“SF: The Nature of the Medium”

Rather than write a really long review of Brian Stableford’s Opening Minds: Essays on Fantastic Literature, I’m going to do a post on each essay.

The Lovecraft series will continue in the days I don’t have something new to put up.

Review: “SF: The Nature of the Medium“, Brian Stableford, 1974.Opening Minds

Using the media theories of Marshal McLuhan, Stableford argues that science fiction cannot function like mainstream, realistic fiction and shouldn’t try to.

There is a progression of media for human thought: speech, writing, print, literature, science fiction.

Each member of that progression incorporates its successor. However, it does not retain all the advantages of that successor. The tradeoff is each medium adds something.

In the case of literature, patterns and not “unitary blocks” are transmitted. Cultural information is communicated and not mere “simple classification” (presumably by that he means non-fiction work). The increasing specialization of cultural data brought about literary techniques to best convey the desired patterns.

Non-fantastic literature has developed sophisticated means of presenting that information and making it more dense. It can assume a context known by the reader. Continue reading