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Worlds Apart?: Dualism and Transgression in Contemporary Female Dystopias

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 1

Dunja Mohr

Literary critics and scholars have written extensively on the demise of the "utopian spirit" in the modern novel. What has often been overlooked is the emergence of a new hybrid subgenre, particularly in science fiction and fantasy, which incorporates utopian strategies within the dystopian narrative, particularly in the feminist dystopias of the 1980s and 1990s. The author names this new subgenre "transgressive utopian dystopias."

Suzette Haden Elgin's Native Tongue trilogy, Suzy McKee Charna's Holdfast series, and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale are thoroughly analyzed within the context of this this new subgenre of "transgressive utopian dystopias." Analysis focuses particularly on how these works cover the interrelated categories of gender, race and class, along with their relationship to classic literary dualism and the dystopian narrative.

Without completely dissolving the dualistic order, the feminist dystopias studied here contest the notions of unambiguity and authenticity that are generally part of the canon.

Tolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 2

Janet Brennan Croft

Tolkien and Shakespeare: one a prolific popular dramatist and poet of the Elizabethan era, the other a twentieth-century scholar of Old English and author of a considerably smaller body of work. Though unquestionably very different writers, the two have more in common than one might expect.

These essays focus on the broad themes and motifs which concerned both authors. They seek to uncover Shakespeare's influence on Tolkien through echoes of the playwright's themes and even word choices, discovering how Tolkien used, revised, updated, "corrected," and otherwise held an ongoing dialogue with Shakespeare's works.

The depiction of Elves and the world of Faerie, and how humans interact with them, are some of the most obvious points of comparison and difference for the two writers. Both Tolkien and Shakespeare deeply explored the uses and abuses of power with princes, politics, war, and the lessons of history. Magic and prophecy were also of great concern to both authors, and the works of both are full of encounters with the Other: masks and disguises, mirrors that hide and reveal, or seeing stones that show only part of the truth.

Culture, Identities and Technology in the Star Wars Films: Essays on the Two Trilogies

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 3

Carl Silvio
Tony M. Vinci

Released in May 1977, the original Star Wars movie inaugurated the age of the movie blockbuster. It also redefined the use of cinematic special effects, creating a new textual universe that now stretches through three decades, two trilogies and generations of fascinated viewers. The body of critical analysis that has developed from this epic focuses primarily on the Star Wars universe as a contemporary myth. However, like any fiction, it must also be viewed and consequently analyzed as a product of the culture which created it.

The essays in this book analyze the Star Wars trilogies as a culturally and historically specific phenomenon. Moving away from the traditional myth-based criticism of the films, the essayists employ a cultural studies model to examine how this phenomenon intersects with social formations such as economics, technology, race and gender. Critical approaches are varied and include political and economic analysis informed by feminism, contemporary race theory, Marxism, new media studies and post-humanism. Among the topics covered are the connections between the trilogies and our own cultural landscape; the problematic issues of race and gender; and the thematic implications of Lucas presentation of technology.

The Influence of Star Trek on Television, Film, and Culture

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 4

Lincoln Geraghty

When the first season of Star Trek opened to American television viewers in 1966, the thematically insightful sci-fi story line presented audiences with the exciting vision of a bold voyage into the final frontiers of space and strange, new galactic worlds. Perpetuating this enchanting vision, the story has become one of the longest running and most multifaceted franchises in television history. Moreover, it has presented an inspiring message for the future, addressing everything from social, political, philosophical, and ethical issues to progressive and humanist representations of race, gender, and class.

This book contends that Star Trek is not just a set of television series, but has become a pervasive part of the identity of the millions of people who watch, read and consume the films, television episodes, network specials, novelizations, and fan stories. Examining Star Trek from various critical angles, the essays in this collection provide vital new insights into the myriad ways that the franchise has affected the culture it represents, the people who watch the series, and the industry that created it.

Hugo Gernsback and the Century of Science Fiction

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 5

Gary Westfahl

An examination of science fiction editor and author Hugo Gernsback's career, this critical study explores the many ways in which his work influenced the genre. It summarizes the science fiction theories of Gernsback and his successors, considers his efforts to define science fiction both verbally and visually, and for the first time offers detailed studies of his rarest periodicals, including Technocracy Review, Superworld Comics, and Science-Fiction Plus. An analysis of his ground-breaking novel, Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660, and its influences on a variety of science fiction novels, films and television programs is also offered.

One Earth, One People: The Mythopoeic Fantasy Series of Le Guin, Alexander, L'engle, Card

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 6

Marek Oziewicz

Winner, Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies--The Mythopoeic Society

This work presents the genre of mythopoeic fantasy from a holistic perspective, arguing that this central genre of fantasy literature is largely misunderstood as a result of decades of incomplete and reductionist literary studies. The author asserts that mythopoeic fantasy is not only the most complete literary expression of a worldview based on the existence of supernatural or spiritual powers but that the genre is in a unique position to transform social consciousness with a renewed emphasis on anticipating the future. The author lays out theoretical foundations for his argument in the first four chapters and then demonstrates how the works of fantasy authors Ursula K. LeGuin, Lloyd Alexander, Madeleine L'Engle, and Orson Scott Card exemplify his argument in the remaining four chapters.

Evolution of Tolkien's Mythology: A Study of the History of Middle-Earth

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 7

Elizabeth A. Whittingham

The History of Middle-earth traces the evolution of J.R.R. Tolkien's literary world, stories, and characters from their earliest written forms to the final revisions Tolkien penned shortly before his death in 1973. Published posthumously by Tolkien's son Christopher, the extensively detailed 12-volume work allows readers to follow the development of the texts that eventually became Tolkien's immensely popular The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales. This work provides a thorough study of Tolkien's life and influences through an analysis of The History of Middle-earth.

The work begins with a brief biography and an analysis of the major influences in Tolkien's life. Following chapters deal with elements common to Tolkien's popular works, including the cosmogony, theogony, cosmology, metaphysics, and eschatology of Middle-earth. The study also reviews some of the myths with which Tolkien was most familiar--Greek, Roman, Finnish, and Norse--and reveals the often overlapping relationship between mythology, biblical stories, and Tolkien's popular works.

H. Beam Piper: A Biography

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 8

John F. Carr

H. Beam Piper is one of science fiction's most enigmatic writers. In 1946 Piper appeared seemingly from out of nowhere, already at the top of his form. He published a number of memorable short stories in the premier science fiction magazine of the time, Astounding Science Fiction, under legendary editor John W. Campbell. Piper quickly became friends with many of the top writers of the day, including Lester Del Rey, Fletcher Pratt, Robert Heinlein and L. Sprague de Camp. Piper also successfully made the turn from promising short story writer to major novelist, authoring Four-Day Planet, Cosmic Computer, Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen and Little Fuzzy, which was nominated for a Hugo award.

Even those who counted Piper among their friends knew very little about the man or his life as a railroad yard bull in Altoona, Pennsylvania. This biography illuminates H. Beam Piper, both the writer and the man, and answers lingering questions about his death. Appendices include a number of Piper's personal papers, a complete bibliography of Piper's works, and an essay on Piper's Terro-Human Future History series.

Dreams and Nightmares: Science and Technology in Myth and Fiction

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 9

Mordecai Roshwald

This book studies the treatment of science and technology from ancient myths to current works, demonstrating the importance of science to human civilization as evidenced in literature. Works studied include the Bible, Greek mythology, tales from the Middle Ages (including those about the Golem and Dr. Faustus), Gulliver's Travels, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and works by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, George Orwell, Bertrand Russell, and Aldous Huxley, among others.

Lilith in a New Light: Essays on the George MacDonald Fantasy Novel

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 10

Lucas H. Harriman

Considered George MacDonald's greatest work, Lilith (1895) is among the most popular and profound fantasy novels of the Victorian era. This collection of critical essays is the first book-length study of this important literary work. The selections function in working dialogue with one another, driven by the central idea of liminality in fantasy literature. In addition to providing fresh interpretations of the novel, these essays implement esteemed background scholarship on Lilith, including that of notable author C.S. Lewis. Analytical topics include MacDonald's rhetorical strategy as a writer of prose romance, the implications of the novel's famous "endless ending," and the significance of Lilith in the development of modern fantasy.

Feminist Narrative and the Supernatural: The Function of Fantastic Devices in Seven Recent Novels

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 11

Katherine J. Weese

Women authors have explored fantasy fiction in ways that connect with feminist narrative theories, as examined here by Katherine J. Weese in seven modern novels. These include Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle, Iris Murdoch's The Sea, the Sea, Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, Carol Shields's The Stone Diaries, Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible, and Toni Morrison's Beloved and Paradise. The fantastic devices highlight various feminist narrative concerns such as the authority of the female voice, the implications of narrative form for gender construction, revisions to traditional genre conventions by women writers, and the recovery of alternative versions of stories suppressed by dominant historical narratives. Weese also frames the fantastic elements in the scope of traditional fictional structure.

The Science of Fiction and the Fiction of Science: Collected Essays on SF Storytelling and the Gnostic Imagination

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 12

Frank McConnell

A member of the Pulitzer Prize jury, the late Frank McConnell helped science fiction gain standing as serious literature. His 16 essays herein were first presented as papers at the prestigious Eaton Conferences. Initially believing that science fiction is primarily one of many forms of storytelling, McConnell gradually recognized science fiction as a modern expression of Gnosticism, rejecting bodily concerns for an emphasis on spirituality.

Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable: Critical Essays

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 13

William J. Burling

While Kim Stanley Robinson is perhaps best known for his hard science fiction works Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars, the epic trilogy exploring ecological and sociological themes involved in human settlement of the Red Planet, his contributions to utopian science fiction are diverse and numerous. Along with aspects of sociology and ecology in the Mars trilogy and other topics, these essays examine Robinson's use of alternate history and politics, both in his many novels and in his short stories.

While Robinson has long been a subject of literary criticism, this collection, which includes five new essays and is drawn from writers on four continents, broadens the interpretive debate surrounding Robinson's science fiction and argues for consideration of the author as an intellectual figure of the first rank.


  • 1 - Preface and Acknowledgments (Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable: Critical Essays) - essay by William J. Burling
  • 3 - Introduction (Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable: Critical Essays) - essay by William J. Burling
  • 11 - Witness to Hard Times: Robinson's Other California - essay by Tom Moylan [as by Thomas P. Moylan]
  • 48 - "If I Find One Good City, I Will Spare the Man": Realism and Utopia in the Mars Trilogy - (2000) - essay by Fredric Jameson
  • 67 - Falling Into History: Imagined Wests in the "Three Californias" and Mars Trilogy - (2003) - essay by Carl Abbott
  • 83 - Remaking History: The Short Fiction - essay by John Kessel
  • 95 - The Martians: A Habitable Fabric of Possibilities - (1999) - essay by Nick Gevers
  • 98 - Learning to Live in History: Alternate Historicites and the 1990's in The Years of Rice and Salt - essay by Phillip E. Wegner
  • 115 - The Density of Utopian Destiny in Red Mars - (1997) - essay by Carol Franko
  • 122 - Falling Into Theory: Simulation, Terraformation, and Eco-Economics in the Mars Trilogy - (1997) - essay by Robert Markley
  • 144 - Chromodynamics: Science and Colonialism in the Mars Trilogy - (2002) - essay by Elizabeth Leane
  • 157 - The Theoretical Foundation of Utopian Radical Democracy in Blue Mars - (2005) - essay by William J. Burling
  • 170 - The Politics of the Network: The Science in the Capital Trilogy - essay by Roger Luckhurst
  • 181 - Living Thought: Genes, Genres and Utopia in the Science in the Capital Trilogy - essay by Gib Prettyman
  • 204 - "Structuralist Alchemy" in Red Mars - essay by William J. White
  • 227 - Ecological Newspeak - (1997) - essay by Alan R. Slotkin
  • 231 - Murray Bookchin on Mars! The Production of Nature in the Mars Trilogy - (2002) - essay by Shaun Huston (variant of Murray Bookchin on Mars! The Production of Nature in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy)
  • 242 - The Mars Trilogy and the Leopoldian Land Ethic - (2003) - essay by Eric Otto
  • 257 - Dead Penguins in Immigrant Pilchard Scandal: Telling Stories About "The Environment" in Antarctica - essay by Mark Bould and Sherryl Vint
  • 277 - A Conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson - interview of Kim Stanley Robinson - interview by Bud Foote [as by Irving F. 'Bud' Foote]
  • 292 - A Select Secondary Bibliography - essay by William J. Burling
  • 297 - About the Contributors (Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable: Critical Essays) - essay by uncredited
  • 301 - Index (Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable: Critical Essays) - essay by uncredited

The Inter-Galactic Playground: A Critical Study of Children's and Teens' Science Fiction

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 14

Farah Mendlesohn

Finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Related Work

Science fiction is often considered the genre of ideas and imagination, which would seem to make it ideal for juveniles and young adults; however, the ideas are often dispensed by adults. This book considers the development of science fiction for children and teens between 1950 and 2010, exploring why it differs from science fiction aimed at adults. In a broader sense, this critical examination of 400 texts sheds light on changing attitudes toward children and teenagers, toward science education, and toward the authors' expectations and sociological views of their audience.

Science Fiction from Québec: A Postcolonial Study

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 15

Amy J. Ransom

This first book-length study of French-language science fiction from Canada provides an introduction to the subgenre known as "SFQ" (science fiction from Quebec). In addition, it offers in-depth analyses of SFQ sagas by Jacques Brossard, Esther Rochon, and Elisabeth Vonarburg. It demonstrates how these multivolume narratives of colonization and postcolonial societies exploit themes typical of postcolonial literatures, including the denunciation of oppressive colonial systems, the utopian hope for a better future, and the celebration of tolerant pluralistic societies. A bibliography of SFQ available in English translation is included.

Science Fiction and the Two Cultures: Essays on Bridging the Gap Between the Sciences and the Humanities

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 16

George E. Slusser
Gary Westfahl

Essays in this volume demonstrate how science fiction can serve as a bridge between the sciences and the humanities. The essays show how early writers like Dante and Mary Shelley revealed a gradual shift toward a genuine understanding of science; how H.G. Wells first showed the possibilities of combining scientific and humanistic perspectives; how writers influenced by Gernsback's ideas, like Isaac Asimov, illustrated the ways that literature could interact with science and assist in its progress; and how more recent writers offer critiques of science and its practitioners.

Stephen R. Donaldson and the Modern Epic Vision: A Critical Study

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 17

Christine Barkley

This critical study analyzes Stephen R. Donaldson's role as a modern writer who uses the fantasy genre to discuss situations and predicaments germane to the modern world. Donaldson reclaims an epic vision in his Thomas Covenant novels that is lacking in most modern literature. Chapters demonstrate how this use of epic heroism helps solve seemingly insurmountable problems and provides more meaning and purpose for individuals. As Donaldson's characters learn to transcend their world, the reader is engaged in a serious, enlightened discussion about the need for imagination, responsibility and acceptance to resolve such problems as alienation, pollution, disease and despair.

Ursula K. Le Guin's Journey to Post-Feminism

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 18

Amy M. Clarke

The first book-length treatment of Le Guin's feminism, this text offers a career-spanning look at her engagement with modern gender theory and practice. During the 1970s, Le Guin experienced a paradigm shift to feminism, a change which had profound effects on her work.

This critical examination explores the masculinist nature of her early writing and how her work changed both thematically and aesthetically as a result of her newfound feminism. Of particular interest is her later phase, wherein Le Guin transitions to a more inclusive post-feminism, privileging unity and balance over separatism. A vital addition to Le Guin criticism.

Portals of Power: Magical Agency and Transformation in Literary Fantasy

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 19

Lori M. Campbell

Fantasy writing, like literature in general, provides a powerful vehicle for challenging the status quo. Via symbolism, imagery and supernaturalism, fantasy constructs secondary-world narratives that both mirror and critique the political paradigms of our own world.

This critical work explores the role of the portal in fantasy, investigating the ways in which magical nexus points and movement between worlds are used to illustrate real-world power dynamics, especially those impacting women and children. Through an examination of high and low fantasy, fairy tales, children's literature, the Gothic, and science fiction, the portal is identified as a living being, place or magical object of profound metaphorical and cultural significance.

The Animal Fable in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 20

Bruce Shaw

Though animal stories and fables stretch back into the antiquity of ancient India, Persia, Greece and Rome, the reasons for writing them and their resonance for readers (and listeners) remain consistent to the present.

This work argues that they were essential sources of amusement and instruction--and were also often profoundly unsettling. Such authors in the realm of the animal fable as Tolkien, Freud, Voltaire, Bakhtin, Cordwainer Smith, Karel Capek, Vladimir Propp, and many more are discussed.

Illuminating Torchwood: Essays on Narrative, Character and Sexuality in the BBC Series

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 21

Andrew Ireland

Created in 2006 as a spinoff of Doctor Who, the internationally popular BBC television series Torchwoodis a unique blend of science fiction and fantasy, with much more of an adult flavor than its progenitor. The series' "omnisexual" protagonist, maverick 51st-century time agent Captain Jack Harkness, leads a team of operatives from the present-day Torchwood Institute, a secret organization dedicated to battling supernatural and extraterrestrial criminals. With its archetypal characters, adult language, subversive humor and openly homosexual and bisexual storylines, Torchwood provides a wealth of material for scholarly analysis and debate.

Using Torchwood as its focal point, this timely collection of essays by a range of experts and enthusiasts provides an interpretive framework for understanding the continually developing forms and genres of contemporary television drama.

Comics as a Nexus of Cultures: Essays on the Interplay of Media, Disciple and International Perspectives

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 22

Mark Berninger
Jochen Ecke
Gideon Haberkorn

These essays from various critical disciplines examine how comic books and graphic narratives move between various media, while merging youth and adult cultures and popular and high art. The articles feature international perspectives on comics and graphic novels published in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Portugal, Germany, Turkey, India, and Japan. Topics range from film adaptation, to journalism in comics, to the current manga boom.

The Anatomy of Utopia: Narration, Estrangement and Ambiguity in More, Well, Huxley and Clarke

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 23

Károly Pintér

Since the early rise of the novel, utopian stories have held the public imagination. This critical text argues that though these books are commonly seen as social statements or ideological propaganda, they should be treated as literary texts, not as blueprints for a human community. Thomas More's Utopia, H.G. Wells's A Modern Utopia, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the Stars are examined as texts representative of utopianism during specific historical periods.

This thoughtful study is a vital addition to critical discussion of utopian literature.

The Anticipation Novelists of 1950s French Science Fiction: Stepchildren of Voltaire

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 24

Bradford Lyau

Following World War II, the Fleuve Noir publishing house published popular American genre fiction in translation for a French audience. Their imprint Anticipation specialized in science fiction, but mostly eschewed translations from English, preferring instead French work, thus making the imprint an important outlet for native French postwar ideas and aesthetics.

This critical text examines in ideological terms eleven writers who published under the Anticipation imprint, revealing the way these writers criticized midcentury notions of progress while adapting and reworking American genre formats.

The Twilight Mystique: Critical Essays on the Novels and Films

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 25

Amy M. Clarke
Marijane Osborn

The 13 essays in this volume explore Stephenie Meyer's wildly popular Twilight series in the contexts of literature, religion, fairy tales, film, and the gothic. Several examine Meyer's emphasis on abstinence, considering how, why, and if the author's Mormon faith has influenced the series' worldview. Others look at fan involvement in the Twilight world, focusing on how the series' avid following has led to an economic transformation in Forks, Washington, the real town where the fictional series is set.

Other topics include Meyer's use of Quileute shape-shifting legends, Twilight's literary heritage and its frequent references to classic works of literature, and the series' controversial depictions of femininity.

The Mythic Fantasy of Robert Holdstock: Critical Essays on the Fiction

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 26

Kálmán Matolcsy
Donald E. Morse

Robert Holdstock was a prolific writer whose oeuvre included horror, fantasy, mystery and the novelization of films, often published under pseudonyms. These twelve critical essays explore Holdstock's varied output by displaying his works against the backdrop of folk and fairy tales, dissecting their spatiotemporal order, and examining them as psychic fantasies of our unconscious life or as exempla of the sublime. The individual novels of the Mythago Wood sequence are explored, as is Holdstock's early science fiction and the Merlin Codex series.

Science Fiction and the Prediction of the Future: Essays on Foresight and Fallacy

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 27

Amy Kit-sze Chan
Gary Westfahl
Wong Kin Yuen

Science fiction has always challenged readers with depictions of the future. Can the genre actually provide glimpses of the world of tomorrow? This collection of fifteen international and interdisciplinary essays examines the genre's predictions and breaks new ground by considering the prophetic functions of science fiction films as well as SF literature. Among the texts and topics examined are classic stories by Murray Leinster, C. L. Moore, and Cordwainer Smith; 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequels, Japanese anime and Hong Kong cinema; and electronic fiction.


  • 1 - Of Futures Imagined, and Futures Inhabited - essay by Gary Westfahl
  • 9 - Pitfalls of Prophecy: Why Science Fiction So Often Fails to Predict the Future - essay by Gary Westfahl
  • 104 - Rebooting "A Logic Named Joe": Exploring the Multiple Influences of a Strangely Predictive Mid-1940s Short Story - essay by David L. Ferro and Eric G. Swedin
  • 220 - Thinking About the Smart Wireless World - essay by Gregory Benford

Apocalypse in Australian Fiction and Film: A Critical Study

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 28

Roslyn Weaver

Australia has been a frequent choice of location for narratives about the end of the world in science fiction and speculative works, ranging from pre-colonial apocalyptic maps to key literary works from the last fifty years. This critical work explores the role of Australia in both apocalyptic literature and film. Works and genres covered include Nevil Shute's popular novel On the Beach, Mad Max, children's literature, Indigenous writing, and cyberpunk. The text examines ways in which apocalypse is used to undermine complacency, foretell environmental disasters, critique colonization, and to serve as a means of protest for minority groups. Australian apocalypse imagines Australia at the ends of the world, geographically and psychologically, but also proposes spaces of hope for the future.

British Science Fiction Film and Television: Critical Essays

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 29

Tobias Hochscherf
James Leggott

Written by international experts from a range of disciplines, these essays examine the uniquely British contribution to science fiction film and television. Viewing British SF as a cultural phenomenon that challenges straightforward definitions of genre, nationhood, authorship and media, the editors provide a conceptual introduction placing the essays within their critical context. Essay topics include Hammer science fiction films, the various incarnations of Doctor Who, Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, and such 21st-century productions as 28 Days Later and Torchwood.

Cult Telefantasy: A Critical Analysis

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 30

Sue Short

A Critical Analysis of The Prisoner, Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Heroes, Doctor Who and Star Trek.

From The Prisoner in the 1960s to the more recent Heroes and Lost, a group of television series with strong elements of fantasy have achieved cult status. Focusing on eight such series, this work analyzes their respective innovations and influences. Assessing the strategies used to promote "cult" appeal, it also appraises increased opportunities for interaction between series creators and fans and evaluates how television fantasy has utilized transmedia storytelling. Notable changes within broadcasting are discussed to explain how challenging long-form dramas have emerged, and why telefantasy has transcended niche status to enjoy significant prominence and popularity.

The Postnational Fantasy: Essays on Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics and Science Fiction

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 31

Jason W. Ellis
Swaralipi Nandi
Masood Ashraf Raja

In twelve critical and interdisciplinary essays, this text examines the relationship between the fantastic in novels, movies and video games and real-world debates about nationalism, globalization and cosmopolitanism. Topics covered include science fiction and postcolonialism, issues of ethnicity, nation and transnational discourse. Altogether, these essays chart a new discursive space, where postcolonial theory and science fiction and fantasy studies work cooperatively to expand our understanding of the fantastic, while simultaneously expanding the scope of postcolonial discussions.


  • 1 - Foreword (The Postnational Fantasy: Essays on Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics and Science Fiction) - essay by Donald M. Hassler
  • 5 - Introduction (The Postnational Fantasy: Essays on Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics and Science Fiction) - essay by Swaralipi Nandi and Masood Ashraf Raja
  • 17 - Science Fiction as Experimental Ground for Issues of the Postcolonial Novel - essay by Michele Braun
  • 30 - Truth Is Stranger: The Postnational "Aliens" of Biofiction - essay by Karen Cardozo and Banu Subramaniam
  • 46 - Forms of Compromise: The Interaction of Humanity, Technology and Landscape in Ken MacLeod's Night Sessions - essay by Adam Frisch
  • 56 - The Language of Postnationality: Cultural Identity via Science Fictional Trajectories - essay by Chris Pak
  • 73 - The "Popular" Science: Bollywood's Take on Science Fiction and the Discourse of Nations - essay by Swaralipi Nandi
  • 88 - Postcolonial Ethics and Identity in Kirinyaga - essay by Jenn Brandt
  • 100 - The Frontier Myth and Racial Politics - essay by Angel Mateos-Aparicio Martin-Albo
  • 125 - Dystopia and the Postcolonial Nation - essay by Suparno Banderjee
  • 141 - Body Speaks: Communication and the Limits of Nationalism in Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis Trilogy - essay by Katherine R. Broad
  • 156 - Engineering a Comopolitan Future: Race, Nation, and World of Warcraft - essay by Jason W. Ellis
  • 174 - When "Nation" Stops Making Sense: Mexico and Giorgio Agamben's "State of Exception" in Children of Men - essay by Stacy Schmitt Rusnak
  • 188 - Fantastic Language/Political Reporting: The Postcolonial Science Fiction Illocutionary Force Is with Us - essay by Marleen S. Barr

Heinlein's Juvenile Novels: A Cultural Dictionary

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 32

C. W. Sullivan, III

Robert A. Heinlein's early, juvenile science fiction novels appeared between 1947 and 1963, just as America was emerging from World War II and entering the space age, and are among his richest and most warmly remembered books. This comprehensive work defines the many names, terms and cultural references that appear in Heinlein's juvenile novels, noting where they are found, explaining their sources and tracking their occurrences throughout the series. Of particular interest is the way in which Heinlein used science fiction to parallel the exploration of outer space with the settlement of the North American continent. Appendices provide a precis of the plot of each book, and speculate on some of the names and terms for which no specific reference could be found.

Welsh Mythology and Folklore in Popular Culture: Essays on Adaptations in Literature, Film, Television and Digital Media

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 33

Audrey Becker
Kristin Noone

Examining how we interpret Welshness today, this volume brings together fourteen essays covering a full range of representations of Welsh mythology, folklore, and ritual in popular culture. Topics covered include the twentieth-century fantasy fiction of Evangeline Walton, the Welsh presence in the films of Walt Disney, Welshness in folk music, video games, and postmodern literature. Together, these interdisciplinary essays explore the ways that Welsh motifs have proliferated in this age of cultural cross-pollination, spreading worldwide the myths of one small British nation.

I See You: The Shifting Paradigms of James Cameron's Avatar

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 34

Ellen Grabiner

In the blockbuster film Avatar, science fiction and the technological prowess of director James Cameron meet in a heady concoction that, while visually ravishing, could easily be dismissed as "eye candy." While critics most frequently acclaimed its breakthrough 3-D technology, close scrutiny of the film raises provocative questions about the relationship between mind and body, appearance and reality. It brings into focus the relationships of humans to their technology, their planet, and each other and highlights the nature and potential of film itself.

This work explores the theoretical and philosophical issues brought to bear in Avatar, exploring the spaces between human and machine; technology and nature; chick flick and action-adventure; and old-fashioned storytelling and cutting-edge technology. Central to the book's analysis is an examination of the extent to which Avatar melds the seer and the seen, illuminating an alternative visual paradigm.

Of Bread, Blood and the Hunger Games: Critical Essays on the Suzanne Collins Trilogy

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 35

Leisa A. Clark
Mary F. Pharr

This collection of fresh essays on Suzanne Collins's epic trilogy spans multiple disciplines. The contributors probe the trilogy's meaning using theories grounded in historicism, feminism, humanism, queer theory, as well as cultural, political, and media studies. The essayists demonstrate diverse perspectives regarding Collins's novels but their works have three elements in common: an appreciation of the trilogy as literature, a belief in its permanent value, and a need to share both appreciation and belief with fellow readers.

The 21 essays that follow the context-setting introduction are grouped into four parts:

  • Part I "History, Politics, Economics, and Culture,"
  • Part II "Ethics, Aesthetics, and Identity,"
  • Part III "Resistance, Surveillance, and Simulacra," and
  • Part IV "Thematic Parallels and Literary Traditions."

A core bibliography of dystopian and postapocalyptic works is included, with emphasis on the young adult category--itself an increasingly crucial part of postmodern culture.

The Sex is Out of This World: Essays on the Carnal Side of Science Fiction

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 36

Michael G. Cornelius
Sherry Ginn

"Science fiction" can be translated into "real unreality." More than a genre like fantasy, which creates entirely new realms of possibility, science fiction constructs its possibilities from what is real, from what is, indeed, possible, or conceivably so. This collection, then, looks to understand and explore the "unreal reality," to note ways in which our culture's continually changing and evolving mores of sex and sexuality are reflected in, dissected by, and deconstructed through the genre of science fiction.

This book is a collection of new essays, with the general objective of filling a gap in the literature about sex and science fiction (although some work has gone before, none of it is recent). The essays herein explore the myriad ways in which authors--regardless of format (print, film, television, etc.)--envision very different beings expressing this most fundamental of human behaviors.

Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 37

Janet Brennan Croft

Lois McMaster Bujold has won a shelf full of awards--Hugos, Nebulas, and others--for both her science fiction and fantasy writing. She is one of the most respected names in the field, always delivering polished, thoughtful, and well-crafted writing. She consistently addresses great issues and problems on a human level, where they are faced by quirky, prickly, and very real characters, and her exploration of the theory of reader-response is an important critical contribution. Yet there has been a surprising dearth of serious critical writing about her output--in part because she resists neat and easy classification by genre, politics, or subject matter.

This collection of fresh essays aims to correct that situation by presenting critical insights into many aspects of her writing. Attention is given to both her Miles Vorkosigan science fiction series and her Chalion and Sharing Knife fantasy series, as well as the books that fall outside these series.

Girls Transforming: Invisibility and Age-Shifting in Children's Fantasy Fiction Since the 1970s

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 38

Sanna Lehtonen

This book explores representations of girlhood and young womanhood in recent English language children's fantasy by focusing on two fantastic body transformation types: invisibility and age-shifting. Drawing on recent feminist and queer theory, the study discusses the tropes of invisibility and age-shifting as narrative devices representing gendered experiences. The transformations offer various perspectives on a girl's changing body and identity and provide links between real-life and fantastic discourses of gender, power, invisibility and aging.

The main focus is on English-language fantasy published since the 1970s but the motifs of invisibility and age-shifting in earlier tales and children's books is reviewed; this is the first study of children's fantasy literature that considers these tropes at length. Novels discussed are from both critically acclaimed authors and the less well known. Most of the novels depicting invisible or age-shifting girls are neither thoroughly conventional nor radically subversive but present a range of styles. In terms of gender, children's fantasy novels can be more complex than they are often interpreted to be.

Doctor Who in Time and Space: Essays on Themes, Characters, History and Fandom, 1963-2012

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 39

Gillian I. Leitch

This collection of fresh essays addresses a broad range of topics in the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, both old (1963-1989) and new (2005-present). The book begins with the fan: There are essays on how the show is viewed and identified with, fan interactions with each other, reactions to changes, the wilderness years when it wasn't in production. Essays then look at the ways in which the stories are told (e.g., their timeliness, their use of time travel as a device, etc.). After discussing the stories and devices and themes, the essays turn to looking at the Doctor's female companions and how they evolve, are used, and changed by their journey with the Doctor.

The Worlds of Farscape: Essays on the Groundbreaking Television Series

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 40

Sherry Ginn

Reversing a common science fiction cliche, Farscape follows the adventures of the human astronaut John Crichton after he is shot through a wormhole into another part of the universe. Here Crichton is the only human being, going from being a member of the most intelligent species on our planet to being frequently considered mentally deficient by the beings he encounters in his new environment. John Crichton befriends a group of beings from various species attempting to escape from imprisonment aboard a living spaceship. The series, which broke many of the so-called "rules" of science fiction, follows Crichton's attempts to survive in worlds that are often hostile to him and his friends. Their adventures center on each being's attempt to find a way home.

The essays in this volume explore themes running throughout the series, such as good and evil, love and sex, and what it means to be a hero, as well as the various characters populating the series, including the villains and even the ship itself.

Orbiting Ray Bradbury's Mars: Biographical, Anthropological, Literary, Scientific and Other Perspectives

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 41

Gloria McMillian

This essay collection explores the life and work of science fiction doyen Ray Bradbury from a variety of perspectives. Noting the impact of the Southwest on Bradbury, some of the essays analyze Bradbury's southwest metaphors: colonial pollution of a pristine ecology, the impacts of a colonial invasion upon an indigenous population, the meeting of cultures with different values and physical aspects. Other essays view Bradbury via the lens of post-colonialism, drawing parallels between such works as The Martian Chronicles and real-life colonialism and its effects. Another essay views Bradbury sociologically, analyzing border issues in his 1947 New Yorker story "I See You Never," written long before the issue of Mexican deportees appeared on the American literary horizon. From the scientific side, four essays by astronomers document how Bradbury formed the minds of many budding scientists with his vision. On August 22, 2012, the Martian landing site of the Curiosity rover in the Gale Crater was named "Bradbury." This honor shows that Bradbury forms a significant link between the worlds of fiction and planetary science.

The Heritage of Heinlein: A Critical Reading of the Fiction

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 42

Thomas D. Clareson
Joe Sanders

Robert A. Heinlein is generally recognized as the most important American science fiction writer of the 20th century. This is the first detailed critical examination of his entire career. It is not a biography--that is being done in a two-volume work by William Patterson. Instead, this book looks at each piece of fiction (and a few pieces of sf-related nonfiction) that Heinlein wrote, chronologically by date of publication, in order to consider what each contributes to his overall accomplishment. The aim is to be fair, to look clearly at the strengths and weaknesses of the writings that have inspired generations of readers and writers.

The Past That Might Have Been, the Future That May Come: Women Writing Fantastic Fiction, 1960s to the Present

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 43

Lauren J. Lacey

This book explores how contemporary fantastic fiction by women writers responds to the past and imagines the future. The first two chapters look at revisionist rewritings of fairy tales and historical texts; the third and fourth focus on future-oriented narratives including dystopias and space fiction. Writers considered include Margaret Atwood, Octavia E. Butler, Angela Carter, Ursula K. Le Guin, Doris Lessing, and Jeanette Winterson, among others. The author argues that an analysis of how past and future are understood in women's fantastic fictions brings to light an "ethics of becoming" in the texts--a way of interrupting, revising and remaking problematic power structures that are tied to identity markers like class, gender and race. The book reveals how fantastic fiction can be read as narratives of disruption that enable the creation of an ethics of becoming.

Environments in Science Fiction: Essays on Alternative Spaces

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 44

Susan M. Bernardo

The all-new essays in this book respond to the question, How do spaces in science fiction, both built and unbuilt, help shape the relationships among humans, other animals and their shared environments? Spaces, as well as a sense of place or belonging, play major roles in many science fiction works. This book focuses especially on depictions of the future that include, but move beyond, dystopias and offer us ways to imagine reinventing ourselves and our perspectives; especially our links to and views of new environments.

There are ecocritical texts that deal with space/place and science fiction criticism that deals with dystopias but there is no other collection that focuses on the intersection of the two.


  • 1 - Introduction (Environments in Science Fiction: Essays on Alternative Spaces) - essay by uncredited
  • 10 - Heterotopian Possibilities in Science Fictions by Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett, Samuel Delany and Ursula K. Le Guin - essay by Lauren J. Lacey
  • 28 - Acceptance of the Marginalized in Marge Piery's He, She, It and Melissa Scott's Trouble and Her Friends - essay by Melanie A. Marotta
  • 46 - Anathem's Flows of Power: State Space and Nomadology on a Cloistered Planet - essay by Jonathan P. Lewis
  • 64 - Karel Capek's War with the Newts: Deterritorializing Land and Language - essay by Adam Lawrence
  • 83 - Mary Shelley's Literary Laboratory: Frankenstein and the Emergence of the Modern Laboratory in Nineteenth-Century Europe - essay by Matthew Hadley
  • 101 - Ecotopian London: Morris's Geography of Conservation - essay by Margaret S. Kennedy
  • 120 - Underworlds of Despair and Hope in Cormac McCarthy's The Road - essay by Justin T. Noetzel
  • 137 - The Silence of the Subaltern: The Rejection of History and Language in Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome - essay by Shayani Bhattacharya
  • 154 - A case of Terraphilia: Longing for Place and Community in Philip K Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - essay by Susan M. Bernardo
  • 171 - Discursive Transgressions and Ideological Negotiations: From Orwell's 1984 to Butler's Parable of the Sower - essay by Keith Elphick

Discworld and the Disciplines: Critical Approaches to the Terry Pratchett Works

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 45

Anne Hiebert Alton
William C. Spruiell

This collection of new essays applies a wide range of critical frameworks to the analysis of prolific fantasy author Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. Essays focus on topics such as Pratchett's treatment of noise and silence and their political implications; art as an anodyne for racial conflict; humor and cognitive debugging; visual semiotics; linguistic stylistics and readers' perspectives of word choice; and Derrida and the "monstrous Regiment of Women." The volume also includes an annotated bibliography of critical sources. The essays provide fresh perspectives on Pratchett's work, which has stealthily redefined both fantasy and humor for modern audiences.

Nature and the Numinous in Mythopoeic Fantasy Literature

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 46

Chris Brawley

This book makes connections between mythopoeic fantasy--works that engage the numinous--and the critical apparatuses of ecocriticism and posthumanism. Drawing from the ideas of Rudolf Otto in The Idea of the Holy, mythopoeic fantasy is a means of subverting normative modes of perception to both encounter the numinous and to challenge the perceptions of the natural world.

Beginning with S.T. Coleridge's theories of the imagination as embodied in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the book moves on to explore standard mythopoeic fantasists such as George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. Taking a step outside these men, particularly influenced by Christianity, the concluding chapters discuss Algernon Blackwood and Ursula Le Guin, whose works evoke the numinous without a specifically Christian worldview.

J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard and the Birth of Modern Fantasy

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 47

Deke Parsons

The birth of modern fantasy in 1930s Britain and America saw the development of new literary and film genres. J.R.R. Tolkien created modern fantasy with The Lord of the Rings, set in a fictional world based upon his life in the early 20th century British Empire, and his love of language and medieval literature. In small-town Texas, Robert E. Howard pounded out his own fantasy realm in his Conan stories, published serially in the ephemeral pulp magazines he loved. Jerry Siegel created Superman with Joe Shuster, and laid the foundation for perhaps the post far-reaching fantasy worlds: the universe of DC and Marvel comics.

The work of extraordinary people who lived in an extraordinary decade, this modern fantasy canon still provides source material for the most successful literary and film franchises of the 21st century. Modern fantasy speaks to the human experience and still shows its origins from the lives and times of its creators.

The Monomyth of American Science Fiction Films: 28 Visions of the Hero's Journey

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 48

Donald E. Palumbo

One of the great intellectual achievements of the 20th century, Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces is an elaborate articulation of the monomyth: the narrative pattern underlying countless stories from the most ancient myths and legends to the films and television series of today. The monomyth's fundamental storyline, in Campbell's words, sees "the hero venture forth from the world of the common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons to his fellow man." Campbell asserted that the hero is each of us--thus the monomyth's endurance as a compelling plot structure.

This study examines the monomyth in the context of Campbell's The Hero and discusses the use of this versatile narrative in 26 films and two television shows produced between 1960 and 2009, including the initial Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983), The Time Machine (1960), Logan's Run (1976), Escape from New York (1981), Tron (1982), The Terminator (1984), The Matrix (1999), the first 11 Star Trek films (1979-2009), and the Sci Fi Channel's miniseries Frank Herbert's Dune (2000) and Frank Herbert's Children of Dune (2003).

The Fantastic in Holocaust Literature and Film: Critical Perspectives

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 49

John Edgar Browning
Judith B. Kerman

When reality becomes fantastic, what literary effects will render it credible or comprehensible? To respond meaningfully to the surreality of the Holocaust, writers must produce works of moral and emotional complexity. One way they have achieved this is through elements of fantasy.

Covering a range of theoretical perspectives, this collection of essays explores the use of fantastic story-telling in Holocaust literature and film. Writers such as Jane Yolen and Art Spiegelman are discussed, as well as the sci-fi television series V (1983), Stephen King's novella Apt Pupil (1982), Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and Martin Scorsese's dark thriller Shutter Island (2010).

Star Wars in the Public Square: The Clone Wars as Political Dialogue

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 50

Derek R. Sweet

Speculative science fiction, with its underlying socio-political dialogue, represents an important intersection of popular culture and public discourse. As a pop culture text, the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars offers critical commentary on contemporary issues, marking a moment of interplay whereby author and audience come together in what Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin called collaborative meaning making. This book critically examines the series as a voice in the political dialogues concerning human cloning, torture, just war theory, peace and drone warfare.

An Asimov Companion: Characters, Places and Terms in the Robot/Empire/Foundation Metaseries

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 51

Donald E. Palumbo

A prolific author, Isaac Asimov is most admired for his science fiction, including his collection of short stories I, Robot and his Robot, Empire and Foundation series novels. While each of these narratives takes place in a different fictional universe, Asimov asserted at the end of his career that he had, with his last Robot and Foundation novels, unified them into one coherent metaseries.

This reference work identifies and describes all of the characters, locales, artifacts, concepts and institutions in Asimov's metaseries. Mimicking the style of The Encyclopedia Galactica, the fictional compendium of all human knowledge that features prominently in the Foundation series, this encyclopedia is an invaluable companion to Asimov's science fiction oeuvre.

Michael Moorcock: Fiction, Fantasy and the World's Pain

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 52

Mark Scroggins

This first, full-length, critical look at Moorcock's career, from the early 1960s to the present (2016), explores the author's ficitonal multiverse: his fantasy tales of the "Eternal Champion"; his experimental Jerry Cornelius novels; the hilarious science-fiction satire of his "End of Time" books; and his complex meditations on 20th century history in "Mother London" and the Colonel Pyat tetralogy.

The Last Midnight: Essays on Apocalyptic Narratives in Millennial Media

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 53

Leisa A. Clark
Amanda Firestone
Mary F. Pharr

Do you find yourself contemplating the imminent end of the world? Do you wonder how society might reorganize itself to cope with global cataclysm? (Have you begun hoarding canned goods and ammunition...?)

Visions of an apocalypse began to dominate mass media well before the year 2000. Yet narratives since then present decidedly different spins on cultural anxieties about terrorism, disease, environmental collapse, worldwide conflict and millennial technologies.

Many of these concerns have been made metaphorical: zombie hordes embody fear of out-of-control appetites and encroaching disorder. Other fears, like the prospect of human technology's turning on its creators, seem more reality based. This collection of new essays explores apocalyptic themes in a variety of post-millennial media, including film, television, video games, webisodes and smartphone apps.

The Science Fiction Mythmakers: Religion, Science and Philosophy in Wells, Clarke, Dick and Herbert

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 54

Jennifer Simkins

A literary genre that pervades 21st-century popular culture, science fiction creates mythologies that make statements about humanity's place in the universe and embody an intersection of science, religion and philosophy.

This book considers the significance of this confluence through an examination of myths in the writings of H. G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick and Frank Herbert. Presenting fresh insights into their works, the author brings to light the tendency of science fiction narratives to reaffirm spiritual myths.

Gender and the Quest in British Science Fiction Television: An Analysis of Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Red Dwarf and Torchwood

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 55

Tom Powers

The subjects of this book constitute a significant cross section of BBC science fiction television. With such characters as the Doctor (an enigmatic time-traveling alien), Kerr Avon (a problematic rebel leader), Dave Lister (a slovenly last surviving human) and Captain Jack Harkness (a complex omnisexual immortal), these shows have both challenged and reinforced viewer expectations about the small-screen masculine hero.

This book explores the construction of gendered heroic identity in the series from both production and fan perspectives. The paradoxical relationships between the producers, writers and fans of the four series are discussed. Fan fiction, criticism and videos are examined that both celebrate and criticize BBC science fiction heroes and villains.

Saving the World Through Science Fiction: James Gunn, Writer, Teacher and Scholar

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 56

Michael R. Page

One of the major figures in science fiction for more than sixty years, James Gunn has been instrumental in making the genre one of the most vibrant and engaging areas of literary scholarship. His genre history Alternate Worlds and his The Road to Science Fiction anthologies introduced countless readers to science fiction. He founded the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction in 1982.

But Gunn has also been one of the genre's leading writers. His classic novels Star Bridge (with Jack Williamson), The Joy Makers, The Immortals and The Listeners helped shape the field. Now in his nineties, he remains a prominent voice. His forthcoming novel is Transformation. Drawing on materials from Gunn's archives and personal interviews with him, this study is the first to examine the life, career and writing of this science fiction grandmaster.

Wells Meets Deleuze: The Scientific Romance Reconsidered

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 57

Michael Starr

The writings of H.G. Wells have had a profound influence on literary and cinematic depictions of the present and the possible future, and modern science fiction continues to be indebted to his "scientific romances," such as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds and The Island of Doctor Moreau. Interpreted and adapted for more than a century, Wells's texts have resisted easy categorization and are perennial subjects for emerging critical and theoretical perspectives. The author examines Wells's works through the post-structuralist philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Via this critical perspective, concepts now synonymous with science fiction--such as time travel, alien invasion and transhumanism--demonstrate the intrinsic relevance of Wells to the genre and contemporary thought.

Science Fiction and Futurism: Their Terms and Ideas

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 58

Ace G. Pilkington

Science and science fiction have become inseparable--with common stories, interconnected thought experiments, and shared language. This reference book lays out that relationship and its all-but-magical terms and ideas. Those who think seriously about the future are changing the world, reshaping how we speak and how we think.

This book fully covers the terms that collected, clarified and crystallized the futurists' ideas, sometimes showing them off, sometimes slowing them down, and sometimes propelling them to fame and making them the common currency of our culture.

The many entries in this encyclopedic work offer a guided tour of the vast territories occupied by science fiction and futurism. In his Foreword, David Brin says, "Provocative and enticing? Filled with 'huh!' moments and leads to great stories? That describes this volume."

Science Fiction in Classic Rock: Musical Explorations of Space, Technology and the Imagination, 1967-1982

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 59

Robert McParland

As technology advances, society retains its mythical roots--a tendency evident in rock music and its enduring relationship with myth and science fiction. This study explores the mythical and fantastic themes of artists from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, including David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Blue Oyster Cult, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

Drawing on insights from Joseph Campbell, J.G. Frazer, Carl Jung and Mircea Eliade, the author examines how performers have incorporated mythic archetypes and science fiction imagery into songs that illustrate societal concerns and futuristic fantasies.

Patricia A. McKillip and the Art of Fantasy World-Building

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 60

Audrey Isabel Taylor

From wondrous fairy-lands to nightmarish hellscapes, the elements that make fantasy worlds come alive also invite their exploration. This first book-length study of critically acclaimed novelist Patricia A. McKillip's lyrical other-worlds analyzes her characters, environments and legends and their interplay with genre expectations. The author gives long overdue critical attention to McKillip's work and demonstrates how a broader understanding of world-building enables a deeper appreciation of her fantasies.

The Fabulous Journeys of Alice and Pinocchio: Exploring Their Parallel Worlds

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 61

Peter Hunt
Laura Tosi

Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871) and Carlo Collodi's Le Avventure di Pinocchio (1883) are among the most influential classics of children's literature. Firmly rooted in their respective British and Italian national cultures, the Alice and Pinocchio stories connected to a worldwide audience almost like folktales and fairy tales and have become fixtures of postmodernism.

Although they come from radically different political and social backgrounds, the texts share surprising similarities. This comparative reading explores their imagery and history, and discusses them in the broader context of British and Italian children's stories.

A Dune Companion

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 62

Donald E. Palumbo

This companion to Frank Herbert's six original Dune novels--Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune--provides an encyclopedia of characters, locations, terms and other elements, and highlights the series underrated aesthetic integrity. An extensive introduction discusses the theme of ecology, chaos theory concepts and structures, and Joseph Campbell's monomyth in Herbert's narratives.

Fantasy Literature and Christianity: A Study of the Mistborn, Coldfire, Fionavar Tapestry and Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Series

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 63

Weronika Laszkiewicz

The debate surrounding the Christian aspects of C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter has revealed not only the prominence of religious themes in fantasy fiction, but also readers' concerns over portrayals of religion in fantasy. Yet while analyses of these works fill many volumes, other fantasy series have received much less attention.

This critical study explores the fantastic religions and religious themes in American and Canadian works by Stephen R. Donaldson (Chronicles of Thomas Covenant), Guy Gavriel Kay (Fionavar Tapestry), Celia S. Friedman (Coldfire Trilogy), and Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn). References to biblical tradition and Christian teachings reveal these writers' overall approach to Christianity and the relationship between Christianity and the fantasy genre.

The British Comic Book Invasion: Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison and the Evolution of the American Style

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 64

Jochen Ecke

What makes a successful comics creator? How can storytelling stay exciting and innovative? How can genres be kept vital?

Writers and artists in the highly competitive U.S. comics mainstream have always had to explore these questions but they were especially pressing in the 1980s. As comics readers grew older they started calling for more sophisticated stories. They were also no longer just following the adventures of popular characters--writers and artists with distinctive styles were in demand. DC Comics and Marvel went looking for such mavericks and found them in the United Kingdom. Creators like Alan Moore (Watchmen, Saga of the Swamp Thing), Grant Morrison (The Invisibles, Flex Mentallo) and Garth Ennis (Preacher) migrated from the anarchical British comics industry to the U.S. mainstream and shook up the status quo yet came to rely on the genius of the American system.

The Archive Incarnate: The Embodiment and Transmission of Knowledge in Science Fiction

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 65

Joseph Hurtgen

We live in an information economy, a vast archive of data ever at our fingertips. In the pages of science fiction, powerful entities--governments and corporations--attempt to use this archive to control society, enforce conformity or turn citizens into passive consumers. Opposing them are protagonists fighting to liberate the collective mind from those who would enforce top-down control.

Archival technology and its depictions in science fiction have developed dramatically since the 1950s. Ray Bradbury discusses archives in terms of books and television media, and Margaret Atwood in terms of magazines and journaling. William Gibson focused on technofuturistic cyberspace and brain-to-computer prosthetics, Bruce Sterling on genetics and society as an archive of social practices. Neal Stephenson has imagined post-cyberpunk matrix space and interactive primers. As the archive is altered, so are the humans that interact with ever-advancing technology.

Women's Space: Essays on Female Characters in the 21st Century S.F. Western

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 66

Melanie A. Marotta

From the Star Wars expanded universe to Westworld, the science fiction western has captivated audiences for more than fifty years. These twelve new essays concentrate on the female characters in the contemporary science fiction western, addressing themes of power, agency, intersectionality and the body. Discussing popular works such as Fringe, Guardians of the Galaxy and Mass Effect, the essayists shed new light on the gender dynamics of these beloved franchises, emphasizing inclusion and diversity with their critical perspectives.


  • 1 - Introduction: Where Are We Going and Whence Have We Come? - essay by Melanie A. Marotta
  • 25 - Mara Jade, Frontier Woman: Agency in Star Wars and Influencing the Transmedia Franchise - essay by Monica Louzon
  • 42 - The Reformation of the "Plastic Girl": Prostitute/Killer and Messenger Characters in Cyberpunk to Post-Cyberpunk - essay by Melanie A. Marotta
  • 59 - "Shut up and get over here": Lovers and Cattle in Mass Effect - essay by Adam Crowley
  • 72 - Olivia Dunham and the New Frontier in Fringe - essay by Teresa Forde
  • 87 - A Fistful of Gender: Power and the Body in Text-Based Trans-Femme SF Western Video Games - essay by Joshua King
  • 101 - Wanheda, Commander of Death, Healer: Hybrid Female Identities in the Post-Apocalyptic Wars of The 100 - essay by Lindsey Mantoan
  • 118 - The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe: Redefining Gamora as a Female Native American in Guardians of the Galaxy - essay by Brett H. Butler
  • 130 - Accidents of Occidentalism: Women, Science Fiction and Westerliness in Becky Chambers and Nnedi Okorafor - essay by Laurie Ringer
  • 145 - If He Can Break It In, She Can Break It Out: The Public Impact of Domestic Machines in Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memory - essay by Selena Middleton
  • 161 - A Host of Questions: Women's Artificial Agency in Westworld - essay by Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo
  • 177 - Triggered: The Post-Traumatic Woman and Narratology in HBO's Westworld - essay by Keith Clavin & Christopher J. La Casse

Hailing Frequencies Open: Communications in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 67

Thomas Parham

Star Trek: The Next Generation blended speculative science fiction and space opera in its portrayal of communication. Multiple modes of communication used between characters are presented and the multilevel tapestry of communication in the series is critical in its appeal.

This book proposes that these patterns of communication reveal a foundational philosophy of Star Trek (while enticing millions of viewers).

These patterns serve both to cause strong empathetic connections with characters and to impel viewers to form relationships with the show, explaining their extreme devotion.

The Global Vampire: Essays on the Undead in Popular Culture Around the World

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 68

Cait Coker

The media vampire has roots throughout the world, far beyond the shores of the usual Dracula-inspired Anglo-American archetypes. Depending on text and context, the vampire is a figure of anxiety and comfort, humor and fear, desire and revulsion. These dichotomies gesture the enduring prevalence of the vampire in mass culture; it can no longer articulate a single feeling or response, bound by time and geography, but is many things to many people.

With a global perspective, this collection of essays offers something new and different: a much needed counter-narrative of the vampire's evolution in popular culture. Divided by geography, this text emphasizes the vampiric as a globetrotting citizen du monderather than an isolated monster.

Philip K. Dick: Essays of the Here and Now

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 69

David Sandner

Philip K. Dick was a visionary writer of science fiction. His works speak to contemporary fears of being continually watched by technology, and the paranoia of modern life in which we watch ourselves and lose our sense of identity. Since his death in 1982, Dick's writing remain frighteningly relevant to 21st century audiences. Dick spent his life in near poverty and it was only after his death that he gained popular and critical recognition.

In this new collection of essays, interviews, and talks, Philip K Dick is rediscovered. Concentrating both on recent critical studies and on reassessing his legacy in light of his new status as a "major American author," these essays explore, just what happened culturally and critically to precipitate his extraordinary rise in reputation. The essays look for his traces in the places he lived, in the SF community he came from, and in his influence on contemporary American literature and culture, and beyond.

Michael Bishop and the Persistence of Wonder: A Critical Study of the Writings

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 70

Joe Sanders

Since they began appearing in the 1970s, Michael Bishop's science fiction and fantasy stories have been recognized for their polished prose and their depth of thought and feeling. His award-winning fiction includes No Enemy but Time (1982), Unicorn Mountain (1988), Brittle Innings (1994) and the outstanding short story "The Pile" (2008). After the 2017 publication of his collection Other Arms Reach Out to Me, Bishop was inducted into the Georgia Writers' Hall of Fame. Revision and republication of much of Bishop's fiction in recent years have renewed interest in Bishop's explorations of religion, belief and the pursuit of human truth.

This book is the first comprehensive study of Michael Bishop's literary body, examining his work in full. Featured are close readings of all his novels and studies of short stories, poetry and essays that Bishop himself identified for special attention.

Caitlín R. Kiernan: A Critical Study of Her Dark Fiction

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 71

James Goho

Caitlín R. Kiernan is at the forefront of contemporary gothic, weird and science fiction literature. She has written more than a dozen novels, over 250 short stories, many chapbooks, along with a large number of graphic works. For these Kiernan has won numerous awards. This first full-length look at Kiernan's body of work explores her fictional universe through critical literary lenses to show the depth of her contributions to modern genre literature.

A prolific and creative writer, Kiernan's fictions bring to life our fears about the other, the unknown, and the future through stories that range widely across time and space. A sense of dark terror pervades her novels and stories. Yet Kiernan's fictional universe is not disengaged from reality. That is because she works within the long tradition of gothic fiction speaking to the gravest ethical, social and cultural issues. In her dark fiction, Kiernan illustrates the terror of the tyranny of the normal, the oppression of marginalized people, and the pervasive violence of our time. Her dystopian sf propels today's dangerous economic, social, political and environmental tendencies into the future. Kiernan's fiction portrays troubling truths about the current human condition.

Table of Contents:

  • ix - Acknowledgments
  • 1 - Preface
  • 3 - A Brief Biography of Caitlín R. Kiernan
  • 9 - Introduction
  • 19 - One. The Call of the Sí: Irish Supernatural Literature and Folklore in the Fiction of Caitlín R. Kiernan
  • 32 - Two. Kiernan Echoes the Literary Decadence
  • 46 - Three. The Figure of the Gothic Body
  • 61 - Four. The Folklore of Awe and Terror
  • 76 - Five. "Warnings to the Curious": Kiernan's Science and Mystery Stories
  • 91 - Six. Haunted Perceptions: Fear and Trembling in Kiernan's Fiction
  • 105 - Seven. Spectral Confessions: The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir
  • 117 - Eight. Dark Futures: Surveying Kiernan's Science Fiction
  • 134 - Nine. Retruthing Steampunk: Kiernan Rewrites American West Steampunk
  • 150 - Conclusion: Caitlín R. Kiernan's Modern Dark Fiction
  • 159 - Chapter Notes
  • 171 - Bibliography
  • 189 - Index

In Frankenstein's Wake: Mary Shelley, Morality and Science Fiction

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 72

Alison Bedford

Just over 200 years ago on a stormy night, a young woman conceived of what would become one of the most iconic images of science gone wrong, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his Creature. For a long period, Mary Shelley languished in the shadow of her luminary husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, but was rescued from obscurity by the feminist scholars of the 1970s and 1980s.

This book offers a new perspective on Shelley and on science fiction, arguing that she both established a new discursive space for moral thinking and laid the groundwork for the genre of science fiction. Adopting a contextual biographical approach and undertaking a close reading of the 1818 and 1831 editions of the text, gives readers insight into how this story synthesizes many of the concerns about new science prevalent in Shelley's time. Using Michel Foucault's concept of discourse, the present work argues that Shelley should be not only credited with the foundation of a genre but recognized as a figure who created a new cultural space for readers to explore their fears and negotiate the moral landscape of new science.

The Fortean Influence on Science Fiction: Charles Fort and the Evolution of the Genre

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 73

Tanner F. Boyle

Charles Fort was an American researcher from the early twentieth century who cataloged reports of unexplained phenomena he found in newspapers and science journals. A minor bestseller with a cult appeal, Fort's work was posthumously republished in the pulp science fiction magazine Astounding Stories in 1934. His idiosyncratic books fascinated, scared, and entertained readers, many of them authors and editors of science fiction. Fort's work prophesied the paranormal mainstays of SF literature to come: UFOs, poltergeists, strange disappearances, cryptids, ancient mysteries, unexplained natural phenomena, and everything in between. Science fiction authors latched on to Fort's topics and hypotheses as perfect fodder for SF stories. Writers like Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein, H.P. Lovecraft, and others are examined in this exploration of Fortean science fiction--a genre that borrows from the reports and ideas of Fort and others who saw the possible science-fictional nature of our reality.

Arab and Muslim Science Fiction: Critical Essays

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 74

Hosam Elzembely
Emad El-Din Aysha

How is science fiction from the Arab and Muslim world different than mainstream science fiction from the West? What distinctive and original contributions can it make? Why is it so often neglected in critical considerations of the genre? While other books have explored these questions, all have been from foreign academic voices. Instead, this book uses an own-voices approach to examine the nature, genesis, and history of Arabic and Muslim science fiction, as well as the challenges its authors face.

Through personal narratives, these authors share their stories and their struggles with the censors, recalcitrant publishers, critics, the book market, and the literary establishment. Their uphill efforts, with critical contributions from academics, translators, and literary activists, will enlighten the sci-fi enthusiast and fill a gap in the history of science fiction.

Topics covered range from culture shock to conflicts between tradition and modernity, proactive roles for female heroines, blind imitation of storytelling techniques, and language games.

The Mythopoeic Code of Tolkien: A Christian Platonic Reading of the Legendarium

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 75

Jyrki Korpua

The Truths of Monsters: Coming of Age with Fantastic Media

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 76

Ildikó Limpár