‘Dangerous Visions And New Worlds’ Essay Collection Highlights Neglected Value of Radical Pulp Science Fiction

Science fiction never predicts the future as much as it mirrors the present tense in which it was written – which is good news as we move into 2022, the same year in which the dark dystopian classic Soylent Green is set. In the ’60s and’ 70s, this meant that the sci-fi genre reflected a radical zeitgeist, with a new generation of Left-wing New Wave writers alongside older and, in general, more science fiction writers. curators of the golden age.

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950-1985, edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre and published in October 2021, brings together a series of 24 essays exploring various aspects of science fiction writers and societal changes at the time.

This is the third collection from these publishers, who were behind the 2018 exploration of post-war youth culture, Really cool girl gangs, biker boys and cats, as well as 2019’s take on revolutionary and counter-cultural pulp fiction, Stick it to the man. All three collections keep their promise to take a critical and serious look at the often undervalued cultural impact of genre pulp and fiction.

Some of my favorite topics covered in this volume include Rebecca Baumann’s take on groundbreaking gonzo sci-fi erotica published by Essex House in 1968 and 1969, Nick Mamatas’ review of RA’s rule-breaking legacy Lafferty (the author “is a kind of a”), and Michael A. Gonzales’ rich story about the life and career of Octavia Butler.

Essays are given leeway through a series of interstitial sections that take a broader look at certain subgenres, complemented by a gallery of sample cover vignettes that capture the variety of experimental surrealism and bursts of vivid color. . These pit stops give the volume a coffee table flavor which means anyone can take the book for a quick shot at the history of speculative fiction, the popularity of nuclear apocalypse fiction in its wake. of NORAD under the influence of Michael Moorcock-helmed New worlds magazine to popularize New Wave fiction in the 1960s.

The only downside to the collection, in my opinion, is that there’s little effort to name the cover artists behind the weirdly psychedelic titles. Still, the authors, publishers, and publication dates are all listed and will help steer the keen reader to follow the history of each edition discussed.

Fans of retro sci-fi books and covers will be more than thrilled Dangerous visions and new worlds, which delivers a cornucopia of gender analysis that cannot be fully summarized.

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