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Conveying Unknown Worlds: Patterns of Communication in Science Fiction

George Slusser and Danièle Chatelain
Science Fiction Studies
Vol. 29, No. 2 (Jul., 2002), pp. 161-185
Published by: SF-TH Inc
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4241071
Page Count: 25
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Conveying Unknown Worlds: Patterns of Communication in Science Fiction
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Abstract

Sf narrative, at its origins, makes use of two conventional narrative forms: the travel narrative and the historical narrative. Working according to its material imperative, sf has also seen scientific discoveries challenge these conventions and ultimately prove them inadequate. This is especially true in the case of the sf narrative conveying information about unknown worlds of the past or future to its reader. Some sf narratives, even in situations of extreme displacement of the narrator's audience in relation to its flesh and blood reader, continue contrafactually to rely on conventional forms and to shut their eyes to the problem. Others, however, such as those discussed in this essay, both are aware of problems created by spatiotemporal displacement and clearly seek to develop new narrative patterns to deal with them. "Newness" in sf is usually claimed for themes and content. Theme and form are inseparable, however, and we hope to show how sf, in responding to new time-space situations generated by science, proves highly creative on the formal level as well.

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