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A Companion


Edited By Jack Fennell

What is Sci-Fi?

Science fiction is a non-realist genre that foregrounds a sense of material plausibility, insisting that despite seeming outlandish, it is consonant with history and the laws of nature. By turns subtle and bombastic, sci-fi revels in discovery and revelation, whether through human ingenuity or world-altering paradigm shifts. The same impulse informs both the idealism of Star Trek and the existential terror of Frankenstein.

Each chapter of this book examines a specific trope or theme through a different critical lens – including eco-criticism, feminism and historicism – while also providing a historical overview of the genre, from its disputed origins to the pulp era, the New Wave, and the exponential growth of Afrofuturism and Indigenous Futurisms. Revered masters such as Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler and Iain M. Banks are considered alongside newer talents, including Rebecca Roanhorse and N. K. Jemisin. Other chapters provide overviews of different media, from television (Doctor Who, Westworld) to comics/manga (2000AD, Métal Hurlant), video games (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) and theatre (Alistair McDowall’s X).

Sci-Fi: A Companion not only provides an accessible introduction to sci-fi for general readers and researchers alike, but also illuminates new approaches to a familiar genre.

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Indigenous Futurisms (Amy H. Sturgis)


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Amy H. Sturgis

Indigenous Futurisms

But I had forgotten that the Diné had already suffered their apocalypse over a century before. This wasn’t our end. This was our rebirth.

— Rebecca Roanhorse, Trail of Lightning1

The literature of Indigenous futurisms predates its label. During the bicentennial of the United States in 1976, for example, Standing Rock Sioux scholar and activist Vine Deloria, Jr offered ‘Why the U.S. Never Fought the Indians’, a bold work of science fiction recounting a remarkably different past and present for both Native Americans and the USA. Deloria’s thought experiment challenges the inevitability of colonialism, Manifest Destiny, and (both cultural and literal) genocide, imagining instead a United States uplifted by a thriving ‘Coalition of Indian Nations’, a partnership that makes this might-have-been America ‘the greatest demonstration of the vitality of human life that the world has ever seen’ (1976: 12). While much of the tale reads like a lament for opportunities missed and lessons unlearned, at least part of this alternate present, Deloria implies, could yet be a very real future.

Decades after Deloria, inspired by the example of Afrofuturisms, Anishinaabe scholar Grace L. Dillon coined the term Indigenous futurisms and edited 2012’s Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction. In her introduction to the book, Dillon asks, ‘Does SF have the capacity to envision Native futures, Indigenous hopes, and dreams recovered by rethinking the past in a new framework?’...

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