THE DREAMS OUR STUFF IS MADE OF by Thomas M. Disch

THE DREAMS OUR STUFF IS MADE OF

How Science Fiction Conquered the World
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A gifted writer casts a critical eye on the genre that gave him birth. Disch, a novelist, poet, and critic, first became known for his science fiction, including such classic novels as Camp Concentration (1969). He turns in this new work to an examination of the literature he fell in love with as a boy, and then worked to alter and expand as an adult. His thesis is that science fiction has pervaded American life, politics, and culture to such a degree that we are no longer even aware of it. In a series of linked but essentially discrete chapters, he discusses such topics as: how science fiction of the ’50s affected our attitudes toward the atomic bomb; science fiction as a religion (notably in the life of failed SF writer L. Ron Hubbard and his creation of Scientology); and the manner in which conservative SF writers such as Jerry Pournelle and William R. Fortschen directly altered our military policies, leading to President Reagan’s “Star Wars” program. Predominantly liberal but hardly PC, Disch is most controversial in his chapter on “feminizing— science fiction, in which he makes the case that the feminist-driven works of SF icon Ursula Le Guin can be just as limited as those of macho right-winger Robert A. Heinlein (Disch uncharacteristically avoids comparing their literary abilities). As these topics suggest, Disch tends to focus on the negative impact of the genre, and many in the field may feel battered by this book. But he writes with such keen insight and compulsive readability that only the most blinkered SF fan will be able to reject his ideas outright. Disch’s provocative, engrossing book may fan the flames of a number of simmering arguments in the SF community, but when the smoke clears we may all, as a result of this tonic work, see more clearly.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-82405-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1998




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