Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985 by Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre, eds – Locus Online


Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1985, Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre, eds. (PM Presse 978-1629639321, $ 59.95, 224pp, hc) October 2021.

Melbourne-based writer / editor duo Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre follow on from their previous two PM Press volumes, Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980 (2017) and Sticking It to the Man: Revolution and counter-culture in pulp and popular fictiontion, 1950 to 1980 (2019), with a brand new tome on ‘radical science fiction’ published primarily during what they call, in their introduction, the ‘long sixties’, a period spanning the late 1950s. to the 1970s. Readers familiar with the history of the genre are familiar with the salient movement of this period, called the New Wave, and the forms of expression it helped introduce into the genre, both in terms of content. and modernist techniques, but even those readers should find a lot of value here. Nette & McIntyre’s approach parallels the editorial guidance of Desirina Boskovich’s recent publication Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy (2019): a collection of essays on specific topics written by a variety of writers and scholars, with additional interstitial entries provided by the editors themselves. In their introduction, they mention “twenty-four chapters written by contemporary authors and reviewers. McIntyre – sourced internally. All of this content, sometimes openly and sometimes peripherally focused on the aforementioned ‘period of radical social change’. , is interesting, and much of it is surely new to this kind of pop culture archival history. The editors’ reach is wide and the detailed treatment of British phenomena and trends is refreshing. The editors note that “The influence of psychedelia, surrealism and experimentation in general on the art of book covers during the period can arguably be observed most strongly in the realm of science fiction”, and they have includes hundreds of illustrative covers that eloquently show that point. Turning to any random page is a delightful tasting exercise artistic, making the book coffee table entertainment.

Nette and McIntyre observe that the chosen period was “more explicitly demonstrated through a multitude of liberation and resistance movements focused on class, racial, gender, sexual and other inequalities”, and these provide themes of regrouping for their material. The Sex Treatments include two of my favorite essays, the scholarly ‘Sextrapolation in New Wave Science Fiction’ by Rob Latham (a reprint) and the fantastic ‘Speculative Fuckbooks: The Brief Life of Essex House, 1968-1969’ by Rebecca Baumann. Latham’s article provides an excellent list of short stories from the 1950s “published in magazines which dealt explicitly with sexual matters that the genre had long ignored.” openness was expressed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a “feminist critique of normative gender roles and sexual relations,” “the proliferation of various forms of SF pornography,” and ” non-pornographic forms of ‘sextrapolation’: projecting future trends based on current sexual mores or inventing new sexual practices and relationships. ” Baumann’s entry, which beautifully chronicles the Essex home of Milton Luros and Brian Kirby, exposes the publisher’s most interesting and outraged titles, such as David Meltzer’s Brain-Plant Trilogy and Tetralogy Agency, reflecting that they exemplify the Speculative Fuckbook subgenre: “cynical but serious, humorous dark but deeply disturbing, excruciatingly pretentious but not without charm and even moments of whimsy. ” Also noteworthy is Baumann’s discussion of female authors, such as Alice Louise Ramirez, and “ may – to be the most interesting woman writing for Essex House…. Jean Marie Stine, a transgender woman who still wrote at the time as Hank Stine, a variation of her then legal name. ” Baumann concludes that “ no other publisher has mixed up the literary claim, the criticism social, pornography, and speculation in much the same way. ” by Maitland McDonagh “ The Stars My Destination: The Future According to 1970s Gay Adult Sci-Fi Novels, ” ” Feminist Future : Kirsten Bussière’s Time Travel in Marge Piercy’s Wife at the Limit of Time, ” and McIntyre’s closing “ Herland: The Women’s Press and Science Fiction ” provide additional information on the literary questions of sex and of the kind.

The breed is featured in several plays, such as McIntyre’s “Flying Saucers and Black Power: Joseph Denis Jackson’s 1967 Insurrectionist Novel”. The black commandosand another highlight, ” Black Star: The Life and Work of Octavia Butler ‘by Michael A. Gonzales”. at Delany Heavenly breakfast in Context ”, because I think Delany’s magnificent short memoir is sometimes overlooked in discussions of his work and should be singled out for recognition, as is the case here. “Delany repeatedly emphasizes the potential of communes to change society,” Cruz writes, “while lamenting the lack of language available to describe the community experience.” This seeks new ways of apparently imparting experiences. incommunicable, often religion or drug-induced varieties – see McIntyre’s “Flawed Ancients, New Gods, and Interstellar Missionaries: Religion in Postwar SF” and “Higher than a Rocket Ship: Drugs in SF” – genre writers of the day to imitate strategies of “modernist prose and poetry, William S. Burroughs and the Beats, New Journalism”, among others.

The eponymous twin inspirations of the book, the landmark anthology of Harlan Ellison Dangerous visions and the revolutionary editorial reign of Michael Moorcock at New worlds, are offered their own dedicated rooms, and although this is a very busy field, the recaps are nonetheless interesting and capture the importance of what is at stake for these companies. Other expected heavyweights of the time, such as JG Ballard, Norman Spinrad, Brian Aldiss, Joanna Russ, Thomas M. Disch, James Tiptree Jr., Ursula K. Le Guin and Moorcock (as writer rather than editor ) also get their due. Author-centric entries include Kat Clay’s “On Earth the Air Is Free: The Feminist Science Fiction of Judith Merril,” “God Does, Maybe? L’Improbable New Wave SF by RA Lafferty ”, ” A New Wave in the East: The Strugatsky Brothers and Radical Sci-fi in Soviet Russia ” by Scott Adlerberg, and ” Performative Gender and SF: The Strange but True by Lucy Sussex Case of Alice Sheldon and James Tiptree, Jr. ”. But there’s also coverage from writers less often discussed in the same context, like Hank Lopez, Barry Malzberg, Louise Lawrence, Ira Levin, Mack Reynolds, and Mick Farren (impressively, ” Mick Faren: Fomenting the Rock Apocalypse “, understands – exchanges of people between the subject and the author Mike Stax).

No volume can ever do justice to the foam and fervor of the New Wave and the many societal upheavals and destabilizations it reflects, but it is an excellent introduction that sets itself apart from other treatises by its multi-voice perspectives. and its magnificent works of art that accompany it. It’s nice to see Colin Greenland Entropy exhibition (1983), a book to discover, referenced in these pages. Readers wishing to dig deeper, following a more traditionally academic path, will also appreciate the work of Andrew M. Butler. Solar flares: science fiction in the 1970s (2012). But you are still required to learn new things from the job at hand. To name just one, I had never heard of Qhe! series before opening the covers of this volume. As with any collection of this type, not all angles will be of interest to all observers; there are occasional repetitions and occasional stylistic dissonance. Date captions for the chosen cover refer to the specific editions shown, rather than the first editions of those books, which can be unintentionally misleading in the case of reprints, although it is fun to juxtapose different covers of the same title. .

Part of the glory of the New Wave, and its often overlooked continuities with what came before and after it, is its mess, its foray into genres adjacent to SF, the slavery of its dizzying and invigorating sprawl. In response to Thoreau’s “Simplify, Simplify”, the New Wave could have croaked, “Electrify, electrify.” Dangerous visions and new worlds examines our genre during one of its most effervescent and vibrant times. Adam Groves, in the context of the wave of “strange eroticism” of this period, wrote of “imaginative fertility which by today’s standards would be considered politically incorrect”. The New Wave may have consciously conceived of itself as a disjunction of the sensibilities of the Old Guard, but as this volume illustrates, in doing so, it unleashed a multitude of energies that still resist simple categorization and have offended. preventively our own sensitivities. Nette and McIntyre rightly note in the introduction that “while society as a whole has changed dramatically and moral attitudes have changed, many of the social issues addressed by the authors of the New Wave remain or have been intensified. which gives this body of work continuous relevance ”. As a teenager, I cut my teeth on New Wave sci-fi. Although some critics and commentators have suggested that the New Wave had more bark than bite, Dangerous visions and new worlds clearly shows that this period of fermentation and pushing still offers a lot to chew on.


Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, editor of the roundtable, is co-author of a book of interviews with Robert Silverberg, Worlds traveler, who was a finalist for the Hugo and Locus Award in 2017. Over 30 stories and 100 Alvaro reviews, essays and interviews have appeared in magazines such as Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, Mountain peak, Analog, Speed ​​of light, Nature, Strange horizons, Under ceaseless skies, Edge of the galaxy, Lackington, and anthologies such as The best science fiction and fantasy of the year 2016, Cybermonde, Humanity 2.0, and This path until the end of time.


This review and more in the September 2021 issue of Place.

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