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Lecture

ENG237 September 12 - Introduction

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Department
English
Course
ENG237H5
Professor
Michael Johnstone
Semester
Fall

Description
ENG237 – September 12, 2012 1  Science fiction is perceived as being excluded from the mainstream despite the fact that science fiction films are so popular and so much a part of the mainstream  The fact that science fiction is becoming more and more of a genre is forcing it to be excluded by other genres that people perceive as being more literary o There is also the blurring of lines within science fiction that causes many to dismiss it as not a real genre o The formal writing style that is used is dismissed  The relevance of science fiction to our present world is crucial and yet unconsidered  There seems to be a 'battle' between literary fiction and genre fiction o Literary is mainstream and suppresses genre fiction and therefore science fiction  Science fiction was thought of and distinguished as 'idea' fiction for so long that some of that distinction still stands  Many science fiction writer weren't literary trained but still write science fiction and that has to do with some of the dichotomy  Science fiction is still a contested form o It doesn't have a straight definition and therefore is perceived to be exclusive and yet people push to exclude themselves from the 'group'  "the problem of sf?' is therefore, a problem of definition and the inability to give it a distinctive label Peter Watts - The Things Point of View  The first person narrative is important  Allows the reader to empathize/identify with the narrator because we are inside their head and seeing the fictional world through their eyes o Are also limited in our view of the rest of the world because the narrator's perspective is the only one that we know  The narrator is an 'unreliable narrator' because they have a biased view of the world around them Status of Language  How sf takes a familiar language and re-shapes it  Language functions in very specific way because part of science fiction is understanding what role language plays in the story o It can be repurposed and repositioned to fit certain roles within the story ENG237 – September 12, 2012 2 o For example the use of 'I' in the beginning, in the usual definition means that the narrator can and does change identity. It also opens up the possibility that the narrator is indeed different people, he is being these separate people. Perhaps at different times or the same time  The use of 'being' is important because it suggest a sort of status, its more a playing of a role instead of the narrator actually having that one identity o There's an ambiguity of what is going on, is the narrator playing a role, identifying as that role, or embodying the role?  The repetition of "I am being" demonstrates that the narrator's identity is unstable or plural or both  Science fiction plays on the very codes that are used to identify literature  There is present tense which makes it all temporal, makes it seem as if all the events are happening at the same time  'being' doesn’t suggest that the world is science fiction, it suggests simply that the world is different than our own  The fourth paragraph gives us an indication that it is science fiction though because the 'people' are described as biomass  It forces the reader to realize that the narrator is some 'other' being because it's assuming superiority to the biomass that is humans  There is a scientific definition of humans and shows that there isn't necessarily an emotional connection that we would assume that humans would have o Starting to get an otherness of the narrator  'biomass' is an indication that the writing is an example of science fiction  The use of 'wearing' makes it seem more like 'being' is something completely interchangeable o Those two things are one and the same for the narrator o Identity is interchangeable, not fixed and malleable for our narrator which is in direct opposition to how we, as humans, cling to our identity as a way to separate ourselves from others  The use of certain pronouns alerts us that the narrator thinks of all humans as one being with multiple identities as he views himself to be one being who can inhabit multiple identities  The story being told from the view of the narrator allows us to take a differen
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