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Csicsery-Ronay, Istvan

Entry updated 5 December 2022. Tagged: Author, Critic.

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(1950-    ) US teacher, editor, academic and critic, with DePauw University from 1983, full professor from 1997; he initially signed his name Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr, but began not to do so after the death of his father Istvan Csicsery-Ronay (1917-1990), also an author, who published in Hungarian. His overall involvement in sf, over and above his teaching activities, may be divided into two broad categories: his work as an editor, particularly as a founding editor of Science Fiction Studies, with which he remains involved; and his work as an academic scholar who has subtly studied individual sf writers (such as Philip K Dick), though his main importance may be his shaping anatomy of the SF Megatext in The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction (2008) as Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr. Though, as with almost any ambitious anatomization of any literary field, there are hints of parataxis in his mapping of sf into seven describable categories he calls beauties, his substantially analytical breakdown has proved very valuable to scholars. The seven beauties are "Fictive Neology", a modestly unsurprising survey of sf neologisms and their import; "Fictive Novums", which attempts (perhaps successfully) to wean sf scholarship from a too-literal dependence on Darko Suvin's cognitively punitive, materialist, monothetic concept of the Novum; "Future History", which is straightforward (see Future Histories; Ruins and Futurity); "Imaginary Science", a strong argument for the usefulness of concepts that may violate protocols of possibility (see Imaginary Science); "The Science-Fictional Sublime" (see Sense of Wonder); "The Science-Fictional Grotesque" (see Equipoise; Gothic SF); and The Technologiade (see Edisonade; Robinsonade), which fits with some slight discomfort into the array of beauties as it comes close at points to attempting to describe how stories – in this specific case the frontier-shaped pot-bound Western epic of technological conquest – actually work.

Critics unfamiliar with sf could very profitably begin to shed their expectations through a reading of The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, a text which is also useful for critics already familiar with the genre. Mutopia: Science Fiction and Fantastic Knowledge (coll 2022) more narrowly addresses the intercourse between historical "ideas" of Utopia and their "corruption" through narratives and time.

Csicsery-Ronay received the 2014 IAFA Award for distinguished scholarship. [JC]

Istvan Csicsery-Ronay

born Washington, District of Columbia: 6 January 1950


works as editor


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