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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.

«This book marked the beginning of theoretically sophisticated science fiction criticism; it changed the whole field, and remains a startling introduction to a discussion that has not ended since its first appearance.»
(Kim Stanley Robinson, author of 2312 and Aurora)

«Suvin’s classic book is not only a fundamental history of science fiction which deprovincializes our rather narrow and English-language view of the canon; it is also a powerful theoretical intervention in the criticism and theory of the genre, which reunited it with the traditions of utopia as a genre. Not only did this paradigm shift transform our relationship to the latter, it also restored a political and social content to science fiction itself, making of the latter an implicit or explicit Brechtian estrangement-effect. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction is thereby an indispensable companion to the study of both genres, which durably integrates them into literary history and theory as such.»
(Fredric Jameson, Knut Schmidt Nielsen Professor of Comparative Literature, Duke University)