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Metamorphoses of Science Fiction

On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre


Darko Suvin

Edited By Gerry Canavan

Returning to print for the first time since the 1980s, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction is the origin point for decades of literary and theoretical criticism of science fiction and related genres. Darko Suvin’s paradigm-setting definition of SF as «the literature of cognitive estrangement» established a robust theory of the genre that continues to spark fierce debate, as well as inspiring myriad intellectual descendants and disciples. Suvin’s centuries-spanning history of the genre links SF to a long tradition of utopian and satirical literatures crying out for a better world than this one, showing how SF and the imagination of utopia are now forever intertwined. In addition to the 1979 text of the book, this edition contains three additional essays from Suvin that update, expand and reconsider the terms of his original intervention, as well as a new introduction and preface that situate the book in the context of the decades of SF studies that have followed in its wake.
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Acknowledgements for the Classics Edition (2016)


This Ralahine Classics Edition is indebted to a great many persons who helped to make possible this much augmented reprint today. We (Canavan and Suvin) would first like to acknowledge the hard work of the editorial collective at Ralahine Utopian Studies, especially Tom Moylan, Christabel Scaife, and Joachim Fischer, who helped guide this Classics edition into existence. “Considering the Sense of ‘Fantasy’ or ‘Fantastic Fiction’: An Effusion” is repreinted with permission of The Kent State University Press. “Circumstances and Stances” is reprinted with permission from Darko Suvin: A Life in Letters, ed. Phil E. Wegner (Vashon Island, WA, 2011).

As editor of the volume, Gerry Canavan would also like to acknowledge the help of the support staff at Raynor Library at Marquette University, who provided technical assistance with the creation of a digital copy of the 1979 edition of Metamorphoses of Science Fiction, as well as the work of Zak Frankiewicz, whose effort producing the scanned manuscript for us was speedy, flawless, and absolutely indispensible to the project. Any errors or deviations from the original text are my responsibility. I would also like to acknowledge the contributions of a number of people who supported my work on this project at various stages, including Adrianne Wojcik, Jaimee Hills, Eileen Klein, Ben Robertson, Vijay Shah, Pawel Frelik, Rob Latham, Sherryl Vint, Mark Bould, China Miéville, Rhys Williams, Christopher Cokinos, Andrew Goldstone, Hugh O’Connell, Leslie Kay Swigart, Phil Wegner, Carl Freedman, Priscilla Wald, Fredric Jameson, and too many...

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