John Robert Colombo
Science Fiction in Bulgaria
Abstract .--This essay is an overview of the development and evolution
of SF in Bulgaria. It highlights the works of certain Bulgarian SF writers such as Pavel
Vezinov, Ljuben Dilov, Gerov, Konstantinova, Koralov, Minkov, Nakovski, Raditchkov and
others. Further, it describes the active SF fandom in Bulgaria.
A Survey of Dutch and Flemish Science Fiction
Abstract.--This essay gives a brief account of Dutch and Flemish SF
fandom, a survey of the market of translated SF in Holland and Belgium, and a history of
original Dutch and Flemish SF.
John L. Grigsby
Asimov's FOUNDATION Trilogy and Herbert's DUNETrilogy: A Vision Reversed
Abstract .--Asimov's FOUNDATION trilogy and Herbert's DUNE
series have enjoyed world-wide success. But if they have been often studied and analyzed
individually, it is rare that they have been directly compared one with the other. The
comparative structure of these works suggests that Herbert used Asimov as one of his
principal sources. In both cases, for example, one finds the same dynamic theme as the
central plot device: a movement from the center--a decadent civilization--to the periphery
where civilization is renewed. Within these large similarities of movement and design,
there are also numerous specific similarities of action, setting, and character, all of
which point to Herbert's adaptation of ideas from Asimov.
David J. Lake
Le Guin's Twofold Vision: Contrary Image-Sets in The
Left Hand of Darkness
Abstract .--A large part of the effectiveness of Ursula Le Guin's
novel The Left Hand of Darkness depends on the use of two series of images in
opposition to each other. The "cold team" (cold, light, white, ice, pale
liquids, left hand) corresponds to the yang of the Chinese tradition whereas the
"warm team" (warmth, darkness, red, earth, blood, right hand) corresponds to the
On the whole, the "cold team" images correlate with each other and symbolize rationalism,
certain knowledge, tyranny, isolation, betrayal, death; and the "warm team"
images correlate with each other and symbolize intuition, ignorance, freedom,
relationship, fidelity, life. The "cold team" images mostly correlate also
with the nation of Orgoreyn, the "warm team" with the nation of Karhide.
The philosophy of William Blake is very useful for a comprehension of Le Guin's novel
since it too concerns a balance of opposites similar to those of Le Guin's taoism.
Zola, Wells, and "The Coming Beast"
Abstract .--In this essay, the author argues that although it would
not be strictly appropriate to cite Zola as a significant and immediate
"influence" on Wells, there is one instance at least in which a parallel between
the two novelists may be drawn. Both men were powerfully affected by notions originating
in the general fin de sicle concept of Social Darwinism, and their work is best
appreciated against the broad spectrum of ideas deriving from the study of
"scientific sociology." Wells offers nothing quite comparable with the prolonged
illustration of "la question d'hrdit" so pervasive in Zola's writings; yet
in certain respects the conception of The Time Machine (1895) appears to owe
something to motifs which had already been worked upon in the 19th Rougon-Macquart novel, Germinal
Filling the Void: Verne, Wells, and Lem
Abstract.--Concerned with the human in relation to the
non-human, SF could only emerge in the context of a culture that articulates crucial
aspects of its experience in those terms. Moreover, because it represents a secular
transformation of religious concerns, SF could only emerge in a context in which the
claims of traditional religion were still felt but in which belief was at best
The Victorian situation of urban man disconnected from God, cut off from
nature, separated from other men, is of course our own; it is in the 19th century that the
modern age of alienation begins. SF can be understood in the context of 19th and
20th-century spiritual loneliness as a manifestation of our culture's longing to escape
the prison-house of the merely human. It might be considered as an attempt to reestablish,
in some way that will sustain conviction even in our technological and post-Christian
culture, the channels of communication with the non-human world.
Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth can be taken as representative of
all those narratives in which the non-human is inanimate and projected as existing
"out there." There is a logical continuity between these stories of the
exploration of Nature and tales of alien contact, exemplified by Wells' The War of the
Worlds, where Nature is animated with other living beings. This latter work also
demonstrates how difficult it is for fictional narratives to portray the radically
non-human, a problem directly addressed by Lem's Solaris. By making the alien
planet Solaris unyieldingly problematic, Lem shifts the narrative emphasis from the
exterior object to the process of inquiry itself--i.e., an exploration of the limits of
human understanding when faced with the inscrutably non-human.
Richard Alan Schwartz
Thomas Pynchon and the Evolution of Fiction
Abstract .--This essay studies the reasons why Pynchon, Barth, Coover
and other contemporary authors felt the need to abandon traditional realist techniques in
order to remain faithful to certain views of the 20th century concerning the dismissal of
absolute truths, dichotomized thinking, and belief in the unlimited potential of human
reason. This quest for non-realist or "irrealist" literary forms led these
canonical writers in different directions. Several of Pynchon's works in particular, like Gravity's
Rainbow and The Crying of Lot 49, reflect definite SF qualities in that they
are a meditation on the human condition while avoiding the constraints and contradictions
implicit in realism. Such works could provide a bridge between SF and "high"
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