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Is Genre Defined by Content or Worldview?

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  • In my class, I ask my students to each present one of our readings, and the student who presented Chiang’s work passed out a handout that included the following interview quote: I think one of the distinctions between science fiction and horror is that science fiction assumes a mechanistic universe – a universe that is essentially impersonal – and it doesn’t regard that as a bad thing. Because part of the modern scientific worldview is that the universe is mechanistic, and if you think of science as a good thing, then you’re probably okay with that way of understanding the universe. I feel that horror has a subtext that the universe is either actively malign or antithetical to humanity. There is either some underlying malice, or some fundamental incompatibility between humanity and the broader universe. So a confrontation with the ultimate reality or profound truth is terrible as a result.
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