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Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction (Early Classics of Science Fiction) Paperback – 30 May 2008


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About the Author

JOHN RIEDER is a professor of English at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0xa39a721c) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3901318) out of 5 stars science fiction as a reflection of Western imperialism 18 Jun. 2008
By Henry Berry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3a4ec00) out of 5 stars enjoyable account of early SF 18 April 2009
By Book Dude - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book provides a comprehensive analysis of early SF that will be of interest both for those interested in SF and those interested in literary theory. Whether discussing Wells, Haggard, or a more obscure author, Rieder's lively critiques are bound to draw readers to these early and exciting SF texts. In addition to its cogent theoretical insight, Rieder's adventurous and enthusiastic readings will likely inspire you to read several of the novels discussed.
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