terça-feira, 17 de agosto de 2010

The Science Fiction Reference Book

It is time, and past time, that someone should do what Marshall Tymn has done in this book, and that is to put together a guide to the rich resources available for teachers and students of science fiction. I only wish it had been around ten years ago—much misery might have been saved! It is reassuring to look over the list of contributors and find so many names of persons who are not only distinguished in themselves, but to me represent personal friends whose judgment I have every reason to trust—in fact, nearly every name on the contents page is the very name I would have chosen myself, if I had had the wit to conceive of this book and the energy to push it through to completion. I didn't. But Marshall Tymn did, and we are all in his debt.

The Science Fiction Reference Book will be of use to scholars and researchers of all kinds in science fiction. But I suppose it will be read most frequently by teachers, and perhaps that gives me license to say something about how I think science fiction should be taught. Teachers are human beings.

Human beings are marvelously diverse; and so each teacher must have his own personal style and concerns. But it seems to me all the same that there are some universals, or should be, and I would like to urge them on anyone about to use the resources of this book to prepare a course.

Since science fiction is a form of literature, I suppose it is inevitable that most teachers of it will come from their English departments, and that they will then bring to it the skills of analysis and criticism that might otherwise be turned on Faulkner or Henry James. Fair enough. But not, I think, extensive enough. One of the ways in which it seems to me that science fiction differs from other fictions is that in it what is said is at least as important as how it "is said-It must be admitted that, historically, some of the most seminal figures in the development of science fiction were no masters of polished prose.

Worse than that.

At least half a dozen were clearly deaf to the sound of the English language. They aren't read for style, of course. They are read because they thought things no one had ever thought before, and communicated them to their readers.

Science fiction has become vastly more literate in recent years. Le Guin, Delany and Tiptree, to choose only three at random, are masters of the language. They use it with precision and grace, in ways that, say, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Stanley G. Weinbaum never could. But I do not think they have more to say.

To come at the same point from another direction, it seems to me that a course in science fiction which limited itself to the writers of the 1970s would miss much of what science fiction is all about. Sf did not begin with Dune or Stranger in a Strange Land, or even with Star Trek. It began almost anywhere you like to say it did—Lucian of Samosata? Gulliver's Travels'?—hut surely it was in full flower with H. G. Wells at the turn of the century. And its real core literature, the stories that represent its maturing into self-awareness as a discrete genre with very special merits, 'appeared in the science-fiction magazines in the decades just before and after World War I I . At least a sampling of these is, I think, a sine qua non.

The Science Fiction Writers of America has prepared three volumes of The Science Fiction Hall of Fame to preserve that core for us—the best "golden age" stories, as chosen by the corps of science-fiction writers themselves. If I could suggest just one reading assignment for every science-fiction course list, The Hall of Fame would be it.

If I were teaching the course, I would then, to be sure, feel obliged to point out that this writer was ham-handed and that one never in his life managed to construct a human character anyone could believe in. But once that disclaimer was out of the way, what a treasure would emerge! Alien creatures, alien worlds. Vast technological change, and its vast impact on human beings.

To read science fiction is to stretch the mind. It is not just entertainment. It is technology transfer, and a way to learn what science is all about. It is an opportunity to look at our own world and folkways from outside—what Harlow Shapley called "The view from a distant star"—and to judge objectively our wiseness and our follies. It is, above all, the sovereign prophylactic against future shock; and those core stories of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s epitomize the qualities that made people pay attention to science fiction in the first place. I cherish them. When I teach a science-fiction course, I delight to share them—and then, of course, Barth and Vonnegut...and all the other newer, more graceful sf writers of today.

There was a time when I viewed with alarm the burgeoning of academic interest in science fiction. (There is such a thing as too much respectability!)

Perhaps what I have just said is a hangover from that concern; and, anyway, I've been greatly reassured by many of the academics I've met and schools I've visited. It now appears to me that teaching science fiction is not much easier than writing it, and that we all need all the help we can get.

This book should lighten the load!

Frederik Pohl
Red Bank
June, 1980

Introduction, Frederik Pohl 

Toward a History of Science Fiction
by Thomas D, Clareson 
Children's Fantasy and Science Fiction
by Francis Molson 
Science Fiction Art-. Some Contemporary Illustrators
by Vincent Di Fate 
The Fantastic Cinema
by Vincent Miranda
Critical Studies and Reference Works
by Marshall B. Tymn 

Science Fiction Fandom/A History of An Unusual Hobby
by Joe Siclari 
The Writing Awards
by Harlan McGhan 
Literary Awards in Science Fiction
by Howard DeVore 
Science Fiction and Fantasy Periodicals
by Marshall B. Tymn 

From the Pulps to the Classroom: The Strange Journey of Science Fiction
by James Gunn 
Masterpieces of Modern Fantasy-. An Annotated Core List
by Roger C. Schlobin 
Outstanding Science Fiction Books: 1927-1979
by Joe De Bolt 
Science Fiction and Fantasy Collections in U.S. and Canadian Libraries
by Elizabeth Cummins Cogell

Resources for Teaching Science Fiction
by Marshall B. Tymn 

Doctoral Dissertations in Science Fiction and Fantasy, 1970-1979
by Douglas R. Justus 
Science Fiction Organizations and Societies
by Marshall B. Tymn 
Directory of Specialty Publishers -
by Marshall B. Tymn 
Definitions of Science Fiction and Fantasy
by Roger C. Schlobin 

The Science Fiction Reference Book by Marshall B.Tymm [ Download ]