Atmosphere of condescension in SF review

March 8, 1996

Graeme Harper's sympathetic review of five books of recent science fiction criticism (THES, March 1) is marred by an (unintentional?) air of condescension in the final paragraph where he writes that "we can find even in science fiction recognisable critical, creative amd communicative paradigms that continue to define the human condition".

Why on earth this "even", as if science fiction somehow stands apart? It is precisely this search for contemporary paradigms that science fiction is all about. Bad sf may do this as badly as good sf does it well, but science fiction criticism has long matured out of this particular astonishment at the fact that a body of discourse occasionally achieves its aims, and that an area as rich in competing cultural and creative stances as sf will call forth an equally varied set of critical approaches.

Andy Sawyer


Science Fiction Foundation Collection

Sydney Jones Library

University of Liverpool

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