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.)

SFCatholicism

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.

Addendum:

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.

Stranger in a Brave New World

Recently I’ve been researching Heinlein, for the ongoing project on Buddhist futurism, but also in light of Farah Mendelsohn’s recent book, which I have sitting on the shelf, waiting to be read properly.

I thought it would be worth catching up on existing criticism of Heinlein first before tackling her magnum opus, so among other things, I picked up a copy of “The Martian Named Smith”, a thin but weighty text on Stranger in a Strange Land by William Paterson Jr and Robert Thornton.

Amazingly, the second hand copy I purchased was the one that Paterson had given to his father, before he died.

The book was as I say slight as in short, but managed to be incredibly dense on detail and panoramic on perspectives on what remains an influential and also controversial novel. This is not necessarily surprising, as Paterson was a great scholar of Heinlein, perhaps the best to date.

What most struck me, though, was that this density and range of perspective was aimed at undergraduate readers, perhaps even secondary school students. I derive this conclusion from the fact that each chapter had debate questions at the end for discussion in class.

This book was published in 2001. What an odyssey we have embarked upon since then. Paterson and Thornton’s work exudes a sense of the scholarly mission. It acknowledges different schools of thought, weighs up seriously competing perspectives and ideologies. It’s becoming hard to imagine such a text emerging nowadays, when polemic and activism are supplanting the pursuit of knowledge.

The present is a strange land, and this book, like so much scholarship from the (even very recent) past, seems a stranger in it.