This might seem like a strange statement to make, since I have been reading science-fiction since I was in kindergarten or first grade, and I have read what must have been hundreds or thousands of science-fiction books in the past three or four decades. And yet, for this year's science fiction quest, when I decided to survey across the field, I didn't know where to start. For this year's science fiction quest, I read a series of somewhat implacable science-fiction novels from Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter, part of a space opera series by a Star Trek writer, a young adult series book, two sides of an Ace Double, and some some yuppie drivel with "Quantum Physics" thrown in. On the whole, it was not a sweeping, representative take on what the field has to offer. Oh, and a Moody Blues concept album. Progressive Rock, and the Animorphs, you say? What else could anyone need?
Here is me, after decades, giving my short history of what I know about science-fiction:
I mean, I know more that that, but after several decades, I can't give a very well-rounded description of either the academic
currents in the genre. Even when I got to a used bookstore, and see the shelves heavy with books, I don't recognize most of the authors, or just know them as a name. I don't know how to systemically read my way through the genre. And I can't even guess at what the last thirty years of trends have been like. Perhaps, though, I shouldn't let this bother me too much: I should look at the genre as a well of concepts and ideas and stories to dip into, and not as something that I should understand, from an external perspective. I don't really want to read a lot of academic guides to the field of science-fiction---I just want to take myself on an adventure. Your mileage may vary