvärr krävs det nog ett rejält snökaos, en ordentlig kris för att steget ska kunna tas för det gemensamma projektet. Som Joe Mohammed påpekar i boken: ”Jag kommer inte att säga att kriget var någonting bra. Så sjuk är jag inte, men du måste medge att det förde människor samman.”

Att göra tillsammans är vår lott, vårt hopp. Men som även Lundqvist påpekade, det handlar inte om att vilja ha det som i Nordkorea eller att gå i kloster. Det handlar kort och gott om att livet ska vara mer rimligt. En ytterst radikal och subversiv tanke idag.

Abe Bergegårdh

Ursprungligen publicerad på Vardagens Politik.

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Game of Thrones – feminism och sexism

TV-serien Game of Thrones innehåller utan tvivel en hel del sexism. Och nakenhet. Vilket ju inte är samma sak. Böckerna i serien A Song of Ice and Fire kanske innehåller mindre. Eftersom jag inte läst dem har jag ingen aning om det är så eller inte. Samtidigt skildrar TV-serien en värld som är sexistisk.

Men ändå finns det en hel del feminism i TV-serien och böckerna (som jag inte läst, men jag förstår att det är så). Det finns gott om starka och självständiga kvinnor, Daenerys Targaryen, Catelyn Stark, Arya Stark, Brienne of Tarth, Yara Greyjoy, Margaery Tyrell, Cersei Lannister, Shae, Ygritte och Olenna Redwyne för att nämna några. Den som dock kanske framträder starkast är dock min favorit Daenerys Targaryen. I alla fall menar Opinioness of the World det:

Daenerys makes a trade for all 8,000 Unsullied warriors, appearing as if she’s going to give up her dragon Drogon to make the exchange. But it’s all a ruse. When the brutal slaver Kraznys — who has insulted Dany with sexist, slut-shaming insults, erroneously thinking she didn’t understand the Valeryian language — is irritated that her dragon doesn’t obey him, she retorts that of course he doesn’t, “a dragon is a not a slave.” Dany then orders the Unsullied, now in her command, to murder the slavers and break the chains off the slaves. She frees the enslaved warriors, asking them to fight for her as free men. Daenerys then drops the whip equating ownership of the slaves. In essence, she drops the symbolic weapon of tyranny and oppression, heralding rebellion.

If there was ever any question, Daenerys is clearly here to dismantle the patriarchy.

Not only is she a woman leader, her very existence challenging the status quo. But Daenerys openly questions and challenges patriarchal norms. She refuses to abide by societal gender limitations mandating men must rule. She’s determined to forge a different path. Rather than follow in the footsteps of leaders embodying toxic masculinity, she’s determined to rule through respect, kindness and fairness — not through intimidation or fear. Daenerys refuses to enslave people. She wants to emancipate them.

The Mother of Dragons cares for the dragons as if they were her own babies. Could it be that Daenerys will become the archetypal mother of humanity? Perhaps. She’s wielding justice, crushing oppression and protecting the weak. Yet it is the loss of her son that enables Daenerys to envision herself in the role of leader. No longer is she supporting a man to be a great leader. She has become that leader.

The princess has become a queen.

Det finns även andra som anser att serien inte är sexistisk utan feministisk, Cornucopia är en, Nanna Johansson en annan och Feminist Fiction en tredje. Andra har en betydligt mer kritisk inställning till Game of Thrones.

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Mer: SVD, Feminist Fiction1, 2, FemPers, Piruett, Skålpund kött,
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Game of Thrones – favoritkaraktärer

Arya StarkJag har redan från början av Game of Thromes hittat ett antal favoritkaraktärer som jag misstänker överlever lite längre än andra. Annars sägs det ju att man inte ska välja några favoriter för att de kommer att dö. Mina favoriter är Arya Stark, Jon Snow och Daenerys Targaryen.

Robb Stark kommer givetvis att dö, även om han gifter sig med sin kärlek och är sympatisk. Det är ju faktiskt delvis därför han sannolikt kommer att dö. Han gifter sig med fel kvinna. Sannolikt överlever väl Tyrion Lannister också länge. DN och andra media har publicerat artiklar där det avslöjas att en del kända karaktärer kommer att dö. Jag har läst dem i efterhand i samband med att jag sökte efter länkar. Man kan i alla fall konstatera att jag har rätt om Rob Stark. Många har väl förmodligen sett avsnittet och läst böckerna, det har inte jag, men det har länge varit uppenbart att Robb Stark kommer att dö. Andra vet säkert hur det går ändå.

[imdblt]Game of Thrones[/imdblt]

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Röda Nördar

rod_nordSom ni ser av bilden till höger och högst upp i sidofältet till höger tillhör jag en fin och illuster förening/församling vid namn Röda Nördar. Denna förening består av en facebooksida där diverse intressanta och en del mindre intressanta länkar, bilder med mera läggs upp. Jag tycker ni ska gå dit och gilla den sidan.

Även denna blogg har en facebooksida. En mycket ny sådan som jag ännu inte brytt mig om att göra reklam för. Utan att en enda person gillar den faktiskt. Det är ju ännu ingen större blogg det här. Men det kanske kan bli. Vad vet jag. Gilla den sidan när ni ändå är i farten.

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En marxistisk analys av Tolkien – del 4

TolkienAnalysen är gjord av den brittiske marxisten John Molyneux som var (är?) medlem i brittiska och irländska SWP. Den är lång, så jag delar upp den på flera inlägg. Detta är det fjärde. Texten är tagen från Molyneux egen blogg.

Tolkien’s world – a Marxist Analysis, part 4

Tolkien’s Appeal

We can now return to the question posed at the beginning of this essay, namely explaining how work based on such a conservative outlook has enjoyed such immense popularity. The question is the more interesting because it does not seem to be popularity on a right wing or conservative basis, in the way that the Bond novels and films appeal mainly to the macho male, or Agatha Christie murder mysteries appeal to middle class nostalgia for the English village and mansion of yesteryear. Rather a major part of Tolkien’s appeal, and what turned him into an international best seller, was to the ‘hippy’ counter culture in America in the sixties.

One obvious and tempting answer is simply to say that the ‘average’ or typical reader is not interested in the kind of social and political issues discussed here but is simply swept along by the good writing and dramatic story line. In a sense this is obviously true and good writing and gripping action are doubtless necessary conditions of the work’s success, but in themselves they are not a sufficient explanation. The affection in which The Lord of the Rings is held by so many involves not just being gripped by the story line but being ‘enchanted’ or ‘inspired’ by its vision and its values, and that ‘vision’ and those ‘values’ cannot be separated from the social relations in which they are embedded – even if the ‘average’ reader is not aware of this in these terms.

So how does a vision of a feudal society imbued with deeply conservative values, which in the real world, in a modern bourgeois democratic society, would have practically zero political support, manage to exercise such an attraction?

First, because what we are presented with is a totally idealised feudal society. The most obvious and fundamental feature of feudalism and medieval society, namely its poverty and hence the poverty of most of its people is simply airbrushed out. Even in contemporary America or Europe there is large scale poverty, never mind Latin America, South Asia or Africa or Europe in the Middle Ages, but not in Middle Earth. Neither in The Shire, nor Rohan, nor Gondor, nor anywhere else, do we encounter ordinary, run of the mill poverty. From time to time we encounter ‘lowly’ or ‘humble’ people, such as Sam Gamgee and his Gaffer, or Beregond in Minas Tirith, but never anyone actually suffering privation. Nor do we find any of the conconcomitants of poverty such as squalor or disease or even grinding hard work. The real Middle Ages had the Black Death and numerous other plagues and famines. I offer a couple of paragraphs from Wikipedia on famine in the Middle Ages ( it matters not whether the details are correct or not for the general picture is abundantly clear):

Famine in the Medieval European context meant that people died of starvation on a massive scale. As brutal as they were, famines were familiar occurrences in Medieval Europe. As an example, localized famines occurred in France during the fourteenth century in 1304, 1305, 1310, 1315–1317 (the Great Famine), 1330–1334, 1349–1351, 1358–1360, 1371, 1374–1375 and 1390. In England, the most prosperous kingdom affected by the Great Famine, years of famine included 1315–1317, 1321, 1351, and 1369. For most people there was often not enough to eat and life expectancy was relatively short since many children died. According to records of the British Royal family, the best off in society, the average life expectancy in 1276 was 35.28 years. Between 1301 and 1325 during the Great Famine it was 29.84 while between 1348-1375, during the Black Death and subsequent plagues, it went to 17.33.

The height of the famine was reached in 1317 as the wet weather hung on. Finally, in the summer the weather returned to its normal patterns. By now, however, people were so weakened by diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and other sicknesses, and so much of the seed stock had been eaten, that it was not until 1325 that the food supply returned to relatively normal conditions and the population began to increase again. Historians debate the toll but it is estimated that 10%-25% of the population of many cities and towns died. While the Black Death (1338–1375) would kill more, for many the Great Famine was worse. While the plague swept through an area in a matter of months, the Great Famine lingered for years, drawing out the suffering of those who would slowly starve to death and face cannibalism, child-murder and rampant crime.*

Nothing like this ever happens in Middle Earth, not in the 10,000 years of its Three Ages. Average life expectancy in medieval Europe was about 30 – it was so low because of the high infant mortality. Infant mortality was ever the scourge of the poor and it remained high until well into the twentieth century. The infant mortality rate was well over 100 per 1000 births in Victorian Britain and 150 per 1000 worldwide in 1950. Today it is 6.3 per 1000 in the USA, and 2.75 in Sweden but 180 in Angola and 154 in Sierra Leone. No such problem exists in Tolkien world. Nor is there cholera or TB or cancer or heart attacks.

Crucially, also, there is no exploitation or systematic oppression or slavery except where carried out by Morgoth, Sauron or his agents and allies. The extreme moral bi-polarity of Middle Earth (which I think is an important aesthetic weakness) is very useful here. Middle Earth is not a boringly happy utopia, on the contrary it is filled with danger and evil, without Tolkien ever having to deal with any issues of social justice because all injustice and oppression is simply laid at the door of the Enemy.

Another factor in the appeal of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is that the entry point into this feudal world and our immediate point of identification throughout the saga is via the Hobbits, Bilbo and Frodo in particular, and The Shire (and not as it is in the much less popular Silmarillion, via the One, the Ainur and the Eldar). The Shire, especially The Shire as it is first presented at the start of The Hobbit, exists within a feudal context – wizard and Dwarves turn up at the door, but is not itself feudal. Here is the description of Bag End on page 1 of The Hobbit:

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats…..No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes, (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining rooms, all were on the same floor… This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins.

This is not medieval or feudal: it is England, very definitely England, [The name, Bag End, comes from the farmhouse in the tiny Worcestershire village of Dormston, in which Tolkien’s aunt lived] somewhere between the early modern period of the Tudors (in terms of its technology and being pre- Cromwell) and the Cotswolds of Cider with Rosie, or even later, in terms of its cosiness. It is worth noting that although The Shire has a Thain (an Anglo-Saxon term), an office held by the chief member of the Took family, ‘the Thainship had ceased to be more than a nominal dignity’ and ‘…The only real official in the Shire at this date was the Mayor of Michel Delving (or of the Shire) who was elected every seven years’ (The Fellowship of the Ring, p21, my emphasis). I think this is the only example of such a modern and democratic notion as election in the saga and significantly it is Sam who becomes Mayor when he returns from the War. Tolkien confirms this geographical/ historical location and his nostalgia for it in the Foreword to the Second Edition:

It has been supposed by some that ‘The Scouring of the Shire’ reflects the situation in England at the time when I was finishing my tale. It does not….It has indeed some basis in experience, though slender…The country in which I lived in childhood was being shabbily destroyed before I was ten, in days when motor-cars were rare objects (I had never seen one) and men were still building suburban railways. (The Fellowship of the Ring, p.9)

The Shire, of course, is just as much an idealised image of rural England in the late nineteenth century (or any other time) as Middle Earth is of the middle ages. No enclosures, no hanging poachers, no Poor Laws, no Tolpuddle Martyrs and so on.

But there is a further point and it is the most important. This idealised view of the pre-capitalist, or early capitalist past, can form the basis for a critique of modern industrial capitalism. Marx refers to this in the, not very well known, section of The Communist Manifesto on ‘Feudal Socialism’:

Owing to their historical position, it became the vocation of the aristocracies of France and England to write pamphlets against modern bourgeois society….In order to arouse sympathy, the aristocracy was obliged to lose sight, apparently, of its own interests, and to formulate their indictment against the bourgeoisie in the interest of the exploited working class alone. Thus, the aristocracy took their revenge by singing lampoons on their new masters and whispering in his ears sinister prophesies of coming catastrophe.

In this way arose feudal Socialism: half lamentation, half lampoon; half an echo of the past, half menace of the future; at times, by its bitter, witty and incisive criticism, striking the bourgeoisie to the very heart’s core; but always ludicrous in its effect, through total incapacity to comprehend the march of modern history….

Tolkien is not a ‘feudal socialist’ but he does favourably contrast the pre-industrial past with the industrial present. Earlier in the Manifesto Marx writes:

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation.

Tolkien runs this film backwards. From the world of ‘egotistical calculation’ and ‘callous “cash payment”’ , he harks back to the ‘feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”’ and ‘feudal patriarchal idyllic relations’. This is the real key to Tolkien’s mass appeal, including his appeal to Haight-Ashbury hippies. Because IF one abstracts from the poverty, famine, disease, exploitation, oppression etc. then the Middle Ages CAN be held up as a purer, nobler time than the dirty modern world of factories, pollution, profit, money grubbing, vulgar commercial interest, shoddy goods, advertising and extreme alienation, and in some respects it WAS.. In real life, in actual politics, this abstraction is completely impossible, of course, and what one ends with is either tragedy (Pol Pot) or farce (Colonel Blimp, new age Druids) or some mixture of the two ( Mussolini perhaps) but in fantasy, indeed in literature and art, it is perfectly possible.

Nor does this just apply to Tolkien. It is why a romantic anti-capitalist feudalizing tendency, leaning sometimes to the left and sometimes to the right has been a substantial cultural force ever since the Industrial Revolution. Elements of it are present in William Blake (‘England’s green and pleasant land’ versus ‘the dark Satanic mills’) and the Romantic poets generally. It is explicit in the Pre-Raphaelites, and mixed with socialism and Marxism in William Morris (who was a significant influence on Tolkien). In Ireland we find it in Yeats’s invocation of the Celtic Twilight. It is a significant component underlying the brilliant critique (and the disgust tinged with anti-semitism) of T.S. Eliot’s most powerful poetry ( ‘The Waste Land’, ‘Gerontion’, ‘The Hollow Men’ etc) and probably receives its most extreme expression in the poetry, literary criticism and politics of Ezra Pound, which combined affection for Anglo-Saxon, Ancient Chinese, and Troubador poetry with right wing Social Credit economics (against usury and the bankers) and ended up broadcasting for Mussolini in the Second World War.

It this, I believe, which explains why Eliot and Pound could write major poetry while being, respectively, an Anglo-Catholic Royalist who thought the rot set in with the murder of Thomas a Beckett, and a real fascist; and why a conservative Catholic Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford could write books that have sold in the tens of millions.

John Molyneux
31 October , 2010

Del 1 (Part 1)Del 2 (Part 2), Del 3 (Part3), Del 5 (Part5)

* Once again I have thought it reasonable and convenient to cite Wikipedia because nothing turns on the accuracy of the specific figures. It is simply an easy way of pointing up well known general conditions.

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En marxistisk analys av Tolkien – del 3

Analysen är gjord av den brittiske marxisten John Molyneux som var (är?) medlem i brittiska och irländska SWP. Den är lång, så jag delar upp den på flera inlägg. Detta är det tredje. Texten är tagen från Molyneux egen blogg.

Arwen

Arwen

Tolkien’s world – a Marxist Analysis, part 3

Racism and Sexism

The world view that I have just analysed was, give or take certain elements, by no means confined to Tolkien but existed as a definite strand on the intellectual wing of British upper and middle class culture; other members of The Inklings (C S Lewis, Hugo Dyson etc) shared it to a degree, as did the likes of T S Eliot and Ezra Pound. And within this outlook there was clearly a tendency towards racism – witness anti-semitism in Eliot and Pound. This is partly because it contained elements, e.g. the emphasis on inherited characteristics and kinship, which leant themselves to racial views, and partly because, as a result particularly of imperialism, racist attitudes were endemic in the upper reaches of British society in Tolkien’s formative years. It is therefore necessary to pose the question of how much racism there is to be found in Tolkien’s work.

The answer, it seems to me, is not simple. On the one hand, the existence of different races with deeply ingrained physical and psychological characteristics is absolutely central to the story from beginning to end. In the course of the saga we meet elves, men, dwarves, hobbits, orcs, ents and, marginally, trolls, all of whom are speaking peoples. Of these the elves, especially the High Elves or Eldar, who have dwelt in the Undying Lands, are clearly in some sense ‘the highest’ i.e. the most refined, the ‘fairest’ in Tolkien’s words, the most gifted in craft and learned in lore, the most farsighted, literally and figuratively, and, above all, are ‘immortal’ unless slain. They are by no means perfect, capable of both error and ‘sin’ and at various times are seduced by the wiles of Morgoth or Sauron, but, unless I am mistaken, no Elf in the whole history of Arda ever actually joins the ‘dark side’ and fights with the Enemy. Men, by contrast, are mortal, less learned, much more various (with types ranging from Butterbur to Aragorn, Faramir to the Haradrim, and Denethor to the Wild Men of Druadan), more fertile and more numerous, and more morally ambiguous. The Numenorians under Ar- Pharazon attempted to make war on the Valar and the Undying Lands (in the Second Age) and in the War of the Ring large numbers of men, Easterlings, Haradrim etc, fight with Sauron.

Dwarves are called by Tolkien ‘a race apart’: they were created not by Iluvatar but by the Valar Aule. They are shorter than elves or men, mortal but longer lived than most humans, and have definite behavioural and psychological characteristics: love of mountains, caves, mining, jewels, stonework; they are proud and jealous of their rights, sturdy and stiff-necked, and they fight with axes not swords or bows. Hobbits are of unknown origin (they don’t figure in The Silmarillion) but, of course, are small, jolly, tough underneath etc., and the Ents, the shepherds of the Trees, were created at the request of the Valar Yavanna: they are tree- like in appearance and strength and somewhat slow, though by no means stupid. Lastly, and crucially, there are the Orcs who began (probably – Tolkien is not categorical on this) as Elves imprisoned, enslaved and corrupted by Melkor in his first stronghold of Utumno. I say crucially because the Orcs became and remain all bad, utterly and universally evil, without any redeeming or mitigating qualities whatsoever. At no point in the entire narrative do we encounter an Orc who is anything other than a merciless enemy, and consequently at no point do we as readers feel anything for them other than delight in their defeat and slaughter. On the face of it this is outright racism.

And yet it doesn’t feel like it; nor is this a purely personal judgement. I know many people with a visceral hatred of racism who would react with disgust to any manifestation of it, who nonetheless love The Lord of the Rings. And there are reasons for this. There are three main grounds for opposing, indeed hating racism. 1) The biological fact that different human races do not exist, that there is only one human race or species and therefore all racial prejudice, discrimination, and oppression involves not only stupidity but also inherent injustice. It fundamentally violates the humanity of those who are its victims. 2) The social and historical fact that racism, because it denies people’s essential humanity, is associated with, leads to and is used to justify the most appalling treatment of human beings, the worst crimes against humanity (slavery, colonialism, genocide, apartheid and so on).3) The specifically socialist argument that racism is used by ruling classes to divide and rule the oppressed and to provide scapegoats onto whom anger of the oppressed can be diverted.

But if we examine Tolkien’s work in the light of these arguments it can be seen that none of them quite applies. In the real world racism is false and denies our common humanity but in Tolkien’s imaginary world there really are different races. In the real world racism leads to barbaric behaviour, but in Tolkien’s story the narrative, and his disguised authorial voice, consistently opposes any gratuitous cruelty to or maltreatment of the weak, the defeated, or even the enemy. Orcs are consistently killed but the story is such that they are only encountered as enemies in battle. Within the terms of the story they are never imprisoned, enslaved, executed or tortured so the fact that they seen as inherently evil (and within the terms of the story ARE inherently evil) does not lead to any especially barbaric behaviour beyond the barbarism inherent in war.. Racism may be a ruling class weapon in the class struggle to which socialists counterpose working class unity, but in Tolkien’s world there is no class struggle – the struggle is between the free peoples and the enemy and in this struggle Tolkien consistently advocates inter-racial unity: Aragorn, by lineage and behaviour, epitomises the unity of elves and men and, together with Gandalf, secures the unity of Rohan and Gondor; the friendship between Legolas and Gimli and Gimli’s adoration of Galadriel overcomes grievances between Elves and Dwarves that stretch back to the slaying of King Thingol in the dispute over the Nauglamir (Necklace of the Dwarves containing a Silmaril) in the Elder Days; the Hobbits (Merry and Pippin) draw Treebeard and the Ents (and the Huorns) into the War, where they play a vital role in defeating the treacherous Saruman.

Unfortunately Tolkien does not get off this hook quite so easily. Three issues remain. The first, and I owe this point to China Mieville, is that Tolkien has, of course, chosen to imagine a world in which ‘races’ with inherent racial characteristics ‘really’ exist and that is a definite political/ideological choice. The second is the way the saga is constructed throughout around a West/East dichotomy in which West is invariably identified with goodness and light and east with darkness and frequently evil. In the uttermost west is located the seat of the gods and the blessed Aman or Undying Realm and other locations are judged more or less fair in terms of their relation to this. In the Lord of the Rings Gondor is west, Mordor is east and the force that marches against Mordor for the final battle on the Field of Cormallen are the ‘Men of the West’ or the ‘Host of the West’ led by the ‘Captains of the West’. Sometimes this has been read as a reflection of the Cold War but we know that the main lines of the story were formulated as early as the First World War. Rather it is imperial ‘orientalism’ (as famously analysed by Edward Said) that is the influence here and this undoubtedly contains serious elements of racism.

The third, linked to the first and second, is the characterisation of the men of the east and south. In the war the Easterlings and Southrons and Corsairs of Umbar (also from the far south) are allies of Sauron. This seems to be taken for granted as part of the natural order of things and not requiring of any particular explanation, nor are we offered any account or detailed description of these peoples. Boromir, in his report to the Council of Elrond, refers to ‘the cruel Haradrim’(The Fellowship of the Ring, p.236), and again in the account of the Siege of Gondor we are told of ‘regiments from the South, Haradrim, cruel and tall’ (The Return of the King, p.90) and then offered this description ‘Easterlings with axes, and Variags of Khand, Southrons in Scarlet, and out of Far Harad black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues.’ (The Return of the King, p.121).The element of racist stereotyping here is clear. It is a minor element in the story as a whole but it is there.

Taken together these three points leave Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings guilty of racism but with mitigating circumstances and the mitigation is such that for most readers the racism will not be one of the reasons for the appeal of the book.

The question of sexism is, I think, much more straightforward, as one would expect given the near universality of sexism in the culture and literature preceding the nineteen seventies. I will begin with a quotation about Dwarf women, from Appendix A to The Return of the King.

Dis was the daughter of Thrain II. She is the only dwarf-woman named in these histories. It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf- women, probably no more than a third of the whole people. They seldom walk abroad except at great need. They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart. This has given rise to the foolish opinion among Men that there are no dwarf-women, and that Dwarves ‘grow out of stone’.

It is because of the fewness of women among them that the kind of the dwarves increases slowly, and is in peril when they have no secure dwellings. For Dwarves take only one wife or husband each in their lives, and are jealous, as in all matters of their rights. The number of dwarf-men that marry is actually less than one-third. For not all the women take husbands: some desire none; some desire one that they cannot get, and so will have no other. As for the men, very many do not desire marriage, being engrossed in their crafts.

This situation of dwarf- women is only an extreme version of the overall situation of women in The Lord of the Rings – above all they distinguished by their absence. In the whole story there are only three significant female characters – Arwen, Galadriel and Eowyn and of these Arwen remains very shadowy. In addition I can think only of walk-on parts for Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, Rose Cotton, Goldberry (Tom Bombadil’s wife), and Ioreth, of whom Lobelia and Ioreth are part comic relief. There are no women members of the Fellowship of the Ring, no Ent Women (though the past existence of Ent wives is acknowledged) and no Orc women. In The Hobbit to the best of my recall there is NO woman character at all. In a way it is extraordinary.

Equally extraordinary in contemporary terms, though less extraordinary in the extremely prudish middle class culture of pre-war England, is the almost complete silence on matters of sex and sexuality. Bilbo and Frodo appear to live their entire lives in celibate bachelorhood (without the least concern). Elrond is at least 4000 years old before he marries and it is then thirty nine years before his sons are born and another 102 years before the birth of Arwen. Aragorn is twenty when he falls in love with Arwen (who is about 2500 and, we are told, a’ maiden’), forty nine when he and Arwen ‘plight their troth’ in Lothlorien, and eighty eight before they are able to marry, until which time we must presume he remains celibate. Now Aragorn has been told that he is due an exceptionally long life span (thrice that of ordinary men) but even so it is something of a tall order. Boromir and Faramir are forty one and thirty six respectively, but both still single, and so on. As Carl Freedman comments, ‘Through three thick volumes, there is, for example, hardly a single important instance of sexual desire’ (Carl Freedman, ‘A Note on Marxism and Fantasy’ op.cit. p.263).

This combination of rarity and absence of sex enables Tolkien to place his main female characters on very high pedestals. Galadriel and Arwen are both wondrously beautiful (‘fair’), dignified, noble and kind. Goldberry, though not developed as a character is clearly cut from the same cloth. Eowyn, from a feminist standpoint the most interesting, is a kind of Joan of Arc figure, until she settles for regal domestic bliss with her second choice, Faramir.

Tolkien’s sexism is of the old fashioned gentlemanly ‘chivalrous’ kind, not the active misogyny found in Ian Fleming or Norman Mailer. There are no wicked women or femme fatales (unless you count Shelob, the female spider) and his very few key characters are certainly not weak or subservient. Galadriel is clearly superior – wiser and stronger – to her husband Celeborn and Eowyn is given one of the most dramatic and heroic moments in the whole of The Lord of the Rings, when, in a straight lift from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, she slays the Lord of the Nazgul.

‘ Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!’ [says the Nazgul as he stands over the fallen Theoden]

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear was like the ring of steel, ‘But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him’.

(The Return of the King p.116)

The issue of homophobia does not arise in Tolkien because, of course, there is no such thing as homosexuality in the imaginary world of Middle Earth.

John Molyneux
31 October , 2010

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En marxistisk analys av Tolkien – del 2

Analysen är gjord av den brittiske marxisten John Molyneux som var (är?) medlem i brittiska och irländska SWP. Den är lång, så jag delar upp den på flera inlägg. Detta är det andra. Texten är tagen från Molyneux egen blogg.

Tolkien’s world – a Marxist Analysis, part 2

The World of Middle Earth.

The reason the social relations of Middle Earth are so easily recognised is that they are (with one important exception) essentially feudal. We do not live in a feudal society, but feudalism is the social order that immediately preceded capitalism in Europe, and that existed alongside capitalism in many parts of the world until well into the twentieth century. Moreover, there still survive, even in the twenty first century, hangovers of feudalism such as the British monarchy, aristocracy and the House of Lords. In addition feudal social relations permeate a large part of our classic literature (Shakespeare, Chaucer, Beowulf etc) of our mythology, (the Arthurian legends, Robin Hood etc) and our children’s fairy tales (Jack and the Beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White etc).

According to Marx social relations correspond to a certain level of development of the forces of production (technology, plus labour, plus science). The productive forces of Middle Earth are resolutely medieval. Not only are they pre- industrial, they are pre- early modern – no steam engines or power driven machinery, no printing, no transport more advanced than the ship and the horse (except eagles in extremis), importantly no guns or cannon (the only explosions or fireworks are courtesy of wizardry or sorcery). Actually very little attention is paid to production at all. It is clear that Middle Earth is overwhelmingly rural – Minas Tirith in Gondor is the only real city we encounter in the whole epic – and therefore it is more or less assumed that most people are farmers of some sort and not worthy of much mention.

Middle Earth is a world of Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses, Lords and Ladies. The role of heridity and lineage, of what sociologists call ascribed (as opposed to achieved) status and what in everyday language would be called class, is absolutely overwhelming and completely taken for granted. Almost every single character’s social position and part in the story is determined, in the first instance, by their birth. This applies from the very top to the very bottom, in small matters and large. Why, for example, is Sam Gamgee Frodo’s servant? It is not age – Merry and Pippin are young but from higher families in the Shire social order – it is class. Aragorn, not Boromir or Faramir, is destined to rule Gondor because he is the heir of Isildur, albeit this was 3000 years ago, and has ancestry stretching even further back to Earendil and the Elven kings of the First Age, whereas they are merely sons of a Steward. True, he has to prove himself and win his throne in many battles but his leadership role is predestined. And Aragorn will love and wed Arwen not Eowyn because she is of matching birth – they are repeating the ancient union of Luthien and Beren. Eowyn, who originally loves Aragorn, instead marries Faramir who is of roughly equivalent standing in the Middle Earth hierarchy.

At first glance the central character of Gandalf may appear not to fit this mould in that his lineage is not spelt out in The Lord of the Rings, and that Saruman not Gandalf is at first cast as the senior wizard; moreover wizards do not seem to have a fixed position in the Middle Earth social order (compare the relatively lowly Radagast). But in The Silmarillion, the prequel to the saga of the Rings, which provides a creation myth for Middle Earth and tells the history of its First Age, this gap is filled. Gandalf, we are told, was originally Olorin and a Maiar . The Maiar were the servants of the Valar, the Lords of Arda (guardians of creation made in the beginning by Iluvatar, the One) in Valinor, beyond the confines of the world. Gandalf is thus of higher lineage even than Elrond or Galadriel, but, interestingly, matches that of his two great foes, the Balrog in Moria ( Balrogs were Maiar perverted by Melkor/Morgoth, the fallen Ainur/Valar and Great Enemy) and Sauron, Morgoth’s emissary, just as Frodo’s descent and social status matches that of his nemesis Smeagol/Gollum.

At no point in The Lord of The Rings is this hierarchical social structure subject to any form of critique or challenge, either by an individual character or a collective group, or even implicitly by the logic of the narrative. The history of Middle Earth contains no Wat Tylers, John Lilburnes or Tom Paines. On the contrary acceptance of traditional and inherited authority is invariably a sign of ‘good’ character, resistance to it a sign of siding, or potentially siding, with the enemy. For example one of the things that marks Faramir as the ‘good’ brother in contrast to Boromir, is his more or less instant recognition and acceptance of Aragorn as his ruler.

Indeed, in a parallel with the Christian story of Lucifer the fallen archangel, the origin of all evil in Tolkien’s world is the rebellion against authority of Melkor, the Ainur. In The Silmarillion it is told how at the beginning of creation Iluvatar revealed to the Ainur a ‘mighty theme’ of which they were to ‘make in harmony together a Great Music’.

But now Iluvatar sat and hearkened, and for a great while it seemed good to him, for in the music there were no flaws. But as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Iluvatar; for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself. (The Silmarillion, 1977, p.16)

From this act of insubordination flows all the misfortunes of Arda – the temptation of Feanor, the darkening of Valinor, the great war at the end of the First Age, the fall of Numenor, and the rise of Sauron. Thus from first to last Tolkien’s worldview is imbued with a deep seated respect for traditional authority.

To add to this there runs through the whole saga another hallmark of conservatism, namely the belief that things are not what they used to be, that the world is in decline, and that the old days were finer, nobler, more dignified, more heroic than the present. As Elrond puts it when recounting the mustering of the hosts of Gil-galad and Elendil for the assault on Sauron at the end of the Second Age, ‘I remember well the splendour of their banners … It recalled to me the glory of the Elder Days and the hosts of Beleriand, so many great princes and captains were assembled. And yet not so many, nor so fair [ my emphasis], as when Thangorodrim was broken’. (The Fellowship of the Ring, 1974, p.233)

Finally there is a view of fate, predestination and ‘the will of the Gods’ that is not only pre-modern and pre-enlightment but reminiscent of Ancient Greece and the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles. When, at the Council of Elrond, Frodo announces that he will undertake the task of taking the Ring to the Cracks of Doom, Elrond says ‘I think this task is appointed for you, Frodo’, and indeed the whole episode has been foretold in lines which came to both Faramir and Boromir in dreams:

Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur’s Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.

[The Fellowship of the Ring p.236]

Similarly Smeagol/Gollum is fated ‘to play his part before the end’ – an absolutely crucial part as it turns out – and the various acts of mercy that are shown to him by Gandalf, Aragorn, the Elves of Mirkwood, and Frodo himself all facilitate this predetermined destiny. Predictions and prophesies are scattered throughout the story and they always come true. As in Greek tragedy anyone who attempts to frustrate or avoid their fate merely ends up contributing to its inevitable fulfilment. The centrality of this conception of fate, which turns out ultimately to be the will of God, for Tolkien’s whole vision is made clear by Iluvatar’s response to Melkor’s aforementioned original sin of musical innovation.

Then Iluvatar spoke, and he said: ’Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Iluvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.’[The Silmarillion p.17]

This view of destiny is highly conservative because it both reflects the fact that human beings are not in control of their society or their own lives (in Marxist terms, alienated and dominated by the products of their own labour) and reinforces the idea that that they can never become so.

John Molyneux
31 October , 2010

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En marxistisk analys av Tolkien – del 1

Den enda ringenAnalysen är gjord av den brittiske marxisten John Molyneux som var (är?) medlem i brittiska och irländska SWP. Den är lång, så jag delar upp den på flera inlägg. Detta är det första. Texten är tagen från Molyneux egen blogg.

Tolkien’s world – a Marxist Analysis, part 1

The writings of J.R.R.Tolkien might seem a somewhat unusual subject for Marxist analysis, and indeed for me. I usually write about visual art or politics rather than literature and when Marxists write about literature they are more likely to focus on issues of method, or on figures from the canon of high culture – Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy etc – or modernism – Kafka, Joyce. Beckett – or with avowed radical politics – Gorky, Brecht, O’Casey, Steinbeck etc. Tolkien fits none of these categories. Indeed he is a writer to whom many Marxists would take an instant dislike, who some would decline to read altogether (as not serious literature) or who, if they did like him, they might be slightly shame -faced about, almost as if they had a private taste for James Bond or Mills and Boon, for if Tolkien is not pulp fiction, he is not quite regarded as high culture either.

Nevertheless there already exists a small body of Marxist writing on Tolkien including several articles in Historical Materialism Volume 10, issue 4 ( Ishay Landa, ‘Slaves of the Ring: Tolkien’s Political Unconscious’, Ben Watson, ‘Fantasy and Judgement: Adorno, Tolkien, Burroughs’, Carl Freedman, ‘A Note on Marxism and Fantasy’). Moreover there is a serious justification for writing seriously about Tolkien; namely, his exceptional popularity and the need to account for that popularity.

This popularity is truly extraordinary. According to Wikipedia The Lord of the Rings, with 150 million sales world wide, is the second best selling novel of all time (after Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities with 200 million) and the seventh best selling book of any kind (after The Bible, Mao’s Little Red Book, The Qu’ran, the Chinese Dictionary etc). It has sold more than The Da Vinci Code and The Catcher in the Rye combined, five times as many as War and Peace or 1984 or To Kill a Mocking Bird and fifteen times as many as Catch 22. The Hobbit, with 100 million sales, comes in fourth among novels and twelfth of all books. To this must be added the fact that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, with takings of $1,119,110,941, was the third highest grossing film of all time, after Avatar and Titanic, with The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers only just behind.*

Popularity on this scale means that the ideological content of this work is a factor of at least some significance in the consciousness of many millions of people, and thus worthy of analysis.

Moreover this popularity bears with it a conundrum. It is clear that Tolkien’s world view is in many respects right wing and reactionary, but if this is the case how come his work is so popular? Is it despite or because of this reactionary outlook? Or what is the relation between Tolkien’s worldview and his audience? Investigating, and hopefully resolving, this puzzle is one of the main aims of this essay. It also throws up a number of interesting points about history, ideology and art.

When I refer to Tolkien’s worldview, I mean not his personal political opinions but his outlook as embodied in his novels. Although the personal opinions undoubtedly influenced the outlook of the novels, it is the latter, not the former, that matters. The latter has influenced many, many millions; the former are known only to a tiny minority. Moreover, that worldview is expressed primarily not in the details of the plot of either The Hobbit or The Lord of The Rings but in the overall vision of Middle Earth as an imagined society.

The Lord of the Rings is not, in my opinion, an allegory. In this I concur with Tolkien who was most insistent on this point in the Forward to the Second Edition (The Fellowship of the Ring , 1974 pp 8-9) Unlike, say, Animal Farm, which is manifestly an allegory for the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalin, the story of the war of the rings does not correspond to [still less is it an elaborate code for] the First World War, or The Second World War or any other actual historical episode. **

The real history it most closely resembles is that of the Cold War but we know that it was conceived long before the Cold War began. The plot of The Lord of The Rings therefore, is largely sui generis. The social relations of Middle Earth, however, are not and could not be. It is very easy to imagine futuristic technology – intergalactic spaceships, death stars, transporter beams and the like – and it is relatively easy to imagine strange non-existent creatures – Orcs, Ents, insect people, Cactacae,etc – but it is close to impossible to invent non-existent social relations and the social relations of Middle Earth are readily recognisable.

John Molyneux
31 October , 2010

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* I am well aware that citing Wikipedia is academically disapproved of but in this case it doesn’t matter in the slightest whether these figures are exact and I make no claim for their precise accuracy. They are merely indicative of the vast scale of Tolkien’s popularity and for this purpose Wikipedia seems perfectly adequate.

** Ishay Landa, in his aforementioned ‘Slaves of the Ring: Tolkien’s Political Unconscious’, rejects the term allegory but, in effect, argues that Tolkien’s work is an allegory for, or at least a reflection of, ‘ the crisis of capitalist property relations at the beginning of the twentieth century culminating in the First World War and the Bolshevik revolution’ (p.117). Tolkien, he argues, was ‘deeply aware of the calamitous consequences of imperialism, but at the same time was even more alarmed at the prospect of revolution,’ (p.117) . He sees the goblins/orcs (he quotes The Hobbit) as embodying ‘Tolkien’s underlying terror at the prospect of revolution’ (p.120) , but also that ‘The Ring’s essence is that of global expansion, of unlimited monopoly, of the unquenchable thirst for surplus value’ and that ‘the Ring is capitalism, mythically grasped’(p.124). I find this reading forced and unconvincing but a detailed critique of it would take me too far from the main theme of this article.

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Urban fantasy

Headline for Urban Fantasy Series Without the Heavy Paranormal Romance Focus
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Urban Fantasy Series Without the Heavy Paranormal Romance Focus

As an avid reader of urban fantasy literature, I have to admit that there are quite a few series out there that seem geared toward a reader with a predilection for romance. I'm not really that guy. Whenever I come to a sex scene, I usually skip to the point where it's over and the plot picks back up. Unfortunately, that has made some series not worth paying money for anymore. cough, cough....Anita Blake....cough, cough

Here is my list of urban fantasy series that I have read which either (A) are not driven by the romantic machinations or (B) keep the romance light enough to stay focused on the fantastical plot. Please, feel free to add to the list!

Sep 03, 2011 - jim-butcher.com - 269
The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

The series is "a first person narrative..from the point of view of the main character, private investigator and wizard Harry Dresden, as he recounts investigations into supernatural disturbances in modern-day Chicago." - Wikipedia. Such a well-developed and likable lead character. As the novels progress, the supporting characters become this wonderfully vivid group of people whom you can't help but feel connected to.

Nov 26, 2014 - johnconroe.com - 283
The Demon Accords by John Conroe

Chris Gordon is a rookie with the NYPD - one with a secret. In his spare time Chris is an exorcist without equal with a gift from God. But when he saves a beautiful girl from a demonic attack, he discovers there is more to fear than just demons. Finding himself surrounded by vampires, were weasels, and facing a giant short-faced bear, Chris struggles to stay alive, all while protecting his deadly new girlfriend. And then there's her over protective vampire mother! -- Undoubtedly, one of my favorite series. Right up there with The Dresden Files.

Nov 26, 2014 - ilona-andrews.com - 216
Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews

The world has suffered a magic apocalypse. We pushed the technological progress too far, and now magic returned with a vengeance. It comes in waves. When magic is up, planes drop out of the sky, cars stall, electricity dies. When magic is down, guns work and spells fail. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, but when the universe tries to kick her in the face, she kicks back. -- One of the best heroines in the genre.

Nov 26, 2014 - faithhunter.net - 230
Jane Yellowrock Series by Faith Hunter

Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind-a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she’s been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps… -- Jane is fantastic. She sails past Anita Blake to land in the top heroines circle with Kate Daniels and Rachel Morgan.

Nov 15, 2011 - kevinhearne.com - 198
Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

Atticus O’Sullivan has been running for two thousand years and he’s a bit tired of it. After he stole a magical sword from the Tuatha Dé Danann (those who became the Sidhe or the Fae) in a first century battle, some of them were furious and gave chase, and some were secretly amused that a Druid had the cheek to defy them. Now he’s living in Tempe, Arizona, the very last of the Druids, far from where the Fae can easily find him. It’s a place where many paranormals have decided to hide from the troubles of the Old World—from an Icelandic vampire holding a grudge against Thor to a coven of Polish witches who ran from the German Blitzkrieg.

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The Pact Arcanum series by Arshad Ahsanuddin

Sep 19, 2015
The Pact Arcanum series by Arshad Ahsanuddin

An unlikely savior emerges to prevent the advent of mass destruction and genocide descending on the world…

By Day

Los Angeles, 2040. When the terrorist known as Medusa threatens to kill millions with a stolen nuclear bomb, Nick Jameson makes a fateful decision. He reveals himself on global television as a Daywalker - a vampire with a soul. To save Los Angeles, Nick exposes not only his own gifts but three separate cultures based on millennia-old magic.

By Night

The three metahuman races exist in careful balance, working to maintain a fragile peace. Nick and his fellow Daywalkers successfully master their natural bloodlust. The Sentinels, armed with both magic and steel, repress their warlike instincts. And even some Nightwalkers, normally their natural enemies, have deserted the Court of Shadows to join the triple alliance.

Betrayal and treachery lurk around every corner on the road to coexistence, and at every turn, Nick must question who to trust among his metahuman allies, friends, and lovers—before their civilization is plunged into the depths of darkness and bloodshed. With millennia-old magic, emerging romance, and ever-shifting allegiances, this inventive series unveils a scintillating world of Nightwalkers, Daywalkers, Sentinels, and Humans, who battle for world dominance in the not-too-distant future.

7

I Bring the Fire series by C. Gockel

Sep 19, 2015
I Bring the Fire series by C. Gockel

In the middle of America, Amy Lewis is on her way to her grandma's house. She's being chased by a very bad wolf. Galaxies away Loki is waking up in a prison cell, strangely without a hangover, and with no idea what he's done wrong -- this time anyway. But he does know Thor is hiding something, Odin is up to something wicked, and there seems to be something he's forgotten...

In this urban fantasy tale, a very nice midwestern girl and a jaded, mischievous Loki must join forces to outwit gods, elves, magic sniffing cats, and nosy neighbors. If Loki can remember exactly what he's forgotten and Amy can convince him not to be too distracted by Earthly gadgets, Earthly pleasures, or three day benders, they just might pull it off...

Sep 03, 2011 - kimharrison.net - 281
The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison

A series of mystery novels that take place primarily in the city of Cincinnati featuring Rachel Morgan, a detective witch who works with local law enforcement agencies and faces threats both mundane and supernatural in origin. -- A great heroine for the genre!

Sep 03, 2011 - patriciabriggs.com - 264
Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs

Set in the Tri-Cities area of Washington state, the series follows Mercy, a VW mechanic by trade, as she learns her true nature and is caught up in the affairs of the local werewolves, vampires, fae, and other supernatural characters. Another fiesty lead character with a wry wit.

Dec 05, 2012 - markdelfranco.com - 253
Connor Grey Series by Mark del Franco

In the alleys of the decrepit Boston neighborhood known as the Weird, fairy prostitutes are turning up dead. Boston police call in Connor Grey, a druid and former hotshot Guild investigator-whose magical abilities were crippled after a run-in with a radical environmentalist elf. As Connor battles red tape and his own shortcomings, he realizes that the murders are not random, but part of an ancient magical ritual—which might bring about a worldwide cataclysm.

Sep 03, 2011 - kategriffin.net - 228
Matthew Swift Series by Kate Griffin

"Enter a London where magicians ride the Last Train, implore favours of The Beggar King and interpret the insane wisdom of The Bag Lady. Enter a London where beings of power soar with the pigeons and scrabble with the rats, and seek insight in the half-whispered madness of the blue electric angels." - kategriffin.net. While most other urban fantasy series treat magic as something old that is brought into the modern day world, Griffin's series of novels play upon the idea of "urban magic" - created from the rhythms and rituals of the city itself.

Sep 03, 2011 - shevdon.com - 253
Courts of the Feyre Series by Mike Shevdon

"The Courts of the Feyre is a new series that follows the adventures of Niall and Blackbird as Niall discovers a world of dark magic and strange creatures hidden in plain sight." - shevdon.com. Shevdon draws upon English folklore and history to create a highly engaging world to get lost in. The first book draws a lot of comparisons to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.

Sep 03, 2011 - en.wikipedia.org - 273
The Secret History Series by Simon R Green

The adventures of Edwin Drood, AKA Shaman Bond (his field name; it is a parody of James Bond's name). He is a part of the Droods, an ancient family that purportedly watches over the world and protects it from various threats, including supernatural and magical ones.

Nov 26, 2014 - daysgonebad.com - 267
Vesik Series by Eric R. Asher

My name is Damian Valdis Vesik. I am a necromancer, an ability feared and hated as much as the powers my master and I set ourselves against. We've vanquished many evils, but now something is releasing an old darkness, forcing us to hunt an enemy beyond anything I've faced before.

Dec 05, 2012 - jenniferestep.com - 214
Elemental Assassin Series by Jennifer Estep

The Elemental Assassin books are set in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ashland, where Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina meet in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in her spare time. Gin is also an elemental or person who can control one of the four elements – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone. Gin has the rare gift of being able to control two elements, Ice and Stone in her case. Besides elementals like Gin, Ashland is also home to giants, dwarves, and vampires.

16

Black Knight Chronicles by John G. Hartness

Sep 19, 2015
Black Knight Chronicles by John G. Hartness

The Black Knight Chronicles introduces us to James Black and Gregory Knightwood, proprietors of Black Knight Investigations. They’re dedicated to righting wrongs, defending the helpless, bringing light into the darkest of shadows…

Ok, maybe not so much with the bringing light bit. Our boys are vampires, after all, and not so much for the bringing of light stuff. But Jimmy and Greg aren’t your typical bloodthirsty, sex-starved, viciously studly vampires. Ok, maybe they’re a little blood-starved and sex-thirsty, but they try to keep that all under control. They’re more like your dorky kid brother who just happened to get turned into a vampire and now has to stay out of the sun. Forever.

Dec 25, 2011 - seananmcguire.com - 267
October Daye Series by Seanan McGuire

Faerie has always been with us. The fairy tales, ballads, and folklore of the mortal world are only shadows of the true, sometimes terrible reality of the fae. They survive in secrecy, keeping their Courts in the places where the light doesn't fall, existing in parallel to the world we know.

Dec 05, 2012 - permutedpress.com - 282
Ex-Heroes Series by Peter Clines

They were heroes. Vigilantes. Crusaders for justice, using their superhuman abilites to make Los Angeles a better place. Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Now, they protect the thousands of survivors sheltered in a film studio-turned-fortress, the Mount. While zombies walk the streets night and day, they are not the only threat left in the world. Across the city, another group has grown and gained power. And they are not heroes.

Nov 26, 2014 - benedictjacka.co.uk - 228
Alex Verus Series by Benedict Jacka

Alex Verus is a diviner, able to see the future. This is impressive to most people but less so to other mages, who can do things like throw fire, disintegrate things, and fly. Right now Alex has a problem – a site’s been discovered containing an ancient and powerful relic, and lots of people are looking for a diviner to open it, all of whom are looking to recruit or kill Alex, not necessarily in that order.

Nov 26, 2014 - robertjcrane.com - 236
Southern Watch Series by Robert J. Crane

Archibald "Arch" Stan was a local cop in Midian, Tennessee that was good at his job and exceptionally good at hiding his disappointment at not being able to figure out what was missing in his life. Lafayette Hendricks looked like a drifter, a broken-down hitchhiker blown through Midian on the prevailing winds. When Arch catches him in a fight on the town square, though, things start to get weird fast, because the guy he's fighting doesn't die when he gets shot.

Nov 26, 2014 - levgrossman.com - 204
Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater has lost everything. He has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams that he once ruled. Everything he had fought so hard for, not to mention his closest friends, is sealed away in a land Quentin may never again visit.

Nov 26, 2014 - meganpowellbooks.com - 252
The Magnolia Kelch Series by Megan Powell

Magnolia Kelch is no stranger to pain. She’s spent her entire life at the mercy of her sadistic father and the rest of the Kelch clan, who have tortured her and tested the limits of her powers. After one particularly heinous night, she finally sees her chance for escape. This first taste of freedom is short-lived when she joins the Network—a secret organization dedicated to fighting supernatural criminals— including her family.

Sep 03, 2011 - en.wikipedia.org - 224
Alpha and Omega Series by Patricia Briggs

Springboards off of the Mercy Thompson series by bringing supporting characters from that series front and center. The book focuses on Anna, an Omega werewolf learning her place within the pack, and Charles, the Alpha werewolf whose fate is linked with her own.

Sep 03, 2011 - ericnylund.net - 266
Mortal Coils Series by Eric Nylund

Nothing exciting ever happened to fifteen-year-old orphans Eliot and Fiona, who are trapped in the strict, oppressive household of their grandmother. A chance visit, however, reveals that the twins are the offspring of a goddess and Lucifer, Prince of Darkness. To settle the epic custody battle between these two families, the fallen angels create three diabolical temptations, and the gods fashion three heroic trials to test Eliot and Fiona. The twins need to quickly learn how to use their budding supernatural abilities… for family allegiances are ever-shifting in the ancient, secret world they have entered.

Sep 03, 2011 - en.wikipedia.org - 272
Jaz Parks Series by Jennifer Rardin

The series "presents a contemporary world in which mythological beings such as vampires and several less famous creatures are real, and follows the efforts of the Central Intelligence Agency to combat paranormal threats to national security." - Wikipedia. Very funny with wonderful references to contemporary culture.

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Svensk fantasylitteratur

Fantasy

Fantasy kan egentligen sägas vara en paradgren inom svensk litteratur. Det är bara det att ingen tänker på det som fantasy, men de flesta fornnordiska sagor är fantasy och en stor del av de många senare sagor som finns är också fantasy. Mycket av barnlitteraturen är egentligen fantasy osv. Astrid Lindgren är en klassisk fantasyförfattare med böcker som Bröderna Lejonhjärta, Ronja Rövardotter och Mio min Mio, men även en del andra böcker innehåller vad som måste kallas fantasyelement. Pysslingar, flygande farbröder och annat.

De flesta menar dock att svensk fantasy lever i skymundan. Men det menar jag beror på att man identifiera fantasy på ett felaktigt sätt. Man glömmer den bort de fornnordiska sagorna och all barnlitteratur som finns och som är fantasy. Modern svenskspråkig originalfantasy för vuxna kan man nog däremot hävda att den lever i skymundan:

Medan fantasy utomlands står bakom några av de senaste årens största försäljningsframgångar, har svensk fantasy länge levt en ganska undanskymd tillvaro, åtminstone om man talar om den som är skriven för äldre målgrupper. För bortser man från framgångsrika ungdomsböcker som Cirkeln, så har de svenska fantasyförfattarna till stor del varit hänvisade till små förlag, utan några marknadsföringsresurser att tala om.

[…]

Cecilia Wennerström insåg snabbt att det hon kallade fantasy skilde sig från vad som allmänt ansågs tillhöra genren. Maria Gripe låg för henne närmare till hands än fältslag och hjältar med dubbelfattade svärd. Hon slogs också av hur avskräckande själva genrebeteckningen verkade i den övriga bokbranschen, där man slentrianmässigt tycktes likställa all fantasy med ungdomslitteratur.
– Det är lite lustigt. För egentligen stämmer det inte att det inte ges ut fantasy i Sverige. Det är bara det att de stora förlagen nästan aldrig kallar det för fantasy. De vill inte ha den genrestämpeln. I synnerhet inte om det är vuxenböcker, säger hon.
– Själv ger jag helst ut böcker för vuxna. Men även dessa böcker brukar hamna på barn- och ungdomshyllorna.

Delvis tror hon att detta beror på gamla fördomar. Precis som att science fiction från början associerades med kiosklitteratur, förknippas fantasy för väldigt många med rollspel, dataspel och så kallad sword and sorcery, den typ av hjälte-fantasy som främst drar tankarna till Conan Barbaren.
– Men jag tror inte att det är förlagens fel. De har nog egentligen inget emot fantasy och science fiction. Nej, tyvärr tror jag att det är de svenska läsarna som inte gillar det. När jag har försökt sälja in mina böcker till olika bokhandlar får jag alltid svaret: ”Nej, folk köper inte fantasy. Sånt får du sälja in till SF-bokhandeln”, berättar hon.

Det finns dessutom en del vuxenfantasy som inte kallas för fantasy:

– Eller det som kallas urban fantasy, det ligger ganska nära verkligheten, ofta med inslag av socialrealism. Lite som dagens deckare fast med övernaturliga inslag, och för vuxna läsare.
Till skillnad från många andra tvivlar hon inte på att det finns en stor marknad för svensk vuxenfantasy. Hon nämner böcker som Historikern av Elizabeth Kostova, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell av Susanna Clarke och Alla själars natt av Deborah Harkness. Alla är enligt henne exempel på storsäljande fantasy som kommit ut i Sverige, men som inte lyfts fram som just fantasy.
– På ett sätt är det ju positivt att en fantasyroman kan ses som vilken roman som helst. Men samtidigt tror jag att fler skulle hitta sådant de gillade om genren faktiskt fick stå under sitt rätta namn. För idag läser många fantasy utan att veta om det, säger hon.

Förutom Astrid Lindgren och de i citaten nämnda författarna Maria Gripe och Cecilia Wennerström finns dessutom författare som Viktor AlgrenAnna BlixtPål Eggert, Sara Bergmark ElfgrenSaga Borg (tidigare Teo Troy, författarkollektiv), Sven Bergersjö, Karolina Bjällerstedt Mickos, Christina Brönnestam, Inger Edelfeldt, Aengeln Englund, Mia FranckErik Granström, Johanne Hildebrandt, Göran Holmqvist, Dan Hörning, Per Jorner, Niklas Krog, Oskar Källner, Tobias Landström, Henrik Larsson, Kristoffer Leandoer, Eric Leijonhufvud, Dénis Lindbohm, Sam J. LundwallMattias LönneboMaud MangoldBertil Mårtensson, Moni Nilsson-Brännström, Lotta OlivecronaAndreas Roman, Göran Sahlén, Jo Salmson (Catharina Wrååk), Mats Strandberg, Sven Christer SwahnKarin Tidbeck och Gull Åkerblom.

Många av fantasyförfattarna omnämns på sajten Catahaya (en del av länkarna här ovan är dit), exempelvis Bertil Mårtensson och Andreas Roman. Presentationerna har dock i flera fall några år på nacken.

Flera författare har skrivit många böcker och några har egna hemsidor, som exempelvis Sara Bergmark Elfgren, Saga BorgPål EggertNiklas KrogDan HörningErik GranströmMattias LönneboNene OrmesMats Strandberg, Karin TidbeckSara Bergmark Elfgren och Mats Strandberg har dessutom en engelskspråkig hemsida om Engelsforsböckerna.

En del har också recenserats på flera bloggar och internetsajter som exempelvis Dan Hörning vars bok Stormens vandrare har recenserats av Martin Ackerfors, Torbjörn Granström i Ergo, Viktor AlgrenAnna Blixt, Pål Eggert och Bertil Mårtensson recenserade på sajten Feuerzeug som har mängder recensioner utöver de länkade. Både av svenska och utländska fantasyböcker.

Åter andra finns intervjuade såsom Christina Brönnestam, Erik Granström på sajten Catahaya Niklas KrogFantasybloggen och Nene Ormes på Malmö stads hemsida.

Många svenska fantasyböcker har getts ut av rollspelsföretag som Neogames och på författarnas egna förlag liksom på förlag specialiserade på skräck och fantasy som Styxx i Göteborg, Järnringen (förlaget är nerlagt) och Undrentide.

Det är möjligt att svensk fantasy kan sägas leva i skymundan, men en ska är säker. Det finns många som skriver fantasy så uppenbarligen finns det en publik för fantasylitteratur skriven på svenska. Mycket mer än jag som inte läser fantasy kunde tänka mig. Förutom det jag nämnde i inledningen så finns det även en del mycket välkända äldre svenska författare som skrivit fantasy:

Det första verk på svenska som kommer i närheten av fantasy är Per Daniel Amadeus Atterboms versepos Lycksalighetens ö som publicerades mellan åren 1824 och 1827. 1835 kom Carl Jonas Love Almquists versepos Arthurs jakt som också kan räknas till ett verk som tangerat fantasy som genre.

Även Viktor Rydberg var inne och tassade på fantasyns utmarker när han 1848 lät trycka följetongen Vampyren. Dessutom var stora delar av Selma Lagerlöfs produktion fylld av fantastiska inslag, även om det bara är i ett fåtal romaner som det fantastiska blir en viktigt ingrediens för handlingen; En herrgårdssägen (1899, som förövrigt blev till opera 2004; komponerad av Lars-Åke Frankeblom med libretto av Lasse Zilliacus), Herr Arnes penningar (1903), Nils Holgerssons underbara resa (1906-1907) och Körkarlen (1912).

[…]

Sven Delblanc har skrivit en roman som tangerar fantasy-genren; Gunnar Emanuel, en bok som handlar om tidsförskjutning. Men även Kerstin Ekman (Rövarna i Skuleskogen), Mare Kandre (Quinnan och Dr. Dreuf) och Anna-Karin Palm (Faunen) är alla författare som åtminstone nosat på fantasyn.

Läs mer: DN1, 2SVD, AB, Tonårsboken, Mythotopes, Debutantbloggen, Bokdjungeln

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Bästa kvinnliga SF- och fantasyförfattare

Precis som med alla typer av SF och Fantasy finns det en uppsjö med sajter och artikalr som listar de bästa kvinnliga SF-författarna och fantasyförfattarna. Vill man ha listor på alla ledder kan man kolla in sajten Feminist Science Fiction, Fantasy & Utopia där det finns hundratals.

Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler

 

På topplistor där folk, tidskrifter och andra listar de bästa kvinnliga SF- och fantasyförfattarna så återfinns vissa namn i varenda lista. En som ständigt, alltid, finns med är Ursula K. LeGuin. Exempelvis finns hon på en lista hos AfterEllen där också Octavia Butler, Madeleine L’Engle, Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood och J.K. Rowling finns med. Av dessa återfinns LeGuin, Butler, L’Engle och Lessing på en lista hos Flavorwire där dessutom Angela Carter, Anne Rice, Connie Willis, Kelly Link, Marion Zimmer Bradley och Susanna Clarke finns med.

I Guardian har Gwyneth Jones plockat fram en lista på 10 bästa böcker av kvinnliga SF-författare. Representerade författare är Ursula K. LeGuin, Kate Wilhelm, James Tiptree Jr (Alice Sheldon), Joanna Russ, C.J. Cherryh, Sheri Tepper, Pat Cadigan, Karen Joy Fowler, Kathleen Ann Goonan och Justina Robson. På sajten Goodreads där läsarna (medlemmarna) bestämmer vilka böcker som ska rankas högst så är de författare som finns på de tio första platserna, Margaret Atwood (två böcker), Suzanne Collins, Madeleine L’Engle, Ursula K. LeGuin (tre böcker), Mary Shelley, Octavia Butler och Lois McMaster Bujold.

Ursula K. LeGuin är i en klass för sig. Finns med på varenda lista jag kan hitta. Också Octavia Butler och Madeleine L’Engle finns med på de flesta.

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Några kvinnliga SF-författare

Alice SheldonDet råder ingen brist på kvinnliga SF- och fantasyförfattare. Förr var det annorlunda och tidiga kvinnliga sciencefictionförfattare skrev ofta under mansnamn. Ett typexempel är Alice Sheldon (1915-87) som skrev under namnet James Tiptree Jr. Denna praxis förekommer till och med än idag:

”It sometimes makes sense for a female author to use a pseudonym, particularly when the main characters are male, or when it’s a genre with a strong appeal to men, like military science fiction, certain types of fantasy or gritty thrillers,” says Penguin editor Anne Sowards, whose fantasy authors K.A. Stewart, Rob Thurman and K.J. Taylor are women. …

”For a new author, we want to avoid anything that might cause a reader to put a book down and decide, ’not for me,’ ” Ms. Sowards says. ”When we think a book will appeal to male readers, we want everything about the book to say that-the cover, the copy and, yes, the author’s name.”

Några av mina favoriter bland SF-författare är kvinnor. Bäst är förstås Ursula K. Le Guin som dessutom är vänster. Andra jag läst och läser med behållning är C.J. Cherryh, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Nancy Kress, Anne McCaffrey, Elisabeth Moon, Lois McMaster Bujold och Joan Vinge.

Antalet kvinnliga SF-författare är mycket stort och det finns en lång rad listor, bland annat en på Sci-Fi Fan Letter som är uppdelad på olika genrer. Några författare som nämns där, ihop med böcker de skrivit, är:

Hard SF

Nancy Kress – Probability Moon
Glynn Latner – Hurricane Moon
M. J. Locke – Up Against It
Syne Mitchell – Changeling Plague
Joan Slonczweski – Brain Plague

General SF

Ann Aguirre – Grimspace
C. L. Anderson – Bitter Angels
Margaret Ball – Disappearing Act
Elizabeth Bear – Dust
Lauren Beukes – Zoo City
Leigh Brackett – The Secret of Sinharat
M. M. Buckner – Watermind
C. J. Cherryh – Foreigner
Sara Creasy – Song of Scarabaeus
Julie Czerneda – A Thousand Words for Stranger
Marienne de Pierres – Dark Space
Diane Duane – Omnitopia Dawn
Jaine Fenn – Principles of Angels
J. M. Frey – Triptych
Nicola Griffith – Ammonite
Jane Jensen – Dante’s Equation
Kay Kenyon – The Braided World
Sharon Lee & Steve Miller – Fledgling
Ursula K. Le Guin – The Word for World is Forest
Doris Lessing – Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta
Karin Lowachee – Warchild
Anne McCaffrey – The Ship Who Sang
Maureen McHugh – China Mountain Zhang
Chris Moriarty – Spin State
Sheryl Nantus – Blaze of Glory
Andre Norton – Prison Ship
Diana Palmer – Morcai Batallion
Kit Reed – Thinner Than Thou
Justina Robson – Mappa Mundi
Joanna Russ – The Female Man
Melissa Scott – Trouble and Her Friends
Suzan Shwartz – Hostile Takeover
Kristine Smith – Code of Conduct
Wen Spencer – Tinker
Sheri Tepper – Grass
Karen Traviss – City of Pearl
Joan Vinge – Psion
Lynda Williams – The Courtesan Prince
Liz Williams – Banner of Souls
Phoebe Wray – Jemma 7729

Military SF

Lois McMaster Bujold – Cordelia’s Honor
Tanya Huff – Valor’s Choice
Jean Johnson – A Soldier’s Duty
Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Moon – Sassinak
Sandra McDonald – The Outback Stars
Elizabeth Moon – Hunting Party

Romantic SF

Gini Koch – Touched by an Alien
Stephenie Meyer – The Host
Sharon Shinn – Jenna Starborn
Lisa Paitz Spindler – The Spiral Path

Time Travel

Kage Baker – In the Garden of Iden
Linda Evans & Robert Asprin – Time Scout
Kay Kenyon – Seeds of Time
Audrey Niffenegger – Time Traveler’s Wife
Andre Norton – Echoes in Time
Marge Piercy – Woman on the Edge of Time
Connie Willis – Doomsday Book

Alternative History

Virginia DeMarce – 1635: The Tangled Web
Debbra Doyle – Land of Mist and Snow
Bernardine Evaristo – Blonde Roots
Sophia McDougall – Romanitas
Naomi Novik – His Majesty’s Dragon
Ekaterina Sedia – Heart of Iron
Jo Walton – Farthing
Connie Willis – Blackout

Steampunk (part 1 and part 2)

Gail Carriger – Soulless
Phil & Kaja Foglio – Agatha H and the Airship City
Dru Pagliassotti – Clockwork Heart
Cherie Priest – Boneshaker
Ekaterina Sedia – The Alchemy Stone

Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic

Margaret Atwood – Oryx & Crake
Octavia Butler – Parable of the Sower
Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games
Nalo Hopkinson – Brown Girl in the Ring
P. D. James – Children of Men
Nnedi Okorafor – Who Fears Death
K. M. Ruiz – Mind Storm
Mary Shelley – The Last Man

Series Books

Karen Traviss – Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice, Halo: Grasslands, Gears of War: Anvil Gate
Diana Carey – Aliens: Cauldron, Star Trek TNG: Ship of the Line
Diana Dru Botsford – Stargate SG1: Four Dragons
Olivia Woods – Star Trek DS9: The Soul Key
Kristen Beyer – Star Trek Voyager: Children of the Storm
Christie Golden – Star Craft: The Dark Templar Saga

Detta är bara ett inledande litet inlägg om kvinnliga SF- och fantasyförfattare. Fler kommer på samma sätt som jag skrivit flera inlägg om SF-författare som är vänster.

Läs mer: The Galaxy Express, Vaginal Fantasy Hangout, SF Mistressworks, Daughters of Prometheus, Fantasy Café, Guardian,

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Afro SF – afrikansk science fiction

Afro SFDe flesta SF och fantasyförfattare som läses och är kända i Sverige skriver på engelska. De flesta av dem är följaktligen från USA och Storbritannien. I Afrika som helhet finns också ett antal SF- och fantasyförfattare som publicerats på engelska och/eller skriver på engelska redan från början. En antologi med afrikanska SF och fantasyförfattare gavs ut i december 2012, Afro SF. Den innehåller följande berättelser av en lång rad afrikanska författare (namngivna efter novellens namn):

’Moom!’, Nnedi Okorafor
’Home Affairs’, Sarah Lotz
’The Sale’, Tendai Huchu
’Five Sets of Hands’, Cristy Zinn
’New Mzansi’, Ashley Jacobs
’Azania’, Nick Wood
’Notes from Gethsemane’, Tade Thompson
’Planet X’, S.A. Partridge
’The Gift of Touch’, Chinelo Onwualu
’The Foreigner’, Uko Bendi Udo
’Angel Song’, Dave de Burgh
’The Rare Earth’, Biram Mboob
’Terms & Conditions Apply’, Sally-Ann Murray
’Heresy’, Mandisi Nkomo
’Closing Time’, Liam Kruger
’Masquerade Stories’, Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu
’The Trial’, Joan De La Haye
’Brandy City’, Mia Arderne
’Ofe!’, Rafeeat Aliyu
’Claws and Savages’, Martin Stokes
’To Gaze at the Sun’, Clifton Gachagua
’Proposition 23’ (Novelette), Efe Okogu

Dave de Burgh (Dave Brendan) har en egen blogg där han skrivit om antologin, de ingående berättelserna och deras författare i tre olika inlägg:

Contributor Spotlight (Part One): AfroSF – Science Fiction by African Writers (edited by Ivor W Hartmann)
Contributor Spotlight (Part Two): AfroSF – Science Fiction by African Writers (Edited by Ivor W Hartmann)
Contributor Spotlight (Part Three): AfroSF – Science Fiction by African Writers (Edited by Ivor W Hartmann)

De flesta författarna är från Nigeria och Sydafrika, två av de befolkningsmässigt största länderna söder om Sahara. Redaktör för boken är zimbabwiern Ivor W. Hartmann. Den mest kända afrikanska SF-författaren är väl annars Doris Lessing.

Läs mer: Strange Horizons, Goodreads, Bookshy, City Press, South African SF, Pan African Space Station, SFWA,

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Svarta sciencefiction- och fantasyförfattare

En lista på svarta SF-författare från list.ly.

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Black Science Fiction Writers

A collection of speculative fiction and fantasy writers

Feb 29, 2012 - aliciamccalla.com - 472
Alicia McCalla

Alicia began her career at the ripe age of 10 when her grandmother gave her an old re-conditioned typewriter. The moment she touched the keys she felt like a literary genius. It took thirty years for Alicia to accept her calling as a writer of "unusual stories."

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Author Dion Lack

May 24, 2015 by Dion Lack
Author Dion Lack

Hailing from Dayton Ohio, Dion Lack is a writer making major waves in the entertainment industry. After years of working as a sketch and screenwriter, Dion has added author to his resume. "The Voyage of Truth" is the debut novel that introduces the readers to Dion's vivid imagination in science fiction. This forever evolving renaissance man now resides in Los Angeles with his wife and children.

Feb 29, 2012 - chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com - 455
Balogun Ojetade

Author of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steampunk) and the feature film, “A Single Link”.

Feb 29, 2012 - imdb.com - 377
Brandon Easton

Brandon Easton, Writer: Thundercats and Shadowlaw. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Brandon is an only child who spent many years going to movie theaters and other shows alone. By the time Brandon reached college, he realized that he had writing talent. Cultivating that talent first at Ithaca College and then at Boston University's prestigious Film & TV Screenwriting program.

Feb 29, 2012 - carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com - 438
CaroleMcDonnell

Carole McDonnell writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Jun 25, 2013 - dkgaston.com - 393
D. K. Gaston

D. K. Gaston writes in several genres that include speculative fiction, thrillers, and mysteries. He has written Taurus Moon: Relic Hunter, PANTHEON: Escape, Juju Man, and other novels. He's currently working on his next project. He works in the Information Technology field.

Mar 19, 2013 by Geoffrey Thorne - en.wikipedia.org - 366
Geoffrey Thorne - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As a screenwriter, Thorne has worked with Kickstart Entertainment to develop two of their properties, Of Bitter Souls and Sword of Dracula, for television. He was a writer for season 9 of the USA network's Law & Order: Criminal Intent, season 2 of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, seasons 3,4 and 5 of TNT's , and is the co-writer of an in-development audio drama from Pendant Productions.

Feb 29, 2012 - facebook.com - 440
Hannibal Tabu

I write weekly comic book reviews for Comic Book Resources (heading towards my eighth year). My personal Twitter feed is @hannibaltabu. I am also the owner of komplicated.com

Feb 29, 2012 - blacksciencefictionsociety.com - 465
Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed.

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. – is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com.

Mar 19, 2013 by Geoffrey Thorne - en.wikipedia.org - 501
John Ridley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

His works include the feature films , , Three Kings, and Undercover Brother ; novels The Drift, Those Who Walk in Darkness , A Conversation with the Mann, Love is a Racket, Everybody Smokes in Hell, and Stray Dogs; and the graphic novel The American Way .

Feb 29, 2012 - mvmediaatl.com - 492
Milton Davis

I'm a full time chemist and a part time writer. I'm finally fulfilling my dream of writing by self publishing my novels and stories. Check here for my ramblings on self publishing, cool books, cool writers and a bunch of other stuff. RSS feed for comments on this post.

Feb 29, 2012 - nicolesconiers.com - 468
Nicole D. Sconiers

Author of Escape from Beckyville. My Twitter handle is @NicoleSconiers, and Facebook fan page is http://www.Facebook.com/EscapefromBeckyville. Let's connect and build!

Mar 19, 2013 by Geoffrey Thorne - en.wikipedia.org - 491
Octavia E. Butler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 - February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction writer. A recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, Butler was one of the best-known African-American women in the field. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant.

Feb 29, 2012 - firstcauseproject.wordpress.com - 382
Paul West

Paul West was born and raised in New York City; he currently resides in Harlem, where he has lived for much of his life. After graduating from NYU with a B.A. in History, he worked in the education and nonprofit world for many years before switching lanes and working in advertising and then fashion.

Feb 29, 2012 - mochamemoirspress.com - 413
Ronald Jones

Ronald Jones grew up in Chicago. He is the author of two science fiction novels and a number of short stories. He's a huge science fiction fan, an avid reader of the genre enjoys a host of scifi movies and tv shows. His book Warrior of the Four Worlds can be found at Mocha Memoirs Press. http://mochamemoirspress.com/warriors-of-the-four-worlds/

Mar 19, 2013 by Geoffrey Thorne - en.wikipedia.org - 368
Samuel R. Delany - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

His science fiction novels include , The Einstein Intersection (winners of the Nebula Award for 1966 and 1967 respectively), , , and the Return to Nevèrÿon series. After winning four Nebula awards and two Hugo awards over the course of his career, Delany was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2002.

Mar 19, 2013 by Geoffrey Thorne - en.wikipedia.org - 443
Steven Barnes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

He has written several episodes of The Outer Limits and . He has also written the episode "Brief Candle" for Stargate SG-1 and the episode "The Sum of Its Parts". Barnes's first published piece of fiction, the 1979 novelette "The Locusts", was written with Larry Niven, and was a Hugo Award nominee.

Feb 29, 2012 - hubcityblues.wordpress.com - 456
Thaddeus Howze

Science fiction and fantasy writer, technology consultant, polymath, autistic, creator of worlds, iconoclast, humanist and occasional bastard.

Writer/Journalist: Examiner.com, The Good Men Project, BIT Digest, Black Enterprise

Author: Hayward's Reach (scifi)

Blogs: Hub City Blues - science fiction, fantasy
A Matter of Scale - social commentary, technology

Feb 29, 2012 - valjeanne.wordpress.com - 442
Valjeanne Jeffers

Valjeanne Jeffers is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring.

Feb 29, 2012 - blakelyworks.blogspot.com - 460
Winston Blakely

Winston Blakely is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios.

He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy. Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him at http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/

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Fler SF-författare som är vänster

Efter att ha skrivit mitt tidigare inlägg om SF-författare som är vänster har jag gjort mer efterforskningar. Dessa tyder på att författare som Isaac Asimov och Donald A. Wollheim var marxister/kommunister som unga liksom även andra personer som var medlemmar i fangruppen Futurians som Frederik Pohl (nämnd redan i mitt tidigare inlägg), Damon KnightCyril M. KornbluthJames BlishRichard Wilson, Virginia Kidd, John Michel och Judith Merril. Judith Merril ska ha varit en organiserad trotskist i likhet med Bernard Wolfe som jag nämnde i mitt tidigare inlägg. John Michel gav namn till en hel rörelse, Michelism, inom SF genom sin uppfattning att science fiction skulle stå i framåtskridandets tjänst, vara litteratur för förändring och för att presentera och plädera för radikala utopier.

Andra äldre författare som kanske främst är kända för annan typ av litteratur, men som skrivit science fiction är Jack London (Järnhälen, Iron Heel, är väl den mest kända) och Upton Sinclair med It Can’t Happen Here. Dessutom har jag hittat omnämnanden av följande författare som varande personer som hade kontakter med kommunistpartiet i USA eller anses ha varit kommunister under nån period av sitt liv och som har skrivit enstaka verka som kan anses vara science fiction; Granville Hicks,  Howard Fast, Julius Fast, Tom McGrath, Rolfe Humphries, Ben Barzman, Ben Appell, Henry Myers, Francis Flagg (Weiss), Arthur H. Landis och Theodore Cogswell.

Eric Flint

Eric Flint

Bland nutida SF och Fantasy-författare jag inte nämnde i mitt tidigare inlägg märks den tidigare medlemmen i US-amerikanska Socialist Workers Party, Eric Flint. Eric Flint är fortfarande socialist och har radikala uppfattningar som mycket väl platsar i dagens organiserade revolutionära vänster:

By the summer of 1971, I decided to leave the academic world. The reason, in a nutshell, was that after years of being politically active (mainly in the civil rights movement and the anti-Vietnam war movement) I had become a socialist. And the truth is that I didn’t have much use — still don’t — for academic socialists. It seemed to me then — still does — that a socialist political activist belongs on the shop floors of American industry and in its union halls, not in the ivory tower.

So I packed up my bags and went to work as a longshoreman and then a truck driver, working mainly out of union hiring halls. By 1974, needing more stable employment, I became a machinist’s apprentice and wound up spending most of the next quarter of a century working as a machinist. At various times, however, I also worked as a meatpacker, auto forge worker, glassblower — quite a few things. During most of those years I was a member of the Socialist Workers Party, and, as is generally true of members of that organization — whose traditions go back to the footloose Wobblies — I kicked around the country a lot. At various times I lived and worked and was politically active in California, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, West Virginia and Alabama. (I ran for Birmingham City Council when I lived in Alabama back in 1979.) (No, I didn’t win the election.)

By 1992, to bring this little story back to its origins, I decided it was time to forgo my political activity and try my hand at writing. After more than 25 years as a political activist, I figured I’d paid my dues and I could in good conscience spend the rest of my life trying to see if I could succeed at what at been my original daydream as a young man — write science fiction and fantasy.

En US-amerikansk politisk grupp som delvis härstammar från SWP är Solidarity och de har på sin sajt ett längre inlägg om Kim Stanley Robinson.

Andra som nämns på en del andra sajter är John Barnes, Terry Bisson, David Brin, Octavia Butler, Eugene Byrne, Kim Newman, Paul Di Filippo, Nicola Griffith, Nancy Kress, Simon Louvish, Marge Piercy, Joan Slonczewski, Norman Spinrad, Bruce Sterling, Michael  Swanwick och Warren Wagar, Flertalet av de nämnda är inte på något sätt vad jag skulle kala vänster även om Octavia Butler nog kan sägas vara det, liksom sannolikt Simon Louvish. Kanske även en del andra, men det får jag kanske anledning att komma tillbaks till.

Läs också China Miévilles lista på SF-böcker en socialist bör läsa.

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50 SF och Fantasyböcker en röd nörd bör läsa

En lista sammanställd av den socialistiska SF-författaren China Miéville. Han är medlem i US-amerikanska International Socialist Organisation och gjorde ursprungligen listan för Fantastic Metropolis. Listan hittades på The Weekly Ansible. Den publiceras också här på engelska då många av böckerna inte finns på svenska. En intervju med China Miéville finns i International Socialist Review.

Flera av de författare som nämnts i ett  tidigare inlägg om SF-författare som är vänster finns på listan. Flera författare som är vänster men som inte nämns i inlägget finns också med liksom SF-författare som är allt annat än vänster. Observera att ordet libertarian på engelska betyder anarkist (vänster) såväl som det svenska ordet libertarian (högeranarkist).

Med China Miévilles ord:

China Miéville

This is not a list of the “best” fantasy or SF. There are huge numbers of superb works not on the list. Those below are chosen not just because of their quality—which though mostly good, is variable—but because the politics they embed (deliberately or not) are of particular interest to socialists. Of course, other works—by the same or other writers—could have been chosen: disagreement and alternative suggestions are welcomed. I change my own mind hour to hour on this anyway.

Iain M. Banks — Use of Weapons (1990)

Socialist SF discussing a post-scarcity society. The Culture are “goodies” in narrative and political terms, but here issues of cross-cultural guilt and manipulation complicate the story from being a simplistic utopia.

Edward Bellamy — Looking Backward, 2000–1887 (1888)

A hugely influential, rather bureaucratic egalitarian/naïve communist utopia. Deals very well with the confusion of the “modern” (19th Century) protagonist in a world he hasn’t helped create (see Bogdanov).

Alexander Bogdanov — The Red Star: A Utopia (1908; trans. 1984)

This Bolshevik SF sends a revolutionary to socialist Mars. The book’s been criticized (with some justification) for being proto-Stalinist, but overall it’s been maligned. Deals well with the problem faced by someone trying to adjust to a new society s/he hasn’t helped create (see Bellamy).

Emma Bull & Steven Brust — Freedom & Necessity (1997)

Bull is a left-liberal and Brust is a Trotskyist fantasy writer.F&Nis set in the 19th Century of the Chartists and class turmoil. It’s been described as “the first Marxist steampunk” or “a fantasy for Young Hegelians.”

Mikhail Bulgakov — The Master and Margarita (1938; trans. 1967)

Astonishing fantasy set in ’30s Moscow, featuring the Devil, Pontius Pilate, The Wandering Jew, and a satire and critique of Stalinist Russia so cutting it is unbelievable that it got past the censors. Utterly brilliant.

Katherine Burdekin (aka “Murray Constantine”) — Swastika Night (1937)

An excellent example of the “Hitler Wins” sub-genre of SF. It’s unusual in that it was published by the Left Book Club and it was written while Hitler was in power, so the fear of Nazi future was immediate.

Octavia Butler — Survivor (1978)

Black American writer, now discovered by the mainstream after years of acclaim in the SF field.Kindredis her most overtly political novel, the Patternmaster series the most popular. Survivor brilliantly blends genre SF with issues of colonialism and racism.

Julio Cortázar — “House Taken Over” (1963?)

A terrifying short story undermining the notion of the house as sanctity and refuge. A subtle destruction of the bourgeois oppositions between public/private and inside/outside.

Philip K. Dick — A Scanner Darkly (1977)

Could have picked almost any of his books. Like all of them, this deals with identity, power, and betrayal, here tied in more directly to social structures than in some other works (though see Counter-Clock World and The Man in the High Castle). Incredibly moving.

Thomas Disch — The Priest (1994)

Utterly savage work of anti-clericalism. A work of dark fantasy GBH against the Catholic Church (dedicated, among others, to the Pope…)

Gordon Eklund — All Times Possible (1974)

Study of alternative worlds, including an examination of hypothetical Left-wing movements in alternative USAs.

Max Ernst — Une Semaine de Bonté (1934)

The definitive Surrealist collage novel. A succession of images the reader is involved in decoding. A Whodunwhat, with characters from polite commercial catalogues engaged in a story of little deaths and high adventure.

Claude Farrère — Useless Hands (1920; trans. 1926)

Bleak Social Darwinism, and a prototype of “farewell to the working class” arguments. The “useless hands”—workers—revolt is seen as pathetic before inexorable technology. A cold, reactionary, interesting book.

Anatole France — The White Stone (1905; trans. 1910)

In part, a rebuttal to the racist “yellow peril” fever of the time—a book about “white peril” and the rise of socialism. Also interesting isThe Revolt of the Angels, which examines now well-worn socialist theme of Lucifer being in the right, rebelling against the despotic God.

Jane Gaskell — Strange Evil(1957)

Written when Gaskell was 14, with the flaws that entails. Still, however, extraordinary. A savage fairytale, with fraught sexuality, meditations on Tom Paine and Marx, revolutionary upheaval depicted sympathetically, but without sentimentality; plus the most disturbing baddy in fiction.

Mary Gentle — Rats and Gargoyles (1990)

Set in a city that undermines the “feudalism lite” of most genre fantasy. An untypical female protagonist has adventures in a cityscape complete with class struggle, corruption, and racial oppression.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman — “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892)

Towering work by this radical thinker. Terrifying short story showing how savage gender oppression can inhere in “caring” relationships just as easily as in more obviously abusive ones. See also her feminist/socialistic utopias “Moving the Mountain” (1911) andHerland(1914).

Lisa Goldstein — The Dream Years (1985)

A time-slip oscillating between Paris in the 1920s, during the Surrealist movement, and in 1968, during the Uprising. Uses a popular fantastic mode to examine the relation between Surrealism as the fantastic mode par excellence and revolutionary movements (if nebulously conceived).

Stefan Grabiński — The Dark Domain (1918–22; trans. and collected 1993)

Brilliant horror by this Polish writer. Unusually locates the uncanny and threatening within the very symbols of a modernizing industrialism in Poland: trains, electricity, etc. This awareness of the instability of the everyday marks him out from traditional, “nostalgic” ghost story writers.

George Griffith — The Angel of Revolution (1893)

Rather dated, but unusual in that its heroes are revolutionary terrorists. Very different from the devious anarchist villains of (e.g.) Chesterton.

Imil Habibi —The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist (1974; trans. 1982)

The full title is much longer. Habiby was a member of the Palestinian Community Party, a veteran of the anti-British struggle of the 40s, and a member of the Knesset for several years. This amiable, surreal book is about the life of a Palestinian in Israel (with surreal bits, and aliens).

M. John Harrison — Viriconium Nights (1984)

A stunning writer, who expresses the alienation of the modern everyday with terrible force. Fantasy that mercilessly uncovers the alienated nature of the longing for fantastic escape, and show how that fantasy will always remain out of reach. Punishes his readers and characters for their involvement with fantasy. See alsoThe Course of the Heart.

Ursula K. Le Guin — The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974)

The most overtly political of this anarchist writer’s excellent works. An examination of the relations between a rich, exploitive capitalist world and a poor, nearly barren (though high-tech) communist one.

Jack London — Iron Heel (1907)

London’s masterpiece: scholars from a 27th Century socialist world find documents depicting a fascist oligarchy in the US and the revolt of the proletariat. Elsewhere, London’s undoubted socialism is undermined by the most appalling racism.

Ken MacLeod — The Star Fraction (1996)

British Trotskyist (of strongly libertarian bent), all of whose (very good) works examine Left politics without sloganeering. The Stone Canal, for example, features arguments about distortions of Marxism. However, The Star Fraction is chosen here as it features Virtual Reality heroes of the left, by name—a roll call of genuine revolutionaries recast in digital form.

Gregory Maguire — Wicked (1995)

Brilliant revisionist fantasy about how the winners write history. The loser whose side is here taken is the Wicked Witch of the West, a fighter for emancipatory politics in the despotic empire of Oz.

J. Leslie Mitchell (Lewis Grassic Gibbon) — Gay Hunter(1934, reissued 1989)

By the Marxist writer of the classic work of vernacular Scots literature A Scots Quair, and Spartacus, the novel that proves that propaganda can be art. This is great science fiction. Bit dewy-eyed about hunter-gatherers perhaps, but superb nonetheless. As an added bonus, it also has a title that sounds amusing today. Check out his short fiction, which includes a lot of SF/Fantasy work.

Michael Moorcock — Hawkmoon (1967–77, reprinted in one edition 1992)

Moorcock is an erudite Left-anarchist and a giant of fantasy literature. Almost everything he’s written is of interest, but Hawkmoon is chosen here in honor of Moorcock having said about it: “In a spirit consciously at odds with the jingoism of the day, I chose a German for a hero and the British for villains.” There are also plenty of satirical references and gags about 1960s/70s politics for the reader to decode.

William Morris — News From Nowhere (1888)

A socialist (though naively pastoral) utopia, written in response to Bellamy (above), that unusually doesn’t shy away from the hard political question of how we get the desired utopia-proletarian revolution. See alsoThe Well at the World’s Endand his other fantasies.

Toni Morrison — Beloved (1987)

It’s well known that Beloved is a superb book about race and slavery and guilt, but it’s less generally accepted that it’s a fantasy. It is. It’s a ghost story that wouldn’t have half the charge without the fantastic element.

Mervyn Peake — The Gormenghast Novels (1946–59)

An austere depiction of dead ritualism and necessary transformation. Don’t believe those who say that the third book is disappointing.

Marge Piercy — Woman on the Edge of Time (1976)

A Chicano woman trapped in an asylum makes contact with a messenger from a future utopia, born after a “full feminist revolution”.

Philip Pullman — Northern Lights (1995)

Pullman let us down. This book is here because it deals with moral/political complexities with unsentimental respect for its (young adult) readers and characters. Explores freedom and social agency, and the question of using ugly means for emanicipatory ends. It raises the biggest possible questions, and doesn’t patronise us that there are easy answers. The second in the trilogy,The Subtle Knife, is a perfectly good bridging volume… and then in book three,The Amber Spyglass, something goes wrong. It has excellent bits, it is streets ahead of its competition… but there’s sentimentality, a hesitation, a formalism, which lets us down. Ah well. Northern Lightsis still a masterpiece.

Ayn Rand — Atlas Shrugged (1957)

Know your enemy. This panoply of portentous Nietzcheanism lite has had a huge influence on American SF. Rand was an obsessive “objectivist” (libertarian pro-capitalist individualist) whose hatred of socialism and any form of “collectivism” is visible in this important an influential—though vile and ponderous—novel.

Mack Reynolds — Lagrange Five (1979)

Reynolds was, for 25 years, an activist for the U.S. Socialist Labor Party. His radical perspective on political issues is reflected throughout his work. This book—examining a quasi-utopia without sentimentalism—is only one suggestion. Also of huge interest are Tomorrow Might Be Different (1960) and The Rival Rigelians (1960), which explicitly examine the relation between capitalism and Stalinism.

Keith Roberts — Pavane (1968)

These linked stories take place in a present day where Elizabeth I was assassinated and Spain took over Britain. This examines life in a world where a militant feudal Catholicism acts as a fetter on social and productive functions. Though Roberts was no lefty at all, and you could probably power France on the energy from his spinning grave at being included in this list.

Kim Stanley Robinson — The Mars Trilogy (1992–96)

Probably the most powerful center of gravity for Leftist SF in the 1990s. A sprawling and thoughtful examination of the variety of social relations feeding into and leading up to revolutionary change. (It’s also got some Gramsci jokes in it.)

Mary Shelley — Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818)

Not a warning “not to mess with things that should be let alone” (which would be a reactionary anti-rationalist message) but an insistence on the necessity of grappling with forces one unleashes and the fact that there is no “innate” nature to people, but a socially-constructed one.

Lucius Shepard — Life During Wartime (1987)

Horrific vision of a future (thinly disguised Vietnam) war. Within the savage examinations of the truth of war and U.S. foreign policy, Shepard also investigates the relation between SF, fantasy, and “magic realism”, and uses their shared mode to look back at reality with passion.

Norman Spinrad — The Iron Dream (1972)

A SF novel by Adolf Hitler… Spinrad’s funny, disturbing and savage indictment of the fascist aesthetics in much genre SF and fantasy. What if Hitler had become a pulp SF writer in New York? Not a book about that possibility but a book from it. “By the same author: Triumph of the Will and Lord of the Swastika.” Brave and nasty.

Eugene Sue — The Wandering Jew (1845)

Huge book by radical socialist Sue, about the adventures of the family of the Wandering Jew of legend. Symbolic fantasy elements: the Jew is the dispossessed laborer and his partner is downtrodden woman. Marx hated Sue as a writer (not without reason—less, for Sue, is not in more) but hell, it’s an important book.

Michael Swanwick — The Iron Dragon’s Daughter (1993)

Great work that completely destroys the sentimental aspects of genre fantasy. From within the genre—fairies, elves, and all—Swanwick examines the industrial revolution, the Vietnam War, racism and sexism, and the escapist dreams of genre fantasy. A truly great anti-fantasy.

Jonathan Swift — Gulliver’s Travels (1726)

Savage attack on hypocrisy and cant that never dilutes its fantasy with its satire: the two elements feed off each other perfectly.

Alexei Tolstoy — Aelita (1922; trans. 1957)

Distant relative of the other Tolstoy. The “revised” version is less good, written in the stern environment of Stalinism. A Red Army officer goes to Mars and foments a rebellion of native Martians. Good rousing stuff, but also interesting in terms of “exporting” revolution. See also the superb avant-garde film version from 1924.

Ian Watson — Slow Birds (1985)

Left-wing author whose short story collection above includes a cold demolition of Thatcher and Thatcherism. His take on oppression—cognitive and political—informs all his rather austere, cerebral writing.

H.G. Wells — The Island of Dr Moreau (1896)

Like a lot of Wells’s work, this is an uneasy mixture of progressive and reactionary notions. It makes for one of the great horror stories of all time. A fraught examination of colonialism, science, eugenics, repression, and religion: a kind of fantasy echo of Shakespeare’sThe Tempest.

E. L. White — “Lukundoo” (1927)

One of the most utterly extraordinary (and almost certainly unconscious) expressions of colonial anxiety and guilt in the history of literature.

Oscar Wilde — The Happy Prince and Other Stories (1888)

Children’s fantasies by this romantic, socialist author. Marked by a sharp lack of sentimentality, a deeply subversive cynicism, which doesn’t blunt their ability to be intensely moving.

Gene Wolfe — The Fifth Head of Cerberus (1972)

Wolfe is a religious Republican, but his tragico-Catholic perspective leads to a deeply unglamorized and unsanitized awareness of social reality. This book is a very sad and extremely dense, complex meditation on colonialism, identity and oppression.

Yevgeny Zamyatin — We (1920; trans. 1924)

A Bolshevik, who earned semi-official unease in the USSR even in the early 1920s, with this unsettling dystopian view of absolute totalitarianism. These days often retrospectively, ahistorically, and misleadingly judged to be a critique of Stalinism.

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Game of Thrones – sexistisk?

Ja, det kan jag nog tycka att den delvis är. Rasistisk? Knappast. Avsaknaden av svarta är ju inte rasistiskt i sig. Det handlar helt enkelt om en planet, en värld där det inte finns några svarta, eller så finns det inte i den del av världen, planeten som det handlar om. Det är ju bara trams att påstå att det är rasism eftersom det inte finns några svarta.

Sexistiskt kan det däremot vara , kvinnor är i allmänhet framställda som skönhets- och sexobjekt, prostitution normaliserat och den värld som beskrivs är starkt patriarkalisk samt dessutom socialt stelnad. Född överklass, alltid överklass, född slav alltid slav osv . Att beskriva en sådan värld är dock inte per definition sexistiskt. I spel, litteratur, film och TV måste man kunna beskriva världar, företeelser och annat som vi i det vanliga livet i vår vanliga värld inte skulle acceptera. Man måste också kunna beskriva dessa som normala i den värld man beskriver. Så även om det blir sexistiskt så måste det vara tillåtet. Även om det blir rasistiskt måste det vara tillåtet. Men det är naturligtvis inte oproblematiskt:

I onsdags bjöd panelen in journalisten Teresa Axner för att reda ut begreppen.

– Martin hävdar att han har skrivit om en sexistisk värld. Men jämför serien med exempelvis ”Mad men”. När Mad Men-karaktären Joan blir våldtagen av sin fästman får man som tittare se hennes verkliga person och vad hon känner. Det mötet finns inte i ”Game of thrones”, menade Axner.

Malin Alkestrand doktorerar i fantasy-litteratur vid Lunds universitet:

– Att skildra en värld styrd av ett patriarkat är inte sexistiskt i sig. När Daenerys Targaryen i ”Game of thrones” blir våldtagen på sin bröllopsnatt och sedan lär sig ta makten i sovrummet, hittar hon då sin egen sexualitet eller gör hon bara sin plikt?

Som jag ser det måste det gå att beskriva samhällen som är skit och fel på många sätt i berättelser av olika slag. För nog är väl Njals saga eller Egil Skallagrimssons saga litteratur, stor litteratur även om det handlar om ett våldsbejakande, patriarkaliskt och sexistiskt samhälle. Och om vi kan acceptera Njals saga kan vi väl acceptera Game of Thrones. Eller?

Själv tycker jag att Game of Thrones är ganska spännande, kvinnoskildringarna är dock ofta lite tröttsamma, med undantag av Arya Stark (än så länge bara en flicka visserligen), Catelyn Stark, den obehagliga Cersei Lannister och  Daenerys Targaryen. Och ärligt sagt, nån madonna har jag inte sett till.

Ursprungligen publicerat på Svensson-bloggen 2012.

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