Afro-Future Females: Black Writers Chart Science Fiction’s Newest New-Wave Trajectory,edited by Marleen S. Barr, is the first combined science fiction critical anthology and short story collection to focus upon black women via written and visual texts. The volume creates a dialogue with existing theories of Afro-Futurism in order to generate fresh ideas about how to apply race to science fiction studies in terms of gender. The contributors, including Hortense Spillers, Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler, and Steven Barnes, formulate a woman-centered Afro-Futurism by repositioning previously excluded fiction to redefine science fiction as a broader fantastic endeavor. They articulate a platform for scholars to mount a vigorous argument in favor of redefining science fiction to encompass varieties of fantastic writing and, therefore, to include a range of black women’s writing that would otherwise be excluded. Afro-Future Females builds upon Barr’s previous work in black science fiction and fills a gap in the literature. It is the first critical anthology to address the "blackness" of outer space fiction in terms of feminism, emphasizing that it is necessary to revise the very nature of a genre that has been constructed in such a way as to exclude its new black participants. Black science fiction writers alter genre conventions to change how we read and define science fiction itself. The work’s main point: black science fiction is the most exciting literature of the nascent twenty-first century.
Growing out of the music scene, afrofuturism has emerged as an important aesthetic through films such as Black Panther and Get Out. While the significance of these sonic and visual avenues for afrofuturism cannot be underestimated, literature remains fundamental to understanding its full dimensions. Isiah Lavender’s Afrofuturism Rising explores afrofuturism as a narrative practice that enables users to articulate the interconnection between science, technology, and race across centuries.
By engaging with authors as diverse as Phillis Wheatley, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Ann Jacobs, Samuel R. Delany Jr., Pauline Hopkins, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Wright, Afrofuturism Rising extends existing scholarly conversations about who creates and what is created via science fiction. Through a trans-historical rereading of texts by these authors as science fiction, Lavender highlights the ways black experience in America has always been an experience of spatial and temporal dislocation akin to science fiction. Compelling and ambitious in scope, Afrofuturism Rising redefines both science fiction and literature as a whole.
Jad Smith University of Illinois Press, 2016 Library of Congress PS3552.E796Z85 2016 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Alfred Bester's classic short stories and the canonical novel The Stars My Destination made him a science fiction legend. Fans and scholars praise him as a genre-bending pioneer and cyberpunk forefather. Writers like Neil Gaiman and William Gibson celebrate his prophetic vision and stylistic innovations.
Jad Smith traces the career of the unlikeliest of SF icons. Winner of the first Hugo Award for The Demolished Man, Bester also worked in comics, radio, and TV, and his intermittent SF writing led some critics to brand him a dabbler. In the 1960s, however, New Wave writers championed his work, and his reputation grew. Smith follows Bester's journey from consummate outsider to an artist venerated for foundational works that influenced the New Wave and cyberpunk revolutions. He also explores the little-known roots of a wayward journey fueled by curiosity, disappointment with the SF mainstream, and an artist's determination to go his own way.
Though set in other worlds populated by alien beings, science fiction is a site where humans can critique and re-imagine the paradigms that shape this world, from fundamentals such as the sex and gender of the body to global power relations among sexes, races, and nations. Feminist thinkers and writers are increasingly recognizing science fiction's potential to shatter patriarchal and heterosexual norms, while the creators of science fiction are bringing new depth and complexity to the genre by engaging with feminist theories and politics. This book maps the intersection of feminism and science fiction through close readings of science fiction literature by Octavia E. Butler, Richard Calder, and Melissa Scott and the movies The Matrix and the Alien series.
Patricia Melzer analyzes how these authors and films represent debates and concepts in three areas of feminist thought: identity and difference, feminist critiques of science and technology, and the relationship among gender identity, body, and desire, including the new gender politics of queer desires, transgender, and intersexed bodies and identities. She demonstrates that key political elements shape these debates, including global capitalism and exploitative class relations within a growing international system; the impact of computer, industrial, and medical technologies on women's lives and reproductive rights; and posthuman embodiment as expressed through biotechnologies, the body/machine interface, and the commodification of desire. Melzer's investigation makes it clear that feminist writings and readings of science fiction are part of a feminist critique of existing power relations—and that the alien constructions (cyborgs, clones, androids, aliens, and hybrids) that populate postmodern science fiction are as potentially empowering as they are threatening.
How and when does there come to be an “anthropology of the alien?” This set of essays, written for the eighth J. Lloyd Eaton Conference on Fantasy and Science Fiction, is concerned with the significance of that question. “[Anthropology] is the science that must designate the alien ifit is to redefine a place for itself in the universe,” according to the Introduction.
The idea of the alien is not new. In the Renaissance, Montaigne’s purpose in describing an alien encounter was excorporation—mankind was the “savage” because the artificial devices of nature controlled him. Shakespeare’s version of the alien encounter was incorporation; his character of Caliban is brought to the artificial, political world of man and incorporated into the body politic
“The essays in this volume . . . show, in their general orientation, that the tribe of
Shakespeare still, in literary studies at least, outnumbers that of Montaigne.” These essays show the interrelation of the excorporating possibilities to the internal soundings of the alien encounter within the human mind and form.
This book is divided into three parts: “Searchings: The Quest for the Alien” includes “The Aliens in Our Mind,” by Larry Niven; “Effing the Ineffable,” by Gregory Benford; “Border Patrols,” by Michael Beehler; “Alien Aliens,” by Pascal Ducommun; and “Metamorphoses of the Dragon,” by George E. Slusser.
“Sightings: The Aliens among Us” includes “Discriminating among Friends,” by John Huntington; “Sex, Superman, Sociobiology,” by Joseph D. Miller; “Cowboys and Telepaths,” by Eric S. Rabkin; “Robots,” by Noel Perrin; “Aliens in the Supermarket,” by George R. Guffey; and “Aliens ‘R’ U.S.,” by Zoe Sofia.
“Soundings: Man as the Alien” includes “H. G. Wells’ Familiar Aliens,” by John R. Reed; “Inspiration and Possession,” by Clayton Koelb; “Cybernauts in Cyberspace,” by David Porush; “The Human Alien,” by Leighton Brett Cooke; “From Astarte to Barbie,” by Frank McConnell; and “An Indication of Monsters;” by Colin Greenland.
Why do we find artificial people fascinating? Drawing from a rich fictional and cinematic tradition, Anatomy of a Robot explores the political and textual implications of our perennial projections of humanity onto figures such as robots, androids, cyborgs, and automata. In an engaging, sophisticated, and accessible presentation, Despina Kakoudaki argues that, in their narrative and cultural deployment, artificial people demarcate what it means to be human. They perform this function by offering us a non-human version of ourselves as a site of investigation. Artificial people teach us that being human, being a person or a self, is a constant process and often a matter of legal, philosophical, and political struggle.
By analyzing a wide range of literary texts and films (including episodes from Twilight Zone, the fiction of Philip K. Dick, Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, Metropolis, The Golem, Frankenstein, The Terminator, Iron Man, Blade Runner, and I, Robot), and going back to alchemy and to Aristotle’s Physics and De Anima, she tracks four foundational narrative elements in this centuries-old discourse— the fantasy of the artificial birth, the fantasy of the mechanical body, the tendency to represent artificial people as slaves, and the interpretation of artificiality as an existential trope. What unifies these investigations is the return of all four elements to the question of what constitutes the human.
This focused approach to the topic of the artificial, constructed, or mechanical person allows us to reconsider the creation of artificial life. By focusing on their historical provenance and textual versatility, Kakoudaki elucidates artificial people’s main cultural function, which is the political and existential negotiation of what it means to be a person.
Stephen Prince Rutgers University Press, 2021 Library of Congress PN1995.9.A64P75 2021 | Dewey Decimal 791.43615
Vivid images of the apocalypse proliferate throughout contemporary cinema, which pictures the death of civilization in wildly different ways. Some films imagine a future where humanity is wiped out entirely, while others envision humans as an endangered species, enslaved by alien invaders or hunted by zombie hordes.
This book provides a lively overview of apocalypse cinema, including alien invasions, nuclear annihilation, asteroid collisions, climate change, and terrifying plagues. Covering pivotal films from the silent era to the present day, including Metropolis, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dr. Strangelove, Contagion, and Avengers: Endgame, Stephen Prince explores how these dark visions are rooted in religious and prophetic traditions, and he considers how our love for apocalypse cinema is tied to fundamental existential questions and anxieties that never go out of fashion.
Arthur C. Clarke
Gary Westfahl University of Illinois Press, 2018 Library of Congress PR6005.L36Z95 2018 | Dewey Decimal 823.914
Already renowned for his science fiction and scientific nonfiction, Arthur C. Clarke became the world’s most famous science fiction writer after the success of 2001: A Space Odyssey. He then produced novels like Rendezvous with Rama and The Fountains of Paradise that many regard as his finest works.
Gary Westfahl closely examines Clarke's remarkable career, ranging from his forgotten juvenilia to the passages he completed for a final novel, The Last Theorem. As Westfahl explains, Clarke’s science fiction offered original perspectives on subjects like new inventions, space travel, humanity’s destiny, alien encounters, the undersea world, and religion. While not inclined to mysticism, Clarke necessarily employed mystical language to describe the fantastic achievements of advanced aliens and future humans. Westfahl also contradicts the common perception that Clarke’s characters were bland and underdeveloped, arguing that these reticent, solitary individuals, who avoid conventional relationships, represent his most significant prediction of the future, as they embody the increasingly common lifestyle of people in the twenty-first century.
In Black Madness :: Mad Blackness Therí Alyce Pickens rethinks the relationship between Blackness and disability, unsettling the common theorization that they are mutually constitutive. Pickens shows how Black speculative and science fiction authors such as Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due craft new worlds that reimagine the intersection of Blackness and madness. These creative writer-theorists formulate new parameters for thinking through Blackness and madness. Pickens considers Butler's Fledgling as an archive of Black madness that demonstrates how race and ability shape subjectivity while constructing the building blocks for antiracist and anti-ableist futures. She examines how Hopkinson's Midnight Robber theorizes mad Blackness and how Due's African Immortals series contests dominant definitions of the human. The theorizations of race and disability that emerge from these works, Pickens demonstrates, challenge the paradigms of subjectivity that white supremacy and ableism enforce, thereby pointing to the potential for new forms of radical politics.
In Bodyminds Reimagined Sami Schalk traces how black women's speculative fiction complicates the understanding of bodyminds—the intertwinement of the mental and the physical—in the context of race, gender, and (dis)ability. Bridging black feminist theory with disability studies, Schalk demonstrates that this genre's political potential lies in the authors' creation of bodyminds that transcend reality's limitations. She reads (dis)ability in neo-slave narratives by Octavia Butler (Kindred) and Phyllis Alesia Perry (Stigmata) not only as representing the literal injuries suffered under slavery, but also as a metaphor for the legacy of racial violence. The fantasy worlds in works by N. K. Jemisin, Shawntelle Madison, and Nalo Hopkinson—where werewolves have obsessive-compulsive-disorder and blind demons can see magic—destabilize social categories and definitions of the human, calling into question the very nature of identity. In these texts, as well as in Butler’s Parable series, able-mindedness and able-bodiedness are socially constructed and upheld through racial and gendered norms. Outlining (dis)ability's centrality to speculative fiction, Schalk shows how these works open new social possibilities while changing conceptualizations of identity and oppression through nonrealist contexts.
Bradbury Beyond Apollo
Jonathan R. Eller University of Illinois Press, 2020 Library of Congress PS3503.R167 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Celebrated storyteller, cultural commentator, friend of astronauts, prophet of the Space Age—by the end of the 1960s, Ray Bradbury had attained a level of fame and success rarely achieved by authors, let alone authors of science fiction and fantasy. He had also embarked on a phase of his career that found him exploring new creative outlets while reinterpreting his classic tales for generations of new fans.
Drawing on numerous interviews with Bradbury and privileged access to personal papers and private collections, Jonathan R. Eller examines the often-overlooked second half of Bradbury's working life. As Bradbury's dreams took him into a wider range of nonfiction writing and public lectures, the diminishing time that remained for creative pursuits went toward Hollywood productions like the award-winning series Ray Bradbury Theater. Bradbury developed the Spaceship Earth narration at Disney's EPCOT Center; appeared everywhere from public television to NASA events to comic conventions; published poetry; and mined past triumphs for stage productions that enjoyed mixed success. Distracted from storytelling as he became more famous, Bradbury nonetheless published innovative experiments in autobiography masked as detective novels, the well-received fantasy The Halloween Tree and the masterful time travel story "The Toynbee Convector." Yet his embrace of celebrity was often at odds with his passion for writing, and the resulting tension continuously pulled at his sense of self.
The revelatory conclusion to the acclaimed three-part biography, Bradbury Beyond Apollo tells the story of an inexhaustible creative force seeking new frontiers.
Brian W. Aldiss
Paul Kincaid University of Illinois Press, 2022 Library of Congress PR6051.L3Z75 2022 | Dewey Decimal 823.914
Brian W. Aldiss wrote classic science fiction novels like Report on Probability A and Hothouse. Billion Year Spree, his groundbreaking study of the field, defined the very meaning of SF and delineated its history. Yet Aldiss’s discomfort with being a guiding spirit of the British New Wave and his pursuit of mainstream success characterized a lifelong ambivalence toward the genre.
Paul Kincaid explores the many contradictions that underlay the distinctive qualities of Aldiss’s writing. Wartime experiences in Asia and the alienation that arose upon his return to the cold austerity of postwar Britain inspired themes and imagery that Aldiss drew upon throughout his career. He wrote of prolific nature overwhelming humanity, believed war was madness even though it provided him with the happiest period of his life, and found parallels in the static lives of Indian peasants and hidebound English society. As Kincaid shows, contradictions created tensions that fueled the metaphorical underpinnings of Aldiss's work and shaped not only his long career but the evolution of postwar British science fiction.
Thirteen original essays written specifically for the second Eaton Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, held February 23–24, 1980, at the University of California, Riverside.
These essays demonstrate the variety of fantasy forms and their pervasiveness throughout the ages and will stimulate further study of this complex and elusive mode. The essays—by Harold Bloom, writer and DeVane Professor of the Humanities at Yale University; Larry McCaffery, Assistant Professor of English at San Diego State University; Marta E. Sánchez, Instructor of English at the University of California, San Diego; Arlen J. Hansen, Professor of English at the University of the Pacific, Stockton; David Clayton, Instructor of Comparative Literatureat the University of California, San Diego; Robert Sale, writer and Professor of English at the University of Washington; G. Richard Thompson, Professor of English at Purdue University, West Lafayette; Robert A. Collins, Coordinator of the annual Swann Conference on the Fantastic and Instructor at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton; John Gerlach, Associate Professor of English at Cleveland State University; David Ketterer, writer and Professor of English at Concordia University, Montreal; George R. Guffey, Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles; Jack P. Rawlins, Associate Professor of English at California State University, Chico; and Gary Kern, writer and translator of early Soviet literature—examine fantasy on many levels of interest: as an element of human thought, as a constant factor in the social and intellectual environment, and as a generator of form in art and literature.
Bridges to Science Fiction
George E Slusser Southern Illinois University Press, 1980 Library of Congress PN3448.S45E2 1979 | Dewey Decimal 809.3876
Ten new critical essays written for presentation at the first Eaton Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature held 24–25February 1979,at the University of California, Riverside.
While critical discussion of science fiction has become increasingly sophisticated during the past decade, there remains a tendency among some teachers and readers to consider science fiction as an independent phenomenon that exists unconnected to the mainstream of our cultural inheritance. These essays—by Harry Levin, Irving Babbitt Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University; Kent T. Kraft, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia, Athens; Stephen Potts, writer and instructor at San Diego State University; Gregory Benford, writer and Associate Professor of Physics at the University of California, Irvine; Robert Hunt, an editor at Glencoe Publishing; Eric S. Rabkin, Professor of English at the University of Michigan; Patrick Parrinder, instructor at the University of Reading, England; Thomas Keeling, Lecturer in English at the University of California, Los Angeles; Carl D. Malmgren, instructor at the University of Oregon, Eugene; and Thomas Hanzo, Professor of English and Chairman of the department at the University of California, Davis—suggest the connections that exist between science fiction and other aspects of Western cultural tradition.
Ranging in interest from the specifically philosophical to the specifically literary, the essays relate science fiction to such topics as medieval cosmological discourse, classical empirical philosophy, fairy tale, epic, and Gothic fiction. Emerging from the volume as a whole are both a coherent view of science fiction as a genre and a heightened sense of its complex relation to our cultural heritage.
Close Encounters was first published in 1991. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Offers new critical approaches to science fiction as represented in film, television, fan culture, and other non-literary media. Addresses the way conventional notions of sexual difference are reworked by science fiction film. Includes the complete script of Peter Wollen's 1987 film Friendship's Death.
Contributors: Raymond Bellour, Janet Bergstrom, Roger Dadoun, Harvey R. Greenberg, M.D., Henry Jenkins III, Enno Patalas, Constance Penley, Vivian Sobchak, Lynn Spigel, and Peter Wollen.
A deconstruction of gender through the voices of Siri, HAL 9000, and other computers that talk
Although computer-based personal assistants like Siri are increasingly ubiquitous, few users stop to ask what it means that some assistants are gendered female, others male. Why is Star Trek’s computer coded as female, while HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey is heard as male? By examining how gender is built into these devices, author Liz W. Faber explores contentious questions around gender: its fundamental constructedness, the rigidity of the gender binary, and culturally situated attitudes on male and female embodiment.
Faber begins by considering talking spaceships like those in Star Trek, the film Dark Star, and the TV series Quark, revealing the ideologies that underlie space-age progress. She then moves on to an intrepid decade-by-decade investigation of computer voices, tracing the evolution from the masculine voices of the ’70s and ’80s to the feminine ones of the ’90s and ’00s. Faber ends her account in the present, with incisive looks at the film Her and Siri herself.
Going beyond current scholarship on robots and AI to focus on voice-interactive computers, The Computer’s Voice breaks new ground in questions surrounding media, technology, and gender. It makes important contributions to conversations around the gender gap and the increasing acceptance of transgender people.
These thirteen original essays were written specifically for the Third J. Lloyd Eaton Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, held February 21–22, 1981, at the University of California, Riverside.
Leslie Fiedler sets the tone of this volume by fixing a basic set of coordinates—that of “elitist” and “popular” standards.
Those replying to his charge are: Eric S. Rabkin, Professor of English at the University of Michigan and author of The Fantasticin Literature, “The Descent of Fantasy”; Gerald Prince, Professor of French at the University of Pennsylvania, “How New is New?”; Mark Rose, Professor of English at the University of California at Santa Barbara, author of Alien Encounters, “Jules Verne: Journey to the Center of Science Fiction”; Joseph Lenz, who teaches English Literature at the University of Michigan, “Manifest Destiny: Science Fiction Epic and Classical Forms”; Michelle Massé, of the English Department at the George Mason University, “‘All you have to do is know what you want’: Individual Expectations in Triton”;Gary K. Wolfe, who teaches English at Roosevelt University, author of The Known and the Unknown, “Autoplastic and Alloplastic Adaptations in Science Fiction: ‘Waldo’ and ‘Desertion’”; Robert Hunt, an editor with Glencoe Press, “Science Fiction for the Age of Inflation: Reading Atlas Shrugged in the 1980s”; George R. Guffey, Professor of English at UCLA, “Fahrenheit451and the ‘Cubby-Hole Editors’ of Ballantine Books”; H. Bruce Franklin, Professor of English and American Literature at Rutgers University at Newark, “America as Science Fiction: 1939”; Sandra M. Gilbert, Professor of English at the University of California at Davis, and coauthor with Susan Gubar of Madwoman in the Attic, “Rider Haggard’s Heart of Darkness”; the aforementioned Susan Gubar, Professor of English at Indiana University, “She in Her/and: Feminism as Fantasy”; and George R. Slusser, Curator of the Eaton Collection, “Death and the Mirror: Existential Fantasy.”
An urgent volume of essays engages the Gothic to advance important perspectives on our geological era
What can the Gothic teach us about our current geological era? More than just spooky, moonlit castles and morbid graveyards, the Gothic represents a vibrant, emergent perspective on the Anthropocene. In this volume, more than a dozen scholars move beyond longstanding perspectives on the Anthropocene—such as science fiction and apocalyptic narratives—to show that the Gothic offers a unique (and dark) interpretation of events like climate change, diminished ecosystems, and mass extinction.
Embracing pop cultural phenomena like True Detective, Jaws, and Twin Peaks, as well as topics from the New Weird and prehistoric shark fiction to ruin porn and the “monstroscene,” Dark Scenes from Damaged Earth demonstrates the continuing vitality of the Gothic while opening important new paths of inquiry. These essays map a genealogy of the Gothic while providing fresh perspectives on the ongoing climate chaos, the North/South divide, issues of racialization, dark ecology, questions surrounding environmental justice, and much more.
Contributors: Fred Botting, Kingston U; Timothy Clark, U of Durham; Rebecca Duncan, Linnaeus U; Michael Fuchs, U of Oldenburg, Germany; Esthie Hugo, U of Warwick; Dawn Keetley, Lehigh U; Laura R. Kremmel, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology; Timothy Morton, Rice U; Barry Murnane, U of Oxford; Jennifer Schell, U of Alaska Fairbanks; Lisa M. Vetere, Monmouth U; Sara Wasson, Lancaster U; Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Central Michigan U.
In 2012, Disney purchased Lucasfilm, which meant it also inherited the beloved Star Wars franchise. This corporate marriage sent media critics and fans into a frenzy of speculation about what would happen next with the hugely popular series. Disney’s Star Wars gathers twenty-one noted fan and media studies scholars from around the world to examine Disney’s revival of the franchise.
Covering the period from Disney’s purchase through the release of The Force Awakens, the book reveals how fans anticipated, interpreted, and responded to the steady stream of production stories, gossip, marketing materials, merchandise, and other sources in the build-up to the movie’s release. From fears that Princess Leia would be turned into a “Disney princess” to collaborative brand management, the authors explore the shifting relationship between fans, texts, and media industries in the context of a crucial rebranding campaign. The result is a fascinating examination of a critical moment in the iconic series’ history.
Diverse Futures: Science Fiction and Authors of Color examines the contributions of late-twentieth- and twenty-first-century US and Canadian science fiction authors of color. By looking at the intersections among science fiction authors of multiple races and ethnicities, Joy Sanchez-Taylor seeks to explain how these authors of color are juxtaposing tropes of science fiction with specific cultural references to comment on issues of inclusiveness in Eurowestern cultures. The central argument of this work is that these authors are challenging science fiction’s history of Eurocentric representation through the depiction of communities of color in fantastic or futuristic settings, specifically by using cognitive estrangement and the inclusion of non-Eurowestern cultural beliefs and practices to comment on the alienation of racially dominated groups. By exploring science fiction tropes—such as first contact, genetic modification, post-apocalyptic landscapes, and advanced technologies in the works of Octavia E. Butler, Ted Chiang, Sabrina Vourvoulias, and many others—Sanchez-Taylor demonstrates how authors of various races and ethnicities write science fiction that pays homage to the genre while also creating a more diverse and inclusive portrait of the future.
In culture and scholarship, science-fictional worlds are perceived as unrealistic and altogether imaginary. Seo-Young Chu offers a bold challenge to this perception of the genre, arguing instead that science fiction is a form of “high-intensity realism” capable of representing non-imaginary objects that elude more traditional, “realist” modes of representation. Powered by lyric forces that allow it to transcend the dichotomy between the literal and the figurative, science fiction has the capacity to accommodate objects of representation that are themselves neither entirely figurative nor entirely literal in nature. Chu explores the globalized world, cyberspace, war trauma, the Korean concept of han, and the rights of robots, all as referents for which she locates science-fictional representations in poems, novels, music, films, visual pieces, and other works ranging within and without previous demarcations of the science fiction genre. In showing the divide between realism and science fiction to be illusory, Do Metaphors Dream of Literal Sleep? sheds new light on the value of science fiction as an aesthetic and philosophical resource—one that matters more and more as our everyday realities grow increasingly resistant to straightforward representation.
In The Dreamer and the Dream: Afrofuturism and Black Religious Thought, Roger A. Sneed illuminates the interplay of Black religious thought with science fiction narratives to present a bold case for Afrofuturism as an important channel for Black spirituality. In the process, he challenges the assumed primacy of the Black church as the arbiter of Black religious life. Incorporating analyses of Octavia Butler’s Parable books, Janelle Monáe’s Afrofuturistic saga, Star Trek’s Captain Benjamin Sisko, Marvel’s Black Panther, and Sun Ra and the Nation of Islam, Sneed demonstrates how Afrofuturism has contributed to Black visions of the future. He also investigates how Afrofuturism has influenced religious scholarship that looks to Black cultural production as a means of reimagining Blackness in the light of the sacred. The result is an expansive new look at the power of science fiction and Afrofuturism to center the diversity of Black spirituality.
For more than a century, Mars has been at the center of debates about humanity’s place in the cosmos. Focusing on perceptions of the red planet in scientific works and science fiction, Dying Planet analyzes the ways Mars has served as a screen onto which humankind has projected both its hopes for the future and its fears of ecological devastation on Earth. Robert Markley draws on planetary astronomy, the history and cultural study of science, science fiction, literary and cultural criticism, ecology, and astrobiology to offer a cross-disciplinary investigation of the cultural and scientific dynamics that have kept Mars on front pages since the 1800s.
Markley interweaves chapters on science and science fiction, enabling him to illuminate each arena and to explore the ways their concerns overlap and influence one another. He tracks all the major scientific developments, from observations through primitive telescopes in the seventeenth century to data returned by the rovers that landed on Mars in 2004. Markley describes how major science fiction writers—H. G. Wells, Kim Stanley Robinson, Philip K. Dick, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and Judith Merril—responded to new theories and new controversies. He also considers representations of Mars in film, on the radio, and in the popular press. In its comprehensive study of both science and science fiction, Dying Planet reveals how changing conceptions of Mars have had crucial consequences for understanding ecology on Earth.
Science fiction often operates as either an extended metaphor for human relationships or as a genuine attempt to encounter the alien Other. Both types of stories tend to rehearse the processes of colonialism, in which a sympathetic protagonist encounters and tames the unknown. Despite this logic, Native American writers have claimed the genre as a productive space in which they can critique historical colonialism and reassert the value of Indigenous worldviews. Encountering the Sovereign Other proposes a new theoretical framework for understanding Indigenous science fiction, placing Native theorists like Vine Deloria Jr. and Gregory Cajete in conversation with science fiction theorists like Darko Suvin, David Higgins, and Michael Pinsky. In response to older colonial discourses, many contemporary Indigenous authors insist that readers acknowledge their humanity while recognizing them as distinct peoples who maintain their own cultures, beliefs, and nationhood. Here author Miriam C. Brown Spiers analyzes four novels: William Sanders’s The Ballad of Billy Badass and the Rose of Turkestan, Stephen Graham Jones’s It Came from Del Rio, D. L. Birchfield’s Field of Honor, and Blake M. Hausman’s Riding the Trail of Tears. Demonstrating how Indigenous science fiction expands the boundaries of the genre while reinforcing the relevance of Indigenous knowledge, Brown Spiers illustrates the use of science fiction as a critical compass for navigating and surviving the distinct challenges of the twenty-first century.
The End of the World
Eric S Rabkin Southern Illinois University Press, 1983 Library of Congress PN3433.6.E6 1983 | Dewey Decimal 809.3876
The essays selected by the editors to explore these apocalyptic visions are: “The Remaking of Zero: Beginning at the End,” by Gary K. Wolfe; “The Lone Survivor,” by Robert Plank; “Ambiguous Apocalypse: Transcendental Versions of the End,” by Robert Galbreath; “World’s End: The Imagination of Catastrophe,” by W. Warren Wagar; “Man-Made Catastrophes,” by Brian Stableford; and “The Rebellion of Nature,” by W. Warren Wagar.
Wolfe sees in these postholocaust narratives a central attraction—“the mythic power inherent in the very conception of a remade world.” This power derives from three sources: the emergence of a new order from the ashes of the old system, and thus a kind of denial of death; the reinforcement of one set of values as opposed to another; and as something always replaces whatever was destroyed, a promise that nothing can annihilate humanity.
This book follows the interplay between allegory and physics in Europe from the inception of the laws of thermodynamics in the 1850s to the cultural acceptance of the theory of relativity in the 1920s. Bruce Clarke delves into the cultural poetics of this emergence, as well as using allegory theory to link the literature of that era to the consolidation of modern physics in England. In his examination of these correlating topics the author displays not only an impressive grasp on the scientific climate of that era, but also comprehensive knowledge of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature.
The book begins with an overview of the interconnections between allegory in literature and allegory in science, then analyzes the interaction between energy and entropy and their personification in the literature of the times. Energy Forms draws on the writing of well-known literary and scientific authors including H. G. Wells, Camille Flammarion, Charles Howard Hinton and D. H. Lawrence, among others. The focus then shifts to the broad cultural tension between thermodynamic malaise and electromagnetic aspiration. Energy Forms uncovers the works of important but overlooked authors in the fields of science and literature and will appeal especially to those who are intrigued by interdisciplinary studies.
Bruce Clarke is Professor of English,Texas Tech University. He is the author of Dora Marsden and Early Modernism: Gender, Individualism, Science; Allegories of Writing: The Subject of Metamorphosis; and editor of The Body and the Text: Comparative Essays in Literature and Medicine.
Never before has a collection of original essays strived to create such constructive, shared discourse between ecocritical, narrative scholars and environmental humanities scholars interested in narrative. Erin James and Eric Morel’s volume Environment and Narrative: New Directions in Econarratology explores the complexity of pairing material environments and their representations with narrative forms of understanding.
To explore the methodological possibilities within “econarratology,” the contributors evaluate the mechanics of how narratives convey environmental understanding via building blocks such as the organization of time and space, characterization, focalization, description, and narration. They also query how readers emotionally and cognitively engage with such representations and how the process of encountering different environments in narratives stands to affect real-world attitudes and behaviors. By positioning narratives as important repositories of values, political and ethical ideas, and behaviors that determine how we engage with our ecological homes, the authors in this volume suggest that to change the way that we interact with the environment requires not only new stories but also a better understanding of the ones that have long been in circulation.
Evidence of Things Not Seen: Fantastical Blackness in Genre Fictions is an interdisciplinary study of blackness in genre literature of the Americas. The “fantastical” in fantastical blackness is conceived by an unrestrained imagination because it lives, despite every attempt at annihilation. This blackness amazes because it refuses the limits of anti-blackness. As put to work in this project, fantastical blackness is an ethical praxis that centers black self-knowledge as a point of departure rather than as a reaction to threatening or diminishing dominant narratives. Mystery, romance, fantasy, mixed-genre, and science fictions’ unrestrained imaginings profoundly communicate this quality of blackness, specifically here through the work of Barbara Neely, Colson Whitehead, Nalo Hopkinson, and Colin Channer. When black writers center this expressive quality, they make fantastical blackness available to a broad audience that then uses its imaginable vocabularies to reshape extra-literary realities. Ultimately, popular genres’ imaginable possibilities offer strategies through which the made up can be made real.
Winter is coming. Every Sunday night, millions of fans gather around their televisions to take in the spectacle that is a new episode of Game of Thrones. Much is made of who will be gruesomely murdered each week on the hit show, though sometimes the question really is who won’t die a fiery death. The show, based on the Song of Ice and Fire series written by George R. R. Martin, is a truly global phenomenon.
With the seventh season of the HBO series in production, Game of Thrones has been nominated for multiple awards, its cast has been catapulted to celebrity, and references to it proliferate throughout popular culture. Often positioned as the grittier antithesis to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Martin’s narrative focuses on the darker side of chivalry and heroism, stripping away these higher ideals to reveal the greed, amorality, and lust for power underpinning them.
Fan Phenomena: Game of Thrones is an exciting new addition to the Intellect series, bringing together academics and fans of Martin’s universe to consider not just the content of the books and HBO series, but fan responses to both. From trivia nights dedicated to minutiae to forums speculating on plot twists to academics trying to make sense of the bizarre climate of Westeros, everyone is talking about Game of Thrones. Edited by Kavita Mudan Finn, the book focuses on the communities created by the books and television series and how these communities envision themselves as consumers, critics, and even creators of fanworks in a wide variety of media, including fiction, art, fancasting, and cosplay.
The surprising and controversial thesis of Feminist Fabulation is unflinching: the postmodern canon has systematically excluded a wide range of important women's writing by dismissing it as genre fiction. Marleen Barr issues an urgent call for a corrective, for the recognition of a new meta- or supergenre of contemporary writing--feminist fabulation--which includes both acclaimed mainstream works and works which today's critics consistently ignore.
Michael Page University of Illinois Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3566.O36Z83 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
One of science fiction's undisputed grandmasters, Frederik Pohl built an astonishing career that spanned more than seven decades. Along the way he won millions of readers and seemingly as many awards while producing novels, short stories, and essays that left a profound mark on the genre. In this first-of-its-kind study, Michael R. Page traces Pohl's journey as an author but also uncovers his role as a transformative figure who shaped the genre as a literary agent, book editor, and in Gardner Dozois' words, "quite probably the best SF magazine editor who ever lived."
"I read Peter Y. Paik’s lucid, graceful, ruthless book in one single astonished sitting. I scarred it all over with arrows and exclamation points, so I can read it again as soon as possible." —Bruce Sterling
Revolutionary narratives in recent science fiction graphic novels and films compel audiences to reflect on the politics and societal ills of the day. Through character and story, science fiction brings theory to life, giving shape to the motivations behind the action as well as to the consequences they produce.
In From Utopia to Apocalypse, Peter Y. Paik shows how science fiction generates intriguing and profound insights into politics. He reveals that the fantasy of putting annihilating omnipotence to beneficial effect underlies the revolutionary projects that have defined the collective upheavals of the modern age. Paik traces how this political theology is expressed, and indeed literalized, in popular superhero fiction, examining works including Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s graphic novel Watchmen, the science fiction cinema of Jang Joon-Hwan, the manga of Hayao Miyazaki, Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, and the Matrix trilogy. Superhero fantasies are usually seen as compensations for individual feelings of weakness, victimization, and vulnerability. But Paik presents these fantasies as social constructions concerned with questions of political will and the disintegration of democracy rather than with the psychology of the personal.
What is urgently at stake, Paik argues, is a critique of the limitations and deadlocks of the political imagination. The utopias dreamed of by totalitarianism, which must be imposed through torture, oppression, and mass imprisonment, nevertheless persist in liberal political systems. With this reality looming throughout, Paik demonstrates the uneasy juxtaposition of saintliness and cynically manipulative realpolitik, of torture and the assertion of human dignity, of cruelty and benevolence.
A revealing study of the connections between nineteenth-century technological fiction and American religious faith.
In Gears and God: Technocratic Fiction, Faith, and Empire in Mark Twain’s America, Nathaniel Williams analyzes the genre of technology-themed exploration novels—dime novel adventure stories featuring steam-powered and electrified robots, airships, and submersibles. This genre proliferated during the same cultural moment when evolutionary science was dismantling Americans’ prevailing, biblically based understanding of human history.
While their heyday occurred in the late 1800s, technocratic adventure novels like Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court inspired later fiction about science and technology. Similar to the science fiction plotlines of writers like Jules Verne and H. Rider Haggard, and anticipating the adventures of Tom Swift some decades later, these novels feature Americans using technology to visit and seize control of remote locales, a trait that has led many scholars to view them primarily as protoimperialist narratives. Their legacy, however, is more complicated. As they grew in popularity, such works became as concerned with the preservation of a fraught Anglo-Protestant American identity as they were with spreading that identity across the globe.
Many of these novels frequently assert the Bible’s authority as a historical source. Collectively, such stories popularized the notion that technology and travel might essentially “prove” the Bible’s veracity—a message that continues to be deployed in contemporary debates over intelligent design, the teaching of evolution in public schools, and in reality TV shows that seek historical evidence for biblical events. Williams argues that these fictions performed significant cultural work, and he consolidates evidence from the novels themselves, as well as news articles, sermons, and other sources of the era, outlining and mapping the development of technocratic fiction.
Throughout her work, Octavia E. Butler explored, critiqued, and created religious ideology. Her prescient thoughts on the synergy between politics and religion in America are evident in her 1993 dystopian novel, Parable of the Sower, and its 1998 sequel, Parable of the Talents. They explored, respectively, what happens during a divisive “cultural war” that unjustly impacts the disenfranchised, and the rise of a fascistic president, allied with white fundamentalist Christianity, who chants the slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
But religion, for Butler, need not be a restricting force. The editors of and contributors to God Is Change heighten our appreciation for the range and depth of Butler’s thinking about spirituality and religion, as well as how Butler’s work—especially the Parable and Xenogenesis series—offers resources for healing and community building. Essays consider the role of spirituality in Butler’s canon and the themes of confronting trauma as well as experiencing transformation and freedom. God Is Change meditates on alternate religious possibilities that open different political and cultural futures to illustrate humanity’s ability to endure change and thrive.
The Gothic has taken a revolutionary turn in this century. Today’s Gothic has fashioned its monsters and devils into heroes and angels and is actively reviving supernaturalism in popular culture. Nelson argues that this mainstreaming of a spiritually driven supernaturalism is a harbinger of what a post-Christian religion in America might look like.
This collection of essays, family stories, and archival documents sheds new light on Christopher Tolkien’s contributions to the Tolkien legendarium.
Over more than four decades, J. R. R. Tolkien’s son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien completed some twenty-four volumes of his father’s work, much more than his father had succeeded in publishing during his own lifetime. Thanks to Christopher’s extraordinary publishing efforts and scholarship, readers today can survey and understand the vast landscape of Tolkien’s legendarium.
The Great Tales Never End sheds new light on J. R. R. Tolkien’s work and the debt owed to Christopher by the many Tolkien scholars who were privileged to work with him. Essays by world-renowned scholars and Tolkien family reminiscences offer unique insights into the publication process. What was Tolkien’s intended ending for The Lord of the Rings, and did it leave echoes in the stripped-down version that was actually published? What was the audience’s response to the first-ever adaptation of The Lord of the Rings—a radio dramatization that has now been deleted forever from the BBC’s archives?
The book is illustrated with color reproductions of J. R. R. Tolkien’s manuscripts, maps, drawings, and letters, as well as photographs of Christopher Tolkien and extracts from his works. Many of these documents have never been seen before, making this volume essential reading for Tolkien scholars, readers, and fans.
Science fiction goes green? Eric C. Otto explores literary science fiction’s engagement with a central concern of our times: ecological degradation. Situated at the intersection of science fiction studies and environmental philosophy, Green Speculations: Science Fiction and Transformative Environmentalism highlights key works of environmental science fiction that critique various human values for their roles in instigating such degradation.
The books receiving ecocritical treatment in Green Speculations include George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949), Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965), Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Word for World Is Forest (1972), Joan Slonczewski’s A Door into Ocean (1986), Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy (1993, 1994, 1996), and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (2009). Otto reads these and other important science fiction novels as educative in their representations of environmental issues and the environmental philosophies that have emerged in response to them.
Green Speculations demonstrates how environmental science fiction can be read not only as reflecting the ideas of environmental philosophies such as deep ecology, ecofeminism, and ecosocialism, but also as instrumental in thinking through the tenets of these philosophies. As such, the book places science fiction at the center of environmentalism and considers the genre to be an essential tool for prompting needed social and cultural transformation.
Karen Burnham University of Illinois Press, 2014 Library of Congress PR9619.3.E35Z58 2014 | Dewey Decimal 823.914
Greg Egan (1961- ) publishes works that challenge readers with rigorous, deeply-informed scientific speculation. He unapologetically delves into mathematics, physics, and other disciplines in his prose, putting him in the vanguard of the hard science fiction renaissance of the 1990s.
A working physicist and engineer, Karen Burnham is uniquely positioned to provide an in-depth study of Egan's science-heavy oeuvre. Her survey of the author's career covers novels like Permutation City and Schild's Ladder and the Hugo Award-winning novella "Oceanic," analyzing how Egan used cutting-edge scientific theory to explore ethical questions and the nature of humanity. As Burnham shows, Egan's collected works constitute a bold artistic statement: that narratives of science are equal to those of poetry and drama, and that science holds a place in the human condition as exalted as religion or art.
The volume includes a rare interview with the famously press-shy Egan covering his works, themes, intellectual interests, and thought processes.
George Slusser University of Illinois Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3552.E542Z87 2014 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Gregory Benford is perhaps best known as the author of Benford's law of controversy: "Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available." That maxim is a quotation from Timescape, Benford's Nebula and Campbell Award-winning 1980 novel, which established his work as an exemplar of "hard science fiction," dedicated to working out the consequences of modern science rather than substituting pseudoscience for fantasy.
Like many other current science fiction writers, Benford has tackled the major genres: space travel, time travel, technology running amok, prolonged longevity, searing apocalyptic cosmic events, and alien life, which he theorizes to be more likely viral than intelligent. An astrophysicist by training and profession, Benford has published more than twenty novels, over one hundred short stories, some fifty essays, and myriad articles that display both his scientific rigor as well as a recognition of literary traditions.
In this study, George Slusser explores the extraordinary, seemingly inexhaustible display of creative energy in Gregory Benford's life and work. Presenting Benford's ideas on science and the writing of science fiction, the volume addresses the writer's literary production and his place in contemporary science fiction. By identifying direct sources and making parallels with other works and writers, Slusser reveals the vast scope of Benford's knowledge, both of literature and of the major scientific and philosophical issues of our time. Slusser also discusses Benford's numerous scientific articles and nonfiction books and includes a new interview with Benford.
Hard Science Fiction
George E Slusser Southern Illinois University Press, 1986 Library of Congress PN3433.2.H37 1986 | Dewey Decimal 809.3876
These 16 essays from the fifth annual J.Lloyd Eaton Conference at the University of California, Riverside, seek to come to grips with science fiction’s core, the core at which “science must ultimately seem to outweigh the fiction.”
Never before has hard SF been the topic of such extended discussion by such qualified people. The dialogue constitutes new (and potentially shocking to a traditional literary critic) modes of literary criticism, modes that take into account the impact of scientific speculation and method on our culture and on the ways our culture invents stories and myths.
Essayists include writer/scientist professors Robert L. Forward, David Brin, and Gregory Benford. Noted critics and writers with scientific backgrounds or interests include: James Gunn, Frank McConnell, George Guffey, John Huntington, Paul Carter, Patricia Warrick, Paul Alkon, Robert M. Philmus, David Clayton, Eric S. Rabkin, Herbert Sussman, Michael Collings, and George E. Slusser.
I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick
Laurence A. Rickels University of Minnesota Press, 2010 Library of Congress PS3554.I3Z854 2010 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
For years, noted writer Laurence A. Rickels often found himself compared to novelist Philip K. Dick—though in fact Rickels had never read any of the science fiction writer’s work. When he finally read his first Philip K. Dick novel, while researching for his recent book The Devil Notebooks, it prompted a prolonged immersion in Dick’s writing as well as a recognition of Rickels’s own long-documented intellectual pursuits. The result of this engagement is I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick, a profound thought experiment that charts the wide relevance of the pulp sci-fi author and paranoid visionary.
I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick explores the science fiction author’s meditations on psychic reality and psychosis, Christian mysticism, Eastern religion, and modern spiritualism. Covering all of Dick’s science fiction, Rickels corrects the lack of scholarly interest in the legendary Californian author and, ultimately, makes a compelling case for the philosophical and psychoanalytic significance of Philip K. Dick’s popular and influential science fiction.
Iain M. Banks
Paul Kincaid University of Illinois Press, 2017 Library of Congress PR6052.A485Z69 2017 | Dewey Decimal 823.914
The 1987 publication of Iain M. Banks's Consider Phlebas helped trigger the British renaissance of radical hard science fiction and influenced a generation of New Space Opera masters. The thirteen SF novels that followed inspired an avid fandom and intense intellectual engagement while Banks's mainstream books vaulted him to the top of the Scottish literary scene. Paul Kincaid has written the first study of Iain M. Banks to explore the confluence of his SF and literary techniques and sensibilities. As Kincaid shows, the two powerful aspects of Banks's work flowed into each other, blurring a line that critics too often treat as clear-cut. Banks's gift for black humor and a honed skepticism regarding politics and religion found expression even as he orchestrated the vast, galaxy-spanning vistas in his novels of the Culture. In examining Banks's entire SF oeuvre, Kincaid unlocks the set of ideas Banks drew upon, ideas that spoke to an unusually varied readership that praised him as a visionary and reveled in the distinctive character of his works. Entertaining and broad in scope, Iain M. Banks offers new insights on one of the most admired figures in contemporary science fiction.
The classic television show The Twilight Zone explored the possibilities inhering in the ordinary. A Twilight Zone episode moved us by being poignant and intimate, rambunctious or thought provoking. But whether it takes place on an asteroid, in a city pool room, or in the backwoods, it will usually convey both a folklorist’s eye for detail and the born raconteur’s sense of pace. Rod Serling, the show’s originator, main scriptwriter, and artistic director, knew how much burden he could place on his rhetorical and dramatic gifts. Deservedly celebrated as a pioneer fiction writer for television, Serling always grounded his work in the human condition: he wrote movingly about history and loyalty, the grip of everyday reality, and the dangers of both forgetting about one’s ghosts and giving them the upper hand.
Given the current moment--polarized populations, increasing climate fears, and decline of supranational institutions in favor of a rising tide of nationalisms-- it is easy to understand the proliferation of apocalyptic and dystopian elements in popular culture. Infected Empires examines one of the most popular figures in contemporary apocalyptic film: the zombie. This harbinger of apocalypse reveals bloody truths about the human condition, the wounds of history, and methods of contending with them. Infected Empires considers parallels in the zombie genre to historical and current events on different political, theological and philosophical levels, and proposes that the zombie can be read as a figure of decolonization and an allegory of resistance to oppressive structures that racialize, marginalize, disable, and dispose of bodies. Studying films from around the world, including Latin America, Asia, Africa, the US, and Europe, Infected Empires presents a vision of a global zombie that points toward a posthuman and feminist future.
J. G. Ballard
D. Wilson University of Illinois Press, 2017 Library of Congress PR6052.A46Z94 2017 | Dewey Decimal 823.914
Prophetic short stories and apocalyptic novels like The Crystal World made J. G. Ballard a foundational figure in the British New Wave. Rejecting the science fiction of rockets and aliens, he explored an inner space of humanity informed by psychiatry and biology and shaped by surrealism. Later in his career, Ballard's combustible plots and violent imagery spurred controversy--even legal action--while his autobiographical 1984 war novel Empire of the Sun brought him fame.
D. Harlan Wilson offers the first career-spanning analysis of an author who helped steer SF in new, if startling, directions. Here was a writer committed to moral ambiguity, one who drowned the world and erected a London high-rise doomed to descend into savagery--and coolly picked apart the characters trapped within each story. Wilson also examines Ballard's methods, his influence on cyberpunk, and the ways his fiction operates within the sphere of our larger culture and within SF itself.
Gwyneth Jones University of Illinois Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3568.U763Z76 2019 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Experimental, strange, and unabashedly feminist, Joanna Russ's groundbreaking science fiction grew out of a belief that the genre was ideal for expressing radical thought. Her essays and criticism, meanwhile, helped shape the field and still exercise a powerful influence in both SF and feminist literary studies.Award-winning author and critic Gwyneth Jones offers a new appraisal of Russ's work and ideas. After years working in male-dominated SF, Russ emerged in the late 1960s with Alyx, the uber-capable can-do heroine at the heart of Picnic on Paradise and other popular stories and books. Soon, Russ's fearless embrace of gender politics and life as an out lesbian made her a target for male outrage while feminist classics like The Female Man and The Two of Them took SF in innovative new directions. Jones also delves into Russ's longtime work as a critic of figures as diverse as Lovecraft and Cather, her foundational place in feminist fandom, important essays like "Amor Vincit Foeminam," and her career in academia.
Jad Smith University of Illinois Press, 2012 Library of Congress PR6052.R8Z87 2012 | Dewey Decimal 823.914
Under his own name and numerous pseudonyms, John Brunner (1934–1995) was one of the most prolific and influential science fiction authors of the late twentieth century. During his exemplary career, the British author wrote with a stamina matched by only a few other great science fiction writers and with a literary quality of even fewer, importing modernist techniques into his novels and stories and probing every major theme of his generation: robotics, racism, drugs, space exploration, technological warfare, and ecology.
In this first intensive review of Brunner's life and works, Jad Smith carefully demonstrates how Brunner's much-neglected early fiction laid the foundation for his classic Stand on Zanzibar and other major works such as The Jagged Orbit, The Sheep Look Up, and The Shockwave Rider. Making extensive use of Brunner's letters, columns, speeches, and interviews published in fanzines, Smith approaches Brunner in the context of markets and trends that affected many writers of the time, including Brunner's uneasy association with the "New Wave" of science fiction in the 1960s and '70s. This landmark study shows how Brunner's attempts to cross-fertilize the American pulp tradition with British scientific romance complicated the distinctions between genre and mainstream fiction and between hard and soft science fiction and helped carve out space for emerging modes such as cyberpunk, slipstream, and biopunk.
Kim Stanley Robinson
Robert Markley University of Illinois Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3568.O2893Z78 2019 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Award-winning epics like the Mars Trilogy and groundbreaking alternative histories like The Days of Rice and Salt have brought Kim Stanley Robinson to the forefront of contemporary science fiction. Mixing subject matter from a dizzying number of fields with his own complex ecological and philosophical concerns, Robinson explores how humanity might pursue utopian social action as a strategy for its own survival. Robert Markley examines the works of an author engaged with the fundamental question of how we—as individuals, as a civilization, and as a species—might go forward. By building stories on huge time scales, Robinson lays out the scientific and human processes that fuel humanity's struggle toward a more just and environmentally stable world or system of worlds. His works invite readers to contemplate how to achieve, and live in, these numerous possible futures. They also challenge us to see that SF's literary, cultural, and philosophical significance have made it the preeminent literary genre for examining where we stand today in human and planetary history.
In The Latinx Files, Matthew David Goodwin traces how Latinx science fiction writers are reclaiming the space alien from its xenophobic legacy in the science fiction genre. The book argues that the space alien is a vital Latinx figure preserving Latinx cultures by activating the myriad possible constructions of the space alien to represent race and migration in the popular imagination. The works discussed in this book, including those of H.G. Wells, Gloria Anzaldúa, Junot Diaz, André M. Carrington, and many others, often explicitly reject the derogatory correlation of the space alien and Latinxs, while at other times, they contain space aliens that function as a source of either enlightenment or horror for Latinx communities. Throughout this nuanced analysis, The Latinx Files demonstrates how the character of the space alien has been significant to Latinx communities and has great potential for future writers and artists.
Learning from Other Worlds provides both a portrait of the development of science fiction criticism as an intellectual field and a definitive look at the state of science fiction studies today. Its title refers to the essence of “cognitive estrangement” in relation to science fiction and utopian fiction—the assertion that by imagining strange worlds we learn to see our own world in a new perspective. Acknowledging an indebtedness to the groundbreaking work of Darko Suvin and his belief that the double movement of estrangement and cognition reflects deep structures of human storytelling, the contributors assert that learning-from-otherness is as natural and inevitable a process as the instinct for imitation and representation that Aristotle described in his Poetics. In exploring the relationship between imaginative invention and that of allegory or fable, the essays in Learning from Other Worlds comment on the field’s most abiding concerns and employ a variety of critical approaches—from intellectual history and genre studies to biographical criticism, feminist cultural studies, and political textual analysis. Among the topics discussed are the works of John Wyndham, Kim Stanley Robinson, Stanislau Lem, H.G. Wells, and Ursula Le Guin, as well as the media’s reactions to the 1997 cloning of Dolly the Sheep. Darko Suvin’s characteristically outspoken and penetrating afterword responds to the essays in the volume and offers intimations of a further stage in his long and distinguished career. This useful compendium and companion offers a coherent view of science fiction studies as it has evolved while paying tribute to the debt it owes Suvin, one of its first champions. As such, it will appeal to critics and students of science fiction, utopia, and fantasy writing. Contributors. Marc Angenot, Marleen S. Barr, Peter Fitting, Carl Freedman, Edward James, Fredric Jameson, David Ketterer, Gerard Klein, Tom Moylan, Rafail Nudelman, Darko Suvin
Anthologies, awards, journals, and works in translation have sprung up to reflect science fiction's increasingly international scope. Yet scholars and students alike face a problem. Where does one begin to explore global SF in the absence of an established canon? Lingua Cosmica opens the door to some of the creators in the vanguard of international science fiction. Eleven experts offer innovative English-language scholarship on figures ranging from Cuban pioneer Daína Chaviano to Nigerian filmmaker Olatunde Osunsanmi to the Hugo Award-winning Chinese writer Liu Cixin. These essays invite readers to ponder the themes, formal elements, and unique cultural characteristics within the works of these irreplaceable—if too-little-known—artists. Dale Knickerbocker includes fantasists and genre-benders pushing SF along new evolutionary paths even as they draw on the traditions of their own literary cultures. Includes essays on Daína Chaviano (Cuba), Jacek Dukaj (Poland), Jean-Claude Dunyac (France), Andreas Eschbach (Germany), Angélica Gorodischer (Argentina), Sakyo Komatsu (Japan), Liu Cixin (China), Laurent McAllister (Yves Meynard and Jean-Louis Trudel, Francophone Canada), Olatunde Osunsanmi (Nigeria), Johanna Sinisalo (Finland), and Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (Russia). Contributors: Alexis Brooks de Vita, Pawel Frelik, Yvonne Howell, Yolanda Molina-Gavilán, Vibeke Rützou Petersen, Amy J. Ransom, Hanna-Riikka Roine, Hanna Samola, Mingwei Song, Tatsumi Takayuki, Juan Carlos Toledano Redondo, and Natacha Vas-Deyres.
In Literary Afrofuturism in the Twenty-First Century, eminent contributors pay tribute to Afrofuturism as a powerful and evolving aesthetic practice that communicates the experience of science, technology, and race across centuries, continents, and cultures. While Ryan Coogler and Janelle Monáe may have helped bring the genre into contemporary pop consciousness, it in fact extends back to the writing of eighteenth-century poet Phyllis Wheatley and has continued in the work of Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler, N. K. Jemisin, and many others. In examining this heritage, contributors in this volume question generic boundaries, recover lost artists and introduce new ones, and explore how the meteoric rise of a new, pan-African speculative literary tradition may or may not connect with Afrofuturism.
Additionally, the editors have marshaled some of today’s most exciting writers for a roundtable discussion of the genre: Bill Campbell, Minister Faust, Nalo Hopkinson, N. K. Jemisin, Chinelo Onwualu, Nisi Shawl, and Nick Wood. Pioneering author and editor Sheree R. Thomas limns how black women have led new developments in contemporary Afrofuturism, and artist Stacey Robinson’s illustrations orient readers to the spirited themes of this enduring and consequential literary tradition.
Use Contributors only is there is room (if not will use on marketing material)
Lois McMaster Bujold
Edward James University of Illinois Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3552.U397Z68 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Readers have awarded Lois McMaster Bujold four Hugo Awards for Best Novel, a number matched only by Robert Heinlein. Her Vorkosigan series redefined space opera with its emotional depth and explorations of themes such as bias against the disabled, economic exploitation, and the role of women in society.
Acclaimed science fiction scholar Edward James traces Bujold's career, showing how Bujold emerged from fanzine culture to win devoted male and female readers despite working in genres--military SF, space opera--perceived as solely by and for males. Devoted to old-school ideas such as faith in humanity and the desire to probe and do good in the universe, Bujold simultaneously subverted genre conventions and experimented with forms that led her in bold creative directions. As James shows, her iconic hero Miles Vorkosigan--unimposing, physically impaired, self-conscious to a fault--embodied Bujold's thematic concerns. The sheer humanity of her characters, meanwhile, gained her a legion of fans eager to provide her with feedback, expand her vision through fan fiction, and follow her into fantasy.
"The Lying Brain is a study to take seriously. Its argument is timely, clear, and of particular importance to the enlargement of our understanding of the relationships among science studies, literary studies, and technology studies."
---Ronald Schleifer, University of Oklahoma
Real and imagined machines, including mental microscopes, thought translators, and polygraphs, have long promised to detect deception in human beings. Now, via fMRI and EEG, neuroscientists seem to have found what scientists, lawyers, and law enforcement officials have sought for over a century: foolproof lie detection. But are these new lie detection technologies any different from their predecessors? The Lying Brain is the first book to explore the cultural history of an array of lie detection technologies: their ideological assumptions, the scientific and fictional literatures that create and market them, and the literacies required for their interpretation.
By examining a rich archive of materials about lie detection---from science to science fiction---The Lying Brain demonstrates the interconnections of science, literature, and popular culture in the development and dissemination of deception detection in the American cultural imagination. As Melissa Littlefield demonstrates, neuroscience is not building a more accurate lie detector; it is simply recycling centuries-old ideologies about deception and its detection.
In Migrant Futures Aimee Bahng traces the cultural production of futurity by juxtaposing the practices of speculative finance against those of speculative fiction. While financial speculation creates a future based on predicting and mitigating risk for wealthy elites, the wide range of speculative novels, comics, films, and narratives Bahng examines imagines alternative futures that envision the multiple possibilities that exist beyond capital’s reach. Whether presenting new spatial futures of the US-Mexico borderlands or inventing forms of kinship in Singapore in order to survive in an economy designed for the few, the varied texts Bahng analyzes illuminate how the futurity of speculative finance is experienced by those who find themselves mired in it. At the same time these displaced, undocumented, unbanked, and disavowed characters imagine alternative visions of the future that offer ways to bring forth new political economies, social structures, and subjectivities that exceed the framework of capitalism.
Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein is its own type of monster mythos that will not die, a corpus whose parts keep getting harvested to animate new artistic creations. What makes this tale so adaptable and so resilient that, nearly 200 years later, it remains vitally relevant in a culture radically different from the one that spawned its birth?
Monstrous Progeny takes readers on a fascinating exploration of the Frankenstein family tree, tracing the literary and intellectual roots of Shelley’s novel from the sixteenth century and analyzing the evolution of the book’s figures and themes into modern productions that range from children’s cartoons to pornography. Along the way, media scholar Lester D. Friedman and historian Allison B. Kavey examine the adaptation and evolution of Victor Frankenstein and his monster across different genres and in different eras. In doing so, they demonstrate how Shelley’s tale and its characters continue to provide crucial reference points for current debates about bioethics, artificial intelligence, cyborg lifeforms, and the limits of scientific progress.
Blending an extensive historical overview with a detailed analysis of key texts, the authors reveal how the Frankenstein legacy arose from a series of fluid intellectual contexts and continues to pulsate through an extraordinary body of media products. Both thought-provoking and entertaining, Monstrous Progeny offers a lively look at an undying and significant cultural phenomenon.
Writers have created fictions of social perfection at least since Plato’s Republic. Sir Thomas More gave this thread of intellectual history a name when he called his contribution to it Utopia, Greek for noplace.
With each subsequent author cognizant of his predecessors and subject to altered real-world conditions which suggest ever-new causes for hope and alarm, “no place” changed. The fourteen essays presented in this book critically assess man’s fascination with and seeking for “no place.”
“In discussing these central fictions, the contributors see ‘no place’ from diverse perspectives: the sociological, the psychological, the political, the aesthetic. In revealing the roots of these works, the contributors cast back along the whole length of utopian thought. Each essay stands alone; together, the essays make clear what ‘no place’ means today. While it may be true that ‘no place’ has always seemed elsewhere or elsewhen, in fact all utopian fiction whirls contemporary actors through a costume dance no place else but here.”—from the Preface
The contributors are Eric S. Rabkin, B. G. Knepper, Thomas J.Remington, Gorman Beauchamp, William Matter, Ken Davis, Kenneth M. Roemer, William Steinhoff, Howard Segal, Jack Zipes, Kathleen Woodward, Merritt Abrash, and James W. Bittner.
Octavia E. Butler
Gerry Canavan University of Illinois Press, 2016 Library of Congress PS3552.U827Z57 2016 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
"I began writing about power because I had so little," Octavia E. Butler once said. Butler's life as an African American woman--an alien in American society and among science fiction writers--informed the powerful works that earned her an ardent readership and acclaim both inside and outside science fiction.
Gerry Canavan offers a critical and holistic consideration of Butler's career. Drawing on Butler's personal papers, Canavan tracks the false starts, abandoned drafts, tireless rewrites, and real-life obstacles that fed Butler's frustrations and launched her triumphs. Canavan departs from other studies to approach Butler first and foremost as a science fiction writer working within, responding to, and reacting against the genre's particular canon. The result is an illuminating study of how an essential SF figure shaped themes, unconventional ideas, and an unflagging creative urge into brilliant works of fiction.
Thomas M. Disch University of Michigan Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS374.S35D57 2005 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Praise for Thomas Disch:
"One of the most remarkably talented writers around."
---Washington Post Book World
"[Disch] is without doubt one of the really bright lights on the American SF scene."
---Fantasy and Science Fiction
This collection by the much-loved and lauded science-fiction writer Thomas Disch spans twenty-five years of his career, during which he has supplemented his creative output with reviews and critical essays in publications as diverse as the Nation, the New York Times Book Review, the Atlantic Monthly, and Twilight Zone.
Disch's perspectives on his genre are skeptical, novel, and often incendiary. The volume's opening essay, for example, characterizes writers of science fiction as "the provincials of literature." Other essays explore science fiction's roots-Poe, Bradbury, Clarke, Asimov, Vonnegut-as well as modern practitioners such as Stephen King, Philip Dick, Robert Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and William Gibson.
Disch entertains and provokes with essays on UFOs, Science Fiction as a Church, and Newt Gingrich's Futurist Brain Trust. Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Madame Blavatsky also get the Disch treatment. Throughout, the writing is lively, agile, and irreverent, exhibiting an incisive honesty that is undiluted by Disch's own attachments as a sci-fi practitioner. On SF will appeal equally to lovers of science fiction and connoisseurs of the finest critical prose.
The twenty-first century has witnessed an explosion of speculative fiction in translation (SFT). Rachel Cordasco examines speculative fiction published in English translation since 1960, ranging from Soviet-era fiction to the Arabic-language dystopias that emerged following the Iraq War. Individual chapters on SFT from Korean, Czech, Finnish, and eleven other source languages feature an introduction by an expert in the language's speculative fiction tradition and its present-day output. Cordasco then breaks down each chapter by subgenre--including science fiction, fantasy, and horror--to guide readers toward the kinds of works that most interest them. Her discussion of available SFT stands alongside an analysis of how various subgenres emerged and developed in a given language. She also examines the reasons a given subgenre has been translated into English.
An informative and one-of-a-kind guide, Out of This World offers readers and scholars alike a tour of speculative fiction's new globalized era.
One of the first books to examine representations of black vampires exclusively, The Paradox of Blackness in African American Vampire Fiction not only refutes the tacit assumption that there is a lack of quality African American vampire fiction worthy of study or reading but also proposes that the black vampires help to answer an important question: Is there more to being black than having a black body? As symbols of immortality, the black vampires in Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories, Tananarive Due’s My Soul to Keep, Brandon Massey’s Dark Corner, Octavia Butler’s Fledgling,and K. Murry Johnson’s Image of Emeralds and Chocolate help to identify not only the notions of blackness that should be kept alive or resurrected in the African American community for the twenty-first century but also the notions of blackness that should die or remain dead.
Planet Auschwitz explores the diverse ways in which the Holocaust influences and shapes science fiction and horror film and television by focusing on notable contributions from the last fifty years. The supernatural and extraterrestrial are rich and complex spaces with which to examine important Holocaust themes - trauma, guilt, grief, ideological fervor and perversion, industrialized killing, and the dangerous afterlife of Nazism after World War II. Planet Auschwitz explores why the Holocaust continues to set the standard for horror in the modern era and asks if the Holocaust is imaginable here on Earth, at least by those who perpetrated it, why not in a galaxy far, far away? The pervasive use of Holocaust imagery and plotlines in horror and science fiction reflects both our preoccupation with its enduring trauma and our persistent need to “work through” its many legacies.
A critical study of C.S. Lewis's ""Ransom Trilogy"" which analyses Lewis's methods and meanings, concentrating on this trilogy but also including relevant secondary work. Lewis's literary scholarship and display of Christian values are incorporated into this discussion.
Focusing on post-Franco Spanish fiction from 1975 to 1989, Robert C. Spires applies the concepts of episteme and discursive field to the ways in which language from multiple sources determines how reality is defined at a given moment and how it influences ideas, attitudes, and feelings. Spires identifies bonds connecting disparate academic disciplines and sociopolitical events by exploring how the world of fiction serves as a register of the nonfictional world.
In 1989 the Soviet bloc, along with other totalitarian regimes in South America and Africa, disappeared from the global geopolitical map. Spain set the precedent for this decentralizing revolution when, in 1975, its longtime dictator, Francisco Franco, died; democratic elections followed two years later. This study records an epistemic shift away from logocentric and totalizing approaches to reality by analyzing the links between the novelistic strategies used by Spanish writers from 1975 to 1989 and recent international events and theoretical trends in science, mathematics, communication studies, and art. Highlighting worldwide processes of fragmentation, decentralization, and pluralism, Spires foregrounds ways in which literary and scientific approaches to and concepts of reality coincide, with fiction serving as one more register of how reality is conceived at a particular point in time.
Post-Totalitarian Spanish Fiction makes a major contribution in the field of Spanish literature and will enhance the esteem that contemporary Spanish literature is beginning to achieve internationally. In addition, this "epistemocritical" project will serve as a model for literary critics who wish to accommodate the increasingly popular approach labeled "cultural studies" without surrendering the primacy of the literary text.
David Seed University of Illinois Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3503.R167Z868 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
As much as any individual, Ray Bradbury brought science fiction's ideas into the mainstream. Yet he transcended the genre in both form and popularity, using its trappings to explore timely social concerns and the kaleidoscope of human experience while in the process becoming one of America's most beloved authors.
David Seed follows Bradbury's long career from the early short story masterpieces through his work in a wide variety of broadcast and film genres to the influential cultural commentary he spread via essays, speeches, and interviews. Mining Bradbury's classics and hard-to-find archival, literary, and cultural materials, Seed analyzes how the author's views on technology, authoritarianism, and censorship affected his art; how his Midwest of dream and dread brought his work to life; and the ways film and television influenced his creative process and visually-oriented prose style. The result is a passionate statement on Bradbury's status as an essential literary writer deserving of a place in the cultural history of his time.
Ray Bradbury Unbound
Jonathan R. Eller University of Illinois Press, 2020 Library of Congress PS3503.R167Z67 2014 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
In Ray Bradbury Unbound, Jonathan R. Eller continues the story begun in his acclaimed Becoming Ray Bradbury, following the beloved author's evolution from a short story master to a multi-media creative force and outspoken visionary.
At the height of his powers as a poetic prose stylist, Bradbury shifted his creative attention to film and television, where new successes gave him an enduring platform as a compelling cultural commentator. His passionate advocacy validated the U.S. space program's mission, extending his pivotal role as a chronicler of human values in an age of technological wonders.
Informed by many years of interviews with Bradbury as well as an unprecedented access to personal papers and private collections, Ray Bradbury Unbound provides the definitive portrait of how a legendary American author helped shape his times.
From The Hobbit to Harry Potter, how fantasy harnesses the cultural power of magic, medievalism, and childhood to re-enchant the modern world
Why are so many people drawn to fantasy set in medieval, British-looking lands? This question has immediate significance for millions around the world: from fans of Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones to those who avoid fantasy because of the racist, sexist, and escapist tendencies they have found there. Drawing on the history and power of children’s fantasy literature, Re-Enchanted argues that magic, medievalism, and childhood hold the paradoxical ability to re-enchant modern life.
Focusing on works by authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, Philip Pullman, J. K. Rowling, and Nnedi Okorafor, Re-Enchanted uncovers a new genealogy for medievalist fantasy—one that reveals the genre to be as important to the history of English studies and literary modernism as it is to shaping beliefs across geographies and generations. Maria Sachiko Cecire follows children’s fantasy as it transforms over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—including the rise of diverse counternarratives and fantasy’s move into “high-brow” literary fiction. Grounded in a combination of archival scholarship and literary and cultural analysis, Re-Enchanted argues that medievalist fantasy has become a psychologized landscape for contemporary explorations of what it means to grow up, live well, and belong. The influential “Oxford School” of children’s fantasy connects to key issues throughout this book, from the legacies of empire and racial exclusion in children’s literature to what Christmas magic tells us about the roles of childhood and enchantment in Anglo-American culture.
Re-Enchanted engages with critical debates around what constitutes high and low culture during moments of crisis in the humanities, political and affective uses of childhood and the mythological past, the anxieties of modernity, and the social impact of racially charged origin stories.
The slave experience was a defining one in American history, and not surprisingly, has been a significant and powerful trope in African American literature. In Re-Forming the Past, A. Timothy Spaulding examines contemporary revisions of slave narratives that use elements of the fantastic to redefine the historical and literary constructions of American slavery. In their rejection of mimetic representation and traditional historiography, postmodern slave narratives such as Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Charles Johnson’s Ox Herding Tale and Middle Passage, Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories, and Samuel Delaney’s Stars in My Pocket like Grains of Sand set out to counter the usual slave narrative’s reliance on realism and objectivity by creating alternative histories based on subjective, fantastic, and non-realistic representations of slavery. As these texts critique traditional conceptions of history, identity, and aesthetic form, they simultaneously re-invest these concepts with a political agency that harkens back to the original project of the 19th-century slave narratives.
In their rejection of mimetic representation and traditional historiography, Spaulding contextualizes postmodern slave narrative. By addressing both literary and popular African American texts, Re-Forming the Past expands discussions of both the African American literary tradition and postmodern culture.
This book of essays looks at the multitude of texts and influences which converge in Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner, especially the film’s relationship to its source novel, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Essays consider political, moral and technological issues raised by the film, as well as literary, filmic, technical and aesthetic questions. Contributors discuss the film’s psychological and mythic patterns, importance political issues and the roots of the film in Paradise Lost, Frankenstein, detective fiction, and previous science fiction cinema.
Reverse colonization narratives are stories like H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, in which technologically superior Martians invade and colonize England. They ask Western audiences to imagine what it’s like to be the colonized rather than the colonizers. David Higgins argues that although some reverse colonization stories are thoughtful and provocative, reverse colonization fantasy has also led to the prevalence of a very dangerous kind of science fictional thinking in our current political culture. It has become popular among groups such as anti-feminists, white supremacists, and far-right reactionaries to appropriate a sense of righteous, anti-imperial victimhood—the sense that white men, in particular, are somehow colonized victims fighting an insurgent resistance against an oppressive establishment. Nothing could be timelier, as an armed far-right mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an effort to stop the presidential election from being “stolen from them.”
Higgins shows that this reverse colonization stance depends upon a science fictional logic that achieved dominance within imperial fantasy during the 1960s and has continued to gain momentum ever since. By identifying with fantastic forms of victimhood, subjects who already enjoy social hegemony are able to justify economic inequality, expansions of police and military power, climatological devastation, new articulations of racism, and countless other forms of violence—all purportedly in the name of security, self-defense, and self-protection.
Since the end of the Second World War—and particularly over the last decade—Japanese science fiction has strongly influenced global popular culture. Unlike American and British science fiction, its most popular examples have been visual—from Gojira (Godzilla) and Astro Boy in the 1950s and 1960s to the anime masterpieces Akira and Ghost in the Shell of the 1980s and 1990s—while little attention has been paid to a vibrant tradition of prose science fiction in Japan.
Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams remedies this neglect with a rich exploration of the genre that connects prose science fiction to contemporary anime. Bringing together Western scholars and leading Japanese critics, this groundbreaking work traces the beginnings, evolution, and future direction of science fiction in Japan, its major schools and authors, cultural origins and relationship to its Western counterparts, the role of the genre in the formation of Japan’s national and political identity, and its unique fan culture.
Covering a remarkable range of texts—from the 1930s fantastic detective fiction of Yumeno Kyûsaku to the cross-culturally produced and marketed film and video game franchise Final Fantasy—this book firmly establishes Japanese science fiction as a vital and exciting genre.
Contributors: Hiroki Azuma; Hiroko Chiba, DePauw U; Naoki Chiba; William O. Gardner, Swarthmore College; Mari Kotani; Livia Monnet, U of Montreal; Miri Nakamura, Stanford U; Susan Napier, Tufts U; Sharalyn Orbaugh, U of British Columbia; Tamaki Saitô; Thomas Schnellbächer, Berlin Free U.
Christopher Bolton is assistant professor of Japanese at Williams College.
Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr. is professor of English at DePauw University.
Takayuki Tatsumi is professor of English at Keio University.
Tracing the connections between human-like robots and AI at the site of dehumanization and exploited labor
The word robot—introduced in Karel Čapek’s 1920 play R.U.R.—derives from rabota, the Czech word for servitude or forced labor. A century later, the play’s dystopian themes of dehumanization and exploited labor are being played out in factories, workplaces, and battlefields. In The Robotic Imaginary, Jennifer Rhee traces the provocative and productive connections of contemporary robots in technology, film, art, and literature. Centered around the twinned processes of anthropomorphization and dehumanization, she analyzes the coevolution of cultural and technological robots and artificial intelligence, arguing that it is through the conceptualization of the human and, more important, the dehumanized that these multiple spheres affect and transform each other.
Drawing on the writings of Alan Turing, Sara Ahmed, and Arlie Russell Hochschild; such films and novels as Her and The Stepford Wives; technologies like Kismet (the pioneering “emotional robot”); and contemporary drone art, this book explores anthropomorphic paradigms in robot design and imagery in ways that often challenge the very grounds on which those paradigms operate in robotics labs and industry. From disembodied, conversational AI and its entanglement with care labor; embodied mobile robots as they intersect with domestic labor; emotional robots impacting affective labor; and armed military drones and artistic responses to drone warfare, The Robotic Imaginary ultimately reveals how the human is made knowable through the design of and discourse on humanoid robots that are, paradoxically, dehumanized.
F. Brett Cox University of Illinois Press, 2021 Library of Congress PS3576.E43 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Challenging convention with the SF nonconformist
Roger Zelazny combined poetic prose with fearless literary ambition to become one of the most influential science fiction writers of the 1960s. Yet many critics found his later novels underachieving and his turn to fantasy a disappointment. F. Brett Cox surveys the landscape of Zelazny's creative life and contradictions. Launched by the classic 1963 short story "A Rose for Ecclesiastes," Zelazny soon won the Hugo Award for Best Novel with …And Call Me Conrad and two years later won again for Lord of Light. Cox looks at the author's overnight success and follows Zelazny into a period of continued formal experimentation, the commercial triumph of the Amber sword and sorcery novels, and renewed acclaim for Hugo-winning novellas such as "Home Is the Hangman" and "24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai." Throughout, Cox analyzes aspects of Zelazny's art, from his preference for poetically alienated protagonists to the ways his plots reflected his determined individualism.
Clear-eyed and detailed, Roger Zelazny provides an up-to-date reconsideration of an often-misunderstood SF maverick.
Religious discourse has become alien to the secular and skeptical western societies of the twentieth century. There is real discomfort when religious discourse appears either in the popular press or in society. But even in a secular society, there is still a psychological need (one might even use the stronger word will), if not to believe, then at least to hope. Dr. Filmer states this need is met in the literature of fantasy.
It has become something of a critical commonplace to claim that science fiction does not actually exist in Argentina. This book puts that claim to rest by identifying and analyzing a rich body of work that fits squarely in the genre. Joanna Page explores a range of texts stretching from 1875 to the present day and across a variety of media-literature, cinema, theatre, and comics-and studies the particular inflection many common discourses of science fiction (e.g., abuse of technology by authoritarian regimes, apocalyptic visions of environmental catastrophe) receive in the Argentine context. A central aim is to historicize these texts, showing how they register and rework the contexts of their production, particularly the hallmarks of modernity as a social and cultural force in Argentina. Another aim, held in tension with the first, is to respond to an important critique of historicism that unfolds in these texts. They frequently unpick the chronology of modernity, challenging the linear, universalizing models of development that underpin historicist accounts. They therefore demand a more nuanced set of readings that work to supplement, revise, and enrich the historicist perspective.
In Science in the New Age, David Hess explores ideologies of the paranormal in the United States. He offers a map of the labyrinth of views put forward by parapsychologists and skeptical debunkers, spirit channelers and crystal healers, Hollywood poltergeist scripts, and prophets of the New Age. Adopting a cultural perspective, Hess moves beyond the question of who is right or wrong to the cultural politics of how each group constructs its own boundaries of true and false knowledge.
Hess begins by looking at each group’s unique version of knowledge, science, and religion and at its story about the other groups. Comparing the various discourses, texts, writers, and groups as cultures, he shows how skeptics, parapsychologists, and New Agers may disagree vehemently with each other, but end up sharing many rhetorical strategies, metaphors, models, values, and cultural categories. Furthermore, he argues, their shared “paraculture” has a great deal in common with the larger culture of the United States. The dialogue on the paranormal, Hess concludes, has as much to do with gender, power, and cultural values as it does with spirits, extrasensory perception, and crystal healing.
A groundbreaking approach to sound in sci-fi films offers new ways of construing both sonic innovation and science fiction cinema
Including original readings of classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, and Blade Runner, The Sound of Things to Come delivers a comprehensive history of sound in science fiction cinema. Approaching movies as sound objects that combine cinematic apparatus and consciousness, Trace Reddell presents a new theory of sonic innovation in the science fiction film.
Reddell assembles a staggering array of movies from sixty years of film history—including classics, blockbusters, B-movies, and documentaries from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union—all in service to his powerful conception of sound making as a speculative activity in its own right. Reddell recasts debates about noise and music, while arguing that sound in the science fiction film provides a medium for alien, unknown, and posthuman sound objects that transform what and how we hear.
Avoiding genre criticism’s tendency to obsess over utopias, The Sound of Things to Come draws on film theory, sound studies, and philosophies of technology to advance conversations about the avant-garde, while also opening up opportunities to examine cinematic sounds beyond the screen.
A Stanislaw Lem Reader
Peter Swirski Northwestern University Press, 1997 Library of Congress PG7158.L392A35 1997 | Dewey Decimal 891.8537
Polish-born Lem is one of the best-selling unknown writers of science fiction in the US. This collection assembles in-depth and insightful writings by and about, as well as interviews with, Lem. Two interviews are separated by Lem's own 1991 essay in which he surveys in detail 30 years of his earlier work, much of which has never been translated into English. Readers interested in Lem's provocative and uncompromising view of literature's role in the contemporary cultural environment, and in Lem's opinions about his own fiction, about the relation of literature to science and technology, and the dead ends of contemporary culture, will be fascinated by this eclectic collection.
Star Wars has reached more than three generations of casual and hardcore fans alike, and as a result many of the producers of franchised Star Wars texts (films, television, comics, novels, games, and more) over the past four decades have been fans-turned-creators. Yet despite its dominant cultural and industrial positions, Star Wars has rarely been the topic of sustained critical work. Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling offers a corrective to this oversight by curating essays from a wide range of interdisciplinary scholars in order to bring Star Wars and its transmedia narratives more fully into the fold of media and cultural studies. The collection places Star Wars at the center of those studies’ projects by examining video games, novels and novelizations, comics, advertising practices, television shows, franchising models, aesthetic and economic decisions, fandom and cultural responses, and other aspects of Star Wars and its world-building in their multiple contexts of production, distribution, and reception. In emphasizing that Star Wars is both a media franchise and a transmedia storyworld, Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling demonstrates the ways in which transmedia storytelling and the industrial logic of media franchising have developed in concert over the past four decades, as multinational corporations have become the central means for subsidizing, profiting from, and selling modes of immersive storyworlds to global audiences. By taking this dual approach, the book focuses on the interconnected nature of corporate production, fan consumption, and transmedia world-building. As such, this collection grapples with the historical, cultural, aesthetic, and political-economic implications of the relationship between media franchising and transmedia storytelling as they are seen at work in the world’s most profitable transmedia franchise.
Star Wars Multiverse
Carmelo Esterrich Rutgers University Press, 2021 Library of Congress PN1995.9.S695E88 2021 | Dewey Decimal 791.4375
Star Wars may have started out as a film about a Manichean battle between good and evil, but as countless filmmakers, novelists, animators, fan artists and even cosplayers have taken the opportunity to play in the fictional world George Lucas created, it has expanded into something far greater, resulting in a richly layered and diverse Star Wars multiverse.
Drawing from a full range of Star Wars media, including comics, children’s books, fan films, and television shows like Clone Wars and The Mandalorian, Carmelo Esterrich explores how these stories set in a galaxy far far away reflect issues that hit closer to home. He examines what they have to say about political oppression, authoritarianism, colonialism, discrimination, xenophobia, and perpetual war. Yet he also investigates subtler ways in which the personal is political within the multiverse, including its articulations of gender and sexuality, its cultural hierarchies of language use, and its complex relationships between humans, droids and myriad species. This book demonstrates that the Star Wars multiverse is not just a stage for thrilling interstellar battles, but also an exciting space for interpretation and discovery.
These 17 original essays, written for the sixth Eaton Conference on Fantasy and Science Fiction, explore the uses, origins, and forms of future fiction. The contributors are George E. Slusser, Paul Alkon, Marie-Hélène Huet, Howard V. Hendrix, Bradford Lyau, Gregory Benford, José Manuel Mota, Frederik Pohl, George Hay, Colin Greenland, John Huntington, Elizabeth Maslen, W. M. S. and Claire Russell, T. A. Shippey, Kenneth V. Bailey, Gary Kern, and Frank McConnell.
The essays address the question “Do we call up images of future societies in order to prepare for them, or to forestall their ever coming into existence?”
The term “cyberpunk” entered the literary landscape in 1984 to describe William Gibson’s pathbreaking novel Neuromancer. Cyberpunks are now among the shock troops of postmodernism, Larry McCaffery argues in Storming the Reality Studio, marshalling the resources of a fragmentary culture to create a startling new form. Artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, multinational machinations, frenetic bursts of prose, collisions of style, celebrations of texture: although emerging largely from science fiction, these features of cyberpunk writing are, as this volume makes clear, integrally related to the aims and innovations of the literary avant-garde.
By bringing together original fiction by well-known contemporary writers (William Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Kathy Acker, J. G. Ballard, Samuel R. Delany), critical commentary by some of the major theorists of postmodern art and culture (Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, Timothy Leary, Jean-François Lyotard), and work by major practitioners of cyberpunk (William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Bruce Sterling), Storming the Reality Studio reveals a fascinating ongoing dialog in contemporary culture.
What emerges most strikingly from the colloquy is a shared preoccupation with the force of technology in shaping modern life. It is precisely this concern, according to McCaffery, that has put science fiction, typically the province of technological art, at the forefront of creative explorations of our unique age. A rich opporunity for reading across genres, this anthology offers a new perspective on the evolution of postmodern culture and ultimately shows how deeply technological developments have influenced our vision and our art.
Selected Fiction contributors: Kathy Acker, J. G. Ballard, William S. Burroughs, Pat Cadigan, Samuel R. Delany, Don DeLillo, William Gibson, Harold Jaffe, Richard Kadrey, Marc Laidlaw, Mark Leyner, Joseph McElroy, Misha, Ted Mooney, Thomas Pynchon, Rudy Rucker, Lucius Shepard, Lewis Shiner, John Shirley, Bruce Sterling, William Vollman
Selected Non-Fiction contributors: Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Joan Gordon, Veronica Hollinger, Fredric Jameson, Arthur Kroker and David Cook, Timothy Leary, Jean-François Lyotard, Larry McCaffery, Brian McHale, Dave Porush, Bruce Sterling, Darko Suvin, Takayuki Tatsumi
Techno-heaven or techno-hell? If you believe many scientists working in the emerging fields of twenty-first-century technology, the future is blissfully bright. Initially, human bodies will be perfected through genetic manipulation and the fusion of human and machine; later, human beings will completely shed the shackles of pain, disease, and even death, as human minds are downloaded into death-free robots whereby they can live forever in a heavenly “posthuman” existence. In this techno-utopian future, humanity will be saved by the godlike power of technology. If you believe the authors of science fiction, however, posthuman evolution marks the beginning of the end of human freedom, values, and identity. Our dark future will be dominated by mad scientists, rampaging robots, killer clones, and uncontrollable viruses. In this timely new book, Daniel Dinello examines “the dramatic conflict between the techno-utopia promised by real-world scientists and the techno-dystopia predicted by science fiction.” Organized into chapters devoted to robotics, bionics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and other significant scientific advancements, this book summarizes the current state of each technology, while presenting corresponding reactions in science fiction. Dinello draws on a rich range of material, including films, television, books, and computer games, and argues that science fiction functions as a valuable corrective to technological domination, countering techno-hype and reflecting the “weaponized, religiously rationalized, profit-fueled” motives of such science. By imaging a disastrous future of posthuman techno-totalitarianism, science fiction encourages us to construct ways to contain new technology, and asks its audience perhaps the most important question of the twenty-first century: is technology out of control?
Scott Bukatman's Terminal Identity—referring to both the site of the termination of the conventional "subject" and the birth of a new subjectivity constructed at the computer terminal or television screen--puts to rest any lingering doubts of the significance of science fiction in contemporary cultural studies. Demonstrating a comprehensive knowledge, both of the history of science fiction narrative from its earliest origins, and of cultural theory and philosophy, Bukatman redefines the nature of human identity in the Information Age. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theories of the postmodern—including Fredric Jameson, Donna Haraway, and Jean Baudrillard—Bukatman begins with the proposition that Western culture is suffering a crisis brought on by advanced electronic technologies. Then in a series of chapters richly supported by analyses of literary texts, visual arts, film, video, television, comics, computer games, and graphics, Bukatman takes the reader on an odyssey that traces the postmodern subject from its current crisis, through its close encounters with technology, and finally to new self-recognition. This new "virtual subject," as Bukatman defines it, situates the human and the technological as coexistent, codependent, and mutally defining. Synthesizing the most provocative theories of postmodern culture with a truly encyclopedic treatment of the relevant media, this volume sets a new standard in the study of science fiction—a category that itself may be redefined in light of this work. Bukatman not only offers the most detailed map to date of the intellectual terrain of postmodern technology studies—he arrives at new frontiers, providing a propitious launching point for further inquiries into the relationship of electronic technology and culture.
Can social theories forge new paths into an uncertain future?
The future has become increasingly difficult to imagine. We might be able to predict a few events, but imagining how looming disasters will coincide is simultaneously necessary and impossible. Drawing on speculative fiction and social theory, Theory for the World to Come is the beginning of a conversation about theories that move beyond nihilistic conceptions of the capitalism-caused Anthropocene and toward generative bodies of thought that provoke creative ways of thinking about the world ahead. Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer draws on such authors as Kim Stanley Robinson and Octavia Butler, and engages with afrofuturism, indigenous speculative fiction, and films from the 1970s and ’80s to help think differently about the future and its possibilities.
Forerunners: Ideas First
Short books of thought-in-process scholarship, where intense analysis, questioning, and speculation take the lead
This beautifully illustrated book showcases the highlights of the Tolkien archives held at the Bodleian Library. From J. R. R. Tolkien’s childhood in the Midlands and his experience of the First World War to his studies at school and university, from his exquisite illustrations for The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings to his intricate and beautiful maps showing the topography of Middle-earth, this stunning book is a perfect introduction to Tolkien’s life and works. Tolkien: Treasures sheds light on the extraordinary genius and imagination that brought us Middle-earth, with all its Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Ringwraiths, Wizards, and, of course, Hobbits.
On the 200th anniversary of the first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Transmedia Creatures presents studies of Frankenstein by international scholars from converging disciplines such as humanities, musicology, film studies, television studies, English and digital humanities. These innovative contributions investigate the afterlives of a novel taught in a disparate array of courses - Frankenstein disturbs and transcends boundaries, be they political, ethical, theological, aesthetic, and not least of media, ensuring its vibrant presence in contemporary popular culture. Transmedia Creatures highlights how cultural content is redistributed through multiple media, forms and modes of production (including user-generated ones from “below”) that often appear synchronously and dismantle and renew established readings of the text, while at the same time incorporating and revitalizing aspects that have always been central to it. The authors engage with concepts, value systems and aesthetic-moral categories—among them the family, horror, monstrosity, diversity, education, risk, technology, the body—from a variety of contemporary approaches and highly original perspectives, which yields new connections. Ultimately, Frankenstein, as evidenced by this collection, is paradoxically enriched by the heteroglossia of preconceptions, misreadings, and overreadings that attend it, and that reveal the complex interweaving of perceptions and responses it generates.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Undead Ends is about how we imagine humanness and survival in the aftermath of disaster. This book frames modern British and American apocalypse films as sites of interpretive struggle. It asks what, exactly, is ending? Whose dreams of starting over take center stage, and why? And how do these films, sometimes in spite of themselves, make room to dream of new beginnings that don’t just reboot the world we know? Trimble argues that contemporary apocalypse films aren’t so much envisioning The End of the world as the end of a particular world; not The End of humanness but, rather, the end of Man. Through readings of The Road, I Am Legend, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Children of Men, and Beasts of the Southern Wild, this book demonstrates that popular stories of apocalypse can trouble, rather than reproduce, Man’s story of humanness. With some creative re-reading, they can even unfold towards unexpected futures. Mainstream apocalypse films are, in short, an occasion to imagine a world After Man.
When Lieutenant Uhura took her place on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek, the actress Nichelle Nichols went where no African American woman had ever gone before. Yet several decades passed before many other black women began playing significant roles in speculative (i.e., science fiction, fantasy, and horror) film and television—a troubling omission, given that these genres offer significant opportunities for reinventing social constructs such as race, gender, and class. Challenging cinema’s history of stereotyping or erasing black women on-screen, Where No Black Woman Has Gone Before showcases twenty-first-century examples that portray them as central figures of action and agency.
Writing for fans as well as scholars, Diana Adesola Mafe looks at representations of black womanhood and girlhood in American and British speculative film and television, including 28 Days Later, AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Children of Men, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Firefly, and Doctor Who: Series 3. Each of these has a subversive black female character in its main cast, and Mafe draws on critical race, postcolonial, and gender theories to explore each film and show, placing the black female characters at the center of the analysis and demonstrating their agency. The first full study of black female characters in speculative film and television, Where No Black Woman Has Gone Before shows why heroines such as Lex in AVP and Zoë in Firefly are inspiring a generation of fans, just as Uhura did.
Gary Westfahl University of Illinois Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3557.I2264Z95 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
The leading figure in the development of cyberpunk, William Gibson (born in 1948) crafted works in which isolated humans explored near-future worlds of ubiquitous and intrusive computer technology and cybernetics. This volume is the first comprehensive examination of the award-winning author of the seminal novel Neuromancer (and the other books in the Sprawl trilogy, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive), as well as other acclaimed novels including recent bestsellers Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History. Renowned scholar Gary Westfahl draws upon extensive research to provide a compelling account of Gibson's writing career and his lasting influence in the science fiction world.
Delving into numerous science fiction fanzines that the young Gibson contributed to and edited, Westfahl delivers new information about his childhood and adolescence. He describes for the first time more than eighty virtually unknown Gibson publications from his early years, including articles, reviews, poems, cartoons, letters, and a collaborative story. The book also documents the poems, articles, and introductions that Gibson has written for various books, and its discussions are enriched by illuminating comments from various print and online interviews. The works that made Gibson famous are also featured, as Westfahl performs extended analyses of Gibson's ten novels and nineteen short stories. Lastly, the book presents a new interview with Gibson in which the author discusses his correspondence with author Fritz Leiber, his relationship with the late scholar Susan Wood, his attitudes toward critics, his overall impact on the field of science fiction, and his recently completed screenplay and forthcoming novel.
William Gibson is frequently described as one of the most influential writers of the past few decades, yet his body of work has only been studied partially and without full recognition of its implications for literature and culture beyond science fiction. It is high time for a book that explores the significance and wide-ranging impact of Gibson’s fiction.
In the 1970s and 80s, Gibson, the “Godfather of Cyberpunk,” rejuvenated science fiction. In groundbreaking works such as Neuromancer, which changed science fiction as we knew it, Gibson provided us with a language and imaginary through which it became possible to make sense of the newly emerging world of globalization and the digital and media age. Ever since, Gibson’s reformulation of science fiction has provided us not just with radically innovative visions of the future but indeed with trenchant analyses of our historical present and of the emergence and exhaustion of possible futures.
Contributors: Maria Alberto, Andrew M. Butler, Amy J. Elias, Christian Haines, Kylie Korsnack, Mathias Nilges, Malka Older, Aron Pease, Lisa Swanstrom, Takayuki Tatsumi, Sherryl Vint, Phillip E. Wegner, Roger Whitson, Charles Yu
Olney, Ian Rutgers University Press, 2017 Library of Congress PN1995.9.Z63O46 2017 | Dewey Decimal 791.43675
It’s official: the zombie apocalypse is here. The living dead have been lurking in popular culture since the 1930s, but they have never been as ubiquitous or as widely-embraced as they are today.
Zombie Cinema is a lively and accessible introduction to this massively popular genre. Presenting a historical overview of zombie appearances in cinema and on television, Ian Olney also considers why, more than any other horror movie monster, zombies have captured the imagination of twenty-first-century audiences.
Surveying the landmarks of zombie film and TV, from White Zombie to The Walking Dead, the book also offers unique insight into why zombies have gone global, spreading well beyond the borders of American and European cinema to turn up in films from countries as far-flung as Cuba, India, Japan, New Zealand, and Nigeria. Both fun and thought-provoking, Zombie Cinema will give readers a new perspective on our ravenous hunger for the living dead.