Franz Kafka Meets Ray Bradbury: My Students' Metamorphosis

The MetamorphosisA few semesters ago, I was teaching a course in modern fiction.  It was a fun class to teach, since the term "modern fiction" was broad enough that I could include a lot of my own personal favorites on the syllabus.  And so we did some David Mitchell, some detective stories, and of course, some science fiction and fantasy.

We started our "playing with reality" unit with a text many of them had already read--Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

They hated it.

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Midweek Fiction: Catherynne M. Valente, "White Lines on a Green Field"

There is, perhaps, no story more thematically appropriate for a back to school week than the story of Coyote going to high school. And the state football championship. The fact that it is a great story is a bonus.

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Stalker Demon Guy (maybe) Meets Clueless (certainly) Meets Joyce Carol Oates (thankfully): The Fantastic in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”

Where Are You Going, Where Have You BeenI love it when an author can make you start out a story by hating their main character, and in the end, make you pity, or even admire them. This is but one reason that I teach Joyce Carol Oates’ short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” in my class on the grotesque. [editor's note: you can find the full text of the story here] The other reason is that it falls into the realm of the fantastic and uncanny, and stirs up a whirl of debate during our short class hour. When I ask my students if Arnold Friend is a supernatural being or psychotic stalker, the class is usually split fifty-fifty. That’s some powerful fantastic at work.

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All you have to do is write it

Captain NemoBefore I began writing, I thought the hardest part of being a writer was coming up with the ideas. I didn't realized that all the work - turning the idea into something interesting for other people, thinking about character, and theme, and plot, oh, and actually writing it, all came after.

So I was particularly intrigued by the concept of Captain Nemo: The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius, the latest novel from Kevin J. Anderson. In Anderson's book, André Nemo is a real person, and a friend of Jules Verne's. And all of the extraordinary adventure tales Verne writes are based on the actual adventures Nemo lives.

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I Was Genre When Genre Wasn't Cool

It Came From Del RioToday's guest contributor, Stephen Graham Jones, is an author whose most recent novel is the thriller Seven Spanish Angels. Before that, it was the bunnyheaded novel It Came from Del Rio and the Stoker finalist The Ones That Got Away. Next up is Zombie Bake-Off, a not-announced-yet one, then Once Upon a Time in Texas, Flushboy, Not For Nothing, and a couple he can’t talk about yet. Stephen’s been an NEA fellow, is an FSU grad, and teaches now at CU Boulder. He’s also kind of into horror.

In this article, he talks about the relationship between genre fiction and the academy, and why fantasy, horror, and science fiction are good things to bring to dinner parties.


Lev Grossman talks about those dinner parties where people find out you write fantasy. And, of course, ‘dinner party,’ that’s the world, isn’t it? It’s family reunions where your great aunt should get a gold medal for holding that smile on her face when you tell her the title of one of your books. It’s standing around in the hug ’n go lane at your kids’ elementary, whoever you just dropped that genre bomb on still trying to absorb the recoil. It’s your job, where everybody else is at least topically involved with ‘legitimate’ pursuits like buying, or selling, or making, things that, as they see it, interface with the real world, don’t escape it.

I should say too that for ‘fantasy,’ here, I’m subbing in ‘genre fiction,’ specifically horror, as that’s what I do the most of. I mean, I’ve done science fiction—do giant time-traveling caterpillars count as sci-fi?—I’ve done thrillers with bodycounts you’d need three pairs of hands to keep track of, I’ve had giant coyotes gulping people down and I’ve done heavily footnoted novelizations of horror movies that never existed. One of my last books has a bunny-headed zombie who shepherds chupacabras around Texas, and the sequel to it’s up soon, Aunt Nell.

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