In culture and scholarship, science-fictional worlds are perceived as unrealistic and altogether imaginary. Seo-Young Chu offers a bold challenge to this perception of the genre, arguing instead that science fiction is a form of “high-intensity realism” capable of representing non-imaginary objects that elude more traditional, “realist” modes of representation. Powered by lyric forces that allow it to transcend the dichotomy between the literal and the figurative, science fiction has the capacity to accommodate objects of representation that are themselves neither entirely figurative nor entirely literal in nature.
Chu explores the globalized world, cyberspace, war trauma, the Korean concept of han, and the rights of robots, all as referents for which she locates science-fictional representations in poems, novels, music, films, visual pieces, and other works ranging within and without previous demarcations of the science fiction genre. In showing the divide between realism and science fiction to be illusory, Do Metaphors Dream of Literal Sleep? sheds new light on the value of science fiction as an aesthetic and philosophical resource—one that matters more and more as our everyday realities grow increasingly resistant to straightforward representation.
Fascinating and omnivorous.
Chu has produced a volume that is clever, witty, erudite, impeccably thorough in its reference to both primary and secondary sources, and written in a refreshingly nonformulaic yet unmistakably scholarly tone.
This is bold and spirited work. Reversing the relation between realism and science fiction, Seo-Young Chu gives us a literary landscape as stunning as her analytic vocabulary.
Chu not only addresses the leading scholarship in the field, but also opens up and explores unexpected dimensions in the activity of literary representation itself. More than a detailed, insightful study of a specific genre, her book proves to be a deeply engaging, sophisticated, and elegant meditation on the ‘science-fictional’ nature of the creative imagination itself… It conveys in vivid ways the tensions and dilemmas bound up with inhabiting a high-tech society that is growing ever more science-fictional.
Chu’s definition of science fiction as everything is sure to provoke. It turns out that all fiction, perhaps all writing (even the New York Times A-section) is, in a sense, science-fictional. Her theory of science-fictional representation is going to change the way that literary thinkers think about the genre as such, and it will move science fiction closer towards the larger universe of literary discussion—where it surely belongs.
- 316 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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