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The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction (Cambridge Companions to Literature) 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521016575
ISBN-10: 0521016576
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...an excellent introduction..." Steven Silver's Reviews

"The quality of the writing is consistently high, combining clever observation, crisp phrasing, and edifying illustration. [...] We all should be glad to have the book, which performs a conisiderable and important sevice: it will be a core text of our critical toolbox for years to come." Science Fiction Studies

"An excellent introduction to SF as a field and also a book that can be read with interest by both SF fans and by literature students." Emerald City

Book Description

Science fiction is at the intersection of numerous fields. It is a literature which draws on popular culture, and which engages in speculation about science, history, and all types of social relations. This volume brings together essays by scholars and practitioners of science fiction, which look at the genre from these different angles. It examines science fiction from Thomas More to the present day, and introduces important critical approaches including Marxism, postmodernism, feminism and queer theory. A number of well-known science fiction writers contribute to this volume.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Companions to Literature
  • Paperback: 323 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (December 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521016576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521016575
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
Anthologies are notoriously inconsistent. Most contain several essays considerably below the level of the best pieces and many contain a few utterly miserable ones. On the downside, no essay in this collection truly stands out; on the upside, there really isn't a weak entry in the volume. I honestly cannot think of another collection of which I can make that statement.

Whether you are a serious fan of Sci-fi or a casual reader seeking an introduction to the field, this collection will prove invaluable. I fall somewhere between those two categories. Over the years I've read a few hundred Sci-fi novels and seen most Sci-fi films that have been made, but it has never been my main source of reading or film viewing. I've read rather a lot of the historically important works such as Mary Shelly, Henry Kuttner, H. G. Wells, Olaf Stapleton, and David Lindsay, but I've never attempted anything like a comprehensive reading of the classics. And I have ready very little that has been published in the past fifteen years. Still, I found that I learned an enormous amount about the field from this book. I learned about several historical works I had not previously known of, got a better understanding of the state of the genre from one decade to another, and learned a great deal about trends in the field in the past couple of decades. I also learned something about the various literary critical reactions to the genre. For those in the academy, it is a helpful introduction to the scholarly take on things.

The book is also great at pointing the way to other books. I kept a sheet of paper beside me as I read.
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This is truly a fine volume, highly recommended to anyone who wants a broad sampling of the academic thought that has been applied to the genre. Although it's a collection of chapters by many different authors, I thought the quality was uniformly excellent. The structure of the book results in some overlap of themes, for example with a chapter on "Feminist theory and science Fiction" appearing in "Part 2. Critical approaches" and a chapter on "Gender in science Fiction" in "Part 3. Sub-genres and themes". However, I didn't find this to be a flaw; it gives the reader the opportunity to read different authors approaching related topics from different angles.

My favorite authors and chapters included Ken Macleod's "Politics and science Fiction" and Edward James' "Utopias and anti-utopias". Farah Mendelsohn's chapter "Religion and science Fiction" was a real eye-opener for me, examining a side of science fiction that I'd been pretty dismissive towards.

This is an excellent book, but for a bigger, more comprehensive, and slightly more up-to-date volume of SF studies, I would also recommend The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction.
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Overall, this is an excellent collection of essays for scholars and science fiction fans. I originally purchased it in hopes that it would make a good text book for a freshman-level college science ficiton class, but it is way too advanced for that. It would work well for a senior or graduate level class, though. Each essay helped expand my understanding of different periods of science fiction history and various topics and subgenres. I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning more about science fiction, as long as you are okay with reading some pretty scholarly essays.
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It is a great book to help understand the genre of Science Fiction. Wonderful companion for help with school papers.
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