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What is ‘Sensawunda’?

Over at Kirkus Reviews today, I attempt to define an oft-used term when describing science fiction: “Sensawunda”.

In a future article, I may discuss how people who use the term “oft-used” should be beaten about the head and shoulders, but until then, take a gander at What is “Sensawunda”?

If you’re a Facebook user, leave a comment and let me know if you agree, or I should be preemptively beaten about the head and shoulders. Why wait, right?

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

4 Comments on What is ‘Sensawunda’?

  1. Paul NYC // June 1, 2011 at 10:10 am //

    I totally agree and it’s funny that Rama, Marrow and Ringworld are novels that I would recommend as being examples of works that evoke “sensawunda”. Niven is exceptional at doing this because reading his novels is an exercise in wanting to turn the page to see what the next incredible concept or piece of tech will be.

  2. Perfectly described John. I love the Star Wars example.


    A harder question might be “how is sensawunda different from sublime?” With sublime meaning “impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration, etc.” or “inspiring deep veneration, awe, or uplifting emotion because of ts beauty, nobility, grandeur, or immensity” how is this really different? 


  3. Sublime has an undertone of innate terror.  A wave is sublime.  A wave generator has sensawunda.

  4. Great post.  ‘Sensawunda’ sounds like something The Sopranos would say.


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