Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review - Millennial Mythmaking by John Perlich and David Whitt

  • Millennial Mythmaking: Essays on the Power of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, Films and Games
  • John Perlich and David Whitt
  • McFarland
  • 2009
  • Trade Paperback
  • 202 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7864-4562-20


     Perhaps because of a misunderstanding on my part I originally believed this book of essays would be a comfortably written, easily readable, and pedestrian collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy themes. (Think Stephen King’s On Writing.)I’m not entirely sure where I got that impression but it turns out that Millennial Mythmaking is more of a college textbook or scholarly master thesis than a compilation of soft essays on the subject of SF&F myths. And while that isn’t at all bad it really wasn’t what I expected. Putting my obtuseness aside if you’re the type that loves an in-depth analysis of contemporary Science Fiction and Fantasy then you’ll definitely enjoy this book. However, through all the studied rationalizations, numerous footnotes and references, and in some cases, over-analytical rhetoric, much of the message of each essay will be lost to the casual reader. If you are a college-level student studying the myths of current fiction or enjoy the detailed and often subtle underpinnings of Science Fiction and Fantasy then I recommend this collection of essays for you.

     One slightly irritating theme I encountered was the constant homage and mention of Joseph Campbell. Every essay held an element dealing with or concerning Campbell or his work and almost every reference cited Campbell and Moyer’s The Power of Myth. It seemed the deck was stacked with a pat hand. In other words, the editors may have only solicited essays relative to Joseph Campbell as the common denominator which isn’t a bad thing overall but should have probably been mentioned up front if that was the intention. (I can’t imagine this was coincidental.) On a positive note, and I’d like to end this review on an optimistic note if I may, the subject matter included more modern SF&F examples then many other works of this genre (i.e. Harry Potter, Wicked Witch of the West, Doctor Who, Star Trek, etc.) This gives Millennial Mythmaking an advantage over many other essay collections published in the past few years.

3 stars out of 5

  • The Alternative
  • Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

Stephen Hunt (SF Crows Nest) Review

Perlich’s College Site

Author Interview

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