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Science Fiction - January 8.pdf

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Mike Johnstone

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 establishment" - excluded because it is genre - John Mullan, judge for the Booker prize: not aware of science fiction because it is a "self- enclosed world" - 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 mosquitos." - 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 - sh
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