Paperback, Oxford University Press
Out now, £7.99/$11.95
The latest in an ongoing series of ‘Short Introductions’ this pocket-sized book packs a lot in, TARDIS-style (and it benefits from a fairly small typeface). This is not a history of science fiction, either in literature or on screen, but a thoughtful consideration of some of the main topics that make up the genre. Except, according to Seed, it is not a genre at all, but merely a ‘field’ in which ‘different genres and sub-genres intersect’.
Written in an accessible, serious but not overly academic style, this Very Short Introduction is a handy primer for anyone studying the field or for the new fan who is keen to learn more. There is little here that dedicated fans of science fiction will not be previously aware of, although it is useful to have it put together in this way in such a compact form.
Seed breaks the field down into voyages into space, the alien, technology, utopia and dystopia, and time. He concludes with a brief look at the community of practitioners, for whom science fiction is ‘more and more occupying the position previously occupied by realist fiction and that their narratives are the most engaged, socially relevant and responsive to the modern technological environment’.
Verdict: A handy, pocket-sized guide to the SF field. 8/10
Brian J. Robb