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The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of

The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World (1998, ISBN 0-684-82405-1) is a somewhat sardonic overview of the interactions between science fiction and the real world, written by Thomas M. Disch, a noted author in the field. It is neither a history of science fiction nor a collection of personal anecdotes, but contains some of each, and is written in a meandering, somewhat conversational style, designed to appeal to both a relative newcomer to science fiction and an expert in the field.

Disch makes several controversial arguments, ranging from his belief that Americans adore a lovable liar (in this instance the author of the speculative) to his description of Edgar Allan Poe as the first SF author (as opposed to more common choices such as Mary Shelley or Jules Verne). He also levels attacks against writers who in his opinion have attempted to trick or manipulate readers by presenting science fiction as fact—namely Erich von Däniken and L. Ron Hubbard—and writers who use science fiction to promote a political ideology, singling out Ursula Le Guin to represent the Left and Robert A. Heinlein to represent the Right.

The book also examines the manner in which the real world is represented in science fiction allegory, including an argument for the case that the aliens of Star Trek represent non-Caucasian humans, and that science fiction provides an insight into the strategies of the American military.

The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of was awarded the 1999 Hugo Award for best "related" (ie. non-fictional) book.

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