The writer begins by noting a rise in the importance and popularity of science fiction. Over the last century, the genre has become more popular with people in developed nations in general, and it is often written with certain types of educated readers in particular, including college graduates and young writers.
The second point assumes that science fiction require the presence of a "narrative novum," which is to say, an innovation which is described in scientifically plausible terms. The writer then notes the similarity between modern science fiction and various types of fabulous literature which have been popular in other historical eras, such as the "utopia" story. Science fiction is located alongside "myth, fantasy, fairy tale, and pastoral" in opposition to naturalism and empiricism (i.e. genres that aim at literal verisimilitude). The writer claims that this difference in forms reflects a difference in the ideas and social function of the text. Since these aspects of literary texts are the subject of debate in other genres, science fiction ought to be the subject of similar scholarly argument, since it will illuminate the same themes.
The writer then defines science fiction as "the literature of cognitive estrangement." This will make it possible to define science fiction as a distinct genre and separate it from other types of writing which may be regarded as fairly close to it, laying the ground for a distinctive literary appreciation and analysis of science fiction. The definition of "cognitive estrangement" involves the placement of unfamiliar devices in a fictional universe which the reader imagines to be internally consistent and logical.