An introduction

This is a semi-public place to dump text too flimsy to even become a blog post. I wouldn't recommend reading it unless you have a lot of time to waste. You'd be better off at my livejournal. I also have another blog, and write most of the French journal summaries at the Eurozine Review.

Why do I clutter up the internet with this stuff at all? Mainly because I'm trying to get into the habit of displaying as much as possible of what I'm doing in public. Also, Blogger is a decent interface for a notebook

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

SF and victorian realism

The Goggles Do Nothing — Crooked Timber

The ancestry of modern SF lies as much in the 19th century “condition of England” novel as it does in more obvious ancestors like Frankenstein. That is to say – one of the skeins one can trace back through modern SF is a vein of sociological rather than scientific speculation, in which events happening to individual characters serve as a means to capture arguments about what is happening to society as a whole. In the nineteenth century, there was clearly a tension between the novel-as-fleshing-out-of-individual-experience and the novel-as-depiction-of-our-social-state (Middlemarch is one of the few novels I’ve read from this period that really manages these tensions successfully). Science fiction took one of these routes (an awful lot of early SF - e.g. H.G. Wells is primarily sociological speculation). Returning to the long nineteenth century is nothing more and nothing less than SF coming back to its roots.

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