About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Article in The Literary Encyclopedia

The Literary Encyclopedia has now published my article on science fiction, which I have just been proofreading to make sure that it's perfect as far as I can see.

I've tried to write something that won't be too controversial, but of course there is notorious - and seemingly intractable - controversy about the meaning of the term "science fiction" (how do we define the genre?), science fiction's relationship to fantasy and to the mainstream, the genre's origins and history, and its typical attitudes to science and technology. While my views on these issues are far from being "out there", they are not so conservative as to be beyond contestation. Indeed, there simply is no view on any of these issues that is totally anodyne or beyond contestation; the most that anyone can do is try to synthesise whatever is convincing in the various views on offer and try to show what the facts are that have given the different theoretical views their attraction. And - of course - trying to find a way to do that also involves taking some stances that won't be acceptable to everyone.

Still, it's as mainstream and solid an account as I could write, given that I doubtless have biases like everybody else. At nearly 4000 words, it is able to develop the main ideas - e.g. definitional, historical, and so on - at some length. I wasn't able to delve far beyond English-language SF, or deeply into SF in forms other than prose and film. I wouldn't be surprised if there are some small errors in an essay on such a broad topic with references to numerous texts, but I've done my very best to eliminate them and produce something that people can rely on. Overall, I think I've done a pretty good job with this gig. I'm feeling pleased with my work.


Blake Stacey said...

Well, the first six hundred wordsi.e., those I can read for free — look quite good indeed. I'll have to see if one of the higher-learning institutions I visit these days has a subscription (it's truly amazing how much free information one can obtain with wireless access on a school campus).

Russell Blackford said...

Thanks - I hope you like the whole thing.