Type Book
Date 1987-04
Pages 290
Series Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy (25)
Tags science fiction, nonfiction

Foundations of Science Fiction: A Study in Imagination and Evolution

Pierce traces the development of themes and story structure in sf from utopian proto-sf, through so-called 'gothic sf' like Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, concerned with sin and punishment, on to space opera and future history. Though anglo-centric, it includes some information about French, German, and Russian sf.

In the early pages, when treating utopian fiction, Pierce did not give enough detail, and at the end, the multiple pages devoted to e.g. Asimov's Foundation series or Niven's Known Space series were excessive. The middle of the book was a happy medium.

The book is probably best viewed as an annotated bibliography of certain themes; its analysis, of necessity for a book with such a broad scope, is too shallow to make it of much use outside that.

Name Role
Frederik Pohl Foreword
Greenwood Press, Inc. Publisher
John J. Pierce Author


Foreword by Frederik Pohl ix
Preface xiii
Part One: In the Beginning
    1: Before the Dawn 3
    2: Embryonic Science Fiction 15
Part Two: The Creation of a Genre
    3: Verne and the Verneans 33
    4: Eminent (?) Victorians 51
    5: In Search of a World View 67
    6: The Prophet Wells 85
Part Three: The Universe of Science Fiction
    7: Created Worlds 109
    8: Created Universes 129
Part Four: The Shape of Things to Come
    9: Utopias of Two Cultures 155
    10: Pavements on the Road to Hell 167
    11: The Day After Tomorrow 179
    12: Enemies of the System 191
    13: The History of the Future 203
Notes 225
Bibliography 239
Index 275