TURNING POINTS: Essays on the Art of Science Fiction by Damon--Ed. Knight

TURNING POINTS: Essays on the Art of Science Fiction

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KIRKUS REVIEW

On the surface, a useful and businesslike survey of sf by sf writers--but a closer look reveals the Knight touch deftly at work. With a minimum of editorial commentary, Knight gives us a set of historical materials covering some two decades and ranging from magical to provocative to outrageous. There is Heinlein blustering about the wholesome influence of sf in comparison to the decadence of lames Joyce and Francoise Sagan; James Blish pseudonymously ""reviewing"" the initial version of his own A Case of Conscience; Blish politely muting his exasperation at Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land; the great editor John W. Campbell ripping off a stream of crude and pitiful anti-scientific invective in a four-way argument about scientific orthodoxy (taken from old S. F. W. A. Bulletin letters columns); a French sf critic commenting on a Russian criticism of Murray Leinster's famous ""First Contact."" Even the more peaceful contributions have parenthetical moments which underscore a healthy sense of fallibility: Kingsley Amis' 1960 assertion that inventive cinematic sf is probably prohibitively expensive, or Asimov's blithe 1953 dismissal of Bradbury from the ranks of true sf writers. The gems of the collection are C. S. Lewis' unassuming, beautifully written essay ""On Science Fiction"" (a model of modest sanity among more strident voices) and Richard McKenna's tribute to the ""little man"" inside his head who was his most faithful collaborator. Knight is simply the best anthologist in the business; everything in this collection is worth reading for its own sake, and every piece strikes sparks from every other.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row