Paul Kincaid’s What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction

Before a week’s long vacation, I finished reading and writing a review of Paul Kincaid’s What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction.  This is a great collection of Kincaid’s essays on a variety of topics centered around SF and the fantastic.  

In his introductory essay, from which the title of the book is taken, he tackles one of the major concerns of SF scholarship, which is the definition of SF.  He skillfully manages to create a pragmatic definition that draws on Samuel R. Delany’s idea of a SF language, or what Damien Broderick calls the SF “mega-text.”  

The collection is broken down into these sections:  Theory, Practice, Christopher Priest, Britain, the World, Gene Wolfe, and 1 April 1984.  The Priest section is very strong, and there are many other insightful and enthusiastically written pieces throughout the thirty-two essays and reviews in the book.

Keep an eye out for my full review in an upcoming issue of Foundation:  The International Review of Science Fiction.

Discover more of Paul Kincaid’s scholarship online here, and read about his current work on his blog here.

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Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.