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date: 08 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the ideological correlation between science fiction and historical countercultures, in particular, the Beat movement of the 1950s and the hippie movement of the 1960s. SF’s utopian openness to change—what Brooks Landon calls its “zone of possibility”—has made it particularly alluring to social reformers and revolutionaries, and SF has also been reciprocally influenced by countercultural aspirations and social activism. The cross-over between SF and the counterculture during the 1960s has been canvassed by critics, but the lines of affiliation linking the genre with the 1950s Beats have received less attention. This chapter rectifies that neglect through readings of selected SF texts such as Fritz Leiber’s “The Beat Cluster” (1961) and Samuel R. Delany’s Babel-17 (1966).

Keywords: science fiction, countercultures, utopia, Beat movement, hippie movement, zone of possibility, social reform, Fritz Leiber, Samuel R. Delany

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