This book, first published in 1980, examines issues such as the definition of the genre, its function as social criticism and as an embodiment and critique of the scientific outlook. In order to work towards a more comprehensive view of the genre, the author analyses science fiction by turns as a mode of popular literature, as a socially responsible and quasi-realistic form of writing, and as a home for a fantastic and parodic use of language. How much are ‘future histories’, to name but one type of SF, the answer to a frustration of the epic impulse? These questions and more are closely examined in this lively and informative book.

1. Working Daydreams, Workshop Definitions  2. The Sociology of the Genre  3. Science Fiction as Romance  4. Science Fiction as Fable  5. Science Fiction as Epic  6. Imitation and Novelty: An Approach Through SF Language  7. The Science-Fiction Course