Some readers (not to mention writers, editors and publishers) may be unpleasantly surprised by the pugnacious tone of the reviews that follow. I won’t apologize -- not very often, anyhow -- but I will explain. As a critic, I operate under certain basic assumptions, all eccentric, to wit:
1. That the term 'science fiction' is a misnomer, that trying to get two enthusiasts to agree on a definition of it leads only to bloody knuckles; that better labels have been devised (Heinlein’s suggestion, 'speculative fiction,' is the best, I think), but that we’re stuck with this one; and that it will do us no particular harm if we remember that, like 'The Saturday Evening Post,' it means what we point to when we say it.
2. That a publisher’s jacket blurb and a book review are two different things, and should be composed accordingly.
3. That science fiction is a field of literature worth taking seriously, and that ordinary critical standards can be meaningfully applied to it: e.g., originality, sincerity, style, construction, logic, coherence, sanity, garden-variety grammar.
4. That a bad book hurts science fiction more than ten bad notices.
The publishers disclaim all responsibility; angry readers please apply to me.
-- Damon Knight, In Search of Wonder, 1956.