Science Fiction Mysteries Analysis

Demands of Science Fiction

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Like the mystery genre, science fiction makes considerable demands upon readers. It requires them to stretch their minds to think in new ways, apart from their accustomed conceptual categories, and to question assumptions regarded as self-evident or settled and involving anything from daily habits to worldviews. Science fiction writers commonly employ a third-person narrative point of view, moving back and forth from character to character, or scene to scene.

In rendering the future, science fiction writers may impart to it the authority of history by using the past tense. Further, they may contrast present sequences of events centering on groups of characters with contemporary, past, or future sequences centering on other sets of characters. Their contrasts, built upon evidence within the fiction or assumed evidence outside the fiction, demonstrate the effects of human or nonhuman adjustment to conditions of life as they extend beyond the range of a single lifetime. Those contrasts can indicate wide temporal and spatial perspectives, as well as major differences in mental outlook or viewpoint and in quality of life, vast realms of wonder and mystery. They may, for example, involve events. processes, structures, or circumstances, or settings that might be possible for human beings, given their tenacious nature and yet precarious position amid cosmic forces which are alien to human interest and perhaps even unknowable. In providing new or altered frames of reference built on suppositional science or technology, writers ask that readers employ a certain flexibility of mind; readers must accustom themselves to some degree of strangeness of environments in which the rules of life, its constraints or limitations, have changed and so the results will change.

Some writers in the mystery genre, working within the age-old tradition of the mystery tale, focus attention on unusual doings, often involving settings and characters far removed from the experience of readers and sometimes involving the supernatural.