PART ONE: SHORTANSWER
Darko Suvin’s Novum
- “SF is distinguished by the narrative dominance or hegemony of a ﬁctional “novum” (novelty,
innovation), validated by cognitive logic”
- “a novum of cognitive innovation is a totalizing phenomenon or relationship deviating from the
author’s...norm of realty...“totalizing” in the sense that it entails a change of the whole
universe of the tale, or at least crucially important aspects thereof”
- “the novum is hegemonic—so central and signiﬁcant that it determines the whole narrative
- says that “the new is always a historical category since it is always determined by historical
forces which both bring it about in social practice (including art) and make for new semantic
meaning that crystallize the novum in human consciousness”
- “the ideal object for the Suvinian novum is a text that treats social life...anthropologically. It is
also a text highly uniﬁed aesthetically, whose images, tropes, and style all reﬂect one another
with tight coherence”
- “the logical coherence and consistency of the novum is the single greatest source of its aesthetic
and ethical power”
- “every important aspect of SF will be salubriously rational”
- Novum = new thing
- it is cognitive, i.e. rational, scientiﬁc, and plausible
- it is hegemonic and totalizing
- affects all aspects of the world in the story
- affects all aspects of the narrative, including the reader’s response
- it creates cognitive estrangement in the story
- cognitive estrangement is what SF does, and the novum is how it does this
“Adam and No Eve”,Alfred Bester
- Krane: narrator.An engineer/astronaut?
- Hallymer: scientist. Opposes Krane’s ideas.
- Evelyn: Krane’s wife.
- Umber: Krane’s dog.
- Krane’s rocket-ship: allows Krane to travel to space
- the new catalyst*: causes the destruction of the planet Earth
- The novum FITS Suvin’s deﬁnition because it is cognitive (rational, based on scientiﬁc
processes); it is hegemonic (it affects all aspects of the world by killing everyone); and it is
totalizing (the entire story is a result of the aftereffects of this novum).
“When It Changed”, Joanna Russ
- Janet: the narrator.Achief of police.
- Katy: narrator’s wife.Amachinist. - the Earthmen: arrived on Whileaway and want to bring men back.
- the men, for those on Whileaway
- the plague that wiped out the men on Whileaway
- the merging of ova that allows women to breed together on Whileaway*
- The merging of the ova allows for a world of all women. It affects everything in the world of
Whileaway, which ﬁts Suvin’s deﬁnition. It doesn’t really affect the universe as a whole, but it
affects the planet Whileaway and every aspect of Joanna’s life.
“Blood Music”, Greg Bear
- Vergil: scientist.
- Edward: narrator.Adoctor (OB-GYN).
- Gail: Edward’s wife.
- medically-applicable biochips: intelligent biochips that can grow/learn/evolve
- During the story it only affects the main characters, but by the end it has completely changed
the world. The entire story is a result of this novum.As well, it is rational and based on
“Nekropolis”, Maureen McHugh
- Diyet: narrator.Ajessed servant who works for a restaurant owner.
- Mardin-salah: the restaurant owner.
- Akhmim: the harni.Abioengineered clone who oversees the male side of the household.
- the Mistress: cruel woman who is married to Diyet’s boss.
- Fadina: a former friend of Diyet’s, who also works for the same family.
- “jessing”: allows for people to be slaves, essentially
- “harnis”: bioengineered clones that can be purchased and put to work
- AI systems (e.g. the cleaning machine)
- “bismek”: interactive fantasy projections that let people play make believe
- The novums are cognitive, totalizing, and hegemonic.
“Flowers forAlgernon”, Daniel Keyes
- Charlie: the narrator, a man with a low IQ.
- Algernon: a mouse test-subject
- Miss Kinnian: Charlie’s teacher, who recommends him for the project.
- Dr. Strauss: one of the doctors working on Charlie.
- Dr. Nemur: another doctor working on Charlie
- Joe and Frank: men who work with Charlie and make fun of him.
- NOVUMS: - Charlie’s operation: it increases his IQ by 300%
- The novum is rational/cognitive, it is totalizing in the story, but it is not hegemonic in that it
does not dominate the entire world of the story—only the worlds of Charlie and those close to
“Baby, You Were Great!”, Kate Wilhelm
- John: main character. Inventor.
- Herb: television executive.
- Anne: emotional actress.
- emotion-transmitting helmets: allow for the wearer to experience the emotions of
someone hooked up to the device
- It does ﬁt Suvin’s description. It is cognitive, based on rationality; it is hegemonic, in that it has
changed the world of the novel; and it is totalizing, in that the entire story is made possible
because of it.
“The Girl Who Was Plugged In”, James Tiptree Jr.
- P. Burke: a homeless girl employed by GTX.
- Joe: GTX technician.
- Delphi: the body P. Burke occupies.
- Paul: Delphi’s lover
- the law against advertisements: changes the way in which products work in the world
- long-range neural circuitry that allows P. Burke to occupy a body that isn’t her own
(eccentric projection/sensory reference/remote operator/waldo)
- automated inbuilt viewer feedback: allows for real-time response to television
- pleasure-pain implants
- This is cognitive, it is totalizing, and I think it is hegemonic although people don’t know about
it. It affects their purchases even though they don’t realize this.
“TheAlgorithms for Love”, Ken Liu
- Elena: the narrator.Acomputer scientist.
- Brad: the narrator’s husband. The CEO.
- theAI dolls
- The novum is cognitive and totalizing, however it is not hegemonic. Nobody is as profoundly
affected by it as Elena is, and outsiders’reactions to her seem to show this.
PART TWO: ESSAY ACANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, MILLER
The novel begins 600 years after current civilization has been destroyed by a global nuclear war
known as the Flame Deluge.As a result of the war, there has been backlash against technology,
known as the “Simpliﬁcation”. Books were destroyed.
Leibowitz is a Jewish engineer who works for the US military. He founded “theAlbertian Order
of Leibowitz” after the war, which aimed to preserve knowledge by smuggling and hiding books.
He was eventually betrayed and martyred. Centuries after his death the Order still exists, and
continues to preserve the “Memorabilia” that he left behind.
In the 26th century, a novice named Brother Francis is on a desert vigil. He encounters a
Wanderer who writes something Hebrew on a rock, which is overtop the entrance to an ancient
fallout shelter containing many relics for the Memorabilia. This creates a sensation at the
Monastery, andAbbotArkos sends Francis back to the desert for many years. Many years later
two advocates arrive and Leibowitz is made a Saint. Francis is sent to New Rome to represent
the Order. He takes documents he found, as well as his own illumination of one of these
documents. He is robbed along the way, and the Pope gives him money to take back his
illumination, however Francis is killed by the “Pope’s Children” whilst trying to do so.
Six hundred years later, the Order still exists and preserves the Memorabilia. Now, however, a
new Renaissance is beginning. Thon Taddeo, a scholar, is sent to the abbey to study the
Memorabilia.At theAbbey, Brother Kornhoer has just made an arc lamp. The Thon makes many
discoveries, but Dom Paulo refuses to let him take the Memorabilia away with him. The Mayor
of Texarkana, Hannegan, has made an alliance with the city-states nearby against the nomadic
warriors of the land. He is secretly trying to gain control of the entire region. MonsignorApollo
tells the abbey that Hannegan plans to use them as a base of attack, and is executed. Hannegan
declares loyalty to the Pope to be punishable by death, and the Church excommunicates him.
Another six hundred years later and humanity once again has nuclear energy/weapons, as well as
starships and star colonies.Acold war has been going on for 50 years. The Order’s mission has
expanded to preserving all knowledge. Nuclear war is imminent, and Dom Zerchi tells New
Rome that he thinks they should reactivate their contingency plan. He appoints Brother Joshua as
mission leader. He, along with the Memorabilia, get ready to go to space.
Many are affected by nuclear radiation. The abbey serves to protect them.Adetonation kills
Zerchi. Before he dies he encounters Mrs Grales, who has two heads. Mrs Grales is dying but her
head, Rachel, administers the Eucharist to Zerchi and is implied to be like the Virgin Mary.
1. After a brief scrutiny, the pilgrim straightened. “Oh –– one of them.” He leaned on his staff
and scowled. “Is that the Leibowitz Abbey down yonder?” he asked, pointing toward the distant
cluster of buildings to the south. Brother Francis bowed politely and nodded at the ground.
2. The buzzards laid their eggs in season and lovingly fed their young: a dead snake, and bits of
a feral dog. The younger generation waxed strong, soared high and far on black wings,
waiting for the fruitful Earth to yield up her bountiful carrion. Sometimes dinner was only a
toad. Once it was a messenger from New Rome [...] The buzzards laid their eggs in season and lovingly fed their young. Earth had nourished them bountifully for centuries. She would
nourish them for centuries more....
- seems to imply that a technological holocaust does not affect nature
- dystopia is created for humans, but not for the world—life will ﬁnd a way
3. As always the wild black scavengers of the skies laid their eggs in season and lovingly fed
their young. They soared high over the prairies and mountains and plains, searching for the
fulﬁllment of that share of life’s destiny which was their according to the plan of Nature. Their
philosophers demonstrated by unaided reason alone that the Supreme Cathartes aura regnans
had created the world especially for buzzards. They worshipped him with hearty appetites for
- same as above, kind of implies that technological holocaust does not affect nature
- the buzzards have no prejudice, they do not care who they eat
- nature should be venerated, because it will not destroy itself (unlike humanity)
4. If the Fallout Shelter’s Sealed Environment contained a Fallout, the demon had obviously not
opened Inner Hatch since the time of the Flame Deluge, before the simpliﬁcation.
- this shows how techno-science can inﬂuence identity
- some people use religion as a means to copy, and this is an example
- techno-science that cannot be explained is like a contemporary mythology
5. Inside the lid of the carrying case, a note had been glued.... He studied it intermittently while
emptying the trays. It seemed to be in English, of a sort, but half an hour passed before he
deciphered most of the message.... When Brother Francis had removed the last tray, he
touched the papers reverently: only a handful of folded documents here, and yet a treasure, for
they had escaped the angry ﬂames of the Simpliﬁcation.... He handled the papers as one might
handle holy things.... Memo, he handled with special reverence, because its title was
suggestive of Memorabilia. Before opening it, he crossed himself and murmured the Blessing
- technology can create dystopia by destroying knowledge
- we are quite reliant of technology for the preservation of knowledge, and this shows that—all
that remains is something as trivial as a shopping list
- technology helps us to learn, and he clearly doesn’t have this (he has trouble reading the texts)
6. “That took you ﬁfteen years? And it’s almost ugly beside the other.” He slapped his paunch
and between guffaws kept pointing at the relic. “Ha! Fifteen years! So that’s what you do way
out there? Why? WHat is the dark ghost-image good for? Fifteen years to make that! Ho ho!
What a woman’s work!” Brother Francis watched him in stunned silence. That the robber
should mistake the sacred relic for the copy of the relic left him too shocked to reply. Still
laughing, the robber took both documents in his hands and prepared to rip them both in half.
- same stuff, even though it isn’t even really good. Technology can create dystopia by allowing
us the means by which to make dystopia. We come to rely on it and let it get away from
ourselves and then the very thing we rely on is the very thing that destroys us, perhaps even
because of our reliance on it.
7. Now the debate was ended. Two-Hoods had conceded to One-Hood. Together, the Pope’s
children stole quietly from behind their brush table and crept down the side of the hill. They
advanced to within ten yards of Francis before a pebble rattled. The monk was murmuring the third Ave of the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the rosary when he happened to look around. The
arrow hit him squarely between the eyes. “Eat! Eat! Eat!” the Pope’s child cried.
- technology creates dystopia by basically just destroying the world. It’s so stupid. WHat a stupid
freaking question. Okay, technology affects identity. I can say that technology is what caused
them to be this way, and to not care about societal norms and things. But that’s weak.
8. The Memorabilia was full on ancient words, ancient formulae, ancient reﬂections of meaning,
detached from minds that had died long ago, when a different sort of society had passed into
oblivion. There was little of it that could still be understood. Certain papers seemed as
meaningless as a Breviary would seem to a shaman of the nomad tribes. Others retained a
certain ornamental beauty or an orderliness that hinted of meaning, as a rosary might suggest
a necklace to a nomad.The earliest monks of the Liebowitzian Order had tried to press a sort
of Veronica’s Veil to the face of a cruciﬁed civilization; it had come away marked with an
image of the face of ancient grandeur, but the image was faintly printed, incomplete, and hard
to understand.... The Memorabilia could not, of itself, generate a revival of ancient science or
high civilization, however, for cultures were begotten by the tribes of Man, not by musty tomes;
but the books could help, Dom Paulo hopes—the books could point out directions and offer
hints to a newly evolving science....
- this is a good quote and I could probably work with it. Here, we see how a reliance on
technology can create dystopia by destroying knowledge. Tighten that up. The most signiﬁcant
way that technology creates dystopia is through the loss of knowledge that was so reliant on
technology itself. I mean that, because so much of our knowledge relied on technology—so
much of what we did was meaningless because it was just technology—then the failure of that
technology means a failure of civilization itself.
9. Ignorance has been our king. Since the death of empire, he sits unchallenged on the throne of
Man. His dynasty is age-old. His right to rule is now considered legitimate. Past sages have
afﬁrmed it. They did nothing to unseat him. “Tomorrow, a new prince shall rule. Men of
understanding, men of science shall stand behind his throne, and the universe will come to
know his might. His name is Truth. His empire shall encompass the Earth. And the mastery of
Man over the Earth shall be renewed. A century from now, men will ﬂy through the air in
mechanical birds. Metal carriages will race along roads of man-made stone. There will be
buildings of thirty stories, ships that go under the sea, machines to perform all works. “And
how will this come to pass?” He paused and lowered his voice. “In the same way all change
comes to pass, I fear. And I am sorry it is so. It will come to pass by violence and upheaval, by
ﬂame and by fury, for no chance comes calmly over the world.”
- so technology caused this ignorance, but a new technology that may for a time create truth
again will again create another ignorance. He foreshadows this by mentioning the ﬂame and fury,
with is reminiscent of the Flame Deluge that caused the ignorance in the ﬁrst place
10. testing testing testing? testing testing? damnation? why the crazy capitals now is the time for
all good memorizers to gum to the ache of the bookleggers? Drat, can you do better in Latin?
Now translate, neccesse est epistulam sacri collegio mittandam esse statim dictem? What’s
wrong with the blasted thing?
- shows that this reliance on technology has returned - too much of a reliance on technology can breed ignorance—he doesn’t write it himself, he is
reliant on a machine to do it for him
- but the machine fails, and his goal is not achieved
- just as if all technology fails, society will fall apart
1. Reliance on technology can result in dystopia—a reliance on technology as a place to store
knowledge (i.e. the only knowledge that remains is useless, because important knowledge
was stored using technology); reliance on technology to work for us (i.e. it took them 600
years to build even a lamp again because technology was lost, and few truly understood how
it had worked in the ﬁrst place); and I can also mention that this reliance on technology as a
protector/weapon is what really led to the nuclear war, and anger at this technology is what
caused the dystopia that followed. Reliance on technology—> people thinking that it will
protect them no matter what—> assured mutual destruction—> reliance that "our technology
is better"—> mutual destruction. This reliance on technology never leaves (like Garden of
Eden mythology?) and so humanity is doomed to repeat itself.
2. Technology creates dystopia for humanity but not for nature, because nature has no relation
to technology—at the end of every section there is some sort of evidence of dystopia, but the
buzzards/sharks remain the same. They don't care who they eat—whether it is a monk or an
animal. They are outside of bias. Technology created Brother Francis's dystopia, but the
buzzards were not affected. Technology createdApollo's dystopia, but the buzzards were not
affected. Technology created the ﬁnal dystopia but the shark is ﬁne. Hungry, but implied to
go on living.
Tyler and his mother live in a guest house on the property of E.D. Lawton, his wife Carol, and
their kids, Jason and Diane. One night while stargazing, the three kids see the stars go out.
Telecommunications no longer work, as satellites fall out of the sky.
An opaque black membrane, called the “Spin membrane”, has been placed around the entire
Earth. Eventually the world realizes that time has been slowed down for them. Spacecraft can get
through the membrane, but the Earth is protected from the harmful effects of stellar radiation and
comets.Asimulated sun allows for life to continue as normal on Earth, but outside a lot of time
passes. The Chinese attempt to attack the membrane but it doesn’t work, and so it is left alone for
the time being.
Jason studies science and joins his father at Perihelion, an aerospace research ﬁrm which
attempts to deal with the Spin. Tyler becomes a Doctor. Diane marries a man named Simon and
Jason becomes head of Perihelion and Tyler becomes his personal doctor. Jason explains the plan
to terraform Mars in hopes that new Martian colonies will be able to help with the problem of the
Spin. Soon after, however, Mars is enclosed in its own Spin membrane. Before this, however, a
Martian named Wun is sent to Earth. Jason takes a bioengineered product from Wun that puts
him into a fourth stage of life, past adulthood. This cures his MS. Jason and Wun then develop a plan to send nanotechnology through the outer solar system. The technology will hopefully ﬁnd
out the mystery of the Spin. Wun is killed before this happens, but the plan goes ahead.
Tyler leaves Perihelion after being betrayed by his girlfriend and moves to California. There, he
gets a call from Diane’s husband Simon, who says that Diane is sick.As Tyler goes to help her
the Spin membrane seems to fail, and stars return to the sky. The sun the next day is very close
and bright. Tyler ﬁnds that Diane is suffering from a disease she contracted from cows, and he
treats her the same way he treated Jason. He takes her back to her home and Jason is there too,
dying because he has become a human receiver for the nanotechnology seeded through the
galaxy. He also explains the the Hypotheticals are intelligent von neumann machines spread
through the galaxy billions of years before. They devised a plan by which they could help planets
on the brink of societal collapse in Spin membranes to slow their advancement until a way could
be found to save them. Jason dies after this, and has Tyler mail copies of the information around
Tyler gives the treatment to Diane, who recovers.AnArch is placed on the planet, which allows
those from EArth to move to another planet. Diane and Tyler, now married, ﬂee there together
from US ofﬁcials who want to arrest them for the possession of Martian technology. Tyler
becomes a Fourth as well and the two pass through theArch together.
1. 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.
- there is almost no way that this quote will come up, but if it does I can say that technology
creates dystopia by its nature of being beyond human understanding. Humans cannot
understanding it, therefore cannot control it, and therefore it controls them (like the Spin).
2. People began to speak of a “hypothetical controlling intelligence”. 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.
- I could mention that technology creates dystopia because we cannot understand it. Humans
cannot contemplate that more time could have passed out there than in the Earth, and so they
say that he is insane. It is the only explanation they can offer. This leads to more false
explanations, etc, which eventually lead to madness.
3. “But the idea of a time gradient has a certain explanatory power. If there’s a time differential
between us and the universe, ambient radiation reaching the surface of the Earth at any given
moment—sunlight, X-Rays, cosmic radiation—would be speeded up proportionally. And a
year’s worth of sunshine condensed into ten seconds would be instantly lethal. So the
electromagnetic barrier around the Earth isn’t concealing us, it’s protecting us. It’s screening
out all that concentrated—and, I guess, blue-shifted—radiation.... The tides, our trajectory
around the sun—mass, momentum, gravitation—all these things are being manipulated, not
just to 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.” “I think we’d have to admit that,” Jason said, “yes.” “This
is being done to us.” - this shows how technology can inﬂuence identity through faith
- Jason turns to a very scientiﬁc faith in order to explain what has happened to them and
convince himself that they are being protected
- Diane turns to religious faith in order to help herself feel as if the spin has meaning
- Molly abandons faith, and instead prepares for the end in the most comfortable way that she
4. “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. Then 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.”
- this can also show dystopia as a result of technology that cannot be understood
- it deﬁes human understanding, and so people turn to things like looting and killing in order to
make sense of it
- I guess I could also say the identity thing here too
5. We could see the nearest part of the Archway: a cloud-colored vertical line that rose from the
horizon and vanished, still rising, into blue haze. As impressive as this seemed, only a fraction
of the whole structure was visible from the west coast of Sumatra. The Archway’s far leg
descended to the undersea peaks of the Carpenter Ridge more than a thousand kilometers
away, spanning the Mentawai French like a wedding band dropped edge-up into a shallow
pond.... It was a technology, in the famous quotation, “indistinguishable from magic.” What
else but magic would allow the uninterrupted ﬂow of air and sea from the Bay of Bengal to the
Indian Ocean but would transport a surface vessel to far stranger ports? What was it made of,
and how did it do what it did?
- the indistinguishable from magic thing is what I could talk about here. Should I relate that to
the identity question or the dystopia question? I think identity. It is a technology that deﬁes
human understanding, and so identity in terms of faith is shifted in order to make sense of it.
6. But still, eight years after the Spin had been made public, only a minority of Europeans and
North Americans considered it a “threat to themselves or their families.” In much of Asia, and
the Middle East, sturdy majorities considered the whole thing a US plot or accident, probably
a failed attempt to create some kind of SDI defense system.
- it inﬂuences our faith. Some people turn to science, some people turn to religion, some people
turn to conspiracy. It is too much to understand and so we have to change our ways of
understanding the world in order to cope with it.
7. Cosmology 101, right? You picked it up from all those paperbacks you used to read, it’s second
nature to you, but for most people it’s a whole new worldview and probably offensive to a
bunch of their core beliefs....