the Future of the Fantastic

The Protocols of the Elders of Sci Fion

James Gunn has written an essay about the "protocols of science fiction", a concept he draws from the 1984 Samual R. Delany essay collection Starboard Wine (or more exactly, the MLA conference that preceeded it). (This book is sadly out-of-print and difficult to find -- Amazon Auctions has a copy for $175 or so -- though Matt Chaney is leading the effort to bring out a new edition.) In the essay, Gunn, quoting Delany, says that Science Fiction does not work in the same way as other written categories, in that it has "specific conventions, unique focuses, areas of interest and excellence, as well as its own particular ways of making sense out of language." Gunn then introduces an example, the story "Sail On! Sail On!" by Philip José Farmer.