Seo-Young Chu


On her book Do Metaphors Dream of Literal Sleep? A Science-Fictional Theory of Representation

Cover Interview of June 20, 2011

A close-up

In the introduction I make what is probably the book’s most counterintuitive claim—that science fiction and lyric poetry are intimately interconnected.

From page 11 to page 63 of Do Metaphors Dream, I try to give the reader a sense of the astonishing wealth of evidence substantiating the likenesses between science fiction and lyric poetry.  To demonstrate the systematic nature of lyric’s omnipresence in science fiction, I’ve arranged the evidence taxonomically and attempted to make the collection of examples as comprehensive as possible.

The texts encompass film, concept art, drama, short stories, novels, and more.  Chronologically they span four centuries.  Authors range from those established in the “western canon” (e.g., Swift, Shelley, Orwell) to those not yet canonized (e.g., Nalo Hopkinson, Ted Chiang).  They include both writers of “hard” science fiction (e.g., Greg Bear, Arthur C. Clarke, and other rigorously scientific novelists) and writers of “soft” science fiction (e.g., Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, and others whose science fiction is inspired more by the social than by the natural sciences).  Moreover, the authors include not only prose stylists celebrated for their lyricism (e.g., Samuel Delany, China Miéville, Michael Cunningham) but also writers who are not often considered lyrical stylists (e.g., Larry Niven, Isaac Asimov).

Even if the introduction does not succeed in convincing the reader of the inherent lyricism of science fiction, the catalogue from page 11 to page 63 can be used as a kind of annotated bibliography inciting the reader to check out books, films, and other texts that he or she might otherwise have overlooked.

The introduction is also where I outline the five chapters of the book.  From page 69 to page 73, I provide detailed abstracts of all five chapters.  Readers can use these abstracts to determine which chapter(s) will resonate with their own interests:  a scholar of transnational studies, for instance, will easily identify chapters one and four as especially relevant, while a roboticist will gravitate toward chapter five.