ENG237: Science Fiction
How can we deﬁne science ﬁction?
- externalization of internal issues
- how people react to the "new"
- literature of change, speciﬁcally through science and technology
- exploration of what human beings are capable of
The Problem of SF
- Kim Stanley Robinson: "Science Fiction: The Stories of the Now"
- science ﬁction is about "now" in ways that other genres aren't
- historical ﬁction doesn't tell us anything more than SF
- SF has a social and cultural relevance that historical ﬁction doesn't have
- so why is it excluded from, say, the Man Booker prize?
- SF gets ignored/dismissed by literary prizes and critics
- SF is marginalized
-Adam Roberts: "Why hasn't there been a science ﬁction Booker winner?"
- "literary apartheid keeping genre science ﬁction away from the respectable literary
- excluded because it is genre
- John Mullan, judge for the Booker prize: not aware of science ﬁction because it is a "self-
- essentially no SF submitted for the year's Booker prize
- MargaretAtwood: says she writes speculative ﬁction, not science ﬁction
- in doing so, she allows her novels to be considered for prizes
- political distinction
- less respected because it is "popular" and "genre"
- it isn't seen as "serious", thus isn't taken seriously
- has to do with the history of SF--pulp novels, serials, etc.
- can be more plot-driven than character-driven
- points out the "ﬁction" in ﬁction
- science ﬁction is a contested label--debates about what is/isn't science ﬁction, why it's excluded
from certain things, etc.
- there is a cultural basis to the discussion
- science ﬁction can be devalued
- on the other hand, it has been valued as a very important type of commentary on the world
Nancy Fulda's "Movement"
- how and when do we know (or suspect) that a work is SF?
- what are the signs or codes or clues that tell us a work is SF?
- what expectations and assumptions do we bring to works of SF? "In the oppressive heat of the evening, I hear the quiet Zzzap of his shoulder laser as it targets
- clue somewhere fairly early that this is science ﬁction
- fairly innocuous piece of technology
- once we read this sentence in the story, things change (in terms of the world being presented
in the story)
- signals that this world is not the known world of the reader