Where No Mainstream Sci-Fi Has Gone Before: Are We Getting Any Bolder?

18 October 2016 | Carolina Palacios.

This year marks an important date on any sci-fi geek’s calendar: the 50th anniversary of cult American TV series Star Trek, which aired for the first time on September 8, 1966. Despite the prompt cancellation of the original series after only three seasons, the Star Trek legacy has been kept alive, and 2016 saw the premiere of its 13th movie: Star Trek Beyond. In this era of big sequential blockbusters, amid all the comic book movies, dystopian adventures, and space epics, there is something that sets Star Trek apart: its philosophy. When giving a talk about the success of Star Trek, Roddenberry commented that “The whole show was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate, but to take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms.” But while that philosophy influenced Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s every decision in his original series, the Star Trek ethos has unfortunately gotten lost amongst the shiny surfaces and explosions of director J.J. Abrams’ 2009 revival.

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Defying The Canon: Fanfiction As The New Literature

May 2, 2016 | Anahit Behrooz.

The history of literary fandoms is long and varied. Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther is often credited as the novel which produced the first literary fandom in the modern sense. The so-called “Werther Fever” spread over Europe – capturing the imagination of even Napoleon Bonaparte – and inspired hundreds of young men to copy Werther’s fashion, travels, and purportedly even his suicide. A few decades later, Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly novels had a visible impact on Scottish tourism, while Sir Arthur Conan Doyle received hundreds of fan letters and even real crime documents addressed to Sherlock Holmes, asking how he would solve them.

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In Defence of the Dark Arts: Academic Resistance to the Fantastic

November 10, 2015 | Anahit Behrooz.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”– Dr Seuss.

Read any review of the Western canon and the absence of one particular genre becomes immediately obvious. Despite being one of the most dynamic and commercially successful genres in literature, fantasy is rarely taken seriously in the academic world. Iconic works such as C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels are frequently swept aside in favour of ‘serious’ works which are considered more suitable for literary, artistic and socio-political analysis. Why, however, does this tension between fantastic and ‘high-brow’ literature even exist?

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