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Adam Roberts is the author of a growing number of science fiction novels, short stories, essays and other writings. This site contains not just his blog, but everything you could ever want to know about everything Adam has ever published. And more...

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BBC History Magazine on History of SF

By Adam Roberts | January 4, 2008
Categories: Lit Crit

Start a post title with an abbreviation + the-word-History, end it palindromically, with the-word-History + an abbreviation, that's my motto. This is courtesy of Stephen Baxter, a giant of contemporary sf (to my Lilliputianiarity) and a friend to boot: he is, I'm guessing, a subscriber to BBC History Magazine, and he spotted this in the January 08 issue. The reviewer is Paul Parsons:

Science Fiction author Brian Aldiss once commented that the genre began in 1818 with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein -- a cautionary tale of science gone hellishly wrong. Now Adam Roberts takes Aldiss to task arguing that the roots of SF writing go back much further, stemming from the fantastic-voyage tales of Grecian antiquity.

Roberts is well-qualified: professor of 19th-century literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. he's also author of over a dozen SF novels and short-form collections. Accordingly, this is a thoroughly researched, very well-informed piece of writing, that charts a convincing course from the Odyssey of Homer through to that of Clarke and Kubrick. There's exhaustively referenced commentary on science fiction from virtuallyu every era, culture and sub-genre. Biographies of the SF greats sit together with musings on the cross-media influence of their work, from video games to Radiohead.

Make no mistake: this isn't a book to meander through in the bath. Roberts has given us a heavyweight critical history of SF literature, television and cinema. Afficionados will relish the detail and give it pride of place on their bookshelves.

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