À l’American Language Center, le point culminant de la pédagogie ô combien novatrice par rapport à notre piètre système scolaire, consiste en ce qu’on appelle un talk, qui est décliné selon les teachers en diverses variantes : préparation d’un document écrit puis présentation orale, présentation orale suivie d’une discussion, ou simplement une présentation orale. Les raisons de cet éloge excessif de ma part ? Elles sont évidentes, puisque cet exercice permet à l’élève de faire un effort de rédaction conséquent, puis de s’exercer à l’oral soutenu en anglais, puis, fait inhérent à toute activité orale, d’acquérir de la confiance en soi, ce qui est rarement à l’ordre du jour dans nos chers programmes nationaux. Bon OK, j’arrête de critiquer l’éducation nationale, et je vous laisse avec cette modeste contribution, sous formes d’une transcription de ce j’ai dit dans ce talk, agrémentée de liens hypertextes et d’images pour l’occasion :
I’m going to present a talk on science fiction in Literature. Of course, we all hear about science fiction, but are we able to define it, or to distinguish between its kinds? Moreover, what are the characteristics that differentiate this genre from another… fantasy for instance? As an example, I’ll present a science fiction novel that I personally read.
Science fiction is a broad genre of fiction that often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology, set in some imaginary time or place.
Writers and readers generally agree that a work of science fiction should not violate what is known to science, even as it speculates widely and often wildly in areas outside the known. Although science-fiction stories sometimes disregard this rule, they are supposed to present events in a rational manner. Stories are generally characterized by radical changes from the present; large distances in space or long spans of time; and extreme, sometimes lurid imagery.
Science fiction differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, which is making it a « literature of ideas ».
A bit of history: Early works and writers:
The first great specialist of science fiction was French author Jules Verne. Verne wrote about a wide variety of subjects, including geology and cave exploration in Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864; translated 1874), space travel in From the Earth to the Moon (1865; translated 1873), and underwater marvels in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1870; translated 1873).
Besides, the first major writer of science fiction in English was H. G. Wells. Wells began to write stories with science themes in 1894, demonstrating more interest in biology and evolution than in other sciences, and more concern about the social consequences of invention than about the accuracy of the invention itself. He called the genre scientific romance. Wells’s reputation grew rapidly after the publication of The Time Machine in 1895. The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), When the Sleeper Wakes (1899), The First Men in the Moon (1901), and several important story collections followed in rapid succession. Wells then turned to other forms of literature during much of the rest of his career.
A number of other British authors wrote scientific romances during the first half of the 20th century; these books are now considered science fiction. Especially noteworthy are works by Matthew Phipps Shiel (The Purple Cloud, 1901), Olaf Stapledon (Last and First Men, 1930), and C. S. Lewis (Out of the Silent Planet, 1938). Among British writers of standard fiction who wrote one or two novels of a socially prophetic nature in the manner of Wells, the most notable are Aldous Huxley (Brave New World, 1932) and George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-four, 1949).
Common subjects for science fiction include:
* A setting in the future, in alternative time lines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archeological record
* A setting in outer space, on other worlds, or involving aliens
* Stories that involve technology or scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature
* Stories that involve discovery or application of new scientific principles, such as time or new technology, such as nanotechnology, faster-than-light travel or robots, or of new and different political or social systems.
Genres of science fiction : concerning the emphasis, accuracy, and type of science described include:
* Hard science fiction – is characterized by rigorous attention to accurate detail in quantitative sciences, especially physics, astrophysics, and chemistry, or on accurately depicting worlds that more advanced technology may make possible.
* Soft science fiction – focus on human characters and their relations and feelings, while de-emphasizing the details of technological hardware and physical laws.
* Social science fiction – concerned less with technology and space opera and more with sociological speculation about human society
* Cyberpunk : deals with information technology and especially the Internet (visually abstracted as cyberspace), (possibly malevolent) artificial intelligence, enhancements of mind and body using bionic prosthetics and direct brain-computer interfaces, and post-democratic societal control where corporations have more influence than governments.
* Time travel, that doesn’t need a definition J
* Alternate history: it is based on the premise that historical events might have turned out differently. These stories may use time travel to change the past, or may simply set a story in a universe with a different history from our own.
* Military science fiction: is set in the context of conflict between national, interplanetary, or interstellar armed forces; the primary viewpoint characters are usually soldiers. Stories include detail about military technology, procedure, ritual, and history; military stories may use parallels with historical conflicts.
One example of a science fiction novel:
“Les Thanatonautes” by Bernard Werber (1994) :
The book, which could be classified as philosophic science fiction (with a hint of fantasy), takes us on a trip to death, the last unexplored continent. The term “thanatonaute” is derived from « thanatologie », comes from the Greek god of death Thanatos and nautis (navigator) and thus signifies explorer of death.
The novel tells the story of an anesthetist Michael Pinson and his friend biologist Raoul Razorbak who go explore the Ultimate Continent (called New Australia): the continent of death. This adventure takes us across the different zones of the continent of the dead to the famous light. In doing these explorations, the thanatonautes voluntarily risk their lives to discover the mysteries of death.
The stake was to imagine a secular vision of death, and what effects its revelation could have on contemporary societies. The book is regularly scattered with a number of different sacred texts drawn from mythology, religion, and cosmogony from all over the world. And it is astonishing to see that each of these points of view resembles each other and tell the same story just with different words and symbols.
PS: Une fois n’est pas coutume, le titre est en français, et c’est pour contrebalancer le fait que la majeure partie du billet est en anglais. Je crois que j’en ferais bien une habitude, que le billet et son titre soit en deux langues différentes, si ce n’est que j’ai horreur des attitudes figées !