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Science Fiction (The New Critical Idiom)
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on 25 February 2015
...look no further. An excellent primer text from a well read expert in the field. Adam knows his stuff and is extensive in his referencing across the genre (or mode). Of particular insight are the observations on nostalgia and the reflection on Science Fiction's embarrassment and shame over it's own origins, particular when the art of future prediction through SF is proved to be wrong.

The case studies in the chapters make the points made by the author accessible for all, but this doesn't mean the content is diluted. As Adam is a practising writer and lecturer, the insights are pragmatic as well as thoughtful.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2014
Literary studies and its offspring media studies have long since ceased to be about stories, preferring instead to be a soapbox for extreme left wing political views. Indeed, in one of my more memorable college experiences, in a SF Lit class, the instructor (who himself has several books listed on Amazon) told the class that he was "a card-carrying member of the American Communist Party" and then went on to promise that those who disagreed with his ideology could "not hold hope of getting an 'A'." Since I'll be teaching a survey of SF lit in the near future I wanted to find something that would be suitable as a textbox that was somewhat balanced.

This is not that book.

It starts off promisingly enough, providing a definition, or more properly several somewhat competing definitions, of SF. These are very left leaning, but as I said it's a left leaning field, and I didn't let that scare me off.

Soon, however, the author's intentions and views start rearing their decidedly ugly heads, in the very next Chapter on the history of SF. The author reports on Kingsley Amis' resistance to New Wave with the phrase "This is a deliberate travesty of the movement"; OK, so maybe he's just upset. But no, in the next sentence he describes Amis as "deluded and wrong-headed."

Shortly thereafter he describes incredulity to Heinlein's being raised to the level of New Age thusly: "Some critics have expressed surprise that a book by so right-wing, libertarian and gun-obsessed a writer as Heinlein" should have achieved success among the liberal intelligentsia.

When describing the conservative elements of Star Wars he proclaims: "This is how ideology masks itself; it pretends to be forward-looking to disguise its conservatism." I wonder how liberal ideology masks itself, but we are never told that.

Finally (or at least as far as I've gotten before putting the book down permanently), when describing both Ursula Le Guin's and Robert Silverberg's disbelief that author James Tiptree Jr was actually a woman, Alice Sheldon, writing under a male pseudonym, refers to Silverberg as "dotty." Le Guin, who arguable committed the far greater crime by refusing to allow Sheldon to sign a feminist petition because of her supposed "maleness," is not the target of any such adjectives.

So, let's recap: conservatives are "deluded and wrong-headed," have an ideology that needs to "disguise itself," and are "dotty."

I won't even give this book to a library. It would be a disservice to anyone actually trying to learn.
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