Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts, Edited by Heather Masri

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I just got a copy of Heather Masri’s Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts from Bedford St. Martins as I build a science fiction course for (hopefully) future use. This is a really cool collection.

It is chocked full of fiction–short stories and excerpts–that are introduced by Masri. But that’s not the really slick feature. What I like about the collection is the thematic groups of stories paired with critical essays. For example, the first section on “Alien Encounters,” which includes stories by Wells, Weinbaum, Bradbury, Le Guin, Butler, Egan, and others, is paired with a selection from de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, Jung’s The Shadow, and Fanon’s The Face of Blackness.  The “Utopias and Dystopias” section has A. E. van Vogt’s “The Weapon Shop,” Ellison’s “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman,” Joanna Russ’ “When It Changed,” and more by Zamyatin, Knight, Varley, Ryman, and Hopkinson. With these terrific stories, there are Hannah Arendt’s Ideology and Terror: A Novel Form of Government, William H. Whyte Jr’s The Organization Man, and Jameson’s “Progress versus Utopia; or, Can We Imagine the Future?”.

Not everyone will agree with all of the selections, but I believe that this is a useful and well considered turnkey effort toward a theory centric science fiction course.