Golden Age of Short Science Fiction Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

Patrick Parrinder (essay date 1980)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Parrinder, Patrick. “Working Daydream, Workshop Definitions.” In Science Fiction: Its Criticism and Teaching, pp. 1-28. London: Methuen, 1980.

[In the following essay, Parrinder surveys the history of science fiction literature in order to provide a definition of the genre.]

The idea of literature is unthinkable without the conception of genres, or conventional literary forms. Many of the forms which still dominate our literature go back to the beginnings of Western civilization; these include the lyric, the drama, the satire, and the fable. Others, such as the novel, the crime story, and science fiction, came to prominence in very recent times. To refer to...

(The entire section is 9202 words.)

John Huntington (essay date 1989)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Huntington, John. “The Myth of Genius: The Fantasy of Unpolitical Power.” In Rationalizing Genius: Ideological Strategies in the Classic American Science Fiction Short Story, pp. 44-68. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1989.

[In the following essay, Huntington views the identification with power as a central theme in science fiction literature.]

At the core of much SF fantasy is an identification with power. We see it rendered in recent SF by an exaltation in sheer size: empires war with ships the size of planets. A student once explained to me that SF was interesting and important because the weapons it imagined were capable of destroying a...

(The entire section is 12304 words.)

Thomas D. Clareson (essay date 1990)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Clareson, Thomas D. “1926-1950: The Flowering of a Tradition.” In Understanding Contemporary American Science Fiction: The Formative Period (1926-1970), pp. 5-39. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1990.

[In the following essay, Clareson provides an overview of the Golden Age of Short Science Fiction literature.]

To appreciate the complexities and significance of contemporary American science fiction, one must immediately clear away a number of problems which cloud even such central issues as the definition of the field. On the one hand science fiction belongs to a complex literary tradition going back at least to the medieval travel books; as a...

(The entire section is 8297 words.)

Brian Attebery (essay date 2002)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Attebery, Brian. “Animating the Inert: Gender and Science in the Pulps.” In Decoding Gender in Science Fiction, pp. 39-61. New York: Routledge, 2002.

[In the following essay, Attebery considers the treatment of sexuality and gender in science fiction literature.]

Many of SF's essential tropes—from robots to time travel—were dreamed up by nineteenth-century writers such as Mary Shelley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne, Jack London, and H. G. Wells. Yet not until Hugo Gernsback named and tamed it in the 1920s did SF consolidate into a popular genre commanding a loyal and insatiable audience. Gernsback started the first English-language...

(The entire section is 11258 words.)