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Reading Time: The Ideology of Time Travel in Science Fiction

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This essay argues for the existence and ideological significance of two principal variants of time travel form in science fiction (SF): the temporal dislocation form and the temporal contrast form. The principle examples for discussion are, respectively, Stephen Baxter's manifold: time (2000) and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time (1976), though the case is bolstered by additional references to other SF works. Drawing on the work of theorists such as Adorno, Benjamin, Žižek, and Jameson, the argument then considers more broadly the connection between ideology and ontology implicit in these time travel forms. The essay concludes with a critique of the assumptions by which time travel SF stories are created, studied, taught, and read by SF writers and academics, as well as general readers.

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