Shippey argues that SF requires more effort to read, due to the density of nova in SF. He shows that fully interpreting a passage of SF requires calling on more background knowledge and making bigger intuitive leaps.
He argues, further, that in addition to being intellectually challenging, SF is ideologically challenging. SF has no sacred cows: not contemporary society, not books, not art.
Slusser posits that the emergence of SF is due to a combination of scientific and social factors, and that it might be fruitfut to consider it as a gradual process, rather than starting suddenly with Frankenstein, the oft-cited progenitor.
Slusser examine's E. T. A. Hoffmann's "The Sandman", a fairy tale, as an example of something that might have been known as science fiction. The finer details of the argument are lost to me--probably I need to read the story and then revisit this segment.
Slusser discusses Wells' "The Stolen Bacillus", a story which in which an anarchist threatens to spread a deadly cholera in London, and "The Flowering of the Strange Orchid", a sort of plant vampire story.
What were the first sf plague stories? The SF encyclopedia can probably answer this.
Gernsback created his zines with the goal of interesting young people in science, but the focus on adventure stories led to the science being left by the wayside.
This history isn't easy to read. It jumps around and names a bunch of names, but it doesn't give me a solid understanding of what changes were in fact occurring, nor am I likely to remember most of the details in a few weeks or months. At best, a note for the future: look here for some names involved in certain changes in SF.
Utopian stories are common, and elements of the Utopian appear everywhere. To narrow our focus, a definition by Darko Suvin is offered:
Then, a somewhat broader definition by Lyman Tower Sargent:
This is elaborated upon by delineating several kinds of Utopian story, according to the intentions of the author.
The eutopian or positive Utopian story describes a society that the author intends "a contemporaneous reader to view as considerably better than the society in which that reader lived."
In a dystopian or negative Utopian story, the author intends the reader to view the society "as considerably worse than the society in which that reader lived."
In a Utopian satire, the society is meant "as a criticism of that contemporar society."
In an anti-Utopian story, it is meant "as a criticism of Utopianism or of some particular eutopian."
Finally, in a critical Utopian, the society is "better than contemporary society but with difficult problems that the described society may or may not be able to solve and which takes a critical view of the Utopian genre."
Bellamy's Looking Backward was hugely influential, inspiring a torrent of replies and imitators, and effecting some real-world social change.
Utopian works mentioned: