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A Companion


Edited By Jack Fennell

What is Sci-Fi?

Science fiction is a non-realist genre that foregrounds a sense of material plausibility, insisting that despite seeming outlandish, it is consonant with history and the laws of nature. By turns subtle and bombastic, sci-fi revels in discovery and revelation, whether through human ingenuity or world-altering paradigm shifts. The same impulse informs both the idealism of Star Trek and the existential terror of Frankenstein.

Each chapter of this book examines a specific trope or theme through a different critical lens – including eco-criticism, feminism and historicism – while also providing a historical overview of the genre, from its disputed origins to the pulp era, the New Wave, and the exponential growth of Afrofuturism and Indigenous Futurisms. Revered masters such as Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler and Iain M. Banks are considered alongside newer talents, including Rebecca Roanhorse and N. K. Jemisin. Other chapters provide overviews of different media, from television (Doctor Who, Westworld) to comics/manga (2000AD, Métal Hurlant), video games (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) and theatre (Alistair McDowall’s X).

Sci-Fi: A Companion not only provides an accessible introduction to sci-fi for general readers and researchers alike, but also illuminates new approaches to a familiar genre.

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12 Years a Slave, dir. Steve McQueen (Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2013).

2012, dir. Roland Emmerich (Columbia, 2008).

Abbot, Carl, Frontiers Past and Future: Science Fiction and the American West (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006).

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Adams, Gretchen, The Specter of Salem. Remembering the Witch Trials in Nineteenth-Century America (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008).

Agamben, Giorgio, The Open: Man and Animal (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004).

Albrecht, Gary L., Michael Bury and Katherine D. Seelman, eds, Handbook of Disability Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2001).

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