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Ketterer, David

Entry updated 20 November 2023. Tagged: Author, Critic, Editor.

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(1942-    ) UK academic and author (with a DPhil from the University of Sussex); based for many years at Concordia University, Montreal; now in the UK. His New Worlds for Old: The Apocalyptic Imagination, Science Fiction, and American Literature (1974) interestingly, though utilizing a rather academic terminology, links apocalyptic themes in US Mainstream literature with similar obsessions in Genre SF. The Rationale of Deception in Poe (1979) covers the whole of Edgar Allan Poe's writing, including his Proto SF; the much briefer Edgar Allan Poe: Life, Work, and Criticism (1989 chap) is a useful primer. Frankenstein's Creation: The Book, the Monster, and Human Reality (1979) (see Frankenstein Monster; Mary Shelley) is another of Ketterer's later works which, to a degree, enlarge on the thesis of his first; his critical work is widely respected and by no means "one-note", but it does often return to the idea of "metaphorical transcendence". The Science Fiction of Mark Twain (anth 1984; rev vt Tales of Wonder 2003) [for further details see Checklist below], with 120 pages of Introduction and critical apparatus, is useful. Ketterer attracted much attention with Imprisoned in a Tesseract: The Life and Work of James Blish (1987), a critical biography of James Blish which went some way towards unpacking his contentious personality and his knotty work. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy (1992) (see Canada) is an important critical and historical survey of both English and French Canadian sf literature, and includes a bibliography.

Ketterer received the Pilgrim Award in 1996. In the early twenty-first century, he has been working on the life and work of John Wyndham, also a figure who has perplexed many; the full study is awaited with impatience. [PN]

see also: Critical and Historical Works About SF; Definitions of SF; Sense of Wonder; Women in SF.

David Anthony Theodor Ketterer

born Leigh-on-Sea, Essex: 13 June 1942



works as editor


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