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Pierce, John J

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Critic, Fan.

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(1941-    ) US editor and critic, son of John R Pierce, with a background in Fandom, editor of a Fanzine, Renaissance, in the 1960s, and at that time author of reasoned polemical articles about the damage he saw being wrought on sf by writers of the New Wave. Pierce edited Galaxy November 1977-March/April 1979, years in which through no special fault of his the magazine was rapidly declining. Later he published an ambitious sequence of critical books about sf, A Study in Imagination and Evolution, which together form a kind of History of SF: Foundations of Science Fiction: A Study in Imagination and Evolution (1987), which deals mostly with Proto SF, Great Themes of Science Fiction: A Study in Imagination and Evolution (1987), When World Views Collide (1989) and Odd Genre: A Study in Imagination and Evolution (1994). These may deserve more discussion than they appear to have received. Pierce's prose is accessible and the books are well organized, but their ideology is deeply conservative in the sense that he vies non-Genre SF as effectively not sf at all, though his focus – here and elsewhere – on writers like Lois McMaster Bujold, Kim Stanley Robinson, Cordwainer Smith and Robert Charles Wilson demonstrates the intelligence behind the sequence's strong bias toward Hard SF; his advocacy of the different ways in which sf has invented the future is intelligent and measured. Much of the analysis is thematic, some philosophical; his view of the evolution of sf incorporates a sometimes explicit assumption of progress: as a tree with evolving branches. As of 2012, a revised version of the sequence is in preparation. [PN/JC]

see also: Greenwood Press.

John Jeremy Pierce

born New York: 3 November 1941



A Study in Imagination and Evolution


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