If any theme runs through all my work, it is what Adrienne Rich once called "re-vision," i.e., the re-perceiving of experience, not because our experience is complex or subtle or hard to understand (though it is sometimes all three) but because so much of what's presented to us as "the real world" or "the way it is" is so obviously untrue that a great deal of social energy must be mobilized to hide that gross and ghastly fact.
-- JOANNA RUSS, TO WRITE LIKE A WOMAN ( XV)
Where in the world am I? What in the world is going on? What am I going to do? These are questions common to science fiction (sf) whenever and wherever one locates it historically or geographically. Especially in the Anglo-American tradition, narratives of alienation and discovery have characterized sf from the early moments of its emergence from the sea of fantastic writing.
In Frankenstein in 1818, Mary Shelley's scientist strives to find a place for himself and his heterodox approach to medieval and modern science in the brave new world of utilitarian, capitalist Britain; and even more so her newborn creature awakes in an alien and alienated society that holds no place for such a radically new human. Both characters ironically and negatively echo the amazement of Shakespeare's Miranda as she stands on the cusp of modernity, colonialism, rationality, and the rest of the economic-cultural package that has led to this particular historical moment at the beginning of the third millennium. In The Time Machine in 1895, H. G. Wells's Time Traveller struggles to ground his vision and find his way, and by metaphoric extension the way of humanity, in a nasty future in which his own present, Wells's empirical moment and the Time Traveller's "Britain," is the terrifying past. In the United States in the early 1960s, Michael Valentine Smith in Robert Heinlein's novel finds himself to be eponymously the stranger in a strange land, the consumer paradise of postwar America. In the par-