SF as Metaphor, Parable and Chronotope (with the Bad Conscience of Reaganism)

  • Darko Suvin


O. In this study, I wish to explore the depth presuppositions for analysing SF as a specific kind of narrative. So, to begin with, what is a narrative text? Assuming that any text unfolds a thematic-cum­attitudinal field, and that fiction does so by presenting relationships between fictional agents (primarily by means of events in spacetime)1 — how does, within the domain of fiction, a narrative text differ from a metaphoric text? All of these theoretical questions have been, quite properly, subjects of entire book-shelves, to which I hope to be contributing in the near future. To supply a first answer pertinent to understanding SF, I shall first discuss metaphor and larger ‘metaphorical texts’, touch upon the central analytic categories of model, paradigm and possible world, and then focus on the connecting link between a metaphoric and a narrative text, the parable. My hypothesis is that all fictional texts are — by way of their paradigm or model — based on metaphoricity, but that the narrative texts add to this a defined presentation in space and time, the chronotope. I shall conclude by applying this hypothesis to SF as a specific type of story and by analysing an SF story by Cordwainer Smith, in order to test how much illumination the hypothesis may provide.


Narrative Text Mustard Seed Semantic Domain Social Addressee Literary Genre 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Peter Nicholls (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (London, 1979)Google Scholar
  2. John Bangsund (ed.), Exploring Cordwainer Smith (New York, 1975)Google Scholar
  3. Gary K. Wolfe, ‘Mythic Structures in Cordwainer Smith’s “The Game of Rats and Dragons”’, SFS, no. 12 (1977) 144–50Google Scholar
  4. Alan C. Elms, ‘The Creation of Cordwainer Smith’, SFS, no. 34 (1984) 264–83Google Scholar
  5. Anthony R. Lewis, Concordance to Cordwainer 5mfiith (Cambridge, MA, 1984 ).Google Scholar
  6. Gary K. Wolfe and Carol T. Williams, ‘The Majesty of Kindness’, in Thomas D. Clareson and Thomas L. Wymer (eds), Voices for the Future, vol. 3 ( Bowling Green, OH, 1984 ) pp. 52–74.Google Scholar
  7. Sacran Bercovitch, The American Jeremiad ( Madison, WI, 1978 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Darko R. Suvin 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darko Suvin
    • 1
  1. 1.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations