Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction

Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction

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by John Rieder
     
 

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This is the first full-length study of emerging Anglo-American science fiction’s relation to the history, discourses, and ideologies of colonialism and imperialism. Nearly all scholars and critics of early science fiction acknowledge that colonialism is an important and relevant part of its historical context, and recent scholarship has emphasized imperialism

Overview

This is the first full-length study of emerging Anglo-American science fiction’s relation to the history, discourses, and ideologies of colonialism and imperialism. Nearly all scholars and critics of early science fiction acknowledge that colonialism is an important and relevant part of its historical context, and recent scholarship has emphasized imperialism’s impact on late Victorian Gothic and adventure fiction and on Anglo-American popular and literary culture in general. John Rieder argues that colonial history and ideology are crucial components of science fiction’s displaced references to history and its engagement in ideological production. He proposes that the profound ambivalence that pervades colonial accounts of the exotic “other” establishes the basic texture of much science fiction, in particular its vacillation between fantasies of discovery and visions of disaster. Combining original scholarship and theoretical sophistication with a clearly written presentation suitable for students as well as professional scholars, this study offers new and innovative readings of both acknowledged classics and rediscovered gems.

Includes discussion of works by Edwin A. Abbott, Edward Bellamy, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John W. Campbell, George Tomkyns Chesney, Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard, Edmond Hamilton, W. H. Hudson, Richard Jefferies, Henry Kuttner, Alun Llewellyn, Jack London, A. Merritt, Catherine L. Moore, William Morris, Garrett P. Serviss, Mary Shelley, Olaf Stapledon, and H. G. Wells.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction, John Rieder has produced a commendably readable and intellectually robust contribution to the emerging field of ‘postcolonial’ studies in science fiction. Rieder employs interdisciplinary theory to best advantage and with minimal jargonizing.”—Keith Williams, The Wellsian

"Probably no single volume, and certainly none as succinct as this, could possibly develop all the arguments implicit here."—Carl Freedman, Extrapolation

“These early scientific romances [The Time Machine, The Island of Dr Moreau, The War of the Worlds and The First Men in the Moon] have been analyzed time and again, from virtually every critical angle, but Rieder shows how a colonial reading provides fresh and valuable insight into them.”—Paul Kincaid, Foundation

“All in all, Haywood Ferreira has produced a noteworthy text that will be of interest to students and scholars of Latin American literature. One need not be a science fiction devotee to appreciate the research and enthusiasm that went into the writing of this book.”—Jeanie Murphy, Hispania

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780819568748
Publisher:
Wesleyan University Press
Publication date:
05/30/2008
Series:
Early Classics of Science Fiction
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
200
Sales rank:
741,575
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

What People are saying about this

Mark Bould
“‘Science fiction exposes what colonialism imposes.’—Rieder’s compelling argument is at the forefront of the revitalized Marxist engagement with the fantastic and makes new a genre we thought we already knew. It is essential reading.”
John Huntington
“This takes science fiction criticism in a new direction by invoking sophisticated theories of colonialism, race, literature, and genre. Rieder's book will become one of the commonly cited authorities in the field.”

Meet the Author

JOHN RIEDER is a professor of English at the University of Hawai’i at M¯anoa.

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Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Henry_Berry More than 1 year ago
Cyrano de Bergerac's mid-17th century satire The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon and the Sun is greatly admired by science fiction scholars because it 'suggests the disturbance of ethnocentricism, the achievement of a perspective from which one's own culture is only one of a number of possible cultures...[by] how it mocks, parodies, criticizes, and denaturalizes the cultural norms of de Bergerac's] French contemporaries.' Whereas the satire displaced French culture as the norm governing the consideration of all possible cultures, Galileo's scientific findings displacing the Earth as the center of the universe suggested that other planets supporting other types of life existed. Increased commerce between Europe and Asia, interest in foreign goods, and exploration of the Americas, Africa, and other parts of the globe contributed to curiosity and imagination about other geographies and forms of life. 'The double-edged effect of the exotic--as a means of gratifying familiar appetites and as a challenge to one's sense of the proper or the natural--pervades early science fiction' whose prototypes can be seen in fanciful works by Washington Irving and Samuel Butler. The field of science fiction--as any aficionado knows--has become greatly elaborated by fleshing out seemingly every implication and nuance inhering in its origins and first literary examples. Over time, the field developed characteristic techniques and categories. For instance, the sleeping Rip Van Winkle of Washington Irving's early 1800's tale awakening into a strange new world became time travel machines placing science-fiction characters in different historical periods and space ships and other craft carrying them to unknown lands. Technological developments were quickly adapted into science-fiction stories in explorations of their beneficial or harmful effects. In the 20th century, the field dealt with social concerns in the areas of biological research, medicine, totalitarian political systems, and apocalyptical religious ideas of doomsday. Rieder's literary critique ranging into all dimensions of science fiction is a good overview and introduction to this major field of popular literature. Science-fiction fans will appreciate its historical material as well as insights into particular works and authors. Rieder is a professor of English at a branch of the U. of Hawaii.