Aliens: The Anthropology of Science Fiction

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Southern Illinois University Press, 1987 - Literary Collections - 243 pages
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How and when does there come to be an "an­thropology of the alien?” This set of essays, written for the eighth J. Lloyd Eaton Confer­ence on Fantasy and Science Fiction, is con­cerned with the significance of that question. "[Anthropology] is the science that must desig­nate the alien if it is to redefine a place for itself in the universe,” according to the Introduction.


The idea of the alien is not new. In the Re­naissance, Montaigne’s purpose in describing an alien encounter was excorporation--man­kind was the "savage” because the artificial devices of nature controlled him. Shake­speare’s version of the alien encounter was in­corporation; his character of Caliban is brought to the artificial, political world of man and incor­porated into the body politic


"The essays in this volume . . . show, in their general orientation, that the tribe of

Shakespeare still, in literary studies at least, outnumbers that of Montaigne.” These essays show the interrelation of the excorporating pos­sibilities to the internal soundings of the alien encounter within the human mind and form.


This book is divided into three parts: "Searchings: The Quest for the Alien” includes "The Aliens in Our Mind,” by Larry Niven; "Effing the Ineffable,” by Gregory Benford; "Border Patrols,” by Michael Beehler; "Alien Aliens,” by Pascal Ducommun; and "Metamorphoses of the Dragon,” by George E. Slusser.


"Sightings: The Aliens among Us” includes "Discriminating among Friends,” by John Huntington; "Sex, Superman, Sociobiology,” by Joseph D. Miller; "Cowboys and Telepaths,” by Eric S. Rabkin; "Robots,” by Noel Perrin; "Aliens in the Supermarket,” by George R. Guffey; and "Aliens 'R’ U.S.,” by Zoe Sofia.


"Soundings: Man as the Alien” includes "H. G. Wells’ Familiar Aliens,” by John R. Reed; "Inspiration and Possession,” by Clayton Koelb; "Cybernauts in Cyberspace,” by David Porush; "The Human Alien,” by Leighton Brett Cooke; "From Astarte to Barbie,” by Frank McConnell; and "An Indication of Monsters;” by Colin Greenland.

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About the author (1987)

George E. Slusser is Curator of the Eaton Collection and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Riverside.   Eric S. Rabkin is Professor of English at the University of Michigan. He is author of The Fantastic in Literature.

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