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The World Beyond the Hill - Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence Hardcover – April 30, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 676 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix Pick (April 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604504439
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604504439
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 9.1 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,122,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This discusses ideas presented in the Panshins' earlier book, SF in Dimension: A Book of Explorations ( Advent, 1980. 2d ed.). The first half deals with how and why the myths of science fiction have changed their focus over the last few centuries. The second half gives a vivid portrait of the editor John W. Campbell working with his stable of writers--Asimov, DeCamp, Heinlein, and Van Vogt--to create the Golden Age of modern science fiction from 1939 to 1946. The writing is verbose and not well integrated, but the book is always interesting.
- Katherine Thorp, St. Louis Univ. Lib.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. Staples on August 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Alexei and Cory Panshin's "The World Beyond the Hill" is quite properly subtitled "Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence." This is no mere listing of writers and their titles in this end of speculative fiction, but a deeply thought and well wrought history of myth building in science fiction.

This rather massive tome begins with Horace Walpole's "The Castle of Otranto," a ghost story published anonymously in 1764 and the change of accepted myth from that typified by the magic of the fairy tale. It ends with that myth typified by the new magic of science as presented in Hugo Gernback's Amazing Stories magazine and ends in 1945. An impression is left of one set of superstitions being supplanted by a new set which is supplanted in their turn by yet another, ad nauseaum (as a history instructor once remarked, "History is just one damned thing after another.") At the point of 1945 and the dropping of the first atomic bomb, the Panshins appear to argue that there was a split between the myths of science fiction and SF (as opposed to sci-fi) and that SF continued from that point.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is the depiction of what some consider the height of the Campbell Era, the years 1939 to 1945. John Campbell and his stable of writers (Heinlein, Asimov, Simak, van Vogt, etc.) are studied closely. One is left with the feeling Campbell believed he was caught short by events--when told of the dropping of the first nuclear weapon on Japan, his reaction was, "Oh, my God! It's started."

Two nice features are the notes and references at the end of each chapter (a placement greatly appreciated) and an index that not only lists the authors but also their works.

On the whole, a worthy effort.
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