Inner Space

Tagged: Theme

In sf Terminology, an antonym to "outer space". The term was probably first used in the sf field by Robert Bloch in a speech at the 1948 Worldcon, but was not widely disseminated at that time. However, in "They Come from Inner Space" (5 December 1953 The New Statesman) – an essay he later included in Thoughts in the Wilderness (coll 1957) – J B Priestley more conspicuously suggested that sf mistakenly attempted to explore "the other side of the Sun rather than . . . the hidden life of the psyche". "Beyond all these topical tales, fables and legends" lay "deep feelings of anxiety, fear, and guilt" which themselves required exploration. "Having ruined this planet," he continued, "we take destruction to other planets. This very extension in space of our activities is desolating, at least to minds that are not entirely childish, because it is a move, undertaken in secret despair, in the wrong direction." Whether J G Ballard's first use of the term in 1962 was a separate coining or reflected a memory of this essay, it is clear that he intended to designate something not dissimilar. (It is also possible that he had read "Invasion from Inner Space" [in Star Science Fiction #6, anth 1959, ed Frederik Pohl] by Howard Koch, a story about sceptical Computers revolutionizing society, but this is obviously a rather different usage.) The term soon became a commonplace, especially with reference to New-Wave writers who like Ballard came into prominence in the mid-1960s. [JC/PN]

see also: Dream Hacking; Great and Small; SF Music;.

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