Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index


to e-mail us:

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK


the Complete Review
the complete review - essay

The Dreams our Stuff is made of

Thomas M. Disch

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase The Dreams our Stuff is made of

Title: The Dreams our Stuff is made of
Author: Thomas M. Disch
Genre: Essay
Written: 1998
Length: 226 pages
Availability: The Dreams our Stuff is made of - US
The Dreams our Stuff is made of - UK
The Dreams our Stuff is made of - Canada

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B- : interesting though flawed overview of science fiction.

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Atlantic Monthly . 6/1998 Phoebe-Lou Adams
Booklist A 1/4/1998 Ray Olson
The NY Times B- 30/4/1998 Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
The NY Times Book Rev. B 9/8/1998 Alexander Star
San Francisco Chronicle A 5/7/1998 Robert Sheckley
USA Today B 23/7/1998 Michael Jacobs
Washington Post B 31/5/1998 Gregory Feeley

  From the Reviews:
  • "This is the jumbled, absorbing notebook of a convert and a skeptic" - Alexander Star, The New York Times Book Review

  • "More than just a history, Disch gives us a sense of the events and moods that are so much a part of science-fiction. (...) Disch, long a talented science-fiction novelist and now better known as a distinguished literary critic for journals including the Nation, has covered the vital aspects of the field in a highly readable book." - Robert Sheckley, San Francisco Chronicle

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       We like the title (and we'll let it slide that it should be on not of). We accept the subtitle: How Science Fiction conquered the World. We are a bit confused about what it all means. Disch's book rambles around its subject, name-dropping left and right. Is it a survey of sci-fi ? Sort of. A history of sci-fi ? Yes, for a while, in part. A book on the influence of sci-fi ? In parts. And there is more. Disch knows what he is talking about, generally -- though he is opinionated (but honest enough to make it clear what his leanings are) -- and his style is generally quite readable. His connections between sci-fi and radical (looney ?) politics are well presented, but that is just one focus -- and too much is a blur.
       Our biggest disagreement with the book, and one that is enough to sink the whole thing for us, is that Disch does not once mention the only science fiction writer who is actually a writer of literary significance and note: Stanislaw Lem. (There are other sci-fi writers who have written works of literary worth, but none has even come close to equalling the breadth, quality, and significance of Lem's oeuvre.)
       Disch revels in sci-fi's mediocrity, explaining how it always has been geared to the 12 year old mind, but we do not accept this as entirely valid. His arguments are interesting but hardly convincing. Too often we were uncertain what he was trying to convince us of anyway .....

       Disch himself is here speaking to a more mature audience, but he doesn't quite know how to raise himself out of the muck, ultimately leaving the book an entertaining curiosity but not much more.

- Return to top of the page -


Reviews: Thomas Disch: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       Prolific American author Thomas M. Disch (1940-2008) wrote numerous acclaimed novels (including 334 and Camp Concentration), as well as volumes of poetry, criticism, children's books (including The Brave Little Toaster), plays, and even the libretto to Gregory Sandow's opera, The Fall of the House of Usher.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2000-2010 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links