# 22 = Volume 7, Part 3 = November 1980
Recent Bibliographies of Science Fiction and Fantasy
Ruth Nadelman Lynn. Fantasy for Children: An Annotated Checklist. NY
& London: R. R. Bowker, 1979. 288 + ix p. $14.95.
R. Reginald, ed. Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature. 2 vols.
Detroit: Gale Research, 1979.(Vol. I: Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature:
A Checklist, 1700-1974; Vol. II: Contemporary Science Fiction Authors II. [Vol.
II is the 2nd ed. of a biographical directory first published as Stella Nova: The
Contemporary Science Fiction Authors (1970), rev. and reptd. as Contemporary
Science Fiction Authors, First Edition (1975)]. 1141 + xi p. $64.00 per set.
Roger C. Schlobin. The Literature of Fantasy: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Fantasy
Fiction. NY & London: Garland, 1979. 425 + xxxv p. $30.00.
Marshall B. Tymn, ed. American Fantasy and Science Fiction: Toward a Bibliography of
Works Published in the United States, 1948 -1973. West Linn, OR: FAX
Collector's Editions, 1979. 228 + ix p. $12.95.
Marshall B. Tymn, Kenneth J. Zahorski, and Robert H.
Boyer. Fantasy Literature: A Core
Collection and Reference Guide. NY & London: R.R. Browker, 1979.
273 + xiii p. $14.95.
For the strict SF reader, some of these works--those devoted exclusively to
fantasy--will be of passing interest only. However, if a sampling of the papers given at
the First International Conference on the Fantastic (March 19-22,1980, Boca Raton,
Florida) indicates any common pattern, it is that the boundaries between fantasy and SF
are very fuzzy indeed. Despite the reliance on Rabkin, Scholes, Todorov, et. al.,
critics are still fishing for workable definitions. With the first section containing
those fantasies grouped as "Allegory and Fable," the second classifying
fantasies under "Collected Tales," and the remaining 11 sections dividing
fantasies by type (e.g., ghosts, magical toys, tall tales, mythical beings and creatures,
etc.), Lynn's Fantasy for Children (ages 3-8) provides an annotated checklist,
out-of-print titles, along with titles available in the United Kingdom, a directory of
publishers, an author and illustrator index, and a title index. In distinguishing
fantasies of time travel from SF, Lynn argues that "the means of time travel must be
magical, not scientific" (p.159); in fantasies dealing with travel to another world,
there must be "no manipulation of time, no indication of past or future, just a
magical (not `scientific') transportation out of our world" (p. 173).
In addition to Lynn's bibliography, there have come to hand Scholobin's The
Literature of Fantasy, and Tymn, Zahorski, and Boyer's Fantasy Literature,
both of them annotated bibliographies which purport to deal only with works of fantasy.
With over 1,200 citations, Schlobin's bibliography of adult fantasy includes (by author,
cross-referenced by pseudonym and joint authorship) novels and collections and anthologies
listed by editors as well as indices of authors, compilers, editors, translators and
titles. In his "Preface," Schlobin says that "horror, science-fiction, and
weird literature is excluded unless it contains material that would be of particular
interest to the fantasy reader" (p. x). How this is determined is not clear. He
includes such works as Blish's A Case of Conscience, Bradbury's The Martian
Chronicles, E.M. Forster's The Eternal Moment and Other Stories (which
contains "The Machine Stops"), and Edgar Rice Burroughs'
The Mars of Barsoom
Series (which Schlobin argues is not SF because "this series lacks the necessary
ingredient of extrapolation that would make it part of that genre [i.e., SF]. Rather, it
is rationalized fantasy, and Burroughs has used occasional scientific pretenses to ease
the willing suspension of disbelief" [p. 36]). Yet in his 18-page
"Introduction," Schlobin does not discuss "rationalized fantasy." In
fact, he seems to agree with Jung that fantasy is distinguished by its "`irrational,
instinctive function,'" its "uncontrollable quality" (p. xxiii). Taken as a
whole, the "Introduction" is a valiant attempt within severely limited space to
define the psychological, social, and literary dimensions of fantasy. However, this kind
of introduction almost always raises more questions than it answers. For example, on the
one hand Schlobin agrees with those who understand fantasy as a power--"the power to
create ex nihilo" (p. xvii)--and who argue that such things as "spirits
and demons, religions and philosophers, social orders and political systems, rituals and
myths, laws and mores, boundaries and belongings, hopes and expectations" were
"all created first in the mind" (p. xviii). To consent to this explanation
denies the social dimension of fantasy and its dependence upon language, whose structure
and meaning is social. Even the most private fantasies and dreams have form and content
which depend upon symbolic resources available at the particular moment. Fantasy cannot
create ex nihilo. (Here, Freud is surely more valuable than Jung, Eric Newman,
Harvey Cox, or Joseph Campbell! ) On the other hand, Schlobin agrees with those who see
fantasy as a protest against "contemporary, materialistic, empirical,
phenomenological, and technological society" (p. xx). But this implies that fantasy
is clearly related to external "reality." More importantly, fantasy is
intimately conditioned by social order as such. Order implies limits,
constraints. There have been and always will be individuals and groups who will (because
of their sex, age, race, status, class, role, etc.) be unable to act in certain ways
because they threaten those in power. Fantasy allows the satisfaction through symbolic
action of desires whose object cannot be obtained in overt acts. The function and, hence,
the need for fantasy are not limited to the contemporary world; fantasy is as old as
civilization. The significant question to ask is: why these particular fantasies at this
particular moment? Why are certain fantasies encouraged and others scorned?
Tymn, Zahorski, and Boyer's Fantasy Literature lists over 240 works (the
"core" collection), almost all of which get at least a half a page of
annotation. Part I includes a 35-page essay on "Fantasy: What Is It? Definition and
Classification," and the "Core Collection" (consisting of an annotated
bibliography of novels, short story collections, and anthologies). Part lI, "Research
Aids," has sections on: Fantasy Scholarship (history, criticism, author studies,
reference works), Periodicals, Fantasy Societies and Organizations, Literary Awards,
Fantasy Collections in US and Canadian Libraries; and two final sections, "Core
Collection Titles Available in the United Kingdom" and a "Directory of
Publishers." The authors chose works which are (1) "high fantasy" (defined
as a story in which "the major action takes place in a secondary world," as
contrasted with low fantasy which is "usually set in a rational, physically familiar
world"), and appeal to adults of all ages; (2) "of high-quality prose fiction,
judged by the same critical norms applied to any piece of literature"; (3) written in
English; and (4) generally fit into the modern period (ca. 1854 to the present). In terms
of a literary genre, the authors define fantasy to consist of "works in which
nonrational phenomena play a significant part,... works in which events occur, or places
or creatures exist, that could not occur or exist according to rational standards or
scientific explanations. The nonrational phenomena of fantasy simply do not fall within
human experience or accord with natural laws as we know them" (p. 3). The authors
expand this definition in their essay in Part I. As is the case with Schlobin, they are
severely limited by available space; however, they are somewhat more successful because
they limit their discussion to creating a typology of works of fantasy. (That is, they
simply avoid working out the implications of such phrases as "(non-) rational
standards," "scientific explanations," "significant part,"
"the real world we live in," etc.) They distinguish "science fantasy"
from SF: "science fantasy" is a type of "high fantasy" which
"offers scientific explanation for the existence of the secondary world and, usually,
for the portal by which one can pass from the primary to the secondary world. Once in the
secondary world, which is the principal setting of the work, magical causality takes the
spotlight, and this remains nonrational, unexplained by science" (p. 17). If all can
agree on the crucial terms, this distinction is workable enough.
The remaining works should be of more interest to SF readers, teachers, and scholars.
For its relatively high price ($12.95 in paperback), Tymn's American Fantasy and
Science Fiction is of limited value. It lists only hardcover editions (by
author and title) of works published in the US from January 1948 to December 1973. There
are three appendices: "Notes," "Borderline Titles," and "Science
Fiction Book Club First Editions." (One minor irritation: the pagination of the Table
of Contents for the Appendices is wrong and off by ten pages.) While Tymn includes an
appendix of titles of uncertain classification, it is never revealed what criteria were
used to determine what is fantasy and SF. One wonders, for example, why Isaac Singer is
excluded and Donald Barthelme included. Why are Kafka's The Complete Stories (New
York, 1971 ) included but his Selected Short Stories (NY: Modern Library, 1952)
These questions are relevant if for no other reason than both Singer and Kafka's Selected
Short Stories are included in Reginald's massive bibliography (Vol. A, which lists
over 15,000 English-language works from 1700 to 1974. Entries are by author (with
cross-references), with an additional Title Index, Series Index, Awards Index (with a list
of world SF conventions, officers of the SFWA, and index of awards by award name and
recipient), and the Ace and Belmont Doubles Index. All of this makes it a useful tool for
the general reader, teacher, and scholar, although its $64.00 price tag (for Vols. I and
II) will put it out of the reach of most people. (Vol. II, Contemporary Science
Fiction Authors II is of minimal value and not much better than Brian Ash's Who's
Who in Science Fiction [NY: Taplinger, 1976].) About 72% of the questionnaires
Reginald mailed to "active science fiction and fantasy authors" to compile the
biographical information for this volume were returned. The rest of his information came
from Gale's Contemporary Authors series. Entries include: full name, date of
birth, names and vocations of parents, marital status, education, career description,
first professional sale, awards, interests, and some comments by the writer on what
appears to be just about anything (e.g., Sam Moskowitz's celebration of his two dogs). As
in Tymn's bibliography, there is no hint as to Reginald's criteria for classifying fantasy
and SF. Why, for example, are "present day utopias" excluded? Why Richard
Brautigan but no Robert Coover?
All of this may sound like so much carping about trivial detail. Reginald's
bibliography satisfies a real need and will be immensely useful to a variety of audiences;
so, too, will the other works mentioned. And on the more obvious writers and works, these
bibliographies are in substantial agreement. However, with the more marginal cases--e.g.,
Gore Vidal, Robert Coover, Kurt Vonnegut, Doris Lessing, John Barth, Thomas Pynchon,
Donald Barthelme, Isaac Singer, Richard Brautigan (writers chosen at random)--there is
almost no consensus. What is and is not fantasy and SF remains to be determined.
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