hello University Library!
Posted April 4, 2011on:
It’s been so long since we went to the University Library that my guest card had expired. That taken care of, the other half hit the top floor for ancient history, and I headed to the basement where the New Books are showcased (along with vending machines, and apparently soon they are getting a SmoothieKing. In the library?? A SmoothieKing In the library?!?!?!?!).
If you live anywhere near a university, community college, or tech school, I highly suggest calling their library and inquiring about getting a guest card.
Both are collections of Essays, and both connect to speculative fiction. Or at least I can connect them to speculative fiction.
Harem Histories: Envisioning Places and Living Spaces, edited by Marilyn Booth
Fundamentalism, Politics, and the Law, edited by Mark J. Rozell and Marci A. Hamilton
Having only read the introductions so far, I can tell you that the Harem book is about Western misconceptions of Harems and life for women in Muslim-majority cultures with a focus on homelife and architecture (photos! architechtural floorplans!), and the Fundamentalism book looks at how nearly every religion on Earth has fundamentalists, who typically give the faith a bad name through their own best intentions, with a focus on the United States.
I’ve an innate curiosity about culture and religion, and both of these volumes are chock full of shorter essays that are perfect for my non-existant attention span.
What does any of this have to do with speculative fiction you ask?
Science fiction and fantasy has always been a safe way for authors to introduce readers to alien societies. Maybe they are a human society with a very different belief system than the reader is used to. Maybe they are an alien society that the human characters have to learn how to communicate with. Either way and everything in between, readers oftentimes find themselves immersed in a culture that is not their own. (This is found in historical fiction a lot as well, but I read more spec-fic than historical.)
And this is a good thing. Having already been introduced to all sorts of fictional societies (that are often based on real groups) makes it so much easier to keep an open mind when reading about (or meeting someone from) a religion you know nothing about, doesn’t it?