THURSDAY, MARCH 24
2-3:30 P. M.
Chair: Helen S. Gar son, George Mason University.
Amelia A. Rutledge, George Mason University. "Science
Fiction Spies from E.E. Smith to Stanislaw Lem."
Science fiction, like "mainstream" fiction, tends
to appropriate the conventions of related sub-
genres. Thus, the special agent, the duplicitous
bureaucracy, and other characteristics of the traditional spy story or "thriller" have been used in
modern science fiction with some frequency. The
essentially fantastic nature of science fiction
means that these stories tend toward the "thriller" as a model, with the more reflective story
(of Le Carre or Graham Greene) occurring less
frequently. Using examples from the science fiction of E.E. Smith, James H. Schmitz, Philip K.
Dick, and Stanislaw Lem, this study examines how
the above-named writers have employed and adapted
the conventions of the more traditional spy-narrative.
Joseph Sanders, Lakeland Community College, Ohio. "The
Fantastic Non-Fantastic: Richard Condon's Waking
Today, a new kind of borderline science fiction/
secret agent novel reflects the public's distraught alienation. The novels of Richard Condon
show how the conventional genre of espionage
fiction can be stretched toward the fantastic, as
maneuvers become so extreme that they threaten to
disturb the basic structure of political and
social reality — and as they express a human
tendency toward perverse distortion that seeks to
impose its "reality" on the world. The secret
agents perform deeds that resemble science fiction
and fantasy, but even more disturbing is the way
they act in the service of private, irrational
fantasies. The popularity of such works shows
public uncertainty concerning official "truth."
Helen S. Garson, George Mason University. "Fantasy,
Excess, and James Bond."
For every reader, Ian Fleming's novels provide
fantasy, since the only realities of the books are
in actual places and familiar objects. The same
story, however, provokes widely divergent
responses, for the distortion within the text may
be used to support numerous theories. Such is the
fantasy that subsists in the characters and
exploits in the 007 stories that they may be interpreted from a feminist, or psychoanalytic, or
mythical, or Christian, or anti-Christian view.
Is Bond the sadistic "other," the fulfillment of
repressed longing, the quest hero, the twentieth
century's St. George, or the devil incarnate?