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Science Fact and Science Fiction

Автор: Brian StaBleford
Название: Science Fact and Science Fiction
Издательство: Taylor & Francis Group
Год: 2006
Формат: PDF
Размер: 3.9 MB
IBSN: 10: 0‑415‑97460‑7, 13: 978‑0‑415‑97460‑8
Страниц: 758

An encyclopaedia of science would be a huge project to undertake nowadays, as would an encyclopaedia of fiction. Either would require several volumes to do any justice at all to the range and depth of its subject matter. An encyclopaedia of the connections between science and fiction, on the other hand, can still be contained within a single volume without seeming stupidly superficial. This testifies to the extent of fiction’s abiding unconcern with science and technology, by comparison with other aspects of human thought, action and sentiment. The volume of both scientific and fictional publication has increased dramatically over time, accelerating remarkably in the twentieth century when a series of other media were added to text and oral culture as significant conveyors of fiction. There is a sense in which the fictional reflections of science and technology have also increased dramatically in volume over time, similarly accelerating in the twentieth century, when it became commonplace for the first time to identify a genre of ‘‘science fiction,’’ but the similarities between these historical processes are outweighed by their differences. A modern encyclopaedia of science would have to give due credit to the intellectual achievements of centuries earlier than the twentieth; it would, however, regard them as transitory phases en route to a fuller understanding, whose triumphs have all
been integrated into more elaborate patterns of ideas. A modern encyclopaedia of fiction could not see history in the same light; it could not regard the works of Homer, William Shakespeare, and Marcel Proust as transitional achievements that have been further elaborated, but as enduring monuments constituting the core of its concerns. Both encyclopaedias would have to omit a great many minor works and their authors from the preserved historical record on the grounds that they are of
merely peripheral interest, but they would do so on different grounds. The encyclopaedia of science would filter the heritage of the past to exclude or
marginalise the incorrect and the repetitive, while the encyclopaedia of fiction would filter the heritage of the past to exclude or marginalise material considered less valuable in aesthetic terms. Whereas encyclopaedias of science inevitably favour the contemporary, as the highest level of attainment, encyclopaedias of fiction are often critical of the contemporary, comparing it unfavourably with the antique. Encyclopaedias of fiction, moreover, routinely represent themselves as encyclopaedias of literature, in order to emphasise that their selection process is the work of connoisseurs of value–connoisseurs who are inevitably suspicious of popular fiction, whose
value is often thought to be prejudiced because it appeals to a wide audience.


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