LECTURE 3 Jan 25
A history of SF: late 1880s to mid 1960s
1. Modern origins (late 19th to early 20th century
Era of the "pulps"
2. Golden age (1938 - 1946)
Predominance of stories about adventures in out space. Primarily short stories and novels
3. Post war era (1946 - 1965)
Era of the atomic bomb and the beginning of the space age; growing predominance of the
4. The new wave (mid 1960s to early 1970s)
5. Cyberpunk (early to late 1980s)
Sociocultural context of the eras have an effect on the stories produced. Neuromancer is like
a cyberpunk genre, but also borrows from the golden age.
"pulp is a phrase used to denote a particular type of storyprinted in series of niche-marketed
magazines. The stories were written by prolific hack-writers and printed on cheap paper
manufactured from treated wood pulp rather than more expensive traditional paper
Point was tokeep costs low, sell cheaply and widely, and thereby make money. by the 1920s, there
were pulp magazines catering to a variety of genre tastes, including general adventure pulps, crime
pulps, western pulps
Many stories in pulp magazines revolved around solving a problem through scientific means.
Was doled out throughout the tale, but one thinks of the story as a scienfitific myth, in which
the reader is invited to accompany the characters on a voyage of discovery, then these blocks
of information, known in SF circles as infodumps, or, more kindly, expository lumps'
function like a gathering of clues by a detective.
Its appealing to mass literary culture. The stories are concerned with adventure and
excitement - a literature of distraction
SF stories predominantly set in outer space or in other exotic locations.
The use of plots/conventions from mysteries, westerns, lost world romances, development
of space opera
Hero is a man of action, strong, competent, ingenious, often a young male scientist or
engineer. Who saves the world with an invention
For gernsback, stories that used science to solve problems
Male scientist and engineers portrayed as a hero and overlooking male figure on covers.
Muscles howing. GOLDEN AGE SF:
Hard SF; linear narratives, heroes solving problems or countering threating a space opera
or technological-adventure idiom
Campbell liked idea fictions rooted in recognizable science can-do stories about heroes
solving problems or overcoming enemies expansionist humano-centric and often phalo-
centric narratives, extrapolations of possible technologies and their social and human
Heroes express (a can-do, individualist, free enterprise ideology"
Hero as "the tough, taciturn engineer who uses reason and practical know how to solve
seemingly insurmountable problems'
Campbell wanted to avoid mysticism and t appeal to an audience of technically trained,
Concern on plausible and recognizable science. Getting the science right so to speak.
Golden age science fiction is a male masculine science fiction. The editors/writers
were men, and the main characters/readers were all men! Very male oriented. We
have a reaction against some of these aspects of the golden age. For many today, the
golden age remain the definitive time and expression of science fiction
Reaction against golden ag science fiction. Everything about golden age science fiction, new
wave writers were trying to break away from it
Rejection of golden age SF writers
Attempt to make SF more mainstream and engaged with modernity and post modernist
trends in the arts, thus to renovate SF
Experimental, counter cultural, avant-garde, unconventional, stylistically ambitous
Higher literary standard, greater attention to characterization, style and story
Much more focus on character and styles opposed to strictly the idea. "
Turned to "inner space " (psychology, introspection, inner landscapes)
Theme of "entropy" (everything moves inevitably toward dissolution)
Everything is moving towards dissolution. Entropy becomes a really key theme.
"SF has been betrayed by lazy writers or bad writers or downright stupid writers who find it
impossible to stimulate the mind and the emotions at the same time" - michael moorcock
Golden age considered more with aesthetic, not form
SF movement of te mid 1980s to the early 1990s
"cyberpunk" coined by Bruce bethke in 1983, as title for a story published in amazing
science fiction stories
William gibson's novel (neruomancer considered most influential cyberpunk text Bruce sterling's preface" to the mirror shades: a cyberpunk anthology as key statement of
cyberpunk aesthetic and ideological aims
Influenced by aesthetic and cultural aims of the new wave
Return to and reworking of "hard SF" foundations of the golden age - return to the
importance of plot and adventure!
Response to the new right and hyper capitalism of thatcher/reagan era
Tropes and conventions of cyberpunk:
Near future setting, urban dystopias, economic and political power held by multinational
Mergings, interfacing integration between body and technology: i.e, cyborgs, hybrids, post
humans; "jacking in" o the matrix"
Artificial intelligences and other sentient/semi-sentient machines; downloaded/uploaded
Drugs and drug use
Fashion/media awareness, com