From science fiction to history
Grimus and Midnight’s Children
in Salman Rushdie
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This chapter focuses on two novels: Grimus and Midnight's Children. Scenarios borrowed from science fiction fantasy appear in several of Rushdie's novels. The science fictional imagination is at its strongest, however, in Rushdie's first published fiction, Grimus. Because Rushdie sees science fiction not as an end in itself, however, but as a springboard for the exploration of philosophical and political concepts, the novel may be described as a specific form of science fiction – a ‘speculative fiction’ – in which the alien qualities of ‘new worlds’ are used as a means of investigating and destabilising settled certainties concerning our own world. In Midnight's Children, Rushdie's concern to fictionalise an experience of recent Indian history suggests that his novel might potentially be considered as a form of historical fiction. The novel is preoccupied at the level of ideas by history and historicity, by the ways in which history is recorded, by the techniques with which a period is conjured and contained (or not contained), and by the ways in which the individual ‘historiographer’ understands (or misunderstands) his relationship with his material.

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