Erisman, Fred

Tagged: Author | Critic

(1937-    ) US academic and author of nonfiction work on American popular fiction, concentrating on the Western and on children's literature, though he has written on sf topics in Extrapolation and elsewhere. He is of sf interest primarily for two studies. Boys' Books, Boys' Dreams, and the Mystique of Flight (2006) (see Airplane Boys; Airship Boys) usefully analyses several sf series, beginning with Harry Lincoln Sayler's Airship Boys sequence from 1909, while placing them in a larger context; his coverage is moderately complete as far as Children's SF goes, including discussions of such authors as Eustace L Adams, Isaac Asimov writing as Paul French, Weldon J Cobb, Irving Crump, Howard R Garis, Van Powell and others; though some relevant figures, like E J Craine, are not mentioned. He also discusses later authors, like John Blaine and Robert A Heinlein, but outside the frame of the boys' series. The accompanying checklists are very useful.

The second study, From Birdwomen to Skygirls: American Girls' Aviation Stories (2009), sympathetically treats early girls' aviation stories, in which girl pilots and even inventors are common, as releasers for young women from societal restrictions (and from constricting clothes). There is little sf in these stories, and little hint anywhere of the Edisonade. Sadly, as part of the post-World War Two campaign in America to return females to their proper place – women having proved themselves entirely capable of "men's" work during the years of combat – girls were banished from cockpits and from working as mechanics or inventors; from this point on, girls' aviation series dealt with stewardesses. [JC]

see also: Club Story.

Fred Erisman

born 1937

died

works (selected)

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