Science Fiction Studies

#1 = Vol 1, Part 1 = Spring 1973

 NOTES IN RETROSPECT. Although I claim sole editorial credit for the Philmus article, I must acknowledge that Darko Suvin is almost entirely responsible for the contents of this issue: he not only solicited and obtained the articles by Samuelson, Parrinder, Lem, Angenot, and Le Guin, but also managed to transcribe the discussion that ensued when Messrs A, B, and C learned of the plans for SFS. Those who know Mr. Suvin, who are aware not only of his intense interest in SF but also of his integrity as a scholar, will be assured of the complete accuracy of the transcription, even though astonished at his refraining from participation in that spirited debate.

As is indicated in a note on the following page, Mr. Samuelson's article is derived from his recent doctoral dissertation. It seems to me that in this dissertation Mr. Samuelson has been more successful than any of his predecessors in the endeavor to bring the apparatus of critical scholarship fully to bear upon representative works by such authors as Clarke, Asimov, and Sturgeon, and thus in demonstrating that "modern science fiction" can be profitably studied not only as a phenomenon of popular culture but also as literature. April was a good month for Ms. Le Guin in at least two respects. First there was the high tribute paid to The Farthest Shore in the April 6th issue of TLS, which concluded with these words: "After Earthsea-lore, with its weight and substance, most other modern fantasies must ring thin" (p379). And a week or so later there was the announcement of the National Book Awards, with The Farthest Shore as the winner in children's books.

From a review by George Stade, as if in response to our article by Mr. Parrinder: "this is a novel not about the future but from it" (Harper's May 1973, p90). In the first half of the novel in question, Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions (1973), the form and style is that of a child's primer, futuristic only in taking for granted attitudes now regarded as controversial. I hope that readers and contributors will bear with me in my no doubt quixotic endeavors to provide references that give useful rather than useless information. Scholars should be aware of two simple facts: (1) scholarly works and other books of limited circulation are ordinarily published in only one format for the entire English-speaking world; (2) novels and other books of wide circulation may appear within a single year in as many as six or eight different formats. I assume that the sole purpose of a reference is to enable the reader to locate the context of the cited passage. If this is so, the parenthesis in an item like "(Philadelphia: Chilton, c. 1965), p. 175" is superfluous, overspecific, or frustrating: super fluous if the book has appeared in only one format; overspecific if the purpose is only to distinguish between UK and US editions; frustrating if the edition cited differs in format from the editions available to the reader. (Let me add that our exemplary parenthesis would be accurate for two editions of Frank Herbert's Dune--editions that differ in pagination.) In the preparation of this first issue there seemed never to be an opportunity for submitting proofs to the authors, but henceforth each contributor will have the responsibility of reading his own proofs. (RDM)

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