Casting our problems into space: Exploring the intersection of science fiction and possible worlds theory



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Science fiction is a genre which is centered around the exploration of new or complex ideas within the unique testing landscape of the worlds imagined in these novels. Possible worlds theory is a subset of narrative theory which suggests that literature creates intentional parallels between our actual world and possible worlds through relational accessibility and the principle of minimal departure in order to allow possible worlds to comment on the actual world. This thesis argues that when read through a possible worlds theory lens, science fiction novels can work as cautionary tales by utilizing the character’s journeys for illuminating infection points for where the actual world could benefit from an alternative approach to the issues being discussed in the novel. A working definition of science fiction is created from theories by scholars such as John W. Campbell Jr., Darko Suvin, and Robert Scholes, this is then followed by explanation of possible worlds theory by theorists like David Lewis, Thomas Pavel, and Marie-Laure Ryan. After this, a throrough analysis of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Left Hand of Darkness, and Parable of the Sower against possible worlds theory takes place to test my theory.



Possible worlds theory, Science fiction, Le Guin, Butler, Heinlein, Relational accessibility, Principle of minimal departure, Thomas Pavel, David Lewis, Marie-Laure Ryan, Umberto Eco