22 July 2012

The Man Who Had No Idea: Getting Into SF

I saw an article at World Literature Today's website called "Fun with Your New Head: Getting into SF", and thought, "Hey, this'll be great — they probably have a good list of science fiction from around the world and resources for people to find out more about world SF. I love it when that happens!"

Sadly, no.

Writer Michael A. Morrison instead says reading William Gibson's first two novels is hard, so here are a bunch of critical studies of SF that you should read. This is perverse.

And it is not helpful. Do not listen to this article, or at least any of it before the final paragraph where The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction is mentioned. That's a perfectly good introduction, though weak on work from the last 10 years.

What a failure for a magazine called World Literature Today! SF is not just stuff published 30 years ago and then written about by academics. Really, it's not. I promise. And I say that as somebody who writes about SF, sometimes academically.

Go read The World SF Blog. Go read the Words Without Borders issue on The Fantastic. Read The Apex Book of World SF. Read The Weird Fiction Review and The Weird. Read the venerable print magazines (F&SF! Asimov's!) and the online magazines (Strange Horizons and Clarkesworld and Tor.com and Subterranean and Lightspeed, oh my!) Sure, read nonfiction, but don't start there for gawd's sake! (If you want a mix of fiction and nonfiction, Visions of Wonder is a good start, if a bit dated at this point.)

SF is a world literature, and it's written and read today. Too bad World Literature Today couldn't find somebody who knew that.


  1. I've been reading a lot of Russian Science Fiction lately, for example. No mention of that in the article, I'm guessing.

    I recently read a long piece on the state of the short story. It was a good piece actually, but it made no mention of science fiction/fantasy at all. While the mainstream short story seems to be more and more confined to academic places, the science fiction/fantasy short story seems to be doing pretty well with a fairly wide readership these days. I'm not sure you could make a living at it, but there's quite a bit going on, far from academic halls.

  2. Or, heck, go find an old copy of Fun With Your New Head and read that. I love Disch's fiction, but The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of is not on the same level.