I avoid the usual term "mainstream" which erroneously suggests two things: a) that all sf writers are equal in aim, attitude and ability, and b) that all other writers are equal in aim, attitude and ability, and that all their works are homogenous.
That this line appears in a footnote to an essay about the literary difficulties in writing good sf, using an early novel by Jack Williamson as a jumping off point (while making copious note of the similarities of too much of the work still being written and published in the early-mid 1960s), leaves open the question of how formative reading that in 1979 might've been for the 15yo me, or even more likely, how much I would've found it utterly apropos, an excellent and all but thrown-away statement of a point most people (as it turns out) won't even argue with, so ingrained in their worldview that there's an Us and a Them and the demarcations are clear (except when they aren't). (Romance-fiction fans and writers these days might be the most disturbing example of accepting a ghetto mentality, as Judith Merril might've been the first to put it in re: fantasy and sf, inasmuch as so many of them buy into the writer's guideline commercial notion that it Isn't Really a Romance if it doesn't have a Happily Ever After, or potentially HEA, ending. Romeo and Juliet ain't no romance, you fool...just look at that ending.)
This was an excellent project that probably didn't sustain itself financially, while its editor/publishers were trying to make a living from writing...Damon Knight and Lester Del Rey similarly, in the late 1950s, produced two issues of a Science Fiction Forum that calls out for reprint or posting online, but hasn't seen any yet, as far as I know, even though Knight revived the title for one of the publications of the Science Fiction Writers of America when he co-founded it in the mid '60s. Before SF Horizons, there was PITFCS and Xero; since, we've certainly had Monad and SF Eye, and others that have had a similar ambitious remit (a few, such as Richard Geis's Science Fiction Review/The Alien Critic, Andrew Porter's Algol/Starship, and Douglas Fratz's Thrust/Quantum, which have occasionally approached the same adventurous feel). Maybe Inside SF/Riverside Quarterly as well...if your magazine lasts any length of time, it has to change names (SF Eye began as Science Fiction Eye).
If you pick up the facsimile volume, or the original issues, today, you'll have access to some of James Blish's criticism (collected since in volumes from Advent: Publishers), but in its natural environment, cheek by jowl with an excellent interview with C. S. Lewis and Kingsley Amis conducted by Brian Aldiss, and a good one with William Burroughs conducted anonymously (but by someone, I'm told possibly James Blish, who met Burroughs at a meeting of the New York City-based Hydra Club, a periodical gathering of writers and fans that flourished in the 1950s into the '60s); Burroughs is quick to note how much he admires the work of Theodore Sturgeon, Eric Frank Russell (rather unsurprisingly) and (perhaps more surprisingly) C. S. Lewis, in whose work Burroughs sees a strong kinship with his own. I'm not sure the Aldiss essays here (as by him and by "C. C. Shackleton," a regular pseudonym of his often for more satirical writing) have all been collected elsewhere, but one hopes so (the long take on three contemporary UK writers--Lan Wright, Donald Malcolm and J. G. Ballard--is utterly engaging); the editorial in the second issue, attributed to both Harrison and Aldiss, is a particularly acute brief analysis of the great appeal of what has come to be known as the technothriller, albeit ranging as far as Advise and Consent in the then-current crop, and tracing their roots through John Buchan's espionage novels as well as Ian Fleming's incidentally tech-obsessed entries. Harrison's close reading of an F. L. Wallace novel, and issue-taking with Blish's criticism of Aldiss's "Hothouse" stories in the first issue, seems unlikely to have been reprinted elsewhere so far, and that's a pity. Okuno Takeo and Francesco Biamonti's short surveys of sf in Japan and Italy are useful snapshots (Biamonte notes that Umberto Eco had devoted a chapter in a then recent book to how he felt Italian sf should be developed), the kind of coverage that Charles Brown was later keen to continue in Locus magazine, in dealing with international sf and fantasy worldwide.
For those who seek out the Arno Press reprint: be aware that the text pages are on acid-free paper, but for some reason the endpapers are not. That atop not reprinting the magazine covers in the book, for no obvious reason, and slapping on what I suspect is a slightly expensively embossed and cutesy cover, perhaps one used on all the Arno SF line at the time; their books were clearly meant for the library trade, and before recently purchasing this copy, I'd first read a copy I borrowed and reasonably promptly returned to the Hawaii State Library's central branch, all those years ago.
Images and indices courtesy ISFDB:
- Publication: SF Horizons, No. 1
- Editors: Harry Harrison , Brian Aldiss
- Year: 1964-00-00
- 3 • A Statement of Policy • essay by Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss [as by The Editors ]
- 5 • C. S. Lewis Discusses Science Fiction with Kingsley Amis • essay by Brian W. Aldiss and Kingsley Amis and C. S. Lewis (variant of Unreal Estates) [as byKingsley Amis and C. S. Lewis and Brian Aldiss ]
- 13 • Judgment at Jonbar • essay by Brian W. Aldiss [as by Brian Aldiss ]
- 38 • For the 1956 Opposition of Mars • (1962) • poem by Robert Conquest
- 39 • We Are Sitting on Our... • essay by Harry Harrison
- 43 • The Use of Language in SF • essay by G. D. Doherty
- 54 • Is This Thinking? • essay by James Blish
- 58 • "Give Me Excess of It, That Something Snaps..." • essay by Brian W. Aldiss [as by C. C. Shackleton ]
- Publication: SF Horizons, No. 2
- Editors: Brian Aldiss , Harry Harrison
- Year: 1965-00-00
- 1 • Megadunits • essay by Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss [as by The Editors ]
- 3 • The Hallucinatory Operators Are Real • interview of William S. Burroughs • interview by SFH
- 13 • British Science Fiction Now • essay by Brian W. Aldiss [as by Brian Aldiss ]
- 38 • S.F.: The Critical Literature • essay by James Blish
- 48 • Other Critical Works: The Issue at Hand • essay by Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss [as by The Editors ]
- 51 • Japanese SF • essay by Okuno Takeo
- 52 • Italian Science-Fiction: A Difficult Coming of Age • essay by Francesco Biamonti
- 55 • With a Piece of Twisted Wire... • essay by Harry Harrison
- 61 • "How Are They All on Deneb IV?" • essay by Brian W. Aldiss [as by C. C. Shackleton ]
- 64 • On the Atomic Bomb • poem by C. S. Lewis
Publisher: Arno Press
Notes: Photographic reprint of the two issues of the British journal/fanzine, originally published in 1964 and 1965.
Library binding on acid-free paper, less than five hundred copies printed.
No price or pub month in book.
Book cover artist not credited.