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Vintage Visions

Essays on Early Science Fiction

Arthur B. Evans

Publication Year: 2014

Vintage Visions is a seminal collection of scholarly essays on early works of science fiction and its antecedents. From Cyrano de Bergerac in 1657 to Olaf Stapledon in 1937, this anthology focuses on an unusually broad range of authors and works in the genre as it emerged across the globe, including the United States, Russia, Europe, and Latin America. The book includes material that will be of interest to both scholars and fans, including an extensive bibliography of criticism on early science fiction—the first of its kind—and a chronological listing of 150 key early works. Before Dr. Strangelove, future-war fiction was hugely popular in nineteenth-century Great Britain. Before Terminator, a French author depicted Thomas Edison as the creator of the perfect female android. These works and others are featured in this critical anthology.

Contributors include Paul K. Alkon, Andrea Bell, Josh Bernatchez, I. F. Clarke, William J. Fanning Jr., William B. Fischer, Allison de Fren, Susan Gubar, Rachel Haywood Ferreira, Kamila Kinyon, Stanislaw Lem, Patrick A. McCarthy, Sylvie Romanowski, Nicholas Ruddick, and Gary Westfahl.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Series: Early Classics of Science Fiction

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xii

...analytical content (some have received the prestigious SFRA “Pioneer Award” for the best critical essay of the year) but also for how they represent the breadth of the genre itself as it has morphed through time. Although its origins and evolution continue to be the subject...

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1 Cyrano de Bergerac’s Epistemological Bodies: “Pregnant with a Thousand Definitions” (1998, with an afterword by Ishbel Addyman)

Sylvie Romanowski

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pp. 1-24

...Laugaa), and hermetic (Gossiaux, Hutin, Van Vledder). Cyrano has been considered both as an epigone of Campanella and late-Renaissance magical thought (Erba, Lerner) and as skeptical and “modern,” anticipating the eighteenth-century philosophers...

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2 Samuel Madden’s Memoirs of the Twentieth Century (1985)

Paul K. Alkon

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pp. 25-46

...credit for originality. Unfortunately he was not up to sustained exploitation of his innovative future setting. It should also immediately be said, to avoid a misunderstanding of my argument, that although Madden wrote anticipatory satire, not predictive fiction...

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3 German Theories of Science Fiction: Jean Paul, Kurd Lasswitz, and After (1976)

William B. Fischer

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pp. 47-65

...aesthetics or poetics. At least four major issues are involved: (1) the manner in which the content, methods, and outlook of science interact with the artistic temperament to produce the attitudes and themes of sf; (2) the nature of sf as a literary form; (3) the reciprocal...

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4 Monstrosity, Suffering, Subjectivity, and Sympathetic Community in Frankenstein and “The Structure of Torture” (2009)

Josh Bernatchez

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pp. 66-81

...interest is manifest in the Creature’s physical construction by Victor and is also mirrored in the failed attempts by the Creature to achieve sympathetic relationships. The exact structure of these failed attempts and the subsequent monstrousness of the Creature can be analyzed...

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5 Science Fiction vs. Scientific Fiction in France: From Jules Verne to J.-H. Rosny Aîné (1988)

Arthur B. Evans

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pp. 82-95

...a number of loosely defined thematic resemblances rather than on any rigorous examination of the narratological functioning of these texts. Instead of a primitive variant of a later genre (satisfying the literary historian’s need...

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6 Future-War Fiction: The First Main Phase, 1871–1900 (1997, with an afterword by Margaret Clarke)

I. F. Clarke

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pp. 96-123

...Only the most perverse would reject the proposition that an evolutionary process of challenge and response has controlled and directed the tale of the war-to- come ever since that far-off day in 1644, when the citizens...

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7 The Anatomical Gaze in Tomorrow’s Eve (2009)

Allison de Fren

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pp. 124-162

...the verge of suicide due to a failed love. The object of Lord Ewald’s torment is a young singer named Alicia Clary, whose unearthly beauty he compares to that of the Venus de Milo, but whose banal personality destroys whatever romantic sentiments her image...

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8 Desde Júpiter: Chile’s Earliest Science-Fiction Novel (1995)

Andrea Bell

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pp. 163-176

...nineteenth century, although technological leadership is not historically associated with the region. As the twentieth century draws to a close, the genre continues to thrive among small but creative and enthusiastic communities of Latin American writers and fans...

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9 The First Wave: Latin American Science Fiction Discovers Its Roots (2007)

Rachel Haywood Ferreira

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pp. 177-216

...term that would eventually become “science fiction” to designate the type of works that his magazine published, his second act was to use that term retroactively to label—or retrolabel—a body of existing texts that he felt belonged to the same tradition: “By ‘scientifiction,’” he states...

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10 “Tell Us All About Little Rosebery”: Topicality and Temporality in H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine (2001)

Nicholas Ruddick

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pp. 217-239

...a time when the human species in its present form no longer exists—consequently after human history has come to an end. Yet everything that happens in Wells’s “invention” is deliberately and rigorously historicized by being placed in a specific temporal relation to a...

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11 The Phenomenology of Robots: Confrontations with Death in Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. (1999)

Kamila Kinyon

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pp. 240-266

...carefully constructed philosophical reflection on major epistemological and ethical issues. Čapek was a philosopher before becoming a writer of fiction, and as I will argue, his play contains an implicit criticism...

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12 Zamyatin and the Nightmare of Technology (1984)

Patrick A. McCarthy

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pp. 267-277

...intellectuals took its name. Reasserting the belief in perpetual revolution that the Scythians embraced before the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, Zamyatin defined the Scythian as “an eternal nomad” whose being revolts against the constraints of civilized...

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13 “The Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Edgar Allan Poe Type of Story”: Hugo Gernsback’s History of Science Fiction (1992)

Gary Westfahl

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pp. 278-297

...distinguish its texts from other forms of non-mimetic fiction: for example, Julian Hawthorne’s 1891 discussion of “romantic writers” grouped together works by Plato, Sir Philip Sidney, Jonathan Swift, Percy Greg, Ignatius Donnelly, Edward Bellamy...

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14 The Historical Death Ray and Science Fiction in the 1920s and 1930s (2010)

William J. Fanning, Jr.

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pp. 298-324

...Articles in newspapers, magazines, professional journals, and books began to appear that warned of a new conflict in which airpower, poison gas, disease germs, and exotic weapons such as death rays would result in the destruction, or near destruction...

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15 C. L. Moore and the Conventions of Women’s Science Fiction (1980, with an afterword by Veronica Hollinger)

Susan Gubar

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pp. 325-341

...Looking backward we remember that the very moment Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein gave birth to his nameless and friendless monster, Shelley herself decisively shaped the new genre and, in doing so, she established several of the more powerful conventions that would...

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16 On Stapledon’s Star Maker (1987, with an afterword by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay,Jr.)

Stanislaw Lem

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pp. 342-352

...home each evening to marvel at the stars, ascends in spirit one night into the cosmic void, and embarks on an odyssey among the stars. He learns to insert himself for intervals into the minds of beings on other planets, and through their eyes and minds he comes to know the innumerable...

150 Key Works of Early Science Fiction

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pp. 353-356

Bibliography of Criticism on Early Science Fiction

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pp. 357-432

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p. 433-433

...Allison de Fren is professor of Media Arts and Culture at Occidental College...

Series Page

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p. 434-434

E-ISBN-13: 9780819574398
E-ISBN-10: 0819574392
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819574374

Page Count: 448
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Early Classics of Science Fiction