Science Fiction Studies

#11 = Volume 4, Part 1 = March 1977


NOTES AND CORRESPONDENCE

Note in Correction. "If we look for an earlier year of comparable significance for SF in English, the one that most readily strikes the eye is 1870, which saw the publication in London of The Coming Race, Erewhon, and Five Weeks in a Balloon..." (SFS 3[1976]:294). Strikes the eye, forsooth! How the knowledge that these three books were all published in the early 1870s emerged from my mind as the statement that they were all published in 1870, I'll never know, but doubtless it would have been less likely to happen if I had not been straining to make a point. The correct dates for The Coming Race and Erewhon (or at least those given in NCBEL) are 1871 and 1872 respectively. And so I suppose there is no year in the 19th century comparable to 1946 in significance for the history of SF in English.

Being on leave during the fall semester, I read no proofs for SFS #10, not even for my own long review of Barron's Anatomy and the 49 reprints, and the results—an issue reasonably free of typographical errors except for my own error-full contribution—pretty well demonstrate that proofs need to be read by the author himself as well as by others. (The gods that watch over such things saw to it that three of the four errors on the cover occurred next to my initials.) I will not compile a full errata list here, but would like to make a few corrections. In 295/8 for that read than; 296/4b for history of read history as; 297/31 for the to of reliable to unreliable read or, 299/1 for Blen read Glen; 299 passirn for Nightland read Night Land; 300/6b for and other read the other; 301/11 for the of of near-future of alternatepresent read or; 301/33 for $43.0 read $4.30; 303/19b for Alexi read Alexei; and 311/14 for was...will read either is...will or was...would. One problem in reading proofs nowadays is that modem typesetting machines (i.e. computers) have single keys for several words of high frequency — and, the, at, etc. — though I cannot blame the computer for my tense confusions. —RDM.

 

SF in the 1850s. I am looking forward to SFS #10; the new area of study [the Documents in the History of SF] may bring new life to it (I've been feeling slightly disappointed over the last two or three issues; the semantics of the writer seem to be of more importance to some than the actual ideas that the writer is trying to get across—perhaps that is just a reaction on my part to over-analysis of a genre that is basically just another form of escapist entertainment.)                

Since I last wrote a commission has taken me back into the archives of the British Museum Library, and the pleasure of research is again drawing me back. Your letter prompts me to go back very soon to look through the more literary periodicals of the 1870s to see if I can locate a review of By and By for you. Will also take that opportunity to look into the biography and bibliography of James Platt. If the list of books reviewed by him is interesting enough I'll collect copies of each.                

At the moment I am more interested in the 1850s in England, which appear to be a turning point in attitudes in general. As Louis James points out in his latest work, the success of the penny dreadful can be regarded as a manifestation of the change from agrarian peasantry to working-class proletariat. From the little I know of social history, the mid-19th century appears to have seen the acceptance of the new industrial technology and a more forward outlook was being projected (e.g. the building of railways, the Crystal Palace Exhibition).                

Anyway, 1851 saw the publication of J.F. Smith's Stanfield Hall, Charles Delorme's Captain Thunderbolt, and William Wilson's A Little Earnest Book, each a quite noteworthy event in SF history even though their influence was slight. Since the same year also saw the publication of The Last Peer, an attack on technological progress, along with the first publication in France of Jules Verne, research into that period may well prove fruitful in some respect. If I do come across anything of interest I will automatically let you know. —John Eggeling.

Rare-Book Dealers, the 1850s, etc. Mr. Eggeling is the proprietor of Phantasmagoria Books (8 Colwell Road, East Dulwich, London SE22) whose discovery of A Little Earnest Book exemplifies the important work being done in extending our knowledge of 19th-century SF by such rare-book dealers as himself, George Locke, Stuart A. Teitler, and Lloyd W. Currey (to name only those with whom I have had recent contact). His remarks about the 1850s remind me of, and make me appreciate more fully the truth of, something that Sam Moskowitz once said in a letter, that no one yet knows enough about 19th-century SF to write its history. Until 19th-century books have been more completely listed, until such lists as those compiled or being compiled by Clarke, Locke, Teitler, Sargent have been conflated in chronological order, until 19th-century reviews have been thoroughly examined—until such time we will be working in the dark. Let me again urge readers to see what they can do about supplying us with Documents in the History of Science Fiction. —RDM.

 

Question. Why don't you publish more critical-theoretical material? You've got Suvin for an editor. He's done work in genre theory and in diverse critical topics. How come more theoretical material doesn't come through? Your published material is pretty good, but the critical theories which are assumed by your writers are often quite droll, not to say oldfashioned. Where's structuralism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, genre theory, etc? If I didn't know better (I don't), I'd say you were a bunch of unreconstructed New Critics. Are you? —Laurence L. Alexander.

Response. Structuralists, phenomenologists, hermeneuticists, and genre-theorists are all welcome in the pages of SFS. Critical-theoretical essays would best be sent to Dr Suvin, who makes the final decision on about half of what we publish and who is more receptive to newfangled notions than I am. Some of my best friends were New Critics in the 30s and 40s before the term was invented, but I got reconstructed when I went north to Chicago and the Aristotelians, and have I fear through the 50s, 60s, and 70s failed to be as much impressed as I no doubt should have been by the current critical fashions. With our 300 pages a year and minimum of white space, we hope to have something for everyone interested in the serious study of SF—something for Mr Alexander on the one hand, and for Mr Eggeling on the other.—RDM.

 

Fabula 77, the Scandinavian Science Fiction Festival, May 28-30, 1977, in Copenhagen, is sponsored by the Department of English, University of Copenhagen, and the Danish Science Fiction Cirklen. The Festival is the great annual event in Scandinavian fandom, but this is the first time a university has been actively engaged in it. The sponsors wish to promote serious interest in science fiction and reach out to new audiences.                

In addition to Scandinavian critics and writers, Philip José Farmer and Brian Aldiss have promised to come. There will be films, panels, exhibitions, and a series of lectures, ranging from informal talks to scholarly papers. For practical information, please apply to Carsten Schioler, Morbaerhaven 5/91, DK-2620 Albertslund, Denmark, who can also undertake to arrange for accomodation if notified before 1 March 77. Offers of papers, stating title and language (Danish, English, Norwegian, or Swedish) and accompanied by a 3-line abstract should be sent to the undersigned at the Department of English, University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 96, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark. —Cay Dollerup.

 

SF in The New Republic. Having been a reader of The New Republic since the great days of Edmund Wilson and Malcolm Cowley, and thus almost as long as of the SF magazines, I felt some trepidation upon hearing that TNR was to have a special SF issue come Halloween. But when the Oct 30 issue arrived, with no mention of Halloween, I found myself well pleased with the introductory comment by Mark Rose, the essays by Ursula K. Le Guin (on Dick), Fredric Jameson (on Niven), and Robert Scholes (on Brunner and Le Guin), as well as with Derek de Solla Price's "Science Fiction as Science," in which the coming of the SF pulps in the 20s is likened to the 17th-century development of journals publishing scientific papers: "By chopping knowledge into atomic pieces that could be made to hang together and get things out cooperatively bit by bit, the invention of the paper let science grow as a community, rather than as individuals each producing a book 'for finish' in its area" (pp 40-41). In the same way the SF magazines created a community of writers and readers, including young readers who grew up to become scientists. I don't know whether it was the individual contributors or Professor Rose or the TNR editor who decided on using "Sci-Fi" rather than "SF" for reference to the genre, but I suppose that it doesn't matter and that we ought to rid ourselves of our defensive attitudes in this respect as well as in all others. —RDM.

 

Psychology and Science Fiction. A panel exploring the relationships between psychology and science fiction, organized and moderated by Harvey A. Katz of Suffolk University, took place at the Fall 1976 meeting of the Massachusetts Psychological Association. Science fiction, which allows the extrapolation of academic psychology to alternative systems of personal and social knowledge, is being employed throughout the country as a provocative tool in the teaching of psychology. Papers were presented by Dr Katz; James Oshinsky, University of Tennessee; Wain Saeger, Knoxville College; Thomas Lombardo, University of Indiana, Gary; and Charles Waugh, University of Maine, Augusta.

The members of the panel are starting a newsletter to be concerned with the relation of psychology (broadly defined) and science fiction (broadly defined). Information on the use of SF in instruction, the psychological content of SF, annotated bibliographies, etc. will be compiled and abstracted for the newsletter. Materials and enquiries should be sent to James Oshinsky, Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN 37916. We hope to schedule a symposium on science fiction, with a workshop for the evaluation of teaching materials, student compositions, and more detailed analysis of literary works, at the convention of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco in August 1977. Anyone interested in participating should write to the undersigned at the Department of Psychology, Young Memorial Hall, Knoxville College, Knoxville TN 37921. —Wain Saeger.

 

Taplinger and Cosmology Now. The Taplinger Publishing Company seems to be developing a line of books of interest to students of SF: books on SF such as the biography of Verne reviewed in our last issue, SF anthologies such as Tomorrow, Inc.: SF Stories about Big Business, ed. Harry Martin Greenberg and Joseph D. Olander, and books that may be said to be on the subject-matter of SF, such as Cosmology Now, ed. Laurie John (1976, 168p, $10.95). Since elsewhere in this issue I have condemned one Taplinger book as spurious, and since I cannot deal at all with the anthologies (it being against our policy to review new fiction), I find it a pleasure to be able to say that Cosmology Now appears to be the genuine article. It consists of 12 lectures originally delivered over the BBC by apparently eminent authorities, together with an introduction by Sir Bernard Lovell and intercalary comment by the editor. I do not have the philosophy or science to judge the soundness of the individual essays, but can say that they are all admirably clear in providing a background against which a number of recent SF novels can be read with greater understanding and interest. Since even so the book is rather peripheral to our interests, I have not sent it out to someone who could review it properly, but if there is anyone who would like to attempt a review-essay on cosmological speculation in SF, I would be happy to send it to him/her so that he/she could attempt the task. —RDM.

 

In Defense of Anatomy of Wonder. In your review of Anatomy of Wonder to which we contributed "The Modern Period" you state that "its lists are not complete by any standard of books important in the history of SF" (SFS 3:299.) By any standards? Any?. Thank you, you have succinctly swept away over two years of difficult and intense research.              

Your assumptions about our procedures—"the books listed derive largely from those he has just happened to read—or, if he has made a search, happened to find available"—are not correct. (We are speaking here of "The Modern Period," our own contribution, which includes over 700 entries, the great majority of the fiction listed in Anatomy.)                

The construction of our list took several months and went, more or less, in the following fashion. We began by selecting, based on our own knowledge, works that deserved inclusion in a critical guide to SF. Thus far, you are correct; we did pick books we knew about. Of course, we were not casual readers of SF, but instead long-time students of the genre. Even so, we never considered relying on our own initial knowledge and judgment for the construction of such an important reference work as Anatomy of Wonder. It is from this point on that your apparent assumptions and our experience of our methodology part. Indeed, our initial list was quite different from the one that finally saw print in Anatomy.                

Actually, the list was continually in a "state of becoming" and we are still collecting items to consider for inclusion in case there is a second edition of Anatomy. Our initial judgments were supplemented with numerous other select lists and readers' polls. It is difficult to reconstruct all this up to three years after the fact, but we definitely recall the following, the substance of which we did prepare for inclusion in Anatomy: "Locus Poll: 1975," Best all-time SF novels; P. Schuyler Miller, Analog reader's choice lists 1953, 1956, 1966, and 1967; Jack Williamson, "Teaching SF: 1972"; Charles G. Waugh, "Best Authors, Best Novels: Chosen by College Instructors of Science Fiction," 1973; and Alexei Panshin, "A Basic Science Fiction Collection," Library Journal (June 15, 1970).                

In addition, we combed, at a minimum, the following: Kingsley Amis, New Maps of Hell; Thomas D. Clareson (ed.), SF: The Other Side of Realism; Donald H. Tuck, A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Second edition, and Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volume I; John R. Pfeiffer, Fantasy and Science Fiction: A Critical Guide; Kenneth Bulmer and Peter Nicholls, The Best of SF: An Exhibition of Science Fiction; Alva Rogers, Requiem for Astounding; Donald A. Wollheim, The Universe Makers; Sam Moskowitz, Seekers of Tomorrow; Darko Suvin, Other Worlds, Other Seas; Damon Knight, In Search of Wonder, Second edition; James Blish (William Aethling), The Issue at Hand, and More Issues at Hand; L. Sprague De Camp, Science Fiction Handbook; Brian Aldiss, Billion Year Spree; Donald Franson and Howard DeVore, A History of Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Third edition; Hal Hall, Science Fiction Book Review Index, 1923-1973; Book Review Digest; the review columns of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Galaxy, If, and Astounding/Analog; Anthony Boucher's yearly review of SF books appearing occasionally in Judith Merril's Year's Best anthologies; articles and reviews in The Alien Critic; Algol; The Double Bill; Extrapolation; Foundation: Review of Science Fiction; Locus; Luna Monthly; Outworlds; Riverside Quarterly; Science-Fiction Studies; Science Fiction Review; Science Fiction Times; and individual issues of numerous other fanzines.               

Meanwhile, our lists and queries were circulated among academics, fans, and other readers who made comments and provided specific suggestions. Their names are included in the general introduction to Anatomy. Thus, the potential charge of capriciousness in the selection of works for Anatomy some SFS readers may interpret your review to imply, must be weighed against our lengthy and serious attempts to provide a balanced, solid, critical guide.                

Unfortunately, responding to the disarming pressure of the economics of book publishing, we allowed much of the above information to be cut from the introduction to our section. We rationalized that most of it was reported in the bibliographical sections of Anatomy, and that readers would assume that we had made use of the items listed in those sections. We were consulted and we allowed the cut. Never again such an assumption. A future edition, should there be one, will restore this information, as well as a more complete explanation of our other selection procedures and the constraints upon the annotations themselves.                

Meanwhile, you are incorrect in suggesting, or implying, that we made only casual searches for works not in our collections but which we were considering for inclusion. Howard DeVore and other collectors and dealers cooperated by loaning us rare works. Interlibrary loan at CMU worked exceedingly hard for us. If all else failed, and the reviews or other sources spoke strongly for the inclusion of a work that in a very few cases we could not locate, we included it anyway and ended its annotation with the note "[not seen]." There were a few, a very few, "possibles" that we couldn't collect enough support to include unseen—keeping them in mind for a second edition.                

Finally, we disagree with your premise—central to your entire review—that a "select bibliography" can only be compiled by a scholar (scholars) after having read all the books in the SF field. This is clearly absurd. A few "treasures" may be deeply buried in the pulp and paperback junkpile, and, indeed, a few most likely did escape our very best efforts; but what is the probability of such "hidden gems," especially novels, escaping the attention of the droves of other SF readers, both professionals and fans who have turned out thousands of pages of criticism, reviews, and comments since the 1940's? We employed these sources systematically, and the probability is low.                

The works included in Anatomy do ultimately rest on our informed (hopefully) critical judgment. We purposely cast a wide net initially and our card file of works considered and read for possible inclusion is much larger than that of works finally selected. Included or not, every work considered was judged on as broad a critical basis as possible. In some ways the annotations reflect our personal judgment to a greater extent than does the selection of the list. We employed certain criteria for inclusion, some of it judgmental, some not. And these shaped the final list. Some of these are spelled out in our introductory essay in Anatomy, such as our working definition of SF, the automatic inclusion of all Nebula, Hugo, and Campbell nominees, and our critical assessment of a work's merit in terms of literary, ideological, historical, popular, and/or authorial standards. But some of our criteria are not explained. Most important of these was our decision to limit any single author to about a dozen items. Thus, highly prolific and successful authors such as Brunner and Silverberg end up with only nine and twelve entries respectively, and these were selected to show not only the best works of such authors, but important milestones in their development as well. In the case of predominantly short story writers, such as Ballard, who received eleven entries, we included those collections which adequately reflect the range and quality of the corpus of the writer's work. For minor authors, for whom no consensus on an outstanding work was available, we listed the best or most representative of their lot as far as we could decide on the basis of the limited critical attention such writers had received—and our own reading of them.                

Foreign language authors presented special difficulties. We limited our field of eligibles to works available in English, but attempted to give as wide a coverage as possible, thereby, perhaps, accepting overall a slightly lower critical threshold for them just as we did for some minor English speaking authors.                

There was also the give and take between us. We acted as checks on one another's selections. In effect we both had to agree on the inclusion of each work. If one balked at a suggestion, the other had to argue his case. Last, concern over length constantly lurked in the background. Some limit must be put to the list—and some end to the whole project. The publisher waited for our manuscript as deadline after deadline passed. We mailed the final draft on December 24, 1975.               

This is how over two years of research went by—nearly all the time available to us for creative work outside of regular teaching and university activities. Of course, individuals will differ over which works should be included in Anatomy. Of course we excluded a number of marginal items. There are certainly factual errors, such as the wrong date for the time traveler in De Camp's Lest Darkness Fall (one of the several important services of a constructive book review should be to indicate such errors as completely as the reviewer can, so that the book's users will not compound the errors).                

Even so, we strove for a work that would be an accurate and authoritative tool for SF research and library development.               

How well we, and the other contributors to Anatomy, have accomplished this will be difficult to assess. Which individuals have the knowledge to adequately evaluate the entire book? What standards of comparison need to be applied? Your review at least strives in the right direction. For that reason, it merits our response to a perhaps inadvertent set of assumptions about our methodology and to the prerequisites of such a methodology for the construction of an Anatomy of Wonder. —Joe DeBolt and John R. Pfeiffer.

Response to Professors DeBolt and Pfeiffer. Reviews of bibliographical works tend to the savage side. If Professors DeBolt and Pfeiffer have really taken umbrage at my overall friendly and favorable review, they are I fear in for a series of rude shocks as other reviews of Anatomy of Wonder appear. I did not, of course, "sweep aside two years of...research," however "difficult and intense," for the Anatomy has value quite apart from the question of its relative completeness. I will grant that my remarks on this matter were directed primarily at the other contributors to the volume and that I should probably have pointed out that the DeBolt-Pfeiffer team was exceptional in having set up an elaborate procedure for selection. Even so, I cannot grant that their list is complete by any standard other than their own, and I think them ill-advised to claim for their work a virtue which no book of this kind has ever had.

But Professors DeBolt and Pfeiffer have, I'm sure, written SFS less from umbrage than from a desire to open a discussion on the criteria by which books such as Anatomy of Wonder can be judged, so I will respond with a critique of their section of the book. Aside from the 51 entries for anthologies, that section, "The Modern Period, 1938-1975," consists of 650 entries covering 311 authors. The authors may be said to fall into four groups: first, those of established reputation in "serious" literature, best-seller fiction, science, social science, or philosophy; second, those of considerable reputation in the SF world; third, those with some reputation in SF and/or such popular genres as the detective story; fourth, those with apparently little or no reputation, i.e. unknown to me although perhaps well known to others.                

In the first group I would put 44 authors accounting for 54 entries: Barth, Borges, Burgess, W. Burroughs (2 books), Calisher, Calvino (2), Condon, Crighton, Drury, Durrell, Fast, Gardner, Gary, Golding, Graves, Hawkes, Hersey (2), Hesse, Hoyle (4), Huxley (3), Kantor, Kirst, Koestler, Kosinski, Lessing, Levin, Lewis, Mead, B. Moore, Orwell, Percy, Pynchon, Rand (2), Russell, Serling, Sheriff, Skinner, Stewart, Taylor, Vidal (2), Waugh, Werfel, C. Wilson, Wouk. Although the books listed for these authors include a number of outstanding works, many are of only average quality, albeit lent added interest in some cases by the fame of the author. Since it would be easy to add a number of SF books of average quality by famous authors, this list cannot be considered complete by its own qualitative standard. Furthermore, it is not complete by high standards, for it omits at least two outstanding SF novels of the period: Michael Young's The Rise of the Meritocracy and L.P. Hartley's Facial Justice.                

In the second group let us put the remaining 72 authors with three or more entries (Paul Anderson has the most with 13) and then add such others as seem necessary—Campbell, Keyes, W.M. Miller (2), and E.E. Smith—for a total of 76 authors and 376 entries. Since the compilers have cast so wide a net, it would be highly unlikely that they have missed any SF author of considerable reputation, and I do not think they have done so. (I would assume that John Lange, professor of philosophy in the City University of New York, was deliberately excluded on ideological grounds, the Gor novels depicting and apparently advocating a presumably unacceptable kind of male dominance and female submission.) For these leading SF authors the question is whether their work has been adequately represented in the 3- to 13-entry listings. And here we get to the heart of the matter that DeBolt and Pfeiffer brush aside with sarcasm ("a few treasures may be buried in the pulp and paperback junkpile") and the statement that it is "clearly absurd" to expect the compiler of a select bibliography to have "read all the books in the SF field." Such would indeed be absurd, but it is also absurd to imagine that any one person, or any two-person team, can read and evaluate all the books of the leading authors in the field. In sum, it is absurd for the compilers to claim authoritative completeness for outstanding books in those cases where they are unable to cast their net wide enough to include books which they consider of less importance. Let us consider their treatment of the canons of Heinlein, Asimov, and Le Guin.  

Since one of the nine entries for Heinlein is for The Past Through Tomorrow (which subsumes the first four books of the Future History series), and since six of his books are entered in the Juvenile section, Heinlein's representation in Anatomy may be said to include 18 books. This might seem to be sufficient, but consider what is missing: Beyond This Horizon (regarded by some as Heinlein's best novel, and certainly a milestone in both his career and modern SF), Waldo and Magic, Inc. ("Waldo" being merely in the Index for an anthology appearance), The Menace From Earth (containing "By His Bootstraps"), and even Orphans of the Sky ("Universe" and "Common Sense")! While it is true that the annotation for The Past Through Tomorrow includes a reference to both Orphans and "Universe," it is also true that "Universe" is too important in the history of modern SF to be dismissed with a sentence—especially in a bibliography that provides full entries for at least two of its numerous offspring: Galouye's Dark Universe (which is compared not to its parent but to Asimov's "Nightfall") and Aldiss's Starship (which is of course much more than a mere imitation). There is indeed not one entry for any of Heinlein's collections outside the Future History series, and thus no annotations for a number of works of the greatest importance to the development of modern SF.                

My objections to the treatments of Asimov and Le Guin are less extensive than those to the treatment of Heinlein, but perhaps just as crucial with respect to the completeness of the DeBolt-Pfeiffer listings. The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun are merely mentioned in the entry for I, Robot as additional stories in the Robot Series, and Asimov's Mysteries is not mentioned at all. Thus Asimov's contribution to the future-world detective story (which he may almost be said to have invented) goes entirely unrecognized. Furthermore, The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, quite apart from their relation to I, Robot or the detective story, are novels of such quality and reputation as to demand an entry of their own. For Le Guin, since Earthsea is treated in the Juvenile section, it would perhaps have been sufficient to provide entries for only three books — The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, and The Left Hand of Darkness — if the entry for either the first or third had noted that they belong to the Hainish Universe series and that this important series also includes Planet of Exile, Rocannon's World, City of Illusions, "The Word for World is Forest," and a number of short stories of which some are named in the Index for anthology appearances. But from Anatomy of Wonder no reader will discover that there is such a thing as the Hainish Universe series, or that TD and LHD have any relationship to each other, or that some of the stories indexed for anthology appearances or comparisons have an important relationship to two of the books entered for annotations.                

In the third group I include all the remaining authors with two entries and a number of those with only one: 131 authors and 155 entries. Some of the books by this group of authors are outstanding, but most are of only average quality just as the authors are of only minor importance in the SF world. These authors as a group extend the width of the net and thus make it virtually certain that no truly important authors will be omitted from the overall list. On the other hand it would be impossible for the list to be complete by its own qualitative standards, for any number of authors can claim that they have as much right to an entry as many of those included.                

That leaves us with 60 one-entry authors whose names I do not recognize. Although I can made no judgments on the quality of books I have not read by authors I do not know, I can say that none of the annotations persuades me that the book in question is of more than average interest, and so come back to the principle that the overall list cannot possibly be complete by its own qualitative standards. Even so, can we not grant that the width of the net has made certain that the overall list includes all the better books by minor SF authors except possibly for "a few treasures...buried in the pulp and paperback junkpile"? I'm afraid not. I think of two books by one Andrew Marvell, Minimum Man (UK 1938) and Three Men Make a World (UK 1939), two of the best thrillers I have ever read, and SF novels of such intelligence and style that for their sake I make exceptions to my generalization that the thriller is not a proper form for SF. Since these two books have evidently made no lasting impression on the SF community (except for a few readers like myself who have just happened to come across them), I cannot state unequivocally, as I could for Facial Justice and The Rise of the Meritocracy, that they belong in any SF bibliography by whomever compiled—only that of the SF I have happened to read they are among those that have impressed me most. And having said that, I must say that despite all their commendable efforts to set up a procedure that would reduce chance to a minimum, the books listed by DeBolt and Pfeiffer still derive to a large extent from those they just happened to read—or, if you will, from those they read and just happened to admire, their critical sense being as good as yours or mine but probably no better.                

Finally, since DeBolt and Pfeiffer chide me for not pointing out factual errors that could be corrected in a later edition, I will note that there are four such errors in the entry for Cities in Flight: my name is not spelled with an "s"; the title printed as Year 2018 should have an exclamation point; Year 2018! is an alternate title for They Shall Have Stars, not for A Life for the Stars; and it is cymbals, not symbols, that clash in the alternate title for The Triumph of Time.                

This will perhaps be sufficient for my contribution to this discussion. SFS would be happy to receive letters on this matter, and would be especially happy to consider for publication an essay on criteria for a select bibliography of SF. —RDM.

 

SF at the 1977 MLA Convention. The Special Session on Science Fiction and Myth of the 1977 MLA Convention in Chicago is soliciting papers in two categories: theory and applied criticism. Papers on theory should be sent to Gary K. Wolfe, Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan, Chicago IL 60605; those on practical criticism should go to Charlotte Donsky, Regis College, 50th at Lowell, Denver CO 80211. This session will continue discussion of issues raised at the 1976 sessions on Science Fiction and Mythology, but new ideas and approaches are also welcome.

 

The SFS Stylesheet. Each article submitted to Science-Fiction Studies is read by an editor and at least one editorial consultant. For initial consideration we prefer to receive, not the original manuscript, but two photocopies that we will be free to mark up. If in the end your article is rejected, we will return the two copies with the comments of the readers. We do not require that the submitted manuscript be in the style prescribed here, but if we accept your article, and the manuscript differs from this style in sufficient detail to require retyping in whole or part, we may ask you to do the retyping.

Please write your mailing address and telephone numbers in the upper left corner of the first page. Then write your author-name and article-title as I have written mine on this page, i.e. flush left and in caps and lower case, not entirely in caps. Double-space everything in your manuscript: text, quotations, notes. Double-space twice to indicate white space between sections or before or after a quotation.

1. Special Signs to Turn Typing into Printing. The percentage sign, as in %5, calls for the chapter sign, as in §5. Single underlining calls for Italics, double underlining for SMALL CAPS. Wavy underlining, made with pencil, calls for Boldface; single underlining plus wavy underlining for Boldface Italics.

2. Sections and Indentations. Your first paragraph or two should be prefatory and with no section-number or section-title. Do not indent the first line of the article, the first line of a section, or the first line of a spaced-down smaller-type quotation. The only exception is when your section or quotation consists of a series of numbered paragraphs, as in the endnote section.

3. Quotation Marks and Endnote Signs. Single quotes are used only for a quotation within a quotation. Always write ." .' .'" ," ,' ,'" ": ': '": "; '; '"; but write "? '? '"? or ?" ?' ?'" or '?" according to the sense. With ! ) ] — it is also according to the sense. The endnote sign follows any mark of punctuation — ;7 :7 ,7 .7 '7 "7 ?7 !7 )7 ]7 — except the dash.

4. Ellipsis and Emphasis. It is never necessary to begin a quotation with the ellipsis mark. When you omit words within a sentence, use three dots with no space before or after: word...word. When you omit either the last or first words of a sentence, use four dots with end space, as in words of first sentence.... Initial words of second sentence or as in words of first sentence.... non-initial words of second sentence. You can skip a sentence or two or three in this way, but not into the next paragraph. If three or four dots appear in the original, provide the note "ellipsis in original." If within a quotation you change roman type to italic, you must of course
provide the note "emphasis added," but it is never necessary to say "emphasis in original."

5. Initial Letters in Upper-Case Sets. Upper-case sets like US, USA, UK, or USSR should not be marked with dots (as in U.S.A.), and those like PMLA, TLS, or LHD (for The Left Hand of Darkness) should not be underlined or italicized. In SFS the abbreviation for both science fiction and science-fiction is SF, never S-F, sf, or s-f. Initials as part of a proper name should be written with dots but solid: H.G. Wells. Two sets should be in small caps: AD and BC, as should similar sets invented by SF writers, such as Huxley's AF for Anno Fordi.

6. Superfluous Apostrophes and Dots. Write the 1970s or the 70s, not the 1970's or the '70's. I prefer not to have a dot after most abbreviations (Mr Mrs Ms Dr cf edn p pp). But use dots in e.g. and i.e. and when there is a slangy pronunciation for the abbreviation itself (as for Prof. and ed.).

7. References. The most important difference between SFS style and other styles is that when the literary work in question has appeared in several formats and hence in several paginations, references must be made, not to the pages of the edition you happen to have, but to chapters or other such divisions as the author has provided. Such divisions are marked with the chapter sign, which you call for with the percentage sign, as in %5.

§5 = Chapter 5—or the 5th of the smallest divisions
numbered continuously throughout the work.
§5:4 = Book 5, Chapter 4—or some similar combination.
§§5-6 = Chapters 5-6—or sections or verses 5-6, etc.
§§ 5, 7, 9 = Chapters or whatever 5, 7, 9. Please note the
difference in spacing between this and the pre-
ceding notations.

A reference to a book under study (as opposed to a book cited in passing) should be made in the text itself rather than in an endnote. If it is necessary to refer to the pages of a particular edition, you can give both page- and chapter-references, e.g. "Miserably she looked at him through the window in the hood of her yash" (251/§74), the reference being to p 251 of the cited edition or to §74 of presumably any edition. For your first reference of this kind, or any special kind, there should be an endnote in explanation of what you are doing, as in note 13 in section 9 below.

8. Quotations, Reviews, and Reference Brackets. In our articles (beginning with SFS #12) the running text is set in 10-point type averaging 72 units per line. To approximate the SFS line (and thus help us estimate the length of your article), fix your left margin at 11 and your right margin at 82. A quotation consisting of a single sentence of any length, or of two or three sentences amounting to less than four lines, is included in the running text, e.g. "Miserably she looked at him through the window in the hood of her yash" (§74). Please note that the reference bracket precedes the sentence-punctuation mark when that mark is a period, comma, colon, or semicolon. If the quoted sentence were a question or exclamation, we would
need double punctuation, as in "Don't you recognize Matthew Flamen?" (§4). And also note that here we use round brackets.
A quotation consisting of two or more sentences and also four or more lines is spaced down and set in 9-point type. In SFS reviews the running text itself is set in 9-point with quotations in 8-point. The quotation that follows illustrates three things: first, spacing down with change to smaller type; second, how to style the first lines of a review for SFS; third, the fact that for a spaced-down quotation the reference bracket follows the sentence-punctuation mark and uses square brackets. Since 9-point type averages 80 units per SFS line, I move my right margin to 90 (which of course would not be possible if my typewriter had pica type).

Brian W. Aldiss and Harry Harrison, eds. Hell's Cartographers: Some Personal Histories of Science Fiction Writers. Harper and Row, 1976, v+246,$7.95. The classic motive for autobiography is not just to tell, but also to learn, about oneself. Of the six contributors to this volume, only one seems to have had this motive in even a small degree:

 

At last to speak of oneself. An odd temptation, which mostly I have resisted, in the past, maintaining that I'm not ready to undertake a summing up...or that I'm bored with myself and talking about myself.... I manage to hold all poses at once, esthete and man of commerce, puritan and libertine: probably the truth is that I have no consistent position at all. We'll see. [pp 7-8]

But the promise of the last sentence is not kept: Robert Silverberg tells us what he already knew about himself before taking up the task, not what he learned (if anything) during the process. [SFS 3(1976):208, with some condensation]

9. Endnotes. When writing notes for SFS, (1) please double-space and indent as for ordinary paragraphs; (2) please number your notes with ordinary rather than superscript numerals; (3) please remember not to underline or italicize upper-case sets like PMLA or SFS; and since our notes are set in 9-point type, (3) please fix your margins for an 80-unit line if you have elite type (12 units per inch) or for a 60-unit line if you have pica type (10 units per inch). In the following paragraphs a large dot is used to separate example from comment.

1. Cary Nelson, "Reading Criticism," PMLA 91(1976):803; John Radford, "Science Fiction as Myth," Foundation #10(1976):29; Urie Bronfenbrenner, "The Origins of Alienation," Scientific American, August 1974, p 54. ● PMLA pages by volume; Foundation pages issue by issue, numbers its issues continuously with no mention of volume, and identifies its issues primarily by number; Scientific American, which also pages issue by issue, identifies its issues primarily by date. These forms would be sufficient for the traditional purpose of such notes: to enable the reader to find the passage cited in a bound volume of the magazine cited. But what if the reader's library does not have a file of the magazine in question? See the next note.
2. Cary Nelson, "Reading Criticism" (pp 801-15 of PMLA 91,1976), p 803; John Radford, "Science Fiction as Myth" (pp 28-33 of Foundation #10, 1976), p 29; Urie Bronfenbrenner, "The Origins of Alienation" (pp 53-57, 60-61 of Scientific American, August 1974), p 54. ● These forms would give the student the page-numbers that he would need to obtain a photographic copy of the article through Interlibrary Loan. While I do not insist on their use for the time being, I do recommend them. -- RDM

 

Concerning the "Lem Affair"

In 1975 the SFWA Forum ran a reprint of an article by Stanislaw Lem, an unusually harsh assessment of American science fiction. In subsequent issues angry responses to the article appeared, and also a letter accusing Mr Lem of financial dishonesty in a publishing matter; the writer did not support his allegation, except with a threat of resignation if Mr Lem were not expelled from SFWA. It was then proposed that the honorary membership given Mr Lem by the officers of SFWA a couple of years earlier be taken from him. This suggestion was put on a straw-vote list; but meanwhile one of the current officers, finding that the honorary membership could be invalidated on a technicality (Mr Lem having been eligible for ordinary membership when given honorary membership), announced, without further consultation, that the honorary membership was canceled. A few members wrote in to protest the gracelessness, the pettiness, and the smell of Red-baiting of this action; but the President of the Association supported it, writing to Mr Lem to inform him that he was no longer an honorary member, and inviting him to rejoin as an ordinary member. Mr Lem did not avail himself of the invitation. So far as I know, he has not been asked to return the certificate which I am told is sent to the Association's few honorary members as a token of esteem.                

Re the technicality: I believe that J.R.R. Tolkien was eligible for ordinary membership when awarded honorary membership, but has not been expelled yet, possibly because he is dead.                

In reciting these events, though I avoid names and quotes, I may be trespassing upon my own obligation as a member of SFWA, for material printed in the Forum is understood to be for members' eyes only. No quotations are allowed; the material is not even supposed to be talked about. This latter stipulation is perhaps unrealistic, and certainly self-defeating when the SF community gets word of some kind of ruckus going on in the Forum. Rumors get going, set off by people who—legitimately or not—have read the Forum, and exaggerated by those who haven't. In this case, since the bitterness of the Forum correspondence (including my own first shocked response) can scarcely be exaggerated, it was the facts that got distorted; I have heard some weird versions of the "Lem Affair" on both sides of the Atlantic.                

I believe the events were as summarized above; and I believe they should be known to anyone interested. They will please anyone who believes that an artist should be punished for stating his opinion; that servility is the proper response to civility; or that an accusation of dishonesty is as good as proof. My own experience, in a small, informal, personal survey of acquintance-members the last few months, is that most of them feel that the matter is trivial, since Lem is a) rude, b) a foreigner, c) a commie, d) not such a good writer anyhow, e) male. Therefore no injustice or dishonor done him really matters.                

I am biased. I admire Lem's works, enjoy his harsh and passionate criticism, and value highly the glimpse of a proud, humorous, generous, courageous person afforded by occasional private correspondence. I cannot judge the matter coolly. I have tried very hard to, but it still does not strike me as trivial. Nothing that involves the deliberate humiliation of an individual by an organization can, in Mr Lem's country or in ours, be considered trivial.                

The SFWA is not a powerful organization, nothing compared to the Soviet Writers Union, say; but when it uses the tactics of the Soviet Writers Union, I think there is cause for concern, and reasons for shame. I have not resigned from SFWA in protest, because I want to speak up for my point of view, as a member, for as long as I am permitted to.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, January 1977

 

A First Comment on Ms Le Guin's Note on the "Lem Affair"

I would not like to read Ms Le Guin's note merely in the vein of moral indignation (though there is plenty of scope for that) but primarily for its immediate practical relevance for all of us. It raises, first of all, the question of when organizations such as writers unions turn from useful to baleful. Now there are two main models for such unions, the economic and the political. A trade union, the dominant AngloAmerican model, has for its goal the economic protection of its members. It is admirable insofar as it combats the economic alienation of the writer's labor and tries, by exercising intra-group solidarity, to keep the products of its labor under as much control by their producers as the circumstances of the capitalist market will allow. But a trade union turns deplorable when it becomes an institutional obstruction to the development of creativity—creativity which always begins, explicitly or implicitly, with a critique of the existing creations or production—and when it ossifies into a keeper of the status quo because that is favorable for the union members, who have by then become the privileged part of the labor force. The trade union must then enter into larger combinations, congresses, or indeed union set-ups, concerned primarily with individual status and not with greater creativity. A political union, the dominant European and by now probably world model, has for its goal the participation of the members in their people's combat for political and economic liberation. It is admirable insofar as it, at a time of revolutionary social stress, channels the particular insights of the artists, by means of inter-group solidarity, toward the attainment of a material basis for human dignity. But a political union turns deplorable when it jells into an institutional obstruction to creativity, ossifying into a political bureaucracy. Such a political union becomes then part of a larger governmental bureaucracy, primarily concerned with collective power and not with greater creativity.                

SFWA clearly started as a trade union doing a much needed and in many cases admirable job of protecting the economic rights of its members. But much has happened since its inception. Some of its prominent members are now among the most powerful magazine and book-publishing editors in the field, authors of anthologies, dealers out of money and prestige. I am saying this without at all impugning anybody's ethics: however, the Emperor has acquired a new set of clothes. SFWA is either directly, or through a kind of "personal union" (as monarchists would say) or through "interlocking directorates" (as capitalists would say) concerned not only in publishing but also in apprentice-training as a rite of passage into the profession. Has it crossed the divide that separates pressure group and trade union from bureaucracy? I am not a member and have no access to the internal documents of the organization, so I do not know. But the Lem Affair indicates that it is at least trembling on the brink of such a continental divide. For bureaucracy can be recognized by its passionate desire for not rocking the boat and its deep hatred of radical innovation and radical critique (which of course does not have to be criticism by political radicals, and indeed Lem is as far from one as he is from the average SFWA member; a whole booklet published by a radical faction in West Germany spells out his "revisionism"—not unreasonably so, given the booklet's Stalinist point of view).                

In view of this, even the cozy idea of an SFWA Forum circulated internally, for SFWA members only and in order to further untrammeled and even acrimonious debate, turns into its opposite—in fact into a trammel and shackle on a free exchange of ideas, since whatever it said in the Forum is not supposed to be discussed with those not initiated into the guild. An important controversy is thus kept in a tight little and—by definition—right little group. Bureaucracy can, of course, also be recognized by its deep horror of public disclosure of facts and attitudes—they are for an inner circle of "competent" people only. History teaches us that this breeds obscurantism, leaks, hypocrisy, and credibility gaps. For example, I heard about the Lem ruckus even before Spring 1976, when two SFWA members wrote to ask for some information on him. I can therefore confirm the pragmatic point of Ms Le Guin's that it is ridiculous to prohibit SFWA members from publicly discussing a public event and its context—i.e. Lem's expulsion from honorary membership under a transparent bureaucratic excuse—under threat of themselves being expelled from SFWA. Surely this seems a perversion of the original Forum impulse.                

What consequences might an SFS reader—probably either an SFRA or indeed an SFWA member—wish to draw from all this, beyond a safe indignation? I am not quite sure—I hope other SFS readers will respond to Ms Le Guin's note and help to clarify this. No doubt, it is finally a matter of personal political consciousness and conscience. One thing that has become quite clear to me personally is that both SFWA and SFRA should withdraw from all institutional activities that do not bear directly on their legitimate basic concern of furthering economic protection of writers (SFWA) or furthering teaching of and research in SF (SFRA). A fortiori, a monopolistic "summit fusion" of the apices of the two institutions is to be avoided like the plague. I am exceedingly glad that suspicions about the moral snares inherent in critics cooperating with writers in commercial projects (quite irrespective of personal will, how can they later be able to appraise each other coolly and justly?) have kept me from participating in the joint SFWA-SFRA anthology. By all means let us help each other where legitimately possible; indeed, in cases of elective affinities let us make love and not war—but let us not get jointly paid for doing that. For we may get led down a garden or primrose path, paved with the best intentions but leading to the expulsion of obnoxious people. Whether Lem is right or wrong or even offensive in his critiques is here quite irrelevant (to my mind, a number of them—e.g. the one on The Left Hand of Darkness—are too sweeping and/or one-sided). I believe Solzhenitsyn is, as his recent pronouncements suggest, quite wrong about many things in the USSR; does that mean expelling him from the Writers Union was right? I am afraid Ursula Le Guin's parallel is well taken. Further, there is a price to pay if it is not heeded. Max Weber identified as one "more general social consequence of bureaucratic control ... the tendency to 'levelling' in the interest of the broadest possible basis of recruitment in terms of technical competence" (Robert K. Merton et al., eds., Reader in Bureaucracy [US 1952], p 26). We may not be that far yet—but we may be getting there. And isn't that precisely what Lem has been warning us about in American SF?
—Darko Suvin


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