For example, if you ever wanted to know why L. Ron Hubbard managed to start a cult but Philip K. Dick didn't, Disch is your man. Beginning with Edgar Allan Poe, Disch elaborates a vision of science fiction as one of the twentieth century's most influential manifestations of America as a culture of liars. Among the frauds are the alien abduction stories of Whitley Strieber, the sadomasochistic dominance fantasies of John Norman, and the co-opting of cyberpunk by postmodern academics and avant-gardists trying to stay hip.
Disch plays very few favorites, and when ideology gets in the way of good writing, it doesn't matter what side you're on. Subliterary feminist fantasies of matriarchial utopias get slammed just as hard as subliterary conservative militaristic wet dreams. Not even one of sci-fi's most beloved Grand Masters, Robert Heinlein, is unimpeachable; Disch correctly nails Heinlein on his consistent sexism and racism, as well as his gradual descent into solipsism. One of Heinlein's last novels, The Number of the Beast, is described as "the freakout to which [Heinlein]'s entitled as a good American, whose right to lie is protected by the Constitution."
What does Disch like? For starters: Philip K. Dick, the British New Wave as exemplified by J. G. Ballard and Michael Moorcock, and Joe Haldeman's Hugo- and Nebula-winning The Forever War, described as being "to the Vietnam War what Catch-22 was to World War II," and which he believes deserved a Pulitzer as well.
Disch may confirm your suspicions, or he may raise every last one of your hackles. But one thing this book will definitely not do is bore you. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Let me begin by stating that I have read very little science fiction in my life. I picked up Thomas Disch's "The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of" primarily because I had read... Read morePublished on April 18 2002 by "botatoe"
Thomas Disch's "The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of" is an intensely personal and opinionated exploration of the SF genre and its connection with popular culture. Read morePublished on Dec 28 2001 by "jackaroe"
Although I don't agree with everthing Mr. Disch has to say, I did enjoy the book as a wonderfully critical perspesctive of how science fiction became ubiquitous with pop culture... Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2001 by Erik J. Larsen
C'mon people -- the reason experienced sci-fans will love this item is the steaming heaps of delicious gossip! Group sex with Theodore Sturgeon! Read morePublished on June 15 2001 by Milo Miles
Reading this made me want to read SF books (not randomly but selectively). I assume this was Mr. Disch's goal. I have always enjoyed SF movies but was never a big SF book fan. Read morePublished on May 16 2001 by Eric Gelber
Let me begin by stating that I have read very little science fiction in my life. I picked up Thomas Disch's "The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of" primarily because I had read and... Read morePublished on April 25 2001
The first thing to say about Thomas M. Disch's The Dreams our Stuff is Made Of (How Science Fiction Conquered the World) is just how flat out entertaining this crazy quilt history... Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2001 by Ricky Hunter
None of the reviews here have pointed out the serious mistakes Disch makes in trying to defend his thesis that SF began with books from an American man, not a British woman. Read morePublished on Jan. 11 2001
At the outset I must say that I enjoyed reading this book. Its lively style and thoughtful content make it valuable, but it is heavily US-biassed. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2001 by A. G. Plumb