Science Fiction

#tbt: Mel Brooks’ dancing alien, from “Spaceballs”

This week’s throwback Thursday post is dedicated to director Mel Brooks! He is one of many directors interviewed in The Director Within: Storytellers of Stage and Screen by Rose Eichenbaum. The photograph of Brooks, below, is one of many images from the book.


To honor Brooks and his ongoing ability to make us laugh long and hard, we picked a clip from his movie Spaceballs (1987).

Mel Brooks is a master of comedy. From film to theatrical productions, his work has earned him the highest honors bestowed on an entertainer: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award—to name a few. As Brooks fans know, the filmmaker loves to spoof historic events, popular culture, books, and other films. Such parodies include Young Frankenstein, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, High Anxiety, and Spaceballs. 

When asked why he’s chosen to create so many parodies, Brooks responded:

“All I’m doing is reliving the movies I loved as a little boy. With Young Frankenstein I was reviving the gorgeous films by James Whale, Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). High Anxiety is a tribute to Hitchcock. Spaceballs I made for my son, Max Brooks, who loved Star Trek and Star Wars. I dolled them up, of course, with a lot of different themes and feelings.”

Directors featured in the book The Director Within include:

• Michael Apted
• Robert Benton
• Peter Bogdanovich
• James L. Brooks
• Mel Brooks
• James Burrows
• John Carpenter
• Joseph Cedar
• Richard Donner
• Jonathan Frakes
• Lesli Linka Glatter
• Taylor Hackford
• Walter Hill
• Arthur Hiller
• Reginald Hudlin
• Doug Hughes
• Lawrence Kasdan
• John Landis
• Barry Levinson
• Rod Lurie
• Emily Mann
• Kathleen Marshall
• Rob Marshall
• Michael Mayer
• Paul Mazursky
• Mira Nair
• Hal Prince
• Brett Ratner
• Gary Ross
• Mark Rydell
• Jay Sandrich
• Susan Stroman
• Julie Taymor
• Robert Towne
• Tim Van Patten

Rose Eichenbaum will be signing copies of her books, The Director Within and The Dancer Within at Chavelier’s Books in Los Angeles this Saturday. She will be joined by performer-authors Zippora Karz and Victoria Tennant. Read more about the event and participants here.

#UPWeek: AAUP’s Third Annual Blog Tour


It is University Press Week…a time to celebrate all the wonderful work published by scholarly presses! In the spirit of partnership that pervades the university press community, thirty-two presses will unite for the AAUP’s third annual blog tour. This tour will highlight the value of collaboration among the scholarly community. Individual presses will blog on a different theme each day. Today’s theme is “Collaboration.” The following presses are participating. Click on the available links to learn about some of the collaborative efforts initiated by our colleagues at other presses and institutions.

University of California Press

University of Chicago Press

University Press of Colorado

Duke University Press

University of Georgia Press

Project MUSE/Johns Hopkins University Press

McGill-Queen’s University Press

Texas A&M University Press

University of Virginia Press

Yale University Press

Tomorrow’s theme is “Your University Press in Pictures.” Wesleyan University Press is participating on Thursday, November 13th, as part of “Throwback Thursday.” Read more about AAUP, University Presses, and University Press Week here.

Happy Halloween, Happy Samhain & Happy Birthday, Annie Finch

Happy Halloween and Samhain (an ancient Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season)—and happy birthday to one of Wesleyan’s celebrated poets, Annie Finch. Finch was born on October 31st, 1956. She is a Wiccan, and her latest book is Spellspublished by Wesleyan on April 2, 2013. Spells, which brings Finch’s most striking old poems together with new and previously unpublished work, brings readers to “experience poetry not just in the mind, but in the body.”


Annie Finch/Spells


Her other books include poetry collections Eve (1997) and Calendars (2003), and the long poems The Encyclopedia of Scotland (1982) and Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams (2009), as well as several critical works. Her work has been published in journals including Yale Review, Harvard Review, Partisan Review, and Paris Review, and anthologized in collections like The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century American Poetry and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet. She is the winner of the Sarasvati Award for Poetry and the Robert Fitzgerald Award, and is currently at work on a memoir, American Witch.

Finch has read and performed her work across the U.S. and in Canada, Europe, and Africa. She is a featured columnist for The Huffington Post, writing on poetry, feminism, and paganism. She teaches in the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast writing program, and as a visiting poet across the country. In the coming year she will head to Arizona to participate in the Tucson Festival of Books, as well as to teach a workshop at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

Finch has also appeared on the airwaves in KRCB’s WordTemple, which showcases the most interesting work and stories in the world of literature. In November 2013, Finch appeared on the program with fellow Wesleyan author Kazim Ali to discuss their books, Spells and Sky Ward. In March 2014, Finch appeared alongside the influential feminist poet Carolyn Kizer, who passed away on October 9th. In April, an essay of Finch’s about her relationship with Kizer was read on-air. That essay, “Visiting Carolyn Kizer,” can also be found online at the Poetry Foundation.


In honor of Samhain, please enjoy two poems from Spells“Samhain” and “Spider Woman.”


(October 31)

In the season leaves should love,
since it gives them leave to move
through the wind, towards the ground
they were watching while they hung,
legend says there is a seam
stitching darkness like a name.

Now when dying grasses veil
earth from the sky in one last pale
wave, as autumn dies to bring
winter back, and then the spring,
we who die ourselves can peel
back another kind of veil

that hangs among us like thick smoke.
Tonight at last I feel it shake.
I feel the nights stretching away
thousands long behind the days
till they reach the darkness where
all of me is ancestor.

I move my hand and feel a touch
move with me, and when I brush
my own mind across another,
I am with my mother’s mother.
Sure as footsteps in my waiting
self, I find her, and she brings

arms that carry answers for me,
intimate, a waiting bounty.
“Carry me.” She leaves this trail
through a shudder of the veil,
and leaves, like amber where she stays,
a gift for her perpetual gaze.


Spider Woman

Your thoughts in a web have covered the sky.
A thread from the northwest is carrying beads from the rain,
a thread from the southwest is carrying beads from the rain,
a thread from the southeast carries bright beads,
a thread from the northeast is bringing the beads
of the rain that has filled up the sky.
Spider, you have woven a chain
stretching with rain over the sky.

Wesleyan science fiction authors recognized

Congratulations to Dr. Arthur B. Evans on receiving the Prix Cyrano, or Cyrano Prize! Named after the early French science fiction writer Cyrano de Bergerac, the prize is given for lifetime achievements in promoting French science fiction. The award was presented at the 41st annual French National Science Fiction Convention, NEMO 2014, in Amiens, France.


Art accepts Cyrano Award (19Jul14)


Art at NEMO 2014


Dr. Evans is a renowned Jules Verne scholar and a professor of French at DePauw University. He is the general editor of Wesleyan’s Early Classics of Science Fiction series, which features French authors like Albert Robida, Émile Souvestre, R.-H. Rosny aîné, Camille Flammarion, and Jean-Baptiste François Xavier Cousin de Grainville, and managing editor of the journal Science Fiction Studies. He is also coeditor of The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (2010) and editor of Vintage Visions: Essays on Early Science Fiction (2013).


ReaderCon 2014


Kit Reed was one of the Guests of Honor at the 25th annual ReaderCon this July in Burlington, Massachusetts, along with Andrea Hairston and Memorial Guest of Honor Mary Shelley. Reed is the author of several Wesleyan titles, including Weird Women, Wired Women (1998), Seven for the Apocalypse (1999), and The Story Until Now (2013), which was a 2013 Shirley Jackson Award nominee. Guests of honor for the 2015 ReaderCon will include Gary K. Wolfe, author of Evaporating Genres: Essays of Fantastic Literature (2011); and Memorial Guest of Honor Joanna Russ, author of We Who Are About To (1997) and The Two of Them (1978) and subject of Farah Mendlesohn’s On Joanna Russ (2009).

readercon2014Small  Wesleyan UP’s ReaderCon display, photo courtesy of Matthew Cheney

Samuel R. Delany’s “American Shore”

We are pleased to announce the release of a brand-new edition of The American Shore: Meditations on a Tale of Science Fiction by Thomas M. Disch —- “Angouleme,” with an introduction by Matthew Cheney.

 american shore

A keystone text in literary theory and science fiction The American Shore: Meditations on a Tale of Science Fiction by Thomas M. Disch—“Angouleme” was first published in 1978 to the intense interest of science fiction readers and the growing community of SF scholars. Recalling Nabokov’s commentary on Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, Roland Barthes’ commentary on Balzac’s Sarazine, and Grabinier’s reading of The Heart of Hamlet, this book-length essay helped prove the genre worthy of serious investigation. The American Shore is the third in a series of influential critical works by Samuel Delany, beginning with The Jewel-Hinged Jaw and Starboard Wine, first published in the late seventies and reissued over the last five years by Wesleyan University Press. Delany was honored with a Pilgrim Award for Science Fiction Scholarship from the Science Fiction Research Association of America. He has also received the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a lifetime’s contribution to gay and lesbian literature. In 2013, he was named the 31st Damon Knight Memorial Foundation Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. This edition of The American Shore includes the author’s corrected text as well as a new introduction by Delany scholar Matthew Cheney. For more details, click here. Also available as an ebook—check with your favorite ebook retailer.

Samuel R. Delany receives the 2013 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Award

delany-1-of-1The Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA) has announced that Samuel R. Delany is the recipient of the 2013 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award. The award recognizes Delany’s lifetime achievements as an SF author. Delany will receive the award at the Nebula award ceremonies in May. Delany is the author of many beloved books published by Wesleyan University Press.

Here is short introduction to Delany’s life and work, compiled by Wesleyan University Press director and editor-in-chief Suzanna Tamminen:

Samuel R. Delany is one of science fiction’s most influential authors, critics, and teachers. He appears to be always writing and to always have been writing. This is both a commentary on his many published books and also on the way he seems to live inside language, in both the spirit and the word. His work is dear to many writers, indeed his work has profoundly influenced several generations of writers, and the spirit manifested in his words, how he uses words to create and open up structures of thought, has earned him many ardent readers.

Delany’s works range from autobiography and essays to literary and cultural criticism, to fiction and science fiction, this last his most widely recognized genre. He served as professor of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and most recently has been a professor of English and creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

The outline of the writer’s life is itself novel-worthy. Delanyʼs grandfather, Henry Beard Delany, was born a slave in Georgia in 1857, and became the first black suffrage Episcopal bishop of the Archdiocese of North and South Carolina as well as vice-chancellor of a black Episcopal college, St. Augustineʼs, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

He grew up in Harlem where his father, Samuel Sr., owned and operated the Levy & Delany Funeral Home. His mother, Margaret Delany, was a clerk in the New York Public Library system. The family lived in the two floors over Samuel Sr.’s Seventh Avenue business. His aunts were the Delany Sisters who were always Having Their Say.

Delany finished and sold his first published novel, The Jewels of Aptor, when he was still nineteen. Before his twenty-second birthday, he’d completed and sold four more novels, including a trilogy: The Fall of the Towers.

In 1974, Dhalgren, Delany’s most controversial work, made its appearance. At eight hundred seventy-nine pages in its initial Bantam Books edition, it drew much praise, much scorn—and open anger. Over the next dozen years, however, it sold more than a million copies and, today, has settled comfortably into the slot reserved for “classics of the genre.” As Delanyʼs most popular book, it has been turned into both a play on the East Coast and an opera on the West Coast.

Dhalgren was followed by the highly acclaimed novel Trouble on Triton. From 1979 to 1987, Delany wrote a connected set of eleven fantasy tales: two novels, three novellas, and six short stories. They include The Tale of Plagues and Carnivals (1987)—the first novel about AIDS released by a major American publisher—and the Return to Nevèrÿon series. In 1984 Delany’s last purely SF novel for twenty-five years would appear, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand—a book in which he predicted the Internet a decade before the fact.

Since then, Delany has written highly praised works, both fictitious and autobiographical. His 1988 publication, The Motion of Light in Water, is a staple of gender studies and African American studies classes and received a Hugo Award for nonfiction. In 1995, he published three long stories, about black life in the Jazz Age, the fifties in New York, and the sixties in Europe, collected in Atlantis: Three Tales and, partly, in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. This was followed by collections of interviews and nonfiction essays, including Silent Interviews (1994), Longer Views (1996), and Shorter Views (1999), all published by Wesleyan University Press.

Among his highly acclaimed academic releases are Times Square Red, Times Square Blue—and About Writing. Other novels, long and short, from this time include The Mad Man, Hogg (“the most shocking novel of the 20th century,” wrote Larry McCaffery), and Phallos. His novel about a black gay poet living in the East Village over the turn of the most recent century, Dark Reflections, won the 2008 Stonewall Book Award. His most recent novel, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders (2012), is over eight hundred pages—an amalgam of gay erotic writing, rural realism, and science fiction.

Altogether, Delany has won four Nebula Awards and two Hugo Awards, as well as the Bill Whitehead Award for a lifetime contribution to gay and lesbian writing. In 2002, Delany was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. He received the Pilgrim Award for SF scholarship in 1985 and the J. Lloyd Eaton Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. That same year he was among the judges for the National Book Award in Fiction. In 2007 he was the subject of Fred Barney Taylorʼs documentary The Polymath, or, The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman, in which Delany is interviewed by Jonathan Lethem.  includes an experimental color film, The Orchid, which Delany himself wrote, directed, and edited in 1972.

Three Science Fiction Novellas reviewed in Washington Post

“Happily, thanks to the Wesleyan Early Classics of Science Fiction Series, three of Rosny’s finest novellas can now be enjoyed in authoritative translations. Never having encountered any of his fiction, I was unprepared for the power and beauty of ‘The Xipehuz,’ ‘Another World’ and ‘The Death of the Earth.’ –The Washington Post, Michael Dirda
Read the full review of Three Science Fiction Novellas: From Prehistory to the End of Mankind, by J.-H. Rosny aine, here.
Learn more about the book here.
Three Science Fiction Novellas, by Rosny