Science Fiction Studies

#91 = Volume 30, Part 3 = November 2003


  • Mark Bould and Andrew M. Butler, eds. Voices on the Boom
  • Andrew M. Butler. Towards a Reading List of the British Boom

Andrew M. Butler

Thirteen Ways of Looking at the British Boom

Abstract--Various observers have suggested that there is currently a Boom in British science fiction. This article attempts to map out various contexts for understanding the Boom, including the on-going long-term history of British sf, the current retreat of American science fiction, the aesthetics of the Boom, and the sense that people have been taking British sf seriously. The point is not so much to pin down the Boom as something strictly defined, but to open up a range of discourse about the Boom and its potential future.

Mark Bould

What Kind of Monster Are You?, Situating the Boom

Abstract--. This article attempts to situate the Boom in terms of several traditions in British fantasy materialist fantasy, gnostic fantasy, and telefantasy_typically excluded from discussions of sf. It then goes on to argue that one aspect of the British Boom in sf and fantasy is concerned with breaking through the highly artificial distinction between the two genres without losing respect for genre.

Roger Luckhurst

Cultural Governance, New Labor, and the British SF Boom

Abstract--. This essay explores the resurgence of British sf in the 1990s in the context of the transformation of British cultural life, in particular following the election of the New Labour government in May 1997. The argument does not propose that the boom starts with this election, only that Blairism consolidates trends in cultural policy that had been nascent throughout the 1990s. In particular, recent political theory about what has been called “cultural governance” the attempts to discipline culture to operate within a homogenized or “mainstreamed” sphere helps articulate some of the reasons for the revitalization of sf, fantasy, and the Gothic in Britain in the last few years. An examination of this field of cultural and political theory provides the detailed context for key works of the British Boom by James Lovegrove, Gwyneth Jones, Ken MacLeod, and Justina Robson.

Matt Hills

Counterfictions in the Work of Kim Newman:  Rewriting Gothic SF as Alternate-Story Stories

Abstract--. This essay considers how possible worlds theory has been applied to science fiction, arguing that such an approach has tended to obscure issues of intertextuality within science fiction’s diegetic world-building. Rather than addressing sf’s alternative histories as “counterfactuals,” it is suggested that “counterfictionality” may also be significant. This is defined as the process through which new texts borrow from, combine, and rework the narrative worlds of existent fictions in order to pay homage to, but also comment on, originating classics in the genre’s cultural history. Taking the work of British writer and film critic Kim Newman as a case study, the essay then focuses specifically on Newman’s gothic sf reworkings of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and on his retooling of Dracula (1890) in the novel Anno Dracula (1992). Analyzing these popular fictions intertextually leads into a consideration of how Newman draws on literary/cultural theory to inform his counterfictions. His rewritings of gothic sf are also critical re-readings: “Further Developments in the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1999) is a queer reading of the original Stevenson novella, while Anno Dracula challenges the imperial power relations and foreign others of Stoker’s novel. Rather than addressing “counterfictionality” simply as an example of postmodern, self-referential fiction, it is argued that Kim Newman’s work indicates the need to carefully consider the cultural politics and theories underlying “alternate-story stories.”

Joan Gordon

Hybridity, Heterotopia, and Mateship in China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station

Abstract--. This article considers the ways in which China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station (2000) exhibits its hybridity, by connecting notions of hybridity to the grotesque. It goes on to consider the novel in terms of heterotopia as Foucault discusses it. Last, it links ideas of hybridity and heterotopia to the idea of mateship, as the novel uses dialectics to form an interconnected and dynamic network.

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