An excellent post on the creation of “science fiction” and it’s impact on Jeffro’s “pulp revolution” at Castalia House
This is where we start to really see science fiction emerge as a term for a distinct genre, not so much because of clear differences between these stories and the other material being produced at the time (planetary romances, weird tales, science and sorcery, space opera with the Flash Gordon vibe) but as a marketing category: it was now clear that there really was a market for stories that did what Gernsback (and Wilson) wanted, and the industry – newly expanding into the fresh sales categories of inexpensive pocket-sized paperbacks – was eager to supply.
You can even see the effect if you want: Google’s ngram viewer
shows the curve for the frequency of the use of “science fiction” in their database of digitized texts:
None of the common terms for genre are particularly common until science fiction starts to take off in the early 1940s – it sees healthy growth right up until 1960, and then – WHAM – it explodes!
Is it a coincidence that this explosion of awareness of “science fiction” as a category coincides with the era in which publishing was consolidating, bookstore franchises were growing, and the value of systematizing the way books were marketed was understood, the approach applied? It’s certainly not
a coincidence that it coincides with Donald Wollheim’s masterful application of new printing options to both revitalize old, beloved classics and
discover a bevy of amazing new authors while editor for Avon and Ace, and later with his own imprint at DAW.
The bloggers at Castalia House have really picked up their game in an impressive fashion. In my opinion, they have made a very credible run at Black Gate for the title of Best SF/F Site on a daily basis, so credible that I think it would be virtually impossible to say which is the more can’t-miss site from one day to the next.
I’ll freely admit that last year, there were occasionally times that days would go by before I would visit Castalia House. But ever since Jeffro brought on the new bloggers and committed to ensuring multiple daily posts, I don’t think I’ve missed a day of reading it. And the discussions are every bit as lively as the discourse here, if considerably more esoteric.
Great job, gentlemen.