September Books 13) British Science Fiction & Fantasy: Twenty Years, Two Surveys

This fascinating volume includes the answers given by 84 writers, mostly British, all in some way sf and fantasy writers, to two questionnaires about sf, circulated in 1989 and 2009. The 1989 survey answers are compiled and edited by Paul Kincaid, and the 2009 responses (rather longer due to more writers participating) by Niall Harrison, but structured in both cases as a series of conversations, relevant snippets sewn together to make a warm and friendly but thought-provoking whole.

It’s a book that deserves a much longer review than this, but just to pick three highlights: the fact that so many authors respond to the question of why they choose to write sf or fantasy by saying “it chose me” or words to that effect; the debate on the nature of Britishness in the genre; and the answers in the 2009 survey to the question of what the most significant developments of the previous 20 years had been. Strongly recommended.