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Across the Wounded Galaxies
Interviews with Contemporary American Science Fiction Writers
Conducted and edited by Larry McCaffery
University of Illinois Press, 1990
Modern science fiction writers have long inhabited a dimension far removed from the comfortable realms of filmic space opera franchises and Dr. Who. Too often lurking along the margins of literature are some of the most intelligent, imaginative, and outrageous writing talents of our day. These interviews by legendary critic and SF proponent Larry McCaffery journeys into the minds and psyches of ten iconic writers whose works influenced the evolution of science fiction. Authors like Octavia Butler, William Gibson, Thomas Disch, Ursula Le Guin, and Bruce Sterling discuss New Wave, hard versus soft SF, and the viability of the genre as a means of suggesting political, radical, and sexual agendas. As these writers speak candidly about their works, backgrounds, and aesthetic impulses, it becomes clear that the issues on their minds and in their fiction are central to contemporary life and art.

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Afrofuturism Rising
The Literary Prehistory of a Movement
Isiah Lavender III
The Ohio State University Press, 2019
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.

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Alien Encounters
Anatomy of Science Fiction
Mark Rose
Harvard University Press, 1981

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An Anthropology of Science Fiction
Edited by George E. Slusser and Eric S. Rabkin
Southern Illinois University Press, 1987

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.

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Bridges to Science Fiction
George E Slusser
Southern Illinois University Press, 1980

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.


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Placing Science Fiction and Fantasy
George E Slusser
Southern Illinois University Press, 1983

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, “Fahr­enheit 451and 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.”


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The Cyborg Caribbean
Techno-Dominance in Twenty-First-Century Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican Science Fiction
Samuel Ginsburg
Rutgers University Press, 2023
The Cyborg Caribbean examines a wide range of twenty-first-century Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican science fiction texts, arguing that authors from Pedro Cabiya, Alexandra Pagan-Velez, and Vagabond Beaumont to Yasmin Silvia Portales, Erick Mota, and Yoss, Haris Durrani, and Rita Indiana Hernandez, among others, negotiate rhetorical legacies of historical techno-colonialism and techno-authoritarianism. The authors span the Hispanic Caribbean and their respective diasporas, reflecting how science fiction as a genre has the ability to manipulate political borders. As both a literary and historical study, the book traces four different technologies—electroconvulsive therapy, nuclear weapons, space exploration, and digital avatars—that have transformed understandings of corporality and humanity in the Caribbean. By recognizing the ways that increased technology may amplify the marginalization of bodies based on race, gender, sexuality, and other factors, the science fiction texts studied in this book challenge oppressive narratives that link technological and sociopolitical progress.

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Dimensions of Science Fiction
William Sims Bainbridge
Harvard University Press, 1986

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Diverse Futures
Science Fiction and Authors of Color
Joy Sanchez-Taylor
The Ohio State University Press, 2021
Winner, 2021 Northeast Popular Culture Association's Peter C. Rollins Book PrizeDiverse 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.

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The Dreamer and the Dream
Afrofuturism and Black Religious Thought
Roger A. Sneed
The Ohio State University Press, 2021
Finalist for the American Academy of Religion’s Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion, Constructive-Reflexive Studies

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.

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The End of the World
Eric S Rabkin
Southern Illinois University Press, 1983

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.


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Feminist Fabulation
Space/Postmodern Fiction
Marleen S. Barr
University of Iowa Press, 1992
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.

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From Utopia to Apocalypse
Science Fiction and the Politics of Catastrophe
Peter Y. Paik
University of Minnesota Press, 2010
"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.

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George's Run
A Writer's Journey through the Twilight Zone
Henry Chamberlain
Rutgers University Press, 2023
George Clayton Johnson was an up-and-coming short story writer who broke into Hollywood in a big way when he co-wrote the screenplay for Ocean’s Eleven. More legendary works followed, including Logan’s Run and classic scripts for shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek. In the meantime, he forged friendships with some of the era’s most visionary science fiction writers, including Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Richard Matheson, and Rod Serling. 
Later in life, Johnson befriended comics journalist and artist Henry Chamberlain, and the two had long chats about his amazing life and career. Now Chamberlain pays tribute to his late friend in the graphic novel George’s Run, which brings Johnson’s creative milieu to life in vividly illustrated color panels. The result feels less like reading a conventional biography and more like sitting in on an intimate conversation between friends as they recollect key moments in pop culture history, as well as the colorful band of writers known as the “Rat Pack of Science Fiction.” 

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Green Speculations
Science Fiction and Transformative Environmentalism
Eric C. Otto
The Ohio State University Press, 2012
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.

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Hard Science Fiction
George E Slusser
Southern Illinois University Press, 1986

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.


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Fantasy and Science Fiction
Edited by George E. Slusser and Eric S. Rabkin
Southern Illinois University Press, 1987

These 17 essays from the seventh annual J. Lloyd Eaton Conference examine the relationship between fantasy and science fiction.

They propose that fantasy and science fiction are not isolated commercial literary forms, but instead are literary forms worthy of the recognition reserved for traditional literature. Discussion of genre identification ranges from the standard forms of literary criticism embodied in Aristotle’s mimesis and poesis to innovative and possibly controversial points of view such as a theory of humor, a philosophy of time, and a detailed analysis of Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat.

The essays provide not only a detailed study of literary elements but also the historical treatment of the material, its commercial use, and its relationship to similar literary forms such as the gothic tale and horror fiction. While few of the essayists agree with one another, they all contribute creative insights to the debate.


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Learning from Other Worlds
Estrangement, Cognition, and the Politics of Science Fiction and Utopia
Patrick Parrinder, ed.
Duke University Press, 2001
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.

Marc Angenot, Marleen S. Barr, Peter Fitting, Carl Freedman, Edward James, Fredric Jameson, David Ketterer, Gerard Klein, Tom Moylan, Rafail Nudelman, Darko Suvin

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Lesbian Potentiality and Feminist Media in the 1970s
Jed Samer
Duke University Press, 2022
In Lesbian Potentiality and Feminist Media in the 1970s, Jed Samer explores how 1970s feminists took up the figure of the lesbian in broad attempts to reimagine gender and sexuality. Samer turns to feminist film, video, and science fiction literature, offering a historiographical concept called “lesbian potentiality”—a way of thinking beyond what the lesbian was, in favor of how the lesbian signified what could have come to be. Samer shows how the labor of feminist media workers and fans put lesbian potentiality into movement. They see lesbian potentiality in feminist prison documentaries that theorize the prison industrial complex’s racialized and gendered violence and give image to Black feminist love politics and freedom dreaming. Lesbian potentiality also circulates through the alternative spaces created by feminist science fiction and fantasy fanzines like The Witch and the Chameleon and Janus. It was here that author James Tiptree, Jr./Alice B. Sheldon felt free to do gender differently and inspired many others to do so in turn. Throughout, Samer embraces the perpetual reimagination of “lesbian” and the lesbian’s former futures for the sake of continued, radical world-building.

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Liminal Lives
Imagining the Human at the Frontiers of Biomedicine
Susan Merrill Squier
Duke University Press, 2004
Embryo adoptions, stem cells capable of transforming into any cell in the human body, intra- and inter-species organ transplantation—these and other biomedical advances have unsettled ideas of what it means to be human, of when life begins and ends. In the first study to consider the cultural impact of the medical transformation of the entire human life span, Susan Merrill Squier argues that fiction—particularly science fiction—serves as a space where worries about ethically and socially charged scientific procedures are worked through. Indeed, she demonstrates that in many instances fiction has anticipated and paved the way for far-reaching biomedical changes. Squier uses the anthropological concept of liminality—the state of being on the threshold of change, no longer one thing yet not quite another—to explore how, from the early twentieth century forward, fiction and science together have altered not only the concept of the human being but the contours of human life.

Drawing on archival materials of twentieth-century biology; little-known works of fiction and science fiction; and twentieth- and twenty-first century U.S. and U.K. government reports by the National Institutes of Health, the Parliamentary Advisory Group on the Ethics of Xenotransplantation, and the President’s Council on Bioethics, she examines a number of biomedical changes as each was portrayed by scientists, social scientists, and authors of fiction and poetry. Among the scientific developments she considers are the cultured cell, the hybrid embryo, the engineered intrauterine fetus, the child treated with human growth hormone, the process of organ transplantation, and the elderly person rejuvenated by hormone replacement therapy or other artificial means. Squier shows that in the midst of new phenomena such as these, literature helps us imagine new ways of living. It allows us to reflect on the possibilities and perils of our liminal lives.


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Lingua Cosmica
Science Fiction from around the World
Edited by Dale Knickerbocker
University of Illinois Press, 2018
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.

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Literary Afrofuturism in the Twenty-First Century
Edited by Isiah Lavender III and Lisa Yaszek
The Ohio State University Press, 2020
Finalist, 2021 Locus Award

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.


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The Geographies of Imagined Worlds
Edited by George E. Slusser and Eric S. Rabkin
Southern Illinois University Press, 1989

Eighteen essays plus four examples from the ninth annual J. Lloyd Eaton Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature at the University of California, Riverside.

The concept of mindscape, Slusser and Rabkin explain, allows critics to focus on a single fundamental problem: "The constant need for a relation between mind and some being external to mind."

The essayists are Poul Anderson, Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty, Ronald J. Heckelman, David Brin, Frank McConnell, George E. Slusser, James Romm, Jack G. Voller, Peter Fitting, Michael R. Collings, Pascal J. Thomas, Reinhart Lutz, Joseph D. Miller, Gary Westfahl, Bill Lee, Max P. Belin, William Lomax, and Donald M. Hassler.

The book concludes with four authors discussing examples of mindscape. The participants are Jean-Pierre Barricelli, Gregory Benford, Gary Kern, and David N. Samuelson.


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The Motion Of Light In Water
Sex And Science Fiction Writing In The East Village
Samuel R. Delany
University of Minnesota Press, 2004

Winner of the Hugo Award for Non-fiction
The unexpurgated edition of the award-winning autobiography

Born in New York City’s black ghetto Harlem at the start of World War II, Samuel R. Delany married white poet Marilyn Hacker right out of high school. The interracial couple moved into the city’s new bohemian quarter, the Lower East Side, in summer 1961. Through the decade’s opening years, new art, new sexual practices, new music, and new political awareness burgeoned among the crowded streets and cheap railroad apartments. Beautifully, vividly, insightfully, Delany calls up this era of exploration and adventure as he details his development as a black gay writer in an open marriage, with tertiary walk-ons by Bob Dylan, Stokely Carmichael, W. H. Auden, and James Baldwin, and a panoply of brilliantly drawn secondary characters.


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Octavia E. Butler
Gerry Canavan
University of Illinois Press, 2016
"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.


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Thomas M. Disch
University of Michigan Press, 2005
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.

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The Religion of Science Fiction
Frederick A. Kreuziger
University of Wisconsin Press, 1986
Science fiction captures contemporary sentiment with its faith in a scientific/technological future, its explorations of the ultimate meaning of man’s existence. Kreuziger is interested particularly in the apocalyptic visions of science fiction compared to the biblical revelations of John and Daniel. For some time our confidence has been placed largely in science, which has practically become a religion. Science fiction articulates the consequences of a faith in a technological future.

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Reverse Colonization
Science Fiction, Imperial Fantasy, and Alt-victimhood
David M. Higgins
University of Iowa Press, 2021
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.

front cover of The Science Fiction of Poetics and the Avant-Garde Imagination
The Science Fiction of Poetics and the Avant-Garde Imagination
Michael Golston
University of Alabama Press, 2024
How the tropes of science fiction infuse and inform avant-garde poetics and many other kindred arts

This insightful, playful monograph from Golston does exactly what it advertises: modeling poetics based on how poetry (and some parallel artistic endeavors) has filtered through a century-plus of science fiction. This is not a book about science fiction in and of itself, but it is a book about the resonances of science-fiction tropes and ideas in poetic language.

The germ of Golston’s project is a throwaway line in Robert Smithson’s Entropy and the New Monuments about how cinema supplanted nature as inspiration for many of his fellow artists: “The movies give a ritual pattern to the lives of many artists, and this induces a kind of ‘low budget’ mysticism, which keeps them in a perpetual trance.” Golston charts how the demotic appeal of sci-fi, much like that of the B-movie, cross-pollinated into poetry and other branches of the avant garde.
Golston creates what he calls a “regular Rube Goldberg machine” of a critical apparatus, drawing on Walter Benjamin, Roman Jakobson, and Gilles Deleuze. He starts by acknowledging that, per the important work of Darko Suvin to situate science fiction critically, the genre is premised on cognitive estrangement. But he is not interested in the specific nuts and bolts of science fiction as it exists but rather how science fiction has created a model not only for other poets but also for musicians and landscape artists.

Golston’s critical lens moves around quite a bit, but he begins with familiar enough subjects: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mina Loy, William S. Burroughs. From there he moves into more “alien” terrain: Ed Dorn’s long poem Gunslinger, the discombobulated work of Clark Coolidge. Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, and Jimi Hendrix all come under consideration. The result of Golston’s restless, rich scholarship is the first substantial monograph on science fiction and avant-garde poetics, using Russian Formalism, Frankfurt School dialectics, and Deleuzian theory to show how the avant-garde inherently follows the parameters of sci fi, in both theme and form.

front cover of The Secret Life of Puppets
The Secret Life of Puppets
Victoria Nelson
Harvard University Press, 2003

In one of those rare books that allows us to see the world not as we’ve never seen it before, but as we see it daily without knowing, Victoria Nelson illuminates the deep but hidden attraction the supernatural still holds for a secular mainstream culture that forced the transcendental underground and firmly displaced wonder and awe with the forces of reason, materialism, and science.

In a backward look at an era now drawing to a close, The Secret Life of Puppets describes a curious reversal in the roles of art and religion: where art and literature once took their content from religion, we came increasingly to seek religion, covertly, through art and entertainment. In a tour of Western culture that is at once exhilarating and alarming, Nelson shows us the distorted forms in which the spiritual resurfaced in high art but also, strikingly, in the mass culture of puppets, horror-fantasy literature, and cyborgs: from the works of Kleist, Poe, Musil, and Lovecraft to Philip K. Dick and virtual reality simulations. At the end of the millennium, discarding a convention of the demonized grotesque that endured three hundred years, a Demiurgic consciousness shaped in Late Antiquity is emerging anew to re-divinize the human as artists like Lars von Trier and Will Self reinvent Expressionism in forms familiar to our pre-Reformation ancestors. Here as never before, we see how pervasively but unwittingly, consuming art forms of the fantastic, we allow ourselves to believe.


front cover of Techno-Orientalism
Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media
Roh, David S.
Rutgers University Press, 2015
What will the future look like? To judge from many speculative fiction films and books, from Blade Runner to Cloud Atlas, the future will be full of cities that resemble Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and it will be populated mainly by cold, unfeeling citizens who act like robots. Techno-Orientalism investigates the phenomenon of imagining Asia and Asians in hypo- or hyper-technological terms in literary, cinematic, and new media representations, while critically examining the stereotype of Asians as both technologically advanced and intellectually primitive, in dire need of Western consciousness-raising. 
The collection’s fourteen original essays trace the discourse of techno-orientalism across a wide array of media, from radio serials to cyberpunk novels, from Sax Rohmer’s Dr. Fu Manchu to Firefly.  Applying a variety of theoretical, historical, and interpretive approaches, the contributors consider techno-orientalism a truly global phenomenon. In part, they tackle the key question of how these stereotypes serve to both express and assuage Western anxieties about Asia’s growing cultural influence and economic dominance. Yet the book also examines artists who have appropriated techno-orientalist tropes in order to critique racist and imperialist attitudes. 
Techno-Orientalism is the first collection to define and critically analyze a phenomenon that pervades both science fiction and real-world news coverage of Asia. With essays on subjects ranging from wartime rhetoric of race and technology to science fiction by contemporary Asian American writers to the cultural implications of Korean gamers, this volume offers innovative perspectives and broadens conventional discussions in Asian American Cultural studies. 

front cover of Technophobia!
Science Fiction Visions of Posthuman Technology
By Daniel Dinello
University of Texas Press, 2006

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?


front cover of Voices for the Future
Voices for the Future
Essays on Major Science Fiction Writers, Volume 1
Thomas D. Clareson
University of Wisconsin Press, 1976
Bringing together a group of original essays concerning major writers of science fiction whose careers had begun by the end of World War II, this volume covers Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, C. L. Moore, Clifford D. Simak, Olaf Stapledon, Kurt Vonnegut, and Jack Williamson.

front cover of What If You Could Unscramble An Egg?
What If You Could Unscramble An Egg?
Ehrlich, Robert
Rutgers University Press, 1995

 What if there were three sexes?

What if men could have babies?

What if the earth didn’t have a moon?

What if all the air in the room went into one corner?

What if you fell into a black hole?

What if you could unscramble an egg?

Eavesdrop on these free-wheeling conversations and stretch your imagination in 120 different directions! In these flippant “what if” dialogues  about everything from sex, aliens, dogs, and dinosaurs to space, matter, and time, Robert Ehrlich blurs the boundaries between science fact and science fiction. Come travel through these zany alternative universes––and understand our own a bit better!


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