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The Secret History of Science Fiction (2009)

– tekijä: James Patrick Kelly (Toimittaja), John Kessel (Toimittaja)

Muut tekijät: Margaret Atwood (Avustaja), T. C. Boyle (Avustaja), Michael Chabon (Avustaja), Don DeLillo (Avustaja), Thomas M. Disch (Avustaja)12 lisää, Karen Joy Fowler (Avustaja), Molly Gloss (Avustaja), Ursula K. Le Guin (Avustaja), Jonathan Lethem (Avustaja), Maureen F. McHugh (Avustaja), Steven Millhauser (Avustaja), George Saunders (Avustaja), Carter Scholz (Avustaja), Lucius Shepard (Avustaja), Kate Wilhelm (Avustaja), Connie Willis (Avustaja), Gene Wolfe (Avustaja)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1785116,854 (3.92)1
"...[E]xploring an alternate history of science fiction, this ingenious anthology showcases eighteen brilliant authors leading the way to a new literature of the future...Two strangely-detached astronauts orbit Earth while a third world war rages on. A primatologist's lover suspects her of obsession with one of her simian charges. The horrors of trench warfare dovetail with the theoretical workings of black holes. A dissolving marriage and bitter custody dispute are overshadowed by the arrival of time travelers. An astonishing invention that records the sense of touch is far too dangerous for Thomas Edison to reveal."---p.[4] of cover.… (lisätietoja)
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näyttää 5/5
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2696038.html

This is an anthology of stories and writers which supposedly straddle the boundary between mainstream fiction and sf. I confess that I didn't really see the point of the question ("What if sf didn't exist as a genre, but was being written anyway?") but I did enjoy most of the stories. One or two I already knew ("The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas", "Salvador") but the one I particularly enjoyed, contra my own expectations (also contra other reviewers who I've read) was "Ziggurat", an interesting and convoluted short by Gene Wolfe, who I've tended to bounce off in the past. ( )
1 ääni nwhyte | Oct 7, 2016 |
What if there was no boundary between the lands of literary fiction and science fiction? The premise of this anthology is to collect stories that straddle that frontier, and that perhaps stand as evidence that the line separating the two lands is fading out of existence. Thus, some of the authors in the volume are mainstream writers who have ventured into science fiction, while others are generally identified as SF writers even though their work has those qualities more often found in literary fiction: concentration on character and a graceful, sophisticated writing style.

This isn't an altogether new idea. Judith Merril's Year's Best SF series, which ran (under varying titles) from 1956 to 1968, was noted for including stories from writers outside traditional SF circles: John Steinbeck, Bernard Malamud, James T. Farrell, Isaac Bashevis Singer, to name a few.

Likewise, the hope that "the walls that separate the mainstream from science fiction are, in fact, crumbling" (to quote this book's introduction), is a hope with a long lineage. But whether or not that hope is finally coming true, the real "point" of this anthology is simply that it contains some darned-well-written SF.

Some notes on a few selected stories:

"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. LeGuin is something of a classic, and has been reprinted in high profile mainstream collections such as The Art of the Short Story. And it's deservedly a classic; bold in style and chilling in content.

"Ladies and Gentlemen This Is Your Crisis" by Kate Wilhelm presents an interesting question: Can absolutely stellar writing -- up to the best standards of any literary fiction -- make a good story out of a tired old SF idea? The tired old idea here is reality TV in which contestants fight for their lives, and for me, the answer to the question is a reluctant "no".

"Standing Room Only" by Karen Joy Fowler is a story about some of the people involved in the assasination of Abraham Lincoln, with whisper-subtle hints of time-traveling tourists. So that's an example of one way that literary fiction can blend with SF: turn down the volume on the SF elements and let the human story come to the foreground. It's a workable plan, though in this case I found the human story rather unengaging.

George Saunders (recently a resident of best-seller lists with his Tenth of December) is a mainstream literary writer whose short stories are often unabashed SF. "93990" is one such story, and is typical for him in its excellent writing and its brutal, even repellent, darkness.

"Frankenstein's Daughter" by Maureen F. McHugh was the real "find" in this anthology for me. A story that at first seems a straightforward piece of modern SF, as it goes along it soars into realms of sensitivity and hard-hitting emotional honesty that are rarely, if ever, seen in the work of any other SF writer. After reading this I sought out more of McHugh's work, and my opinion of her has only increased.

"Schwarzschild Radius" by Connie Willis is, on the surface, simply a piece of historical fiction, obliquely touching on a few moments in the life of the physicist of the title. But in reality it's a work of intelligence, power, and stunning artistry; a story of gem-like perfection.

"The Ziggurat" by Gene Wolfe strikes me as an example of how mixing SF and literary fiction can go wrong. A man is going through an acrimonious divorce when his life is further complicated by some trigger-happy time travelers. Thanks to clumsy writing, the "mix" works out something like stirring paint into cake batter -- the two things have nothing to do with each other and the result is a mess.

So as you can see, there were some hits and some misses in this anthology for me. But overall I thought the book was an eminently worthwhile read. It provides a fascinating view of this mingling-point between two branches of literature, and it contains some darn good stories too. ( )
  KarlBunker | Apr 7, 2014 |
This was a collection of stories that set out to examine the boundaries between "literature" and "genre". What makes a story science fiction? Why does that label automatically devalue the story in some circles? The authors chosen for the anthology are mostly not generally associated with scifi, so it may be an eye-opener for a lot of serious lit folks. Overall, the collection is very solid and highly recommended. ( )
  ScoutJ | Jun 5, 2013 |
Spurred by an interesting and influential essay about the state of SF by Jonathan Lethem (entitled "The Squandered Promise of Science Fiction"), editors James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel have put together a mostly terrific selection of literary SF from 1971 to 2008, by a selection of SF authors like Connie Willis and Maureen McHugh, and by crossover or mostly-mainstream authors like Margaret Atwood, TC Boyle, Michael Chabon, and Steven Millhauser. This was one of the best multi-author collections of SF I have read in a very long time. With few exceptions, excellent writing, clever ideas, and realized characters. The introductory essay itself is fascinating, as are the pre-story quotes from these and other authors about the state and nature of SF writing. Highly recommended, particularly for those who like SF and have read a lot, but have gotten a little tired of the genre. ( )
1 ääni Harlan879 | Apr 25, 2010 |
näyttää 5/5
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu

» Lisää muita tekijöitä

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Kelly, James PatrickToimittajaensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Kessel, JohnToimittajapäätekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Atwood, MargaretAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Boyle, T. C.Avustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Chabon, MichaelAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
DeLillo, DonAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Disch, Thomas M.Avustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Fowler, Karen JoyAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Gloss, MollyAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Le Guin, Ursula K.Avustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Lethem, JonathanAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
McHugh, Maureen F.Avustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Millhauser, StevenAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Saunders, GeorgeAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Scholz, CarterAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Shepard, LuciusAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Wilhelm, KateAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Willis, ConnieAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Wolfe, GeneAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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"...[E]xploring an alternate history of science fiction, this ingenious anthology showcases eighteen brilliant authors leading the way to a new literature of the future...Two strangely-detached astronauts orbit Earth while a third world war rages on. A primatologist's lover suspects her of obsession with one of her simian charges. The horrors of trench warfare dovetail with the theoretical workings of black holes. A dissolving marriage and bitter custody dispute are overshadowed by the arrival of time travelers. An astonishing invention that records the sense of touch is far too dangerous for Thomas Edison to reveal."---p.[4] of cover.

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