Science fiction class ends, urban fantasy begins

I’m still grading final exams, but the sf class ended yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the class. I hope my students enjoyed it as well. When I polled them about the books we read, the results were interesting. There was a tie for the least favorite novel—Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World. However, when I asked what their favorite novel was, Murakami got the most votes of any single novel. So, safe to say, he evoked the strongest reaction and will remain on the syllabus. Ray B. be gone, however. I may return to Bester’s The Stars My Destination for the 50’s choice, though I welcome suggestions.

I’m often asked what I mean by Urban Fantasy and why I’ve chosen that tag for the course. We look at fantasy set in a modern setting as opposed to an idealized past or alternate world. “Contemporary fantasy” is an ambiguous term since it might refer to fantasy written by contemporary authors, regardless of the fantastic setting. “Dark fantasy” fits some of the works we’ll study, but not all of it’s “dark.” Anyway the Tolkienesque stuff rarely interests me even though I love the literature from which it sprang, medieval and renaissance romance. Maybe that’s because Marie de France and Ariosto are so damn sexy.

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