The Influence of Imagination

Essays on Science Fiction and Fantasy as Agents of Social Change


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About the Book

This collection of essays examines the potential connections between speculative fiction and actual social change. Through a variety of approaches, the contributors explore whether consumers of science fiction and fantasy narratives can experience a real shift in their worldviews as a result of that consumption. Topics include the utopian vision of California in Ursula K. LeGuin’s Always Coming Home, the changing role of women in science fiction pulp magazines, and the representation of progress and social change in popular graphic novels.

About the Author(s)

Lee Easton is an English professor at Mount Royal College in Alberta, Canada.

Randy Schroeder, an active writer of fantasy and speculative poetry, is an English professor at Mount Royal College.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Lee Easton and Randy Schroeder

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 236
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3230-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1846-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Preface: From Future Visions to Critical Singularities      1
Introduction: Polarities at the Singularity (Randy Schroeder)      5

1. The Continuum of Meaning: A Reflection on Speculative Fiction and Society (Marie Jakober)      27
2. Peter Jackson and the Deforestation of Middle Earth (David Hyttenrauch)      32
3. Seeking Stories: Possible Worlds Semantics in Greer Ilene Gilman’s Moonwise (Christine Mains)      44
4. “Dancing on the Edge of the World”: California and Utopia in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home (Ken Simpson)      55
5. Passing Genes in GATTACA, or, Straight Genes for the Queer Guy (Lee Easton)      70
6. The Changing Role of Women in Science Fiction: Weird Tales, 1925–1940 (Mary Hemmings)      83
7. Storytelling and Folktales: A Graphic Exploration (Gail de Vos)      92
8. The Graphic Novel as New Testament: On Narrative Progress, Cultural Change and the Heroic Story (Richard Harrison)      99
9. Science Fiction, Religion, and Social Change (Steven Engler)      108
10. Science and Science Fiction (Todd C. Nickle)      118
11. Olaf Stapledon’s Americanized Planet (Robert Boschman)      125
12. Nalo Hopkinson’s Colonial and Dystopic Worlds in Midnight Robber (Ruby S. Ramraj)      131
13. “Wartime Inventions with Peaceful Intentions”: Television and the Media Cyborg in C.L. Moore’s No Woman Born (Linda Howell)      139
14. The Fantasy of Gender/Sex: Angela Carter and Mythmaking (Darlene M. Juschka)      160
15. In the Spirit of Process: A Braiding Together of New Utopianism, Gilles Deleuze, and Anne Carson (Jacqueline Plante)      174
16. Dystopia in a New Land (Karyn Huenemann)      183
17. Surfing the Singularity: Science Fiction and the Future of Narrative Media (Brian Greenspan)      202

About the Contributors      221
Index      225

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “excellent…a significant contribution…a fine contribution to any serious SF critic’s research library”—SFRA Review
  • “a worthwhile critical collection that approaches questions about SF’s social importance with admirable clarity…provides its reader with many hours of thoughtful, multifaceted, and excellent SF criticism”—Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts