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The Science of Fiction and the Fiction of Science: Collected Essays on SF Storytelling and the Gnostic Imagination by Frank McConnell, edited by Gary Westfahl, with a Foreword by Neil Gaiman, and Comments by Paul Alkon, Gregory Benford, Harold Bloom, Sheila Finch, Carl Freedman, Howard V. Hendrix, Bruce Kawin, Joseph D. Miller, Eric S. Rabkin, Mark Rose, and George Slusser. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishers, 2009. 222 pp.

In 2009, I published this book of essays by the late scholar, Frank McConnell. After his untimely death in 1999, his friends had often talked about assembling a book of his brilliant Eaton Conference essays, and when I finally had time to do so, I obtained permission from his widow, Celeste McConnell Barber, to edit the book, also adding a few related essays, and eleven colleagues' "Memories of Frank," to produce a book of a suitable length. The most time-consuming part of the project involved assembling a complete bibliography of this amazingly prolific author's innumerable publications.

Here is a the publisher's information about the book, and here is its Table of Contents:

Foreword by Neil Gaiman
Introduction by Gary Westfahl
Acknowledgments
I. Frank McConnell B.C.E. (Before Coming to Eaton)
1. Born in Fire: The Ontology of the Monster
2. Song of Innocence: The Creature from the Black Lagoon
3. H. G. Wells: Utopia and Doomsday
4. Realist of the Fantastic: H. G. Wells about/in/on the Movies
II. Slouching Toward Bedlam: The Early Eaton Essays
5. Sturgeon's Law: First Corollary
6. Boring Dates: Reflections on the Apocalypse Game
7. Frames in Search of a Genre
8. From Astarte to Barbie and Beyond: The Serious History of Dolls
9. The Playing Fields of Eden
10. It's Only a Paper Moon: Fantasy and the Professors
11. "Turn That Shit Down!" Or, How to Market an Underground
III: Gnostic Lunch: The Later Eaton Essays
12. Alimentary, My Dear Watson: Food and Eating in Scientific and Mystery Fiction
13. You Bet Your Life: Death and the Storyteller
14. Seven Types of Chopped Liver: My Adventures in the Genre Wars
15. The Missionary Physician, from Asclepius to Kervorkian
16. The Science of Fiction and the Fiction of Science:
A Storytelling Animal in an Inhospitable World
 
Epilogue: Memories of Frank by Paul Alkon, Gregory Benford, Harold Bloom, Sheila Finch, Carl Freedman, Howard V. Hendrix, Bruce Kawin, Joseph D. Miller, Eric S. Rabkin, Mark Rose, and George Slusser
 
A Bibliography of the Works of Frank McConnell
 
A Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Works Cited in the Text
 
Index

For those unfamiliar with his career, I also posted this brief biography of McConnell when the book was first published:

Frank D. McConnell: A Brief Biography

Frank D. McConnell, born in 1942, first distinguished himself in the 1960s as a graduate student in English at Yale University, where he studied under noted scholar and writer Harold Bloom and received his Ph.D. in 1968. After teaching at Cornell University, he was hired as professor of English at Northwestern University in 1971 and quickly made a name for himself with an outpouring of books and articles on an amazing variety of topics, including William Wordsworth, H. G. Wells, film, and contemporary American novelists. In 1977, for the first of four times, he served on the committee that awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. In 1982, he became an English professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and largely shifted to more lucrative and creative endeavors, including a regular column on the media for Commonweal magazine, book reviews for several major newspapers, and four detective novels. He also began presenting a series of brilliant and wildly amusing papers about science fiction at the annual J. Lloyd Eaton Conferences on Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, which were gathered together for the first time in 2009 and published under the title The Science of Fiction and the Fiction of Science: Collected Essays on SF Storytelling and the Gnostic Imagination along with a Foreword by longtime friend Neil Gaiman and tributes from eleven other friends and colleagues, including Harold Bloom and Gregory Benford. A man beloved for his wit and wisdom wherever he went, Frank McConnell died suddenly on January 17, 1999, ironically on the date that he was scheduled to present the Keynote Address at the 1999 Eaton Conference; the paper he had completed for the occasion, "The Science of Fiction and the Fiction of Science: A Storytelling Animal in an Inhospitable World," first became available to a wide audience in the aforementioned collection. McConnell was survived by his second wife, Celeste McConnell Barber, two children, and one stepson.

Finally, for those anxious to read more of Frank McConnell's prose, I compiled a list of links to his other works that were available online, but almost all of those links no longer work. But here are some McConnell items that can still be found:

"The Bard's Primal Scene." Review of Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being by Ted Hughes. Commonweal, 119:19 (November 6, 1992), 31-33.

"Epic Comics: Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman.'" Commonweal, 122:18 (October 20, 1995), 21-22.

"Fabulous, Fabulous California." Review of Vineland, by Thomas Pynchon. The Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1989, Book Review Section, 1, 7.

"Good and Plenty." Review of Mason and Dixon, by Thomas Pynchon. Commonweal, 124:14 (August 15, 1997), 20-22.

"A Killer Serial: Chris Carter's 'Millennium.'" Commonweal, 124:13 (July 18, 1997), 19-20.

"The Source of Our Selves." Review of Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, by Harold Bloom. Commonweal, 125:19 (November 6, 1998), 20-22.

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