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Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction

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An insider's view of the strange and wonderful world of science fiction, by one of the most respected editors in the field. David G. Hartwell has been editing science fiction and fantasy for over twenty years. In that time, he has worked with acclaimed and popular writers such as Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, Roger Zelazny, Robert Silverberg, Gene Wolfe, An insider's view of the strange and wonderful world of science fiction, by one of the most respected editors in the field. David G. Hartwell has been editing science fiction and fantasy for over twenty years. In that time, he has worked with acclaimed and popular writers such as Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, Roger Zelazny, Robert Silverberg, Gene Wolfe, Nancy Kress, L.E. Modesitt, Terry Bisson, Lisa Goldstein, and Philip Jose Farmer, and discovered hot new talentes like Kathleen Ann Goonan and Patrick O'Leary. Now in Age of Wonder, Hartwell describes the field he has loved, worked in, and shaped as editor, critic, and anthologist. Like those other American art forms, jazz, comics, and rock 'n' roll, science fiction is the product of a rich and fascinating subculture. Age of Wonder is a fascinating tour of the origins, history, and culture of the science fiction world, written with insight and genuine affection for this wonder-filled literature, and addressed to newcomers and longtime SF readers alike. Newly revised for the 1990's, Age of Wonder remains "the landmark work" Roger Zelazny called the first edition. Hartwell has revised the body of the book to take into account the past twelve years' changes in the literary landscape and the publishing marketplace, and added substantial new sections that contain advice on teaching courses in science fiction, disquisitions on the controversial subgenre of hard SF, and practical explanations of the economics of publishing science fiction and fantasy. Age of Wonder still lives up to Hugo and Nebula Award winnter Vonda McIntyre's description: "An entertaining and provocative book that will insprie discussion and argument for years to come."


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An insider's view of the strange and wonderful world of science fiction, by one of the most respected editors in the field. David G. Hartwell has been editing science fiction and fantasy for over twenty years. In that time, he has worked with acclaimed and popular writers such as Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, Roger Zelazny, Robert Silverberg, Gene Wolfe, An insider's view of the strange and wonderful world of science fiction, by one of the most respected editors in the field. David G. Hartwell has been editing science fiction and fantasy for over twenty years. In that time, he has worked with acclaimed and popular writers such as Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, Roger Zelazny, Robert Silverberg, Gene Wolfe, Nancy Kress, L.E. Modesitt, Terry Bisson, Lisa Goldstein, and Philip Jose Farmer, and discovered hot new talentes like Kathleen Ann Goonan and Patrick O'Leary. Now in Age of Wonder, Hartwell describes the field he has loved, worked in, and shaped as editor, critic, and anthologist. Like those other American art forms, jazz, comics, and rock 'n' roll, science fiction is the product of a rich and fascinating subculture. Age of Wonder is a fascinating tour of the origins, history, and culture of the science fiction world, written with insight and genuine affection for this wonder-filled literature, and addressed to newcomers and longtime SF readers alike. Newly revised for the 1990's, Age of Wonder remains "the landmark work" Roger Zelazny called the first edition. Hartwell has revised the body of the book to take into account the past twelve years' changes in the literary landscape and the publishing marketplace, and added substantial new sections that contain advice on teaching courses in science fiction, disquisitions on the controversial subgenre of hard SF, and practical explanations of the economics of publishing science fiction and fantasy. Age of Wonder still lives up to Hugo and Nebula Award winnter Vonda McIntyre's description: "An entertaining and provocative book that will insprie discussion and argument for years to come."

30 review for Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Glen Engel-Cox

    I picked up this book long ago in paperback, read the first chapter or so, and sent the book to my mother. My parents have been quite understanding of my interest in science fiction, but I don't believe they've ever quite understood it. The first chapter, and indeed the rest of the book, is a wonderful introduction to science fiction and the culture it engenders. I don't know if my mother has ever read this, but I'm glad that it was there to send to her. I picked up this book again three years a I picked up this book long ago in paperback, read the first chapter or so, and sent the book to my mother. My parents have been quite understanding of my interest in science fiction, but I don't believe they've ever quite understood it. The first chapter, and indeed the rest of the book, is a wonderful introduction to science fiction and the culture it engenders. I don't know if my mother has ever read this, but I'm glad that it was there to send to her. I picked up this book again three years ago from an ad in Locus. It sat on my bookshelf until this past semester, when I did a study of science fiction fandom for my sociology class. David Hartwell's excellent study then came in quite handy as a reference tool and quotebook for the paper that I wrote. Useful? Quite. I recommend it as probably the best study so far on science fiction fandom, mainly because it is the only one. Other books make reference to the subculture; only Hartwell dedicates an entire book to it. If you've ever wondered why fans are as they are, this might be your answer.

  2. 5 out of 5

    C.A.

    Finally, someone who has the love of a reader, and the brain of a literary critic. I mean that as a complement as this book came closer than anything I've reading in explaining mainstream literary criticism distain for and ignoring of science fiction. The books age means it cannot comment on the explosion of fantasy that happened in the late 1990 to the present, nor the weird fact that most fantasy is now geared toward teens, and I would have liked to have heard his analysis, but as a book expla Finally, someone who has the love of a reader, and the brain of a literary critic. I mean that as a complement as this book came closer than anything I've reading in explaining mainstream literary criticism distain for and ignoring of science fiction. The books age means it cannot comment on the explosion of fantasy that happened in the late 1990 to the present, nor the weird fact that most fantasy is now geared toward teens, and I would have liked to have heard his analysis, but as a book explaining the history of the genre's somewhat ignoble roots, nothing matches it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chrystal

    Author David G. Hartwell writes this book of nonfiction extraordinarily well. For example, here he is commenting on the almost fatal influence of the Sputnik launch and the nascent age of lunar exploration on the field of science fiction in the 60s and 70s: Well, to some the excitement remained—there is a certain charm and beauty in machines that perform well and are, after all, built and created by humans. But the heroic astronauts began to retire and become politicians(!) and administrators(!) Author David G. Hartwell writes this book of nonfiction extraordinarily well. For example, here he is commenting on the almost fatal influence of the Sputnik launch and the nascent age of lunar exploration on the field of science fiction in the 60s and 70s: Well, to some the excitement remained—there is a certain charm and beauty in machines that perform well and are, after all, built and created by humans. But the heroic astronauts began to retire and become politicians(!) and administrators(!) and converts to religious sects(!). By the time of the second moon landing, all according to TV script and utterly anticlimactic, even the most committed SF people had begun to mutter and grumble that the right thing was being done by the wrong people in the wrong way. How could they make it so unromantic? How could they! So the TV networks turned away from space, and most of the SF world missed the drama and excitement of Apollo 13 until the film version 25 years later. In other words, with reality catching up to the best of classic SF, what was left to write about? Was SF doomed? (Clearly, it wasn't.) Whether you are a (somewhat) devoted fan of SF or an outsider wondering a) what the heck the field is all about and/or b) why it is able to attract so many readers, you will learn a lot from Hartwell's book - which is itself a 'classic', given its last revision was in the early 90s. Highly recommend.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marcus

    Well I certainly can't say I agree with much of Hartwell's assertions, and he takes a really very narrow view of what actually constitutes science fiction (which is always "SF", and certainly not "sci-fi", that derided, media-based version of the genre...in Hartwell's world, "sci-fi" is to SF what SF is to Literature for the literati). But these is this gem of a definition appearing the Select Glossary of Fan Language: BLOG the (nonexistent) preferred drink of fans. Fan parties and conventions oft Well I certainly can't say I agree with much of Hartwell's assertions, and he takes a really very narrow view of what actually constitutes science fiction (which is always "SF", and certainly not "sci-fi", that derided, media-based version of the genre...in Hartwell's world, "sci-fi" is to SF what SF is to Literature for the literati). But these is this gem of a definition appearing the Select Glossary of Fan Language: BLOG the (nonexistent) preferred drink of fans. Fan parties and conventions often feature noxious concoctions invented for the occasion under this rubric. Who knew?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rafael Ontivero

    Demasiado denso para un neófito (es un libro que intenta meter el gusanillo a los profanos de la ciencia ficción) y demasiado sencillo para alguien que ya se ha leído prácticamente el 80% de la CF de calidad y, por supuesto, todas las POMM. Aparte de eso, el inglés de este hombre me ha chirriado un poco (pero puede deberse a mi perfecto conocimiento del idioma y no a que el tío no escriba muy bien). Edito para añadir que la única referencia que he comprado estaba equivocada en diez años de diferen Demasiado denso para un neófito (es un libro que intenta meter el gusanillo a los profanos de la ciencia ficción) y demasiado sencillo para alguien que ya se ha leído prácticamente el 80% de la CF de calidad y, por supuesto, todas las POMM. Aparte de eso, el inglés de este hombre me ha chirriado un poco (pero puede deberse a mi perfecto conocimiento del idioma y no a que el tío no escriba muy bien). Edito para añadir que la única referencia que he comprado estaba equivocada en diez años de diferencia entre donde dijo que se publicó y donde realmente lo hizo. No muy confiable, la verdad.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Meh. I saw David Hartwell on panels a number of times and spoke to him on a few occasions. He was funny, insightful, kind and very, very smart. Unfortunately that person didn't come through in this book though I will grant that some of the material simply hasn't aged well. The new wave vs. the old guard that he addresses extensively seems long ago and some of it a trifle silly. Still worth reading for historical perspective but something of a disappointment. Meh. I saw David Hartwell on panels a number of times and spoke to him on a few occasions. He was funny, insightful, kind and very, very smart. Unfortunately that person didn't come through in this book though I will grant that some of the material simply hasn't aged well. The new wave vs. the old guard that he addresses extensively seems long ago and some of it a trifle silly. Still worth reading for historical perspective but something of a disappointment.

  7. 5 out of 5

    M.A. Stern

    This book provides a great overview of the history of science fiction and analysis of the roots of the genre’s popularity.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tony Snyder

    Wonderful overview of the genre from the Twenties to the Seventies! Excellent!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    An interesting discussion on the past, present and future of science fiction. It's filled with anecdotes about the fans, conventions, and the writers themselves. There is also a useful reading list for any interested party to investigate, should one so wish to read a selection of 'good' scifi. I also found it interesting that the author argues that science fiction is not art, nor should it attempt to be. Indeed, to attempt to be "serious literature" would absolutely destroy the genre. It's just An interesting discussion on the past, present and future of science fiction. It's filled with anecdotes about the fans, conventions, and the writers themselves. There is also a useful reading list for any interested party to investigate, should one so wish to read a selection of 'good' scifi. I also found it interesting that the author argues that science fiction is not art, nor should it attempt to be. Indeed, to attempt to be "serious literature" would absolutely destroy the genre. It's just enough to have fun.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    A dated -- but there is a more recent edition from 1996 -- but still extremely valuable and entertaining introduction to the world of science fiction. It will be invaluable for anyone who doesn't "get" science fiction but is interested in learning more about it. Not as heavy on historical detail and development as Lester Del Rey's "The world of science fiction, 1926-1976: The history of a subculture," Hartwell's highly readable and engaging "Age of Wonders" concentrates on the questions "What is A dated -- but there is a more recent edition from 1996 -- but still extremely valuable and entertaining introduction to the world of science fiction. It will be invaluable for anyone who doesn't "get" science fiction but is interested in learning more about it. Not as heavy on historical detail and development as Lester Del Rey's "The world of science fiction, 1926-1976: The history of a subculture," Hartwell's highly readable and engaging "Age of Wonders" concentrates on the questions "What is science fiction now and what is it's place in our culture?"

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    An overview of the world of science fiction, directed at 'outsiders' but still useful I think, particularly for those who weren't there in the heyday of the '30s and '40s. A bit rambly in places, and somewhat dated - 'updated for the 1990s.' His assessment of fan culture is completely unlike my personal experience, but my experience is admittedly quite limited, and things have likely changed in the last 20 years. Still, worth a look. It also has an extensive bibliography and appendices which I h An overview of the world of science fiction, directed at 'outsiders' but still useful I think, particularly for those who weren't there in the heyday of the '30s and '40s. A bit rambly in places, and somewhat dated - 'updated for the 1990s.' His assessment of fan culture is completely unlike my personal experience, but my experience is admittedly quite limited, and things have likely changed in the last 20 years. Still, worth a look. It also has an extensive bibliography and appendices which I haven't seen yet.

  12. 4 out of 5

    bluetyson

    AGE OF WONDERS by David Hartwell (1996)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Powanda

    See my review here: https://wp.me/p9w4kV-28 See my review here: https://wp.me/p9w4kV-28

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Hunter

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bad-at-reading

  17. 4 out of 5

    Daneel Lynn

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steven

  19. 4 out of 5

    E.S.

  20. 5 out of 5

    FireBill

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chef

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jake

  23. 4 out of 5

    Warren Acoose

  24. 5 out of 5

    Liming Zhu

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matt Shaw

  26. 5 out of 5

    René Beaulieu

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hezekiah McMurray

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Anderson

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zach Winderl

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