James Joyce and Science Fiction

Michael Cassutt has an amusing column this week at Science Fiction Weekly, looking at the connections between James Joyce and SF. It's fairly standard stuff until the end, which is almost as good as the ending of a Frederic Brown story.

If you hate James Joyce, you might like Tim Cavanaugh's article for Reason, in which he wonders "Why does a book so bad it 'defecates on your bed' still have so many admirers?" There are a couple of good points raised, and we discover that Joyce fans like dressing up as much as Star Trek fans, but there's a deep current of anti-intellectualism in the article, an underlying assumption that all literature, to be good, must be accessible on a first reading, must have as wide an audience as a Rambo movie, and must appeal to Mr. Cavanaugh's own tastes. (Maybe he should have read only a page a day.) Personally, I don't have any plans to finish Finnegan's Wake, but I can recognize that it's a huge literary achievement, a tremendous experiment, and something that, like Scrabble and calculus and Dune, I will probably never find appealing. (Yes, Dune, friends, Dune!)

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