Matt Cheney, in conversation with Eric Rosenfield, says:
Oh, SF criticism is a … minefield. There are a few problems with it, including that the sorts of people who will be attracted to it are generally not of the same sort of mind that is attracted to literary criticism, and there are only a handful of people who have a good grasp of real literary criticism who are also interested in practicing SF criticism. […] Much of what passes for SF “criticism” is actually just historiography. James Gunn is a good example of that. Useful and often interesting to read, but not what most people are talking about when they’re talking about “criticism”. Which many people would say is a good thing, since academic litcrit doesn’t exactly have the best rep outside the academy.
There are only a few writers of SF criticism worth paying much attention to in addition to Delany: Darko Suvin, Alexei Panshin, Damien Broderick, Frederick Jameson, and Adam Roberts (writers such as John Clute and Gary Wolfe are knowledgeable and thoughtful, but are primarily reviewers and taxonomists — Clute, in fact, has inspired an entire taxonomical industry amongst mostly British SF reviewers, who are bizarrely fixated on defining and categorizing things. Clute’s encyclopedias are invaluable and his reviews are often interesting, but the obsession with taxonomy [beyond its usefulness for creating an encyclopedia] is one I find mystifying). Certainly, there are articles here and there that are worth paying attention to, including some good recent work on SF and colonialism (an important topic, I think), but you’ll get pretty much the full breadth (such as it is) of the critical discussion of SF from reading those writers.
At the moment, I think I would find a discussion about whether or not literary taxonomy is a useful practice, never mind whether it is somehow a distinctively British practice, tedious in the extreme, so I’ll skate over that; and because it’s a posted email discussion, I’ll try not to be too judgmental about the “just” in front of “historiography”, though I am mildly offended on behalf of historiographers of my acquaintance. Later in the post there’s a deal of stuff about sf-the-publishing-category, too, which I’ll also avoid, except to say that I don’t think Nick Harkaway is wary of the sf label because he thinks the interesting things are happening outside sf, more that he’s concerned the label will stop people reading his book.
What I do want to talk about is a potential canon of sf criticism, because I’m pretty sure Matt’s list is not it. I’m not devaluing academic sf criticism, here, though I do feel a certain push-pull tension about it; on the one hand, it seems to me only sensible that dedicated training will improve someone’s ability to appreciate and explicate a work, which is one reason I went to the SF Foundation Masterclass last summer , and is why I’m currently reading this book  . On the other hand, though I don’t consider it a badge of pride to be “outside the academy”, I do somewhat resent the implication that those not trained in the ways of criticism have no useful contributions to make to critical debate, and I would have thought that attracting people with different sorts of mind to literary studies would be all to the good. The SF Masterclass’s principle of drawing its teachers from the ranks of academics, authors and independent critics seems to me a sound one; I have gained useful insights about sf from people in all three groups.
However: the bibliography of sf criticism on the SF Studies website is dauntingly large. For a slightly more focused list, the articles from their history of science fiction criticism issue are all very useful (hey, now Gary Westfahl’s article is online as well! That would have been useful eight months ago), and I know some of the names I’d want to add to Matt’s list — Atheling, Aldiss, Russ, Freedman, Jones, for starters, and something like The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, at least. But I also know there are a number of people reading this better-read than I in sf criticism: what would you put on an essential reading list? (And, perhaps, what non-sf critics would you put on an essential reading list for would-be critics?)
 As Liz says, do consider applying for this year’s class; I won’t be there, sadly, because my car’s just had an unexpectedly expensive service and I’m battening down the financial hatches, but I wish I could be.
 And I’m sure that once I’ve got past finding the fact that apparently, in English departments, calling someone a “liberal humanist” is an insult, alternately hilarious and really stupid, it will provide me with many useful insights, and possibly even a blog post or two.