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2015-03-18    来源:21英语    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Writers look to past



Once upon a time, science fiction was just a genre among other genres. There were crime stories, there were horror stories, there was literary fiction–and there was science fiction.

But today science themes dominate these other genres. It’s difficult to think of much modern crime, horror or “serious” fiction that doesn’t involve science.

And it’s not just books. With every second movie and computer game having a sci-fi element, science fiction seems to have colonized our entire entertainment culture.

It’s clear that if we want to define science fiction we should relate it to the role that science plays in our lives. Perhaps the place to start is by noting when it began.

Although some experts have claimed to be able to trace sci-fi back to ancient times, it is more plausible to find it in fledgling form in the 19th century, when industrial societies emerged.

One of the features that set industrial societies apart from other kinds was the increasing part that science played in everyday life. Factories with vast machines churned out huge quantities of goods, which were transported by trains, motor vehicles and ships all over the world. Cities were built on the back of technology, with electricity in homes and hospitals helping everyone to lead healthier, more convenient lives. All of these changes had profound effects not only on people’s real lives, but on their imaginative ones.

Writers began to articulate these changing physical and mental landscapes, eventually giving science fiction a large and devoted fanbase of especially young readers, who found that it spoke to their curiosity about the future that science would create.

But sci-fi reflected fears about science more than it did hopes. These early novels were dystopian rather than utopian.

The typical early science fiction novel might be a UK novel like H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds (1897). With great skill, Wells played upon the fears of technology by imagining Earth under threat by a civilization –that of men from Mars.

The science fiction of today expresses the impact of the computing revolution, robotics and our environmental challenges, while it is less concerned with “little green men from Mars” and other themes of past sci-fi.
现在的科幻小说则更多地着墨于计算机革命、机器人还有环境问题对人类的影响,而类似 “来自火星的小绿人”和过去的科幻主题已经很少有作家涉及。

Given that science, technology and politics are always intertwined, contemporary science fiction often has a great deal to say about power. Many recent novels – like American Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother (2008)– are concerned with government and security service “conspiracies” against the people, particularly as the revelations of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden sink in. This can give sci-fi writing a “paranoid” feel.

This underlines one of the features that remains constant between the beginnings of the empire of science fiction and its state today.

As then, so now: We want to read about how fearful the future will be, not how it will be a paradise.

(文章文本来源 21英语)

重点解析 Key Phrases/Words

1. sci-fi n. 科幻小说 =science fiction

2. plausible adj. 貌似真实的,貌似有理的

3. fledgling form  雏形

4. articulate v. 清晰地发(音),言语表达,(用关节)连接

5. dystopian  adj. 反面乌托邦的,反面假想国的

6. intertwine v. 缠结在一起,纠缠

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