Darko Suvin's "Metamorphoses of Science Fiction" Essay

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The Literary Genre of Science Fiction

In Darko Suvin’s “Metamorphoses of Science Fiction,” Suvin argues that science fiction should be considered its own literary genre. The reason he believes science fiction is distinct from other literary genres is because of its transforming aspects. Suvin describes science fiction as the literature of “cognitive estrangement,” which includes a “novum”. It is his belief that both cognition and estrangement must be both present and interactive in science fiction. Although it can be argued that science fiction is not its own literary genre because of its similarities to myth, fantasy, and folktale, it is significantly different from these genres because of its ability to cause the reader to think in
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This causes his/her view of reality to be transformed.
In “Metamorphoses of Science Fiction,” Darko Suvin defends his cited definition of Science Fiction as its own literary genre, by providing examples and pointing out the similarities and differences arising from the comparison of science fiction to myth, folktale, and fantasy. Suvin says that myths are similar to science fiction in the aspect that they both incorporate the usage of estrangement. However, he points out that there are also many differences between them as well. Science fiction sees the norms of reality as transformable and changeable, whereas myths are the complete opposites. They “conceive human relations as fixed and supernaturally determined”(8). This mean that the lives of characters are already made for them and that they do not have the ability to change what will happen to them. Folktale is also similar to science fiction where it defies the rules and laws of the empirical environment. However, folktales go above and beyond transforming the empirical environment, it creates a “closed collateral world indifferent to cognitive possibilities”(8). This means that in the world created in a folktale, anything is possible. He uses the example of a flying carpet, stating, “The flying carpet evades the empirical law of physical gravity”(8). This quote shows the difference between folktale and science fiction because a folktale creates something that is
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