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The Real Science Behind Paranormal Phenomena

The Real Science Behind Paranormal Phenomena

MANY PEOPLE ACCEPT AS TRUE, or at least partially true, numerous assertions that seem laughable or absurd to critics. A Harris poll a few years back reported that only 47 percent of adult Americans ...

Pulp Metaphysics

Pulp Metaphysics

MICHAEL MOORCOCK IS ONE of the most celebrated of contemporary fantasists, having received the British Fantasy Award five times. Like earlier literary crossbreeds such as Fritz Leiber and Mervyn Peake...

Who Tends to Captain Picard’s Bromeliads?

Who Tends to Captain Picard’s Bromeliads?

SCIENCE FICTION embraces a multitude of philosophies reflecting the different time periods and cultures from which it originates. One of these philosophies — liberal humanism — allows authors to ...

Tolkien Criticism Today

Tolkien Criticism Today

ON THE FACE OF IT, J.R.R. Tolkien’s works are not exactly easy reading. The Hobbit veers between childish asides and grandiose battles; The Lord of the Rings trilogy presents 1,000 pages of unrelent...

Kiss of the Snake Woman

Kiss of the Snake Woman

ON THE SURFACE, the genres of speculative fiction and erotica would seem to make for a natural match. Both have storied traditions of utopianism, where writers build alternate worlds in order to help ...

Kitsch Meets Kafka

Kitsch Meets Kafka

WALK INTO practically any souvenir shop in Berlin, and you can buy gleaming plastic bubbles filled with slivers of spray-painted concrete. These fragments of the so-called “Wall of Shame,” as may...

The Destruction of Genre

The Destruction of Genre

THERE IS a shocking moment in David Mitchell’s fourth novel, Black Swan Green, when we recognize that an old woman Jason Taylor meets is someone we are already familiar with from the “Letters fr...

Trust Your Demon

Trust Your Demon

THE ONLY piece of advice I have taped over my desk, other than a kind note of forgiveness from one of my first-year college English professors, is from the introduction to Roger Zelazny’s short sto...

Nostalgia for Detritus

Nostalgia for Detritus

DOUGLAS LAIN’S latest novel depicts an alien invasion set in an alternate near-past where people have been dehumanized by the worn-out specter of consumer-capitalism and electronic media. From begin...

Language and the Postapocalyptic World

Language and the Postapocalyptic World

INITIALLY, I was put off by the title of The Country of Ice Cream Star. I was wary Ice Cream Star seemed juvenile, either for a place or a person. After reading a few pages, this choice of nomenclatur...

Wake Up and Smell the Weird

Wake Up and Smell the Weird

IN All That Is Solid Melts into Air, Marshall Berman suggests that modernity promises “adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world,” while also threatening “to destr...

Superbeings Who Walk the Boundaries

Superbeings Who Walk the Boundaries

IN A GLOBAL MARKET where nearly every popular medium — from comics and prose to television and film — is saturated with superheroes, what can a writer do to keep his or her head above the tidal w...