fjm (fjm) wrote in nonficawards,

Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (Part IV): Subgenres

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four:

I’m going to go through this section fairly quickly. It’s made up of short essays on a bit of a mish-mash of subgenres, but there is no easy way to make the selection and this is as good as any.

Alternate History: Karen Hellekson
Apocalyptic SF: Aris Mousoutzanis
Arthouse sf film: Stacey Abbott
Blockbuster sf film: Stacey Abbott
Dystopia: Graham J. Murphy
Eutopia: Graham J. Murphy
Feminist sf: Gwyneth Jones
Future History: Andy Sawyer
Hard Sf: David Samuelson
Slipstream: Victoria de Zwaan
Space Opera: Andy Sawyer
Weird Fiction: China Mieville

Overall, all very competent although there is a distinct tendency to list. The only really weak chapter is the one on Eutopia by Graham J. Murphy, which is simply out of date and seems to think there are no utopias after the 1980s. Murphy seems an odd choice for this chapter, and as he had already written one, and there are plenty of sf scholars interested in utopia, I’m not quite sure why he wrote this one. It’s also odd that Abbott and Swayer both wrote two chapters, although with Abbott there is a sense of writing two sides of the coin, and Sawyer does a good job of both the Future History and the Space Opera.

Only two of the chapters rise above the tendency to list and desccribe and produce something powerful: Gwyneth Jones’s piece on feminist sf is punchy (and has much the same argument to make about the erasure of feminist sf from the wider offical history as I have made in this extended blog post), and China Mieville’s piece on Weird Fiction is a fascinating essay, but one which you have to do some interesting contortions to squeeze in here. Mieville posits the Weird as anti-science, rather than as fantasy, as a response to scientists to the horror of the world.

Conclusion: for all my nit picks, crabbiness and niggles, this is a damn good book. I gather it will be out in paperback next year, but in the meantime I’d recommend getting your library to order it, so that you can read it in time to nominate it for the BSFA Award, the Hugo and the Locus next year.
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