Monday, October 7, 2019

The Rise And Fall Of American Science Fiction

What was it about Science Fiction that made it so fascinating to readers during the 1920s up until the 1960s?

I have my own theory.

Beginning in he 1920s America was experiencing the Great Depression.

People were looking for an escape from reality-any escape.

Dime novels, cheap tabloids and movies offered an inexpensive means by which audiences could experience flights of fancy-be they Westerns, Adventures, Crime and Justice, Historical and Science Fiction.

Of all the genres, Science Fiction offered the most imaginative escape. 

Imagine plying the space ways, visiting other planets, saving entire civilizations and the like.

As the decades progressed the world was plunged into World War II.  The grime reality of war could be supplanted by flights of fancy and thrilling tales of science harnessed for the good of mankind or Sci-Fi could be used as an allegory for the war.

The fifties brought prosperity and the belief that anything was possible.  The mighty American industrial machine, the government and private industry dared dream of space travel and visiting other worlds.

It also brought the fear of Atomic War-a nuclear holocaust and the dangers of radiation run rampant.

The 1950s gave way to the 1960s spiraling into social injustice, questioning authority, rebelliousness and speculations about alien societies, strange new life and traditions shattered.

Science Fiction boomed. 

Times changed as well as tastes and Sci-Fi found itself turning into a parody of itself and with a dwindling readership.  

The masses had spoken and thought-provoking and challenging Sci-Fi literature and films gave way to sill and trite stereotypes of the genre.

There were exceptions of course, but few and far between.  The status quo ruled and uniqueness dwindled.

In The Rise And Fall Of American Science Fiction, From The 1920s To The 1960s, author Gary Westfahl and McFarland Books look at 20th Century Science Fiction and how it changed over the decades to its current state. 

Careful consideration and study have gone into this book examining how the genre evolved, what contributed to its growth and shrinkage and the art, the sub-genres, the anthologies and impact Science Fiction experienced and contributed.

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