JULY 15 , Lecture 4, ENG237H1
- The spin and the Archway: A New World
- Darko Suvin’s “Cognitive Estrangement”
- Science and Religion: Making Sense of Doomsday
The Spin and the Archway: A New World
Fundamental view: Scientific and imperialist. Explanations of events. Jason becomes
the key source of where Tyler gets information, and we are with Tyler.
Originally published in 2005. Jason and Diane. Basically occurred in early 21 st
century. Contemporary. Novel takes known familiar world and makes it strange and
Specific date for the start of the novel. Present time of when Tyler is telling the story.
He is in fact, four billion years into the future. Tyler constructs this narrative
altering present and looking back to working through the events of the past. 4
Billion years is the actual date of the solar system. Wilson establishes (from a
chapter heading) this sense of difference from our known familiar world. Not just
moving back and forth present and past, but also conflation. Merging together past
and present. While on Earth, time is for the most part our time. Outside of time, real
date is 4x10 AD.
Time plays a crucial role. Tyler. There is a difference between his presence, relative
present and past.
“She was silent for a few seconds more. Then she shuddered, turned and tossed—
threw—the binoculars back at Jason, who protested but didn’t seem to grasp that
Diane had seen something disturbing. I was about to ask her if she was all right--
When the stars disappeared.” (11)
Process of the phenomenon. Understand it and to do something about it.
Overall, this response is presented and predominantly as ration and imperialist as
cognitive. Tyler is trained as medical doctor. Jason very much is a scientist. Jason’s
access to information seems to be predominantly privileged. Cognitive perspective.
Predominantly privileged. Scientific notation.
Second chapter. Crucial point of the narrative. Divergence of the novel and
our world. Powerful.
“People began to speak of ‘a hypothetical controlling intelligence.” (25)
Hypotheticals. Aliens? Plausible attempt to arrive at some sort of
explanation. Tangible evidence? Hypothesis.
“After repeated debriefings the Russians concluded that Glavin had lost his mind as
a result of his ordeal. The colonel continued to insist that he and his crew had spent
three weeks in orbit, but that was obviously madness….
Because the Soyuz capsule, like every other recovered piece of man-made orbital
gear, had fallen back to Earth the very night of the October Event.” (31) Realizing this discrepancy how to understand this October event.
Fundamentally changes everything about this world. Third chapter is Russian
astronauts. Know that they spent three weeks, but they returned the very night.
Start to get process of trying to understand. How to deal with it and take advantage
of it. Confronted with new and strange. Going through this process of trying to make
sense of it. Predominantly trying scientific approach.
“[…] But the idea of a time gradient has a certain explanatory power… So the
electromagnetic barrier around the Earth isn’t concealing us, it’s protecting
us… all these things are being manipulated, not just slow us down but to keep us
alive while they do it.’
‘Managed,’ I said, “It’s not an act of nature, then. It’s engineering.”
‘This is being done to us.”(45)
Jason constructed by Tyler. Tyler trusts Jason completely. Debate science and
religion? Conformation that time is slowed down on Earth. Explanatory power. Spin.
Heart of role that science plays in the novel. Science is not privileged, privileged as
the ability to explain. Engineered and purposefully done. Why would this be
unsettling for Tyler? Being protected something, Tyler is something engineered and
done to us. Disturbing? Lack of control. Beyond our cope to understand it. “Priests”.
Tyler had to go to Jason to understand it. There are people who don’t even know
about it. People have different means to turn to different points of information,
discourses that have explanatory power. What happens to religion when it can
explain? Starts to play significant role in forms and responses.
“How much time, Jason?’
‘It’s been five years and a couple of months since the October Event. Outside the
barrier, that translates into a little over five hundred million years.”
It was a breathtaking number.
The Diane, who had seen straight to the scary heart of the thing, said ‘And how long
do we have left?’
‘How long, Jason?’
He gave her a pitying look. ‘Forty, maybe fifty years,’ he said ‘Give or take.’ (46)
Traumatizing to comprehend. The end of Earth and humanity. The end is all
but inevitable. At least they have figured out a way to avoid it. Dystopian setting
established in the opening setting.
[…] We could see the nearest part of the Archway: a cloud-colored vertical line that
rose from the horizon and vanished… What was it made of, and how did it do what it
Indistinguishable magic. Archway is that full dimensions, complete shape.
Beyond total comprehension. One part to the other. Only get a fraction of it that is
seen. Tyler’s pov. From this point, will this questions will be answered? Certain
extent answered later. Opening chapters, several means, different from another world. Primary point of view, enframing, rational and scientifical perspective.
Technology has a specific way of make sense and give meaning to the world. Kind of
framing that is important to note. How strange things are slowly being made sense
of this world. Wilson seems to be most concerned about in the novel is how people
respond to what has happened. How they react to certainty of end of the world. How
Wilson explores and pays attention to different forms. Key ones are science and
religion in the novel.
Darko Suvin’s “Cognitive Estrangement”
Darko Suvin, “On the Poetics of the Science Fiction Genre,” College English 34 (Dec.
In the following paper, I shall argue for a definition of SF as the literature of cognitive
Trying to explain what science fiction does. Identify how science fiction works,
ideologically and aesthetically works.
Thus SF takes off from a fiction (“literary”) hypothesis and develops it with
extrapolating and totalizing (“scientific”) rigor…