This is a gigantic milestone! This is the 8th episode in my reread of the X-Men run. It covers from #59, the height of the Roy Thomas-Neal Adams run, to #66, the end of original X-Men stories, which hit the stands on March 10th, 1970. The end of the X-Men’s ongoing stories coincides with the end of the Silver Age and the beginning of the Bronze.
The Silver Age X-Men, as a distinctly 1960s phenomenon reached their peak with some of the Arnold Drake stories with some interesting experimentation under Steranko’s art. The arrival of Neal Adams feels much more like it belongs in the Bronze Age. Both the art and the story complexity (under Roy Thomas) feels like it’s breaking creative ground that the best of the 1970s will follow.
The merry mutants’ uneven momentum had carried them for 7 years, but even a spectacular finish couldn’t save the series from its failure to come into focus. We’re going to talk today about that end.
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Recently, a columnist in The New Yorker discussed how literary work has ceased discussing politics and has accepted the prevailing economic assumptions and political models. He noted that the political discourse that is happening in literature is happening in science fiction and went on to illustrate forward-looking political principles featured in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series.
It’s easy to think of other examples of science fiction as a vehicle for political argument, all the way back to H.G. Wells and into today with the Unincorporated Man by Dani and Eytan Kollin, or Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross, or too many to list. The Libertarian Futurist Society even offers the Prometheus Award annually for libertarian science fiction.
A small Canadian publisher, Bundoran Press, is starting to carve itself out a niche with its concern with science fiction as a vehicle for political discourse with an Aurora-winning anthology called Blood & Water*, about the resource wars to be fought in the 21st century, and a new one, already available for pre-order, called Strange Bedfellows: An Anthology of Political Science Fiction. So, without a doubt, science fiction is actively and increasingly involved in political discussion.
So, does the same go for fantasy? On Wednesday, Black Gate columnist M. Harold Page tackled the question, with his article Why Medieval Fantasy is Not Inherently Conservative (or Inherently Anything Political).
What about more contemporary fantasy? I tried to think of some examples, but I’m not sure the zombie apocalypse can count as a legitimate part of a political argument. I asked David Hartwell, who has experience anthologizing the year’s best science fiction as well as the year’s best fantasy. He viewed fantasy as being more concerned with pastoral situations and identity politics.
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When I was a kid, hurling rocks at dinosaurs and running away, there were not many otherworldly shows on TV. Battlestar Galactica ran for two years and then Buck Rogers for about the same, with some incomprehensible Land of the Lost or Dr. Who thrown in at seeming random. Saturday mornings were a rich source of imagination, with Tarzan, Space Academy, Jason of Star Command and Flash Gordon, but unfortunately, in my day, Saturday mornings were only on Saturdays.
Every so often though, I’d find Space 1999 in the TV Guide; it was pretty cool. The sets and ships were pretty different from the sleek models in every other scifi show, and the space suits and the Moon seemed so alien. Twenty-five years later, armed with a couple of science degrees, I ordered a season for nostalgia’s sake.
O. M. G.
It was awful. Aside from the terrible writing and passive characters, and the apparent scattering of Caucasian British humans throughout the cosmos, I could do nothing but choke on the science and toss this drivel into a corner (actually, I think I left the boxed set in Havana, but that’s a story for another time…).
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