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Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East

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Edited By Anindita Banerjee and Sonja Fritzsche

The first collection of its kind, this anthology documents a radically different geography and history of science fiction in the world. Western, specifically Anglo-American, SF is not the only hub of the global trade of alternative realities and futures. Rather it is but only one of several competing flows and circuits of distribution, contacts, influence, translation, adaptation, and collaboration, across space and time. The essays collected here focus on arguably the biggest and most influential of those competing hubs: the socialist world and its extensive cultural networks across the global South and East. Written by scholars from around the world, the chapters address the «other» transatlantic of the Caribbean, Latin America, African America, and the Soviet Union; the surprising multitude of transnational networks behind the Iron Curtain; and asymptotic and subterranean discourses across Russia, India, and China. Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East is intended for scholars, students, and fans interested in science fiction, popular culture, comparative literature, film studies, postcolonialism, techno-science, translation studies, and the literature and cultures of China, Cuba, Germany, India, Mexico, Poland, and Russia.

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4 Alien Evolution and Dialectical Materialism in Eastern European Science Fiction (Carl Gelderloos)

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CARL GELDERLOOS

4 Alien Evolution and Dialectical Materialism in Eastern European Science Fiction1

In his 1968 essay “About 5,750 Words,” Samuel Delany dilates the reading process, slowing it to a crawl in order to argue that science fiction (SF) constitutes a distinct mode of signification and reading. In Delany’s view, the normal functioning of the text, whereby each successive word modifies the image accumulating in the mind of the reader, takes on a unique cast in SF texts, differentiating them from other kinds of fiction. As an example, he offers a winged dog:

Let us examine what happens between the following two words:

winged dog

As naturalistic fiction it is meaningless. As fantasy it is merely a visual correction. At the subjunctive level of SF, however, one must momentarily consider, as one makes that visual correction, an entire track of evolution: whether the dog has forelegs or not. The visual correction must include modification of breastbone and musculature if the wings are to be functional, as well as a whole slew of other factors from hollow bones to heart rate; or if we subsequently learn as the series of words goes on that grafting was the cause, there are all the implications (to consider) of a technology capable of such an operation. All of this information hovers tacitly about and between those two words. (12–13)

One merit of Delany’s definition is the way...

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