My look at Stableford’s doctoral thesis continues. My review of this chapter, the book’s longest at 48 pages, is going to be shorter than normal. While thematic criticism is my favorite type of science fiction criticism, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this chapter because much of it is very much like the thematic entries in the first edition of The Science Fiction Encyclopedia. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them were cut and pasted from Stableford’s entries for it or vice versa. However, I did not do my blogger due diligence and check my copy of that book. My boxes of books aren’t labelled that exactly and there are scores of them. And I’ve lifted a lot of them lately
I’ll also note that Stableford talks about now more obscure stories because over 40 years of sf history has been added since he wrote this book.
Review: The Sociology of Science Fiction, Brian Stableford, 1987.
Chapter V is titled “Themes and Trends in Science Fiction”.
The first section is on “Machines” and opens with a quote from Miguel de Unamuno stating that Don Quixote was right to attack the windmill as a dangerous enemy. Stableford goes on to say,
Today the marriage of man and machine, after a long courtship, has been consummated. The honeymoon is over, and we begin to doubt whether we have done the right thing. Science fiction tells the story of our passage from infatuation to the brink of disillusionment with remarkable clarity.
This section includes coverage of things that have been categorized into entries like “automation”, “computers”, “cyborgs”, and “robots” in the online Science Fiction Encyclopedia. Stableford sees the development, particularly in the case of the robot stories, as largely pro- technology authors losing faith in man and not machines, in our ability to morally and intellectually handle them post-WWII.Continue reading