When I think about Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘2 B R 0 2 B’ and when I ask myself the question whether it is a typical science fiction story, I find myself completely perplexed. But then again, what is exactly a ‘typical science fiction story’?
Because many critics, I believe, would never say that nothing in the body of work of this eccentric writer is ‘typical’. Rather he would show all signs of ‘atypicality’, of eluding any specific genre classifications. But, then again, none of literary critics seem to agree or, rather, agree to disagree on the subject of the definition of term ‘science fiction’. But even to the critics themselves, of the likes of Darko Suvin and James Gunn, their own definitions that they try to conceive seem to be unsatisfactory. James Gunn raises a very interesting and important point. Science fiction, at least with opposition to fantasy is grounded in our world. Worlds of science fiction need to be compared with our own to be understood. But even James Gunn didn’t find that satisfactory. ‘What of Burroughs’ John Carter series, so far from the actual reality?’, he asks. And I ask what of the ‘Witcher’ saga by Andrzej Sapkowski, which can be only properly understood when we see the relations of our own world – politics, religion, economics. Saga about White Wolf is no doubt a fantasy story and clearly not science fiction. The critics search, meddle, looking for the right questions and the right answers, but eventually they meet, quite paradoxically, on the common grounds of complete bewilderment and being left in the blank. The critics talk about estrangement, about modern technologies. But many science fiction stories are presented in worlds far too familiar and even more are in the state of complete disregard towards actual science. There are as many definitions as stories that are considered ‘science fiction’. Paul Kincaid goes as far to say that ‘science fiction is what we point to when we say “science fiction”’ and points to Thomas More’s...
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