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In search of wonder : essays on modern science fiction …
Preservation of pulp science fiction magazines remains an important concern: both preservation of the remaining magazines in order to maintain markets for contemporary writers, and preservation of the older magazines to maintain research material for scholars and fans. The research topics that can be addressed by the heritage of SF pulp magazines are numerous: from concerns of genre to history of race and class, from literary studies to general cultural issues. Outside of fandom, the value of pulp SF magazines has often been underestimated, just as the genre has been unappreciated at times. Hopefully, the neglect of SF pulp magazines will be replaced with a stronger historical appreciation as scholars have begun to see the value of popular culture as well as traditional canonical literature.
Academic critics, who may not know the history or traditions of the field, tend to ignore the importance of magazines. Important academic works that ignore the fictions context include C.N. Manlove's , Mark Rose's , and David Samuelsons . These otherwise insightful books are filled with significant theoretical points that are clearly the result of close readings of the literature, but they lose historical value when the authors stress novels and reprint anthologies, a mistaken focus that may derive from applying mainstream models to science fiction works. Mainstream critics tend to focus on individual geniuses, whereas SF is an ongoing conversation between fans and writers: a conversation that occurs at conventions, in fanzines, and in fiction magazines. Any study of a popular genre such as SF must include careful attention to the historical, editorial, and commercial details of the fiction as well as the literary contexts. Paul Carter gets closer in , a clearly written study of magazine SF from 1919 through the 1950s which provides an alternative to the novel-focused criticism so common among academic critics. Sadly, although Carter's book is attentive to historical contexts, it does not offer enough theoretical or critical insight.
In Search of Wonder Essays on Modern Science Fiction Damon Knight
From 1950 to 1960, Damon Knight seemed to be everywhere reviewing books for various science fiction magazines. Some of those were collected into the book In Search of Wonder. There has been some mention of Knight in some Castalia House blog posts recently. I happen to have In Search of Wonder and pulled it out and went through it.
Although most SF writers are men, women writers have always been significant to the genre, and research into the magazine history allows scholars to develop a stronger sense of the importance of women to the genre. There have been important women writers in every era of SF: C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Judith Merril, Katherine MacLean, Margaret St. Clair, Kit Reed, Zenna Henderson, Ursula K. Le Guin, etc. Regardless of how sexist they were, editors needed science fiction enough that they did publish women, and some women became enormously popular as writers. However, sexism was certainly an issue; some women changed their names to make their gender ambiguous, for example, C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, or Andre Norton.
In search of wonder; essays on modern science fiction
One deterrent to researching the old magazines remains the expense of collecting them. Pulp magazines were not considered important by academic libraries until fairly recently, and only a few libraries such as the New York Public Library, Temple University, Texas A&M, LSU, and The University of California at Riverside have large collections. For a complete listing of science fiction research libraries consult the (811-836). Most of these archived collections are far from complete, and obviously a scholar can only consult them if s/he happens to be located nearby. The way most scholars consult these magazines is to buy them, an expensive proposition even though eBay has made the process cheaper and easier. Despite the difficulties of locating and collecting them, reading the actual magazines (rather than reprint anthologies) remains essential to understanding the genre. The magazines provide historical context, and much of the magazine fiction has not been reprinted, or at best, has appeared in hard-to-find editions. The work of most minor authors -- who published only a few stories in the magazines -- has never been collected. For genre or historical studies of science fiction, the minor writers are important; SF tropes are developed in an enormous megatext, a shared tapestry of meaning constructed by all the fans and writers, not just the majors. Science fiction magazines, with their intimate connection between readers and writers, constitute one of the best examples of a genre socially constructed through the interaction of a community.
Paratexts stand out as another excellent reason to study science fiction magazines. Gerard Genette coined the term paratext to refer to information that is a supplemental to the actual text, such as the introduction or index in a book. Within the science fiction magazines, the paratexts include the editorial comments, the blurbs, the "about the author" text, the illustrations, the cover painting, the letters page, etc. The editor will foreground the stories and authors that s/he thinks will help sell the magazine by featuring their names on the cover, and more profusely illustrating their work. The blurbs that precede each story also constitute an important paratext. Readers would sometimes decide which story to read first by glancing at the blurbs. In the October 1950 issue of , the serial "Time Quarry" contains the blurb: "One life should be enough to give for humanity . . . but humanity wanted Asher Sutton to keep making the sacrifice indefinitely!" (4). For Frederic Brown's "The Last Martian": "The worries of a drunk are strange indeed. This one feared his people were all dead on another world. Silly, of course. Only . . . "(145). In the November 1951 issue of the blurb for Frank Quattrocchi "Sea Legs" reads: "Restless and footloose, a man in space can't help but dream of coming home. But something nobody should do is bet on the validity of a homesick dream!" (5). For "Self-Portrait" by Bernard Wolfe: "In the credo of this inspiringly selfless cyberneticist, nothing was too good for his colleagues in science. Much too good for them!"(58). 's blurbs focused on plot as a way to attract readers browsing the magazine at a store, often relying on paradoxes or surprises to build suspense. Sometimes a blurb relied on irony or satire to draw the reader in. The last blurb, for example, might cause the reader to wonder about the irony in the "selfless cyberneticist," giving his colleagues something that is "Much too good!" Was the "selfless" cyberneticist going to do something perverse to his colleagues, or harm them in the guise of helping them? was a magazine that published quite a bit of satire, and that tendency is reflected in the ironic and paradoxical blurbs.
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Wonder Of Science Essay In Hindi Free Essays - …
Knight wrote two book reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May 1960 (“Ia! Yog-Sothoth! Yah, Yah, Yah!”) and August 1960 (“The Tedious Mr. Lovecraft”). One of these was reprinted in In Search of Wonder. I don’t know which one was reprinted but his in his review of The Shuttered Room and Other Pieces, he does make some points that I agree with. He first ran some repetitive sentences where the narrator cannot describe things he has seen.
Feminist science fiction - Wikipedia
Damon Knight was wrong on some things. He thought H. Beam Piper’s Uller Uprising to be the best novel within the omnibus The Petrified Planet but did not like the military aspect of it. My guess is Knight was averse to action-oriented fiction. He was also right part of the time, especially on plotting and characterization. Modern day writers might want to go through some of his critiques of science fiction. Some of his ideas on horror are not bad either.
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