Fabio Dei

Science Fiction, the Marvelous and the Terror of History

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In the 1960s, Ernesto de Martino approached science fiction literature and cinema as cultural expressions of a modern «end of the world» anxiety. Starting from his remarks, the essay discusses two opposing views of the relationship between science fiction and anthropology (or, more generally, social sciences). On the one hand, the idea that the cultural value of science fiction consists in its implicitly political content: the ability to criticize the present through a dystopian or utopian imagination of the future or of an «elsewhere». On the other hand, science fiction can be seen as the contemporary form of a «marvellous» imaginary, that in previous times was expressed through legendary and religious languages. If science fiction is a secularized epiphany of the divine, we can interpret it as a «low-intensity myth» in today’s mass culture, and – in de Martino’s terms – as a ritual protection or theraphy against current forms of «terror of history».


  • Science Fiction
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Ernesto de Martino
  • Marvelous Imaginary
  • Terror of History


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