Monday, March 10, 2008


New Works to Include

Thought I'd mention that I've thought of some works to put on the workable list for a canon. Since it also seems like there is a general opinion that Shakespeare shouldn't be on the list I will strike Midsummer Night's Dream off unless someone can really come up with a valid reason it should be there.

Here are the additions:
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (I'm putting this in SF for now, but it could very well fit into fantasy. I'm not sure exactly where to put it though.)

Any other suggestions other than the ones I'm about to add? Any objections?


simpleyesa said...

Hello, just visiting! hope to see you around. *blog hop*

Jonah said...

Well . . . I'll post this here having reviewed bits of your blog.
First, I think you're going to find yourself overwhelmed actually trying to define sci-fi or fantasy . . .
Second, I don't think I'd use past/future as a test for sci-fi. It seems to me that one of the essential elements of science fiction is that the author establishes a world that *could* exist based on our current scientific knowledge, possibly changing one or two rules (i.e. if we could have faster-than light travel by passing through black holes . . . what sort of world could we invent).
In that sense, at least, I'd have no problem including alternate history as sci-fi, because once you've accepted the initial premise that it presents, the author usually tries to stay close to what *could* have happened.
On the other hand, I'd also say that there's plenty of stories set in the future that replace the wizard's fireball with a plasma rifle. These seem to be more fantasy than science fiction.
A final point about genre - the recent move that I've seen is more towards describing "speculative fiction" because there are so many genre-benders out there. I'd suggest you at least grapple with why so many anthologies/blogs/etc are describing things under the rubric of speculative fiction rather than trying to define "science fiction" or "fantasy fiction".
As for specific items on your list:
I think Shakespeare probably should be represented, and Midsummer Night's Dream is what I would have chosen.
Left Hand of Darkness (Le Guin) - Science Fiction
The Foundation Series (Asimov) - Science Fiction
The Earthsea Series (Le Guin) - Fantasy
The Chronicles of Amber (Zelazny) - Fantasy

Just a few thoughts for books you might want to include.
I put up a list on my blog a while back of influential speculative fiction - take a look and see what you think.

Good luck!