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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very strong set of analyses
This is the first review I've ever written for Amazon. Ordinarily I don't, but I disagreed so strongly with the existing review - and there was no other review to act as a counterpoint - that I have decided to write this one.

Firstly, this collection is not perfect. A few of the articles focus unduly on relatively brief and barely-noticed happenings in the...
Published on 20 April 2011 by M J

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14 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Red Planets: Don't Waste Your Time or Money
This book was a massive disappointment. I was hoping to read a series of articles that would make interesting comments on specific science fiction works from the point of view of contemporary politics and economics. I was encouraged by the name of China Mieville on the cover because his fiction is great. Instead I got monotonous academic posturing of the most nauseating...
Published on 10 Oct. 2010 by Mr. John P. Humphreys


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very strong set of analyses, 20 April 2011
This review is from: Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction (Marxism and Culture) (Paperback)
This is the first review I've ever written for Amazon. Ordinarily I don't, but I disagreed so strongly with the existing review - and there was no other review to act as a counterpoint - that I have decided to write this one.

Firstly, this collection is not perfect. A few of the articles focus unduly on relatively brief and barely-noticed happenings in the history of science fiction which (this SF student believes) didn't have significant long-term effect, while the parallel apparently drawn between the work of Verne and the Wachowski Brothers is a somewhat challenging one to convince with (amongst others). With that said, the majority of the articles are insightful, interesting and continue to contribute to a growing body of work around an oft-ignored genre.

Nevertheless, the previous review and its associated defending comments rather miss the point. The core of the review is criticising an *academic* book for containing academic terminology. Nobody (I would hope) would criticise a romantic film for containing a kiss, a historical novel for failing to include the internet or a sculpture for having the audacity to appear off canvas. In the same way, criticising a collection of sophisticated literary study for being exactly that seems a little unusual, to say the least. Such books have nothing to do with being "cleverer than the masses"; they are to do with academia. Just because something involves a high level of linguistic and conceptual complexity does not automatically relegate it to the realm of "posturing".

This social science PhD student agrees that there is undoubtedly a fine line between meaningless jargon and worthwhile scrutiny. I (like anyone in academia) have encountered a number of the former, and would not disagree that a not insignificant subset of the sum total of academic writing could be rightly criticised for being such. This book, however, is firmly in the latter category, and criticising *any* work (be it fiction, non-fiction, art, video games, cinema, or anything else) requires justification stemming from actually engaging with the material; not simply dismissing it because it can sometimes be challenging to understand.
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14 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Red Planets: Don't Waste Your Time or Money, 10 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction (Marxism and Culture) (Paperback)
This book was a massive disappointment. I was hoping to read a series of articles that would make interesting comments on specific science fiction works from the point of view of contemporary politics and economics. I was encouraged by the name of China Mieville on the cover because his fiction is great. Instead I got monotonous academic posturing of the most nauseating kind. It was one of those exercises where everyone has to use long convoluted sentences with as many pseudo-scientific technical expressions as possible and constant references to other writers (who you have never heard of). It is tedious trying to unravel what each writer is trying to say (and all about them posing for their friends who inhabit the same little club). Here is an example from the Introduction where the writer is discussing The Matrix trilogy (not that it matters what he is discussing): "In the context of the communicational concept of gobalisation,which tends to see intra-, inter-, cross- and trans-cultural contacts as a progressive proliferation, producing 'an immense global urban intercultural festival without centre', many have argued for the trilogy's multiculturalism - in its conceptualisation, production, casting, audio-visual field and global success." The first article is entitled 'The Anamorphic Estrangements of Science Fiction' (what?). I regret to report that China Mieville's little contribution was as bad as the rest.

A good writer can write about complex matters in a clear and accessible way. George Orwell insisted that this is essential for a worthwhile essay (oh no!I've started name dropping now). It is particularly bizarre that this little club of Marxist writers are so committed to this kind of exclusive high brow language when they are supposed to be about solidarity with the masses. There should be some sort of warning about this book being totally unsuitable for anyone who is not part of this narrow academic elite. I still love your work China but really!
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