Taking Notes: "Science Fiction, Parables, and Parabolas" (2005) by Brian Attebery

Brian Attebery, "Science Fiction, Parables, and Parabolas" in Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction, #95 (Autumn 2005), pp. 7-22.

讀到有意思的論文,不做點筆記對不起曾經一起吃過飯的 Attebery,也對不起自己。

本篇重點在於 Attebery 提出了一個叫作 "parabola" (拋物線)的觀念。傳統上認為每個類型的大眾小說都會發展出一套 "conventions regulating settings, character types, and allowable actions." (p. 7) 這些東西都可以歸為 fictional formula。不過,Attebery 卻提出:在科幻類型中, "If a formula is a closed circle, the sf scenario is an open curve, a swing toward the unknown: a parabola." (p. 14)

他進一步解釋 parabola:
"A parabola is not only a mathematical concept -- definable as an ellipse one of whose foci is at infinity -- but also the root word of parable. Sf is parabolic in both senses: an open-ended curve and a vehicle for significance. ... It is significant that sf's parabolas are referred to by writers and critics as science-fictional tropes, a term which implies not only conventionality but figuration." (p. 14)
接下來用整個 generation starship 的主題(還是叫次類型也可以)當實際範例來說明。

最後他下了結論,所有科幻的 parabolic patterns 都具有以下的特徵:
1. a science fictional parabola is a collective enterprise, like the formulas of other popular genres and of oral forms such as fairy tale. Unlike those formulas it invites new additions and corrections.

2. as a parabola evolves, it allows writers to unload some of the text's burdens. The existence of the parabola allows writers to pare away large chunks of exposition and focus on images and actions relevant to their chosen themes. It also enriches the text by providing links to the scientific and generic megatext.

3. the parabola offers a starting point with no obligatory conclusion. It sets the scene, offers a range of characters and incidents, and then leaves the writer relatively free.

4. any story operating within their rules will tend to be read as some sort of parable, though which sort is left to the reader and writer to decide together. (p. 20)

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