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ENG237 October 31 - The End is Coming part 4

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Michael Johnstone

ENG237 – October 31, 2012 1 A Brief History of Science Fiction 1. Modern Origins (late 19th early 10th) o Era of the pulps o Hugo Gernsback is the central figure (editor)  Believed that sci fi was potentially an instructive genre, could introduce science and instruct people on the basics of science so that they would use science to better the world, change it for the good o It's editors who are important because sci fi lived almost strictly in magazines o The predominance of the novel doesn't start until the post-war era  It was all in the magazine o The editors were the ones who figured out what sci fi was because they would decide what to include in their magazines o The genre splits and genre categories were influenced by the pulps, the mags were the first to split things up by genre o The pulp stories "revolved around solving a problem through scientific means" - Brain Attebery  There was infodumps that were elemental to the scientific mystery  Adds to the reason why sci fi can't be pinned down is that the genre has pulled and evolved from other genres  Stolen tropes and conventions from other genres o Characteristics and conventions  Mass literary culture  Adventure and excitement  Outer space  'space opera'  Young male scientist or engineer  Instructive 2. Golden Age (1938 - 1946) o Still considered to be core science fiction o Seen as the foundation of what science fiction is o John W. Campbell is a magazine editor (Astounding Science Fiction)  Eventually titled Analog and still today publishes hard SF  Campbell liked stories that were based on plausible, recognisable science  Heros are encountering things and solving problems through science o Expresses "a can-do, individualist, free-enterprise ideology" - Roberts o Predominantly masculine, male-oriented world 3. Post-War Era (1946 - 1965) o No clear movement 4. New Wave (mid60s - early 70s) o Reaction against the dominance of golden age tropes o Attempted to make sci fi more mainstream and engage with modernism and post- modernism o More experimental (culture-wise), higher literary standards (focus on character and style) o There was a turn to the inner space through psychology and introspection o Common theme of entropy (everything moving toward dissolution) ENG237 – October 31, 2012 2 o Emphasis on understanding human character and the human condition (psycho- literary as opposed to pure science) 5. Cyberpunk (early to late 80s) o Still influences sci fi today o William Ginson's Neuromancer is the central text  The most influential cyberpunk text o Bruce Sterling's preface to Mirrorshades is key as a statement of cyberpunk's aesthetic and ideological aims o Influenced by the New Wave's aesthetic and cultural aims o Looks back to the Golden Age and merges it with the New Wave ideals o Ideologically a reaction to the Thatcher/Reagan era  Hyper/free market capitalism  There was a definite political bend to it 6. After Cyberpunk o Isn't really a definable predominant movement since the cyberpunk era o There are some key ones but none that have eclipsed the whole genre  The 'new' space opera  Has to do with incorporating the tropes of cyberpunk and going back to pulp's adventures  More politically and culturally conscious  Women writers and feminist sf  World (post-colonial) sf  Settings that are not in the first world Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl  The first 3 chapters are what define the first three characters  These chapters define the tensions between the characters and in the setting of the text  Through these 3 chapters, Bacigalupi is increasing the cognitive estrangement The Importance of Setting  In Bangkok at some point in the 21st century  In the context of sci fi, the use of a non-Western setting gives it a shift from the 'traditional' sci fi setting  The use of Thai words suggest a non-Western setting before it is explicitly said  There is a cultural estrangement going on here (building on cognitive estrangement) o The setting is a form and a means of estrangement for what is normally a Western audience  There is also an estrangement going on through the scientific terms that are constant but not explained (at least not initially) o The intriguing terminology let us know that it's not our world and there are things that are scientifically different and enhance our estrangement of this world  "the default mode of science fiction is
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