By: Dale Knickerbocker (editor)
Release Date: June 4, 2018
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
Lingua Cosmica: Science Fiction from Around the World is an academic book. This isn’t a novel or even a generic non-fiction title. This is a book by academics about science fiction writers from countries other than the United States. These authors are giants of the genre, the sort of authors whose works change science fiction in that region.
Some of these authors are familiar or half familiar names, people like Cixin Liu who won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Others I’d never heard of despite being the sort of authors I should have, either due to particularly prolific careers, having immense influence on science fiction, or simply because the books outlined within these essays sound like the exact sort of book I usually love. Not all of these authors have their works translated into English. In fact, the vast majority have not. Cixin Liu is an outlier in this regard. Many of the others do not have many or, at times, any of their books translated into English. This is a great shame and is, in part, exactly why Lingua Cosmica exists.
Certain essays I enjoyed more than others. Despite being very interesting in their own right, I felt as if one or two of the essays strayed a bit from the given topic for several pages before wrapping back around to their originally outlined point. Even then, I did enjoy reading these essays.
Perhaps this gripe is a bit trivial, but I do need to mention the use of endnotes. Each essay has its footnotes and bibliography in the form of endnotes. I am firmly on team footnotes forever; I do not enjoy flipping back and forth to endnotes. This does not effect my overall rating of the book, but it is worth mentioning. The end of the book does include a pretty extensive index. There is also a section at the end of the book that has short biographies on each of the essayists for those curious as to their careers.
I’m glad this book was written. I’m glad that academics are talking about science fiction more. However much bloggers, authors, and publishers scream from the rooftops about books, academia, at times, does not, which the editor mentions in the introduction. Now they have, and, perhaps, they will do so more often.
I can’t say that this book is for everyone. Lingua Cosmica does read very academically. If this isn’t something you enjoy, do be warned. Still, this is a very interesting book that talks about some very interesting authors and their work.