Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a genre anomaly of science fiction, to say the least. On the surface level, Cline’s introductory work appears to be a love letter to those who grew up in and/or appreciate the pop culture of the 1970s and 1980s—a lot of fun, but not very deep. Additionally, Ready Player One does not seem to fit the mold of any particular science fiction sub-genre. For many readers, Ready Player One’s bleak atmosphere, the backdrop of The OASIS, and the “jacked-in” feel, places the story staunchly within the realm of cyberpunk in terms of setting; however, despite Ready Player One’s dark atmosphere, it is considerably more humorous and lighthearted when compared with other works of the genre.
Verlyn Flieger writes that “Like Chaucer, Tolkien uses regional, cultural, and psychological variations in language with telling effect in his fiction.” Hobbit speech contrasts between town-dwellers and country hobbit, she says, “…elven diction … is formal and archaic. Orc speech is harsh and guttural; orc diction is slang and argot.” (404-409)
In creating “the ‘escape’ of archaism” (Tolkien, OFS, 81), Tolkien the philologist had numerous tools at his command including archaic vocabulary, syntax, and grammar. The fantasy which preceded Tolkien reached for effects of ancientry and import, of legendary and magical times and places by using a high register of speech or narration. This essay examines the techniques which early fantasy authors used to achieve high register and how they used those techniques.
“None but those who have experienced them can conceive of the enticements of science. In other studies you can go as far as others have gone before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and wonder.”
One of the preoccupations of Science Fiction from its beginnings has been the concept of science itself as a boundary. As the above quotation from Shelley suggests, there has persisted a sense of there always being something beyond the frontier, and much of the “what if?” quality of speculative fictions has been generated by attempts to postulate what that might be, and to explore the consequences of finding it.
It should not be forgotten that C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces is a myth retold, for readers who overlook the mythological nature of this work must also overlook truth-statements which Lewis held dear and beautifully narrated throughout the story. In fact, within the book’s pages is treated the meaning of myth. The essence of language, the delight of story, and the reason supporting them both are all found just behind Orual’s veil. As Joe Christopher points out, Till We Have Faces is “rich with the archetypal patterns of life,” while in his introduction to Word and Story in C.S. Lewis Peter Schakel highlights that, for Lewis, there are “deeper and universal aspects of human experience that can be touched only through myth and archetype” (212; 6). Because archetype and the search for meaning is closely affiliated with Structuralism, reading Lewis’s myth retold with Structuralism in mind could prove a fruitful exercise.
Space travel is a cornerstone of science-fiction and has been part of many stories since the genre began in the 1800s. Like many aspects of science-fiction, the portrayal of space travel has reflected the societal tone of the time period during which it was written. Three distinct time periods related to the portrayal of space travel appear to exist with World War II being the tipping point from when space travel went from a singular experience and central to the story line to a more established and routine part of science fiction. Prior to World War II, space travel, and the related time and undersea travel, was an individual event where the explorer developed their own exploration vehicle and embarked on adventures primarily for personal gain. This seems to reflect the societal dynamics of the time period where many scientific breakthroughs were just beginning to take place but these technologies hadn’t made it to the main stream of society. Following World War II, technology exploded on the scene making what had once been fantastic more mundane.
My earlier paper for this class began with a description of how my own childhood experiences contributed to my feeling ‘at home’ in Tolkien’s Shire. But through all the decades since my first introduction to that world, I have been content to simply be a reader. I have always been a bit in awe of people who channel their love of Middle-earth into more concrete expression: those who write fan-fiction, compose music, sew their own elven gowns or hammer out their own blades. So when I first saw an example online of a full-size ‘hobbit house,’ it seemed like only a larger manifestation of that same impulse. As I read blogs and articles about various hobbit homes, however, I began to realize that there is something different about this phenomenon. Hobbit homes are finding their way out of fandom and into the wider world.
This study explores how the reception of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has changed over time in regard to Galadriel and her relinquishing of the One Ring with an especial focus on 21st century reception. Divided into two main sections, the first section makes use of Dimitra Fimi and J. R. R. Tolkien’s letters to provide a framework for examining my own response to Galadriel and her refusal of the Ring. The second section uses a cultural studies approach to investigate the reception of Galadriel with respect to 21st century readers and fans based on five online texts.
One major component of the gothic tradition that has been persistently overlooked, and yet has been present since the beginning is organized religion. Most, if not all, gothic stories deal with the church as an institution. The gothic genre has always had, and continues to have, a very split view of the church. Sometimes the church is portrayed as a positive institution, sometimes negative. In order to understand the complex nature of the relationship between gothic literature and organized religion, several aspects need to be examined: the gothic elements of the church, the positive and negative aspects of the institution, and the role of the church as seen throughout gothic literature.
That Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin Tales were an important precedent for Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of Sherlock Holmes is well known. From Watson remarking to Holmes in A Study in Scarlet that “you remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin” (24), the influence can be felt throughout the canon…Poe’s “Tales of Ratiocination” are not so much detective stories in the mode pioneered by Doyle and adapted by the likes of Sayers and Christie, but rather stand as exempla for the treatise which their narrator denies having written. If Conan Doyle took anything from Poe it was this – the use of his stories to explore a philosophy of rationalism. “Explore” rather than “exemplify”, since Sherlock is not the only rational creature in his universe (difficult though that might be for Sherlock to grasp). His brother Mycroft, his ally Lestrade, and his nemesis Moriarty are all ratiocinators of a sort, as are others. None of them are Holmes of course, but that, as we shall see, is the point.