Amazing stuff, Todd! I'm savouring the magazine covers and the other posts that follow. I have only recently discovered A.E. Van Vogt. The only scifi anthology I've read is "The Science Fiction book: An Illustrated History" by Franz Rottensteiner which contains some fantastic illustrations and takes you through nearly a century of scifi reading and film material.
And, sadly, Prashant, that is one of the least factually accurate guidebooks one could find, though there are even worse examples. But it does have some fine illustration.A vastly better guide (not perfect, but so much better), in encyclopedia form, is coming together in its third, online-only edition, http://sf-encyclopedia.com/category/all, THE SCIENCE FICTION ENCYCLOPEDIA as put together by John Clute, David Langford and a cast of dozens (the first edition was mostly edited by Peter Nicholls). However, it is in encyclopedia rather than in narrative form...but, then, no literary field can be completely mapped in a narrative history, though so many try!Among the very bad books about sf are Sam Lundwall's SCIENCE FICTION: WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT and Ed Naha's THE SCIENCE FICTIONARY; somewhat better examples of the same sort of thing as the Rottensteiner are Dave Kyle's THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION (which I briefly touched on here: http://socialistjazz.blogspot.com/2011/04/ffctb-from-coffee-table-our-amazing.html ) and the "2.5th version"/side project of this SF ENCYCLOPEDIA series, the heavily-illustrated SCIENCE FICTION: THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA that John Clute put together for Dorling Kindersley (and briefly reviewed/pictured here: http://socialistjazz.blogspot.com/2011/04/ffbs-science-fiction-illustrated.html )Among the less bad narrative histories are Brian Aldiss's BILLION YEAR SPREE and James Gunn's ALTERNATE WORLDS, but both are deeply flawed and imbued with their authors' crotchets and arguable suppositions (thank goodness you and I don't have any of Those, eh?); among the better partial narrative histories is Mike Ashley's impressive multi-volume history of the fiction magazines. Collections of critical pieces by the likes of Joanna Russ, Damon Knight, Algis Budrys, Barry Malzberg, Ursula K. Le Guin, James Blish and as edited by R. Bretnor, Peter Nicholls, and Earl Kemp won't try to give you a more complete picture, but together they will.
Todd, your postscript is as impressive as your post. Frankly, I'm nowhere near your league in scifi literature. Thanks very much for taking the time out to explain these things to me. I read scifi novels and comics and occasionally watch scifi movies but there is no way I can hold forth on this fascinating genre as you do. For instance, I didn't know "The Science Fiction Book: An Illustrated History" was one of the least factually accurate guidebooks. It left the amateur in me quite impressed, though! Are you sure you haven't written a scifi guidebook or encyclopedia yourself? I shan't be surprised if you've. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to reading your backdated posts on science fiction.
I've not done enough original research nor sought a contract to publish thus, Prashant, as you flatter me. And I should've noted Aldiss's updated edition TRILLION YEAR SPREE rather than his initial volume, both somewhat weakened by the pulling out of a partner in the production of the older book who was to cover the more recent developments, forcing Aldiss to rather sketchily fill those in.I have read sf all my literate life, have written and published a few scraps of it, and have acquaintances who have done much, much more--the most formal publication I've made to date in that direction is a survey article on Joyce Carol Oates's career, with a bit of a coda comparing her work and Kate Wilhelm's, in SUPERNATURAL FICTION WRITERS, the second edition, edited by Richard Bleiler, for Scribner's. Meanwhile, there is much, much good work for you to discover, in prose fiction and nonfiction, as in the other forms. (I'm also enough of an old-school snob, reacting to the ignorance of even older-school snobs, to never use the abbreviation "sci-fi" except sardonically; sf is the abbreviation for science fiction.) There are wonders awaiting us all!
No flatter, Todd, just credit where it’s due. Your sf writing reflects your understanding of this genre. In certain areas, like sf, the internet can be a blind alley if you don’t know where to look or, more precisely, what to look for and I've been up against one often. Thanks again...
Agree with you on the excellent volumes by Mike Ashley on the history of SF magazines. Also agree with the top honors to THE SCIENCE FICTION ENCYCLOPEDIA. I have not read the Aldiss or Gunn books.I would also mention the pioneering Tuck Encyclopedia.What do you think of Alexei and cory Panshin's THE WORLD BEYOND THE HILL?
The Tuck is engaging and still useful, much in the way the 1973 BRITTANICA is (and better than many later editions of the EB).I find Mr. Panshin, with or without Cory, so insight-free in his previous critical and historical writing that I've never bothered with THE WORLD BEYOND THE HILL. Might be my loss. I somehow doubt it.
Ha! Good comment Todd. I found Panshin's THE WORLD BEYOND THE HILL quite bloated at 650 pages with so many points belabored far beyond their significance (if any). Secondly, I find the pretentious tone throughout very difficult to stomach. The subtitle should have provided me with a warning on that front: "Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence".
Even those who managed to find scattered wisdom in SCIENCE FICTION IN DIMENSION, or just enjoyed how much Panshin annoyed Heinlein with HEINLEIN IN DIMENSION, often found little to recommend in that one...my condolences for your slog.
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