Tuesday 13 February 2024

Review by Jon Wilkins of "This Is Not a Science Fiction Textbook," ed. Mark Bould and Steven Shaviro

Well you could have fooled me! It is a textbook and then some. This is the perfect resource for a sci-fi fan. Excuse the trendy reduction. But it is also a wonderful introduction to the science fiction world for those not au fait with the genre. The book is an education. 

The book is divided into three sections: Theory, History, Key Concepts, followed by a fantastic bibliography and a list of further reading which deliver a smorgasbord of sci-fi delights that should be on any fan's reading bucket list.

We can read highly researched and insightful articles on everything we need to know and on things we didn’t know we needed to know. Each page offers a fresh insight. What I love about the format is that with every essay we have a selection of films or books that the writer recommends. These suggestions unsurprisingly open up a whole world of different worlds - worlds we could have never imagined if we didn’t delve deeper into science fiction. If you follow the authors' advice you will see that the sci-fi genre is not something to be scoffed at, but an insightful world of imagination and invention. 

Science-fiction writers have given us so much over the years, promoting ideas that seem to have come true, despite sometimes being ridiculed when they were written. Ahead of their time, these writers were inventive, perceptive, challengers of the status quo and magicians of the written word.

I personally have not always really enjoyed science fiction writing, but I really did enjoy the articles written here and especially loved the hints as to what I should read next. This is advice I will now be taking. As a textbook this has really taught me a great deal in an easy-to-read format that encourages further reading of the genre - and what could be better than that?

About the reviewer
Jon Wilkins is 68. He is married to the gorgeous Annie with two wonderful sons. He was a teacher for twenty years, a Waterstones bookseller and coached women’s basketball for over thirty years before taking up writing seriously. Nowadays he takes notes for students with Special Needs at Leicester University. He has had a work commissioned by the UK Arts Council and several pieces published traditionally as well as on-line. He has had poems in magazines and anthologies, art galleries, studios, museums and at Huddersfield Railway Station. He loves writing poetry. For his MA, he wrote a crime novel, Utrecht Snow. He followed it up with Utrecht Rain, and is now writing a third part. He is currently writing a crime series, Poppy Knows Best, set at the end of the Great War and into the early 1920s. Next year he takes up the UEA Crime Fiction Creative Writing MA. The game's afoot! 

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