Learning from Other Worlds

Estrangement, Cognition, and the Politics of Science Fiction and Utopia

Learning from Other Worlds

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: Published: April 2001

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

Learning from Other Worlds provides both a portrait of the development of science fiction criticism as an intellectual field and a definitive look at the state of science fiction studies today. Its title refers to the essence of “cognitive estrangement” in relation to science fiction and utopian fiction—the assertion that by imagining strange worlds we learn to see our own world in a new perspective. Acknowledging an indebtedness to the groundbreaking work of Darko Suvin and his belief that the double movement of estrangement and cognition reflects deep structures of human storytelling, the contributors assert that learning-from-otherness is as natural and inevitable a process as the instinct for imitation and representation that Aristotle described in his Poetics.
In exploring the relationship between imaginative invention and that of allegory or fable, the essays in Learning from Other Worlds comment on the field’s most abiding concerns and employ a variety of critical approaches—from intellectual history and genre studies to biographical criticism, feminist cultural studies, and political textual analysis. Among the topics discussed are the works of John Wyndham, Kim Stanley Robinson, Stanislau Lem, H.G. Wells, and Ursula Le Guin, as well as the media’s reactions to the 1997 cloning of Dolly the Sheep. Darko Suvin’s characteristically outspoken and penetrating afterword responds to the essays in the volume and offers intimations of a further stage in his long and distinguished career.
This useful compendium and companion offers a coherent view of science fiction studies as it has evolved while paying tribute to the debt it owes Suvin, one of its first champions. As such, it will appeal to critics and students of science fiction, utopia, and fantasy writing.

Marc Angenot, Marleen S. Barr, Peter Fitting, Carl Freedman, Edward James, Fredric Jameson, David Ketterer, Gerard Klein, Tom Moylan, Rafail Nudelman, Darko Suvin



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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Patrick Parrinder is Professor of English at the University of Reading, England. His previous books include Authors and Authority: English and American Criticism, 1750–1990 and Shadows of the Future: H. G. Wells, Science Fiction, and Prophecy.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vi

Contributors vii

Introduction: Learning from Other Worlds / Patrick Parrinder 1

Part I. Science Fiction and Utopia: Theory and Politics

Before the Novum: The Prehistory of Science Fiction Criticism / Edward Jones 19

Revisiting Suvin's Poetics of Science Fiction / Patrick Parrinder 36

"Look into the dark": On Dystopia and the Novum / Tom Moylan 51

Science Fiction and Utopia: A Historico-Philosophical Overview / Carl Freedman 72

Society After the Revolution: The Blueprints for the Forthcoming Socialist Society published by the Leaders of the Second International / Marc Angenot 98

Part II. Science Fiction it its Social, Cultural, and Philosophical Contexts

From the Images of Science to Science Fiction / Gérard Klein 119

Estranged Invaders: The War of the Worlds / Peter Fitting 127

"A part of the . . . family[?]": John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos as Estranged Autobiography / David Ketterer 146

Labyrinth, Double and Mask in the Science Fiction of Stanislaw Lem / Rafail Nudelman 178

"We're at the start of a new ball game and that's why we're all real nervous": Or, Cloning—Technological Cognition Reflects Estrangement from Women / Marleen S. Barr 193

"If I find one good city I will spare the man": Realism and Utopia in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy / Fredric Jameson 208

Afterword: With Sober, Estranged Eyes / Darko Suvin 233

Darko Suvin: Checklist of Printed Items that Concern Science Fiction 272

Bibliography 291

Index 307
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2773-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2776-9
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