Auckland’s K’Rd

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K’Road in Auckland

For the last two evenings I have had the pleasure of frequenting a wonderfully diverse part of Auckland’s Central Business District, K’Road (Karangahape Road). Its name appears to come from the Maori “Calling on Hape.” Hape was an important chief of the Maorii, and this might have been the path to visit him. Alternately, it may mean “Winding Path of Human Activity,” and that certainly fits K’Rd as we find it today.

This 1 km stretch of curving road is packed with every kind of shop, restaurant, bar, you-name-it. Cuisines vary from a wonderful Crêperie where we had dinner last night (the whole crew is from La Belle France), to Mexican, Moroccan, Lebanese, Thai, Chinese, Turkish, great Kabab placxes (in one of which we had a feast the night before), Italian, and anything else you might want, Bars and clubs of all flavors abound, and the general atmosphere is welcoming and friendly.

Most major cities have a district like this, and I suppose the old term for this was Bohemian, denoting unconventional, devoted to the arts.” I am not sure how the term for the German area around Munich (and in the old days, designating the Czechs too) became associated with Beatniks and their like, but it did.

For New York, think The Village. For San Francisco, the Haight, Valencia, Columbus Ave,…and more. For L.A., perhaps Melrose and Venice Beach. For Phoenix, well…. Tempe’s Mill Avenue is kind of a yuppified stand-in (more may developed since I lived there…Phoenicians, sound off!).

Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver and many other Canadian cities have their Bohemian districts (Canadians, please let us know), and certainly La Rive Gauche (the Left Bank) in Paris is perhaps the quintessential archetype of this type of district.

In fine, if you are a major Western Civilization City, ya gotta have one! Its where things are usually inexpensive and creative. Freedom of expression is the byword, and diversity is its strength. It keeps the Urban landscape vibrant, and (I am from the 60s), funky.

K’Rd is all of the above. There are many fascinating neighborhoods in Auckland, including a vibrant Central Business District, diverse suburbs with every kind of store front you can think of, all set down here is Paradise. Our cab drivers have shown us all kinds of neighborhoods in our short time here.

We understand why people love this place. I know it has its share of trouble like anywhere else on the Planet, but I have yet to meet anyone on the street or in establishments who didn’t look happy, There are car crashes (three on the news this morning) and all the other ills of human life, but I get the impression that overall, New Zealand is a happy and peaceful place.

In the days to come, I will learn more about how the Maoris are doing, and how Christchurch is digging out of its disastrous earthquakes. I’ll keep you apprised. So far, something has struck me very forcefully. We’ve been through a number of neighborhoods of all economic classes, and I have yet to see anyone sleeping on the street in this city of a million (SF is only 700,000 and our Homeless Brothers and Sisters are ubiquitous). No pan-handlers either.

To be sure, on K’Rd later at night, there are people who have had too much to drink (or too much of something!), but they are making their way somewhere. There are tweakers and others, but you will find them anywhere.

I do not know how this has come about. I will ask around, as we need to take care of so many people back home who need assistance. If anyone has any reflections, please comment here.

We are getting ready for the next stage, sailing around the magnificent islands of the Northland of NZ. More soon!

— Steven Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant, Member and Customer Service


Happy St. Laurence Day!

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Archdeacon Laurence

Archdeacon Laurence

August 10 marks the Feast Day of the early Roman Martyr, the Archdeacon Laurence (Lawrence). The Commemoration is of such antiquity that it is celebrated on the same date in both the Latin and Byzantine Calendars. In the Byzantine Calendar, he is joined by his fellow Martyrs of the persecution by Emperor Valerian in the year 258: Pope Sixtus II, the Deacons Felicissimus and Agapitus, and the Soldier Romanus.

The inclusion of a Christian Roman Solider bears out more recent research that Christianity was growingly popular among the ranks of the military, alongside Mithraism.

Several legends surround the Archdeacon Laurence, linked to his role as treasurer of the Church of Rome. One story has him receiving the Chalice of the Holy Grail from the Greek Church, and sending it for safekeeping to Huesca, in present day Aragon. That Chalice is today venerated in a chapel in Valencia.

The shrine at San Lorenzo in Lucinain Rome containing the supposed gridiron used to grill Saint Laurence to death.

The shrine at en:San Lorenzo in Lucinain Rome containing the supposed gridiron used to grill Saint Laurence to death.

The most famous part of his legend, however, is how he was Martyred. St. Ambrose of Milan (De officiis ministrorum, 2.28) tells us that when Sixtus was killed, Laurence worked for three days to distribute any resources of the Church to the poor. When the Roman Prefect demanded that the Archdeacon turn over the wealth of the Church to him, he presented the poor, the lame, and the sick, and declared that these were the jewels of the Church.

Bernardo Strozzi, The Charity of St Lawrence

Bernardo Strozzi, The Charity of St Lawrence

An unhappy Prefect then ordered him to be burned on the gridiron. When I was in grammar school, the Sisters transmitted the ancient story that at one point during his roasting, he quipped “Turn me over, I’m done on this side.” Therefore to us kids, as to generations before us, he became the patron saint of Football (Gridiron), Cooks, and Comics. See how legends grow!

Modern historians doubt the historicity of parts of Laurence’s hagiography: “the customary and solemn formula for announcing the death of a martyr – passus est [“he suffered,” that is, was martyred] – was made to read assus est [he was roasted]” (Pio Franchi de’ Cavalieri). The Roman edict condemning Christian clergy indicated that they were to be beheaded, and the Liber Pontificalis uses “passus est,” for both Sixtus and Laurence.

In any case, he died standing up for what believed, and has been venerated in East and West ever since.

(c) Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Martyrs Stephen and Laurence

(c) Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Martyrs Stephen and Laurence

I have a particular connection to both the Saint and his Feast. I am named after the first Christian Martyr, another Deacon, Stephen from the Church of Jerusalem. His Martyrdom is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, witnessed by none other than Saul of Tarsus (later St. Paul). The two Deacon Martyrs are often linked in Iconography and hagiography.

Second, 40 years ago today, I was visiting Rome with my family after I had graduated from Brophy Prep. I wanted to visit the five Patriarchal Basilicas (St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, and San Lorenzo fuori le muri (outside the walls). Each of these is dedicated to one of the Patriarchates of the Pentarchy–the five Patriarchal Sees within the Roman Empire. St. Laurence’s basilica is dedicated to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, where the Protomartyr Stephen was glorified. The others correspond to Antioch (St. Mary Maggiore), Rome (St. John Lateran), Constantinople (St. Peter’s), Alexandria (St. Paul’s Outside the Walls). (This was probably a not-so-subtle move by Rome to suggest that it was the center of Christianity.)

Forum Romanum, archeological area, Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, view from Palatine hill

Forum Romanum, archeological area, Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, view from Palatine hill

We should pause a moment in our narrative for some explanations:

Basilica: A Roman Basilica was a high-ceilinged hall for Royal use (βασιλικὴ στοά)–Basilkē stoa. Α 1st century CE Neopythagorean Basilica was unearthed in Rome, and when Christians began openly building Churches in the 4th century, they often followed this architectural pattern with three naves and an Apse.

Miniature 38 from the Constantine Manasses Chronicle, 14 century: Construction of Hagia Sophia during the reign of emperor Justinian.

Miniature 38 from the Constantine Manasses Chronicle, 14 century: Construction of Hagia Sophia during the reign of emperor Justinian.

Pentarchy: The Christians who made up the groups that were tolerated by Constantine had already organized around urban centers headed by a Bishop. Five of the Major Cities of the Empire began to be recognized as the centers of five “Patriarchates”: Jerusalem (the Mother City of Christianity), Rome (the old Capital), Constantinople (the new Capital), Antioch (“where they were called Christians for the first time”), and Alexandria. Each area had different Liturgical and other usages, and reflected the cultures and philosophical heritage of their localities. This became known as “the Pentarchy”–rule by five.

A chart describing the divisions within the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala

A chart describing the divisions within the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala

Of course, outside of the boundaries of the Roman Empire, other Patriarchal or Archiepiscopal Sees were recognized, notably the Ethiopian Church, the Churches of Armenia and Georgia (the first two nations to adopt Christianity officially), the Church of SeleuciaCtesiphon (Persia), and the Church of India (Malabar).

In addition, there were many other varieties of Christianity, including Gnostic movements, the Manichaean hybrid of Christianity and other religions, etc.

Now, back to our story.

Basilica of St. Laurence Outside the Walls

Basilica of St. Laurence Outside the Walls

On that day, Wednesday Aug 10, 1972, I made it to the last of the five Basilicas, San Lorenzo. When I got there, I noticed that the statue of the Saint was set up in the middle of the Basilica fully decorated with flowers. Then I discovered that indeed, it was his Feast Day! No wonder. As I explored the monumental cemetery which is attached to the Church, I marveled a this synchronicity.

So Happy Feast Day!

Gloriously Wacky English–Part 2: Grammar 1: Inflection

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Gloriously Wacky English: Part 2–Grammar 1: Inflection

A while back, we surveyed some of the reasons English has such a large and varied vocabulary, and why its spelling is nothing if not irregular.

Today, let’s take a quick look at some of the peculiarities of something sometimes not well studied in our “Grammar” Schools and High Schools: Grammar.

What is Grammar?

Grammar is one of the components of natural, human language. Others include spelling and punctuation, although punctuation can also be considered part of Grammar. Grammar itself is the set of structural rules that govern how words are arranged and formed into phrases, clauses, and sentences.

In English, we derive meaning using two primary structures: fusion (inflection) and analysis (position indicating the role of the word in its sentence. English is less fusional than most Indo-European languages (especially those like Latin, Greek, Russian, and German, among many others, who use prefixes, suffixes and infixes to convey the role of many types of words.

For example, the noun “human being” in Latin is listed in the dictionary as Homo. Depending on its role in the sentence, its form will change. These changes are called cases, and the list falls into five basic patterns, called declensions:

Singular, Plural

  • Subject (Nominative): homo, homines the human(s)
  • Possessive (Genitive): hominis, hominum of the human(s)
  • Indirect Object (Dative): homini, hominibus to the human(s)
  • Direct Object (Accusative): hominem, homines the human(s)
  • Adverbial (Ablative): homine, hominibus by/from the human(s)
  • Direct Address (Vocative): homo, homines O Human(s)

The Genitive, Dative, Accusative and Ablative Cases are also used as objects of prepositions, and some verbs take other direct objects than the Accusative.

Incidentally, the Proto-Indo-European root from which homo comes is *dʰǵʰm̥mō, a derivative of *dʰéǵʰōm, that is, “earth.” Homines are “Earthlings,” in the language of Science Fiction.

In Latin, Adjectives and Pronouns follow similar patterns of change, while Verbs are quite different, as would be expected.

A quick example from Greek will illustrate the role of prefixes, suffixes and infixes in the formation of verbs:

Λύω  “to loose” has the typical Classical Greek 6 principal parts:

We can see all three types of change operative. From these six forms, all the rest of the verb forms can be built, over 200 for most verbs! Some reasons for so many forms is because Classical Greek has more moods than we do, and also a dual number (together with singular and plural).

Inflection in English

We don’t think about it much, but English does have some remaining inflections. That is why we are (partly) a fusional language. For example, in nouns we have some inflection:

Singular, Plural

  • Subject/Object: human, humans
  • Possessive: human’s, humans’

In Personal Pronouns, more cases have survived. The declension of “I” yields the following:

Singular, Plural

  • Subject: I, we
  • Object: me, us
  • Reflexive*: myself, ourselves
  • Possessive: mine, ours
  • Possessive Determiner: my, our

*While the Reflexive is not precisely a grammatical case, it is an inflected form.

Verbs also have conjugations in English, and these show the Germanic ancestry of our language. We have two ways we vary verbs, called “strong” and “weak” by analogy with German.

The “weak” verbs in English are those that form the past and the past participle by adding “-ed” at the end of the verb:

Bare Infinitive, Past, Past Participle

  • Look, looked, looked
  • Like, liked, liked

“Strong” verbs have internal or other changes:

  • See, saw, seen
  • Do, did, done
  • Take, took, taken

The bare infinitive is the infinitive without “to.” It is used in some situations: we say “I can see,”  but “I like to see.” Both are infinitives.

There are also suppletive verbs, which I like to call sandwich verbs. This is a linguistic phenomenon in which two or more verb roots are blended together to form a complete conjugation. English has two: “to be” and “to go.” As an example, “to go” has these three principal parts:

Go, went, gone

Clearly, “went” is not cognate with go, gone. Go (gone) is from the Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰēh₁-

For the past tense, Old English used another verb, ēode “he went.” By the 15th century, another verb, wenden, had become synonymous with “go.” Its past tense “went” replaced ēode in the conjugation of “to go.” We also have wend and wended from wenden, perhaps not as common today as previously: I wended my way home. She wends her way home.

There is more, but that’s enough for today! Wacky English is a big subject!

— Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Rhetoric: What is it and why do I need it?


Rhetoric: What is it and why do I need it?

The term Rhetoric is having a bad time of it in recent years. In common parlance, if something said is insubstantial, people say, “Oh, that’s just rhetoric,” meaning that it’s just hot air.

Indeed, this is not at all the real meaning of the ancient word Rhetoric. It is one of our most important human tools for keeping on course, and not being fooled. It is no surprise that just when we need it most, a valuable weapon is being hidden.

Ancient Rhetoric 

As Wikipedia very succinctly summarizes, Rhetoric comes from Greek:

ῥητορικός (rhētorikós), “oratorical,” from ῥήτωρ (rhḗtōr), “public speaker,” related to ῥῆμα (rhêma), “that which is said or spoken, word, saying,” and ultimately derived from the verb λέγω (legō), “to speak, say.”

Originally Rhetoric (Latin: Oratio) designated the skill of informing, persuading, and motivating others toward virtue, and virtuous action. As such, it was highly prized training for leaders, civic figures, lawyers, and politicians.

Of course, humans quickly learned that there was good rhetoric and bad rhetoric. The first aimed at exposing the truth, the latter to obscuring it.

In order to combat corrupt rhetoric that was being used to confuse, the flip side of rhetorical science, how to dissect arguments to see the truth beneath, and to avoid being fooled, was put into play.

Many of the greatest figures of the ancient Greco-Roman world were accomplished rhetors/orators. Some of the most famous were Isocrates (436-338 BCE), Plato, Aristotle (384-322 BCE),  Cicero (106-43 BC) , Quintilian (35-100 CE) and John Chrysostom (c. 347–407 CE). Among these, Aristotle and Quintilian were the foremost theorists of Rhetoric, whose works on the subject remain important today: Aristotle’s The Art of Rhetoric and Quintilian’s Institutio oratoria.

All of them also understood what Quintilian recalls from Marcus Cato:

“So the Orator whom I set out to form will be the Orator that Marcus Cato describes: ‘a good man with the skill of speaking.’ Over everything else, he must have the quality that Cato puts first, and the one that in the natural order is the greatest and most important: he must be a good man. (Instituto oratoria. 12.1.1.)

In pithy Latin, that would be summarized as Bonus orator, bonus vir, “A good Orator is a good man.” Nowadays, we would amend this to say Bonus orator, bonus homo, “A good  Orator is a good human being,” since our sense of who can be an Orator is happily more inclusive.

My Rhetorical Life

My own rhetorical journey began at Brophy College Prep in Phoenix, where I was taught and inspired by my Speech teacher and Forensics coach, Fr. Al Naucke, S.J. His wisdom, wit, and later friendship as colleagues are one of the most important models of how to be “a good Orator and a good human being.”

Forensics, by the way, is not reserved to CSI. We participated in the National Forensics League–the other NFL–the National association for Speech and Debate competition. Later at Brophy as an instructor I “paid it forward” as Assistant Speech and Debate Coach, and then at Loyola High School in Los Angeles as the head Speech and Debate Coach.

While coaching debate in Los Angeles during the late 20th century, the coaches of our local league, all of us veterans of either High School or College Debate or both, decided to stop holding the standard “Policy” debate, since it had become something that had nothing to do with being a good speaker or a good person. It had descended into who could talk fastest and could parrot the most “evidence” provided by their summer debates camps at Universities. Instead, we used a more traditional form, “Lincoln-Douglas” debates to humanize the playing field. The ancient ideals still have power!

Forensics? I thought that started with Wojeck and Quincy, M.E.!

Now, you may have been wondering…why do both CSI and Debate claim the term Forensics? To encounter the Mystery, once more, we delve into the holographic nature of words and examine where Forensics comes from.

Forensics has its origin in the Latin, forēnsis. The Roman term itself is derived from forum, and uses a suffix (ending) -ensis which usually means pertaining to. For example, in somewhat playful Latin, the Archbishop of Chicago could be known as the Archiepiscopus Chigagensis. Interestingly enough, the Proto-Indo-European root of forum is d’worom, something enclosed by, or into which you enter, by a door (d’wer). This is reflected in the Latin foris, “gate, door, passage,” and foras “outdoors.”

Many languages reflect the PIE root d’wer “door,” including Greek θύρα/θύρη (thura/thurē) “door” and the Old English duru (see the German Tür and Tor–for example the Brandenburger Tor, now uniting the to halves of Berlin), and dor, “door.” Our own humble door began life on the banks of the Ganges!

In ancient Rome, legal proceedings were first held in the Forum before the officials and people. The two elements of the trial were evidence (CSI) and Oratory (National Forensics League). That’s how they came together!

Rhetoric in Education

In the Western European Middle Ages, Rhetoric was part of the Trivium, the first course of University work: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric, to be followed by the Quadrivium in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy. Together, they make up the seven Liberal Arts. The capstone and highest point of the curriculum were then Philosophy and Theology.

It is an evident sign of the “nattering nabobs of negativism” (William Safire –> Spiro Agnew) that the majestic Trivium is now reduced to “trivia,” things that those trying to pull the wool over our eyes certainly don’t want us to learn! The term “Liberal Arts,” after all, means the skills that make a person free (Liber) (of domination): a Dominus Sui (Lord of One’s Self–Self Mastery). (By the way, using the phrase “nattering…” here is a wonderful example of turning the tables.)

So why should we care about Rhetoric today? 

No matter where one stands in the political and cultural spectrum today, forces all around us are trying to convince us to put our money, and our votes, behind them. Conservatives, Liberals, Libertarians, Independents and all parties alike must cut through the Spin (bad rhetoric) and rationally and logically analyze what they are being told, in order to come to their own conclusions based on facts, not spin. Rhetoric is here to help. Learning how arguments are built, and the devices that can be used to persuade us, immunizes against being fooled. I think is no co-incidence that the theme song of CSI Miami includes The Who’s memorable lyric “Won’t get fooled again!

“To Whose Benefit?”

One of the most important tools of Rhetoric’s ability to analyze arguments is called by its  Latin name: Cui bono?

Cui bono? is a concise phrase that means, more or less, “To whose benefit?” We first hear it in Cicero’s defense of Roscius of Ameria. He quotes Cassius:

“L. Cassius ille quem populus Romanus verissimum et sapientissimum iudicem putabat identidem in causis quaerere solebat ‘cui bono’ fuisset.”

“That Lucius Cassius, whom the Roman people regarded as the most honest and wise judge, was in the habit of asking, time and again, ‘To whose benefit?’”

In the process of analyzing arguments and propositions, one of the key elements to discern just what is going on is to ask: “Who benefits from this?” More recently, in academic circles, this has been called the Hermeneutic of Suspicion. Whatever one calls it, it is useful and powerful tool of analysis and discovery.

Logical and Rational

One last word. In the paragraph above, I used the terms rational and logical to describe the kind of analysis I am promoting. This is much deeper than a kind of cold intellectual process.

The two terms, logical (Greek: λόγος–logos) and rational (Latin: ratio) have much deeper meanings than are given to them today, even in dictionaries (notice that I did not link them!).

Logos in Greek means Word, proportion, reason, account, utterance, narrative, pattern and balance. It is the term the Neo-Platonists used to speak about the first emanation from The One (the origin of all), which is its image. The Logos is the Divine Image, the pattern through which all of being (including the 11 string multiverse and the immaterial worlds) is emanated. We can hear echoes of this in the Egyptian Memphite myth of Ptah, the Great Honker (thank you Lisa Schwappach-Shirriff) who creates everything by his Word, as well as the Creation of Arda by Eru through song in the Ainulindalë in Tolkien’s Silmarillion and the Creation of Narnia by Aslan’s great growl in C. S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew.

Ratio in Latin has a similarly wide range of meanings, especially reason, calculation, proportion, balance.

Therefore, to analyze something logically and rationally is to consider it in the light of the  balance and pattern of the whole cosmos, material and immaterial, which much of the East speaks of as The Tao. Ancient Egyptians would have called this Ma’atKabbalah might use Kether, and all the Sephiroth, the emanation of the Ein Soph Aur (Endless Light: אין סוף אוֹר), which is beyond being and non-being. It means that we compare the arguments we hear to the real and actual pattern of all that is, and see if they measure up.

Therefore, we need the science of Rhetoric, now as never before in human history, to keep us on track!

Let’s keep talking!

— Steven A. Armstrong

Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Imaginative / Speculative Literature

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Imaginative Literature

This is the first of an occasional series of essays on Imaginative Literature. Today, we will begin with an overview of the whole subject, and then in the future, explore individual aspects of the different sub-genres of Imaginative Literature. For the purposes of these essays, we will examine both written literature, and stories told in other media, including film, television and the Internet, as during the 20th century, these became genuinely important cultural sources and expressions.

I do all of this, not to make a fun subject dull, but rather, I hope to introduce old fans and new to some of the wealth of human creativity that this genre manifests. First and foremost, the author must make sure that her or his story is “a good read,” as Professor Tolkien insists in his preface to the first American Edition of The Lord of the Rings

As I use the term, the genre of Imaginative Literature (sometimes called Speculative Fiction) includes the following sub-genres (and I am looking forward to adding or modifying these as the discussion continues). There are times when a work straddles the border of more than one division.


High Fantasy (set entirely in a Secondary World) Ex: The Lord of the Rings. Also known as Mythopoeic Literature.

Low Fantasy (fantastic events, persons, etc., in our–Primary–world) Ex: Carnivale

— There are several fascinating sub-sub-genres that have become popular in media: Magical Realism (Like Water for Chocolate), Fantasy Tabloid Reporting  (Kolchak, the Night Stalker), Fantasy Police Enforcement (Men in Black), and probably others, some cross over into Science Fiction’s territory.

— Cross-over Fantasy (moving from the Primary World to a Secondary World) Ex: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Sword and Sorcery (Can also be one of the three above) Ex: Conan the Barbarian

— An associated genre is Alternative History, in which real history is altered by the author to speculate about “what if…” Ex: In the Balance. What differentiates mainstream Alternate History from Science Fiction Alternate History is the lack of fantastic or SF elements.  Alternative History also has a significant Science Fiction sub-sub-genre, that of Time Patrol, in which a future civilization guards the timeline from changes (a number of Star Trek franchise episodes have been in this category).

Science Fiction:

Science Fiction has been thoroughly analyzed during the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. It essentially uses imagined future developments to explore human history, psychology, spirituality, and just about every other aspect of human life. Wikipedia very effectively lists the sub-genres of Science Fiction, including

  1. 3.1 Hard SF
  2. 3.2 Soft and social SF
  3. 3.3 Cyberpunk
  4. 3.4 Time travel
  5. 3.5 Alternate history
  6. 3.6 Military SF
  7. 3.7 Superhuman
  8. 3.8 Apocalyptic
  9. 3.9 Space opera
  10. 3.10 Space Western
  11. 3.11 Other sub-genres


Horror Literature within Imaginative Literature (Speculative Fiction) is distinguished from political / spy or other thrillers, crime novels, detective and mystery fiction, and courtroom dramas by having fantastic or Science Fiction elements as important parts of the plot. When we explore this genre, we will find many significant crossovers between Imaginative Mystery novels, Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction.

Horror fiction is an immense field, with some landmarks to guide us. Naturally, some of those include the works of Edgar Allen Poe, M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. Monster Horror (Vampires, Werewolves, etc.) is incredibly popular. Ghost Stories are perennially best sellers, and have even spawned a reality TV genre, Ghost Adventures / Ghost Explorers. The critical scholarship on Imaginative / Speculative Horror Fiction is one of the best in existence, and world phenomena such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer are taken very seriously in academic circles.


Even though much Mystery fiction does not have Fantasy, Science Fiction or Horror elements, there are enough similarities to include it here. By the early 21st Century, Mystery fiction and media are one of the largest industries in the field.

There are many sub-genres of Mystery, including the Wikipedia list of

Traditional mystery

Legal thriller

Medical thriller

Cozy mystery

Police procedural


…and of course, Spy Fiction.

Some notes before we conclude today:

— Children’s and Youth Literature: All of the genres above have significant works primarily intended for children and youth. Many of these have also become adult favorites. While we will certainly mention this branch of literature and media within each genre and sub-genre, we will also look at the huge field of children’s and youth Imaginative Literature and Media in its own right. After all, the old tradition was conveyed by nannies to young people by means of “Fairy Tales.”

— Humorous Works:  Each of these genres also have works whose purpose is mainly comedic. Among the best examples are a number of the works of Douglas Adams and of Esther Friesner-Stutzman. (I had the honor and fun of performing with Ms Friesner-Stutzman at Yale in a stage adaptation of Tom Jones. Another player in the production was none other than Stone Phillips, our Quarterback, whose sister Minta is one of the most talented, intelligent and gracious people I know.)

— Blended Genres: Perhaps more than in some other areas of creative work, the sub-genres of Imaginative / Speculative Literature and Media are very open to works that combine and blend different types. As we will see, there are Science Fiction Mysteries, Alternate History Magical Detective stories, Horror Mystery novels, Science Fiction Westerns, Science Fiction Sword and Sorcery, and just about any combination you can imagine.

— Graphic Novels:  A burgeoning field for all of these genres (as well as many others) is that of the Graphic Novel and its media adaptations. I must admit that, while I like them very much, I am very far from an expert in this area, and will depend on you, the readers, to fill that gap in the Comments to each post! Thank you in advance!

Well, that sets the stage! Let’s have fun exploring!

— Steven A. Armstrong

Tutor, Editor, Consultant