Science Fiction Studies

#54 = Volume 18, Part 2 = July 1991


Jim Jose

Reflections on the Politics of Le Guin's Narrative Shifts

Abstract.--In her various representations of utopian societies, Le Guin has over time altered her narrative strategy. Moreover, her shifts in narrative strategy derive as much from political considerations (including a desire to repudiate "euclidean'' thinking) as from any purely about literary technique. Indeed, it is her conscious concern with rendering utopia inhabitable, with creating a fictive world that people can (and would want to) live in, that explains the technical differences between The Dispossessed and Always Coming Home. 

Peter Swirski

Dystopia or Dischtopia: The Science-Fiction Paradigms of Thomas M. Disch

Abstract.--Disch's work has often been branded as dark and pessimistic in view of its predominant quasi-dystopian tonality. Yet a careful generic analysis of his three most important novels to date--Camp Concentration, 334, and On Wings of Song--reveals that Disch renounces dystopian "metaphysicality,'' with its inherent determinism, and instead firmly embeds his vision in the realistic, neutral world of SF. To be sure, his social SF does mirror many of the topical concerns of the classical dystopia. But as a consideration of the features common to the social paradigms in all three of his novels demonstrates, he uniquely fuses SF with dystopian social preoccupations in a way that makes for what can best be termed "Dischtopian'' fiction.  

Craig Thompson

Searching for Totality: Antinomy and the "Absolute'' in Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix

Abstract.--This article argues that the protagonist of Sterling's work is driven by a desire to achieve wholeness--a goal which cannot be reached until he rejects technological progress and embraces an Hegelian concept of totality. The article analyzes how Sterling employs Hegelian metaphysics as a means to acquiring this wholeness, and explicates the book by demonstrating how the characters' decisions relate to Hegel's philosophy. Ultimately the article claims that Sterling is able to provide only a formal vision of the Hegelian "Absolute.''

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