Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Yesterday I met with eight of my writing students (the rest are yet to come) about the SF stories they are writing. We discussed their basic idea, their protagonist and setting, where they thought the story might go. They have some interesting ideas. Some are set in the past, some the present, some the future. Two of the eight are fantasy, six are SF, which surprised me a little because with American students, I get a lot more fantasy than SF. But there are many more student conferences to go, so the proportion may shift.

In the lobby of the building, a bookseller had set up tables to sell used textbooks. There were also novels, including a section of tiny books in English, printed on inexpensive paper, that must have been required for some series of courses. I can't resist the miniature, not of anything (my dog is a toy poodle). I bought three, and at a cafe on my walk home, started rereading Kazuo Ishiguro's wonderful Remains of the Day. Since this little volume (it's smaller than my hand) is intended for German students, it has footnotes in German. It struck me as wonderful that here I am, reading a book about the quintessential British butler, written by a Japanese-born author, with footnotes in German, and just purchased in the American Institute of the University of Leipzig.

This is what a university should be -- a meeting place for cultures and languages. This -- and not the economic fact that my socks were made in China -- is, to me, the real globalization.

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