In this wide-ranging series of essays, an award-winning science fiction critic explores how the related genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror evolve, merge, and finally "evaporate" into new and more dynamic forms. Beginning with a discussion of how literary readers "unlearned" how to read the fantastic during the heyday of realistic fiction, Gary K. Wolfe goes on to show how the fantastic reasserted itself in popular genre literature, and how these genres themselves grew increasingly unstable in terms of both narrative form and the worlds they portray. More detailed discussions of how specific contemporary writers have promoted this evolution are followed by a final essay examining how the competing discourses have led toward an emerging synthesis of critical approaches and vocabularies. The essays cover a vast range of authors and texts, and include substantial discussions of very current fiction published within the last few years.

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