In Search of Elegance: Towards an Architecture of Satisfaction

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9780853235347: In Search of Elegance: Towards an Architecture of Satisfaction
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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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About the Author:

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.

Review:

"[A] demanding yet rewarding collection . . ."
--P. Schlueter," Choice"

"Science fiction studies has always been committed to exploring the relationship between science fiction and utopia, and all of the essays in this volume take up that task."
--American Literature

"[A] diverse collection of insightful elaborations and literary/cultural analyses . . . . Scholars working with Suvin's theories of literature and culture will be hard pressed to find a more timely and comprehensive collection."
--Jimmy McCroy, "SFRA Review"

"Most of the book will appeal to readers interested either in canonical science fiction or in Suvin's wide-ranging and provocative work; the theoretical essays will attract those studying the nature of science fiction. . . . [T]he other essays will attract those inquiring into specific subjects, such as a theme, text, or author, or the development of science fiction studies. . . . [A] well-timed, thoughtful examination of the field through commentary on a scholar whose work exemplifies it."
--Ellen Peel, "Modern Philology"

""Learning From Other Worlds "performs a difficult task admirably well. The task, as defined by Patrick Parrinder in his excellent introduction to this volume, is to bring together a representative variety of critical writings on science fiction that, despite their differences in critical approach, focus, and national origin, all build upon pioneering SF critic Darko Suvin's most salient themes. The task is difficult because one would be hard-pressed to find any work of SF criticism that did not respond to and/or build upon, either implicitly or explicitly, and either critically or approvingly, some aspect of Suvin's critical corpus on SF. Parrinder has chosen eleven recently authored essays exemplary of one among several interimplicated tendencies in the field of SF criticism, a tendency that he describes in the following passage."
--Alcena Madeline Davis Rogan," South Atlantic Review"

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