Looking for old nonfiction about SFF

Sargeant_Fox

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For months now I've been dipping into two recent books of essays by Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen, which are largely about their interest in the occult, the supernatural, and reflections of the craft of writing. Let me say I'm a huge fan of literary essays; for me a book of essays by Borges, Nabokov or William H. Gass is sheer joy. But until recently I hadn't thought about reading nonfiction from authors of fantasy, horror or sci-fi. In trying to remedy that I've been searching for old nonfiction (say before 1980) where they discuss the craft of genre writing, analyze former practitioners or explore the philosophical aspects that underlie these genres.

So far I've come up with:

Algernon Blackwood's The Lure of the Unknown: Essays on the Strange (Swan River Press, 2023)
Arthur Machen, Hieroglyphics and Other Essays (Hippocampus Press, 2022)
George MacDonald, "The Imagination: Its Functions and Its Culture", 1867
George MacDonald, "The Fantastic Imagination", 1893
G. K. Chesterton, "A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls", 1901
G. K. Chesterton, "George Macdonald and His Work", 1901
G. K. Chesterton, "George MacDonald", 1905
G. K. Chesterton, "The Red Angel", 1909
H. P. Lovecraft, "Supernatural Horror in Literature", 1927 (and others by him of course)
M. R. James, “Stories I Have Tried to Write”, 1929
M. R. James, “Ghosts, Treat Them Gently!”, 1931
Mary Butts, "Ghosts and Ghoulies: The Uses of the Supernatural in English Fiction", 1933
J. R. R. Tolkien, "On Fairy-Stories", 1939
Ursula K. Le Guin, "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie", 1973
Brian Aldiss (ed.), Hell's Cartographers - Some Personal Histories of Science Fiction Writers, 1975
Michael Moorcock, "Epic Pooh", 1978

I haven't checked it out yet, but I'm assuming Marjorie Bowen's The Grey Chamber: Stories and Essays (Hippocampus Press, 2021) contains her thoughts on horror fiction.

I'd be much obliged if you could add to this; it can be any kind of nonfiction: essay, interview, introductions, prefaces, etc.
 
In Search of Wonder: Essays on Modern Science Fiction (1956) by Damon Knight; expanded edition 1967.


Billion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction (1973) by Brian Aldiss; expanded edition (Trillion Year Spree) 1986, with David Wingrove.


The Craft of Science Fiction: A Symposium on Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy (1977) edited by Reginald Bretnor, with essays by a whole bunch of famous names in the field.

Science Fiction: What It's All About (1971) by Sam J. Lundwall.

The Engines of the Night: Science Fiction in the Eighties (1982) by Barry Malzberg.

The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction (1977) by Samuel R. Delany.

The Issue at Hand (1964) and More Issues at Hand (1970) by James Blish, writing as William Atheling, Jr.
 
New Maps of Hell (1960) Kingsley Amis
The Encyclopedia of Sciemce Fiction (1979, 1993, online from 2011) eds Nichols, Clute, Langford.
 
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In Search of Wonder: Essays on Modern Science Fiction (1956) by Damon Knight; expanded edition 1967.

Billion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction (1973) by Brian Aldiss; expanded edition (Trillion Year Spree) 1986, with David Wingrove.

The Engines of the Night: Science Fiction in the Eighties (1982) by Barry Malzberg.

The Issue at Hand (1964) and More Issues at Hand (1970) by James Blish, writing as William Atheling, Jr.

Seconded. Also, if you can get your hands on Fantasists on Fantasy, you'll find a lot of what you're interested in.

I'd also add Ursula K. Le Guin's The Language of the Night.

A bit tangential to your request, if you haven't come across S. T. Joshi's H. P. Lovecraft: Four Decades of Criticism, it's an interesting overview of the critics in favor of him, and the critics who were not, at least up to the late 1970s. Also, Fritz Leiber and H. P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Dark which combines some of Leiber's fiction with commentary and excerpts from correspondence between the two.
 
Thanks everyone for all the suggestions so far.

Breakfast in the Ruins by Barry N Malzberg an overview of science Fiction from the earliest times all the way up to the present. He's also one the of the giants of Science fiction .
 
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I can't see any of these listed above, but I may have missed them...

My personal favourites are the series of interviews by Charles Platt. The interviews are variable of course and may tend to the autobiographical
Dream Makers: interviews by Charles Platt (aka Who writes Science Fiction)
Dream Makers Volume II: interviews by Charles Platt
There's also a "Best of" edition with updates: Dream Makers by Charles Platt

I also like very much another series of interviews: Speaking of Science Fiction by Paul Walker

There's also the wonderful "Past Masters and Other Bookish Natterings" by the late great Bud Webster. However these are more about an overview of each writer's work rather than an analysis of their craft.

This one tends to the more philosophical analysis, and is largely unread by me: Voices for the Future: Essays on Major Science Fiction Writers. Editor, Thomas D. Clareson
 
Charles Platt Who Writes Science Fiction? 1981

(Which, as an aside, reminds me that one should never lend books to people if one wants to see them again. :rolleyes: )

Perfectly synchronised posting there @Hugh :giggle:
 
Charles Platt Who Writes Science Fiction? 1981

(Which, as an aside, reminds me that one should never lend books to people if one wants to see them again. :rolleyes: )
Ha! Curious that! I beat you to it by 30 seconds. I love that book, but I can assure you I don't have your copy.
 
Ha! Curious that! I beat you to it by 30 seconds. I love that book, but I can assure you I don't have your copy.

Because you've hidden it under the coffee table .;)
 
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