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Shockwaves of Possibility

Essays on Science Fiction, Globalization, and Utopia


Phillip E. Wegner

Shockwaves of Possibility explores the deep utopianism of one of the most significant modern cultural practices: science fiction. The author contends that utopianism is not simply a motif in SF, but rather is fundamental to its narrative dynamics. Drawing upon a rich array of theory and criticism in SF and utopian studies, the book opens with a global periodizing history that shows the inseparability of SF from developments in other cultural fields. It goes on to examine literature, film, television, comics, and animation in order to demonstrate SF’s unique effectiveness for grappling with the upheavals brought about by globalization. Shockwaves of Possibility proves SF’s vitality in the brave new world of the twenty-first century, as it illuminates the contours of the present and educates our desire for a radically other future.
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One of the greatest sources of pleasure in all humanistic scholarship is that, at its best, it is a deeply collective endeavor, a form of what Leo Lowenthal calls an “anticipated utopia” (“we were different and we knew the world better”). Hence, a project like this entails a vast host of debts, including all those acknowledged in my previous books, and more than I shall ever be able to recognize here. However, there are some people to whom I would like to express special gratitude. First and foremost to Tom Moylan, whose vision, dedication to utopian studies and science fiction scholarship, fierce commitments, and unwavering support, mentoring, and friendship made not only this work, but all I have written not only possible, but much better. I would also like to thank Michael J. Griffin as part of the editorial board of the Ralahine Utopian Studies series, Christabel Scaife at Peter Lang, and my student Derrick King for the index, for all their help in bringing this project to its completion. Other comrades in utopian and science fiction studies whose wisdom, support, and friendship has been so invaluable over the last few decades include Raffaella Baccolini, Antonis Balasopoulos, Jill Belli, M. Keith Booker, Mark Bould, the late William Burling, Gerry Canavan, Claire Curtis, Peter Fitting, Carl Freedman, Vincent Geoghegan, Brian Greenspan, Alex Hall, Carrie Hintz, Terry Harpold, Naomi Jacobs, Fredric Jameson, the late Nicole Larose, Rob Latham, Alex MacDonald, Robin Nuzum, Hugh O’Connell, Peter Paik, Nicole Pohl, Gib Prettyman,...

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