The Science of Fiction and the Fiction of Science: Collected Essays on SF Storytelling and the Gnostic Imagination

The Science of Fiction and the Fiction of Science: Collected Essays on SF Storytelling and the Gnostic Imagination


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A member of the Pulitzer Prize jury, the late Frank McConnell helped science fiction gain standing as serious literature. His 16 essays herein were first presented as papers at the prestigious Eaton Conferences. Initially believing that science fiction is primarily one of many forms of storytelling, McConnell gradually recognized science fiction as a modern expression of Gnosticism, rejecting bodily concerns for an emphasis on spirituality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786437221
Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication date: 01/29/2009
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy , #12
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Frank McConnell (1942–1999) was a professor of English at Northwestern University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. He wrote a regular column on the media for Commonweal magazine, and his voluminous body of work included four detective novels and a number of academic books. Gary Westfahl retired from the University of California, Riverside, is an adjunct professor at the University of La Verne. He earned the Science Fiction Research Association’s Pilgrim Award for his lifetime contributions to science fiction and fantasy scholarship and is the author, editor, or coeditor of more than 20 books about science fiction and fantasy.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Foreword by Neil Gaiman 1

Introduction by Gary Westfahl 5

I. Frank McConnell B.C.E. (Before Coming to Eaton) 9

1. Born in Fire: The Ontology of the Monster 11

2. Song of Innocence: The Creature from the Black Lagoon 18

3. H.G. Wells: Utopia and Doomsday 29

4. Realist of the Fantastic: H.G. Wells about/in/on the Movies 37

II. Slouching Toward Bedlam: The Early Eaton Essays 47

5. Sturgeon’s Law: First Corollary 48

6. Boring Dates: Reflections on the Apocalypse Game 57

7. Frames in Search of a Genre 63

8. From Astarte to Barbie and Beyond: The Serious History of Dolls 74

9. The Playing Fields of Eden 82

10. It’s Only a Paper Moon: Fantasy and the Professors 91

11. “Turn That Shit Down!” Or, How to Market an Underground 102

III. Gnostic Lunch: The Later Eaton Essays 111

12. Alimentary, My Dear Watson: Food and Eating in Scientific and Mystery Fiction 112

13. You Bet Your Life: Death and the Storyteller 124

14. Seven Types of Chopped Liver: My Adventures in the Genre Wars 132

15. The Missionary Physician, from Asclepius to Kervorkian 146

16. The Science of Fiction and the Fiction of Science: A Storytelling Animal in an Inhospitable World 155

Epilogue: Memories of Frank 164

Paul Alkon 164

Gregory Benford 166

Harold Bloom 167

Sheila Finch 167

Carl Freedman 168

Howard V. Hendrix 169

Bruce Kawin 172

Joseph D. Miller 173

Eric S. Rabkin 175

Mark Rose 177

George Slusser 178

Chapter Notes 181

A Bibliography of the Works of Frank McConnell 187

A Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Works Cited in the Text 201

Index 213

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