Archive for the Writing Category

Captain America and General Intellect: Abstraction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or, my SFRA proposal)

Posted in Conferences, Franchise as form, papers, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on 25 March 2018 by Ben

Here is my proposal for SFRA 2018, in Milwaukee.  As with nearly all of my conference proposals, this one is a bit rough and is more a promise to think about something than the actual thought itself. In any case, I am planning to be done with Here at the end of all things in the first half of the summer, and this paper (along with my essay on Dragonlance and my review essay on The Force Awakens) represents a new research direction in which I consider franchise as form.

Captain America and General Intellect: Abstraction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

“The city is flying, we’re fighting an army of robots and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense.”

–Hawkeye

In the “Fragment on Machines,” Marx claims, “The development of fixed capital [i.e. machines] indicates to what degree general social knowledge has become a direct force of production, and to what degree, hence, the conditions of the process of social life itself has come under the control of the general intellect and has been transformed in accordance with it.” Otherwise put, the knowledge objectified or “stored” in fixed capital animates production itself. Moreover, the material lives of human beings are subsequently transformed by this transformation of production. Ideally, the production of machines would lead to a reduction in labor time and an increase in leisure. This revolution, of course, has never come to pass.

This paper considers franchiseas fixed capital. Franchise has become machinic in that it objectifies, stores, and privatizes the general intellect, most notably generic forms invented and deployed by a wide range of producers working within a cultural commons. Far from decreasing or eliminating socially necessary labor time, franchises leverage their worlds in order to demand more creative labor from producers. Moreover, they require increased expenditures of time and money from consumers who “labor” not only to see films, read comics, and play games that appear under this or that franchise’s auspices, but also to understand and interpret the world these texts produce and assume, one that cannot rely on a fixed reality to hold itself together. In this context, Hawkeye’s lament about his limitations and the lack of sense in the Marvel Cinematic Universe becomes a clear admission that the fixed capital of franchise serves to increase socially necessary labor time rather than “leisure.”

As a test case for thinking about about franchise as fixed capital and the effects thereof, I take the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU is characterized by extreme abstraction. Every franchise develops its own internal logics as it borrows and then turns away from genre and other aspects of the general intellect. The MCU is largely built upon the incompatibility of its world with itself. Alien invasions and the existence of gods should transform the world, as should Tony Stark’s cell phone all by itself. Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) lives within pastoral bliss, on a farm, even as he fights the greatest threats the universe can throw at Earth. And yet, the world, compartmentalized into different spaces each with no apparent relation to any other space, continues in its day to day operations as if nothing is happening.None of it fits together; none of this makes sense. And yet, as the franchise offers us new material at an ever increasing pace (at least four films in 2018 alone), producers and consumers work harder and harder to keep up. As Hawkeye says, immediately after the line cited above, “I’m going back out there because it’s my job.”

 

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Book cover!!!!!

Posted in None of this is normal, Uncategorized with tags , , on 18 March 2018 by Ben

This image will likely be updated slightly before the book is released, but here is the cover for None of this is normal: The Fiction of Jeff VanderMeer, coming this fall from University of Minnesota Press.

I have asked for the name of the designer(s) who produced the cover and will update this post when I know.

Edit: the cover was designed by Michel Vrana, who tweets from @MichelVrana.

In any case, it’s amazing and does exactly what I wanted in terms of capturing what the book is about without in any way being what I anticipated. That’s just the best.

NOTIN Cover

1977: Semiocapitalism and the Real Subsumption of Fantasy

Posted in Conferences, Here at the End of All Things, papers, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18 March 2018 by Ben

I gave a talk at ICFA 39 on this topic, which was carved from a longer talk I had given a few weeks earlier. This material comprises part of chapters 3 and 7 of Here at the end of all things: Fantasy after History. The HTML below is the long version. You can download PDFs of the short version or the long version if you like.

1977: Semiocapitalism and the Real Subsumption of Fantasy

I call this one 1977: Semiocapitalism and the Real Subsumption of Fantasy.

There are some handouts going around that contain the quotations I will use in this talk, which is in three parts.

Part 1: Here at the end of all things and the problem of history

My current book project, Here at the end of all things: Fantasy after History, under contract with the Johns Hopkins University Press, seeks to usefully theorize genre fantasy, a task made difficult by strong tendencies within fantasy that, while irreducibly modern themselves, oppose themselves to modernity and modern thought. Science fiction and horror work somewhat differently. We no doubt all know the extent to which science fiction has been accepted by scholars of literature as a worthwhile object of inquiry. Science fiction studies not only dominates the discourse on fantastika generally, but includes numerous subdisciplines devoted to the study of race, gender, sexuality, and more within the larger field. Gothic horror has enjoyed wide consideration by scholars of literature and culture, especially in its nineteenth-century incarnations. More recently, the Weird and New Weird have—in part because of the rise of Object Oriented Ontology, Speculative Realism, and related discourses—achieved a privileged position within literary and cultural studies. Lovecraft criticism has become nearly an industry unto itself, not coincidentally at roughly the same moment the Anthropocene has become something of a cause within the arts and humanities. Fantasy has not enjoyed similar attention, despite its ongoing popularity—populatrrity demonstrated by both its continued production by generic and mainstream writers alike and the countless television programs and films that fall under its purview.

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The Last Jedi’s Anti-nostalgia and Anti-Salvation

Posted in papers, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on 19 December 2017 by Ben

I assume I was the last person to actually see The Last Jedi, or at least the last person who wrote a review of The Force Awakens about the way the franchise is developing and therefore has some sort of intellectual stake in this whole thing to actually see The Last Jedi. As such, I have mainly avoided all of the reviews and discussions of the film. So, if I say anything that’s been said or seem redundant to overall conversation, oh well I guess.

In my review of TFA for Science Fiction Film and Television, I made a case for interpreting Star Wars as a franchise. Plenty of work has been done to understand the nature of the media franchise in terms of world-building, production models, economics, multi-platform distribution, etc. However, less work (basically no work?) has been done to address the difficulty of how to interpret a given franchise, especially given the fact that every major franchise (Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, the MCU, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, etc.) is unique unto itself, developing its own internal logics according to manifold pressures both “internal” to it (the foundational narrative, the physics of the story world, etc.) and “external” to it (intellectual property law, the vagaries of corporate ownership, the visions of multiple creators, fan expectations, etc.). Needless to say the distinction between internal and external is blurry at best, and these pressures combine and re-combine in ways that are impossible to fully appreciate. In any case, while we have seen a lot of discussion of what happens in a franchise such as Star Wars as it expands across films, television, video games, novels and short stories, comics, toys, etc., we have not really developed a way to “close read” the resulting narratives in their complex relationship to one another.

In my review essay of The Force Awakens I suggested a focus on worlds in the context of the production history and reception of the Star Wars franchise. (Also, note that Gerry Canavan and I have just completed work on a special double issue of Extrapolation, on the question of “Mere Genre”, which attempts to think about how we, as critics, might deal with massive text sets of varying quality, such as Dragonlance, Star Wars and Star Trek, Blondie (the serial comic), Sweet Valley High, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones.) In my essay, I make a case that TFA had to clear the slate for future Star Wars films–hence its repetition of so many devices and plot lines that Star Wars fans have come to expect from the franchise (another Death Star, another hero’s journey, etc.). Moreover, TFA had to satisfy the contradictory expectations and desires of at least three groups of fans: the “original” fans of episodes IV, V, and VI, who very often hated episodes I, II, and III; the generation of fans who grew up with episodes I, II, and III and who may not have hated them because they were givens of a franchise rather than intrusions into one; and the fans who would first encounter Star Wars through TFA. there are other groups of course, including the hardcore fans of what are now know as Star Wars Legends (the former expanded universe, which has become non-canonical in the wake of Disney’s acquisition of the franchise). Likewise, every generation of fans is internally diverse. Nonetheless, I think that the logic holds: Disney and Abrams had to create a film that could allow the franchise to move forward and maintain/revive older fandoms while creating new ones. Oh yeah, it also had to do all of this with an aging cast from the original trilogy, not all of whom were happy to be a part of the next generation.

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On Dradin, in Love; or, VanderMeer ephemera

Posted in None of this is normal, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 13 July 2017 by Ben

Part of the reason I wanted to write about Jeff VanderMeer is Dradin, in Love, the 1996 novella that became the first section of “The Book of Ambergris” in City of Saints and Madmen. It is a very strange story insofar as it is set in a secondary world but includes few of the trappings of fantasy. I am currently trying to wrap up my chapter on the Ambergris novels and was committed to shoe-horning my thoughts on Dradin in there somewhere. Overall, the chapter discusses how the Ambergris books take up both postmodernist poetics and the secondary world-building of fantasy. These two things do not exist with one another easily, as the skepticism endemic to postmodernist fiction tends to destroy the naive worlds found in fantasy. However, I argue that Ambergris is a world, a materiality, entirely made up of its textuality. Whereas in fictions such as House of Leaves, textuality becomes an abyss without a bottom into which characters and events might fall, in City of Saints and Madmen this textuality is the bottom, the condition. You will have to read the book to get more about that.

That all said, I am so focused in the chapter on Duncan Shriek that maintaining the discussion of Dradin became untenable. As such, I have cut it and provide it here, for your consideration and amusement. Enjoy. Or not. (BTW, the last line of this refers to the title of this subsection of the chapter, “This is Ambergris,” which is a line from “The Strange Case of X,” the fourth section of City of Saints and Madmen.)

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On the history of fantasy scholarship

Posted in Here at the End of All Things, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on 18 October 2016 by Ben

This is some writing I did for Here at the end of all things that will not make it into the final ms in this form. I have cannibalized quite a bit of it, but much of the overall point of this section was lost as I did so, especially the point about fantasy scholarship largely avoiding any attempt to historicize the genre. This point has become increasingly less necessary as I have developed my argument for the overall project. Nonetheless, I thought someone, somewhere, might find this lit review interesting or useful (or even wrong). There are no doubt some typos and other mistakes here, so I present it as is.

Framing the discussion

If, as I suggested in my introduction and will continue to make clear in below, fantasy suffers vis-à-vis science fiction as a genre incapable of doing what science fiction does, namely think through the problem of history and think through problems in an historical manner, some of the blame for this state of affairs must be placed at the feet of the scholars who have sought to identify what the genre is and describe what it does. Albeit without any ill intent, the critical reception of fantasy has generally not included strong arguments about the genre’s historical status since it (the critical reception) began in earnest in the 1970s. Numerous critics have rightly noted the historically recent invention of mimetic fiction and that fanciful treatments of reality had long been the norm prior to the rise of the novel, even if such treatments should not be taken as generic fantasy or even fantastika in a broader sense of the term. Likewise, and following from this acknowledgement, critics of the genre and related forms have noted that the distinction between “fantasy” and “reality” is itself historically determined (arriving at something more similar to its present form than ever before in the late eighteenth century, at the moment when, as Clute suggests, the future becomes visible and therefore threatening). However, such acknowledgements made, the scholarship has tended to focus more on defining what fantasy is than investigating the specific conditions under which it emerged or the ways in which it reacts to those conditions.i In the last decades of the twentieth century, these debates mainly focused on four unevenly distributed topics: the literary history of fantasy, its antecedents in folklore, fairy tales, epics, the romance, the pastoral, etc.; the question of the impossible; the distinctions and relationships between fantasy and the fantastic; and the rhetorical strategies through which fantasy achieves its ends. In recounting this history, as well as its aftermath, I shall focus more on some of these topics than others in order to show how these early discussions set the terms of the debate, terms which not only influence my intervention here, but are themselves interesting from an historical perspective. Even where these terms do not prove to limit such debate absolutely, they nonetheless enjoin the later critic to address them. Such is even more pressing a concern for the critic of fantasy, an object that has yet to enjoy the wide and varied scholarly conversation that has been conducted around, for example, science fiction.

Although early studies of fantasy acknowledge the historicity of the genre (as well as the manner in which distinctions between realist/mimetic fiction and the fantastic generally are products of specific historical formations and conditions), these studies tended to focus more on drawing boundary lines between fantasy and its various others and with defining the positive features of the genre in terms of its formal and conventional properties. In short, these studies tended to be concerned with genre in a relatively ahistorical sense. For example, in his 1976 study The Game of the Impossible: A Rhetoric of Fantasy, William Irwin notes, “Late in the nineteenth century various authors turned to writing fantasy,” perhaps because they felt confined by the limitations of the social realism that dominated the moment.ii This historicization remains incomplete, however, for the fact that, first, it does not account for the historical transformations of the late eighteenth century which provided the conditions for both social realism and for fantastika or, second, for the distinction between those fantasies which appeared prior to The Lord of the Rings and those which appear after. I argue that only the latter can be included in the genre properly understood (for reasons I shall elaborate in chapters two and three). In any case, Irwin’s goal is not to situate fantasy in its historical moment so much as to describe its formal features, and to do so with an eye towards differentiating between the fantastic (for Irwin something that appears at the level of content) and fantasy (which involves rhetorical devices specific to fantasy as a form). As such, he offers what has become a highly influential definition of the genre as that which “plays the game of the impossible.”iii He goes on to further claim that “a narrative is a fantasy if it presents the persuasive establishment and development of an impossibility, an arbitrary construct of the mind with all under the control of logic and rhetoric. This is the central formal requisite.”iv Irwin not only firmly establishes the concept of the impossible with regard to fantasy scholarship (which I shall further discuss in chapter XXX), but also makes clear in this claim that he is less concerned with the nature of the impossible than with the rhetorical devices which establish impossibility in the mind of the reader. Fantasy is a sort of sophistry insofar as it seeks to trick its readers into imagining impossible things for the sake of a game (however serious) than with the political implications of such thought. As such, history is largely irrelevant, as this game can be played at any time and in any place. That the game comes to be in a specific time and in specific places does not seem to be a concern. Not only would the notion of impossibility (and Irwin’s specific formulation of it) become important in subsequent years to critics of fantasy, but his focus on rhetoric has likewise been influential, as suggested by at the titles of at least three important books on the genre, Rosemary Jackson’s A Rhetoric of the Unreal (1981), Brian Attebery’s Strategies of Fantasy (1992), and Farah Mendlesohn’s Rhetorics of Fantasy (2008) (although each of these later works considers rhetorical form in more sophisticated, and even historico-political, ways).

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None of This is Normal: The Fiction of Jeff VanderMeer

Posted in None of this is normal on 9 September 2016 by Ben

Here is the proposal I wrote for None of This is Normal: The Fiction of Jeff VanderMeer, which is now under contract with the University of Minnesota Press. If you like your book proposals in PDF form, then click here.

Overview

None of This is Normal: The Fiction of Jeff VanderMeer contributes to literary and cultural studies in three ways and speaks to several audiences. First and foremost, and at the level of greatest detail, it will be the first scholarly examination of Jeff VanderMeer (an increasingly important and popular, yet understudied writer), namely in terms of his development of “fantastic materialism” beginning in his early fiction in the 1990s and early 2000s, continuing in the Ambergris novels (2002 – 2009), and culminating in the Southern Reach trilogy (2014). As such, the book will be of interest to students and critics of VanderMeer, as well as to readers of the middle-brow venues that have helped to put him on the mainstream cultural map. Second, and at a somewhat more abstract level, this book extends and broadens, by way of this examination of VanderMeer’s fantastic materialism, ongoing critical discussions of recent trends in genre fiction and the theoretical questions that surround it, namely those having to do with how particular forms react to and frame specific historical moments. Thus the book will address scholars of genre fiction as well as other scholars who occasionally write about genre fiction without adequate background in its history, conventions, or critical context. Finally, and most broadly, it connects both VanderMeer and the issue of genre to a broader historical context. In an era concerned with the Anthropocene and characterized by pessimistic fictions and critical theories, new generic forms have become prominent. They offer a potential means of complementing or extending theoretical and scientific discussions of the Anthropocene and a means by which to overcome the pessimism that often pervades these discussions. This aspect of the book will be of interest to scholars of post-1945 literature and culture who have worked in recent years to connect literary/artistic form (including realism, meta-fiction, and generic structure) to contemporary political, cultural, social, and ecological issues, including the Anthropocene and climate change.

VanderMeer has become an important figure in contemporary fiction, and a crucial voice in discussions of how humanity interacts with natural and cultural environments, by blending science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the weird without reducing himself to any of these categories. He established himself in mainstream literary circles in 2014 with the publication of his Southern Reach trilogy by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, after first publishing in small, independent venues, and earning acclaim from readers of genre fiction. The merits of the trilogy were extolled in such middle-brow venues as The Los Angeles Review of Books and The New Yorker (the latter of which calls VanderMeer “the weird Thoreau”). Popular venues also praised the trilogy. Entertainment Weekly named it one of the ten best books of the year, attesting to VanderMeer’s sudden visibility as a writer as well as to the newfound commercial viability of genre writing that defies conventional designations. Alex Garland (director of Ex Machina, writer and producer of 28 Days Later) is directing the film adaptation of the trilogy’s first book, Annihilation, starring Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac. The film will be released in 2017. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux acquired the follow-up to the Southern Reach trilogy (Borne, to be published in 2017) for a six-figure deal. Both the film and the new novel suggest that VanderMeer will continue to be a major writer and a driving force for the genres in which he works for the foreseeable future.

Little scholarship on VanderMeer has appeared to date, despite his success, and despite considerable popular and critical attention paid to horror and weird fiction in recent years. For example, in 2015 Penguin re-issued Thomas Ligotti’s first two volumes of fiction with an introduction by VanderMeer. This volume followed from True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto’s claim that his show was influenced by Ligotti. Similarly, in the last decade, VanderMeer (with his wife Ann VanderMeer) has published major surveys of weird and New Weird fiction. Scholarly journals such as Genre and Paradoxa will publish special issues on weird fiction in 2016 and there are cottage industries devoted to theorizing horror (via Zero Books and others) and New Weird writer China Miéville. None of This is Normal: The Fiction of Jeff VanderMeer fills a gap in the critical discussion of horror and the weird as it focuses on how VanderMeer’s fictions, as well as the genres he works within and deforms, interact with the current historical moment. On one hand, these fictions and genres react to a world that, in contrast to the promises of modern science, has become increasingly inhospitable to human knowledge—whether scientific or humanistic. On the other hand, it offers glimpses of new frameworks for thinking about that world. These frameworks exist outside of norms familiar to the reader and are therefore neither beholden to those norms nor to the pessimism to which they are often joined. These frameworks arise from the native logics of VanderMeer’s fictional worlds, logics alien to sensibilities grounded in the reader’s world. VanderMeer’s stories, novellas, and novels stand in contrast to the cognitive/rationalist science fiction of the past, to the critical discussions of genre that continue to celebrate such science fiction by dismissing texts that do not clearly connect to the reader’s world or exhibit a logic reducible to it, and to the current pessimistic trend in theory and criticism surrounding the Anthropocene and such discourses as Object Oriented Ontology.

I frame the book in terms of the crisis of scientific and humanistic knowledge revealed by the “Anthropocene,” the proposed name for the current geological epoch characterized by humanity’s impact on its environment. As recent theoretical work by Donna Haraway, Timothy Morton, Jussi Parrika, Peter Van Wyck, Heather Davis, Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, and Dipesh Chakrabarty, among others, shows, the Anthropocene demands that humanity rethink its relationship to what we can variously call nature, the environment, or ecology. At the same time, critics such as Stephanie LeMenager and Kate Marshall have sought to identify adequate literary forms for representing this evolving relationship or, in the case of Dana Phillips, have claimed that the Anthropocene always escapes representation (in whatever form). Despite their differences, these thinkers make clear that scientific knowledge does not fully grasp the Anthropocene’s complexities, nor does any extant humanistic practice adequately narrate them. As such, humanity needs new modes of thought, new forms, new genres, especially ones capable of being more than pessimistic treatises on the failures of humanity. By paying close attention to the specific sort of estrangement VanderMeer produces for his readers—by way of what I call fantastic materialism—as well as to the generic, critical, and cultural contexts in which he writes, I explain how VanderMeer offers a glimpse of what new modes of thought might look like and how they suggest escape routes from our current pessimism.

“Fantastic materialism” assumes altogether different realities out of which manifest altogether different subjectivities and modes of thought. The term “fantastic” highlights how this materialism is based in something historical materialism (mainly of a Marxist sort) deems impossible. Fantasy, in Tolkien’s argument, ideally instills in the reader belief in a secondary world, the rules of which are quite different than the primary world in which the reader reads. However, this belief renders any thought which would challenge belief, especially critical thought, impossible. Starting in his earliest fiction and reaching a culmination in the Southern Reach trilogy, VanderMeer borrows from generic fantasy in order to create secondary worlds divorced from the primary world of the reader. However, even as he solicits the reader’s belief in these worlds, he calls them into question, thus both asserting their materiality but also rendering impossible any total understanding of them. Moreover, and here is the key point, VanderMeer questions these worlds not from the outside, not from the point of view of someone located in the primary world. Such questioning would render them other in opposition to established norms—as merely fantastic. Rather, he questions his secondary worlds from within, from points of view manifested in and by the worlds themselves, thus establishing for each a particular and fantastic materiality. That is, the points of view from which these worlds are presented and questioned are grounded in the worlds themselves, according to the particular modes of knowledge these worlds manifest by way of their specificities. Such ways of thinking must always be alien to a reader conditioned by a very different materiality, the one in which she reads—thus the title of the book, None of This is Normal, taken from a passage in 2009’s Finch. To be clear: VanderMeer’s worlds cannot be understood according to norms operative for a reader situated in the primary world because these worlds’ alien materialities create different norms. At the same time, these alien norms are neither complete, coherent, nor singular, but are always partial, contradictory, and multiple.

I argue that the estrangements fantastic materialism creates and maintains—not only estranging worlds and environments, but also understandings of that environment which are themselves estranged and estranging—are appropriate for, necessary for, an historical moment in which historical thought fails. Such thought, often involved with conventional realism and the scientific empiricism related to it, is the legacy of modernity. It might be understood not simply as a failed attempt to make sense of the Anthropocene. Rather, insofar as it derives from and feeds into certain forms of anthropocentrism, it actually serves to obscure the Anthropocene as it has developed and thus plays a role in our incomprehension of it in the first place. VanderMeer’s fiction, of course, remains the product of a human mind and human history, and thus remains burdened by many of the shortcomings thereof. However, rather than affording a pessimism that remains humanist by virtue of being unable to see its way past human modes of thought, it seeks to describe what inhuman worlds might look like, as well as the different subjectivities, histories, and espistemologies these worlds might manifest.

Little scholarship on VanderMeer has been published to date (although there is at least one essay forthcoming later this year in a special issue of Paradoxa on “Global Weirding”). As such, no books directly compare with the one proposed here. Nonetheless, a book on VanderMeer would not only be timely (given his current popularity), but it would also greatly contribute to a field that has already received considerable attention in terms of general theorizing and with regard to two specific writers. Eugene Thacker’s Horror of Philosophy trilogy (Zero Books 2011 – 14) does an excellent job establishing horror and the weird as contemporary cultural concerns and informs my work here. However, Thacker spends little time addressing specific writers or texts, even if he sets the stage for such considerations. He also contributes to the pessimism VanderMeer helps us understand and overcome. Other critical texts do address specific writers of weird fiction, but mainly only two: H.P. Lovecraft and China Miéville. Graham Harman’s H.P. Lovecraft: Weird Realism (Zero Books 2012) offers an engagement with Lovecraft that says a great deal more about Harman’s interest in Object Oriented Ontology than it does about the weird as a genre or its resurgence in the current cultural moment. The Age of Lovecraft (Carl H. Sederholm and Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, eds.; U of Minnesota P 2016) and New Critical Essays on H.P. Lovecraft (D. Simon, ed.; Palgrave 2013) have something to say about genre beyond their specific object of inquiry and therefore only demonstrate the need for further work in the field, especially with regard to writers other than Lovecraft and topics beyond the Cthulhu mythos. Along similar lines, China Miéville: Critical Essays (Caroline Edwards and Tony Venezia, eds.; Gylphi 2015) offers excellent readings of weird fiction from multiple perspectives and in manifold contexts, but, again, only with regard to a single writer. Art and Idea in the Novels of China Miéville (Carl Freedman; Gylphi 2015), while excellent in its own right, remains tied to a cognitive/rationalist approach to genre that ignores the weird altogether, along with horror and fantasy. It reduces Miéville’s fiction by way of a Marxist understanding of science fiction which remains grounded in outmoded understandings of historical materialism. Weird fiction generally, and VanderMeer specifically, seek to overcome such modernist logic.

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