This week’s interesting things

First of all, there’s still a few hours to submit proposals to the three calls for papers mentioned in the last post here.

Liz Gloyn at Classically Inclined writes about Coalescent by Stephen Baxter. I have some issues with the details of the presentation of Late and Post-Roman Britain in Baxter’s novel, but the parts that depict the attempt to maintain normality in the fact of catastrophe are excellent. Liz is reading Ursula Le Guin’s Lavinia at the moment, and I hope that will get a blog post as well.

Christina Phillips’ Tainted “dabbles a wee bit in the paranormal”. The cover suggests that I’m not the target audience for this novel, but it is relevant to out interests, and so should be noticed.

The ever reliable Juliette Harrison at Pop Classics writes about The Song of Achilles by Madeline-Miller. Especially worth reading here is her rant about how Song of Achilles is not sold as a fantasy novel, despite obviously being such. She also has one of her regular posts about a Xena episode.

Charlotte’s Library writes about Earth Girl by Janet Edwards with a link to another review. This is a book about archaeologists from the future investigating the remains of the twentieth century; not directly in our target area, but I think of interest.

In movie news, Dwayne Johnson has Tweeted some shots from his forthcoming movie Hercules. This looks like standard Greek mythological fantasy, of the sort that has dominated movie versions of the ancient world for the past decade.

An exception to that will be the forthcoming Pompeii, the first trailer of which has just been released. Now, this isn’t fantasy – but note how they have cast Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones‘ Jon Snow), and visually coded the movie to look like fantasy (in the same way that parts of Titanic are visually coded to look like SF). Time also has an article on why all plans for a movie featuring one of the best classically-inspired superheroines, Wonder Woman, have been stillborn. Personally I think it is because conventional Hollywood wisdom remains that female-led action movies don’t sell.

io9, meanwhile, wonders why fantasy movies fail at the box office (except when they don’t). This touches on a few movies in which we’re interested (primarily the Percy Jackson series). My view is that one could easily write the same article about bromance comedies, or Stallone movies, or any other genre. These movies tank because the Hollywood system is inimical to the production of good movies, and we should be more surprised that anything good emerges at all, rather than that so much of the product is awful.

There’s a Doctor Who conference next week. I’m afraid it’s too late to register (though you might try contacting the organizers), and I shan’t, unfortunately, be there. But it’s worth noting that on Tuesday there will be a session on “Myth, Hope, and Heroes”, including Amanda Potter speaking on “Who’s Monsters? Classical monsters rewritten in Doctor Who episodes ‘The Curse of the Black Spot’ and ‘The God Complex'”. And on Wednesday James Walters gives a talk on “The Burden of Time: The Doctor as Sisyphean Hero”.

Finally, one of the issues that confrints classicists getting interested in science fiction is the definition of the subject. Two very interesting articles have recently been republished, one by Paul Kincaid, and one by John Rieder. I recommend reading them both. More than once.

As ever, let me know of anything else relevant you spot.

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