Science Fiction Studies

# 15 = Volume 5, Part 2 = July 1978



A History of Magazine SF, and the Olander-Greenberg Clarke

Paul A. Carter. The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Science Fiction. Columbia University Press, 1977, xi+318, $12.95.

How many forests have been pulped, during the last five decades, for the printing of science fiction magazines? Probably fewer than for cereal-box coupons or hamburger-wrappings, but, still, more than any scholar of the pulp era likes to think about. Faced with this sierra of stories, how is the historian to map it for us? Memoirs by writers, editors, and fans from the pulp era are useful sources, but they are less concerned with providing an overview than with recreating the feel of the time. The various indexes and bibliographies are even more indispensable tools, but they remain tools, preliminary to the writing of history. Anthologies of stories gleaned from the magazines highlight certain figures, but leave the bulk in shadow. The few existing attempts at a history of the pulps often merely chronicle the foundings and failures of particular magazines, the changes of editors, the first appearances by writers who were later to become famous. Like the monastic records kept by the faithful, such chronicles are useful for dates, and for little else.

Paul A. Carter, a historian at the University of Arizona, whose own experience as SF reader and writer stretches back over nearly three of those five decades, has provided us with a more illuminating map of the wilderness of magazine SF than any other I have come across. Although he discusses Gernsback and the early Amazing in his first chapter, and speculates on the future of SF magazines in his last, Carter has organized his study thematically rather than chronologically. Each chapter is loosely -- sometimes too loosely -- wound about a central motif: time-travel, for example, or inter-planetary adventure, or human evolution. Within each chapter he traces the chronological development of the motif, and notes parallels between that history and the larger movements of contemporary society. For anyone concerned with SF not as an isolated passion, but as one powerful element in the intellectual life of our time, this drawing of parallels should prove the most interesting dimension of Carter's argument. He shows, for example, how SF responded creatively to the rise of European dictatorships during the 1930s, how it accommodated public shifts in racial and sexual attitudes, how it incorporated the pessimistic historiographies of Spengler and Toynbee.

I have deliberately avoided using such passive verbs as mirror or reflect to describe the sort of SF/society parallels that Carter draws. For if he does not believe, as Gernsback and Campbell and Tremaine occasionally seemed to, that SF could create new tomorrows, he clearly shares the belief implicit in the entire SF enterprise, that, by taking thought, we may help change the world. In certain areas, such as sexual stereotypes, SF has lagged far behind other intellectual media; while in such matters as ecology and space travel, SF has clearly helped lead the way.

Most of us who read SF for more than the pleasures of invention do so, I suspect, because we are attracted by the genre's potential for transforming consciousness. Our purposes are reformist, or perhaps revolutionary. (Has contemporary mainstream literature appealed so politically to leftist critics, as SF has appealed to Raymond Williams, Fred Jameson, Darko Suvin, and H. Bruce Franklin, to name a few?) If we understand "utopian" in the sense employed by Karl Mannheim, not to signify social perfection but merely an alternative future, then all revolutionary thought is utopian, and much SF is revolutionary. Carter's history of the SF magazines implies a refutation of the charge that the genre is escapist. Of course he passes over in silence the vast bulk of material that appeared in the pulps during the last 50 years. Mortality alone would have forced him to. But what he chose to examine reflects a belief that SF, throughout its popular history, and not just during its dignified last ten years, has been an important medium for revolutionary imagination.

During the first three decades of their existence, roughly from 1926 until the mid-1950s, the SF magazines were, for all practical purposes, SF. Writers and readers began there, or they did not begin at all. During the two decades leading up to the present, the pulps have played an ever-dwindling role in the field. Partly the reasons are economic, as magazine fiction has given way generally to paperbacks and television, as book-publishing of SF has allowed writers to by-pass the old pulp apprenticeship. Partly the reasons are institutional, since the universities teach books, not magazines. Drawing upon the letters columns and editorials, as well as upon hundreds of the stories themselves, Carter reflects on these shifts in the fortunes of the pulps, and on their overall role in the evolution of the genre. Like the best of the writers whom he examines, he proceeds with double awareness, of the literary tradition and the times.

Joseph D. Olander and Martin Harry Greenberg, eds. Arthur C. Clarke. Writers of the 21st Century Series. Taplinger Publishing, 1976, 254p, $20.95. To judge from the nine essays in this volume, the SF of Arthur C. Clarke troubles critics on two counts: (1) How should we respond to the disparity between his sophisticated ideas and his often naive art?, and (2) How can we reconcile his rationalism with his mysticism?

Writing about "Childhood's End: A Median Stage of Adolescence?", David N. Samuelson concludes that the price of the "cosmic viewpoint" so much admired by Clarke's readers is bad art: "The characters are frequently left to fend for themselves, as it were, in a jungle of disorderly plots, melodramatic incidents, and haphazard image-patterns, which are symptomatic of an unbalanced narrative technique. Unity, if there is any in such a composition, frequently is maintained only by an uninspired consistency of style and tone, and by the momentum built up in the unwary reader by the breakneck pace of events." Childhood's End he calls "an impressive failure," which has attracted its wider readership, not by hard science extrapolation, but by "sentimental mysticism," "watered-down theological speculation."

Taking the same text as his focus, Alan B. Howes argues, in "Expectation and Surprise in Childhood's End," that Clarke maintains reader interest by working variations on the hoariest conventions of the genre. Where Samuelson finds a jumble of hackneyed themes, Howes discovers "alternative directions in which the story may develop." Where Samuelson says the plots are disorderly, Howes concludes that, "At every turn, the reader's expectations have been met with surprises."

A more complex defense of Clarke's reliance on SF formulas is offered by E. Michael Thron in "The Outsider from Inside: Clarke's Aliens." By working in highly predictable forms, Thron argues, Clarke establishes a neutral background against which the alien (whether alien idea or extra-terrestrial visitor) can show up vividly: "The alien is the mystical intrusion upon the scientific and mundane world of linear Western evolution. The final alien is not a character at all with inside and outside but an idea, the idea of the mystical reality of the universe." If Clarke were more "literary," Thron is suggesting, the structure of his thought would not emerge so clearly. The obvious analogy is with science-writing, in which language is treated as a transparent medium through which ideas may be apprehended directly. It is no coincidence that Clarke, like Isaac Asimov and Fred Hoyle -- against whom many of the same aesthetic complaints might be lodged -- shifts easily back-and-forth between science-writing and SF.

As SF criticism becomes increasingly academic, Thron wonders, will a concern for artistic values displace a concern for the quality of ideas? And will writers like Clarke be shoved aside in favor of ones whose fiction more richly satisfies a literary sensibility? Whatever the long-term trends in SF criticism, at present many readers are still attracted to the genre primarily by the drama of its ideas; and Clarke remains one of the most fascinating dramatists, as the remaining six essays in this volume attest.

Several of these critics puzzle over the second general question I mentioned at the outset: How can we reconcile Clarke's rationalism with his mysticism? Peter Brigg, for example, in "Three Styles of Arthur C. Clarke: The Projector, the Wit, and the Mystic," argues that in his best work, such as Rendezvous with Rama, Clarke blends hard science extrapolation with dry humor and mystical speculations. But Brigg is not able to show exactly how these distinct styles mesh, nor is he able to avoid the conclusion that Clarke's "abilities as a writer weaken as he approaches the metaphysical." In "The Cosmic Loneliness of Arthur C. Clarke," Thomas D. Clareson shows how Clarke's hortatory science writings, especially on the imperatives of space flight and space colonization, have informed his fiction. Both the fiction and non-fiction muse upon hardware, propagandize for space exploration, and push science just beyond the current boundaries of the known.

While celebrating the exploits of science, however, Clarke repeatedly imagines alien contacts that dwarf reason completely, that call forth non-rational powers in the human mind. Clareson suggests that these imagined aliens are Clarke's response to a sense of "cosmic loneliness." Students of nineteenth and twentieth-century literature are familiar with invocations of occult powers in response to the disappearance of God. Celebrating science, the chief cause of God's banishment from our intellectual universe, Clarke reintroduces into his fiction figures very like the banished divinities. In the book's most substantial essay, "Contrasting Views of Man and the Evolutionary Process: Back to Methuselah and Childhood's End," Eugene Tanzy observes that, "if we need to know that we have a home in the universe, that somebody big up there is looking out for us, Childhood's End allows us to believe it without sacrificing our scientific stance." How we can satisfy religious longings for a hierarchical universe while preserving a "scientific stance" Tanzy explains by comparing Clarke's reworking of evolutionary theory with George Bernard Shaw's. Rejecting mechanistic views of human destiny derived from Darwin, Shaw insisted -- as Clarke was to do later -- on the directing role of intellect in human self-transformation. Clarke went Shaw one better by positing intelligences superior to humankind's. By their god-like intervention in our affairs, these alien intelligences bring about quantum jumps in human evolution. The theological term for such intervention is grace.

By virtue of their transcendent mental powers and their immortality, Robert Plank argues in "Sons and Fathers in A.D. 2001," these aliens are not merely god-like; they literally are gods. Avoiding the reductionism to which psychoanalytic readings so often lead, Plank still proposes that "the drama of 2001 is, in a new guise, the old drama of the generations." More precisely: "The masters of the slabs are father figures. Hal is a son figure." Clarke's godly aliens, in other words, derive from the same psychological sources, satisfy the same emotional needs, as any more familiar gods.

As the title of Bety Harfst's essay, "Of Myths and Polyominoes: Mythological Content in Clarke's Fiction," would suggest, she is primarily interested in his use of myth-materials to depict a search for spiritual regeneration. In a fine essay, "From Man to Overmind: Arthur C. Clarke's Myth of Progress," revised from a version that originally appeared in this journal, John Huntington discusses "Clarke's need for a mythology that will value technology without limiting itself to it." He deals shrewdly with the central paradox in that mythology. For Clarke, he argues, the "myth of progress consists of two stages: that of rational, technological progress, and that of transcendent evolution." But, once achieved, "transcendent consciousness completely dispenses with the attainments of rational science and the inventions of technology." The advancement of science, with which Clarke is so prominently identified, thus appears to be merely a prelude, a proof of human worthiness, for some metaphysical leap into regions of existence where science cannot follow.

Briefly, those are some of the issues being argued, the positions taken, in this volume. You will find no biography, no sociological readings, little textual or historical analysis. You will find much more than the editors should have allowed on Childhood's End (four of the nine essays are devoted to this overburdened tale, and the other five make it a major exhibit), and very little on his short fiction. And, typical of single-author collections, you will find too few references to the larger literary and intellectual contexts within which Clarke has been writing.

--Scott Sanders

 Five Reference Works

  • William Contento. Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections.
  • Donald H. Tuck. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy Through 1968.
  • Glenn Negley. Utopian Literature: A Bibliography with a Supplementary Listing of Works Influential in Utopian Thought.
  • Brian Ash, ed. The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
  • Douglas Menville and R. Reginald. Things to Come: An Illustrated History of the Science Fiction Film.

William Contento. Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections. G.K. Hall & Co., 1978, 8½ x 11, 2 columns, xii+608, $28.00.

Indispensable, absolutely indispensable. And sufficient -- almost absolutely sufficient. If you're thinking about buying Cole, Siemon, or Collins, save your money.

"The Index now covers 2,000 book titles with full contents listings of over 1,900 books containing 12,000 different stories by 2,500 authors. Of the books, I have personally examined about eighty-three per cent, seen photographs of the contents pages of five percent, and used other sources for twelve percent. Where it was necessary to use other sources an effort was made to find more than one source for each book" (page vii). My only cavil, though the book of course contains an error or two, is that Mr. Contento does not indicate which of the books have been treated on the basis of "other sources." (The difference between the "2,000" and the "over 1900" presumably results from the ways he has handled certain expanded or omnibus volumes; since his method here is systematic and quite clear, there is really no need for the qualification.)

There are three major sections: the author listing, the title listing, and the book listing with each book "analyzed." It is of course the existence of the computer that has made such elaborateness possible on so extensive a scale. (Of course, the use of the computer also means that if an error appears in any one of the sections it will also appear in the others.)

Mr Contento's intention was to exclude "stories that deal exclusively with horror, the weird, ghosts, mythology, sword and sorcery, the occult, and other fantasy," but he has listed such stories when they appear in SF author collections (e.g. all of Wells's stories are listed, except the few that have never been collected) or in books intended to be SF anthologies. Furthermore: "when there was any doubt, the book was included" (page vii).

The term "collection" is allowed to include "science fiction novels rewritten from three or more stories," though these are not covered as "thoroughly" as ordinary collections -- i.e., books containing three or more distinct stories. (A few of the "novels," and perhaps a few of the "collections," contain only two stories.)

Of the 2000 books listed, only 25 (unless I have missed one or two) are dated before 1940 (and one of those erroneously): nine collections of Wells stories, four Burroughs novels, two Verne omnibuses, one collection or novel each by England, Weinbaum, Griffith, Doyle, Wright, Reeve, and Key (whoever he is), and three anthologies: The Battle for the Pacific and Other Adventures at Sea (Harper, 1908; drawn on by Hartwell and Currey for their Gregg Press anthology), The Moon Terror (1927; issued by Weird Tales as a subscription premium), and Adventures to Come, edited by one J. Berg Essenwein (1937; perhaps the first SF anthology; see Tuck). Although this list is surely far from complete (e.g., it should include at least three books by Robert W. Chambers, and it could include, given the Reeve listing, a number of collections of scientific detective stories), the point is easily made that SF collections are rare before 1940 -- and indeed, comparatively rare before 1950, since there are only about 50 books listed for the 40s.

The erroneous listing, presumably deriving from Mr Contento's having used Bleiler or Tuck, is "The Time Machine and Other Stories, Holt, 1895," for this collection was actually published in 1927 as Volume 16 of Benn's Essex Edition of the Works of H.G. Wells, with the title and contents appropriated that same year to serve as the first section of the Benn-Doubleday omnibus edition of the Wells short stories. Here the irony is that Mr Contento, in listing the contents of this "1895" volume, gives the first-publication date of each of the stories, each date (except that of TM itself) being several or many years later than 1895.

Donald H. Tuck. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy Through 1968. Volumes 1 & 2. Who's Who. Chicago: Advent Publishers, 1974 & 1978,8½ x 11, 2 columns, xx+530, $25.00 each volume.

The now complete Who's Who contains approximately 2500 articles, each consisting of one or more of the following: Biographical Note, Series, Fiction, Nonfiction, Anthologies (edited by the subject), Artwork. For example:

RAPHAEL, RICK (10 Feb 1919--) U.S. author. A newspaperman for 20 years, he has also had experience in photography, feature writing, TV, and public relations.


Thruway Patrol. In ASF: "Code Three" (Feb 1963); "Once a Cop" (May 1964). Published as part of Code Three. Both stories appeared in Italian in Urania: 397, 1965.


Code Three (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1966, 252 pp., $3.95) (Gollancz, 1966, 216 pp., 21/-) (Berkley: X139A, 1967, 176 pp., pa 60) (Die fliegenden Bomben [German], Heyne: 3099, 1967, pa) (Panther: 025707, 1968, 191 pp., pa 5/-)

An extrapolation of traffic problems into the near future, with air cushion cars travelling 300 mph on mile-wide thruways.

Thirst Quenchers, The [C] (Gollancz, London, 1965, 175 pp., 15/-) (S.F.B.C. [S.J.], 1966) (Strahlen aus dem Wasser [German), Goldmann, 1966; #73, 1966 pa) (Panther: 2046, 1968, 142 pp., pa 3/6)

4 stories: "The Thirst Quenchers" (ASF, Sep 1963); "Guttersnipe" (ASF, Nov 1964); "The Mailman Cometh" (ASF, Feb 1965); "Odd Man In."

The biographical notes (missing only for writers too obscure for even Mr. Tuck's industry) are usually helpful and sufficient; that is, in most cases they tell me all I want to know about the author in question. In some instances, however, they are exercises in supererogation -- i.e. those for authors prominent enough to be covered in general reference works, e.g. Poe, Wells, Thackeray.

So far as I know, Tuck is the only source for "series" information, and this feature alone makes the Encyclopedia indispensable.

There is a brief comment on each novel listed, sometimes informative and accurate, as above for Code Three; sometimes uninformative whether or not accurate, in that it merely expresses an opinion on the quality of the novel; and sometimes inaccurate (e.g. Haggard's Elissa: The Doom of Zimbabwe is said to be a "story of Elissa, the ancient colony of Solomon which produced the gold of Ophir," whereas Elissa is the heroine, Zimbabwe the colony). But let me not be too critical here, for far more often than not Tuck's comments allow you to distinguish between SF and fantasy (compare Negley below).

The listing of all known editions, with pagination and price, is also a valuable feature of the work.

The value of the analysis of anthologies and collections is reduced by the failure to supply indexes by author and title (which of course would require a volume in itself), and now is further reduced by the appearance of the Contento volume reviewed above. Even so, Tuck lists many collections in "fantasy" not listed by Contento.

In sum, this work is indispensable in that it contains a great deal of information not readily available elsewhere.

Although some exceptions are made for the pre-1945 past (authors associated with the SF magazines, books appearing in the SF magazines either originally or as reprints, books by well-known authors for whom a complete fantasy-and-SF listing is to be attempted, and short-story collections subject to analysis), the scope of the Encyclopedia is in general limited to books published or reprinted in the 1945-1968 period. One result of this policy is that some earlier works of little importance are included simply because they happened to be reprinted, whereas some of considerable importance are omitted, including many reprinted since the closing date of 1968; that is, Mr. Tuck has been most unfortunate in his timing. Finally, as I said in my review of Volume 1 (SFS 1[1974]:309), my impression is that the Encyclopedia is much less reliable for the earlier works than for those of the post-1945 period, an impression reinforced by the Wells article, which is so full of errors that it can only be called a disaster.

Glenn Negley. Utopian Literature: A Bibliography with a Supplementary Listing of Works Influential in Utopian Thought. Lawrence: The Regents Press of Kansas, nd [©1977], xxiii+228, $17.50.

Convenient at this moment, but insufficient, quite insufficient, and surely soon to be wholly superseded.

There are 1608 numbered items, but at least 365 of these are duplications, so that the total number of works listed is at most 1243. The duplications are for the most part of three types: first, cross references; second, translations; third, edited editions, more convenient editions (e.g. the collected works of the author), or comparatively recent reprints, whether reset or facsimile. Those of the third type are of course of great importance to the scholar, for a work said to be very rare may turn out not to be rare at all if a reprint will serve your purposes.

Professor Negley's Utopia Collection of the Duke University Library (Durham, 1965) states that "The utopia collection of the Duke University Library has been assembled on the basis of a general bibliography of some 1200 titles" (page ii). The present work is evidently that "general bibliography," published now some twelve years later -- and without any updating whatsoever!

The years 1965-1977 were notable in utopian studies for the reprinting of a large number of utopian works, not only in Arthur O. Lewis's series of American utopias (41 volumes, Arno Press, 1971) and the SF series issued by Hyperion, Arno, Gregg, and Garland, but also in other series of various types (e.g. Garland's Foundations of the English Novel, which includes Berington's Guadentio di Lucca), not to mention such notable additions to translations and edited editions as the Strachan translation of Cyrano (OUP, 1965) and the Surtz-Hexter Utopia (Yale, 1965). All such reprintings and new editions since 1964, a vastly greater number than in all preceding years, have been ignored by Professor Negley, who evidently just turned his old manuscript over to a university press eager to get in on the boom in utopian studies.

Before 1965 there was a substantial if comparatively small number of general studies of utopian works, each with an appended list of books declared to be utopias. There was an obvious need for a conflation of these varying lists, followed by an examination of the books listed to see which of them actually qualified as utopias under some reasonable definition of the genre and by the publication of a canon as comprehensive and as definitive as was then humanly possible. Professor Negley took on this task and carried it to a reasonably successful conclusion, which included the division of the overall list into two parts, utopias proper and "works influential in utopian thought" (i.e. works often listed as utopian but not qualifying under Professor Negley's definition). If the resulting general bibliography, the work here under review, had been published in 1965, the reaction of scholars interested in utopias could only have been one of great gratitude. But since 1965 there has also been a considerable amount of scholarly work in utopian literature, with the result that a large number of additional books have become candidates for any definitive canon of utopias -- e.g. Negley's two lists include only about half the works listed for 1888-1900 in Roemer's The Obsolete Necessity (Kent State, 1976). Again, though I cannot blame Professor Negley for allowing his work to be published or the Regents Press of Kansas for simply publishing it, it seems to be disgraceful that any university press should advertise such a work as "comprehensive" and "definitive."

With respect to utopian studies the scholarly needs of 1978 call for a closer look at this 1965 work. In his introduction Professor Negley speaks of his "Aquaintance with some twelve hundred works which can be termed utopian or directly influential in utopian thought" (page xiv), and I have no doubt that he has actually read or at least thumbed through each of the works in his two lists. On the other hand, there is no indication that he engaged in the kind of systematic note-taking that would be necessary for any merely human scholar if he is later to defend his decisions on which of the books may properly be called utopian and which may not. There is no annotation of individual works for content, so that we must simply accept Professor Negley's judgment that 969 of these works meet his criteria for utopias whereas 274 do not. Here I will not only say that this is not good enough but will also take it upon myself to proclaim Mullen's law for generic bibliographies: for every work listed as belonging to the genre, the bibliographer must cite the features that qualify it for the list, and for every dubious work excluded from the list, the bibliographer must cite the features that have caused other scholars to regard it as qualifying for the genre.

Professor Negley has divided his overall list into "utopias" and "influential works" on the basis of the following definition:

a utopia is first a fictional work (thus distinguished from political tracts and dissertations); it describes a particular state or community, even though this may be as limited as a small group or so extensive as to encompass the world or universe (thus a statement of principles or procedural reforms is not a utopia); its theme is the political structure of that fictional state or community (thus a mere Robinsonade, adventure narrative, or science fantasy does not qualify as utopian). [page xii]

In applying the first and most general of his criteria, fiction versus non-fiction, Professor Negley has erred at least three times. Two well-known non-fictional works appear in the main list, Wells's The Open Conspiracy and Huxley's Brave New World Revisited, each of which may be accurately described as a political dissertation or, invoking the second criterion, as a statement of principles and procedural reforms. On the other hand, Young's The Rise of the Meritocracy 1870-2033, which certainly "describes a particular state" (the Britain of 2033) and has as "its theme...the political structure of that state," is banished to the supplementary listing, perhaps because it is subtitled "An Essay on Education and Equality." Is it necessary to point out that this work is an historical essay only in the same way Gulliver's Travels is the autobiography of Lemuel Gulliver?

The requirement that the work must "describe a particular state or community" would seem to rule out Shiel's The Purple Cloud, which begins with the contemporary world, continues with a post-catastrophe world in which the narrator is apparently the sole survivor, and concludes with the narrator's having found a mate, apparently the sole surviving woman. I don't know how small Professor Negley's "small group" can be, but his exclusion of the robinsonade would surely rule out any group as small as two people. Another main-list book in which there is no community at all is Lloyd's Etiodorhpa (currently available as a Pocket Books paperback), which is discussed by Roemer in his chapter on "The Individual."

Among the books banished to the supplementary list is Collier's Tom's a-Cold (US title, Full Circle), a post-catastrophe novel in which the survivors are numerous enough to constitute a community -- indeed, a network of communities. Since the political structure of the hero's community is certainly the principal theme of this work, I do not know why Professor Negley regards it as failing to qualify for the main list, even though I know why I do not regard it as properly a utopia. Which is to say that Professor Negley's third criterion needs clarification. In the first place, even though this point has little bearing on any of the arguments in this review, the criterion needs to be broadened by changing "its theme" to "one of its principal themes." More important, the term "fictional" needs to be applied not only to the "state or community" but to the nature of the political structure itself, for surely novels about fictional states with political structures not essentially different from those of actual states (e.g. Ruritania, Graustark, and Yoknapatawpha County) should not be counted as utopias, however important the political structure may be as a theme of the novel.

If the third criterion is not understood in this way, it will open the gates to a flood of novels which surely no scholar in the field wishes to think of as utopias. If it is understood in this way and applied with any rigor, it will decimate Professor Negley's main list by excluding all stories of certain types.

First, the world-catastrophe story with or without a brief utopian aftermath, such as Wells's The War in the Air, Harris's The Day of the Triffids, and Johnson's The Polyphemes, all to be contrasted with Wells's The World Set Free, in which the utopian aftermath occupies the last third of the book.

Second, the post-catastrophe story in which history repeats itself -- not only those in which the survivors simply make out as best they can under primitive conditions, as in Tom's a-Cold, but also those in which they manage to achieve a kind of feudal order, as in Jefferies' After London, or go through a medieval-renaissance-modern cycle, as in Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz.

Third, the story of the visitor from utopia, as in Allen's The British Barbarians, the visitor who judges contemporary society from a utopian standpoint but does not describe his own society in any detail -- such stories contrasting with Howells's A Traveller from Altruria, in which the description of the visitor's society forms the concluding chapters.

Fourth, the depiction of a subhuman or superhuman society. Professor Negley is surely correct in not listing either Tarzan of the Apes, in which the Mangani form a community with a rudimentary political structure, or Out of the Silent Planet, in which we find an eden under the direct supervision of the hosts of heaven. But if so, he is just as surely wrong in listing The Time Machine, with its subhuman Eloi and Morlocks, or Wright's The World Below, in which the narrator is quite unable to grasp, much less describe, the political structures or principles of the superhuman societies in which he finds himself.

Finally, fictions in what Professor Suvin has called the "non-realistic mode" or "transitive mode": "moral allegory, whimsy, satire, and the lying tall-tale" (SFS 5:46). Graves's The War of the Wenuses is a burlesque of Wells's The War of the Worlds; its theme, if it can be said to have one, is the silliness of women. The theme of Elmer Rice's A Voyage to Purilia is the pure puerility and the puerile purity of the movies of 1930; the fictional world differs from the author's own world (i.e. the world of the stage) most noticeably in that things there have the habit of suddenly becoming very large or very small, but also in such matters as the sudden appearance of babies out of nowhere. And in both Hodgson's The Night Land and Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus, which in some respects resemble The Faerie Queene, the theme is not the political structure of the depicted communities but is instead the metaphysical structure of the entire universe. (I do not know what works Professor Negley has in mind when he speaks of a "state or extensive as to encompass the world or universe," but in my objection the operating distinction is that between political and metaphysical.)

Since I have read only 118 of the 1243 works listed by Professor Negley, I can make no fair judgment on the overall accuracy of his classifications. And it may well be that on some of the books discussed above he is right and I am wrong, his judgment having been based on things I have overlooked or forgotten. But the more important point is that the absence of commentary makes it impossible for the user of the bibliography to decide how well the bibliographer has applied his criteria, and thus makes the bibliography much less valuable than it would be if the commentary were there.

Brian Ash, ed. The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Harmony Books, 1977. 7½ x 10, 3 columns, 352 pages (many in color), $17.95 hardback, $7.95 paperback. (Published in Canada by General Publishing Co.; in Great Britain by Pan Books.)

Contento's Index was produced with a computer; this work is presented as if organized and to some extent written by a computer -- i.e. with extensive use of words that have come to be associated with the use of computers. Those science-fiction fans who speak contemptuously of litterateurs will presumably find this attractive; others will perhaps find it alarming in its dehumanization; I find it merely silly. Perhaps the fairest thing I can do for the book is simply to copy the table of contents:


02 THEMATICS/with Introduction by

02.01 Spacecraft and Star Drives/Poul Anderson

02.02 Exploration and Colonies/Jack Williamson

02.03 Biologies and Environments/James White

02.04 Warfare and Weaponry/Harry Harrison

02-05 Galactic Empires/Lester del Rey

02.06 Future and Alternative Histories/Brian Aldiss

02.07 Utopias and Nightmares/John Brunner

02.08 Cataclysms and Dooms/J.G. Ballard

02.09 Lost and Parallel Worlds/Robert Sheckley

02.10 Time and Nth Dimensions/Fritz Leiber

02.11 Technologies and Artefacts/Ken Bulmer

02.12 Cities and Cultures/Frederik Pohl

02.13 Robots and Androids/Isaac Asimov

02.14 Computers and Cybernetics/Arthur C. Clarke

02.15 Mutants and Symbiotes/Josephine Saxton

02.16 Telepathy, Psionics and ESP/Larry Niven

02.17 Sex and Taboos/Keith Roberts

02.18 Religion and Myths/Philip Jos Farmer

02.19 Inner Space/A.E. van Vogt


03.01 Interface [one essay by Ash and one by Edmund Cooper]

03.02 Science Fiction as Literature [by George Turner]

03.03 Recurrent Concepts [by Damon Knight, L. Sprague de Camp, and Ash]


04.01 Fandom

04.02 Science Fiction Art

04.03 Science Fiction in the Cinema

04.04 Science Fiction on Television

04.05 Science Fiction Magazines

04.06 Books and Anthologies

04.07 Juveniles, Comics and Strips

04.08 Commentators and Courses

04.09 Fringe Cults

The "Program" is a chronology beginning with 1805, rushing through the 19th century to 1895, then proceeding year by year to 1926, whence the years give way to months. The listings include important books and films, the "launch" and "abort" dates of SF magazines, the first SF story of each SF writer of any note, and events in the history of fandom. I find it the most interesting feature of the book.

In the "Thematics" sections, the "introductions" average about 750 words and say about what you would expect each of the authors to say. The sections proper, presumably written by Ash, present a rapid run-through of stories on the themes.

With respect to its facts, this book scores very high in accuracy, probably something like 99.44%, which was a pleasant surprise for me, Ash's Who's Who in Science Fiction having been so thoroughly bad a book (see SFS 4[1977]:80-81). Credit here should be given to the Research Staff, headed by Mike Ashley, and including John Eggeling, Walter Gillings, James Goddard, Jon Gustafson, Philip Harbottle, George Hay, Colin Lester, Philip Strick, and Gerry Webb.

Many high school and college teachers of SF courses will undoubtedly find the information in this book valuable, and its organization convenient. On the other hand, given the number of SF histories, picture books, and reference works now available, scholars will find little or nothing here not readily available elsewhere. Which is to say that the book adds nothing to our knowledge of science fiction. And when the author departs from matters of simple fact, the scholar will find much that is dubious. For example, the following from the "Religion and Myths" section:

In 'A Vision of Judgment' (1895), Wells wrote a spoof of Judgment Day. However, religious affirmation is the basis of 'Under the Knife' (1896) in which the narrator, drugged by chloroform, feels himself drift through the Universe where he perceives a Giant Cosmic Hand, the foundation of all Matter. [p 225]

"Under the Knife" is one of several stories in which Wells brings supernatural or magical concepts into juxtaposition with scientific concepts, largely for the fun of the resulting paradoxes. In the narrator's dream, his soul does not "drift through the Universe," but instead, since "the immaterial has no inertia, feels nothing of the pull of matter for matter," remains fixed in space while earth, sun, solar system, and universe drift away from him. The giant hand, "upon which the whole Universe of Matter lay like an unconsidered speck of dust" turns out to be (as the narrator gradually regains consciousness) the hand of the surgeon grasping the rail of the bed. Anyone who knows Wells would be highly dubious about his having made in 1896 any kind of "religious affirmation." More important, Ash's reading of the story (or of the notes on it by one of his research assistants) illustrates the tendency of the superficial reader to reduce the original to the commonplace, the paradoxical to the orthodoxy of spoof or affirmation. The Visual Encyclopedia is a thoroughly superficial work, but with such values of convenience that even a superficial reference work can have.

Douglas Menville and R. Reginald. Things to Come: An Illustrated History of the Science Fiction Film. Times Books, 1977, 8½ x 11, xii+212, paperback, $8.95.

This book, which perhaps has more stills from SF films than any previous work, would make an excellent supplement to the Visual Encyclopedia, being on about the same level of sophistication and containing probably all the information on SF movies that any teacher would need to have for an ordinary SF course.

--R.D. Mullen

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