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