An exciting history/re-evaluation of literature’s disowned younger sibling: science fiction. Focusing on its radical shift to the Left in the 1960s, the essays here give long overdue credit to some of the sci fi greats that have only recently begun to find their way to acceptance within the pantheon. I’ve always found it to be teeth-grindingly frustrating how often the themes and tropes of sci fi are found in critically praised novels by “literary” authors without anyone ever giving props to how the same material has been dealt with for decades by very talented, but very ghettoized writers (I'm looking at you, The Road by McCarthy and you Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro, etc.). Our current apocalyptic trajectory as a society, for instance, has been predicted and discussed countless times over the decades in little pulp paperbacks with ridiculous cover art and found on spinner racks in grocery stores, only to be ignored by all the critics and award givers of literature. Meanwhile, the great themes of modern literature (alienation, transformation, absurdism, symbolism, the relativity of truth, etc.) are arguably dealt with just as well or better in the lesser known gems of sci fi. Anyway, this book will make the point better than I can ...— From Charles
Much has been written about the "long Sixties," the era of the late 1950s through the early 1970s. It was a period of major social change, most graphically illustrated by the emergence of liberatory and resistance movements focused on inequalities of class, race, gender, sexuality, and beyond, whose challenge represented a major shock to the political and social status quo. With its focus on speculation, alternate worlds and the future, science fiction became an ideal vessel for this upsurge of radical protest.
Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985 details, celebrates, and evaluates how science fiction novels and authors depicted, interacted with, and were inspired by these cultural and political movements in America and Great Britain. It starts with progressive authors who rose to prominence in the conservative 1950s, challenging the so-called Golden Age of science fiction and its linear narratives of technological breakthroughs and space-conquering male heroes. The book then moves through the 1960s, when writers, including those in what has been termed the New Wave, shattered existing writing conventions and incorporated contemporary themes such as modern mass media culture, corporate control, growing state surveillance, the Vietnam War, and rising currents of counterculture, ecological awareness, feminism, sexual liberation, and Black Power. The 1970s, when the genre reflected the end of various dreams of the long Sixties and the faltering of the postwar boom, is also explored along with the first half of the 1980s, which gave rise to new subgenres, such as cyberpunk.
Dangerous Visions and New Worlds contains over twenty chapters written by contemporary authors and critics, and hundreds of full-color cover images, including thirteen thematically organised cover selections. New perspectives on key novels and authors, such as Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, John Wyndham, Samuel Delany, J.G. Ballard, John Brunner, Judith Merril, Barry Malzberg, Joanna Russ, and many others are presented alongside excavations of topics, works, and writers who have been largely forgotten or undeservedly ignored.