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p. 1Introductionlocked

  • David Seed

Abstract

Science fiction has proved notoriously difficult to define. It has variously been explained as a combination of romance, science, and prophecy (Hugo Gernsback), ‘realistic speculation about future events’ (Robert Heinlein), and a genre based on an imagined alternative to the reader's environment (Darko Suvin). It has been called a form of fantastic fiction and an historical literature. This volume will not attempt to reduce these explanations to a single, comprehensive definition. That way madness lies. Instead, I shall outline here some of the guiding presumptions which will be used throughout this introduction. Firstly, to call science fiction (SF) a genre causes problems because it does not recognize the hybrid nature of many SF works. It is more helpful to think of it as a mode or field where different genres and subgenres intersect. And then there is the issue of science. In the early decades of the 20th century, a number of writers attempted to tie this fiction to science and even to use it as a means of promoting scientific knowledge, a position which continues into what has become known as ‘hard SF’. Applied science – technology – has been much more widely discussed in SF because every technological innovation affects the structure of our society and the nature of our behaviour. Technology has repeatedly been associated with the future by SF, but it does not follow that the fiction is therefore ...

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