Delving into Gnome Man's Land

So, after holding my article hostage -- hostage , I tell you -- for four years, the editor of The Baum Bugle , Sarah Crotzer, has finally published it into her most recent issue: “Delving into Nome Man’s Land: Two Traditions in Baum and Tolkien.” Baum Bugle , Autumn 2021, pp. 13–22. Interesting story behind this one. Sarah suggested the original idea to me back when we were in grad school together, maaaaybe right after she became Bugle editor, I don't remember. Anyway, I sat on the idea for a while. Then, in December 2017, tuckered out from my long article on gender violence in Stephen R. Donaldson, and wanting to write something short and spiffy for the CV, I turned to L. Frank Baum. Since I knew this break had been coming up, I'd been reading a whole bunch of Oz books in preparation. So, once the fall semester ended, I plunged into a 5-week writing spree where I wrote two short articles back-to-back -- the first an essay on magic words in fantasy (but especially Baum, of cour

My Philosophy as a Book Reviews Editor

So, I recently had (for another context) to articulate my basic philosophy of being a book reviews editor, so thought I'd shared that here.  Basically, my view of what a good book review entails appears in Fafnir's book review guidelines . Long story short, this is what I expect: The reviewer should assess the book’s strengths and weaknesses. . . .  If a book has more strengths than weaknesses, or vice versa, please let that be reflected in your structure. We consider it a standard convention of the review genre, however, that even highly laudatory reviews contain some critique, even if a minor one; likewise, even highly negative reviews should contain some elements of praise. In terms of unwritten policies, I return all submissions -- with comments -- to the reviewers within 24 hours. Besides expediting the total publication process, this is a form of practicing compassion for contingent labor and the busy workloads of all our reviewers. About 80% of our reviews require

An Old (Academic) Voice from the Past

So, I received an email out of the blue today from Dr. Donald "Mack" Hassler, a former editor of Extrapolation,  a prolific critic within SF Studies, and also my Honors thesis advisor at Kent State University back in .... let's say, 2005-2006 it must have been, so fifteen years ago. Anyway, he had just seen my recent article in Extrapolation about Poul Anderson's poetry, and dropped me a line.  Here's part of what he said: The new issue of Extrap just got to me in the mail, and I am delighted to see the new long piece by you.  Also, I see that you are now Director of Undergrad Studies in Arizona. I remember the old days in the Honors College so well and am very proud of how you are moving in the profession. He was a good advisor, too -- gave me free reign to do what I want, and very patient. If I remember right, after a summer of working on my thesis** alone, I then handed him a 100-page mess in September, un-proofread, with comments like "INSERT EVIDENCE HE

Still being translated into Chinese

So, back in April 2020, right as the quarantine was launching into full swing, I got randomly contacted by a Tolkien fan society in China, the ArdaNEWS Studio , asking if they could translate my (then) recently published  Journal of Tolkien Research article, " On Ways of Studying Tolkien: Notes Toward an Epic Fantasy Criticism ," into Chinese. For people with a good memory, I blogged about it here . Despite the best of intentions, as you might expect, the project was delayed because of COVID. Since I know the translators are all volunteers and Chinese grad students in English, and that translation is a major effort in the most optimal of conditions, at one point I even offered to make them a donation. The group declined, gracefully, because they wanted to maintain their non-profit status. Anyway! I just got a long, super apologetic email from their main translator saying that, yes, the article is now fully translated and proofread, but .... they weren't really happy with

Lovecraft's Cat

So, there's this non-affiliated scholar named Bobby Durie who, on Twitter, posts frequent and interesting nuggets about H. P. Lovecraft in a series that he calls "Deep Cuts." In the following Deep Cut , he has a brief but remarkably information FAQ about Lovecraft's cat, whose name HPL uses for the four-footed ghost-rat sniffing kitty in "The Rats in the Walls." Since I've actually taught this story a number of times, I'm posting this here as a reminder to share with my students at a later date.** ------- ** Typically, rather state the animal's name in class, I just call him The Cat with An Unfortunate Name" (CWUN)™.

The Prancing Pony Podcast

I don't drive or have a phone, so never got into podcasts, but I just listened to The Prancing Pony Podcast  and, holy cow, they're amazing -- funny, well-spoken, great readers of Tolkien's text (they even do voices!), and they prepare with much useful background research. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to them. The following two episodes are about Saruman. Both reference a 2016 open-access article of mine , from the Journal of Tolkien Research , that reads Saruman closely together with Plato's Republic, which is how I found the podcast. When they posted the episode on twitter, someone kindly thought to tag me. Anyway, here are the episodes:  Episode 217: Fooling Yourself (The Angry Old Man) . They begin talking about my article at around the 51 minute mark, although the set-up begins at about the 48 minute mark. They continue talking about it for a fair bit. Episode 218: The Renegade . Mention of my article begins at around the 34 minute mark, though the set-up comes

My First Mythcon Roundtable!

 So, MythCon 51 is about halfway through its first day .... but, luckily for me, the roundtable I had to moderate is now complete! One of my little terrors about academic, in fact, is the challenge of moderating a conference panel or roundtable. On one hand, the task is super easy, and your main job is just to be invisible. On the other hand, the task is so easy that a moderator-induced catastrophe is all the more cringe-worthy. And moderating a roundtable isn't actually all that easy. For this one, we had a roundtable featuring 3 of last year's winners of the Mythopoeic Society Award, one critic and two novelists. Since I'd only read the critic, I had to hurry up and read the two author's books, plus do enough google-research to ask intelligent but open-ended questions of the panel. We managed to get through 3 of my 5 prepared questions, which I should perhaps have anticipated, before opening things up to the general Q&A. Anyway, since I did an insane amount of pre