Review of The World of Science Fiction 1926-1976: “But What Good Is It?”

Cover image of Lester Del Rey’s “The World of Science Fiction 1926-1976

Finally finished The World of Science Fiction 1926-1976 by Lester Del Rey and I must say it is both very informative, and for long stretches, pretty boring.

This is one of two (probably) reviews, and today’s write up is the most “controversial” of the two.

The book was published in 1980 so 40 years of science fiction have passed since Del Rey opined “But What Good Is It?” in the 34th chapter. To Del Rey, the purpose of science fiction was to entertain, but then he remarked on page 348:

What disturbs me more is the whole concept of purpose as applied to any literature. To the Marxists, intent upon subordinating everything to the good of the state, the arts must serve a direct purpose of life — usually propaganda, I’m afraid. But why people in this country accept such Marxist ideas is a puzzle.

Del Rey died on May 10, 1993, about 13 years after penning this tome, and I’m glad he didn’t see what’s happening to field of science fiction today.

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