Blog Archives


For the past few weeks, I have highlighted opinions masquerading as criticism that are at beast highly suspect from the view of 2017. One history of science fiction and fantastic fiction in general that is a joy to read is Lester del Rey’s The World of Science Fiction (Del Rey, 1979). Lester del Rey (born […]

Author Earnings recently released their statistics for 2016 book sales. As industry hands and book reading fans poured over the results, one of the more interesting facts is that science fiction sold the least of all the major categories. This is not a surprise to those who have been following the shrinking sales of the […]

1980 is often used as a dividing line between the time when a reader could pick up a rocketship book and expect science fiction and the time when he could pick up a rocketship book and get…something…else. The year comes up repeatedly, whether in comments on the Castalia House blog or through talk of Appendix […]

Instead of a book or movie review, this week I’m going to muse on the phenomenon of “Hard SF,” specifically the kind written after 1980. The autistic tendencies of Hard SF probably began with Larry Niven. Now, I’m very fond of Niven’s work. He’s one of those writers whose glaring deficiencies are compensated by great strengths. […]

Harry Harrison (1925-2012, born Henry Maxwell Dempsey) started out in illustration in 1946. He started selling fiction in 1950. He had been an editor for brief stints for some science fiction magazines. He is possibly best remembered for the “Stainless Steel Rat” with a criminal turned lawman series. The entry on Harrison in John Clute’s […]

We would, I think, agree that Margaret St. Clair is one of the (late) pulp era greats. Here is her autobiographical essay published in Fantastic Adventures (Ray Palmer ed.) in November 1946[1] to accompany her first published science fiction story: “A Rocket to Limbo.” There are a few notable things here, I think: First, notice […]

  The Lost Works columns propose to review the authors of Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, as it contains the backbone of what an older generation read and understood fantasy fiction to be, and what, until recently, all fond fans of fantasy would have recognized as their shared core of works. The series proper begins with […]

Last summer I reviewed a little book with the unassuming title of Mutiny in Space. Left to my own devices, I usually pick up books with big, grandiose titles like The Vindication of Man or The Big Event of Cosmic Importance with a Thing That Sounds All Powerful. Mutinies are all fine and good, but […]

Schuyler Hernstrom is someone you’ll want to keep your eyes on.  New to the scene, he’s already contributed outstanding stories to Cirsova and published Thune’s Vision, a collection of fantasy tales recommended by CH Blog regulars and recently, along with previous conversation subject Misha Burnett, been listed in house as one of the best short SF/F […]

L. Sprague de Camp (1907-2000) was another writer who went from writing fiction to book reviews, non-fiction articles and books, and biographies. If you look at his bibliography, non-fiction essays appear to outnumber the number of fictional stories he wrote. De Camp was part of the Campbellian revolution in the pages of Astounding Stories/Science Fiction […]

In the early days of the role playing hobby, particularly in the rapid expansion days when the craze was really starting to hit in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, there was a lot of jumping on the bandwagon. Games were rushed out not fully tested or other types of games had role playing elements […]

There’s been a lot of lively debate the last few weeks about the relative merits of things like pulp vs no pulp, and why the devil would you ever want to drink orange juice without pulp? Or worse, strain wonderful apple cider of all its suspended pulpy particles and turn it into apple juice…. Or, […]