Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation

Architecture du livre-univers dans la science-fiction, à travers cinq oeuvres : Noô de S. Wul, Dune de F. Herbert, La Compagnie des glaces de G.-J. Arnaud, Helliconia de B. Aldiss, Hypérion de D. Simmons

Abstract : This doctoral thesis sets the task of studying a category of science fiction novels commonly named as the "universe-book". Five literary works illustrate the theory with a special leaning for _Noo_ (Stefan Wul, 1977).
The first part of the dissertation tends to locate the "universe-book" 's orientations within the realm of science fiction. As a matter of fact, the "universe-book" has its roots in the mid XXth century. A few editorial clues distinguish the "universe-book" from the standard space opera by its significant size making it closer to the saga genre and by the critics work which celebrates it as a literary event and, at last, by its success among its amateur readership. The "universe-book" presents a structured world with condensed and original components from which it keeps up the interest after even several readings. In order to set up a first definition, we've started from the planetary romance one (which is a story whose basic element is a planet, excepted the Earth, and whose plot focuses upon the nature of this element). The former definition has been widened because the "universe-book" has got a galactic background which is often many planets. The "universe-book" draws on many sources that is to say the space opera and the planetary romance, the themes of the history of the future and the galactic empire, the hard science that confers on the "universe-book" 's world a likelihood background.
The second part of the thesis moves on the singular structures that stand out through the story and themes set up in the "universe-book". The systemic approach gives a analogy between the characteristics of a system and those of the "universe-book". As a matter of fact, a system is distinguished by the whole that it constitutes and by its transformation and self-regulation. The world universe is considered as an autonomous whole with frontiers that are symbolized by its distance from the story and also by its embedding in the supernatural that removes it from contemporary reality. The whole is made up of various meaningful elements whose interactivity forms the world system. This one is divided into three spheres in which the component elements of the imaginary universe can be included that is to say the cosmosphere (nuclear conditions), the biosphere (the whole of the living), and the noosphere (human products such as technology and language). The connections between the three spheres, more than the elements themselves, determine the existence of the world system (examples of such interactions are given in the thesis). Thus, the systemic analogy sets up a genuine ecology of the "universe-book" with bounds which are those of a formalization. A scientific analysis applied to a literary material has to remain a comparative one. In the systemic view, the "universe-book" as it is a work of fiction can be easily compared to a game with which it has many things in common that is to say rules fairly set up, a virtual space, a political development, a taste for magnification and excessiveness.
The general form of the "universe-book" is now set up. The third part of the thesis roughly presents its constructive elements. Consequently to the setting of the patent elements of the story (the typical characters, the scenery, the bestiary, economics, politics and religion), a certain number of interactions that aim at exertion to form the world system's coherence and a sense of willingness to "make the world" have been pointed out. The standard themes of the science fiction genre (robots and IA, aliens, science...) also feed the word system to the detriment of a certain denaturation because these themes are no longer dealt for themselves.
The "universe-book" gives to the reader's mind a vision of a world whose elements are closely connected. In the fourth part of the thesis, the "universe-book" is considered as an artistic expression of the world and as a interpretation of the universe as well. The "universe-book" follows a temporal elaboration. It is the outcome of a long process a maturation that can undergo a preliminary and often significant work (notes, maps...) (_Noo_). The study of the style and language is revelant. As a matter of fact, the preponderance of the lexical variety (levels of language, neologisms...), the narative scheme which can be multilinear or composite, the baroque trend, all these elements converge towards a vision that favours complexity and at the same time a manifold apprehension of reality that marks the modern novel's features.
The "universe-book" fairly conveys a Weltanschauung even though it doesn't express the illustrative values of the global novel. This ones give way to the fictive world that aspires to live by itself. The interest of the creation of such a world is aesthetic (or even more in the case of _Noo_ or _Hyperion_) as well as ideological. Each "universe-book" shows the point of view of its author's reality. F. Herbert develops an ecological philosophy based upon the continuous adaptation of groups to the outside and inside world. B. Aldiss reveals a tendancy to sociobiologism which is also perceptible in S. Wul's works but in a more distorted manner through a poetic depiction of the world. As for G.J. Arnaud, his glacial Earth is the result of a basically political perception.
The "universe-book" is not the accurate representation of a reality nor a pure symbol but a fictive pattern. Finally, the "universe-book" is fed by the science fiction literature. As B. Aldiss claims it, if the science fiction genre searchs for and suggests a definition of the human being and his status among the cosmos, the "universe-book", therefore fairly holds a privileged place within the science fiction's world.
Document type :
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Laurent Genefort Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 4:36:57 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, August 4, 2022 - 4:53:00 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, April 2, 2010 - 7:56:50 PM


  • HAL Id : tel-00004119, version 1



Laurent Genefort. Architecture du livre-univers dans la science-fiction, à travers cinq oeuvres : Noô de S. Wul, Dune de F. Herbert, La Compagnie des glaces de G.-J. Arnaud, Helliconia de B. Aldiss, Hypérion de D. Simmons. Littératures. Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, 1997. Français. ⟨tel-00004119⟩



Record views


Files downloads