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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 Ten: Learning to Live in History: Alternate Historicities and the 1990s in The Years of Rice and Salt

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CHAPTER TEN

Learning to Live in History: Alternate Historicities and the 1990s in The Years of Rice and Salt

As long as man concentrates his interest contemplatively upon the past or future, both ossify into an alien existence. And between the subject and the object lies the unbridgeable “pernicious chasm” of the present. Man must be able to comprehend the present as becoming. He can do this by seeing in it the tendencies out of whose dialectical opposition he can make the future. Only when he does this will the present be a process of becoming that belongs to him.

—GEORG LUKÁCS, History and Class Consciousness

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