Although the history of imaginative literature formerly was the province of academicians, practitioners of the genre have themselves now begun to turn their attention to their rootsJames Gunn, Frederik Pohl, Donald Wollheim and Brian Aldiss, who has written arguably the best work of the lot. With the help of Wingrove, Aldiss has expanded his 1973 Billion Year Spree and produced a book that is at once scholarly and witty, thoughtful and opinionated. He maintains his positions on several controversial points that drew criticism in the earlier study: specifically, that ``modern'' science fiction can with certainty be dated from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and that Hugo Gernsback, editor/publisher of the pioneering Amazing Stories magazine, did more harm for the field than good. This is an entertaining and lively work and, for those seriously interested in the subject, necessary. Illustrations not seen by PW. (November 26)
This is an updated and greatly expanded version of Aldiss's highly respected Billion Year Spree (1973). The first ten chapters remain the same, with six new chapters added. Aldiss considers Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as the first modern science fiction story and contends that all current science fiction has inherited its literary form from that novel and its Gothic offshoots. Besides Shelley, he examines the writings of Poe, Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and John W. Campbell, Jr. Other chapters explore the Victorian era, the major authors of the 1930s through the 1970s, and sf films. This is essential for all libraries having the original title and is highly recommended for any that missed it the first time around. Gary D. Barber, SUNY at Fredonia Lib.