THE FANTASTIC MIRROR: Science Fiction Across the Ages by Benjamin Appel

THE FANTASTIC MIRROR: Science Fiction Across the Ages

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The fantasy of the possible"" in the history of man's bizarre or occult or prophetic imagination is traced, prodigiously excerpted (in italic script), and illustrated with photo-reprints as Mr. Appel star-treks through the archives of science fiction. He says it's a ""fiction of things-to-come based on things-on-hand,"" that actual discoveries generated stories expanding on the newest precepts, that rhetorical inventions of what-will-be coincide With real changes in what-is. But he (con)fuses the satire of Twain, Swift, and Rabelais with the proto-scientific writings of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, and attributes the gift or even intent of prophecy to such as Lucian (whose True History is essentially a fabulous extension of his own mythological heritage); rather conspicuously missing are Huxley and Orwell--surely masters of the genre. Nonetheless the very notion of a thematic look at literature in an unacademic way is an entertaining one, so if this Mirror's refractions are not always consistent they are still well worth reflecting on: it's a good-looking book graced by appropriately flamboyant prose, and the tidbits of fantasmagoria promise to motivate many to seek more.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1969
Publisher: Pantheon