The thesis on the time of disaster and the disaster of time sputters here, occasionally giving off some light, but these pages remain the most narrowly focused, offering textual exposition of classical French texts. More grit in the oyster would definitely have helped. An abrupt end, without a conclusion, seems problematic indeed for a book that has ranged so widely across the centuries and covered so many different media. There is no inclination to pull these strands together again at the end—which contributes to the sense that these are spin-off essays from an eminent and illustrious career, never quite cohering convincingly.
Readers of SFS are likely to find this book frustrating, but there are some superb insights worth pulling from the strong opening section on natural and social disaster. Nikolai Krementsov. New York: Oxford UP, Trespassing and transgression are wonderful descriptors for this illum-inating, thought-provoking book. Such an orientation is particularly relevant to the context of early twentieth-century Russia, where, to a much greater extent than in the West, scientists and scientific institutions were deeply entangled with visionary speculation; indeed, a remarkable number of scientists also wrote science fiction.
Happily for this reader, the trespassing and transgression evident on every page of the book proved to be most rewarding. This book performs an important historiographical intervention in the understanding of life in revolutionary Russia. The utopianism pervading the institutions and cultures of biology in the decade immediately following the October Revolution disrupts a long-standing teleology of violence, destruction, and trauma.
Commissars, social and political activists, journalists, writers, artists, filmmakers, even philosophers and theologians, together with scientists themselves, participated in the co-production of biomedicine and what can only be called, avant la lettre , biotechnology in revolutionary Russia.
As the author cautions in his prologue, however, this counter-narrative can hardly be reduced to its own version of a grand narrative.
The focal points of the four essays—isolated organs, anabiosis a. Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5 present fascinating, complex portraits of the ways in which isolation and transplantation of body parts, suspension and reanimation of organisms, hormone therapy, and sexual rejuvenation became both metaphors and mechanisms for imagineering life in a country emerging from a decade of devastation. It is particularly gratifying to see how, as promised in the prologue, Krementsov refuses to isolate hierarchically the so-called real and imaginative aspects of the hopes, anxieties, and fears invested in the life sciences.
The book is full of new archival material, some of which is reproduced in the form of stunning visuals interspersed throughout the text. Science fiction is put to creative use in teasing out historical complexities. A representative work of science fiction from the period serves as the frame for each chapter. Other related examples of fiction, film, and even poetry are skillfully interwoven as supplements and occasionally foils for the strange, provocative, but utterly engrossing institutional, biographical, and cultural history of the life sciences.
To be sure, Krementsov does not engage in traditional literary analysis of these works.
But what science fiction does in his project is, in my view, far more interesting and significant: it illuminates the deep-seated, all-pervasive science-fictionality of the ideas, institutions, discourses, and cultures of immortal life in early Bolshevik Russia. Its relevance lies in the fact that, a century later, we find ourselves living in a global condition of the science-fictionality of life itself.
In the past forty years, genetics and genomics have again radically transformed the institutional, epistemological, and cultural boundaries of what used to be perceived as the life sciences.
The study of life has merged with engineering and informatics, its most ambitious frontiers defined by the futuristic horizons of nanotechnology and synthetic biology. While biomatter and bioinformation evolve into globally exchangeable commodities and the management of life merges with the management of a market ripe with speculative potentials, the ontological terrain of life itself has become increasingly future-oriented, rapidly changing, virtually science-fictional. As we struggle to distinguish science from hype even while participating in the revolutionary experiments of our times, utopian dreams from a bygone era might prove particularly instructive.
Servant-Systems and the Social Life of Demons. Kevin LaGrandeur.
“To boldly go!”: Adventure and Empire in Star Trek
Routledge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture. Early in this fascinating and original book, Kevin LaGrandeur notes that most of his readers are likely to assume that the dream of creating an artificial servant or robot, or android is a distinctively modern one, the product of twentieth- and twenty-first-century technological advances, especially in the area of cybernetics. The aim of his book, however, is to show how old this dream really is. Moreover, LaGrandeur argues, stories told about the ambitions and anxieties associated with the artificial servant have taken remarkably similar forms throughout this long history.
As the title indicates, the book concentrates on the early modern period, especially the sixteenth century, when the idea of the artificial servant as part of a humanist quest to attain godlike powers was elaborated in a wide variety of alchemical texts, works of natural philosophy, and stage plays. Chapter 3 examines the idea of the homunculus in the writings of Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Arabic sources, connecting it to stories about the golem from the Jewish Cabala and elsewhere.
By contrast, Doctor Faustus misunderstands the nature of the servant-system he tries to produce through his magic. LaGrandeur perhaps underrates the element of bargaining or negotiation in transactions between magicians and spirits and the extent to which conjuration could resemble supplication or prayer.
Notably, the devil is conspicuously absent in almost all of his discussion. Viewed en masse, demons often do operate much like a networked system in many Renaissance descriptions; the agency of any particular demon can be difficult to discern. By reading these texts through the lens of cybernetic theory, LaGrandeur calls attention to understudied questions about demonic agency and what we might call the social life of spirits and demons. LaGrandeur identifies three of special importance.
Paradoxically, this interdependence not only enhances human capabilities but also increases vulnerability to breakdowns within the system. Third, the dream of creating and controlling artificial servants is also a dream about the power of language or code. Dianne Newell and Victoria Lamont. Judith Merril: A Critical Study. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, Susan A.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, Yet both books are responding to the need within the field to recover and rethink the feminist potential of these postwar sf texts. Merril is one of the most critically visible women participating in postwar science fiction, making her one of the women writers least in need of recovery, especially when there are many others about whom virtually nothing has been written.
This is particularly true of her later work as a broadcaster in Toronto and her work as a translator-editor with sf communities in Japan. While Newell and Lamont focus on women producers of science fiction and feminist writing practices, Susan A. She focuses specifically on the sf invasion movie. These invasion narratives create a model for heroic white masculinity wherein the hero is alienated from a society that refuses to believe his insistence on an impending invasion and must then work alongside his male and sometimes female colleagues to battle the invaders.
George finds these two categorizations for invasion narratives useful because they allow her to contrast this general model for masculinity and femininity with specific films that may not entirely follow this narrative structure or uphold this gender ideology. We typically think of the film industry as being less subversive and less experimental in its depiction of gender roles in science fiction than literary examples.
There is some truth to this claim, but George makes a compelling case for considering the subversive potential of often-overlooked Hollywood B, C, and D movies, which were able to slide more unconventional depictions of gender politics past the Production Code Administration than larger budget films 2. The PCA tended to be inconsistent in its censoring of controversial themes and images even when evaluating mainstream films in the postwar period, so it is not surprising that low-budget sf movies, particularly invasion films that are trying to discomfort the viewer, were able to trouble s gender roles.
Even though George is interested in reclaiming the s sf B movie as a potentially subversive form, she takes the time to discuss films that largely reinforce conventional gender roles before analyzing the outliers. Team players cooperate with other men to form groups of specialists to combat the threat of invasion and are shown to be unable to solve the problem on their own.
This is contrasted with the Promethean scientist figure, who often has altruistic goals but inevitably causes the disasters that the team of specialists must fix because he is too attached to his individualism and social isolation Ideal masculine behavior in these films is linked to cooperation. The mystique model is a devoted wife and mother, but she can never be shown having a strong emotional reaction to any of the bizarre apocalyptic events going on around her during the invasion.
George uses the minor character of Mrs. Lodge from the movie Them! George notes both in her discussion of the mystique model and in her later chapter on working women that this female archetype can be initially shown to have a career and that some characters even have scientific expertise relating to the invasion. Films that uphold the mystique model of femininity gradually shift these female figures into the background, showing them increasingly involved in domestic chores and removing them entirely from the final conflict.
The sf vamp reverses nearly everything about the mystique model, being sexually voracious and personally ambitious. George points out that although the vamp as an archetype has been discussed at great length in other contexts, the sf vamp is largely unexamined in sf film scholarship George notes that these sf vamps, even when they are monstrous mutants, are often engaging and compelling characters, and she argues that the vamp can open up a space for the frustrations and larger political concerns surrounding Cold War femininity before the narrative reasserts a more normative model for feminine behavior.
I particularly enjoyed her chapter on the alien possession film, where George suggests that these films often deconstruct the team player archetype by cutting the protagonist off from any institutional support while still problematically depicting women as more easily susceptible to alien possession. George also does an excellent job of connecting s depictions of gender to later invasion films, concluding with a chapter closely analyzing the two sf films she was able to find that actually had a female protagonist— I Married a Monster from Outer Space and The Day the Earth Stood Still —and tracing out a quick genealogical overview of the invasion film as it developed after the Cold War.
Both of these books offer articulate and focused explorations of gender in postwar sf, and both take the time to identify topics and texts that still need to be written about. While many of the subjects central to postwar science fiction—atomic power and radiation, suburban domesticity, telepathy and psi powers, the space race—rarely show up in contemporary sf, the treatment of masculinity and femininity in these earlier texts paved the way for later explorations of gender identity in sf.
There are obviously still problems with these postwar treatments that primarily focus on the experiences of white, heterosexual, middle-class women, but it is worth remembering that some of the experts battling possessed suburbanites, nuclear fallout, and giant insects did so while wearing heels. Walter Smyrniw. Bern: Peter Lang, Divided into twenty thematically oriented chapters, the book considers the historical development and popularity of such themes as utopia, religion, solar energy, travels through time and space, technology, robots, androids and cyborgs, human nature, and humor.
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Nearly every chapter in this otherwise excellent resource is comprised of very long plot summaries, and Smyrniw often only features the works of one or two authors per chapter. Additionally, because some works are discussed in more than one chapter, the book comes to feel a bit repetitive. The length of the plot summaries, at times running up to ten or twelve pages, contributes to making the work feel like more of an encyclopedia of plot points than a critical engagement with the cultural stakes and functions of science fiction in Ukraine.
In doing so, Smyrniw brackets each work off from the others discussed, restricting communication between the ideas these various authors are expounding and generally making for a disorganized reading experience. The cultural and political dimensions of these works are also seldom discussed, although several references are made to the exile and imprisonment of some of the authors, suggesting a more nuanced political subtext for some of these works than Smyrniw is prepared fully to explore. Schrijf een review. E-mail deze pagina. Bekijk video. Auteur: Gilbert Allen. Samenvatting An affectionate satire of the culture of self-indulgence, The Final Days of Great American Shopping exposes the American obsessions with money, mass marketing, and material objects.
In Belladonna, a gated subdivision in upstate South Carolina, readers meet acolorful cast of characters doing their best to buy happiness in a series of sixteen closely linked stories from the past, present, and future. Whether speed dating, test driving cars, upsizing to dream houses, flying helicopters, or lusting after designer shoes, these small-town spenders have good intentions that often go hilariously awry as they search for emotional and spiritual comfort. Gilbert Allen is a master at character development and the individuals in this collection are no exception.
Among them are the childless, emotionally distant couple Butler and Marjory Breedlove; the harried appliance salesman John Beegle and his precocious, pole-dancing daughter Alison; and the one-handed soccer wunderkind Amy Knobloch. Also featured are Ted Dickey the mastermind of the Mental Defectives self-help book series and the undefeated Speed Dating Champion of the World; Jimmy Scheetz, the pragmatic philanthropist behind Ecumenical Bedding; Ruthella Anderson, a retired first-grade teacher addicted to Star Trek and to extreme couponing; and the mysterious Gabriella, an aging Italian beauty who presides over Doumi Shoes.
Arranged chronologically, the stories span nearly a century. While most are set in the recent past or in the immediate future, the book's title story is set in These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go, where no one has gone before. These are the opening lines of one of the most successful franchises of popular culture: Star Trek. That this would exactly fall into the field of the discourses of postcolonial studies is no mere coincidence.
The opening credits very straightforwardly indicate what voyages the audience will participate in. Accordingly Star Trek can be read as another form of travelogue. The purpose of this work is to establish the narratives of Star Trek as a travelogue in the context of imperialist and colonial discourses. On the basis of one episode of the TV series, Star Trek: The Next Generation I will juxtapose the argument of critics that Trek is either racist and imperialist in its conception or the depiction of a desirable Utopia. Literary history proved Homer wrong. Travelogues have always been of great interest for an ever growing readership.
“To boldly go!”: Adventure and Empire in Star Trek – Imperial & Global Forum
The attraction to adventures in uncommon settings never abated even though the original plotline was only remodeled. In the series the space-ship Voyager is pulled into a hypothetical space anomaly, a wormhole, and thus taken far into outer space. A return home, i. Moreover the name of the series, Voyager , implies a great referential scope itself. Its space exploration became more applicable and referential to the overseas enterprises of the British than to the American Westward Expansion.
Star Trek contextualizes itself in these matters by maintaining a nautical vocabulary. They belong to an organization called Starfleet . The chain of command onboard is also modeled after naval examples, so that there is a captain , commander , lieutenant and even admirals. Accordingly these have a bridge , a helm, a mess hall , a brig , various docks , and its crew members take shore leaves. More indirect references happen during a variety of occasions.
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So the protagonist captain Jean—Luc Picard of the series The Next Generation keeps a collection of sailing ships in his office, which he tends carefully. In a particular scene the crew is portrayed wearing 19th century British naval uniforms and is re-enacting a promotion ceremony in the corresponding fashion on a 19th century sailing ship.
That this ceremony is not a mere act of entertainment but serves as a real promotion for a crew member shows the interlinkage of the fictional setting and the factual historical background. In the following scene part of the crew is even shown in these naval uniforms standing on the bridge of their starship, strengthening the quote. The fictional theme of space exploration hence carries strong reference to historical overseas explorations.