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Will the Rise of Self-Publishing Change the Portrayal of Commerce in Science Fiction?

The devious, scheming, evil Ferengi — emblematic of businesspeople in science fiction?

The confluence this year of Independence Day, my wife and I starting our own small business (MonstraCity Press), and my coming across this article, called “Commerce and Art,” got me to thinking about my own field of the arts, science fiction, and how commerce, entrepreneurship, and business in general are portrayed. Also, knowing that authors often write what they know best, modeling their protagonists’ careers on their own day jobs, I began wondering whether the ongoing shift in the production of both physical books and ebooks from traditional, large publishing concerns to micro-firms controlled by the authors themselves would have any impact on the portrayal of merchants and commerce in science fiction.

First, I wanted to see what is out there currently. I turned to that crutch for the quick-and-dirty researcher, Google, and did some searches. It turns out that most portrayals of commerce and business in science fiction are of large corporations. And those portrayals, to put things bluntly, aren’t pretty. Near the top of the Google results, I came across lists of the Top Five Most Reprehensible Corporations in Science Fiction, the Ten Most Evil Corporations in Science Fiction, and Fifteen Evil Corporations in Science Fiction.

Noticing a theme? Here’s a revealing quote from the first of these lists which neatly sums up their content: “From an early age, we science fiction nerds have been taught that all corporate entities, regardless of size or field of interest, are inherently evil and seek only to make the lives of the little people more and more miserable.” An article called “Corporations in Science Fiction” makes this similar observation:

“Whether describing a society in which governments have been replaced by greedy megacorporations, or one in which each individual is required to be incorporated at birth, science fiction has overwhelmingly tended to cast business as the villain.”

Were there any corresponding lists of positive (or at least non-evil) portrayals of businesses, businesspeople, or entrepreneurs in science fiction? I couldn’t find any. So I decided to perform a little experiment with a relatively brief survey of the field I had at hand, 100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels, a list compiled by Stephen E. Andrews and Nick Rennison published in Britain in 2006. This minute book was handy for my purposes because it gives plot summaries and overall reviews for a hundred prominent science fiction novels, dating from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus to almost the present day.

I went looking for examples of prominent SF novels whose protagonists were businesspeople or entrepreneurs, especially curious to see if any were shown in a positive light. I found four. Barrington J. Bayley’s The Garments of Caen (1976) features a hero who is a tailor and entrepreneur in a galaxy where couture influences the destinies of worlds. Michael Bishop’s Ancient of Days (1985) centers on sympathetic restaurant owner Paul Lloyd, who becomes involved in a menage a trois with a specimen of Homo Habilis. The alien protagonist of Walter Tevis’ The Man Who Fell to Earth (1963) acts as a benevolent inventor and business owner while trapped on Earth and attempting to send water back to his parched planet. Bob Shaw’s Other Days, Other Eyes (1972) offers up the most intriguing example of a scientific entrepreneur on this brief list: Alban Garrod, who inadvertently invents slow glass, patents it, and then watches as his invention and resulting products change the world. Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man (1952) does center on a protagonist who is the owner and CEO of a large corporation, Ben Reich, but Reich is a murderer and an antihero, so I can’t count this one as a positive portrayal.

I did a bit more digging and came up with a tiny handful of other positive portrayals of merchants or businesspeople in SF. A. E. van Vogt gave us the weapons makers and sellers of The Weapons Shops of Isher, who function as a counterbalance to that world’s government. Poul Anderson provided us with Nicholas van Rijn, a flamboyant Dutch capitalist adventurer who stars in Anderson’s series of Technic History novels. The hero of George Alec Effinger’s Budayeen trilogy, which is set in a future Islamic caliphate, is a fixer for a local gangster but also owns a club, where much of the novels’ action takes place. F. Paul Wilson’s popular Repairman Jack character can be seen as a sort of entrepreneurial small businessman, specializing in assisting customers with resolving problems of a supernatural or otherworldly sort (although the Repairman Jack books are more properly categorized as horror, rather than SF).

Very early, pre-Amazing Stories science fiction often focused on inventor-entrepreneurs as heroes. Thomas Edison himself is featured as the hero of Edison’s Conquest of Mars (1898) by Garrett P. Serviss. Young inventor Tom Swift, created by Edward Stratemeyer, was the hero of more than a hundred juvenile novels by ghostwriters writing under the pseudonym Victor Appleton, published beginning in 1910. But Big Science, by the 1930s (and the beginnings of science fiction’s Golden Age), had passed the stage of the individual inventor/science entrepreneur and moved on to the realm of large corporations, governmental bureaus, and universities. So the engineer heroes of the Campbellian Golden Age were usually portrayed as the employees of large concerns, rather than as individual economic actors.

Still, by the 1950s, the science fiction published in Galaxy and The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy had begun focusing on sociology, social psychology, and economics as types of scientific knowledge to be extrapolated. Commerce, the production of goods and the trading of those goods, is a basic human activity, present in one form or another in all human societies operating beyond a hunting and gathering stage. One might expect the number of stories and novels focusing on extrapolations of commerce would at least approximate the numbers of stories and novels featuring extrapolations of other basic societal and human functions, such as education, governance, diplomacy, reproduction, warfare, parenthood, and the arts. But aside from The Space Merchants and the almost entirely negative portrayals of large corporations alluded to above, there is surprisingly little in the SF canon.

Eric S. Raymond offers an explanation of why this is so is an article entitled “A Political History of SF.” He postulates that Campbellian Hard SF, the type of science fiction published in Astounding Stories and Analog from the late 1930s through John W. Campbell’s death in 1971, formed the ur-SF that all subsequent literary movements in science fiction (he lists these as the works of the Futurians, followed by New Wave in the 1960s, cyberpunk in the 1980s, and Radical Hard SF in the 1990s and beyond) have been reactions against. He describes the outlook of Campbellian SF as essentially Libertarian: “…ornery and insistent individualism, veneration of the competent man, instinctive distrust of coercive social engineering and a rock-ribbed objectivism that values knowing how things work and treats all political ideologizing with suspicion.” Accordingly, as this outlook tended to view commerce with an approving or at least neutral eye, the reactionary movements in SF (which have produced the bulk of what is generally considered the SF canon since the mid-1950s) have viewed commerce and capitalism with suspicion, if not hostility.

I would add another hypothesis: that a condemnatory attitude toward commerce and businesspeople among many SF writers stems in great part from larger trends affecting all writers in America since the mid twentieth century, not only the writers of speculative fiction. SF had its start as a brand of commercial fiction in an era during which the great bulk of fiction produced and sold was both commercial and disposable – the era of the pulp magazines. From the 1950s forward, however, many leading SF writers chose to raise their sights higher and aim for producing art literature, or at least fiction which could be enjoyed by a thoughtful, educated, literate reading public, highbrow or at a minimum midbrow. Horace Gold, editor of Galaxy in the 1950s, sought to publish a magazine which would be the equivalent of a New Yorker sold several centuries hence. The writers who formed the New Wave sought to incorporate the stylistic innovations of the Modernists into science fiction. Since the 1970s, science fiction has become an acceptable topic of discourse on college campuses, and more and more SF writers have as their day jobs teaching at post-secondary schools, just as a sizable percentage of literary/mainstream/non-genre authors have made their primary livings as university teachers since the beginnings of what has been called the Program Era in American fiction, the rise to dominance in American literary publishing of the graduates of creative writing programs.

So a goodly part of the herd of SF writers may be walking the same paths as the larger, or at least higher-status, herd of mainstream fiction writers. Stephen Miller, in his recent article “Commerce and Art,” states:

“Disdain for commerce is what might be called a topos—a recurrent theme in Western literature. … There are sympathetic portraits of businessmen in novels by Abraham Cahan, Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sinclair Lewis; yet after World War II, most American literary writers painted the business world in dark colors. In 1978, John Gardner complained that most contemporary American writers preached ‘a whining hatred of American business.’ … Jonathan Franzen takes the usual literary view of commerce. He argues that Edith Wharton ‘anticipates two … hallmarks of American society, the obliteration of all social distinctions by money and the hedonic treadmill of materialism.’”

Literary critic D. G. Myers has bemoaned the absence of meaningful, sympathetic portrayals of work in recent American literature. Nicole of the blog Bibliographing follows up on Myers’ comments by postulating that much of this absence of “real work” in American literature is due to the distance most American authors have maintained from any sorts of work apart from a limited number of white-collar professions:

“I suspect … that the professionalization of writing (especially of novel-writing) has diluted the presence of work in fiction, and what’s more, has denuded it of its variety. To some extent, this is a variant on the old complaint about ‘program fiction.’ If writers are ‘writers’ (and yes, I know many struggle and need to have day jobs to actually support themselves), if they go from BA to MFA to novel-writing, and if this is the new normal, and their peers all do the same, how much variety of experience outside a few professions are we now drawing on in contemporary fiction?

“I say ‘contemporary fiction’; I admit that I am largely thinking of a current New York–based literary scene that does, however, seem to dominate American letters at the moment. Not every character in these books is a writer, though they are often noted for their writer-narrators. But there is a fairly small circle of professions that are ‘acceptable,’ for lack of a better term, in contemporary fiction: writers, designers, journalists, perhaps lawyers and doctors, maybe a chef or two, professors, professors, professors, writers, writers… a ‘creative class,’ if you will.”

I’d like to add another point; that would be the influence of gatekeepers, particularly editors at large publishing houses, over what appears on those houses’ SF lists. Since the 1990s, the consolidation of publishing firms into sprawling corporate concerns (a number of which contain publishing arms as very minor portions of their overall business plans) has produced a publishing environment in which editors have shrinking amounts of influence over the publishing process, as opposed to that exercised by the denizens of the Marketing and Profit-and-Loss departments. Acquiring editors must “push” the books they favor through onerous layers of bureaucracy. Might not their own baleful experiences in their places of work, which chip away at their self-worth and make mockery of their early ambitions to work in the publishing industry, be reflected in their choices of manuscripts? Might not the prevalence of the trope of the “evil corporation” on the lists of Tor Books, Del Rey, Victor Gollancz, Bantam Spectra, et. al., be a gesture of “Screw the Man!” from an editorial corps whose members view themselves as white-collar cogs in a grinding corporate machine? If true, this wouldn’t surprise me.

And now we come to the biggest, most disruptive change in the publishing of science fiction since the popularization of mass-market paperback books and the death of the pulp magazines – the emergence of ebooks, print-on-demand books, and an easily and widely accessed electronic infrastructure for the sales of such items. A major mode of production and distribution of written works is now in the hands of writers themselves. Many SF and fantasy writers who launched their careers publishing the traditional way will want to continue having their books put out by the big houses. But more and more will find themselves with no choice but to take up the reins of publishing, marketing, and distribution themselves, as the shrinking number of large houses purge their lists of mid-list authors and begin concentrating solely on that small stable of writers who can reliably produce bestsellers.

Writers have always been small businesspeople: contractors who produce novels, stories, and scripts for other businesspeople to distribute to the reading/viewing audience. But many writers have not seen themselves in this role, instead seeing themselves as employees of publishing houses (or even, as literary agents have taken over editorial responsibilities formerly exercised by editors at publishing houses, as employees of their own agents). Many writers I’ve known (and I count myself as formerly among this number) prefer a world in which they are only responsible for the creation of texts, wherein all the other responsibilities inherent in publishing – editing, cover design, production, finding and nurturing an audience – are the tasks of other people. But for more and more of us, that world is no longer an option.

And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Being forced to take up the reins of publishing means being forced out (kicking and screaming, possibly) into the broader world of commerce. This can be an eye-opening experience, one which challenges many previously held beliefs and assumptions. One story along these lines which I really appreciate is the story of former Minnesota Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern. After his retirement from the Senate, Senator McGovern decided to purchase an inn in rural Connecticut, the Stratford Inn. He wrote very honestly about his experiences as a business owner. The difficulties of complying with a tangle of federal, state, and local regulations drove him into bankruptcy and forced him to close his business. He writes:

“Calvin Coolidge was too simplistic when he observed that ‘the business of America is business.’ But like most sweeping political statements, even Coolidge’s contains some truth — enough, as I’ve learned, to make me wish I had known more firsthand about the concerns and problems of American businesspeople while I was a U.S. senator and later a presidential nominee. That knowledge would have made me a better legislator and a more worthy aspirant to the White House. … (L)egislators and government regulators must more carefully consider the economic and management burdens we have been imposing on U.S. business. … I’m for protecting the health and well-being of both workers and consumers. I’m for a clean environment and economic justice. But I’m convinced we can pursue those worthy goals and still cut down vastly on the incredible paperwork, the complicated tax forms, the number of minute regulations, and the seemingly endless reporting requirements that afflict American business. Many businesses, especially small independents such as the Stratford Inn, simply can’t pass such costs on to their customers and remain competitive or profitable. … I do know that if I were back in the U.S. Senate or in the White House, I would ask a lot of questions before I voted for any more burdens on the thousands of struggling businesses across the nation.”

Those are the word of a man whose experiences, late in his life, after he had already experienced a lifetime in politics at the highest levels (and as a tribune of the left wing of the Democratic Party), profoundly changed his thinking.

Just taking the first few steps in setting up a small business with my wife has exposed me to a whole world of activities with which I had no prior familiarity. Dara and I are both having to learn bucket loads of new skills, and learn them in a hurry. Many others have already walked this path ahead of us and have offered us the benefits of their experiences. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has written very eloquently about the emotional challenges a writer faces when he or she becomes his or her own boss. Sarah Hoyt is another interesting and independent-minded author who is currently straddling the worlds of traditional publishing (she has a good thing going with Baen Books and a history with several other major houses) and indie publishing (mostly short stories for now, but she is moving towards putting up more of her novels herself as ebooks and POD books). Others are pioneering news ways of building a career in speculative fiction. Cory Doctorow is an advocate for the liberalization of copyright laws and has published several of his books under Creative Commons license, as well as having some of his novels traditionally published by Tor Books. The husband and wife team of Jeff and Ann VanderMeer have operated their own small presses, Buzzcity Press and the Ministry of Whimsy Press, as well as packaged anthologies and coffee table books for other publishers, edited magazines, and published books with traditional large houses.

People learn by doing. Writers write what they have learned. Now that more and more science fiction writers are learning the skills required by small businesspeople, will at least some of the science fiction novels and stories of the future reflect a deeper insight into the psyches of merchants and the challenges posed by commerce? Twenty years from now, will it be just as easy to find online lists entitled “Ten Most Awesome Scientific Entrepreneurs in Science Fiction” or “Fifteen Heroic Businesspeople in SF” as it is to find “Top Five Most Reprehensible Corporations in Science Fiction”?

We shall see. We most definitely shall see.

Thanks to All My Commentators!

I’d just like to send out a big THANK YOU to all the readers of my article, “The Absence of 9/11 in Science Fiction,” who took the time to write me and point out books or stories that I had missed in my (admittedly somewhat cursory) search.

Stories you mentioned included:
“Pipeline” by Brian Aldiss
“Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colors of the Earth” by Michael Flynn
“Family Trade” series by Charles Stross
“There’s a Hole in the City” by Richard Bowes
“The Things they Left Behind” by Stephen King
“Closing Time” by Jack Ketchum

Novels you mentioned included:
Paladin of Shadows series and The Last Centurion by John Ringo
A Desert Called Peace series by Tom Kratman
Orson Scott Card’s Ender books written post-9/11
Variable Star by Spider Robinson
Quantico by Greg Bear
Illium and Olympus by Dan Simmons

I didn’t include Robert Ferrigno’s books, such as Prayer for the Assassin, because they were marketed as thrillers, rather than science fiction (although Robert apparently emailed Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit to complain that he was left out of my survey, so he, at least, considers his books to be SF, despite how they were labeled by the publishers). The same goes for John Birmingham’s novels, which have been marketed as military techo-thrillers (although his Axis of Time series is certainly SF).

Three cheers for crowd sourcing! I’ll have to take a look at all of your suggestions, then post a revised version of my article to incorporate them. Stay tuned!

New Article on 9/11 and Science Fiction


Having just visited New York City, and with the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 rapidly approaching, I wanted to write a survey of how 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror have been reflected in works of science fiction and fantasy. What my admittedly limited research (primarily web searches and consultations with my own library) suggested surprised me — the events of 9/11 and the War on Terror have hardly been touched upon by speculative fiction writers at all, particularly in comparison with the volume of works written in response to earlier national traumas and upheavals of the 20th century.

I make my case for the relative paucity of 9/11-related speculative fiction here, and also suggest some possible reasons as to why this is so. I hope you find my article informative and thought-provoking (perhaps debate-provoking).

Having lost my cousin Amy to random holiday gunfire on New Year’s Eve in New Orleans in 1994, I know a little what it is like to lose family to senseless violence. Amy’s mother never fully recovered from the shock. My thoughts go out to all of our fellow citizens who lost loved ones ten years ago, who will be feeling their old wounds perhaps torn open anew by the anniverary and the memories it brings.

Oh, hell, Borders is Going Under

I really hated reading this today. Borders Books has been unable to find a buyer and so will go into liquidation. Over 11,000 people will lose their jobs, including some good acquaintances at the two Borders stores near me, wonderful people who have always been sweet and kind to me and my kids on our visits.

I’ve always been a champion of independent bookstores. I recognize that the rise of Borders (perhaps less so than the rise of Barnes and Noble) put many of those independent bookstores out of business. But I still find this very sad. A big-box corporate bookstore is still a bookstore. Many smaller towns and outlying suburbs had no bookstores at all until Borders moved in. And it has always been a pleasant place to hang out. I much prefer Seattle’s Best Coffee to Starbuck’s, so I enjoyed sipping coffee at my local Borders (or stores I would find out on the road) a lot more than grabbing a cup of “Char-bucks” at a Barnes and Noble.

I suppose this is part of Creative Destruction, the churn and storm un drang that are part of the workings of a capitalist economy. Borders killed off a lot of independent bookstores by offering more stock of more books at lower prices than most independents could match. Now Borders is being killed off by cannier competitors who are taking better advantage of new technologies than Borders seemed to be able to do. Someday, Amazon and Apple may be slain by younger, nimbler competitors in their turn.

But losing a bookstore, any bookstore, is always sad. And the country is about to lose four hundred of them.

I’ll be posting later today and tomorrow about the potpourri of places I used to buy books as a kid in North Miami Beach in the 1970s. A heck of a lot has changed in the book selling business since then. And a heck of a lot continues to change.

The Death of Science Fiction, 1960 and Today

Chicken Little

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading through the more than seventy questionnaire responses that make up the bulk of Earl Kemp’s 1960 fan publication, Who Killed Science Fiction? In the wake of the 1958 implosion of the American News Company, then the primary distribution source for magazines, and the dramatic and severe contraction in science fiction magazines that quickly followed (part of a general contraction in the publication of fiction magazines of all types), Kemp drew up a simple questionnaire comprising five questions:

1) Do you feel that magazine science fiction is dead?

2) Do you feel that any single person, action, incident, etc., is responsible for the present situation?

3) What can we do to correct it?

4) Should we look to the original paperback as a point of salvation?

5) What additional remarks, pertinent to the study, would you like to contribute?

Kemp mailed his questionnaires to 108 authors, editors, publishers, and fans who were prominent in the science fiction field, essentially the entire professional and semi-professional community. He received 71 responses back, an impressive percentage. Marty Halpern, in his blog More Red Ink, has written a fine account of Kemp’s efforts and shares some of the highlights from the materials Kemp received. The Compleat and Unexpurgated Who Killed Science Fiction?, including follow-on materials collected in the decades following the work’s original publication in 1960, is available as a free download and is also newly available in hard copy from Merry Blacksmith Press. Whoever is interested in the history of popular fiction publishing, the current evolution of and turmoil in publishing, science fiction writers talking shop and speaking their minds, or jumping into the world of professional fiction writing or publishing should pick up a copy, both for the surprisingly candid and oftentimes catty views on display and for the invaluable historical perspective the book provides.

Between the birth of Amazing Stories in March of 1926 and the late 1950s demise of the American News Company, science fiction had been primarily a magazine field. All of the seminal short fiction and nearly all of the important novels had originally been published in pulp magazines or digest-sized magazines such as Astounding Stories, Galaxy, Fantastic Stories, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Having their previously serialized novels republished in hardback or, following WW2, mass market paperback brought in a little side income for writers such as Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and A. E. van Vogt. They, and several dozen less well-known writers, earned the bulk of their writing incomes from magazine sales. Science fiction experienced one of its periodic booms in 1953, and the number of monthly or bimonthly magazines published in the field mushroomed from about a dozen to more than sixty. Suddenly, writers who were capable of being both prolific and at least moderately competent (such as the very young Robert Silverberg) were able to make a handsome living writing science fiction for the magazines. But when the magazine field contracted following 1958 and the numbers of monthly and bimonthly titles fell to a little more than half a dozen, many writers pulled out of science fiction entirely or (like Asimov and Alfred Bester) opted to devote the bulk of their energies to other, ancillary careers. A few, like Silverberg, took an extended hiatus from writing science fiction; Silverberg himself would not return to the field for another five years.

The gloom in the science fiction community circa 1960 is palpable in the pages of Who Killed Science Fiction? The majority of respondents to Kemp’s questionnaire did not expect the magazine field to ever rebound. Opinions varied widely on primary culprits — the editors and publishers blamed the disruption of the distribution system, the fans tended to blame a perceived recycling of science fictional ideas in the stories and novels, and the writers blasted some editors for editorial rigidity, some fellow writers for churning out crap, some readers for only buying the same old crap, and Sputnik, the latter being blamed for shifting readers’ interest in space travel from the pages of the science fiction magazines to the pages of the newspapers.

Perhaps most relevant to current publishing trends and events, respondents were also divided on whether the burgeoning field of paperback originals would prove to be the salvation of written science fiction. Some saw paperback originals as a ray of light, primarily due to their ability to stay on shelves and spinner racks longer than the few weeks afforded magazines. But many felt that paperback originals could never effectively replace what had been lost with the death of so many magazines. They felt that the editors who controlled the content of paperback originals had little familiarity with the science fiction field, certainly much, much less than the longstanding magazine editors, and that they generally tended to publish dreck, generic adventure fiction disguised as science fiction by the addition of a few spaceships and green, tentacled aliens. The sense of condescension expressed by a few of the responding writers and editors towards the producers of paperback originals is visceral and, in retrospect, a little stunning. Some expressed fears that whatever economic promise paperback originals seemed to offer would be squandered by the then-current flood of low quality books, which would drive off readers and permanently sully the (already low) reputation of science fiction.

Paperback originals were the insurgent, disruptive publishing technology of 1960, just as ebooks are today’s. The collapse of the American News Company and its piecemeal, inadequate replacement by a patchwork quilt of local and regional magazine distributors has its modern counterpart in the Borders Books bankruptcy, the massive contraction that has occurred in the numbers of independent bookstores, and the looming Armageddon that many professionals in traditional publishing fear will soon devastate their industry, a technological and economic counterpoint to the recent dismal fate of the recording industry.

What has been the bread-and-butter for most professional writers of popular fiction since 1960? Paperback originals. What publishing platform is currently undergoing the quickest and most severe shrinkage in sales? Mass market paperbacks. (Hardbacks and trade paperbacks are either declining much more gradually or are maintaining their sales levels.) The format which represented the swift, clever mammals eating the eggs of the lumbering dinosaurs in 1960 is now itself the endangered dinosaur, sliding into extinction.

Ebooks are now about where paperback originals were in 1960. Many professional writers and observers of the industry throw up their hands in horror and moan, “Ebooks will be the death of fiction! They are a flood of dreck! There’s no quality control, no gatekeepers! The hordes of the bad will drive out the few that are worthwhile!” Yet ebooks, including some ebook originals, are on an opposite sales trajectory from that of mass market paperbacks.

If I have to make a prediction, it is that new ranks of gatekeepers will arise, critics and reviewers, some amateur, some paid, who will help us sort the wheat from the chaff. It’s already happening. An exponentially increasing “tyranny of choice” will call forth a solution, and I don’t believe the solution will be a widespread turning away from the pleasure of reading a good book. I believe a wider range of stories and novels will be made available to readers, and many writers who have found themselves walled off from traditional publishing by less-than-stellar sales records will take advantage of new avenues through which to reach those readers.

I’ll close with what I hope is a comforting thought in the midst of the present chaos. Who Killed Science Fiction? appeared in 1960. By 1965, five years later, science fiction had embarked upon one of the biggest booms and most creatively fertile periods in its history.

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Fun links of the day:

J. G. Ballard’s house in Shepperton is for sale; fan club wants to buy it

Most ubiquitious artist in America pees on Winnie the Pooh statue in Disneyland

New Essay Added to Articles Page

I’ve posted a new essay, A New Hope, A Different Tack, to the Articles Page. It’s a bit of “where I’ve been” mixed with some “where I am now” and a dash of “where I hope to be soon.” I hope you enjoy it.

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