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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 First Edition (1979)


Various versions and parts of this work have benefited from the financial assistance of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the Humanities Research fund at McGill University, and especially of several Canada Council research grants. The bulk of the book was prepared during the 1973–1974 sabbatical leave granted me by McGill University and partly supported by a Canada Council Leave Fellowship. My sincere thanks go to all these institutions, whose encouragement was not merely material, as well as to the main libraries whose staff facilitated my research: the McLennan Library at McGill University (and in particular its Inter-Library Loans department, unfailingly helpful above and beyond the call of duty), the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, the libraries of Yale, Indiana, and Cambridge universities, the British Library in London, the national Libraries at Paris and Florence, and the National University Library at Zagreb.

Earlier reasonably recognizable versions of various chapters – as a rule significantly changed or enlarged in the present book – were first published in the following periodicals: chapter 1 in College English No. 3 (1972) (Copyright © 1972 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted by permission), and in a differing version in Foundation No. 2 (1972); chapter 2 in Genre No. 3 (1973); chapter 3 in Studies in the Literary Imagination No. 2 (1973); the first part of chapter 5 and chapter 6 in Science-Fiction Studies No. 4 (1974) and No. 10 (1976); the first part of chapter 7 in...

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