novum n.

an element in a work of science fiction that establishes that the work takes place in a non-normal world; the key science-fictional element in a work

[< Latin novum ‘new’; introduced by Darko Suvin, extended from an earlier concept developed from Ernst Bloch’s Marxist theory]

SF Encyclopedia

SF Criticism

  • 1972 D. Suvin On Poetics of SF Genre in College English Dec. 373/1 Darko Suvin bibliography

    I should like to approach such a discussion…by postulating a spectrum or spread of literary subject-matter, running from the ideal extreme of exact recreation of the author’s empirical environment to exclusive interest in a strange newness, a novum.

  • 1983 J. Tulloch & M. Alvarado Doctor Who: The Unfolding Text iii. 114 bibliography

    Hence time travel in Doctor Who is a novum allowing for a variety of social interactions, each in themselves relying on the conditions of causal motivation and plausibility even if the novum itself is not.

  • 1995 D. Broderick Reading by Starlight 60 Damien Broderick bibliography

    Sf is different, being, as we have seen, at least by vocation a mode grounded in a novum.

  • 2001 M. Dodge & R. Kitchin Mapping Cyberspace 183

    Cyberpunk’s novum was an estranged socio-spatial order rooted in a dystopian framework.

  • 2002 Interzone Mar. 17/1

    Entire populations did die in the New World, so there is precedent, though of course that was a different epidemiological situation. But whatever: that’s the novum; and it could have happened.

  • 2009 I. Csicsery-Ronay SF/Porn: The Case for ‘The Gas’ in Science Fiction Studies (vol. 36 part 3) Nov. 451 page image Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr.

    The Gas begins with a big technical accident that causes everything that happens in the story…. It is a strong science-fictional novum.

Research requirements

antedating 1972

Last modified 2021-01-02 17:35:08
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.