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Science fiction is the literature of change More precisely science fiction is the kind of literature that most explicitly and self-consciously takes change as its subject and its teleology This essential presupposition holds as true for the earliest works to explore the new vantage point afforded fiction by scientific and technological developments works such as Mary Shelleys Frankenstein and H G Wells The Time Machine as for the genres most recent runs through cyberspace in novels by William Gibson Pat Cadigan and Rudy Rucker This centrality of change was most firmly voiced by twentieth century science fictions most influential author Robert Heinlein I think claimed Heinlein in a 1941 Denver Colorado speech to the Fourth Annual Science fiction Convention that science fiction even the corniest of it even the most outlandish of it no matter how badly its written has a distinct therapeutic value because all of it has as its primary postulate that the world does change Some forty-five years later science fiction greats Jack Williamson Frederik Pohl and Brian Aldiss still invoked the concept of change to explain their common project I take seriously this notion that technology is changing the world and the future is going to be different explained Williamson to Publishers Weekly writer Rosemary Herbert Even more emphatically Frederik Pohl specified The biggest reality in the world today is change and thats what science fiction is about and other kinds of literature are not And suggesting the almost obsessive quality of this phenomenon Aldiss identified science fiction writers as the ones who are prodromically moved to write of change What each of these writers left unspoken was science fictions even stronger commitment to the postulate that the world can best be understood through change whether rapid and radical or evolutionary over great periods of time The extent of this commitment can perhaps best be seen in Octavia Butlers Parable of the Sower 1993 where her protagonist Lauren Olamina constructs
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