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150 the minnesota review 2T. A. Shippey notes that the "conventional quaUty" or "stylization" that characterizes SF "makes Uterary criticism difficult, and foredooms to failure the search for isolated fictional pearls." He then asks whether this view "aUow[s] science fiction to qualify as 'Uterature'? Possibly not. Nevertheless, it does ask questions as to what one means by Uterature, and as to whether the conventional categories of criticism can afford to leave out so much material uniting such vitality with such serious enquiry. To these considerations professional educators have not yet framed an adequate or accepted reply" ("The Cold War in Science Fiction, 1940-1960" in ScienceFiction:A CriticalGuide, p. 108). I think the question of whether or not SF is "literature" is bootless and not worth getting exercised about. But if one raises the issue, as Rose does, then one really must respond to Shippey's points, as Rose does not in any explicit or developed way. I would also say to Shippey that this perception of SF's "conventional quality" should lead us to ask questions about the "conventional categories of criticism" as well as about what is meant by "Uterature." 3See Piene Macherey, A Theory ofLiterary Production, trans . Geoffrey Wall (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978). 4WiUiam Appleman WilUams' essay TAe Great Evasion (1964; rpt. New York: New Viewpoints, 1974) chronicles the great cost to American culture of its persistent evasion of Marx's critique of capitalism. It is ironic that a book titled Alien Encounters so consistently evades women, whether they be authors of or characters in SF. Scarcity or absence of references to the writings of Le Guin, Wilhelm, Piercy, et al., indicates Rose's inexcusable lack of acknowledgement of the importance of women authors and feminist issues in recent SF. Since he does mention several films in the book, he should also have included commentary on the interesting film Alien, given its title and courageous heroine. Rose makes much use of the Science Fiction Hall ofFame anthologies; the third story of volume one, Lester del Rey's "Helen O'Loy," is an apparently unconscious revelation of the sexism in middle class American Ufe in the late 1930s (the "woman" is a beautiful, obedient machine who keeps house obsessively, loves with relentless fideUty, and even goes to the grave with hubby). Rose should have considered the implications of such a tale; there are of course hundreds of similar examples. Christian Metz. TAeImaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and the Cinema, trans. Celia Britton , Annwyl Williams, Ben Brewster, and Alfred Guzzetti. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982. 327 pp. $22.50. What is the cinema? This was the fundamental question of classic film theory. Such a question implied an answer: in the question there was already the assumption that the cinema was a stable entity, that it had an essenceand all one had to do was find the essential core that made cinema cinema. Thus, for André" Bazin, perhaps film's most famous theorist, film theory was to be a quest to isolate an ontology of film. Literally beginning with the question, "What is Cinema?" (the title of the most important coUection of his essays), Bazin answered that cinema was essentially photographic, rooted in the reproductive powers of the celluloid. He claimed that the cinema's true vocation was to be faithful to its physical nature, and so it had to minimize the distortion of technique and try instead to reproduce photographically as much of the world as possible (that its nature included technique was something Bazin was unwilling to admit for film). Bazin was a devoted Christian Personalist, and he saw film as a technology that paradoxically could work to free us from the weight of the technological, the modern. Things in the world, he felt, embodied and radiated the Spirit of God, and so the art that could realistically give us lots of things in the world (and give them to us in a larger-than-lifemanner ) was a spiritual art. Bazin decried editing as a disruption of nature's space and he instead promoted seemingly self-effacing techniques Uke deep-focus, wide-screen, the longtake — all of which would appear to respect the spatial-temporal integrity of the natural...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 150-153
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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