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Lecture 1

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Mike Johnstone

LECTURE 1 What is science fiction?  Many many definitions of science fictions  Differs with everyone  Very mainstream today – Avatar made billions of $$$, Halo also made big money  Margaret Atwood’s definition: “Science fiction takes place somewhere far in space, far, far away in a distant galaxy” o She’s alluding specifically to Space Opera – like Star Wars, Star Trek, etc o “It has to be based on real technology, real science, real possibility” o But what is REAL technology/science/possibility? Getting to “Science Fiction”  Voyages extraordinaires (Julie Verne, 1870s)  Scientific romances (H.G.Wells, 1890s)  Scientific fiction -> scientifiction -> science fiction (Hugo Gernsback, 1920s)  Speculative fiction (Robert Heinlein)  Sci-Fi (Film, TV)  SF (Literary forms  “Science fiction” – kind of an oxymoron – science is REAL, but fiction is FAKE – two opposites  The name science fiction rises out of social conditions that we rely upon, a world view that th becomes dominant in the 19 century Historical/Cultural approach  Origins first in ancient Greece and then in Europe  Then in the Protestant reformation – where evolution of the genre developed  Interplanetary travel – the foundations of SF  The Catholic perspective influenced the Fantasy part of SF  Luckhurst  Cheaper kinds of printing made the reading material much more available to people “Metaphor”  Greek, metapherein, to transfer or carry over  Figure of speech  Word or phrase representing or designating one thing is used to designate or represent another  To transfer or carry over the sense of one word to another word  Comparison of one thing to another without using “like” or “as” Formal/Aesthetic approach  What we recognize and agree on to be SF  Restless, dynamic form  “Family Resemblances” – Similarities o Allows for radical differences under the SF-umbrella  One way we can define SF is by looking at the aesthetic aspect  Tropes and conventions of SF o Spaceships; interplanetary/interstellar travel o Aliens; the encounter with the alien o Advanced or unusual technology o Mechanical robots; genetic engineering; biological robots (cyborgs) o Time travel o Alternative history o Futuristic utopias and dysto
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