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Grade 5-7-Simplistic, dated, and shot through with factual errors and debatable generalizations, this literary and thematic survey falls well below usual standards. Miller kites through speculative fiction's first 1500 or so years, pausing to misinform readers that 17th-century scientists "were free to openly share their discoveries" (tell that to Galileo!), surveying early modern SF from Frankenstein to the rise of dime novels, and on to the ensuing "Golden Age." Then, a chapter laughably entitled "Science Fiction Today" introduces such up-and-coming authors as Frank Herbert, Joan D. Vinge, Terry Pratchett, and Diana Wynne Jones. After covering SF films and TV in 12 pages and tallying the genre's major themes-rarely if ever using examples newer than the early 1990s-Miller opens a concluding essay disparaging science fiction's predictive abilities with the eyebrow-raising assertion that "there have been more science fiction books accepted as good literature than in any other category of fiction." The muddy, infrequent black-and-white illustrations include lurid old magazine covers, aging paperback reprints, and familiar stills from classic movies. As incorrect statements about Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man and Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity show, Miller is not as familiar with the books he mentions as he might be, and virtually none of the titles on his concluding list of recommended reading are newer than 15 years old. Wait for a more authoritative, up-to-date history.
John Peters, New York Public Library
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 6-10. In his brief but competent overview, Miller shows the difficulty of defining science fiction before going on to highlight the genre's major male and female writers and its themes and forms. He traces the genre's roots back to seventeenth-century advances in science and technology, writers ranging from Edgar Allan Poe to Jules Verne, and the development of the dime novel, concluding that "by the beginning of the twentieth century, the foundations for science fiction had been laid." He also covers sf on both the big and little screens, art and noted artists, the importance of fandom, and the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Lists of recommended histories, encyclopedias, sf titles, movies, magazines, and Web sites round out a treatment that makes a good starting point for the novice. Black-and-white illustrations enhance the lively text. Sally Estes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.