Learning from Other Worlds: Estrangement, Cognition, and the Politics of Science Fiction and Utopia

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Patrick Parrinder
Duke University Press, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 312 pages
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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.

Contributors.
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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Contents

The Prehistory of Science Fiction Criticism
19
Revisiting Suvins Poetics of Science Fiction PATRICK PARRINDER
36
On Dystopia and the Novum TOM MOYLAN
51
A HistoricoPhilosophical Overview
72
The Blueprints for the Forthcoming
98
From the Images of Science to Science Fiction GERARD KLEIN
119
John Wyndhams TheMidwich Cuckoos
146
Labyrinth Double and Mask in the Science Fiction
178
Were at the start of a new ball game and thats why were
193
Realism and Utopia
208
With Sober Estranged Eyes DARKO SUVIN
233
Checklist of Printed Items that Concern Science
272
Bibliography
291
Index
307
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

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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.

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