When I agreed to host New Books and Science Fiction and Fantasy there were a number of authors I hoped to interview, including Michael Gordin. This might come as a surprise to listeners, because Michael is neither a science-fiction nor a fantasy author. He is, rather, a prominent historian of science at Princeton University. But his work intersects with the subject-matter of this podcast in a number of ways. Five Days in August: How World War II Became a Nuclear War asked us to consider what might have been had Tokyo refused to surrender and the US had continued to drop atomic bombs on Japan. Mike will soon start co-teaching a class on invented languages which includes a unit on Klingon. And the main subject of this interview, The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe (University of Chicago Press, 2012), touches on both the history of science fiction, key themes within the genre, and where much of its source material comes from. Indeed, while this channel will continue to focus on new books within the SF and Fantasy genres, it will also interview scholars and practitioners whose expertise illuminates and enhances our understanding of those genres.
For those of you interested in the continued tenacity of Velikovsky’s defenders, Mike recommends reading the comments on The Pseudoscience Wars Amazon.com reviews. For those of you interested in history, science fiction, the demarcation problem, and Velikovsky, check out the podcast.