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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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Joreid McFate’s The Demon Plague (2004) – Time Travel (Marta María Gutiérrez Rodríguez)


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Marta María Gutiérrez Rodríguez

Joreid McFate’s The Demon Plague (2004)

The Salem (Massachusetts) witchcraft panic of 1692 is considered a dark moment in the history of the United States, one that has haunted the American psyche ever since (Adams 2008: 1; Demos 2008: 241; Baker 2015: 8; see Figure 19). Proof of this is found in the widespread use of the terms ‘witch’ and ‘witch-hunt’, in the news and even in recent political campaigns (Sollée 2017: 45–62), to the point that ‘[v]irtually every modern American is familiar with Salem as a popular metaphor for persecution’ (Adams 2008: 3). The association of the witch with the ‘other’, with those aspects that threaten our selves, has also resulted in the use of these terms ‘wherever appears some allegation of subversive intent, of conspiratorial menace, of concealed betrayal’ (Demos 2008: 249) or ‘to vividly illustrate the folly of a course of action by either fellow citizens or their government that they believed to be extreme, irrational, and capable of destroying the nation itself’ (Adams 2008: 3).

This event has inspired much writing in fields as diverse as historiography, prose literature, film and drama. More than 300 years later, scholars have not yet reached an agreement about the causes and reasons for the accusations that resulted ‘in the imprisonment of two hundred, the execution by hanging of nineteen, and the death of one man, Giles Corey, for refusing...

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