Every now and then I have literary thoughts, which I feel I should credit myself for here even if they’re published elsewhere. So yesterday I posted an essay titled “The Appeal of Science Fiction for (Some) Mormons” over at A Motley Vision blog. If the topic interests you, I invite you to read and respond either there or here.
Archive for the ‘Sf&f’ Category
Last Saturday, I had the rare opportunity of being interviewed about a topic people more often are attempting to shut me up about: that is, J. R. R. Tolkien and his influence on the modern world. (Requirement for someone’s college course paper, I believe.) No one reading this blog will be surprised to know that I had a lot to say, even in cases where I didn’t necessarily know a lot. But then, isn’t that’s what interviews are all about?
(cross-posted at A Motley Vision website)
Title: Wandering Realities: The Mormonish Short Fiction of Steven L. Peck
Author: Steven L. Peck
Publisher: Zarahemla Books
Genre: Short Story Collection
Year Published: 2015
Number of Pages: 219
Binding: Trade Paperback
Also available as an ebook
Reviewed by Jonathan Langford.
Steve Peck is an alien. A kind of geeky-looking one (wholly appropriate for a professor of evolutionary biology), friendly, congenial, but an alien nonetheless. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for how, in this set of 16 stories, he so consistently manages to provide such startlingly different, yet at the same time deeply insightful, perspectives on the culture and religion he has adopted for his own.
Which is about the only thing these stories — which range from short to long, humor to pathos, realism to postmodernly zany, contemporary to historical to science fiction — have in common. Eight of them have been previously published, in venues ranging from Irreantum to Covenant to the Everyday Mormon Writer contest. Yet the effect is not incoherent. Rather, it provides a sense of the range of Peck’s work, which includes something that will, I guarantee, appeal to pretty much everyone with the slightest interest in reading fiction about the Mormon experience: highbrow or lowbrow, literary or popular, funny or serious, light or thought-provoking. It’s pretty much all here. And while not every story is equally polished, each provides something interesting and (here’s that word again) different.
So I’ve been back now from Life, the Universe, and Everything 31 for about 3 weeks, and I know that all my many fans out there are literally dying to know how everything went. Or, well, figuratively dying. Because I really do know the difference between “literally” and “figuratively.” Honest!
Short answer: It was great! Longer answer: It was great, though also a bit disconcerting. More on that below.
More than once in my youth in the west which is now forgotten (kudos to whoever catches that reference), I attended a science fiction convention where the guest of honor was someone I’d never read. Like, for example, in 1984, when I couldn’t understand why everyone at the Worldcon was so excited about this whole “final encyclopedia” thing everyone kept talking about. I mean, an encyclopedia? Come on!
And so I didn’t bother to attend any events with guest of honor Gordon R. Dickson, author of the Dorsai series. A few years later, I could only kick myself for my prior ignorance.
The idea started, as so many do, with good intentions. Life, the Universe and Everything, Utah’s annual symposium on science fiction and fantasy (previously held at BYU, though not for the last couple of years because BYU’s administration includes poopheads), is being chaired this year by my son. And it’s been a lot of years since I’ve gone. And my daughter wants to go too. And so I thought, why not? I can attend, catch up with friends, trade a Utah February for a Wisconsin February (not any real bargain there), heckle my son, get revved up on my sf&f writing — all that good stuff.
Well. That was before I looked at our bank balance and checked the price on airline tickets. Also before my creative writing juices ran out of steam last year, leaving me unsure that I can justify the expenditure on writerly grounds. And yet the idea, once entertained, was hard to dismiss. And so I am going next month (Feb. 14-16), with my daughter, and will be appearing on a panel on Tolkien with my old thesis advisor. And I’ll be doing a presentation on classic sf&f you should be reading, though honestly, I’m not exactly certain how I got into that one, except that I’m sure it involved incautious volunteering around people who were paying far too much attention.