Judith Merril's definition of SF (Science Fiction)


Judith Merril (Judith Josephine Grossman, 1923–1997) was an American-Canadian science fiction author, editor and critic, a prominent woman within a male-dominated genre. In the 1950s she began editing influential anthologies of science fiction writing that heralded a new direction for the genre known as ‘SF’ and the New Wave. SF emerged in Britain and the US, aligning itself with contemporary, experimental literary techniques in form and content. Many authors were inspired by American beat writer William S Burroughs, including the novelist J G Ballard whose initial career developed within the SF scene. Ballard’s early work was published in Merril anthologies as well as SF magazines such as Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds.

Merril’s anthologies are characterised by her sharp editorial writing. Shown here is Merril’s introduction to the 1959 SF: The Year's Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy, where Merril offers a loose definition or description of SF.

Full title:
SF: The Year's Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy. Edited by J. Merril
1959, Hicksville, New York, US
Gnome Press
Judith Merril
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Copyright © 1960, 1978 by The Literary Estate of Judith Merril; used by permission of the Estate and the Estate's agents, the Virginia Kidd Agency, Inc. Users of the website will be able to make copies of the work, only for non-commercial purposes, and the copyright holder shall be credited.

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British Library

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