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Evaporating Genres: Essays on Fantastic Literature Paperback – January 3, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan (January 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819569372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819569370
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,765,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“There is much to admire in Evaporating Genres.”—Matthew Cheney, Strange Horizons


“Evaporating Genres is, as Wolfe’s work has always been, lively, impressively knowledgeable, and crystal clear. It is a major contribution, examining the ways genres function in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.” (Brian Attebery, author of Decoding Gender in Science Fiction)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dennis E. Henley on April 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Recently I've been reading science fiction literary criticism. Gary K. Wolfe's offering, Evaporating Genres, is one of the best I've encountered. Not only are the topics very interesting and thought provoking, the text is nearly jargon-free. And Wolfe can be hilarious at times, as illustrated by his take on Asimov's Foundation series:

"Despite his reputation, Asimov was never one of science fiction's great inventors, but he was its single greatest apostle of management, and his dream of managing history, of reducing millennia of chaos to a few centuries through the science of statistics and a handful of strategically placed public service announcements..."

I never considered Hari Seldon in those terms before, but Wolfe is absolutely correct.

This book is highly recommended. If you have the same experience as I had, you'll probably be jotting down many of the titles that Wolfe mentions and adding them to your reading list.
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Format: Kindle Edition
As Author Gary K. Wolfe notes in this book's preface, the eleven essays it contains were written over many years and without any overarching theme in mind. However, there is nevertheless a degree of unity to the book, and even apart from that issue, it's one of the most engaging books of science fiction scholarship I've read in a long while.

The general topic of the book is the issue of genre, specifically as it relates to science fiction, fantasy, and horror. A few chapters examine in some depth the ways in which many books, and more broadly, the works of many authors, defy any simple genre classification. Other chapters look within single genres or sub-genres, analyzing how different genres are defined, how divisions are formed within a genre, how related genres such as science fiction and fantasy distinguish themselves from each other, influence one another, and sometimes blend at their boundaries.

Some of the chapters I found most interesting were the following:

Chapter 2, which has the same title as the book and which is its central essay, starts with a look at how genres such as science fiction became defined and developed their "specific market identities." It then goes on to look at how writers within those genres have begun to "subvert or transform the genre expectations that largely derived from those market identities.
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