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The World Beyond the Hill - Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence [Hardcover]

Alexei Panshin , Cory Panshin

Price: £29.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 April 2010
"An unbelievably wonderful book"-Isaac Asimov *****The World Beyond the Hill is a unique book-a story about stories. It tells not only where science fiction came from and how it got that way, but what science fiction means. *** Science fiction has been the myth of modern times. The World Beyond the Hill is the tale of that myth from Frankenstein to Galactic Empire. *** By setting forth this evolving story, The World Beyond the Hill sheds light not only on what modern culture has been thinking and doing, but where we are going next and what we need to become. *** The World Beyond the Hill won a non-fiction Hugo Award in competition with books by Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Ursula LeGuin and Robert Heinlein

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Be careful what you wish for..." 15 Aug 2010
By W. Staples - Published on Amazon.com
Alexei and Cory Panshin's "The World Beyond the Hill" is quite properly subtitled "Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence." This is no mere listing of writers and their titles in this end of speculative fiction, but a deeply thought and well wrought history of myth building in science fiction.

This rather massive tome begins with Horace Walpole's "The Castle of Otranto," a ghost story published anonymously in 1764 and the change of accepted myth from that typified by the magic of the fairy tale. It ends with that myth typified by the new magic of science as presented in Hugo Gernback's Amazing Stories magazine and ends in 1945. An impression is left of one set of superstitions being supplanted by a new set which is supplanted in their turn by yet another, ad nauseaum (as a history instructor once remarked, "History is just one damned thing after another.") At the point of 1945 and the dropping of the first atomic bomb, the Panshins appear to argue that there was a split between the myths of science fiction and SF (as opposed to sci-fi) and that SF continued from that point.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is the depiction of what some consider the height of the Campbell Era, the years 1939 to 1945. John Campbell and his stable of writers (Heinlein, Asimov, Simak, van Vogt, etc.) are studied closely. One is left with the feeling Campbell believed he was caught short by events--when told of the dropping of the first nuclear weapon on Japan, his reaction was, "Oh, my God! It's started."

Two nice features are the notes and references at the end of each chapter (a placement greatly appreciated) and an index that not only lists the authors but also their works.

On the whole, a worthy effort.
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