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edge+logo Literary Mind Meld

DMPdragon Literary Mind Meld
In a literary “Mind Meld” of universal proportions publishers Brian Hades and Gwen Gades announced on August 11, 2007, that three publishing imprints, EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, Tesseract Books and Dragon Moon Press, have merged to form Canada’s largest genre publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy. This triumvirate publishing house now has more than 90 titles in print.

In a recent presentation at Calgary’s annual convention of Science Fiction and Fantasy fans, Brian Hades, publisher of EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, and Gwen Gades, publisher of Dragon Moon Press, expressed their delight with the merger: “We are both committed to producing quality books which feature today’s best Science Fiction and Fantasy authors. We know readers will find a wonderful variety of both short fiction and novel length books to choose from … including works by some of the world’s finest writers.”

About Dragon Moon Press: Since the first printing of “Daughter of D Literary Mind Meldragons” in 1997, Dragon Moon Press has established itself as a leading Canadian publishing house whose dedication to first time authors and writers of literary excellence earned the company a place in the hearts of readers around the globe. The company has produced a number of books over the years, including the very popular”Complete Guide” series, which includes three guide books on writing Fantasy and a soon-to-be-released guide book about writing Science Fiction. Oh, and, of course, one of my favorites (:D) “Darwin’s Paradox”.

About EDGE Science Fiction Publishing and Tesseracts Books: Since its award winning publication of Marie Jakober’s “The Black Chalice” in 2002, life has been on high speed for this Calgary publishing company. It quickly gained recoBlackChalicecover Literary Mind Meldgnition from readers and writers alike for its critical selection of engaging speculative fiction. EDGE’s authors come from Canada, the USA, New Zealand and Australia. EDGE authors have garnered world wide recognition by winning a number of awards – including the Canadian Aurora Award, the Australian Aurealis Award and the ForeWord Magazine Award (USA).

About Tesseract Books: In 2003, EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy acquired Tesseract Books – the publisher of the highly respected and extremely popular “Tesseracts”anthology of Canadian short speculative fiction.

About the Tesseract Anthology Series: Since its inception 22 years ago, the Tesseracts anthology has featured 344 short works and more than 200 Canadian authors, editors and translators –including such well known writers as Margaret Atwood, Robert J. Sawyer, Spider Robinson, and William Gibson, to name a few.
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earthsea3 A Wizard of Earthsea When my boys were gone on holiday and I had to stay home to work, my good friends down the street took pity on me in my solitude and invited me to supper and a movie at their house. I gladly accepted, always ready for company and to mooch… icon smile A Wizard of Earthsea … The movie turned out to be a wonderful fantasy they rented from the video store that had been made in 2004 by the U.S. based Sci-Fi Channel: A Wizard of Earthsea.

When they announced the title of the movie, I recognized Ursula le Guin’s masterpiece of some time ago. What struck me with surprise was that my friends not only didn’t know the writer, but they had introduced this 2004 movie as a Harry Potter clone! “It’s got dragons and wizards and even a wizard school, like Hogwarts in it!” they claimed. And so it did. But what they didn’t realize was that A Wizard from Earthsea came long before J.K. Rowling even began to think of Harry Potter. Ursula EarthseaCD A Wizard of EarthseaLe Guin wrote this remarkable book in 1968 and it was part of a book series, with the first followed by The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea, and The Other Wind.

It is, in fact remarkable that Ursula Le Guin conceived of a fantasy world that had many aspects similar to those envisioned by J.K. Rowling, only thirty years before. What I find more remarkable is how this classic seemed to have been overlooked when all the hype about the wizard world of J.K. Rowling’s making swept the world like a summer storm.

Those of you who may have seen the movie on TV or rented it yourselves, can attest that indeed there are many elements similar with Harry Potter in A Wizard of Earthsea, though there are enough differences to make it a delicious alternative (especially now that the HP series is finished.).
earthsea4 A Wizard of Earthsea
There is, for instance, the School of Wizardry on Roke Island, the magical heart of Earthsea and protected by potent spells and a magical wind and fog that ward off evil. Teaching in the school was carried out by Masters (each with a specialty) such as: Master Windkey, who teaches weather control; Master Hand, who teaches illusions; Master Herbal, who teaches healing; and so on, including transformation, calling, True Speech, seeking and returning.
There’s the world of the dead, “The Dry Land” a dark, cold place that was, in fact, a failed attempt by mages to achieve immortality for their peoples. This land and its lost souls plays an important role in both the book and the movie.Earthsea A Wizard of Earthsea
There are also dragons and dragonlords. Dragons of Earthsea consider men to be uninteresting, short-lived mayflies and view all but a select few in that manner. A dragon will do one of two things with men–eat them or talk to them; the former is far more common. When dragons choose to speak, they are worth listening to, given their long lifespan and great wisdom.

Le Guin painstakingly created a world rich with lore, tradition, cultures and magic. And one with intrigue, tension and a compelling story of growth, friendship, betrayal and victory. I highly recommend these books for fantasy lovers, particularly tearthsea5 A Wizard of Earthseahose who have not yet encountered some of our classic writers like Ursula Le Guin. She has written many others (also science fiction), if you find you like these.
The Sci-Fi Channel movie, while I found it pleasantly entertaining, had changed many elements of Le Guin’s story, much to the anger of Earthsea purists. For instance, the main characters in the book resembled Native Americans, being dark in coloring with straight black hair; not Caucasian as in the movie. Names were altered and the religious practices of Atuan were misportrayed. The celibacy of Earthsea wizards was overlooked as Ged and Tenar became sexually involved in the film version. Lursula+le+guin A Wizard of Earthseae Guin, who had not been consulted in any way in the production, said: “I can only admire Mr. [Executive Producer Robert] Halmi’s imagination, but I wish he’d left mine alone.”
I liked both the movie and the books. But watch the movie first (given it’s limitations), then prepare for a rich tapestry of imagination in Ursula Le Guin’s classic book series. Who needs Harry Potter?…

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banned books2 Banned Books  How many did YOU read?

This Friday, in keeping with a literary theme, I’ve linked you to a Forbidden Library. This library boils overful with an oozing cornucopia of ‘demoralizing’, ‘blasphemous’, ‘racial’, ‘offensive’, ‘obscene’, ‘anti-Communist’, ‘Satanic’, and ‘anarchistic’ literature. Ah, yes, you say! How subversive. Check it out! Its librarian, Janet Yanosko, has indexed books by author and title with explanation of why the book was banned along with her own amusing rather pithy remarks. You’ll find books that people found offensive like:

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: a book on censorship gets censored!
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl: promotes drugs and disobedience
  • Where’s Waldo by Martin Handford: for nudity
  • 1984 by George Orwell: for being pro-communist
  • The Lorax by Doctor Seuss: because it criminalizes the logging industry
  • Zen Buddhism: selected writings by D.T. Suzuki: because it portrays Buddhism as appealing
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut: for its foul language

Books have been banned (and burned) on many occasions by many societies over humankind’s history of existence for various reasons. Books considered critical of governments or societies with power were a common target. So were books that dealt with criminal matter or promoted views counter with popular worldviews, or were considered distasteful or disturbing.

The Bible, the Qur’an and other religious works were banned (and burned) over the years. In Medieval Europe, the Roman Catholic Church dealt with dissenting printed opinion through a program called the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (index of prohibited books). Okay, here’s a partial list I got off Wikipedia with reasons for banning. I’ve bolded the ones I’ve read. How many did YOU read?

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: for portraying animals and humans on the same level
  • The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine: banned in UK for blasphemy in 18th C
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remaraque: banned in Nazi Germany for demoralizing and insulting the Wehrmacht
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell: banned for anti-Stalin theme
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: banned in some U.S. schools for use of racial slurs
  • Bible: banned by the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in Catholic Church
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell: banned in South Africa for using the word ‘black’
  • Brave New World byAldous Huxley: banned for centering around negative activity
  • Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: banned for sexual content
  • Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: banned in some U.S. schools and libraries for sexual situations, immorality and other themes of impropriety and anti-Christian sentiments
  • Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau: banned in U.S. during McCarthyism
  • Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel: banned because of hardcore graphic sexual content
  • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: banned in anti-Communist countries during the Red scare
  • Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak: banned in USSR for criticism of the Bolshevik Party
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: for issues on censorship
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway: banned in Spain during Francisco Franco’s rule for its pro-Republican views
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: banned in part of U.S. because of the use of the word ‘nigger’
  • Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: banned in some U.S. schools for use of the name God and Jesus in a vain and profane manner along with inappropriate sexual references
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift: banned in Ireland as wicked and obscene
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare: banned in Ethiopia
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: banned in some U.S. school libraries for use of witchcraft and supposedly Satanic views
  • King Lear by William Shakespeare: banned in UK out of respect to King George III’s aleged insanity
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence: banned in U.S. and UK for obsenity
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis: challenged in part of U.S. for depicting graphic violence, mysticism and gore
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss: banned in parts of U.S. for being an allegorical political commentary
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury: challenged in U.S. for profanity
  • Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler: reproduction and sale is forbidden outside Germany, Austria and Netherlands for promoting Nazism
  • Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory: challenged in UK as ‘junk’
  • 1984 by George Orwell: banned in USSR for political reasons; banned in U.S. for being pro-communist and for explicit sexual matter
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: banned in some U.S. schools and libraries for promoting ‘euthanasia’ and for profanity
  • The Odyssey by Homer: Plato suggested expurgating it for immature readers and Caligula tried to suppress it for expressing Greek ideals of freedom
  • On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin: banned in various places for promoting the evolutionary theory
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton: listed on the Indx Librorum Prohibitorum in Rome
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: challenged due to racial themes
  • Ulysses by James Joyce: banned in U.S. for its sexual content
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe: banned in southern States and Czarist Russia for racist portrayal of African Americans and use of word ‘nigger’.

Okay, so I read a lot of them. Does that make me a subversive? How about you? I find it interesting to note that books published as recently as “Harry Potter” are banned as wicked or even evil.

This all begs the question of what art truly is and should be. Susan Sontag suggested that “real art makes us nervous.” The genius of art skirts the edge of propriety and comfort to ask the questions that help us define our own humanity. Oscar Wilde remarked, “an idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being an idea at all.” Benjamin Franklin suggested that, “if all printers were determined not to print anthing till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.

Henry Steel Commager eloquently stated that, “censorship…creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.” John F. Kennedy further added that, “…a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”

Lillian Hellman, who was subpoenaed to appear before the House of Un-American Activities Commitee in 1952, exclaimed, “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.”

Live and write from the heart.

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