In addressing the lack of racial and cultural diversity in fantasy novels to my students, I would first discuss the importance of representing different races and cultures in literature. Since literature allows the reader to relate and / or make connections with real life, it is important that authors of fantasy literature write stories in which diverse audiences can relate. Writing stories that accurately represent various races and cultures not only helps to teach acceptance and tolerance, but offers authenticity, which in my opinion, is effective in getting readers to connect with characters and their stories. Similar to Marisol’s attempt, I would ask students to identify ways authors can alter their text so that they can better relate to the story. I would generate groups of 4 and have each group create their own fantasy story. Each story will have to represent each of the members in the group, similar to the example provided in the article of Tamora Pierce’s series, Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens. This activity not only allows students to reflect on their personal experiences, but requires them to take into consideration the experiences of their peers as well, and from them write one single story that represents all of them, thus attracting a larger audience.
As someone who enjoys reading science fiction, I strongly agree with Farah Mendlesohn’s point in her article titled “The Campaign for Shiny Futures”.
Science fiction, like new young adult novels have great potential to teach important life lessons. Unfortunately, the importance of science fiction novels has been minimized due to inaccurate assumptions of what young readers like to read. Anymore, young adult novels’ emphasis, according to Farah Mendlesohn, “…is on character, on empathy, on story, and on “relevance”” (2009). Contrary to the generalization that most teens prefer to read books about relationships, Mendlesohn’s study found that “…science fiction readers remembered their young selves wanting literature that taught them about the world. Relationships of any kind were low priorities compared to ideas and information” (2009). While some teens prefer to read new young adult novels that contribute to their emotional development, many others still favor literature that teaches about the growing world in which they live, and helps prepare them for the future. It is important that authors, publishers, critics, and educators avoid making such generalizations about teens and their interests when deciding what it is and is not a good read for them.
3) What are your overall thoughts to the article? 2) What fantasy/sci-fi series have you read and enjoyed? Why?
I agree with many of the points made in the article titled “Epic Fantasy Meets Sequel Prejudice" and admire author, Jonathan Hunt’s ability to understand the frustrations that come with reading a series even though he, as an avid reader of fantasy literature does not face the same challenges. Regarding successful reading and understanding of only one book in a series whether it is the first or last one, Hunt states the following: “…it requires faith, patience, and an open mind to assess a series entry…” and goes on to say “…I know that many readers will be left in a state of confusion. But the confusion speaks more to the character of the reader than it does to the quality of the novel…” (2007). My experience with reading a sequel out of order was not a successful one. My first attempt at reading the Lord of the Rings was an epic fail since I had started with the second book (my boyfriend at the time was reading the first one). I didn’t expect to be confused since I had seen the all three films prior to starting the book. I could not even get through the entire book because I had become so confused. After reading the entire series in sequential order, I realized that there was a considerable amount of material that had not made it to the screen, which caused great confusion when trying to read the series for the first time out of order. That being said, the confusion I experienced while reading the second book of the series says nothing about its quality, or the value of the series as a whole but demonstrates a lack of patience and understanding on my part.
Evaluating Science Fiction & Fantasy
- Does the story meet the general criteria of excellence for fiction? Absolutely! Using only images and audio, it tells an imaginary story of a writer who becomes inspired to continue writing after losing all of his work in a tornado, by anthropomorphized books that surround him. These books have a huge impact on the lives of other characters in the story well who were also part of the disaster.
- Is the fantasy world detailed and believable within the context of the story? Yes! The imaginary world in which this story takes place suits the context of the story, since it takes place after a disaster when all neighbors are in need of hope and inspiration which is provided by the countless floating and still books.
- Are the story events imaginative, yet logically consistent within the story world? Yes. Since the story illustrates real life occurrences, experiences, and emotions, the events are easy to imagine, and are still consistent within the story of the world.
- Are the characters multi-dimensional with consistent and logical behavior? All of the characters in the story exhibit a diversity of real life characteristics. Happiness, fear, joy, hope, despair, and compassion are some of the character traits that are expressed from the characters in the story, books included!
- Are there vivid images and solid, understandable structures? Yes. The images, colors, and sound used throughout the story produce a myriad of strong feelings. Although some parts of the story are abstract, they provide great opportunities for the viewer to use his/ her imagination, are produce their own understanding of certain elements.
- Are the themes meaningful, causing readers to think about life? Extremely meaningful! Real life occurrences, along with the many emotions demonstrated in this short film allow readers to connect with the characters, thus encourages them to think about several elements of life, from overcoming hardship, finding happiness, helping others, aging, resilience, etc.