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Hard ReadingLearning from Science Fiction$
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Tom Shippey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781781382615

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781382615.001.0001

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A Glimpse of Structuralist Possibility

(p.160) 9 Introduction
Hard Reading

Tom Shippey

Liverpool University Press

A further sub-genre of science fiction is “worlds where magic works”. This chapter demonstrates the root of the idea in Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough (first edition 1890), which argued that magic was a concept parallel to science rather than opposed to it, and offered tentative laws of magic to support the theory. The parallel was eagerly seized on by many authors, who developed Frazer’s laws, and their application, in a manner increasingly Newtonian, creating more and more detailed, logical and complex scenarios. The sub-genre exemplifies once more the penetration of science fiction by cultural anthropology. A further intellectual movement picked out by some authors was the development of theories of the occult, again stemming for the most part from Frazer and his contemporaries.

Keywords:   Magic, The Golden Bough, Newtonian laws, Cultural anthropology, Occult

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