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Science Fiction Culture Paperback – January 14, 1999

3.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A milestone work that brings sf studies into conversation with cultural studies."—Science Fiction Studies



"Complex yet easy-to-read, Science Fiction Culture will appeal to the SF fans who cut their teeth on Azimov's I, Robot to the pre-teens picking up their first copy of a book starring Xena, Warrior Princess. Both such readers will enjoy the author's inside look at this wonderfully strange universe."—ForeWord



"[An] inside look at this wonderfully strange universe."—ForeWord

About the Author

Camille Bacon-Smith is the author of several books, including Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press, The Face of Time, and Eyes of the Empress.
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Product Details

  • Series: Feminist Cultural Studies, the Media, and Political Culture
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (January 14, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812215303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812215304
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,514,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. T. Veal on September 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Camille Bacon-Smith, an academic folklore specialist, has spent almost two decades applying the methods of ethnographical research to the subculture that has grown up around science fiction literature, movies and artwork. She regularly attends SF conventions, reads fanzines, interviews both leaders and rank-and-file of the science fiction community and otherwise investigates Fandom in much the same way that Margaret Mead studied Samoa. "Science Fiction Culture" is the summation of her efforts. As one of the natives under scrutiny (being a long-time science fiction fan and past chairman of the World Science Fiction Convention), I read it with interest. Unhappily, though, it is one of those books that tries to do far too much and therefore accomplishes almost nothing.
If I wished to be denigratory, it would be easy to utilize "insider" knowledge to catalogue the book's numerous errors of fact. On the one page that mentions my own name, I found five mistakes. None of them is serious (two surnames are misspelled, two people are assigned to the wrong home towns, one very well-known fan - universally referred to as "Peggy Rae" - is called "Peggy"), but they do suggest that the author is not in total command of her material. She is particularly weak on the development of Fandom before her own contact with it. To take an important example, she guesses that the sudden growth in the size of the World Science Fiction Convention in the 1960's resulted from the entry into Fandom of the "counterculture", whereas the initial spurt (from 850 members in 1966 to over 1,500 in 1967) is readily explained by the advent of the original "Star Trek" television series.
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Format: Paperback
This is, in many ways, an excellent work on a oft-overlooked facet of American culture and society. Yes, there have been many volumes written on SF, but not much on the *culture* that has coalesced around the genre. This is in some ways a pioneering work, especially in its attempts to describe how subgroups within the larger culture are shaping that culture and also making it their own. Bacon-Smith's writing is very clear and to the point, and she interweaves the voices of her subjects into her analysis fairly smoothly. Whether you are a long-time fan or a curious outsider, you will learn a lot from this book.
As both a fan and an anthropologist interested in studying this culture (in essence, kinda studying myself as well!), I recommend this book highly. I gave it four stars rather than five, however, because there were areas where I wished that the author had tightened up her theoretical argument, or had done more work on linkages between what she has bounded as SF culture and inter-related subcultures. I also think more historical background would have enriched her study. Finally, I wanted a stronger sense of what brought the author into this study, and what she gets (besides academic material) from this work.
I will be using the book for a course on the anthropology of "escapist" subcultures, and I think that my students will find at as interesting as I have.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Finding a book that combines solid scholarship with good writing is rare enough to celebrate. Bacon-Smith has meticulously researched the sometimes strange, sometimes all-American community of SF fandom, then presented her findings in clear, enjoyable English. Her discussion of the role of women in this community is worth the price of the book all by itself. I should add, I suppose, that this is a community that I personally know well.
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Format: Paperback
While the subject matter of this book is interesting and the writer obviously has collected a lot of good base material, including first-hand research, I found the academic jargon of the book extremely off-putting. Many time I found myself slogging through turgid, overly complex explanatory material and then finding some nugget of genuinely interesting material (making me think "Wow, I never thought of that!"), only to lose it once again amid the drek the writer uses to package it. This book would have been so much better had it used a less formal, more vernacular style, possibly even one that showed some sense of humor. As it is, it's quite dry, which is unfortunate since the subject certainly is not. Finally, I'd like to note that the review posted here by Edward Thomas Veal seems to me quite accurate in terms of spelling out the limitations of the author; some of what he points out was quite noticeable to me as well.
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