In Hyperspace

Writing about science fiction by Jonathan Lethem, Fredric Jameson, Jenny Turner, Tom Shippey, Colin Burrow, Stephanie Burt, Thomas Jones, Margaret Anne Doody, Nick Richardson, Sherry Turkle and Rachel Aviv. 

My Year of Reading Lemmishly

Jonathan Lethem, 10 February 2022

Stanisław Lem was incommensurable – to SF, to literature, to himself. He was so many different writers – five, at least. I had too much to read. I risked missing the centenary in mute tribute.

In Hyperspace

Fredric Jameson, 10 September 2015

The time-travel story literally depicts the physical conditions of ‘the Place’ where the ‘points’ from which we ‘view’ plots unfolding must be presumed to abide. But modernity has in fact invented such a hyperspace from which to observe the observer: it is called the camera.

Ready to Go Off

Jenny Turner, 18 February 2021

Kindred is an act of generosity, an embodiment of the hope that one day, it will be nothing to write home about when a Black woman sits in her new house with her white husband, happily surrounded by piles and piles of books. History, Octavia Butler often said, is also ‘another planet – the only one we know to bear any life’.

Out of the Gothic

Tom Shippey, 5 February 1987

Sometimes, one has to say, Science Fiction just seems too crowded. Too many people have had too many ideas, and now they come too cheap.

Ursula Le Guin was able to direct a whole array of ‘what if?’ questions against the conventions of children’s fantasy. What if you don’t need heroic quests? What if keeping going and tending children through damage and disaster and getting home is the form of heroism that matters most? What if girls can be dragons?

Kick over the Scenery: Philip K. Dick

Stephanie Burt, 3 July 2008

Where other SF asks whether made-up entities (aliens, androids, emoting computers etc) deserve the respect we give real human beings, Philip K. Dick more often asks whether we ought to view ourselves as fakes or machines.

On the Make: Jonathan Lethem

Thomas Jones, 6 September 2001

In Gun, with Occasional Music, the erasure of the individual memory is the final stage in a process that began with the elimination of the public record, of newspapers and books. Lethem’s dystopia is a version of the end of history.

Royal Classic Knitwear: Iris and Laura

Margaret Anne Doody, 5 October 2000

Margaret Atwood was to become a world success with The Handmaid’s Tale, a science-fiction-like horror story, the story of a terrible imaginary place and society, a dystopia. And in The Blind Assassin the interrupting tale, the alternative text, is a kind of science fiction story of a dystopia.

Even what doesn’t happen is epic: Chinese SF

Nick Richardson, 8 February 2018

Cixin Liu’s monumental Three-Body Trilogy is one of the most ambitious works of science fiction ever written. The story begins during the Cultural Revolution and ends 18,906,416 years into the future.

Diary: Tamagotchi Love

Sherry Turkle, 20 April 2006

How will interacting with relational artefacts affect people’s way of thinking about what, if anything, makes people special? The sight of children and the elderly exchanging tendernesses with robotic pets brings science fiction into everyday life and techno-philosophy down to earth.

Religion, grrrr: The Scientology Mythos

Rachel Aviv, 26 January 2012

As L. Ron Hubbard began to consider himself a religious leader he came to see his writing years as a productive phase of ‘research’. Thanks to science fiction, he had discovered an age when men could transcend the boundaries of the physical universe.

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