Saturday, January 9, 2010

Layering the Carapace: Swanwick and Goss in the Archives

The lobster is an archivist. He likes collecting and sorting, mapping and ordering. All in the service of memory, of a serviceable history, of a more richly textured and mottled carapace.

Which is why he is so happy that Michael Swanwick and Theodora Goss-- two of the best writers of speculative fiction-- have each recently given us essays on half-forgotten but very important figures within our genre.

Swanwick reminds us how rare and powerful Lud-in-the-Mist is, the 1926 novel by Hope Mirrlees. See here for a link to his The Lady Who Wrote Lud-in-the-Mist.

Swanwick also reminds us how popular and influential James Branch Cabell was in the first half of the 20th century, probably the most popular anglophone writer of fantasy before Tolkien. See here for a link to Swanwick's What Can Be Saved From the Wreckage?; James Branch Cabell in the 21st Century.

Goss surfaces fantastical themes in the writing of many poets in her Voices from Fairyland: The Fantastical Poems of Mary Coleridge, Charlotte Mew and Sylvia Warner Townsend. Here is a snippet from Goss's introduction:

"Coleridge, Mew, and Warner are only three examples of what I consider a broader phenomenon, the rest of the ice that must be present, underwater, when we see icebergs floating on a northern sea. That underwater ice is the tradition of women writing fantastical poetry. I will show you what I mean by focusing on one theme. Over and over again, women have written about witches." [Lobster added the highlighting.]

Click here for a link to Voices from Fairyland, which is volume 20 in the Conversation Piece series from Aqueduct Press.

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