This essay considers how possible worlds theory has been applied to science fiction, arguing that such an approach has tended to obscure issues of intertextuality within science fiction's diegetic world-building. Rather than addressing sf's alternative histories as "counterfactuals," it is suggested that "counterfictionality" may also be significant. This is defined as the process through which new texts borrow from, combine, and rework the narrative worlds of existent fictions in order to pay homage to, but also comment on, originating classics in the genre's cultural history. Taking the work of British writer and film critic Kim Newman as a case study, the essay then focuses specifically on Newman's gothic sf reworkings of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and on his retooling of Dracula (1890) in the novel Anno Dracula (1992). Analyzing these popular fictions intertextually leads into a consideration of how Newman draws on literary/cultural theory to inform his counterfictions. His rewritings of gothic sf are also critical re-readings: "Further Developments in the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" (1999) is a queer reading of the original Stevenson novella, while Anno Dracula challenges the imperial power relations and foreign others of Stoker's novel. Rather than addressing "counterfictionality" simply as an example of postmodern, self-referential fiction, it is argued that Kim Newman's work indicates the need to carefully consider the cultural politics and theories underlying "alternate-story stories."
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|Published - Nov 2003