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View Diary: Sci-Fi Fantasy Club: Which Ugly SF/Fantasy Ducklings became Literary Swans? (140 comments)

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  •  books R about 2 Bcome almost anathema (12+ / 0-)

    if california's state sec'y of education gets his way about making all teaching texts in calif public schools be solely electronic.  he says this will be less expensive for students and schools.  personally i can neither afford nor physically handle [due to disabilities] tablet-size reading devices he seems to advocate, and as a student and a teacher/paper-writing-coach i found the ability to spread books out on the desk open to various pages all at the same time an indispensible capacity, so i'm not sanguine about the results we're going to see here in students.  and since books as texts are a somewhat major foundation-piece of the publishing business, a state as large as california pulling that piece out from under may well wreak havoc with the entire "literacy industry" (i.e., incuding public libraries, school libraries, bookstores, etc etc).

    i voted for 'alice' in the poll also for foundational reasons.  'frankenstein' and various 'gothick' tales of an earlier era together with folktales, literary 'fairy tales', and religious tales built the doorway to imaginative/speculative fiction and 'alice' opened it, is what i'm thinking.

    today just now is when i first discovered this group in dk.  glad you are here.  i hope it's ok i participated in the poll despite being new.  much appreciation.

    •  It is a nice group , isn't it? (10+ / 0-)

      And friendly too ... I am also fairly new but have found it a great place to learn new things and to participate.

      I, too, would have a difficult time with just electronic texts but sometimes childe myself that I need to get with the times. I still like to hold a book and spread things out like you.


      "I want to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night." Greg Martin, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida

      by CorinaR on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 08:40:49 PM PDT

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    •  Polls are for everyone; you're most welcome here - (9+ / 0-)

      if you want to see more Readers & Book Lovers diaries, you can get them all sent to your diary stream, by going to the top of the page, and clicking the heart under the flag.

      I prefer books that feel familiar to my hands, and have pages to turn. Though I expect I'll get a kindle in a few years - I do like the idea of having a few dozen books in one electronic package.

      I hope electronic books don't take over all the classrooms, and make your academic work much more of a hassle. I doubt whether paper books will disappear any time soon, though I could see them getting more expensive, if sales plummet.

      Alice has such brilliant, playful weirdness to it; it's such a pleasure to read. Noone's done anything like it, to my mind, but lots of writers have been influenced by all of its ideas and humor.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 10:05:57 PM PDT

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      •  I almost voted for Alice (9+ / 0-)

        As you say: brilliant & playful. And magnificently weird. I think The Annotated Alice is an indispensable version for the modern reader.

        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

        by Youffraita on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 10:12:46 PM PDT

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        •  I found 'The Annotated Alice' fascinating years (6+ / 0-)

          ago. I recently started rereading just the book itself, for a diary, and I had to put it aside - it was such a rich experience, so fired my imagination, that I couldn't bear to rush through it to summarize some hasty conclusions. I'll probably diary it next year, after chewing over it for a few weeks. But 'The Annotated Alice' is more than I'm prepared to bite off, for a diary.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 11:01:43 PM PDT

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          •  Oh, no, Brecht, I didn't mean (5+ / 0-)

            you should diary the Annotated Alice, merely that every Alice aficianado should have a copy to refer to. Being that Carroll was writing a mere century plus ago, we can catch many (but not all) of the things/people he was mocking.

            Nevertheless, it's like having an annotated Shakespeare: without one, you might catch a lot of stuff, but you're also going to miss a lot of stuff that was contemporary to the writer but is lost to those of us who aren't historians of the period in question.

            That's all I meant.

            Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

            by Youffraita on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 11:19:13 PM PDT

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      •  10Q & LOL: i dare not follow the whole R&BL (5+ / 0-)

        i did that when i first de-lurked & was inundated!  so much richness, so little time.  so i started following writeOn & now your grp.

        due to nonclarity i didn't explain that i have not done teaching or writing-coaching in maaaany years.   but because i regard critical thinking/intellect as the key goal of education, education as fundamental to civilization, and civilization to be in my own enlightened self-interest (i.e., education turns humans, who are all natural born savages, into potentially civilized members of a society they understand as a collective in which the apparent weakest members of the herd may be the ones with the most far-reaching gifts to share), any news of further degradation of the training of the intellect and further reduction of access to the entire realm of literature strikes me as dangerous steps backward.  the attraction of recreational reading right at one's electronic fingertips is undeniable and perhaps makes perfectly good sense when other things (such as the health of the literacy industry) remain equal.  

        the problem is that other things don't and won't.  i was a working & also still studying adult back in the '70s when certain IRS changes adversely affecting publishers made them vulnerable to & attractive for hostile takeoevers by conglomerates/diversifieds for whom profit each and every quarter is the sole objective.  and voila, the corporate raiders descended like locusts and ravaged the publishing field, which was further devastated by congress non-renewing the key library funding bill that had made public literacy possible in this country (big factor in the argument about immigrants no longer "bothering" to learn english, by the way, but that's a whole nothing branch of the literacy tree).  between the destruction of library book budgets and corporate takeover of american publishing, within a decade hardly a single major independent american publishing house remained, and the corporate policies that eviscerated american publishing have had a similar destructive effect upon american overseas publishing partners.  this may make electonic "inexpensively reviseable" textbooks sound like a solution to the undue influence of well-organized anti-intellect entities like the texas textbook commission (or whatever its exact name), but we must also take into account that very soon after the implosion of the literacy industry we saw personal computers & the false presumption of accuracy of internet "information" further eviscerate public education (including libraries) by inviting further underfunding on grounds of that false presumption.  which is right there pretty solid evidence that the fact that information is electronic has no bearing on its accuracy far less impregnability.  

        it is certainly true that the coldwar era agenda of indoctrination rendered "facts" as printed in teaching materials very mutable under the pressures of political and economic influences, just as training of intellect was made so secondary to absorption/memorization of testable answers that capacity for critical thinking is hardly even within the thought let alone objectives of primary and secondary teachers and increasingly rare at college and university level as well.  the acquistion of economically productive skills is so central an obsession that there's little recognition that a well-trained critical intellect by definition knows how to acquire new learning lifelong and equips the individual more flexibly than narrowly focussed education on a trade or technology or profession can do.

        the calif secy' of education seems to grasp that the apparent inexpensive and ready reviseability of electronic texts may nullify the undue influences of well-organized biased textbook commissions and speedily eliminate obsolete 'facts' in teaching materials as well.  the problem is that this fantasy of decreasing costs isn't actually supported by anything much the electronic information industry/internet/etc has actually done.  up-to-date tabletop computers remain expensive beyond the capacity of low-income folks to afford, 2nd-hand equipment has no affordable commercial support industry (compared to the auto industry, for example), tablet-size devices are even more expensive and extremely susceptible to theft, and the software industry forces constant "upgrading" that is a major drain on the entire western world economy.  example: wikipedia is not really very accessible to the third world because wikipedia is subject to the pressures of its participants in the advanced nations who keep upgrading their computers & their skills and want wikipedia to support what they use - hardware & software utterly beyond the reach of the world's poorest 50%.

        the planned obsolence of hardware & software products will, if substituted for longlived paperbooks, therefore devour what's left of the literacy industry and spit out discarded the students who are most in need.   the physical comparison use of paperbooks i mentioned before, that conserves memory effort for genuine learning, is only one aspect of learning/teaching that will suffer.  students will be the first victims and the rest of us will be next, except for those who have the money for electronic literature.

        another more distant example: "Quinoa has become increasingly popular in the United States, Europe, China and Japan where the crop is not typically grown, increasing crop value ... [which makes it] harder for people to purchase ... The popularity of quinoa in non-indigenous regions has raised concerns over food security. Due to continued widespread poverty in regions where quinoa is produced, and because few other crops are compatible with the soil and climate in these regions, it is suggested that the inflated price of quinoa disrupts local access to food supplies."

        in the science fiction/fantasy realm, one of the constant questions yet often the most disregarded is, "does the fact that we CAN do a certain thing equate with we SHOULD?"  does the fact that the most visible americans can afford to buy quinoa and electronic reading devices mean that we SHOULD even if it causes harm and suffering to innumerable invisible others?  the most votes for best book in the poll were for 1984 when i last looked.  does the fact that we can have a society like that mean we should?  or would we and the more invisible in the world be better off if we follow the money and follow the chains of consequences of our choices and actions before making personal decisions that invite ruin beyond where we can see.

        yeah, i often write like this when i see dangerous issues swimming below the surface.  thank you, to those of you who read all the way 'thru.  i'll try to be less serious and more restrained next time.

        have a good week!

        •  I see why you dare not follow all R&BLers diaries: (5+ / 0-)

          If you write a whole diary in one comment, you're getting rather absorbed in the subjects you read. I do the same.

          Your ideas on critical thinking/intellect make sense - but all the crucial terms would take ages to agree on and define. Education, civilization, human - crucial puzzles. Human, and better, more human, especially. Still, your gist rings true.

          capacity for critical thinking is hardly even within the thought let alone objectives of primary and secondary teachers and increasingly rare at college and university level as well.
          Yes, but it takes a village, a county, a state and a country. We need a whole culture built around enlightenment and meritocracy. But we live in a country where W. was able to boast of his ignorance and incuriosity, and his base applauded.

          Interesting observations on the vicious cycle of up-to-date computer fashion, among the first world rich.

          "does the fact that we CAN do a certain thing equate with we SHOULD?"
          It's built into our competitive, hurrying culture. If we could put more balance, stability, natural flow and flexibility into our culture, we'd have a far better shot at making it through the next century - also, at approaching widespread human fulfillment.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 01:39:50 AM PDT

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      •  I too almost voted for Alice (8+ / 0-)

        But then I decided it should be the Best Book, period. Not SF or Fantasy or any other category. It is sui generis. So since this was a poll about the best SF/Fantasy book I decided to vote for Le Guin's "Left Hand of Darkness"--even though for myself I prefer her "Dispossessed" which I find simply the best utopian novel ever written. Hmmm. I guess that does leave "Left Hand" as best SF/Fantasy after all!

        If your internal map of reality doesn't match external conditions, bad things happen.--Cambias

        by pimutant on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 01:00:37 AM PDT

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