SF: the Other Side of Realism: Essays on Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction

SF: the Other Side of Realism: Essays on Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction

SF: the Other Side of Realism: Essays on Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction

SF: the Other Side of Realism: Essays on Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction

Excerpt

At the MLA Forum on Science Fiction in 1968, Fred Pohl, the veteran editor and writer, suggested that it did not matter what had been or was being written in the field of science fiction. The real difficulty in obtaining a critical hearing—particularly among librarians and teachers at all levels—lay in that from 1926, when Hugo Gernsback founded Amazing Stories, the first pulp devoted exclusively to the genre, until the 1940's at least, sf had lived "amid garish covers and poor print and rough edges" so that "you usually carried them home under your coat because you didn't want anyone to know what you were reading." The "Bug-Eyed‐ Monsters" ("BEM's") and lithe Martian princesses or harem-like spacegirls have largely surrendered the covers of the specialist magazines. Within the past decade or so science fiction has gained a narrow critical and academic respectability because of its concern with utopian-dystopian themes. But "modern" science fiction has never completely overcome its popular origins in dime pulps featuring such titles as Thrilling Wonder Stories, Astounding, Startling, or Super-Science Stories. Because it has been confined to such magazines and their successors, there has grown up that short-sighted perspective which speaks of the genre only in terms of what has been published originally in those pulps. In February, 1970, for example, a blurb from the Science Fiction Book Club advertized a volume, Science Fiction Hall of Fame, containing "26 'very best' short stories in all, spanning four decades ... the best there've . . .

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