Sci-fi/Fantasy’s bad reputation is undeserved In high school English class we are made to read many literary works that encompass a variety of themes. However, science fiction and fantasy literature has long been relegated to the niche classes, taught to only the specifically interested and those looking to fill requirements. Works in the genre are rarely considered seriously, but are banished to the basement with the nerds.

Fantasy, a story in which events that are not possible in our knowledge of the world occur, has been around almost as long as writing itself. Sci-fi’s depiction of events that are technically possible or may be possible in the future using scientific knowledge, is more recent, but can still be traced back to the 1800s with works like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, and Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. Such distinguished works as those mentioned above clearly come within the realm of science fiction and fantasy, and are considered classics–so why is modern science fiction and fantasy looked upon with a sneer by the classically-taught literate?

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How Jane Discovered She’s a Selkie and Got Her Groove Back Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler

Nicole Peeler’s debut has them, but the novel also has selkies, gnomes, kelpies, succubae, goblins, elves, and a whole bunch of creatures I’ve never heard of. Peeler embraces a broad cross-section of world mythology, but she makes it her own. She keeps the traditions she likes, and changes what she has no use for. The world she’s created is interesting in its departure from the conventional mythology–for instance the vampire who’s a lover not a fighter. More on him in a moment.

I summarized the novel’s plot in the title of this review: How Jane discovered she’s a selkie and got her groove back. Okay, I was having a little fun, much as author Nicole Peeler seems to be. Tempest Rising is the story of Jane True of Rockabill, Maine. As the novel opens, 20-something Jane is living with her dad and despite being a total hottie is something of a pariah around town. It’s partially due to her oddball mom who ran off years ago, but it’s mostly to do with the role she played in the drowning death of her popular boyfriend. Jane’s resigned to the life she leads and tries to take pleasure in her father and few friends. And then she finds another body in the water.

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Is “Science Fiction Humanism” A Contradiction In Terms? People talk about science fiction as the literature of humanism. But actually, science fiction’s explorations put it into conflict with humanism’s tenets. The best science fiction questions the nature of humanity, and whether the universe will let us stay human.

But is science fiction really humanist? Much of science fiction turns out to be about exploring our vast cosmos, and expanding our being. From this quest, one of two outcomes often arises: 1) We meet something greater than ourselves. 2) We become something greater than our current selves. It’s rare, and becoming rarer, to find science fiction that rejects both mysticism and posthumanism. You could even argue that if the journey doesn’t change us somehow, then what’s the point?

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Taming The Cyborg The cyborg hero.

Part man, part machine, a cyborg’s physical capabilities easily supersede those of ordinary men. Tinker with their brains in just the right way and you can have heroes with enhanced intelligence as well. Plus, manipulation of their bodies doesn’t come easily (or cheaply), and that’s a surefire recipe for brooding, tortured heroes. Cyborgs put the “flaw” in “flawed.”

They are quintessentially larger than life characters by nature of their superhuman abilities. Witness the popularity of Linnea Sinclair’s Admiral Branden Kel-Paten from her novel GAMES OF COMMAND. Kel-Paten is an example of a romance hero that’s familiar, yet also fresh and inventive.

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Do you think sci-fi/fantasy has a bad reputation?

A selkie and a vampire, that sounds interesting. Definitely a book that should go in the collection of the fans. What do you think?

What do you think of today’s book news? Do you like cyborg romance? Is science fiction humanism one of you themes? Join us in the Forum for discussions!