Science friction

March 13, 1998

We enjoyed the article on Carl Djerassi ("Thrills, Spills and Pills" THES, March 6), but were intrigued by his distinction between "science-in-fiction", which he writes, and "science fiction", which he stressed he was not writing.

He apparently uses the former term because he wants to "create novels and plays that use real science to inform the public".

But this is in fact precisely what the pioneers of science fiction were doing.

Hugo Gernsback, who invented the term "science fiction", saw it primarily as a means of education, "to impart knowledge and even inspiration without once making us aware that we are being taught".

And that one of the main aims of the late George Hay, in founding the Science Fiction Foundation in this country, was to investigate the use of science fiction in education.

Why has Djerassi felt the need to invent a new genre when the old one has been doing the job for a century or so?

Farah Mendlesohn. Chair, Friends of Foundation

Edward James. Editor, Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction and professor, department of history, faculty of letters and social sciences, University of Reading

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