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Alternative Worlds

Blue-Sky Thinking since 1900


Ricarda Vidal and Ingo Cornils

In an attempt to counteract the doom and gloom of the economic crisis and the politicians’ overused dictum that ‘there is no alternative’, this interdisciplinary collection presents a number of alternative worlds that were conceived over the course of the last century. While change at the macro level was the focus of most of the ideological struggles of the twentieth century, the real impetus for change came from the blue-sky thinking of scientists, engineers, architects, sociologists, planners and writers, all of whom imagined alternatives to the status quo.
Following a roughly chronological order from the turn of the nineteenth century to the present, this book explores the dreams, plans and hopes as well as the nightmares and fears that are an integral part of alternative thinking in the Western hemisphere. The alternative worlds at the centre of the individual essays can each be seen as crucial to the history of the past one hundred years. While these alternative worlds reflect their particular cultural context, they also inform historical developments in a wider sense and continue to resonate in the present.
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12 Between Bauhaus and Bügeleisen: The Iconic Style of Raumpatrouille (1966)


The German television SF series Raumpatrouille (Space Patrol) has long held cult status. In German-speaking countries it enjoys a similar popularity as the original Star Trek series, which was first broadcast in the same year. Much has been made of Raumpatrouille’s alleged militaristic and xenophobic ideology by critics who saw in it an awkward melange of undigested Prussian and Nazi jingoism and Cold War paranoia.1 What has not been widely understood (or acknowledged) was that the series sought to subvert authoritarian traditions by means of humour and a positive outlook.

In Raumpatrouille’s alternative world in the year 3000, people are still recognisably human. Individualism and conformism continue to be at odds. While nation-states have been abolished, strict hierarchies remain in (world) government and the military. Here, individualism is suppressed, even though, and this has been ignored by critics and researchers so far, insubordination saves the day in each episode.

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