In this major survey of theoretical aspects and contemporary authors of science fiction, one of its foremost investigators argues for a radically new approach. For Darko Suvin, science fiction writings are neither prophecy nor the folklore of technology, but at their best parables for our times. Suvin lays the foundations for understanding their narrative logic and ideological horizons, and then examines a crucial group of modern authors. These comprise the diverging stances of Asimov, Le Guin, and Dick in the USA, Yefremov and the Strugatskys in the USSR, and Lem and the Brauns in Central Europe. The book culminates in a discussion of science fiction as metaphor, applied to a text by Cordwainer Smith as the bad conscience of Reaganism.