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Shockwaves of Possibility

Essays on Science Fiction, Globalization, and Utopia

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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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Chapter Nine: Alternate Histories, Periodization, and the Geopolitical Aesthetics of Ken MacLeod and Iain M. Banks

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CHAPTER NINE

Alternate Histories, Periodization, and the Geopolitical Aesthetics of Ken MacLeod and Iain M. Banks

For Iain M. Banks (1954–2013)

This woman from Oslo had on an enormous dress dotted all over with pockets. She would pull slips of paper out of her pockets one by one, each with its story to tell, stories tried and true of people who wished to come back to life through witchcraft. And so she raised the dead and the forgotten, and from the depths of her dress sprang the odysseys and loves of the human animal who goes on living, who goes on speaking.

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