Naval Authors' Contributions to Science Fiction and Postmodernism Essay

Naval Authors' Contributions to Science Fiction and Postmodernism Essay

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The influence of the navy on literature is not necessarily a traditional topic in Western canon. The issue of maritime concerns can be traced as far back as Homer's Odyssey with a military leader taking the role of the protagonist. It is not just through content that naval concerns have influenced Western literature, but through the experiences of authors in serving their nations. Soldiers and veterans have long turned to literature during and following service, for a variety of reasons. It is in the twentieth century that American sailors began to seriously influence the genres in which they wrote. Science Fiction's golden age can be attributed, in part, to Robert Heinlein, and Frank Herbert, two men who served in the Navy during World War Two. Likewise, the postmodern genre was expanded by Richard Marcinko and Thomas Pynchon, who served in the years following the war. The experiences of these authors in the United States Navy provided background with which they shaped their respective genres. Together, their works share the common theme of society over the individual.
Science fiction and the sea are surprisingly linked in their history. Early attributes can be noted as early as Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, which experimented with fantastic elements, made realistic by adhering to real world rules and practices1. Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea likewise used true historical detail “to convey a sense of existence... through three layers of operability: existing technology, those plausible through their analogy with the existing, and the fictive,”2. The experiences of both Heinlein and Herbert in WWII provided them with experience and knowledge to draw on to create realistic predictions in their works, which wer...


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...pen Court Publishing, 2011.

McNeilly, Willis E. "Herbert, Frank (Patrick)" in Gunn, James. The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. London, Viking, 1988.

Peck, John. Maritime Fiction: Sailors and the Sea in British and American Novels, 1719-1917. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, 2001

Puschmann-Nalenz, Barbara. Science Fiction and Postmodern Fiction: A Genre Study. New York: P. Lang, 1992.
Pynchon, Thomas. Slow Learner. London: Vintage, 1995.

Seed, David. American Science Fiction and the Cold War: Literature and Film. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999.

Seed, David. Anticipations: Essays on Early Science Fiction and Its Precursors. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995.

Tanner, Tony. Thomas Pynchon. London and New York: Methuen, 1982.

Westfahl, Gary. Cosmic Engineers: A Study of Hard Science Fiction. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996.

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