Most histories of science fiction duly touch on the unique role of the pulp magazines and their successors in the devleopment of the genre. This spirited and abundantly illustrated study is the first to attempt a detailed, coherent elucidation of that role. What Carter conveys is the extraordinary sense of community among sci-fi magazine writers, editors, and readers from the Gernsback era to that of John W. Campbell--and even to a lesser extent today, though Carter has to expand his focus to include a good deal of work being done outside of the magazines. The best materials are the gleanings from Golden and pre-Golden letters columns and editorial pages. Examining some of the major sci-fi concerns and motifs from the Thirties to the Sixties and Seventies, Carter manages to suggest a certain push and pull shaping the changing treatment of such matters as time travel and determinism, the status of women, political repression, humanness and alienness, and the future of industrial technology. Even the pulp illustrators are perceptively analyzed as integral elements of a larger intellectual continuity. On the minus side, Carter is not a very systematic literary observer. His approach to individual short stories and novels emphasizes their role as voices in ongoing dialogues about, say, the likelihood of future evolution or devolution. The resulting treatment is often trivial and unfocused in terms of a given work's intrinsic character. The Man in the High Castle and The Dispossessed have more to ""say"" in their own right than as convenient handles on what the sci-fi community was thinking about WW II in 1963 or sexual equality in 1974. But within its special framework, this is an important book: invaluable from a bibliographer's standpoint, of commanding interest for any serious student of science fiction.