The Rise and Fall of American Science Fiction, from the 1920s to the 1960s


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About the Book

By examining important aspects of science fiction in the twentieth century, this book explains how the genre evolved to its current state. Close critical attention is given to topics including the art that has accompanied science fiction, the subgenres of space opera and hard science fiction, the rise of SF anthologies, and the burgeoning impact of the marketplace on authors.
Included are in-depth studies of key texts that contributed to science fiction’s growth, including Philip Francis Nowlan’s first Buck Rogers story, the first published stories of A. E. van Vogt, and the early juveniles of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein.

About the Author(s)

Gary Westfahl, a professor emeritus at the University of La Verne, California, has authored, edited, or co-edited 31 books about science fiction and fantasy, and hundreds of articles and reviews. In 2003, he received the Science Fiction Research Association’s Pilgrim Award for his lifetime contributions to science fiction and fantasy scholarship.

Bibliographic Details

Gary Westfahl
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 311
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7494-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3851-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Part I. The 1920s and Thereafter
1. The Emergence of American Science Fiction and Its Impact on the World 7
2. August 1928: Science Fiction’s Second Birthday 21
3. Artists in Wonderland: Towards a True History of Science Fiction Art 39
Part II. The 1930s and Thereafter
4. Pulp Science Fiction: A Student’s Guide 61
5. Beyond Logic and Literacy: The Strange Case of Space Opera 77
6. Five Ways to Conquer the Universe: The Forms of Space Opera 85
Part III. The 1940s and Thereafter
7. The Tall Dark Stranger and the Boy Next Door: A. E. van Vogt and Robert A. Heinlein 99
8. The Three Golden Ages of Science Fiction 111
9. Assemblers of Infinity: The Early History of Science Fiction Anthologies 124
Part IV. The 1950s and Thereafter
10. Invasion of the Saucer Men: How the Universe of Science Fiction Expanded in the 1950s 153
11. Hard Science Fiction: An Overview 180
12. The “Big Three” Approaches to Juvenile Science Fiction and Why One Worked and the Others Did Not 196
Epilog: The 1960s and Thereafter
13. After Things Fell Apart: The Fragmentation of Science Fiction in the 1960s and 1970s 211
14. Science Fiction Today: The Triumph of the Marketplace 233
Conclusion 247
Chapter Notes 251
Bibliography 268
Index 277

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Well done, informative, logically constructed, and entertaining. I believe this is the best book from this publisher that I’ve read this year”—Critical Mass

• “Valuable…informative and expertly researched”—Science Fiction Studies