Study of Satire, the Absurd and Censorship in Science Fiction through a Novel and an Essay

Yimin Wang

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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My project is comprised of two parts: a novel and a critical essay that together explore how SF that deals with social and political ideas works with elements of satire and the absurd, in the context of censorship and self- censorship.
The novel documents Roger’s misadventures in an interplanetary political thriller that is not exactly centred on him. It is mostly set on Planet B and Planet C. Roger is a journalist from Planet C who lives and works on Planet B. Planet B is a democracy that is plagued with racism, whereas Planet C is an authoritarian state seeking its place in the galaxy. Roger finds himself caught in a power struggle within the regime during a state visit of the leader of Planet C. Thematically, it concerns the impact of different political systems has on people when they come from one and live in another.
The critical chapters deal with how SF that primarily concerns social and political commentary works with elements of satire and the absurd. Part of the essay focuses on how satire, the absurd and (self-)censorship operate in SF. Stanislaw Lem provides a particularly useful archetype because he employs both satire and the absurd in his fiction as a means of negotiating pressure from censors in Communist Poland. I use Lem’s fiction as examples to analyse how Lem expresses his concern for the present and future through SF, with elements of satire and the absurd, especially how he evades state censorship. I’ve also surveyed Chinese SF, and how these authors deal with social and political issues. This discussion serves to further position my creative practice as a Chinese writer writing SF in English. I then discuss my own writing process and how my novel incorporates these elements and expresses similar concerns to those of Lem’s fiction.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Cowie, Douglas, Supervisor
Award date1 Jan 2021
Publication statusUnpublished - 2020


  • Science Fiction

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