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41. Iain M. Banks: Excession

Farah Mendlesohn


Subject Literature

Key-Topics science fiction

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405112185.2005.00043.x


Extract

If John Clute's suggestion is correct, that the science fiction which told a common narrative of expectation, is indeed dead ( Clute 2003 : 65), if that future is no longer with us, then this might explain why it was space opera, with its wide spaces, implausible politics, large ships, and extravagant language - in short, the form that departs most enthusiastically from that rationalized future - which came to dominate SF at the end of the twentieth century. At the beginning of the 1990s Cyberpunk had dominated the external face of science fiction. In a world of fractionalized peace, and a huge displacement of money and power, Cyberpunk reflected the despair of many westerners at the mass exodus of manufacturing jobs to the developing world, and the threat suggested in the rise of computer networks. Cyberpunk was in many ways a betrayal of science fiction: it was pessimistic (postnuclear novels assumed human resilience), it accepted the inevitable victory of the corporatist agenda for the world even while railing against it, and it turned away from the outward-bound project that was SF and into the mind. But Cyberpunk left a legacy of verbal pyrotechnics. It was in this context that space opera, the despised child of SF, its most juvenile, immature canvas ( Westfahl 2003 : 201), emerged as the cutting edge of the genre ( Locus 2003 ). Space opera had never pretended to the plausible. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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