One question in this volume is whether medieval culture and the SF genre
intersect. At first glance, it would appear that they do not. First, the medieval
world lies in the past and SF deals with the future. Second, SF (as distinct from
fantasy) deals with the impact of speculative science on the lives of human beings
and, according to conventional wisdom, there was no science in the Middle Ages.
Third, when the medieval past does appear in SF, it provides only a cardboard stage
set and caricatures the past without illuminating it. Therefore, SF and the medieval
world do not properly intersect.
On the other hand, we find such novels as Poul Anderson’s The High Crusade
(1960), Connie Willis’s The Doomsday Book (1993), Richard Garfinkle’s Celestial
Matters (1996) and my own Eifelheim (2006), as well as short fiction like Sean
McMullen’s ‘Tower of Wings’ (2001). So clearly there is an intersection.
My own response is that medieval culture and science fiction may intersect in
two distinct ways, within which several further distinctions can be made.