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About the Author

Includes the name: Gary Wolfe

Obras de Gary K. Wolfe

The Best of Joe Haldeman (2013) — Editor — 54 cópias
Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996 (2005) 21 cópias
Bearings: Reviews 1997-2001 (2010) 17 cópias
Science Fiction Dialogues (1982) 16 cópias
The Known and the Unknown (1979) 12 cópias

Associated Works

The Sword of the Lictor (1981) — Introdução — 1,489 cópias
Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories (2011) — Contribuinte, algumas edições509 cópias
The Poison Belt (1913) — Introdução, algumas edições461 cópias
The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction (2003) — Contribuinte — 284 cópias
Conjunctions: 39, The New Wave Fabulists (2002) — Contribuinte — 198 cópias
The Best of R. A. Lafferty (2019) — Contribuinte — 155 cópias
The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature (2012) — Contribuinte — 112 cópias
Nebula Awards Showcase 2001 (2001) — Contribuinte — 105 cópias
Visions of Wonder (1996) — Contribuinte — 90 cópias
Edited By (2020) — Introdução — 37 cópias
Polder: A Festschrift for John Clute and Judith Clute (2006) — Contribuinte — 14 cópias
Parabolas of Science Fiction (2013) — Contribuinte — 14 cópias
The Aesthetics of Fantasy Literature and Art (1982) — Contribuinte — 13 cópias
Locus, July 2011 (606) — Contribuinte — 1 exemplar(es)
Locus Nr.492 2002.01 — Contribuinte — 1 exemplar(es)


Conhecimento Comum

Nome de batismo
Wolfe, Gary Kent
Data de nascimento
Local de nascimento
Missouri, USA
literary critic
Weil, Ellen (spouse)
Roosevelt University
SFRA Pilgrim Award (1987)
IAFA Distinguished Scholarship (1998)



Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth, The Space Merchants (1952)
This is a novel that has long stuck in my head because Isaac Asimov briefly mentions it in his introduction to More Soviet Science Fiction under its alternate title of "Gravy Planet," which is, to be honest, a bit of a daft title, but certainly an evocative one. It is not about a planet of literal gravy, alas. It's also not about merchants flying through space, which is what I had imagined before reading it; it's about the people trying to sell the public on going to space, the people merchanting space.

Asimov cites it as an example of what he calls the "Stage Three-C" anti-utopian science fiction story: "It deals with a dreadfully overpopulated world in which advertising techniques have been made the only acceptable guide to human behavior. Its gambits are: 'If the population explosion goes on—' and 'If the theory that anything that is good for business is morally correct goes on—'" The former gambit has dated itself a bit, but the latter has held up, and if anything probably seems even more likely than it did back in 1952. Senators literally represent corporate interests, no form of advertising or corporate skulduggery is illegal—except where corporations infringe on each other, they can do whatever they like to people. The main character is an advertising executive put in charge of selling Venus to the American people, who suddenly finds himself on the outs when he had been on the top.

The actual story is what it is; I don't think it's terrible or anything, but it's not why you're reading the book. It's one of those sf books you read for the world. Pohl and Kornbluth have that 1950s sf obsession with advertising-as-science, which also appears in Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man (1952), Mark Clifton and Frank Riley's They'd Rather Be Right (1954), and Philip K. Dick's Ubik (1969), this belief that with the right combination of triggers, anyone can be sold anything. The advertising satire is one of the best parts of the book; the book definitely performs a Stage Three-C gambit with the ubiquity of advertising, and it's hard to imagine that Dick hadn't read The Space Merchants. The leap that Pohl and Kornbluth don't quite make (but are so close on) is that, as John Berger would highlight in Ways of Seeing (1972), advertising doesn't just sell you a product, it sells you the entire idea that the way to improve your life is through the purchase of product. What the novel does delve into, though, is how there's an invisible class divide when it comes to marketing—well, invisible to those on the top, anyway. Some people aren't even worth selling to!

It's a quick read and a fun one; Pohl and Kornbluth have an easy style and the protagonist has a strong narrative voice. This would be fun to teach in a class on early science fiction, or one in a class on advertising in sf.

Theodore Sturgeon, More Than Human (1953)
While three of the books in this volume's companion, Five Classic Novels, 1956-1958, were Hugo winners, none of the books published here were, mostly because they come at the very beginning of the process. Though the first Hugos were given out in 1953, the second set was in 1955; the 1954 Worldcon didn't do any—and this is the year that More Than Human would have been eligible. The book was a finalist for the 1954 Retro Hugo (awarded in 2004), which was intended to fill that gap, though it lost to Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. And fair's fair, that book is a juggernaut. Even a very good book probably didn't stand a chance against it.

More Than Human is an expansion of Theodore Sturgeon's novella "Baby Is Three" (1952); the novella makes up the middle section of the novel, to which is added a first part, showing where all the main characters came from, and a third, showing where they all ended up. I had a vague inkling that I had read "Baby Is Three" though I remembered nothing about it, and when I finished More Than Human, I went and looked up "Baby Is Three" on ISFDB, which tells me I must have read it in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two A... which I remember as being my least favorite of the four SFWA "Hall of Fame" volumes that I have read! Sturgeon is someone I haven't read much by; as a Star Trek fan, I primarily know of him as one of the legit sf writers who was courted by Roddenberry and ended up contributing to the show; he wrote "Amok Time" and "Shore Leave," two of the second season's most significant episodes. (Trivia fans will note there is a character here named "Barrows," as well as in Sturgeon's "Shore Leave.")

Alas, the novel didn't do much for me. All science fiction is of course very much of its time, but there's a particular kind of science fiction that I feel like was popular in the middle of the twentieth century whose appeal has not really persisted, the story of (to steal a term from DC's "Captain Comet" comics) the "evolutionary throw-forward," the next phase in human evolution born ahead of time. Usually this entails precocious intelligence and psi powers. A lot of mid-century sf writers seem fascinated by this figure—but unfortunately I do not find it fascinating, and I rarely get anything out of such stories...* even if they are well told from a writing standpoint, which I must admit More Than Human was.

Sturgeon is a strong writer, with an above-average sense of voice and place for a 1950s sf author, and there were lots of little moments of characterization that shone strongly. Unfortunately, the actual story was one that largely failed to engage me. It's one of those cases where I can recognize the craft, but fundamentally the story is just doing something I don't care about.

Leigh Brackett, The Long Tomorrow (1955) / Richard Matheson, The Shrinking Man (1956)
The former was, as far as I know, my first experience of the work of Leigh Brackett, a pioneering author of her era; The Long Tomorrow was a finalist for the 1965 Hugo Award for Best Novel, but lost out to Heinlein's Double Star (1956). I've read a few pieces by Matheson, including his 1975 novel Somewhere in Time.

What strikes me reading and writing them up together is that they are both concerned with what it means to be a man. The Long Tomorrow is a bildungsroman set in a postapocalyptic United States. It's not a novel of nuclear fallout or anything; what the novel focuses on is the fact that the U.S. government banned the establishment of communities of a certain size. No more cities, no more large buildings. This slows down technological redevelopment and prevents the creation of large targets for enemy nations. The main character is a boy, later young man, from an Amish-adjacent community in rural Ohio, who struggles as he runs up against the stipulations of his family and his village. Eventually, he goes on the run, traveling to a city on the Ohio River and then further west, in search of a mythical place where people can build cities and develop advanced technology once more.

The big conflict of the novel, though, is internal. How do you decide what values to adhere to, and what ones to ignore? Especially when these values seem to boil down to a form of fanaticism? But... what is there to replace them with other than a different form of fanaticism? I am a sucker for a good bildungsroman, and this is an excellent one, my favorite of the four novels collected in this volume. Lots of acutely observed, painful human psychology wedded to strong worldbuilding and atmospheric prose. I do really like Double Star, but if this had won the Hugo, I would have been quite pleased too.

But if The Long Tomorrow is a bildungsroman, the novel of the making of a man, then The Shrinking Man is the opposite—the novel of the unmaking of a man. I had thought going in from the cheesy title of the film based on the book (The Incredible Shrinking Man, which admittedly I have not seen) that this would be a cheesy story... but actually the title is very clever. Yes, the novel is about a shrinking man, but more specifically, it is about a shrinking man. As the protagonist shrinks, he loses his sense of masculinity and thus his sense of self, he diminishes in terms of being able to think of himself as a person who can do the kind of things men are supposed to be able to do: to provide for women and to desire and be desired by women, to exert physical authority over others. I can't say I loved this novel—Matheson takes you through his diminishment in a very methodical way that sometimes becomes plodding—but it was considerably more interesting than I expected it to be, and it paired nicely with The Long Tomorrow.

As a man can be built up by figuring out what he values, so too can he be torn down by having what he values taken away. Both of these novels showcase the ability of science fiction to defamiliarize the familiar, to get the reader to reconsider how their world operates by presenting a different one.

* One exception: I do remember really liking Wilmar Shiras's "In Hiding" (1948), which is collected in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two B. Maybe that's because, if I recall correctly, its precocious superchild was a Boy Scout!
… (mais)
Stevil2001 | outras 3 resenhas | Jun 7, 2024 |
In this LOA volume, Mr Wolfe introduces 4 sci fi novels which he believes to be the best of sci fi writing near the end of the 1960s. Unfortunately, these stories faded away unable to sustain the attention of readers. Historically, they were deeply influenced by the times the stories were. Perhaps it is what makes the stories more compelling and interesting.
walterhistory | 1 outra resenha | Jun 17, 2023 |
LOA has published a series of sci-fi novels over 4 volumes covering the 50s and 60s. In this volume, 4 novels by different authors are intended to show the continuing evolution of sci-fi genre. Although these stories were relatively unknown at the time, they were unique in their own respective ways.
walterhistory | 1 outra resenha | Jun 16, 2023 |
These four novels are all considered classics of science fiction, or at least landmark books. I had never read either Lafferty's or Russ's. I found Past Master a bit of a let down, despite being very interested in both Thomas More and R.A. Lafferty. Picnic on Paradise was very good and has stood the test of time except for the fact that in today's context, it doesn't seem revolutionary to have a capable female protagonist. Nova was a reread for me and confirmed my memory of Delany's excellent. The same is true for Emphyrio.… (mais)
nmele | 1 outra resenha | Mar 20, 2023 |



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