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Sci-Fi

A Companion

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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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Science Fiction and the Gothic (1770–1912) (José Manuel Correoso-Rodenas)

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José Manuel Correoso-Rodenas

Science Fiction and the Gothic (1770–1912)1

In 2009, Carol Margaret Davison argued that in H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds (1898), ‘the Gothic is […] distilled at the end of the century into the burgeoning domain of Science Fiction’ (223). That same year, Jarlath Killeen showed that Gothic literature had been interested in the development of SF-ish or futuristic topics throughout the nineteenth century (Killeen 2009). It is true that the fin de siècle witnessed a blooming of both genres, marking a period in which the conventions concerning both became interchangeable, as Patrick Brantlinger (1980) has argued. Not in vain, Edith Wharton, in the Preface of her ghost stories, highlights the disturbing nature of the turn of every century: the Enlightenment at the end of the eighteenth century provoked the appearance of Gothic novel, and the second industrial revolution at the end of the nineteenth motivated a revival of the genre, along with the first golden age of SF.2 However, the Gothic had been paving the way for the awakening of SF since at least 1818, with the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This chapter will explore the interrelations between the two genres and show how the so-called classic Gothic (those works produced in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries)3 contributed to shaping the twentieth and twenty-first centuries’ Gothic SF. ← 9 | 10 →

Since its appearance in the second half of the eighteenth century,...

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