Cultural History

Authored by: Lisa Yaszek

The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction

Print publication date:  January  2009
Online publication date:  March  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415453783
eBook ISBN: 9780203871317
Adobe ISBN: 9781135228361


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It is a truth universally acknowledged that stories about the future mirror our hopes and fears about life in the present. But many of the most compelling science-fictional visions of the future are actually based on specific philosophies of the past, and careful study of these narrative futures can provide unique insight into historiography itself. This dual recognition is central to the practice of cultural history as it intersects with both sf and sf studies. Sf authors have long created futures by extrapolating from what they believe to be the key social and material forces shaping history. In a similar vein, sf scholars have long used specific theories of the past to make sense of their chosen genre’s history. Furthermore, as cultural historians, scholars increasingly read sf texts for what they reveal about the social values and practices of the past, especially as these texts confirm, complicate, and sometimes even directly challenge official pronouncements about these values and practices.

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