The present special issue seeks to capture the difference between the ontological instability and reality pluralism that characterized late-twentieth-century postmodernist fiction and the kind that characterizes twenty-first-century literaryfiction. How should we talk about what the editors call the earnest ontologies of twenty-first-century alternative-reality fiction, especially by contrast with the presumably frivolous ontologies of postmodernism? Many of these essays seem to be edging toward a definition of twenty-first-century reality pluralism and alternativity in science-fictional terms. According to Darko Suvin's classic definition, science fiction is the literature of cognitive estrangement, which might just be another way of saying earnest ontology. The contributors to this special issue might have thought they were describing post-postmodernism, but what they are really describing seems to be something like the science-fictionalization of mainstream literary fiction—which might, indeed, be as good a definition of post-postmodernism as any.

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