In part 4, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia continues his trippy trek through the 1970’s and glides into the 1980’s . A new literary era when the science fiction genre develops a strong desire to address the entire human race and some writers provide new ideas and perspectives , subverting traditional sci fi conventions and expectations. First up, its African American Octavia Butler, whose impressive works present a convincingly alien species and the union of that extraterrestrial race with a troubled humanity. Then its the mysterious Alice Sheldon/ James Tiptree Jr. who was once engaged in highly classified , CIA and Pentagon shenanigans. Sheldon/Tiptree would compose an extraordinary series of stories with interpenetrating themes , sex , identity , ecology , male and female relationships and death. Next up, its Iranian/ Zimbabwean writer Doris Lessing, whose works are infused with elements of Eastern philosophy and religion – the striving of the soul for perfection and union with the divine. Then its , Sherri Tepper, a natural born storyteller, whose works evolve from metaphysical science fiction fables to much darker toned visions that are fueled by Feminist anger. and last but not least its Jillian May , who after decades of writing juvenile literature, decides to open a science fiction publishing house and crafts an immense , complex and flamboyant space opera.
In the third installment of GRR’s groundbreaking miniseries , Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia trucks on down to the groovy 1970s , a time when science fiction begins to view things from a variety of perspectives. And the genres particular affinity with feminism becomes clearer with the publication of some challenging works. First off, its the gifted and wise , Ursula K Le Guin , hose mind was dominated by poetry and myth. her stories are like literary landmines that explode in your mind while reading them. The master storyteller made gender analysis and gender consciousness a legitimate topic for science fiction. Then its Joanna Russ, whose smart , tough and female space trucker/ mercenary (Alyx) becomes the model for countless successors and has a liberating effect on later writers and dreamers. Her inventive , electric , experimental , biting and beautifully constructed prose are essentially a science fiction assault on our male dominated world.
In the second installment -Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia continues hi in depth analysis of the science fiction women writers and dreamers who slowly but surely broadened the horizons of the genre. First off its the height of the cold war – the fear filled 1950’s when short stories and novels often viewed the dreaded nightmare of world wide annihilation. In an optimistic and romantic fashion – life after the collapse of civilization will be a type of pastoralic reboot , as survivors must preserve what is worthwhile and at the same time build a new and better world. writers include – Judith Merrill,Wilma Shiras, Joan Hunter Holly, Anne Mclean, Evelyn Smith and Kate Wilhelm. Then its the turbulent 1960’s – a decade filled with world wide social and political unrest. The space race has not been as dramatic and glorious as people had hoped , and technology has not brought peace and prosperity to the planet. Some Science Fiction women writers turn away from all the violence and disappointment of the decade by crafting complex richly detailed , colorful and highly textured romantic escapist fantasy art. That utilizes many traditional science fiction elements – writers include Andrea Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey.
The first science fiction novel may have been written by a woman (Mary Shelley) but it would be almost another century before further female contributions would penetrate the realms of the sci fi universe. Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia an early science fiction buff and literary historian, chronicles the slow but steady rise of women writers and dreamers in an adventure genre that was once mostly edited, written and read by men. The arrival of the specialized pulp fiction magazines in the late teens and early twenties provides the opportunity for young , aspiring authors to showcase their talents , get published and make some cash. Some literary minded ladies jump at the chance and at first write under male pseudonyms or incognito and in collaboration with their boyfriends and husbands. The women writers of space operas, interplanetary romances , sword and sorcery epics and sci fi fairy tales bring with them new perspectives and possibilities for the examination of more serious and sophisticated issues. A type of expansion of the genres stereotypes and limitations , and a rebellion within science fiction literature itself!
In the conclusion to GRR’s highly acclaimed mini series , Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia dissects some of the lost classics and forgotten gems of the American silent era. First off, its the favorite American motif of man into monster, as speculative scientists transgress into God’s domain and pay a high cosmic price for their spiritual and intellectual curiosity. Then its the serials that held the suspense in limbo each week, teasing the spellbound viewer about the next thrilling episode. Rich in imagination and atmosphere , the chapter plays made great use of elaborate sets , fast paced action and the paraphernalia and iconography of mysteries , melodramas and thrillers. And last but not least its the brilliant but controversial father of film, D.W. Griifith and the great directors little known contributions to the horror film genre, a masterful adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe short story, a flawed but highly influential haunted house spoof and the ultimate , transcendent Mephistophelian melodrama.
Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia continues his in depth analysis of the formative years of the horror film , this time out its Germany before the arrival of Expressionism as an artistic style. First off, its the beginnings of the film industry in Deutschland and the neglected inventor/genius – Oscar Messter. Who crafts a poetic and lyrical cinematic translation of a medieval Scandinavian legend combining melodrama and romanticism. A style that continues to influence filmmakers all over the world to this very day. Then its the most confusing and complex production history ever, as two rival producers release two seperate versions of a Sherlock Holmes serial (The Hounds of the Baskervilles) at the very same time- sparking off a box office battle that would last for years. Then its the theme of the dopplerganger or double and the remarkable career of Paul Wegener – (actor,writer,producer & director) . Whose bulky presence ignites an intellectual gauge of talent in the German film industry. With The Golem films be becomes the first master of the celluloid supernatural since Melies. Up next, its two prolific years (1917/1919) in the astounding film legacy of Fritz Lang, a wounded W.W. I vet who while convalescing from battle wounds decides to try his hand at screenwriting. These early Langian movies contain elements that would become familiar to his cinematic mold, like a speculative hero, Asian mysticism , psychic powers and a somber atmosphere. And last but not least , its the Medieval Germanic folk tale of a beautiful woman who is born without a soul and delights in luring men to their doom with her dark sexual powers. This ancient legend is modernized for the screen first in 1918 and then filmed again and adapted.
A noted film historian and a lover of genre movies, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia examines the first 25 years of the horror film (1896-1919) . A special and fascinating era in which the first steps toward cinematic art were taken by imaginative cinematic pioneers . And what are considered traditional themes, sources and motifs were imaginatively developed with an almost supernatural speed. First off its George Melies a magician from the theatrical world who seizes upon the brand new scientific apparatus of the movie camera and incorporates into his act. He no longer needed a theater to conjure up his trickery , since the world was now his audience. Melies would become the first cinematic master of the supernatural and his influence would be massive and world wide. Next up, as audiences grew more sophisticated , films grew longer and sets ,ore elaborate, the horror film would take its place in the cinematic universe . As the French silent horror film matured – film makers would draw inspiration from classic literature (Hugo & Poe) , legends , folk tales and fables. As well as the rapid and remarkable advancements in science, medicine and technology – and explore such themes as Beauty and the Beast and Darwin’s theory of Evolution.
In the second installment of this season’s Thanksgiving special, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia continues to examine the spiritual significance of plants, trees, weeds and flowers. First off, its the mystical plant lore and nature based religion of the Celts, Norse and Germanic peoples. And some of the mysterious rites and rituals linked to trees and plants, ceremonies presided over by the priestly Druids. Next up, its the Christians who use plants, weeds and wildflowers to help spread the gospels across Europe. Missionaries rechristen and reconsecrate them for use as teaching tools for valuable spiritual lessons that Pagan servants and farmers linked to the soil can understand. And last but not least…its the continent of North America , where the Indian nations have a vast knowledge of Herbology and plants are considered sanctified and holy. With the arrival of European settlers and kidnapped African slaves an intermingling of plant lore takes place and new American traditions blossom into being. Plants in this program include – oak trees,yew trees,miseltoe,holly,mallow,shamrock,lady’s mantle , angelica,rose, St. John’s Wort, henbane, foxglove, jimsomweed, mushrooms, peyote -etc .
To ancient peoples , plants were filled with vital cosmic energy and invested with a supernatural power that linked humanity with the Gods. In this season’s Thanksgiving Special – Jack “The Agnostic”Garcia examines the symbolic and religious role of plants throughout the course of Western civilization. First off, its the land of the fertile crescent where the Mesopotamians magically link the fertility and longevity of their Monarchs to the scared Tree of Life, then its the Egyptians who found evidence of a divine presence just about everywhere they looked. Next up, its the Holy Land where plant magic and spirituality played a role in the lives of the men and women found within the sacred stories of the Bible. Then its the Greeks who were highly inventive in their lore and plants played an important role in their timeless Mythology. And last but not least …its the Mighty Romans who may have been the uber-patriarchal militaristic champions of the world but also placed a high value on the divine power of Nature Goddesses. Plants in part 1 include – Garlic,Verbena,Onions,Myrrh, Belladonna , Mandrake Root , Lotus, Rose , Narcissuss,Palm Trees, Olive Trees and Pomegranates.
In the second installment of this seasons Halloween special , Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia continues to examine the rich tapestry of supernatural bloodsucking beings from Asian myth, legend and folklore. Including such malevolent nocturnal beasties as the re-animated corpse vampire of Chinese legend – The Chiang -Shih , that takes on a green phosphorescent glow before sprouting long talons and serrated teeth. The Huli-Jing (fox fairy) – Chinese spirit that rises from the grave shapeshifts into a beautiful woman and vampirizes its victims. Japan’s own version of the fox spirit demon seductress – The Kitsune that drains her victims sexually. The 58 Vampire Gods of Tibet – that are blood thirsty manifestations of bad Karma and play an intregral role in The Book of The Dead. And some shapeshifting , flying Lady Vampires , beautiful, seductive , deadly nocturnal maidens and supernatural bloodsucking babes like – The Pontiannak (Java) , The Langsuyar (Malaysia) and the Aswang (The Phillipines). This and lots more Vampiric creatures and Gods from the Far East.
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