A Brilliant Void: A Selection of Classic Irish Science Fiction (Tramp Press, 2018)
In this volume, you’ll find fifteen stories by Irish writers, from the 1830s to the 1960s, who were writing science fiction at a time when it was neither profitable nor popular.
Thrill! to the antics of mad scientists as they bend time, explore the universe’s hidden depths, and violate the laws of nature and common sense!
Panic! at philosophical thought experiments taken to their existentially horrifying extreme!
Marvel! at the hairy baby!
Available from the Tramp Press website, at all good bookshops, and a few disreputable ones as well.
Irish Science Fiction (Liverpool University Press, 2014)
With a title more authoritative than the book was meant to be, Irish Science Fiction was the outcome of six years’ research and writing, and I still didn’t scratch the surface of what was out there. Though the title makes it sound like an encyclopedia, it’s really my theory of the SF/F/H genres’ relationships to history, filtered through the lens of Irish sci-fi novels and short stories from the 1850s to the late 00’s. It’s an academic book, too, so maybe order it through your library, rather than buying it yourself.
If LUP ever re-issue it, I hope they use this blurb on the back cover:
“I threw it across the room and wrote ‘F*ck you!’ in the margins” – James Bacon.
I translated five short stories by Brian O’Nolan (a.k.a. Flann O’Brien) from the original Irish for this 2013 collection: ‘Revenge on the English in the Year 2032!’; ‘The Arrival and Departure of John Bull’; ‘The Tale of the Drunkard: MUSIC!’; ‘The Reckonings of Our Ancestors’; ‘The Tale of Black Peter.’
“The Drawn Daughters of Dracula: Vampire Girlhood in British Comics of the 1970s and 1980s.” Growing Up With Vampires: Vampires in 20th- and 21st-Century Children’s Media. Edited by Simon Bacon and Katarzyna Bronk. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. (2018)
For a number of reasons, during the 70’s and 80’s the only horror comics being published in the UK were aimed primarily at teenage girls. In this piece, I look at various vampire-related stories from comics such as Misty, as well as one of my favourite comic-strip characters, the pint-sized vampire Draculass.
“Looking for Lucian’s Locale: The Case of ‘Cuairt ar an nGealaigh.’” Comparative Becomings: Studies in Transition. Daragh O’Connell and Michael G. Kelly, eds. Pieterlen (Bern), Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2017.
Early in the twentieth century, the Ancient Greeks were still required reading at Ireland’s seminaries, but when preparing Irish translations for public consumption, the naughty parts were often chipped off. This piece is an analysis of one such altered translation – namely, Fr. Mícheál Mac Craith’s sanitised version of Lucian’s True History.
“Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations: The Representation of Transgender Identities in Star Trek.” To Boldly Go: Essays on Gender and Identity in the Star Trek Universe. Nadine Farghaly and Simon Bacon, eds. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2017.
This is the first, last and only sociological survey I’ve ever done, with all the design flaws and wonkiness that implies. However, I’m glad to have been the ‘first penguin’ on this topic; future researchers looking to survey trans Trek fans can avoid making my mistakes.
“Dermot Healy’s Heterotopias: Fanacross an
d Northern Ireland in Fighting with Shadows.” Writing the Sky: Observations and Essays on Dermot Healy. Neil Murphy and Keith Hopper, eds. Champaign/London/Dublin: Dalkey Archive Press, 2016.
Fighting With Shadows is, as a contemporary reviewer put it, a “headfuck” of a novel; rather than grapple with the whole thing, I limited myself to an analysis of time and space, and still nearly went mad anyway.
(R.I.P. Werner Huber, a scholar and a gentleman)
“Irelands Enough and Time: Flann O’Brien’s Science Fiction.” Flann O’Brien: Contesting Legacies. Paul Fagan, Werner Huber and Ruben Borg, eds. Cork: Cork University Press, 2014.
In 2011, I saw a call for papers for a centenary conference in Flann O’Brien’s honour; five minutes after seeing it, I had dashed off a proposal and sent it in, thus beginning my involvement with the Flannosphere. This is the polished version of that paper.
So much work came my way off the back of that impulsive submission; there’s something to be said for dashing into things headlong.
“Here Be Dragons (and Vampires, and Zombies): The Politics of Monstrous Communities.” Monstrosity from the Inside Out. Marko Teodorski and Teresa Cutler, eds. Freeland, Oxfordshire: ID Press 2014.
You know that thing you sometimes see in horror and fantasy fiction where werewolves, demons, mummies and so on all hang out together in secret nightclubs and stuff? In this piece I look at some of the political practicalities behind how that would work, and ask what the trope says about us and our globalised society.
Oh yeah, I’m great fun at parties.
“Siege Cultures: The Early Twentieth Century Rhetoric of External Threats to the Irish Catholic Family.” New Voices: Inherited Lines. Yvonne O’Keeffe and Claudia Reese, eds. Pieterlen (Bern), Switzerland: Peter Lang AG, 2013.
This was one of the first essays I ever had published in a book. Here, I argue that Catholic propaganda from the 1930’s is doing damage to Irish society yet, because our judiciary is still susceptible to that kind of emotional manipulation, and far-right groups know it.
I’ve since learned that it’s easier to get people on board with this stuff if you wrap it up in aliens and/or vampires, which suits me fine.
“Myles in Space: Science Fiction and Cruiskeen Lawn.” The Parish Review 3:1, ‘Reading Brian O’Nolan’s Libraries,’ 2014.
My essay in the collection mentioned above did not address Brian Ó Núalláin’s/Flann O’Brien’s/Myles na Gopaleen’s use of science fiction tropes in his regular Irish Times column, “Cruiskeen Lawn.” With this one, I was able to redress the imbalance, filthy little completionist that I am.
“The Aesthetics of Supervillainy.” Justice Framed: Law in Comics and Graphic Novels. Law Text Culture vol. 16. Luis Gómez Romero and Ian Dahlman, eds. Wollongong, Australia: Legal Intersections Research Centre, University of Wollongong, 2012.
A word of advice: if you’re planning to write about comics, don’t tell anyone. Otherwise, you’ll be inundated with well-meaning commenters desperate to tell you all about W*rtham and S*duction of th* Innoc*nt, which is the only bit of comic-book history that everyone knows. This has nothing to do with that; it’s about the morality of costumed vigilantes beating the shit out of each other, from a legal-philosophical standpoint.
“Church, State, and Unfettered Capitalism: Three Irish-Gaelic Dystopias.” Utopian Studies vol. 18, no. 3, 2007.
The very first bit of academic writing that I ever had published, so long ago that I couldn’t find an image of the actual cover for that issue. I was 24, full of my own importance, and thought I had just invented the wheel, but on balance I think it’s not a bad effort for what it is.