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.

2 thoughts on “Paul Kincaid’s What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction

  1. Shall have to check out some of Mr. Kincaid’s writing–always looking for good critical commentary, especially relating to genre fiction. Fan-dumb tends to like EVERYTHING and can get awfully snarky when you point out the shortcomings of their favorite hack. I know one prominent SF reviewer who confines himself to critiquing books he knows he’ll like because he gets such abuse whenever he bashes a horrible tome by Kevin J. Anderson, Orson Scott Card, Kristine Rusch or some of the other prominent word-slaughterers presently trolling the shoals of SF.

    Thanks for the post and the tip…

  2. Hey Cliff, I’m glad that you ran across my mini-review of Paul Kincaid’s new collection, and found it useful. There’s more reviews to come, time permitting. This semester is going to be a bear with two courses and my first teaching assignment, but I always keep a spare bit of time in my pocket!

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