12 October 2010

role/appeal of icons in SF?

Perhaps more than any genre, SF is filled with icons. Gwyneth Jones has written an interesting essay about "The Icons in SF". She does a good job illustrating the symbolisms SF icons represent and how they came about, e.g. rockets represent weapons: "The rocket, with its upward thrusting phallic shape and dramatic flight, is an inevitable symbol of energy and escape, but a rocket is a weapon...". As a writer, I find such symbolisms fascinating.

In my opinion, the real value of icons seems to be "The icons of sf are the signs which
announce the genre, which warn the reader that this is a different world; and at the same time constitute that difference." Therefore, I believe icons are invaluable to SF for the role they play, rather than for the objects themselves.
Do you agree? Disagree?

As a reader, icons such as rockets, spaceships, robots, mad scientists and/or aliens per se do not and did not appeal to me. The primary draw of SF is as Jones says, "...perhaps sf's greatest aesthetic gift...[it] brings us closest to experiencing the romance of the scientific endeavour." This sense of wonder is the true appeal of SF. Indeed, "...the sf audience will go on coming back for more, as long as the ...message is wrapped in ...wonder, delight and playful invention."
What do you think?

Keep sending us your icon-filled stories!

All quotes from James, Edward, and Mendlesohn, Farah, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. Cambridge: The Cambridge University Press, 2003.


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