The nature of characterisation in post-war american science fiction
A study of selected novels by asimov, heinlein, and dick
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The thesis deals with the element of characterisation in post-war American science fiction in light of the great changes in the modern world and in the fictional worlds of the future which have the direct effect on the treatment of characters in the genre. The development and treatment of characters in science fiction has often been regarded as a weakness and science fiction writers have usually been condemned for their neglect of creating complex and rounded characters with psychological depth and intricacies of personality and for paying more attention to the science-fictional elements such as plot, setting, and themes. By adopting a Marxist approach in the study of novels by the leading American science fiction writers of the post-war era, the dissertation attempts to demonstrate that the character-centred novel which has dominated realist mainstream fiction since the nineteenth century does no longer fit the genre science fiction which is more concerned with the different changes and transformations in society and their effects on man and his existence on Earth and in the universe than with individual persons and their personal concerns and problems. After a first part devoted to the history of science fiction in general and of American science fiction in particular, the thesis moves to the study of selected novels by Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Philip K. Dick, which demonstrates that characters are treated not as individuals with personal autonomous identities, but as representatives of all humanity that faces various pressures in society in the form of technological progress, bureaucratic government agencies, multinational corporations, and the military machinery. In this respect, the work examines the different factors depicted in the narratives which constitute the major focus of the writers and which make the characters appear as a collective entity lacking the traits of independent individual personalities, reflecting the real condition and existence of man in the modern world.
- Doctorat langue Anglaise