Dangerous Visions and New Worlds

My parents were American and I was brought up on science fiction. My 1970 birth meant that the stories I read were filled with time-travelling spaceships, psychotropic drugs and thinly disguised metaphors about Vietnam. The New Wave was a movement that mixed countercultural ideas with science fiction. I grew up in this shadow.

It is the best part about Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950–1985PM Press’s unorthodox but insightful anthology of essays, titled. It covers the New Wave. Instant without limiting itself to the New Wave Movement. The most talented New Wave writers are covered here—there are essays on J.G. Ballard, Octavia Butler, Barry Malzberg, and others—but so are TV tie-ins and porny paperbacks, showing how such ideas seeped through society.

Editors also recognize that not all experimentalists were on the left. Nick Mamatas’ appreciation of R.A. Lafferty (a Catholic reactionary with rock-ribbed Catholicism), is one of Nick’s best essays. His bizarre stories are “too weird to be published by the mainstream literary and popular tributaries.”

Robert Heinlein is also present, although he was part of the Old Guard that was challenging the New Wave. This essay compares Heinlein’s and Heinlein’s memorable novels about extraplanetary Anarchist Communities. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Ursula LeGuin’s The Destitute. Heinlein’s individualist andarchism are more distinct than the similarities that LeGuin’s collectivist. But both books were products of the same historical moment, and—I speak from experience—both could have similar effects on a young reader.