Fafnir 1/2014

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research 1/2014

Jyrki Korpua, Hanna-Riikka Roine & Päivi Väätänen:
Editorial 1/2014

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Päivi Väätänen:
Opposing Forces and Ethical Judgments in Samuel Delany’s
Stars in My Pocket like Grains of Sand

Abstract: This article discusses the opposing forces of conservative and liberal ideologies in Samuel Delany’s science fiction novel Stars in My Pocket like Grains of Sand (1984). In this article, I conduct a rhetorical analysis of the novel using James Phelan’s notions of the rhetorical theory of narrative. Laying emphasis on ethical judgments that the novel evokes in the readers, I analyze the rhetorical strategies used in the novel to challenge its readers to reconsider and deconstruct the concepts of gender and sexuality. This article argues that the rhetoric of Stars in My Pocket works largely by juxtaposing conservative and liberal ideologies, societies, and characters. Readers are led to make ethical judgments, which may change during the process of reading. In the end, though, it is clear that the conservative ideology and characters representing it evoke negative ethical judgments, whereas their liberal counterparts are seen in a positive light. By evoking associations between the conservative societies and the world readers live in, Stars in My Pocket presents a compelling social critique of our treatment of otherness, which is as topical today as it was in 1984.

Keywords: Samuel Delany, Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand, deconstruction, the rhetorical theory of narrative

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Esko Suoranta:
Agents or Pawns?
Power Relations in William Gibson’s Bigend Trilogy

Abstract: The article explores power relations, resistance, and agency in William Gibson’s Bigend Trilogy, his three latest novels to date. It analyzes Gibson’s protagonists through Michel Foucault’s observations on power. In the Bigend Trilogy, power relations between free individuals are turned into relations of constraint by various agents, most importantly by the advertising magnate Hubertus Bigend. Furthermore, Foucault’s principle of the Panopticon is applied through modern surveillance technology, which plays a prominent role in the novels, to manipulate power relations. Such manipulations lead to resistance in Gibson’s protagonists who try to retain their agency in a world order that strives to dominate them. The characters appear as versions of John G. Cawelti’s Western heroes and villains on the border between progressive order and independent chaos. The protagonists are not, in the end, invested in defeating schemes to dominate global power relations, but those that threaten their personal integrity. The article argues against Tom Henthorne’s interpretation of the conclusion of the trilogy as dystopian and devoid of choice, claiming that the protagonists do not remain pawns in a game, but succeed in their resistance, emerging as agents on their own terms.

Keywords: William Gibson, power, surveillance, agency, Bigend Trilogy

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Hanna-Riikka Roine:
What is it that Fanfiction Opposes?
The Shared and Communal Features of Firefly/Serenity Fanfiction

Abstract: The article challenges the models of resistance that are generally used as the primary way to understand the work of fandom. Instead, the article ponders the way in which the textual conventions and structures of fanfiction writing are connected with promoting and sustaining communality and maintains that fanfiction studies ought to put less emphasis on people-centred metaphors such as poachers and nomads. Significantly, as fannish activities such as fanfiction writing centre on texts, it is necessary that we analyse the processes of both producing and disseminating stories. The case study in the article is the fandom of Firefly, an American space western drama television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon. In addition to the devoted fan base, the case of Firefly is especially interesting due to the fact that the building of its fictional world and characters had barely got started when the show was cancelled, and the threads that had to be left hanging have actively been picked up by the fandom. Through the emphasis on the actual texts of fanfiction, the article also aims at casting light on why the genres of fantasy and science fiction seem to offer a more fertile ground for fanfiction writers than some other source texts.

Keywords: fanfiction, network culture, media fandom, science fiction, Firefly, Serenity

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Jyrki Korpua:
Good and Evil in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium:
Concerning Dichotomy between Visible and Invisible

Abstract: This article discusses good and evil forces in J. R. R. Tolkien’s legendarium, focusing mainly on the beginning of evil and on the aspects of juxtaposing physical with spiritual, mortal with immortal and visible with invisible. I discuss the Creation in The Silmarillion, which is at first supposedly good, but later becomes “marred” because of Melkor, who is at the beginning greatest of the angelic beings of Ainur, but later becomes the enemy and the symbol of pride and evil. From the cosmological view, the visible and invisible dichotomy is relevant. In Tolkien’s legendarium, the physical appearance is the key to the creation of “two levels”: the visible and the invisible world. In The Silmarillion, for example, Ainur can “change form”, or, “walk unclad” without physical form, but those among them who turn evil, such as Melkor, lose this power. For Tolkien, a word to describe Good is light, whereas Evil is described as dark or black. Where Ainur are beings of light, evil forces are often described as shadows: Mordor, for example, is “Black-Land”, “where shadows lie”. In addition to this, Aragorn reports the assumed death of Gandalf by saying that he “fell into Shadow”. Gandalf says that if his side loses, “many lands will pass under the shadow”. As concrete examples of this juxtaposition from The Lord of the Rings, I discuss the beings of Balrog and Nazgûls, but also the Great Ring, the Elves, and characters of Tom Bombadil and Gandalf.

Keywords: Tolkien, Tolkien’s legendarium, good and evil, visible and invisible, mortal and immortal

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Katja Kontturi:
Scholars Opposing Forces: Report on FINFAR 2013 Meeting

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Liisa Rantalaiho:
FINFAR: A Gift from Fandom to Academia

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Merja Polvinen
Peeking into the Neighbouring Grove:
Speculative Fiction in the Work of Mainstream Scholars

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Call for Papers for the 3/2014 issue of Fafnir

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