Liminality in Fantastic Fiction

A Poststructuralist Approach


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About the Book

This critical work diversifies Victor Turner’s concept of liminality, a basic category of postmodernism, in which distinct categories and hierarchies are questioned and limits erode. Liminality involves an oscillation between cultural institutions, genre conventions, narrative perspectives, and thematic binary oppositions. Grounded on this notion, the text investigates the liminality in Agatha Christie’s detective fiction, Neil Gaiman’s fantasy stories, and Stanislaw Lem’s and Philip K. Dick’s science fiction. Through an examination of destabilized norms, this analysis demonstrates that liminality is a key element in the changing trends of fantastic texts.

About the Author(s)

Sandor Klapcsik (Ph.D., Cultural Studies Department, University of Jyväskylä, Finland) was a Fulbright-Zoltai Fellow at the University of Minnesota in 2007-2008 and a Hungarian State “Eötvös” fellow at the science fiction archives of the University of Liverpool. He lives in Miskolc, Hungary.

Bibliographic Details

Sándor Klapcsik
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6473-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8843-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction: The Significance of Liminality in Popular Fiction      7

1. Liminality and the Fantastic in Agatha Christie’s Detective Stories      31
2. Liminal Fantasy in Neil Gaiman’s Fiction      54
3. Stanislaw Lem: Liminality and the Revenge of the Mirror on Alien Planets      84
4. Philip K. Dick: Urbanity, Liminality, Multiplicity      121

Conclusion: Converging and Diverging Manifestations of Liminality and Multiplicity      163
Notes      173
Bibliography      181
Index      197

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Ultimately a work of rigorous literary criticism. With Liminality, Klapcsik performs a service to sf and fantasy criticism…Klapcsik’s conclusions provide a fresh starting point from which to consider the kinship and difference of the two (sub) genres”—Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction
  • “A strong representative précis of the major works and critics of post-modernism, post-structuralism, and liminality…. Klapcsik clearly has a first-rate analytical mind and an exceptional breadth and depth of knowledge on the subject…an exceptional primer and synthesis of all the academic material on liminality, tied together by an elegant framework”—The New York Review of Science Fiction
  • “Examines issues of liminality in genre fiction and explores the ways in which traditionally structured narratives can be re-evaluated in the context of postmodern literary concepts”—SciTech Book News
  • “This volume takes a nuanced and intriguing look at the works of Agatha Christie, Stanislaw Lem, Philip K. Dick and Neil Gaiman. Through its careful selection of material, it brings together and inspires new ways of looking at these established figures from the worlds of popular fiction. Sandor Klapcsik proves to be an invaluable guide and a sophisticated thinker as he moves between genres and oeuvres; fans as well as scholars of SF and detective mysteries will find much food for thought in his critical explorations.”—Matt Hills, Cardiff University, the author of Fan Cultures and The Pleasures of Horror
  • “Mr. Klapcsik appears something to be a polymath; he is certainly deeply knowledgeable about the whole range of post-structuralist theory, and able to use a number of theoretical vocabularies with authority and a fluency that I frankly envy.”—Brian McHale, Ohio State University, the author of Constructing Postmodernism and The Obligation toward the Difficult Whole