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Portland State Professor Carl Abbott Releases New Book on Science Fiction and the American West
Author: Angela D. Abel (503-725-3773) Office of Marketing and Communications
Posted: April 4, 2006

Abbott_Carl.jpgCarl Abbott, professor of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State has written a new book, Frontiers Past and Future: Science Fiction and the American West, the first book to explore the ways science fiction writers have drawn directly on the history of the American West to frame their visions of the future.

Frontiers Past and Future offers a new way to read science fiction, one that greatly enriches understanding of Western history and its impact on the collective imagination. Detailing the overlap of science fiction and Western fiction, relating to mutual interest and concerns about frontier expansionism, future homesteading, community building, mining and other themes familiar to Western historians, Abbott reveals an unsuspected common ground that informs the writings of both camps.

In the book, Abbott reviews the works of many Hugo and Nebula Award winners and draws upon popular film and television series, such as the Buck Rogers serials. Topics range from labor conflict in the Asteroid Belt, to Toy Story’s Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Abbott’s cast of notables include Robert Heinlein, Fritz Lieber, Ursula Le Guin and William Gibson and the settings are as diverse as the near-future West of Octavia Butler to the extraterrestrial visions of Pamela Sargent, Jonathan Lethem and C. J. Cherryh.

“Carl Abbott boldly goes where no Western historian has gone before, probing the fascinating parallels between the worlds created by science fiction writers and the myths of the American frontier,” said Stephen Aron, executive director for the Institute for the Study of the American West. “The work of an erudite scholar and a passionate fan, this is a dazzling book that, like the best history and the best science fiction, ponders the past and projects possibilities in ways that illuminate the present.”

Carl Abbott is a national recognized expert in urban planning and the history of cities of the American West and an avid science fiction reader since his youth. Among his other books are The New Urban America: Growth and Politics in Sunbelt Cities and The Metropolitan Frontier: Cities in the Modern American West. Copies of Frontiers Past and Future: Science Fiction and the American West ($29.95, 240 pages, hardcover) are available from University Press of Kansas, as well as local and online booksellers (ISBN: 0-7006-1430-3). For review copies contact Ranjit Arab at For interview requests contact Angela Abel in the Office of Marketing and Communications at 503-725-3773.

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For Immediate Release (#06-057)

Source: Carl Abbott (503-725-5171)
College of Urban Studies and Public Affairs