What do reviews do?

The last post was on options for people seeking review outlets for their publications on SF, or alternatively, looking for outlets for whom they might write such reviews. What it didn’t address was what those reviews actually do.

When you’re slogging through the writing of a book, it can be difficult to remain motivated sometimes, especially if that book is an academic text. Once upon a time, I was a journalist, and I would spend a few hours writing an article I knew literally millions of people would read. Now? I spend years writing something that perhaps measures its readership in the hundreds.

So, you find motivation where you can. Imagining a positive response from that small but focused readership is one way. You may dream, perhaps foolishly, that the book once finished will be truly understood by the few who encounter it. That it might persuade, change their thinking, provoke thoughts of their own.

Sometimes, if you are really very fortunate, your book will find such a reader. If fortune compounds itself positively, they may even be motivated to review it. And then you might have that extraordinary experience of seeing someone engage positively and constructively with your work.

I am thankful therefore to Rhodri Davies for being such a reviewer: critically astute, carefully analytical, and positively engaged in his encounter with my book on Science Fiction and Catholicism. I’m also thankful to Foundation, the journal of the Science Fiction Foundation, for publishing his review.

Unlike reviews of, say popular fiction, which are aimed at either enhancing or eroding sales, reviews of academic studies aren’t going to tilt the dial of books sold, and in any case, no academic ever made their fortune out of book sales. Few make anything at all. Rather, when you see your book reviewed, what you’re hoping for is that someone got what you were saying, whether they agreed or not.

Rhodri got it. I hope you will too, if you choose to read it.

Where can I get my book on SF reviewed?

This is a follow-up of sorts to the previous article on outlets for publishing book-length SF criticism.

Ok, so now you’ve published your book. It’s out. The beautiful hardcopy is in your hands. You want people to know that it exists. What do you do?

This is a book on SF that I wrote. I’m currently working on obtaining reviews for it. It took five years to write so it’s probably worth a little while attempting to let the world know about it, right?

Well, firstly your publisher should have a publicity department or at least a person who assumes responsibility for that role. Speak with them. In fact, many publishers will be pro-active about this, and request that you provide some suggestions for publicity in your original pitch or proposal document. So by the time you’ve published your book, this is already something that you and your publisher ought to have thought about.

Again, depending on the exact nature of your book, there are potential outlets beyond the SF-specific niche of journals and publications. You know your book best, and should be able to identify some of those publications.

In relation to SF, potential review outlets fall into two broad categories – academic journals and non-academic journals. This is not a quality distinction so much as a technical one. Both will let potential interested readers know about your book. But academic journals will be aggregated in academic journal aggregators, which could trigger citations, which in turn may or may not be an important issue for you. If, for example, you’re trying to make a case for tenure at a university, this may be a big deal.

Anyhow, and as previously this is FAR from exhaustive, here are some potential review outlets for monographs or other books on SF criticism.

Foundation – This has been running since the early Seventies and is an official publication of the Science Fiction Foundation. As of the time of writing (ie January 2021), Paul March-Russell is editor, and Allen Stroud is reviews editor. That’s who to contact and their contact info is here.

Extrapolation – is even longer established, dating from the Fifties. It’s currently published by Liverpool University Press, who also manage a significant series of SF criticism in book form. D. Harlan Wilson is the reviews editor, but Andrew Butler may be worth contacting from a British/European perspective also.

For publications dealing with visual SF, LUP also publish Science Fiction Film and Television (and are also actively seeking reviewers.) Contact the editors at gerrycanavan@gmail.com and dhasslerforest@gmail.com.

Science Fiction Studies is the big SF journal stateside. It’s currently edited by Arthur Evans, who is probably also a good person to contact about your book.

Fafnir is a great little journal published out of Scandinavia. Dennis Wise, who is based in America (and who would like you to know is NOT the former Chelsea footballer!) is the current reviews editor and a good man to contact about your book.

Ancillary Review of Books specialises in SF and other fantastikal genres. They’re well worth checking out. You can find out about their editorial collective and who to talk to about reviewing your book here.

Hélice is another Europe-based journal, and is associated with the excellent Sci-Phi journal. The distinction is that Sci-Phi publishes fiction and essays, whereas Hélice publishes reviews, in Spanish and English. You should look to contact Mariano Martín Rodríguez (martioa@yahoo.com); Sara Martín Alegre (Sara.Martin@uab.cat) or Mikel Peregrina Castaños (peretorian@gmail.com)

Vector is the critical journal of the BSFA and it is currently edited by Polina Levontin and Jo Lindsay Walton, along with occasional guest editors. They are open to submissions on a rolling basis. To query, contact vector.submissions@gmail.com. They don’t have a standing body of reviewers, but it’s a great journal and worth speaking to them in the hope that a review might be able to be arranged.

Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts is a well-established stateside journal which looks at SF in all media. Jeffrey A. Weinstock is the current reviews editor, while for reviews of works in languages other than English, it is recommended to contact David Dalton.

MOSF Journal of Science Fiction is relatively recently established and closely associated with the Museum of Science Fiction in Washington DC. The journal’s managing editor, Aisha Matthews, is the best principal contact.

Primarily in German language, Die Zeitschrift für Fantastikforschung (ZFF) is a major peer-reviewed European SF journal. Information on the editorial team can be found here.

It’s also worth talking to some of the many SF publications out there too of course, and perhaps to other literary and even more general publications, depending on the exact topic and remit of your book.

Many SF publications are happy to review academic texts on SF. Among those who welcome such reviews are Proxima, published in Denmark, and the long-running and well-respected Strange Horizons.

It’s worth considering publications which do not specialise in SF too. For example, the general literary journal, the Los Angeles Review of Books is traditionally friendly to SF as a genre and has published many articles and reviews on SF themes over the years.

As always, do some due diligence by actually reading journals and publications before contacting them cold, and don’t be upset if a) they can’t find a reviewer for your book; b) have too many reviews pending to consider reviewing it or c) the review isn’t exactly what you hoped for. Such is life.

I hope this is of help, and as before, I will amend as I gather new pertinent information and attempt to keep this current.

Messels about the Molodoy

While researching my forthcoming book on Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, I came across mention of Molodoy, a shortlived Sheffield punk band of quasi-fascist tendencies whose schtick was that they appeared in full droog regalia on stage.

Molodoy is the Nadsat term for young, though it is barely used in the novel. Burgess did however use it extensively in one of his many revisits to the world of Alex, when he conducted an interview with his own creation entitled “A Malenky Govoreet about the Molodoy” in 1987, which can be found in the 2012 Corrected Edition of the novel as edited by Professor Andrew Biswell, or online here for now.

Judging by the information in this article on Dangerous Minds, the band Molodoy sound like they were right charmers. Some members later went on to form the disturbingly named Dachau Choir. Anyhow, their cover of ‘Tomorrow Belongs To Me’ does strike one as a note of sour and deranged genius.

Molodoy were far from the only band to derive inspiration from Burgess’s novel. In fact a large host of musical artists have either named themselves after aspects of the novel, or else written songs inspired by it.

But for Burgess, we might never have had Moloko, Moloko Knives, The Devotchkas, The Droogs, Campag Vellocet or Korova (which refers to both a band and a record label). And of the ten fictional bands mentioned within the work, at least five have had their names appropriated by real-life groups: Heaven 17, Johnny Zhivago, The Humpers, The Sparks and The Legend.

Molodoy may have been mentioned at the Kingston University conference on A Clockwork Orange a couple of years back, I seem to remember. Perhaps they’ll also feature in the forthcoming essay collection being edited by Matt Melia.

SF and Catholicism on the New Books Network

I’m archiving the interview I did with the delightful, professional and highly astute Carrie Anne Evans for the New Books Network here.

Carrie Anne was an excellent interviewer, very well researched and informed, and asked some great questions. There are pro media interviewers who could learn a lot from how she goes about her work.

Interview conducted for New Books Network; aired first November 8th 2019.

Rewriting Shakespeare in the Sixties and other inventions

The ongoing project to map Anthony Burgess’s OTHER invented languages continues over at Ponying the Slovos.

In the latest segment, we look at Burgess’s often overlooked dystopia, The Wanting Seed, written around the same time as A Clockwork Orange, as well as his superb novel on Shakespeare’s love-life, Nothing Like The Sun, and the second volume of his perennially popular Enderby series, which features a variant of Strine, the lingo of Straya.

If any of that interests you, it can be found here.

Where can I publish my book on Science Fiction criticism?

I was asked this by a colleague who wanted to turn their doctoral thesis into a monograph. That in itself is not a straightforward task, and there are guides elsewhere on the web discussing that process. In short, a thesis is not a book (yet).

Anyhow, once a book is in sight, or at least in the planning, the next question arises as to where to publish it? SF criticism is not as marginalised as it once was, and there are now quite a few academic publishers with specialist series looking at the genre.

I collated the following list, which I emphasise is far from exhaustive, as potential starting points for my colleague. I’m sharing it here after a commenter on the ever excellent London SF research community Facebook page suggested it might be of use to others. If I encounter anything which looks relevant, I may return to edit this and add things later.

Do note that it really ISN’T exhaustive. There are many other options too, depending on the type of book you may have in mind. Biographies of major authors have traction beyond academic publishers for example. Books on popular TV or cinematic SF might do likewise. Even academic critical texts on SF may find a home outside these specialist series. A book on religious futurism for example may well find a home in a series on theology rather than on SF, for example.

Other publishers, such as Oxford UP, Cambridge UP, Bloomsbury and so on will often publish SF criticism without necessarily including it in a specific dedicated series. Bloomsbury for example list over 200 SF-themed texts on their website. So this resource really is just a starting point for someone looking for a place to publish their text.

As always, do your own due diligence, and remember that it’s better to find an editorial team who you like working with and who are supportive of your book than to go with the allegedly prestigious or prolific imprint which may process your book as in a sausage factory, or fail to promote it among a lengthy roster.

(For that very reason, I went with Gylphi for my book on SF and Catholicism, even though they may not be the most prestigious or established of academic publishers, because their small attentive team really prioritised and helped me produce the best possible iteration of my idea, and I felt really supported throughout the whole process.)


And on that note, don’t forget you’ll have to do a lot of promotion of your book yourself these days, including identifying potential review outlets. I believe the LSFRC might be looking at producing a resource on that too, which I for one would welcome.

Without further ado, in no particular order…

Series NamePublisherEditorsSample publication/ additional information
Liverpool Science Fiction Texts and StudiesLiverpool University PressDavid Seed, Sherryl VintA longstanding series – 69 publications to date, many by leading SF scholars – innovative but can take a conservative approach at times.
Wesleyan Science Fiction / Literary CriticismWesleyan University PressArthur B. EvansPublish anthologies and early classics editions as well as critical monographs. Closely connected to SF Studies journal.
Modern Masters of Science FictionUniversity of Illinois PressGary K. WolfeMonographs series focusing on individual SF authors. The press also publishes other SF-related texts, including a trilogy of Ray Bradbury biographies
Gylphi SF StoryworldsGylphi PressPaul March-RussellAn innovative and eclectic series of SF monographs and critical essay collections, spanning literature and other media.
World Science Fiction StudiesPeter LangSonja Fritzsche and Gerry CanavanRelatively new series of monographs focusing on postcolonial and decolonised topics. Be warned, the publisher may seek a payment contribution from the author.
Studies in Global Genre FictionRoutledgeTaryne Jade Taylor and Bodhisattva ChattopadhyayNew series which examines global iterations of genre fictions, open to receiving proposals relating to global SF
Studies in Global Science FictionPalgrave MacmillanAnindita Banerjee, Rachel Haywood Ferreira, and Mark BouldRapidly establishing series which focuses on localised iterations of global SF, publishing single author monographs and edited collections.
Ralahine Utopian StudiesPeter LangRaffaella Baccolini, Antonis Balasopoulos, Joachim Fischer, Michael J. Griffin, Naomi Jacobs, Michael G. Kelly, Tom Moylan and Phillip E. WegnerTwenty volumes to date, examining utopian studies in general and not solely in a SF context, though many are reprints of classic utopian studies texts.


Remiss of me to omit McFarland’s longstanding series on ‘Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy’, which has been going for over 15 years now and is one of the most prolific series out there, with over 70 books (most of which are SF.) They cast their net wide, and it inevitably contains a lot of things like mythology and Tolkien which are somewhat distant from SF. Notably open to monographs, edited collections, biographies and even critically edited reprint volumes of neglected works. Edited by Donald Palumbo.

New Dimensions in Science Fiction, eds. Pawel Frelik and Patrick B. Sharp, University of Wales Press, which has published six texts to date, including examinations of Indian SF, early SF feminism and, intriguingly, Plants in SF.

New Suns: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Speculative, eds. Susana M. Morris and Kinitra D. Brooks, Ohio State University Press, which to date has specialised in Afrofuturism criticism but has a remit to look at other forms of (marginalised) identity in SF and cognate fields.

Tentatively adding Routledge’s new series “Studies in Speculative Fiction” which to date has published two quite different texts with more forthcoming, and advertises a remit of “literatures from all around the word that fall within the speculative fiction umbrella, including but not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, horror, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, utopian/dystopian literatures, and supernatural fiction.” The editors for this series have not been identifiable.

For more options, see Jo Walton’s extensive comment below.

In addition to Nadsat

I’m the co-director of the Ponying the Slovos project which looks at invented languages in translation, predominantly focusing on Nadsat, the teen slang of Alex in Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange.

But Burgess didn’t just invent one language for his fiction. In fact, like Tolkien before him, he invented quite a few. So we thought late last year it was time to take a look at the others, and try to explain how they function and what they’re made of.

It was only intend to be a quick overview, but about 10,000 words or so later, we realised we’d have to split this work up into smaller chunks so as to be more easily digestible on a blog format. As a result, the first part of a series of eight posts on Anthony Burgess’s other invented languages can now be found on Ponying the Slovos.

There will, as you might have surmised, be seven more to follow. If the languages of aliens, stone age man, Jesus Christ, William Shakespeare, the streets of 19th century Rome, Australia, Sicily or Medieval Latin blasphemers is of interest, it’s a series which may intrigue you.