One of the advantages to my girlfriend’s presence in grad school is that I can piggyback on her access to a research library. For instance, I have a decent chance of one day being able to read this essay on Stapledon’s immensely dense, often painfully expository novel of the repeated rise and fall of the human race. It’s an odd book and I’m looking forward to reading Lem’s take on it. Lem is, of course, no slouch of a writer himself — his mathematical love poem from The Cyberiad was one the readings at my friends Josh and Kim’s wedding, and it’s just as example of Lem at his best. Science fiction is blessed with good writers who are also good critics: Samuel R. Delany and Joanna Russ are two of the better known examples, but dozens of other genre writers have taken stabs at criticism. (LeGuin’s excellent critical writing is particularly noteworthy, as, in a different way, is Bruce Sterling’s aggressive little zine, Cheap Truth, almost as responsible as Neuromancer for creating cyberpunk.) I’m headed out of town for the weekend, but I’m bringing along a slim volume of R.A. Lafferty essays, It’s Down the Slippery Cellar Stair, which I bet will be as good as everything else he wrote. Then back to Science Fiction Studies to build up a reading list — let’s hear it for research libraries. None