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
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.
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.
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