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]
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.
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.
Sf is different, being, as we have seen, at least by vocation a mode grounded in a novum.
Cyberpunk’s novum was an estranged socio-spatial order rooted in a dystopian framework.
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.
The Gas begins with a big technical accident that causes everything that happens in the story…. It is a strong science-fictional novum.
Last modified 2021-01-02 17:35:08
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.