This pragmatic overview covers virtually every important aspect of writing science fiction. Himself a prolific genre author (The Immortals, not reviewed, etc.), as well as an academic (English/Univ. of Kansas) and literary critic (The Road to Science Fiction, not reviewed), Gunn remains at the forefront of the movement to legitimize scholarly study of science fiction. The first third of his text, drawing on Gunn’s years of experience teaching writing workshops, conveys his influential precepts in 11 short, useful chapters. The second section lays out his theory of science fiction as a genre. The volume concludes with concise critical biographies of H. G. Wells, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and husband-wife duo Kuttner and Moore. The variety of these three sections broadens the book’s appeal beyond the science-fiction community. The material’s specificity, though, still limits its usefulness for the general reader; the natural audience includes writers aiming for publication and hard-core science-fiction fans. Nevertheless, since Gunn’s excellent prose never fails to engage, inform, and instruct, readers outside the target audience who happen to encounter the book will be pleasantly surprised.
A valuable tool for aspiring SF authors, and a treat for fans with an appreciation for literary history and theory.