“Csicsery-Ronay brings together a wealth of material to demonstrate the transformative power of the ‘seven beauties.’ Highly recommended for all readers interested in the ways in which science fiction relates to our past, present, and possible futures.”—N. Katherine Hayles, author of Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary
“This remarkable book is full of fascinating ideas, resolutely stripped of academic jargon, and a worthy addition to the growing body of work devoted to deciphering the ancient ancestry and the many-faceted aesthetic of science fiction.”—Gwyneth Jones, author of Bold as Love
“In a year well supplied with detailed and long-considered critical accounts of SF, Csicsery-Ronay's The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction is by far the most substantial, most important and most thought-provoking. If some of the thoughts provoked (in this reviewer's mind, at any rate) were "but I don't agree..." that, in itself, is a point of strength in a book of unusual range, insight, intelligence and ambition. The strength, specifically, is the hospitality of Csicsery-Ronay's critical idiom to debate. He advances a series of compelling readings of SF, deliberately avoiding a monolithic overall line, at no point either dogmatic or blinkered.
“Indeed, the book is so multi-faceted, and the critical intelligence on display is so nimble and perceptive, that much of it simply defuses disagreement. That I did disagree, from time to time, has as much to do with a kind of academic differend, one of those, to outsiders, doubtless endlessly tedious scholastic points of disputation that characterize much academic discourse. And even here I should note, at the start of this review, that I thought Csicsery-Ronay's decision to orchestrate his critical enquiry in a deliberately fluid manner, under seven headings that occasionally overlap and in some cases don't line up, a rather brilliant move. He resists the temptation to be seduced by, or to try and seduce others with, a single mythos of this enormously, prolifically heterogeneous genre. Nor does this designedly looser architectonic result in an ill-disciplined or sloppy book; quite the reverse. – Adam Roberts, Strange Horizons
“In his introduction, Csicsery-Ronay introduces the idea of the gap as a way of understanding much of what goes on in sf. His formulation of this notion is both useful and original. I suppose gaps might be compared with the semiotic/psychoanalytic concept of "suture," but gaps are more interesting because they don't hide anything, don't pretend to be complete. In addition, when energy has to cross a gap, there is a spark. Sf is that spark. We can imagine what we can't yet do. That's a gap. If we do figure out how to do it, we can't know everything that will result. That's another gap. Sf exists only because of those imaginative lacunae; without them there would be no room for the narrative imagination. There are gaps aplenty in The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, as there are in any work of criticism. Readers are invited to bridge gaps according to their own interests and backgrounds, and the experience of doing so is one of the most valuable things Csicsery-Ronay offers us in this immensely valuable book.“ – Brian Attebery, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
“Csicsery-Ronay lucidly reveals the rich and diverse analytic potential of this mode for understanding sf within contemporary technoscientific culture. The book overflows with insights, striking readings, provocative Leonardo stances, productive ambiguities, and eminently quotable phrases, almost to the extent of losing coherence. The introduction warns early on that the book is "not intended to be a systematic exposition of a theory of sf' …, that instead it is a "constellation" or "map of suggestions" …. Seven Beauties strains the formal structure of the monograph, reading like a palimpsest of ideas that have been tried out and refined in the essays and reviews produced across the last two decades. The finished product, one suspects, is merely a snapshot that froze a matrix of thought at a certain moment; the kaleidoscope could easily have produced a different pattern. In an era of monographs relentlessly pursuing the single thesis, this overflow of multiple approaches and ideas is to be embraced, even whilst some of its limits are acknowledged. Yet what the book offers is a vindication of the productive convergence of sf criticism and critical theory, once thought so controversial. – Roger Luckhurst,
Science Fiction Studies
“… Istvan Csicsery-Ronay’s book is an indicator of how we might move beyond the gap between the scholar and the fan, the elite and the popular notions of SF. In a way, Csicsery-Ronay’s book signals a third kind of figure beyond the scholar and the fan, which we can, a bit tongue-in-cheek, call the SF “dweller.” Whereas both the scholar and the fan are beholden to the specialized, genre-based status of SF, the dweller is not only the person who lives in SF story worlds but the person who takes it for granted that the actual world must be understood in terms of SF. It is this expansion and diffusion of SF that constitutes the overarching concern of Csicsery-Ronay’s book. -- Eugene Thacker, Leonardo