Mechanics of Wonder: The Creation of the Idea of Science Fiction

Mechanics of Wonder: The Creation of the Idea of Science Fiction

by Gary Westfahl
     
 

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This is a sustained argument about the idea of science fiction by a renowned critic. Overturning many received opinions, it is both controversial and stimulating
 
Much of the controversy arises from Westfahl's resurrection of Hugo Gernsback - for decades a largely derided figure - as the true creator of science fiction. Following an initial demolition

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Overview

This is a sustained argument about the idea of science fiction by a renowned critic. Overturning many received opinions, it is both controversial and stimulating
 
Much of the controversy arises from Westfahl's resurrection of Hugo Gernsback - for decades a largely derided figure - as the true creator of science fiction. Following an initial demolition of earlier critics, Westfahl argues for Gernsback's importance. His argument is fully documented, showing a much greater familiarity with early American science fiction, particularly magazine fiction, than previous academic critics or historians. After his initial chapters on Gernsback, he examines the way in which the Gernsback tradition was adopted and modified by later magazine editors and early critics. This involves a re-evaluation of the importance of John W. Campbell to the history of science fiction as well as a very interesting critique of Robert Heinlein's Beyond the Horizon, one the seminal texts of American science fiction. In conclusion, Westfahl uses the theories of Gernsback and Campbell to develop a descriptive definition of science fiction and he explores the ramifications of that definition.
 
The Mechanics of Wonder will arouse debate and force the questioning of presuppositions. No other book so closely examines the origins and development of the idea of science fiction, and it will stand among a small number of crucial texts with which every science fiction scholar or prospective science fiction scholar will have to read.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In his "true history of science fiction," Westfahl (U. of California- Riverside), columnist for Interzone magazine and author of several books on this genre, makes a case for Hugo Gernsback's Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 (1925) as being the science fiction novel that launched the genre. The author also evaluates the importance of John W. Campbell's theories, and critiques Heinlein's Beyond the Horizon. Name index only. Distributed in the US by ISBS. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
In The Mechanics Of Wonder: The Creation Of The Idea Of Science Fiction, Gary Westfahl presents a sustained and documented argument for the importance of magazine editor Hugo Gernsback as being the true creator of what has become known as the science fiction genre. After initial chapters on Gernsback, Westfahl goes on to examine the way in which the Gernsback tradition was adopted and modified by later magazine editors and early critics., including a re-evaluation of the importance of John W. Campbell to the history of science fiction. The Mechanics Of Wonder will prove of immense interest to scholars of science fiction literary history and scifi enthusiasts with an appreciation of how a literary subgenre came to be a commonly accepted category of American literature and popular culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780853235637
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
Publication date:
12/19/1998
Series:
Liverpool University Press - Liverpool Science Fiction Texts and Studies
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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