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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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Considering the Sense of “Fantasy” or “Fantastic Fiction”: An Effusion*



This essay needs little if any updating, since it was written at a time when I had already waxed increasingly skeptical about the politico-epistemological presuppositions dominant in MOSF – as suggested in my preface to “SF: Metaphor, Parable, and Chronotope.” Of course, if one wanted to follow all the twists and turns of commercial publication and late imperialist ideology, its repertory would have to be updated; for example, Stephen King’s sales seem to have by 2006 reached 350 million copies. But such chronicling was never my intent; I was proposing rather a depth critique of what the title indicated: of the sense (meaning, and thus also influence) of a new congeries of literary genres – which then interact most intimately with comics, movies, TV series, and similar, not to mention our understanding of everyday lives. This congeries is reducible to a few paradigms which I analyzed as to their chronotope, agential forces, and other formal elements in relationship to the reader’s expectations and usage. Thus I have changed a handful of minor turns stylistically, but I stand by my stance and analyses of 2001 – so far as they go. But I can imagine two rather different matters of unfinished business which in an ideal world could have been additionally discussed.

First, I assume some important matters of the post-2008 galloping capitalist mass immiseration of huge majorities all over the world would deserve to be brought aboard, such as the exacerbation of militarismi and the rise...

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