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The Guardian reviews the Palgrave History of SF

By Adam Roberts | November 10, 2007
Categories: Lit Crit

P D Smith, in today's Saturday Guardian review:

According to Margaret Atwood, science fiction is a pulp genre about "intelligent squids in space". Which is strange because, as Adam Roberts says, her best three novels are part of the SF genre. Oryx and Crake (2003) is "an unembarrassed entry into a dazzlingly realised dystopian imaginary world", he writes. As a professor of 19th-century literature as well as a prolific science fiction writer, Roberts is eminently qualified to write a history of the genre. This impressive tome is ambitious in its scope, tracing SF's origins back to the fantastic voyages of the ancient Greek novel - the original Vernean voyages extraordinaires. He identifies four types of SF narrative: voyages through space; time travel; techno fiction; and accounts of Utopia. In all of these, SF "embodies a genuine and radical Will to Otherness, a fascination with the outer reaches of imaginative possibility". One particularly striking claim is that Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake by the Inquisition in 1600 for his science fictional speculations, namely that the universe contained innumerable worlds. Science fiction, it seems, has its first martyr.

Apart from giving the impression that the History is all about Margaret Atwood, with a brief mention of some other stuff (when in fact it's actually about some other stuff, with a brief mention of Margaret Atwood) this is pretty flattering stuff.  Excellent.

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1 Comment so far

One Response to “The Guardian reviews the Palgrave History of SF”

  1. Simon Drake Says:
    March 25th, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Margaret can get away with writing SF and ridiculing it because she's a BIG NAME and a WOMAN. Every time I pitch a book to an agent, where the story is a tiny bit SF, the agent throws up their arms and thinks of "intelligent squids in space". Rant OVER.