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Demand the Impossible

Science Fiction and the Utopian Imagination


Edited By Tom Moylan

Although published in 1986, Demand the Impossible was written from inside the oppositional political culture of the 1970s. Reading works by Joanna Russ, Ursula K. Le Guin, Marge Piercy, and Samuel R. Delany as indicative texts in the intertext of utopian science fiction, Tom Moylan originated the concept of the «critical utopia» as both a periodizing and conceptual tool for capturing the creative and critical capabilities of the utopian imagination and utopian agency. This Ralahine Classics edition includes the original text along with a new essay by Moylan (on Aldous Huxley’s Island) and a set of reflections on the book by leading utopian and science fiction scholars.
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Many have helped me in my work on this book. Jack Zipes’s encouragement and criticism have been there since the beginning. Others who read and made suggestions on parts of the book include Tom Anderson, Stanley Aronowitz, Mary Kenny Badami, Janice Bogstad, Samuel R. Delany, Teresa de Lauretis, Catherine McClenahan, and Lyman Tower Sargent. The errors and shortcomings are my own.

I thank the University of Wisconsin for the sabbatical grant which allowed me to complete the work, and I thank my colleagues, department chairpersons, and deans in the University of Wisconsin Center System for their support. I am appreciative of my students whose response to the novels discussed here taught me more than I found on my own. Typists Gunnar Lutz, Betty Gygax, Bonnie Siedlewski, and Claire Wroblewski deserve particular recognition. And Janice Price, Jane Armstrong, and Sarah Pearsall, of Methuen, deserve to know how grateful I am for their commitment to this project.

I thank my friends, especially those in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Youghal, County Cork and those who participated in the Summer Institutes on Culture and Society and in the discussions on science fiction that developed over several years of Wiscon: the annual science fiction convention held in Madison, Wisconsin.

Special thanks go to my father, Thomas Michael Moylan, Chris Christie, Jim Cheney, Bernie Gendron, Ian Harris, Fredric Jameson, Sean Keane, Mark McCraw, John A. Murphy, Basil O’Leary, Alan Prim. And, to Áine O Brien.

I hope that this...

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