Sense Of Wonder

One of the hallmarks of SF is the ability to induce a Sense Of Wonder in the reader; indeed, Hugo Gernsback coined the phrase to define SF.

"The Sense Of Wonder comes not from brilliant writing, nor even from brilliant conceptualising; it comes from a sudden opening of a closed door in the reader's mind. [...] Arguably, almost any Sense Of Wonder-producing case embedded in an SF text, no matter how weak that text may be elsewhere, could be analysed to show a comparable forcing of Conceptual Breakthrough. That term was coined in the first edition of this encyclopaedia in recognition of the fact that Nicholls' earlier Sense Of Wonder definition in terms of the sublime was open to abuse in the form of vaguely mystical, pantheist - or, indeed, transcendent! - readings of SF texts. Conceptual Breakthrough, whereby the Sense Of Wonder is inspired through paradigm shifts - a variant of the shift in perspective noted above - is a more focused term than 'sublime', and perhaps a more helpful one." -- John Clute, in The Encyclopaedia Of SF

A Sense Of Wonder can be evoked by all sorts of things, including:

It has been described (at <>) as "the feeling of flying, of comprehending whole solar systems and unraveling supernova, of creeping under the epidermis of beautiful strangers and finding yourself inside a disturbingly familiar dream.".

Stephen Baxter has a substantial supply, and he can explain how he makes it (<>).

Apparently, 'Father To The Man', by Robert Reed, is classic Sense Of Wonder stuff. Read it in Asimov's online, at <>.

Can Sense Of Wonder come from non-SF things, too? How about real science?

Fri, 11 Oct 2002 22:59:10 GMT Front Page Recent Changes Message Of The Day