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The first comprehensive critical history of SF for thirty years, this book traces the origin and development of science fiction from Ancient Greece, via its rebirth in the seventeenth century, up to the present day. Concentrating on literary SF and (in the later chapters) cinema and TV, it also discusses the myriad forms this genre takes in the contemporary world, includin The first comprehensive critical history of SF for thirty years, this book traces the origin and development of science fiction from Ancient Greece, via its rebirth in the seventeenth century, up to the present day. Concentrating on literary SF and (in the later chapters) cinema and TV, it also discusses the myriad forms this genre takes in the contemporary world, including a chapter on graphic novels, SF pop music, visual art and ufology. The author is ideally placed to write it: both an academic literary critic and also an acclaimed creative writer of science fiction, with five novels and many short stories to his credit. Written in lively, accessible prose, this study is specifically designed to bridge the worlds of academic criticism and the SF fandom. The History of Science Fiction argues that, even today, this flourishing cultural idiom is shaped by the forces that determined its rise to prominence in the 1600s: the dialogue between Protestant and Catholic worldviews, the emerging technologies of the industrial age, and the cultural anxieties and excitements of a rapidly changing world. Now available in paperback, it will be of interest to all students, researchers and fans of SF.


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The first comprehensive critical history of SF for thirty years, this book traces the origin and development of science fiction from Ancient Greece, via its rebirth in the seventeenth century, up to the present day. Concentrating on literary SF and (in the later chapters) cinema and TV, it also discusses the myriad forms this genre takes in the contemporary world, includin The first comprehensive critical history of SF for thirty years, this book traces the origin and development of science fiction from Ancient Greece, via its rebirth in the seventeenth century, up to the present day. Concentrating on literary SF and (in the later chapters) cinema and TV, it also discusses the myriad forms this genre takes in the contemporary world, including a chapter on graphic novels, SF pop music, visual art and ufology. The author is ideally placed to write it: both an academic literary critic and also an acclaimed creative writer of science fiction, with five novels and many short stories to his credit. Written in lively, accessible prose, this study is specifically designed to bridge the worlds of academic criticism and the SF fandom. The History of Science Fiction argues that, even today, this flourishing cultural idiom is shaped by the forces that determined its rise to prominence in the 1600s: the dialogue between Protestant and Catholic worldviews, the emerging technologies of the industrial age, and the cultural anxieties and excitements of a rapidly changing world. Now available in paperback, it will be of interest to all students, researchers and fans of SF.

30 review for The History of Science Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cláudia

    gente, que livro excepcional! pensa em um livro completo sobre a história da ficção científica. sim, o desafio era esse - e o autor executou de forma espetacular. muito completo, muito ousado, muito arriscado, o que gostei muito! isso sem falar na pesquisa primorosa. gostaria de ter visto mais sobre gênero e narrativas fora do eixo Eua-Inglaterra, mas não deu pra baixar a nota: é espetacular e pronto. um calhamaço de referência pra pesquisadores da fc, na nossa língua, oferecendo perspectivas ori gente, que livro excepcional! pensa em um livro completo sobre a história da ficção científica. sim, o desafio era esse - e o autor executou de forma espetacular. muito completo, muito ousado, muito arriscado, o que gostei muito! isso sem falar na pesquisa primorosa. gostaria de ter visto mais sobre gênero e narrativas fora do eixo Eua-Inglaterra, mas não deu pra baixar a nota: é espetacular e pronto. um calhamaço de referência pra pesquisadores da fc, na nossa língua, oferecendo perspectivas originais sobre um dos gêneros literários mais legais que existem. sem papas na língua, sem volteios, sem medir palavras: honesto até a raiz. muito, muito bom!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Buhs

    This book is good to wrestle with. Adam Roberts’ The History of Science Fiction presents a clearly articulated thesis that is provocative and ingenious, even if I think it is often wrong. And he has some very interesting readings of periods, authors, and books, even if they don’t always bear on his thesis. Roberts claims to have changed his mind about science fiction. Before this book, he thought that science fiction was an invention of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Now he thinks it is a This book is good to wrestle with. Adam Roberts’ The History of Science Fiction presents a clearly articulated thesis that is provocative and ingenious, even if I think it is often wrong. And he has some very interesting readings of periods, authors, and books, even if they don’t always bear on his thesis. Roberts claims to have changed his mind about science fiction. Before this book, he thought that science fiction was an invention of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Now he thinks it is a branch of fantastic—as opposed to realistic—fiction with roots in Greek romances. He spends a chapter on definitions—noting that science fiction is about positing some new thing (be it a technological or social invention) that the author works out in narrative form, or, alternatively, a genre that is constructed by a reader who approaches a story with certain expectations—but really wants to sidestep the mind-numbing debates. Instead, he offers something of a historical explanation for science fiction. It is a fantastic genre marked by a tension between sacramental and materialistic explanations of the world. The wellspring narrative is a voyage to somewhere ‘up there’—a space that has been impossible to explore until very recently. Some narratives switch this around a bit so the new thing is actually a traveling downward or through time. Utopian fiction feeds into later science fiction by positing the new thing as some social development. Roberts spends a little time looking at Greek romances that he classifies as science fiction, but this part of the argument is less persuasive than the middle. The problem is that, first, he forces himself to argue that these stories were in some sense ‘novels,’ since he wants to claim that the novel is the premiere form of presentation for science fiction. It is also unclear what is meant by science during this period—indeed, the meaning of science presents a big problem for the book. Roberts argues that, quite apart from theme, science fiction comes in two different flavors. One is the technological tale. By technology Roberts does not mean just tools; rather, he borrows from Heidegger to suggest that technologies are an entire suite of things and behaviors that enflame how we see the world: and so technologies do and can change. The other kind of science fiction tale is Fortean (!) or Feyerabendian—that is to say, these science fiction tales take something speculative about science and work out its implications. This is an excellent and overlooked point: science fiction can be a form of scientific practice. The problem though is that Roberts has a very static—very philosophical—very transcendent notion of what counts as science, one based on Karl Popper’s writings: science is that which can be falsified. Relying upon this definition, he can project science back in time as far back as he wants. Thus the Greeks practiced science just as Newton did just a a biologist does today. But science is not just a philosophical approach—like technology, it is a form of practice, of engagement with the world. And what we know of as science was created in the nineteenth century. Roberts was right in his initial assessment about the history of science fiction coming relatively late. The confusion over science is not clear when he first presents his thesis, but it is when he gets to the Greeks. And then it is hidden again as he jumps to the seventeenth century—at least it seems to be hidden. The reason is that Roberts uses terms that derived from the seventeenth century to make his case, which works when discussing that period, but not nearly as well for the Greeks, nor necessarily later—and so he does tend to abandon the terms of his own argument as the story progresses. In addition to the different themes that characterize science fiction, and the different ways in which it intervenes in the world—as a tale of technology or a form of speculative science practice—science fiction is also the working out of a particular cultural complex created in the seventeenth century. (It is a credit to Roberts as a writer that though he is examining science fiction along these many axes, his book never becomes overly burdened with theoretical discussion.) Copernicus and, especially, Bruno presented the Catholic church with a quandary int he seventeenth century by suggesting that the earth was not the center of the universe nor necessarily the only inhabited planet. What of Christ, then? Did he visit all the planets? Or were the other planets made without sin? Catholic countries tended to clamp down on these speculations. While there were fantastic writings down in these places, they tended to be sacramental—or magical—what he calls magical pantheism. (Theology also explains why no science fiction was written from the end of the Greek period to the Reformation.) Protestant countries were less concerned with the theological implications of the new astronomy (he claims) and so freer to examine the possible material and rational implications of such speculations. Thus, fantastic writing also became marked by materialism. Science fiction is the genre of fantastic literature that mediates this dilemma, tacking back and forth between transcendental concerns and material ones. Science fiction is about magic—but not just about magic that can be reduced to science, but also science that is at heart magical. Without seeming to know it, Roberts has happened upon the Merton thesis. And it works very well for a discussion of seventeenth century fantastic writings—the chapter that Roberts devotes to the subject is one of the book’s strongest, and there his heuristic is useful in understanding the period. The method also works well for the eighteenth century as it is presented here, in a separate chapter. Roberts focuses mostly on Swift and Voltaire, one from a Protestant country, the other from a Catholic one. These two rewrote fantastic voyages so that they were no longer necessarily literal, but nor were they theological metaphors—rather they were speculative interventions into the production of knowledge. They inverted some earlier themes, with aliens now coming to earth (and with no concern about whether Christ had gone to other planets). I can accept his claim that these authors engaged with ‘scientific’ knowledge of their period (apparently this is of some dispute in Swiftian studies) without necessarily calling this science fiction and, indeed, he has to make a new definition of science fiction to encompass these works: science fiction is now fictional discourse of science (73). But what is science? And what is good science fiction? Roberts argues that England stopped producing science fiction because of its enthrallment with Gothic writing, which was overly concerned with the transcendental—but a concern with the transcendental is part of the dynamic of science fiction, as he sees it. France, by contrast, thanks to the Revolution, was in a mood to freely speculate, and so there was a great deal of science fiction coming out of that country. By the time that Roberts moves into the early nineteenth century—to which he devotes another chapter—he is leaving behind his thesis about the dynamic between materialism and sacrament, more interested in the other, more dominant themes of the period. This chapter focuses mostly on Shelley (Frankenstein) and Poe, neither of whom Roberts likes much: Shelley’s Frankenstein is good—though not what it would become later—but not her other writings, and Poe has a fervid imagination, but his actual literary techniques are poor. The science fiction writer Brian Aldiss had before argued that Frankenstein is the Ur-text of science fiction, but Roberts disagrees, mostly, it seems, because he is not a fan of the gothic strand of fantastic writing. Thomas Disch argues that Poe is the genre’s progenitor, and Roberts is not keen on this either, but admits he did make one innovation. Poe famously wrote a number of hoaxes—and to make these palatable to the public he wrote the fantastic parts as strictly factual, which hadn’t usually been done in the past but it would become the norm in science fiction henceforth. There were other science fictional developments in the period, too. For some reason, fictions about the end times—the last time—became popular. The intuition behind science was emphasized—a kind of Feyerabendian intervention influenced, likely, by the Romantic movement, though Roberts has nothing to say on the matter. As well, there is a general drift toward mysticism and theology—which fits uneasily with Roberts’ thesis. Roberts wants to claim that the intent of the Protestant Reformation was to purge magic from theology. But, that never seems to have been the case: Protestant theology, like Catholic theology, involved consideration of demons, and demonology was closely allied with science. (Roberts gives this a short discussion, without integrating it into his overall perspective.) And British science fiction—as well as British science—remained closely tied to some forms of magical (or sacramental) thought in the nineteenth century, what with Theosophy and the rebirth of alchemy. By the second half of the nineteenth century, science fiction was booming—which doesn’t necessarily make sense given Robert’s thesis, but does if we accept that science fiction was a response not to materialism or Enlightenment rationality but to a thing called science which came of age in the nineteenth century. His chapter on science fiction in the second half of the 1900s notes how scientific metaphors of positivism and entropy informed the burgeoning literature, and that there continued to be a focus on the spiritual. (This was the age of spiritualism, after all.) Voltaire stops looking like a forefather and more like a stepfather, as in “The Anticipation Novelists,” which argues that twentieth-century French science fiction writers borrowed and adapted Voltaire’s interest in the Contes Philosophique. Indeed, science fiction is becoming so crowded that Roberts has to have a whole other separate chapter on the two acknowledged greats of science fiction—compared to the single chapter he gave to the Greeks, another single chapter to the 17th century, and a third to the 18th. He acknowledges that H.G. Wells was probably the greatest science fiction writer ever. And his own language—‘technology fiction,’ voyage fantastique—is developed from Verne. This period, then, was the birth of science fiction. And Roberts’ thesis is inadequate to discuss it. Though he has a writer from a Protestant country and another from a Catholic one, though he roots both of their works in their biographies, he never really brings his thesis to bear on the subjects. Rather, he offers close readings, arguing that Verne was more than a pure entertainer and that Wells was at his best from 1895 to 1905 when he was precise in his language, and less so later one when he became more abstract and cranky. To the extent that he brings a critical apparatus into the investigation, it is to call the two writers bourgeois, which is based—in a hard to specify way—on his view of technology as enflaming reality. This is the first time that enflaming really becomes an issue, so while it was a nice set up there is not much of a pay off. The book becomes increasingly confused in regards to its thesis, even as it offers some interesting insights. Roberts spends a chapter on the high modernists—Pound, etc.—who were influenced by the science fiction dynamic. He argues that the distinction between elite and popular writing not in the subject matter—both were influenced by science—but in their approach to ‘the machine’: with the modernists fracturing narrative styles to find a new kind of transcendence, while popular authors looked to a technological sublime. This is suggestive, but probably wrong in detail, based on his general disdain for pulp writing and the ‘Golden Age’ of the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. Certainly by the time that he gets to the middle of the 20th century, he can find examples of the tension between magic and science, or sacrament and science—but the connection to 17th century dynamics seem lost—with the exception of James Blish, who explicitly references the exact dynamic of a Catholic confronting an alien race that did not know Christ. By this point, the transcendental—or sacramental—aspects of the stories are a long way from 17th century Catholicism, and invoking that period no longer seems necessary. Another way to make this point is to say that there is something to the dynamic that Roberts identifies, even if the historical genealogy is not necessary—and strains for effect. Roberts does not make the point, but the Shaver mystery, which split science fiction fans in the middle of the 20th century, clearly hit at this cleavage. As well, thinking of the dynamic as recurring, rather than a progressive unfolding of the paranormal—as, say, Kripal does—is better history. But it sill makes little sense to say that science fiction was a product of the 17th century anymore than saying science was a product of the seventeenth century: both built on trends that came out of that era, but required more to become themselves. Mostly, though, Roberts is unimpressed by the mid-20th century products of science fiction. He thinks the pulps were intentionally bad, and any breakthroughs they made, even as the stories were put into novels, were accidental. John W. Campbell’s influence was baleful, forcing science fiction into a narrow materialistic straight jacket. Roberts tips his hats to Asimov and Heinlein and some of the other big names, but his heart clearly isn’t in it. Rather, he prefers the New Wave writers—Moorcock and Dick and Herbert—who brought in sex and drugs and Messiah figures. (Lots of Messiah figures). He does not note the influence of Burroughs, but it was there, too. Nor does he really do much with his thesis, beyond saying that these writers were more inclined to the sacramental. One reason was a reaction to Campbell’s narrowing of science fiction’s possibilities. Another reason is that the novel, as a form, is possibly exhausted—though this strand of Roberts’ argument never impressed me. The real reason offers the real end to the (real) book. Roberts started with the Greeks saying that the story of science fiction was a voyage upwards (though sometimes down or through time) to somewhere impossible. At the time, the moon and the sun were parts of the sky—the starts were part of the divine world—and so could be voyaged to, at least in the imagination. By the 1960s, the moon was clearly in space—but it had been reached. And it was boring. Mundane. There was nothing on the moon. Science fiction’s impetus—to imagine a way into space—had come true, and it was a let down. The world ended not with a bang but a whimper. The rest of the book is an extended conclusion making this point—and an interesting, point. There is still a great deal of science fiction being published, Roberts acknowledges, much of it excellent—more than any one person could read. But there are no more formal innovations in prose science fiction. It has reached its dead end. Instead, science fiction has become primarily a visual medium, with stories in comics, graphic novels, movies, and games. Roberts spends some time going through these developments. But it is never clear how these fit into his overall story, given his early on commitment to arguing that science fiction was wedded to the novel. That’s just another ragged end to a book full of very many wonderful ragged ends and thoughtful ideas. I don’t always agree wight he book, but I found it incredibly stimulating.

  3. 5 out of 5

    James

    This is a really terrific critical survey of SF from ancient precursors to contemporary "paratextual" groupings of prose SF, comics, games, etc. Roberts has a kind of unorthodox theory of the genre that strongly relates it to the protestant reformation and the copernican revolution, and I especially liked his discussion of renaissance-era voyage fantastique. Roberts thinks this literature can be read as negotiating between the emerging scientific worldview and the theological orthodoxy of the ti This is a really terrific critical survey of SF from ancient precursors to contemporary "paratextual" groupings of prose SF, comics, games, etc. Roberts has a kind of unorthodox theory of the genre that strongly relates it to the protestant reformation and the copernican revolution, and I especially liked his discussion of renaissance-era voyage fantastique. Roberts thinks this literature can be read as negotiating between the emerging scientific worldview and the theological orthodoxy of the time...which is much more interesting and amusing than it sounds! Roberts discusses how stories of celestial travel in this period increasingly conceive of "the heavens" as a physical environment rather than one constituted by a numinous fifth element or something like that, and then there is apparently a whole corpus of stuff that wrestles with the problem of the status of the souls of moon-beings, to wit: are lunarians pre-lapsarian, fallen, or do they lack souls? There are some ingenious and quite bizarre solutions, which, Roberts suggests, may have been necessary to avoid heresy. The protagonist of Cyrano de Bergerac's comic-philosophical L'Autre Monde ou les États et Empires de la Lune for example travels to the moon by a kind of proto-rocket and finds there the biblical prophet Elijah hanging out with the four-legged moon-beings. That's crazay! And awesome.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Katie Murphy

    History? Incredibly hard to get through because of the self agg r of the immodest author. Don't bother with this book because the only one who could possibly love it is Adam Roberts himself. What a waste!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard Howard

    Though hard going initially (at points I doubted I would finish) this volume really becomes interesting as it examines the past few decades. Those expecting another 'Trillion Year Spree' may be disappointed, as this is an academic treatise with a lexicon to match. Whether one agrees with Adam Robert's central premise or not his scholarship is both broad and profound. I am particularly thankful for the number of new writers he has introduced me too.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Trent Eades

    Interesting thesis involving the role of the protestant reformation in the development of SF (and fantasy). I don't agree with Roberts on every point, but I learned a great deal from this book. Clearly written and well argued, I think this is an essential resource for anyone interested in the history of SF.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ana Clara

    I read this for my thesis, and it really did help me a lot. The author clearly knows what he's talking about and did his research thoroughly. There are opinions he expresses that I don't particularly agree with, but to enjoy this or take something out of it you don't have to.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    A very scholarly work on the history of science fiction. A text that can be referred back to for a more comprehensive study beyond the casual reading of a history.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Hiddleston

    Dude, get your facts straight. If you don't even know Star Trek: Enterprise has 4 seasons and not 2, how am I supposed to trust the other facts in your book?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bill FromPA

    “Now you’re going to talk theology again, aren’t you?” – Brian Aldiss, Cryptozoic! All my adult life I’ve considered that a man without religion was like a fish without a bicycle, and I’ve looked to science, and by extension, science fiction, as a way of exploring truth without theology, which always seemed to me the most useless of the “ologies”, at least in so far as it claimed any relevance to the real world. Nevertheless, in science fiction at least, Messiahs keep barging their way in, vario “Now you’re going to talk theology again, aren’t you?” – Brian Aldiss, Cryptozoic! All my adult life I’ve considered that a man without religion was like a fish without a bicycle, and I’ve looked to science, and by extension, science fiction, as a way of exploring truth without theology, which always seemed to me the most useless of the “ologies”, at least in so far as it claimed any relevance to the real world. Nevertheless, in science fiction at least, Messiahs keep barging their way in, variously called Valentine Michael Smith, Paul Atreides, Severian, Karl Glogauer, and many other names beyond recall. Adam Roberts thinks he knows why. Although Roberts believes that SF was written in the ancient world, most famously in Lucian’s True History, he dates the birth of modern science fiction to 1600, specifically the trial and execution of Giordano Bruno. Roberts considers that Bruno was burned at stake for, in effect, writing SF by “arguing in favor of the notion that the universe was infinite and contained innumerable worlds.” Roberts details how this idea caused serious doubts about the dogma of man’s fall and redemption, considered to be events with universal significance, but that apparently required a very limited idea of the concept of “universe”. As a result of dating SF from Bruno’s heresy, one of Roberts’ favorite polarities when discussing SF is the dialectic between “Catholicism” and “Protestantism”. As stated above, I have not delved much into theology, but I do not understand, and Roberts never satisfactorily explains, why Protestantism, having the same fall and redemption basis for its belief system (as far as I can see), should be any more accepting of innumerable worlds than Catholicism. In fact Roberts’ “Protestantism” and “Catholicism” are largely nonsectarian labels, and he characterizes the dialectic in a variety of ways throughout the book: Protestant/Catholic, SF/Fantasy, Materialism/Mysticism. Nevertheless, the author describes himself as “atheist and non-spiritualist” so I am left puzzled why his primary way of referring to this dialectic should invoke supernatural belief systems on both sides of the slash. I would have expected some sort of Enlightenment/Theist duality to better characterize the spectrum he is attempting to define. At the extreme of the “Catholic” end of this dialectic is Fantasy which Roberts appropriately does not discuss in a work devoted to SF. At the other, “Protestant”, extreme is, I imagine, though Roberts isn’t explicit about this, “Hard SF”, the Gernsbackian ideal of “scientifiction”. Though Roberts does offer a full and interesting chapter devoted to Verne and Wells, who I would argue fall at the “hard” end of the spectrum, he seems to be more interested in the middle part of the range, where technology meets mysticism. Once he gets into the cornucopia of SF offered by the 20th century, he has little to say about writers of hard SF, and devotes his time to more hybrid works; he does defend this concentration by noting that almost all of the consensus classics of 20th century SF fall into this category. Roberts allows a non-theistic element to the “Catholic” side of the dialectic by including in it philosophical theories. Thus, a discussion of Asimov’s robot stories offers a description of Kant’s Categorical Imperative, and many unscientific phenomena found in SF, such as faster than light travel or “jaunting” from The Stars My Destination are seen as manifestations of a Schopenhaurean or Nietzschean Will which, in however unlikely a manner, changes reality by its sheer force. Though an occasional interpretation seems forced, on the whole Roberts illuminates the works he discusses, sometimes in unexpected ways. For example, I was impressed in how his ideas about the development of SF and his reading of Huxley’s oeuvre leads to his explaining, “The unrelenting happiness of Brave New World is dystopic not because it excludes suffering, but because it excludes this ‘numinous’ element.” Compared to other SF histories I’ve read, this book gives more space to pre-Frankenstein works and discusses more works of foreign language SF. Although this is listed as part of the “Palgrave History of Literature” series, Adams goes well beyond the written word, discussing SF illustrators, graphic novels, most of the significant films in the genre, SF TV and radio, performance art, rock albums, computer and video games, and “real world” manifestations of SF in Scientology and UFOs. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a serious discussion of the themes and development of SF; you may find much to disagree with, but will almost certainly find at least a few undiscovered works and new light on a number of classics.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karl Bunker

    In this landmark volume, Adam Roberts has created what will undoubtedly be regarded as the definitive history of science fiction for many years to come. With hugely impressive scholarship, Roberts covers the great swath of literature that fits under the broad umbrella of "science fiction." The density and quantity of information in this book are staggering, and yet the writing style is friendly and eminently readable. Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge, the accuracy of that information is e In this landmark volume, Adam Roberts has created what will undoubtedly be regarded as the definitive history of science fiction for many years to come. With hugely impressive scholarship, Roberts covers the great swath of literature that fits under the broad umbrella of "science fiction." The density and quantity of information in this book are staggering, and yet the writing style is friendly and eminently readable. Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge, the accuracy of that information is excellent. I'm fairly well-read in the field of SF studies, and the only errors I saw in this book were on utterly trivial matters. Inevitably, some readers will have an argument with the very breadth of this book's coverage. As Roberts notes, various people in the field have argued that SF, properly defined, begins with Edgar Allan Poe, or Shelley's Frankenstein, or Verne and Wells, or even as recently as Hugo Gernsback. Roberts, by contrast, dates the genre back to the "fantastic voyage" novels of ancient Greece (he doesn't attempt to establish any firm date for the "first" example of SF). I disagreed with Roberts' "long history" approach when I began this book, but I was soon won over by his arguments that the roots of the genre can be traced back as far as he says. Not only did I find the chapters covering the early history to be completely engaging and entertaining to read, I came to agree with Roberts that this long history gives a genuinely useful insight into modern SF. (The book arrives at the era of Verne and Wells a little more than one third into its length.) As Roberts' history moves into modern times, the focus remains on SF literature, but the SF of movies, TV, comics, and other media are also discussed. Roberts is generally even-handed when discussing the range of opinions about such issues as the relative merits of a particular book or author, but at the same time he's not averse to making his own opinion clear (stating, to give just one example, that Dune stands up better to a present-day reading than the Foundation trilogy does). This gives the book a personal feel; you know it was written by a human being with an emotional connection to his subject. If you have any interest in the history or study of science fiction, this book should be a centerpiece of your SF-studies library.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Max

    After more than a year I've finished this informed, authoritative critical history of Science Fiction by one of Britain's great SF writers. In his own words: "... one of my purposes in this long book has been to to delineate a critical-historical approach to the business of defining SF; and one assertion I would (tentatively) stand by is that SF that has had the greatest impact, particularly in the last 60 years or so, has done so because it articulates a dialectic that goes right back to the bi After more than a year I've finished this informed, authoritative critical history of Science Fiction by one of Britain's great SF writers. In his own words: "... one of my purposes in this long book has been to to delineate a critical-historical approach to the business of defining SF; and one assertion I would (tentatively) stand by is that SF that has had the greatest impact, particularly in the last 60 years or so, has done so because it articulates a dialectic that goes right back to the birth of the genre at around 1600." Roberts' thesis further involves the contrast between the "I-It" relationship and the "I-Thou" relationship of humans toward the cosmos. The former, he argues, is Protestant in origin and results in "Hard SF" and the latter is Catholic, resulting in more a Fantasy type literature. Be that as it may, this book provides any reader and fan of SF a good basis for appreciating and placing the titles they will read/are reading/have read in a larger context. It made me put a few more "classics" which I had not read yet in my "To read" list. Thank you, V, for this wonderful book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    probably the best one that's not just a list of plot synopses. thorough, smart. his overarching theory is a bit wonky (non-realist lit can be divided between 'catholic' and 'protestant,' science fiction operates according to 'russellian' or 'feyerabendian' theories of science) but as far as preliminaries go it works.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Valeria S.

    Not only does the book try to cover almost every piece of writing in the history of science fiction, it also tries to help the reader understand what the definition of science fiction is and how it's not completely clear even now. I loved the passionate way it's written and how it also takes the time to analyze the relevance of the piece and the author to the genre.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ralph Palm

    A well-written, accessible and superbly researched academic survey of science fiction. If you've got a paper to write, this is your first stop. If you like this book already, I would also recommend Thomas Disch's DREAMS OUR STUFF IS MADE OF, and vice versa.

  16. 5 out of 5

    D.

    The History of Science Fiction (Palgrave Histories of Literature) by Adam Roberts (2007)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Una

    Erudīti pamatīgs teksts ar jauku teorijas dimensiju, kurš ir arī saistošs, autoram pamanoties dzīvīgi iekļaut vēsturnieka lomā sevi kā lasītāju, kritiķi un rakstnieku.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    Found this to be really tough going.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  21. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Barnes

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  23. 5 out of 5

    Selene

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bijan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Simon Butler

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cifer

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kevinjwoods

  28. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Marrone matey

  29. 4 out of 5

    Yamimana

  30. 5 out of 5

    Liz

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