reading · science fiction

Random Quotes from Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, Part 2

I am still not done with this book. I don’t know how long I’ve had it, but months and months and months. It’s taking forever to finish. Almost near the end, though. Figured I would share a few more quotes that made go: Ohhh, really?!!!

In its simplest terms, sf and utopian fiction have been concerned with imagining progressive alternatives to the status quo, often implying critiques of contemporary conditions or possible future outcomes of current social trends.

– from Marxism, science fiction and Utopia by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr.

Personally, what I like best is how it says “sf and utopian fiction” as though Utopian fiction is not SF. I think it is, but someone disagrees with me.

Science fiction emerging as a genre at the same that literary modernism was passing its high-water mark, perhaps in the same way that the gothic emerged with the growth of the realist novel in the eighteenth century.

-from Postmodernism and science fiction by Andrew M. Butler

This is just plain interesting. Not sure it means anything, but it’s pretty interesting.

Critics of sf have generally agreed that science fiction is a ‘literature of ideas’. Indeed, for many people, it is the ideational content of sf that is its primary characteristic. Sexuality is also an idea.

– from Science fiction and queer theory  by Wendy Pearson

I think people still have trouble with sexuality in books –  it is the biggest reason for banning/challenging books.

Science fiction’s task, often, is to make visible to us the unthinking assumptions that limit human potentiality; epistemologies of sexuality are just as blinding and just important to the construction of any future society as are epistemologies of science.

– from Science fiction and queer theory  by Wendy Pearson

Don’t think this is limited to science fiction. I think all types of books can do that. And I am not sure science fiction does it more often than other types of books. But I would hope science fiction explores the science of sexuality better than any other type of fiction.

The feature that unites every kind of sf in the construction – in some sense – of a world other than our own.

– from Icons of science fiction by Gwyneth Jones

See, world building is what makes SF different from every other type of story and also what unites all the different sub-genres of SF. Nothing else! Plot, character and world-building make a perfect triumvirate.


5 thoughts on “Random Quotes from Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, Part 2

  1. Just commenting further on some quotes that jumped out at me…

    I agree that utopian fiction isn’t necessarily SF. It could easily be fantasy, or (as was the original Utopia) a fictional travelogue. I think the important distinction is the critique of current society by comparing it to the author’s ideal.

    As for sexuality, I’ve seen some SF where the sexual concepts got in the way of the story. These kind of things can be done right — I’ve read some very engaging stories that made the monogamous straight guy the total oddball of the piece — but there needs to be that familiar jumping-off point. Pun not intended.

    Finally, world-building can be just as important to other genres — fantasy and horror, especially. Even urban fantasy, using our own reality as a starting point, has to work under a consistent & believable set of rules that differ from our own in sometimes significant ways. Historical fiction has this issue to a lesser extent — the rules are already laid out for the author though.

  2. I supposed I’ve always considered Uuopia a subset of sf. But I’ve never read the original Utopia – I should!

    Sex is appearing more and more often in sf and I don’t know, sometimes it adds to the story, sometime it doesn’t.

    Yep, totally agree about the world-building! I should have been more clear – I meant speculative fiction as a whole.

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