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Rfv-sense: "The feature of a fictional work's setting, especially in science fiction, that distinguishes it from the real world."
In general this just means "A new feature". I don't doubt that this word is used in the context of sci-fi literary criticism. I am just not sure that the def. above really defines is properly. DCDuringTALK 19:38, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
It seems that this ‘point of difference’, the thing or things that differentiate the world portrayed in science fiction from the world we recognise around us, is the crucial separator between SF and other forms of imaginative or fantastic literature. The critic Darko Suvin has usefully coined the term ‘novum’, the Latin for ‘new’ or ‘new thing’, to refer to this ‘point of difference’ (the plural is ‘nova’). An SF text may be based on one novum, such as […] . More usually it will be predicated on a number of interrelated nova, such as […] . This ‘novum’ must not be supernatural but need not necessarily be a piece of technology.
So our definition actually seems pretty good to me. I think the big problem will be demonstrating independence: the b.g.c. search I just linked to says it finds tens of thousands of hits, but a large proportion of them likely mention Suvin. Unfortunately, as I've mentioned elsewhere on this page, we don't have a clear definition of "independence".