Science Fiction Studies

#23 = Volume 8, Part 1 = March 1981

Editorial Introduction

The title of this special issue is deliberately ambiguous. Under the heading "Science Fiction Through H.G. Wells," we have gathered pieces on or by Wells together with various others that deal in significant part with SF or SF-related materials antedating the period in which he began publishing his "scientific romances." To the latter category belong the reviews of books on utopian fiction and on Verne as well as Michael Tritt's comparison of Byron and Asimov, Manfred Nagl's argument for recognizing "national peculiarities" in (for his example) German SF of the 19th century and afterwards, and Marc Angenot and Nadia Khouri's formidable bibliography of fictions about human prehistory.

Complementing articles that have appeared hitherto in the pages of SFS--especially Carlo Pagetti's on The First Men in the Moon (in No. 21) and David Lake's on The Time Machine (in No. 17), the three lead-off essays in this special issue open new approaches to, and provide relatively novel readings of, Wells's SF. They emphasize his revisionary process, color imagery, and synoptic tendency, respectively.

The analysis of Star Begotten signals a growing interest in Wells's later fiction, an interest which Scheick has been largely instrumental in fostering. "Woman in Primitive Culture," by contrast, is approximately equidistant from the chronological midpoint of Wells's literary career in the opposite direction (as it were). That review-article, which had never hitherto been attributed to Wells, is reprinted here for the first time where it may serve as a kind of introductory illustration to the prefatory comments on the "prehistoric tale" that immediately follow it.

Aside from the items more or less directly pertinent to SF through Wells, two other contributions of major importance will be found in these pages. The first is a translation of the last chapter of Stanislaw Lem's Fantastyka i Futurologia (1970), a treatise long regarded (by those with the linguistic capabilities to have access to it) as the most weighty and significant theoretical discussion of SF there is. The reader should find its concluding chapter illuminative not only on matters pertinent to the philosophy of science and to SF generally, but also in respect to what is going on in the worlds of Lem's own fictions. The second essay to which we would call particular attention, on the Brauns of Magdeburg, represents Darko Suvin's debut in a new SFS role. Apropos of it, we wish to express our regret that Darko has felt compelled to resign his editorship of this journal. At the same time, we voice our grateful pleasure at his having agreed to stay on as a Contributing Editor, in which capacity he will, we hope, continue to make available to us his comprehensive and perspicacious expertise in all things relevant to SF.

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