Brian Bond

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(5 April 1942-4 March 2005)

Following two years as a high school teacher with the Peace Corps in remote Malil, Nuristan, in Afghanistan, Brian Christopher Bond was a professor of English and children’s services librarian who steered receptive students towards fandom and deeper into science fiction and fantasy. Bond contributed an article, “The Unity of Word: Language in C. S. Lewis’s Trilogy,” to Mythlore #8 (Winter 1972), and briefly published an apazine for Elanor. In the early 1970s, when courses in the genres of science fiction and fantasy were less common than they later became, he taught them at Bowling Green State University and Southern Oregon State College (now Southern Oregon University).

Since courses in the fantastic imagination were relatively new at the time,* and as documentation of what was perceived as particularly worthy from what was then available in paperback, details about the course reading are herewith provided.

According to an article, "A History of Knossos: The Washington, D. C., area Discussion Group of The Mythopoeic Society," by Wendell Wagner, Brian Bond's course on fantasy at Bowling Green State University was called Fantasy as Creative Mythology, and was taught in the spring of 1971. At BGSU, Bond’s course on fantasy included David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus, Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan, Thomas Mann’s The Transposed Heads, and Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions. Bond also participated in a BGSU discussion group, mostly composed of graduate students and professors and meeting in homes, that read Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia.

At Southern Oregon State College, Bond taught at least two undergraduate fantasy courses and one science fiction course. In 1974, Bond’s students read J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, C. S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength, Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan, and Jorge Luis BorgesLabyrinths, and, as optional reading, Charles Williams’s The Place of the Lion. In a 1975 fantasy course, Bond assigned The Tolkien Reader, Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader, George MacDonald’s Lilith, Evangeline Walton’s The Children of Llyr and The Song of Rhiannon, Colin Wilson’s The Mind Parasites, Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, and Russell Hoban’s The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, and Charles Williams’s Descent into Hell as optional reading. In a 1975 science fiction course, assigned texts included Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, Theodore Sturgeon’s More Than Human, Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, Thomas M. Disch’s anthology Modern Science Fiction, and Dane Rudhyar’s Return from No-Return, with the first half of Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as orientation reading. During Bond’s time at SOSC and with his support, Ursula Le Guin visited the campus, reading from her work and meeting students. Bond’s office door was often open, and he welcomed drop-ins who wanted to talk about books and to borrow items from his collection; he shared things not then readily come by, including Meade and Penny Frierson’s HPL: A Tribute to Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Maeve Gilmore’s A World Away (a memoir of Mervyn Peake), and Kenneth Morris’s Book of the Three Dragons/. In addition to teaching these sf/fantasy-related courses, Bond agreed to individual arranged-studies courses in MacDonald and Chesterton and in Charles Williams. He gave generously of his time and knowledge.

At SOSC, Bond regularly taught a three-course, one-year world literature sequence and several American literature courses. These non-genre courses also included works of the fantastic imagination, such as Arthur Waley’s Monkey (a retelling of a Chinese classic), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Camara Laye’s The Radiance of the King, Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym", and fantastic tales by Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Bond was an inspiring teacher and a superlative listener. He encouraged creativity in his students, so that a term project could be a research paper but could also be a suite of drawings or a reading with taped accompaniment. Eventually he became a children’s services librarian and became the president of that division of the Oregon Library Association.

*Susan Wood's "Of Courses" in Energumen #1 (Feb. 1970) provides an account of the formation of a free school class on sf at Carleton University.

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