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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 Metafiction (Mariano Martín Rodríguez)

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← 184 | 185 →

Mariano Martín Rodríguez

Science Fiction Metafiction

‘Science fiction’ is, obviously, composed of two substantial elements: ‘science’ and ‘fiction’. In literature, fiction is constituted by any text that generates a possible world where imaginary events take place or imaginary objects exist; it operates as a construct of an artistic nature not expected to be factually true.1 Fictional worlds are created through language, and often through pre-existing rhetorical macro-devices, or formal genres such as the novel or drama, which are prevalent vehicles for literary fiction today. Fiction can be expressed, however, through non-novelistic, and even non-narrative devices. There are fictional works entirely written using diverse prescriptive discourses, from legal codes to directions (Martín Rodríguez 2015), and there are also texts written as mock advertising (Martín Rodríguez 2016). In both cases, they may posit alternate or futuristic imaginary worlds, thus taking on the conventions of SF and/or speculative texts and fulfilling the above semantic criterion for fiction.

The main way in which fiction writing masquerades as non-fiction is related, however, to the first element of the SF linguistic formula: science. This is not the place to discuss what science is, or which sciences are, indeed, ‘scientific’. However, both the human, or ‘soft’ sciences (such as historiography, ← 185 | 186 → ethnology or philology), and the experimental and highly mathematized ‘hard’ sciences (such as physics or chemistry), are commonly associated with scientific and academic status in our society. More importantly...

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