Speculative Epistemologies

BookSpeculative Epistemologies

Speculative Epistemologies

An Eccentric Account of SF from the 1960s to the Present

Liverpool Science Fiction Texts and Studies, 70


October 1st, 2021



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Speculative Epistemologies is about truth effects in sf, which stands for both science fiction and speculative fiction. It examines six narratives, one from each decade from the 1960s to the 2010s, that challenge dominant assumptions about the normal, the possible, and the real. It asks what the patterns of overlap and interference generated by texts located in border territories that make their identification as sf problematic, and sometimes controversial, can reveal about the dynamics of sf’s multiple subcultures (e.g. professionals, academics, and fans); the complexity of the genre’s communities of practice and their routes of production, distribution, and reception; and the genre’s shifting position within a broadly conceived field of literary and cultural production. The “speculative epistemologies” in these stories are counter-hegemonic ways of knowing, ways of imagining knowing differently, and the focus of this study is their effect on the formation of identities and communities. Combining the methods of genre theory, reception theory, and the sociology of cultural production, the readings of these six narratives trace a history of sf’s increasingly feminist, racially and ethnically diverse, philosophically ambitious, and politically engaged character from the 1960s to the present.

“A new book by John Rieder is an event, and Speculative Epistemologies delivers. It is, exactly as its title promises, ‘eccentric,’ in the best possible sense reorienting science fiction studies to unconventional vistas, alternate possibilities, and roads not taken. It’s not to be missed.”

Gerry Canavan, Marquette University


Author Information

John Rieder is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
1. SF, Disciplinary Knowledge, and Mass Culture9
2. The Canonical Marginality of Pamela Zoline’s “The Heat Death of the Universe”29
3. How Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony Became SF49
4. Power and the Proper Fiction in Samuel R. Delany’s “The Tale of Plagues and Carnivals”69
5. Theodore Roszak’s The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein and the Feminist Critique of Science93
6. Albert Wendt’s Postcolonial Wonderwork: The Adventures of Vela111
7. What Kind of Genre Fiction Is This? Donna Haraway’s “The Camille Stories”137
8. Conclusion: Truth and SF in 2021159
Works Cited173