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Science Fiction Stories and Contexts NOTES.pdf

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Mike Johnstone

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Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts Reading Notes ABrief Introduction to Science Fiction and Its History - literary heritage that goes back to our earliest stories in myth and epic - uniquely modern genre, because it is shaped by the contemporary world - addresses the “why?” and “what it?” - was ignored by literary scholars in the past but is increasingly coming to be seen as relevant - like magic realism and postmodern fiction, science fiction goes against the dominant trend of realistic fiction - how do you define science fiction? - examples: Star Trek - tropes: robots and aliens - “the literature of change or a modern mythology” - a speculative mode of thought that might be compared to the scientific method or pictured as a complex and unique interaction between a story and its readers - distinguished from fantasy by its plausibility - emphasis on change - it is a branch of imaginative literature - introduce one or more elements that represent a fundamental divergence from the known world - the term “speculative fiction” is often used - science fiction insists on a connection with the world we know - Darko Suvin (SF critic) emphasizes the importance of the interaction between reality and speculation produced by a combination of rational plausibility and the difference provided by the “novum”, or new thing, in science fiction - defines SF as a “literature of cognitive estrangement” - ideas are at the heart of SF - can trace its origins to the epic typified in the west by The Epic of Gilgamesh - like the epic, SF looks beyond the world as we know it; addresses questions about the nature of reality, the character of the past, the course of the future, the order of the universe, and what it means to be human - can also trace origins to the utopian tradition in Plato’s Republic - utopia = thought experiment about the ideal place - utopia is a pun on the word “good place” (eutopia) and means “no place”, i.e. there is no utopia - fine line between utopia and dystopia (“bad place”) - both tend to be critiques of society - SF utopia stories are concerned with journeys to imaginary places
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