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Science Fiction : Through a Glass Darkly An introduction to and survey of the science fiction genre Western High School English Dept.

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Presentation on theme: "Science Fiction : Through a Glass Darkly An introduction to and survey of the science fiction genre Western High School English Dept."— Presentation transcript:

1 Science Fiction : Through a Glass Darkly An introduction to and survey of the science fiction genre Western High School English Dept.


3 Why SF? What is SF? Why SF? What is its purpose? How has it been used? Discuss. What is SF? How does one define the genre? Many different definitions and attempts to explain what SF is. What can we agree upon? Discuss.

4 Like, what’s it all about???

5 Well, let’s talk about that! Group jigsaw, paraphrase, presentation, and discussion: –Divide into your groups –Read your quote at least twice. –Work together to define terms you do not know (yes, it’s OK to use the dictionary!), and paraphrase the quote (put it into your own words, in regular high school English). –Draw a graphic/picture to reflect your paraphrase –Then discuss how well the quote fits your own understanding of the definition of SF. –You’ll be presenting to the class.

6 How have others defined SF? Gregory Benford:[Group 1] “SF is a controlled way to think and dream about the future. An integration of the mood and attitude of science (the objective universe) with the fears and hopes that spring from the unconscious. Anything that turns you and your social context, the social you, inside out. Nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible.”

7 How have others defined SF? James E. Gunn:[Group 2] “SF is the branch of literature that deals with the effects of change on people in the real world as it can be projected into the past, the future, or to distant places. It often concerns itself with scientific or technological change, and it usually involves matters whose importance is greater than the individual or the community; often civilization or the race itself is in danger.” From “Introduction,” The Road to Science Fiction, Vol. 1, NEL, New York, 1977.

8 How have others defined SF? Sam Moskowitz:[Group 3] “SF is a branch of fantasy identifiable by the fact that it eases the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ on the part of its readers by utilizing an atmosphere of scientific credibility for its imaginative speculations in physical science, space, time, social science, and philosophy.”

9 How have others defined SF? Theodore Sturgeon:[Group 4] “A SF story is a story built around human beings, with a human problem and a human solution, which would not have happened at all without its scientific content.” definition given by William Atheling, Jr. (James Blish) in The Issue at Hand: Studies in Contemporary Magazine Fiction, Chicago, 1964

10 How have others defined SF? Robert Scholes:[Group 5] Fabulation is any “fiction that offers us a world clearly and radically discontinuous from the one we know, yet returns to confront that known world in some cognitive way. Structural fabulation is neither scientific in its methods, nor a substitute for actual science. It is a fictional exploration of human situations made perceptible by the implications of recent science.” 1975

11 How have others defined SF? Darko Suvin:[Group 6] Science fiction is “a literary or verbal construct whose necessary and sufficient conditions are the presence and interaction of estrangement and cognition, and whose main device is an imaginative framework alternative to the author’s empirical environment.” 1979 (P.S. Darko is a popular Yugoslavian name.)

12 How have others defined SF? Damien Broderick:[Group 7] “ SF is that species of storytelling native to a culture undergoing the epistemic changes implicated in the rise and supercession of technical-industrial modes of production, distribution, consumption and disposal.” 1995

13 How have others defined SF? Heather Masri:[Group 8] “…SF can be seen as a speculative mode of thought that might be compared to the scientific method…. [It] portray[s] a world that is not merely fictional but radically different from the one we normally think of ourselves as inhabiting.” Many SF writers see themselves as “well-informed and shrewd observers rather than prophets. …SF provides a kind of social service by helping a culture think about the outcomes of its actions and adjust to a world of increasingly quick technological and sociological change.” 1995, “A Brief Introduction to Science Fiction and Its History,” Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts”

14 Let’s define some terms. What is fabulation? What is a construct? What is estrangement? What is cognition? What is empirical? What is epistemic? What is speculative?

15 The envelope, please. What is fabulation? –Answer: Fabulation is the creation or invention of stories or fables, especially those in which fantasy has a major role. (“Fabulation,” – combination of Random House and American Heritage dictionary definitions)

16 Further revelations What is a construct? –A construct is something that has been constructed or built or formed or assembled or put together from other parts. (Is that enough synonyms for you?) (“Construct,” – from Random House Dictionary)

17 Further revelations What is estrangement? –Estrangement is the state of being turned away from, of being alienated, of being removed or kept at a distance, or even of being made unfriendly or hostile. (“Estrangement,” – from Random House Dictionary)

18 More demystifications What is cognition? –Cognition is “the act or process of knowing something; perception.” (“Cognition,” – from Random House Dictionary)

19 Still further clarification What is empirical? The meaning of the word empirical is best quoted: – adjective 1.derived from or guided by experience or experiment. 2.depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, esp. as in medicine. 3.provable or verifiable by experience or experiment. Synonyms: practical, firsthand (“Empirical,” – from Random House Dictionary)

20 …Aaaaand, another definition What is epistemic? –Well, epistemology is the study of how we know what we know. –So the word epistemic relates to knowledge and the conditions required for obtaining it. (“Epistemic,” – from Random House Dictionary)

21 So what is the purpose of SF? Introduce scientific concepts and advances (to teach or explain science) Take scientific and social developments to their further extremes, as a thought experiment; interrogate possible outcomes of our actions Comment upon social situations and injustices Investigate what it means to be human; help us see ourselves more clearly Ask “what if?” Escape


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