Learning from Other Worlds provides both a portrait of the development of science fiction criticism as an intellectual field and a definitive look at the state of science fiction studies today. Its title refers to the essence of “cognitive estrangement” in relation to science fiction and utopian fiction—the assertion that by imagining strange worlds we learn to see our own world in a new perspective. Acknowledging an indebtedness to the groundbreaking work of Darko Suvin and his belief that the double movement of estrangement and cognition reflects deep structures of human storytelling, the contributors assert that learning-from-otherness is as natural and inevitable a process as the instinct for imitation and representation that Aristotle described in his Poetics.|
In exploring the relationship between imaginative invention and that of allegory or fable, the essays in Learning from Other Worlds comment on the field’s most abiding concerns and employ a variety of critical approaches—from intellectual history and genre studies to biographical criticism, feminist cultural studies, and political textual analysis. Among the topics discussed are the works of John Wyndham, Kim Stanley Robinson, Stanislau Lem, H.G. Wells, and Ursula Le Guin, as well as the media’s reactions to the 1997 cloning of Dolly the Sheep. Darko Suvin’s characteristically outspoken and penetrating afterword responds to the essays in the volume and offers intimations of a further stage in his long and distinguished career.
This useful compendium and companion offers a coherent view of science fiction studies as it has evolved while paying tribute to the debt it owes Suvin, one of its first champions. As such, it will appeal to critics and students of science fiction, utopia, and fantasy writing.