Category Archives: Ira Levin

Pre-orders open for Dangerous Visions & New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1985

A heads up that my latest book, co-edited with my friend Iain McIntyre, Dangerous Visions & New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1980, is now available for order through PM Press site here. You can also order it through the various Amazon sites and through numerous other channels. Interestingly, the book is classified by Amazon US as pornography, as well as science fiction studies. I assume this is down to the fact it contains essays on sex in science fiction and gay science fiction, amongst other things. I’ve always harboured ambitions to be a smut peddler and this is the closest I may get.

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds details how science fiction interacted with and was inspired by the cultural and political changes associated with the era from the late 1950s through the early 1970s, a period that has sometimes been referred to as ‘the long sixties’. The book starts with progressive authors who rose to prominence in the conservative 1950s, challenging the so-called Golden Age of science fiction and its linear narratives of technological breakthroughs and space-conquering male heroes. It then moves to the 1960s, when writers shattered existing writing conventions and incorporated contemporary themes such as modern mass media culture, corporate control, growing state surveillance, the Vietnam War, and rising currents of counterculture, ecological awareness, feminism, sexual liberation, and Black Power.… Read more

Hungry wives and evil husbands

I’ve been writing a piece on the science fiction of Ira Levin for an upcoming book project. This led me to re-reading his amazing novel Rosemary’s Baby, which led to a re-watch of the 1968 film, which got me to thinking, why there seemed to be a preponderance of cinema in the late 1960s/early 1970s which involve supposedly ordinary women having witchcraft used against them or using it for empowerment.

Roman Polansky’s version of Rosemary’s Baby abides fairly closely to Levin’s book and I suspect regular readers of this site don’t need any introduction to how good the book and film are. Obviously, the story has a very strong feminist tone, as did a lot of Levin’s work. An innocent woman, Rosemary, has her young, fertile body quite literally sold to a group of Satanists who, unbeknownst to her, live in the same New York apartment block, by her husband, Guy, in return for success in his chosen profession as an actor.

What is really good about the film, and even better about the book, is the way Levin leaves a trail of small clues as to what is going on – that Satan has raped her and Guy, in league with the Satanists, is manipulating her to carry the child to full term – often seemingly inconsequential or coincidental details, just enough to move the plot forward, but which all add up to a horrifying, inescapable trap.… Read more