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Speculations on Speculation: Theories of Science Fiction [Paperback]

James Gunn , Matthew Candelaria , Brian Aldiss , Judith Berman , Kathryn Cramer , Samuel R. Delany , Colin Greenland , David G. Hartwell , James Patrick Kelly , Paul Kincaid , Ursula K. Le Guin , Barry Malzberg , Alexei Panshin , Cory Panshin , Robert Scholes , DarkoSuvin , Michael Swanwick , Gary K. Wolfe
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 2005 081084902X 978-0810849020
Science fiction is a field of literature that has great interest and great controversy among its writers and critics. This book examines the roots, history, development, current status, and future directions of the field through articles contributed by well-respected science fiction writers, teachers, and critics. The articles 'speculate' on what is science fiction, is science fiction serious literature, which writers are considered good science fiction writers, and where the genre of science fiction is headed with 21st-century writers. Contributors include Brian W. Aldiss, Kathryn Cramer, Samuel R. Delany , David G. Hartwell, Ursula K. Le Guin, Barry N. Malzberg, Darko Suvin, Michael Swanwick, and many other outstanding authors. Examining all genres and subgenres of science fiction writing, this book provides differing viewpoints on science fiction, making it a great basis for dynamic classroom discussions.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

There are at least two obvious responses to the statement that Speculations on Speculation a group of essay son science fiction criticism, is one of the two or three most exciting books, fiction or nonfiction, that I have read recently: first, I'velost my mind, which, given that I have at one point or another lost track of nearly everything else, is a distinct possibility; second, this book must be very stimulating indeed, which I happen to think is the correct answer....There are too many substantial and sometimes brilliant contributions to this collection to discuss them all in detail, or even in passing. They range from Darko Suvin's scholarly essays soaked in Russian Formalism through Barry N. Malzberg's brash and challenging commentaries, through a fascinating contribution by Alexei and Cory Panshin linking science fiction to the 13th century Sufi poet Ibn Arabi, to Ursula K. LeGuin's Science Fiction and Mrs. Brown, which is pure - well, pure LeGuin. And, as might be expected in a field thatis composed of individuals who are very strongly individual, there isn't much in the way of consensus: Suvin more or less dismisses the mythic element in science fiction, which is the focus of the Panshins' essay - a not untypical occurrence....Specul (The Green Man Review)

...[a] useful addition to your professional library...Speculations on Speculation could be a part of an excellent course of essential reading on the genre and theory of sf. (Science Fiction Studies)

This varied and balanced survey will be of greatest value to veteran readers of SF and especially to teachers and would-be-critics of SF. (Science Fiction Research Association Review)

Writers and critics of science fiction discuss the genre and its elements in 24 reprinted articles and essays on identification, location, derivation, excavation, infatuation, and anticipation. Among the offerings are Ursula K. Le Guin on science fiction and Mrs. Brown, Brian W. Aldiss and David Wingrove on Mary Shelley and the origin of the species, Samuel R. Delany on some presumptuous approaches to science fiction, and Michael Swanwick with a user's guide to the postmoderns. (Reference and Research Book News)

There are at least two obvious responses to the statement that Speculations on Speculation a group of essay son science fiction criticism, is one of the two or three most exciting books, fiction or nonfiction, that I have read recently: first, I've lost my mind, which, given that I have at one point or another lost track of nearly everything else, is a distinct possibility; second, this book must be very stimulating indeed, which I happen to think is the correct answer....There are too many substantial and sometimes brilliant contributions to this collection to discuss them all in detail, or even in passing. They range from Darko Suvin's scholarly essays soaked in Russian Formalism through Barry N. Malzberg's brash and challenging commentaries, through a fascinating contribution by Alexei and Cory Panshin linking science fiction to the 13th century Sufi poet Ibn Arabi, to Ursula K. LeGuin's "Science Fiction and Mrs. Brown," which is pure - well, pure LeGuin. And, as might be expected in a field that is composed of individuals who are very strongly individual, there isn't much in the way of consensus: Suvin more or less dismisses the mythic element in science fiction, which is the focus of the Panshins' essay - a not untypical occurrence....Speculations on Speculation is, however, a thought-provoking, often challenging group of essays about a phenomenon that some of us hold very dear, indeed. (The Green Man Review)

About the Author

James Gunn, emeritus professor of English at the University of Kansas, has published more than 36 books and nearly 100 short stories. His novels include The Immortals, The Joy Makers, The Listeners, and The Dreamers. He has published seven collections of short stories, including Future Imperfect and Breaking Point. As a professor, he taught fiction writing and science fiction, including a long-running intensive Writers Workshop in Science Fiction. His books about science fiction include Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction, Inside Science Fiction, and the six-volume The Road to Science Fiction.Matthew Candelaria has published articles on science fiction and is recipient of the 2003 Golden Quill Award from the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press (February 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081084902X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810849020
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Patrick Kelly has had an eclectic writing career. He has written novels, short stories, essays, reviews, poetry, plays and planetarium shows. His most recent writing project is James Patrick Kelly's Strangeways, a series of ebooks for Kindle featuring some of his best stories. His short novel Burn won the Science Fiction Writers of America's Nebula Award in 2007. He has won the World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Award twice: in 1996, for his novelette "Think Like A Dinosaur" and in 2000, for his novelette, "Ten to the Sixteenth to One." His fiction has been translated into eighteen languages. With John Kessel he is co-editor of Kafkaesque: Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka, The Secret History Of Science Fiction, Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology and Rewired: The Post Cyberpunk Anthology. He writes a column on the internet for Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine and is on the faculty of the Stonecoast Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine and the Board of Directors of the Clarion Foundation. He produces two podcasts: James Patrick Kelly's StoryPod on Audible and the Free Reads Podcast. His website is www.jimkelly.net.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SF criticism strikes again... and hits May 4, 2005
Format:Paperback
A wonderful compilation of essays edited by James Gunn and Matthew Candelaria. Some are out of print or hard to find canonical articles, such as 2 chapters from Darko Suvin's _Metamorphoses of Science Fiction_, other from Robert Scholes' _Structural Fabulation_, Alexei and Cory Panshin's «Science Fiction and the Dimension of Myth», or even David Ketterer's «The Apocalyptic Imagination...». Others are more recent or even written for the occasion, as is the case of Gary K. Wolfe's «Coming to Terms», on the almost impossible task to define the genre.
It is a wide ranging and impartial collection (it is very hard to find Suvin and the Panshins side by side on other compilations), which is a must if you have a theoretical interest on this literary genre (particularly teachers on any level), but also recommended for everyone who just reads SF for pleasure and wants to know a little more on its history and significance.
Will The Scarecrow Press and the editors be willing to have it on mass market paperback, thus reaching a wider audience?
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars presents a deeper look at Science Fiction January 17, 2006
Format:Paperback
Noted science fiction author and critic James Gunn has amassed a set of lectures and papers analysing science fiction. The authors attempt a serious look at what defines science fiction, as contrasted to other genres like mystery, romance or adventure. The hardest problem appears to be in drawing a good demarcation between science fiction and fantasy.

If you are a science fiction reader, here is a rare chance to get deeper look at your genre. Perhaps the essays might give you a better appreciation of what makes SF so distinctive.

It should be said that the essays are not light reading. Unlike breezy book reviews [like mine]. Some of the essays also provide a good survey of the trends over the decades in SF. And there are also numerous references to classic SF stories, like the Demolished Man and the Cold Equations. But you, presumably, are a fan, so you should recognise most of these stories.
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