Uneven Futures: Strategies for Community Survival from Speculative Fiction


Uneven Futures:
Strategies for Community Survival from Speculative Fiction

Ida Yoshinaga, Sean Guynes, and Gerry Canavan, editors
The MIT Press, forthcoming


Overview

Uneven Futures: Strategies for Community Survival from Speculative Fiction brings together more than forty critics, artists, and activists who each take up a core text of the genre with an eye toward the collective articulation of a new paradigm for thinking SF suitable to a milieu in which corporations dominate both the means of production and the means of distribution, and in which governments utilize powerful surveillance and carceral technologies, feeding our most cherished fantasies and our most terrifying nightmares. With an eye toward broad community adoption, practical use, and activist sensibility, text selections demonstrate the diversity of SF forms and function through short, focused, accessible chapters by SF writers, scholars, and activists alike.

Uneven Futures aspires to reformulate SF studies for an emerging generation of scholars who increasingly view ST studies as a field that at its best might envision human agency materializing from the dynamic between media convergence, contemporary (or newly appreciated) aesthetic forms of SF expression, and community technocultural practices of knowledge, science, and technology. We weave these elements into a paradigm called Science Fiction Studies 3.0 (after Yoshinaga’s 2018 articulation of this concept)—a justice-centered thought experiment to survive an era of futurity in crisis.

Table of Contents

I. EMERGENCE

Pieces in this section focus on how the affective dimensions of empathy, affinity, and solidarity serve as powerful agents for driving community praxis in times of social strife and change. The texts surveyed in this section provide a framework for emergent communities in uncertain times.

  1. Samuel R. Delany, “The Star Pit” (1965) / Moving On, as Far as You Want
    Kirin Wachter-Grene
  1. Lionel Davidson, Under Plum Lake (1980) / Childhood against Dystopia
    Rebekah Sheldon
  1. Brian Henson & Rockne O’Bannon, Farscape (1999–2003) / Radical Empathy
    Emmet Asher-Perrin
  1. FanFiction Authors, Archive of Our Own (2009-) / Reclaiming Art-Making from Capital
    Erin Horáková
  1. Shovon Chowdhury, The Competent Authority (2013) / India’s Future, Today
    Sami Ahmed Khan
  1. Sofia Samatar, “How to Get Back to the Forest” (2014) / Shaping and Sharing Feelings
    Steven Shaviro
  1. Tade Thompson, The Rosewater Trilogy (2016-2019) / African Futurism’s Salvage Utopianism
    Hugh Charles O’Connell
  1. Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, The OA (2016–2019) / Fandom’s Affective Praxis and Non-Naïve Hope
    Sherryl Vint
  1. Craig Laurence Gidney, A Spectral Hue (2019) / #ownvoices Solidarity in Difference
    Bogi Takács
  1. Jonathan Hickman, House of X and Powers of X (2019) / Marginalized Autonomies in Affinitive Unity
    David Higgins

II. RUPTURE

The second section builds on the emergent community paradigms highlighted by texts our authors have chosen in the first section, and turns to speculative works that symbolically (or actually) interrogate and challenge normative orders. In these pieces, authors emphasize the rupturing capacity of speculative fictions to break through the uneven futures of the present by making their inequality radically apparent.

  1. Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland (1884) / Unflattening Scientific Worldviews
    Karen Lord
  1. Karel Čapek, War with the Newts (1936) / Comic Jeremiad Journalism
    John Rieder
  1. Vladimir Chebotarev, Amphibian Man (1962) / Thinking Red, Living Blue
    Anindita Bannerjee
  1. Joan Slonczewski, A Door Into Ocean (1986) / A Peaceful Ecological Defiance
    Gwyneth Jones
  1. Collaborative Fiction Authors, SCP Foundation (2008–) / Discognitive Pains and Protections of the Creepypasta
    Andrew Ferguson
  1. Kléber Mendonça Filho, Recife Frio (2009) / Visualizing Verticalization via Ecodystopia
    Alfredo Suppia and M. Elizabeth Ginway
  1. Virginia Grise, blu (2011) / Queer Latinx Aesthetics of Apocalypse
    Cathryn Merla-Watson
  1. Claire Coleman, Terra Nullius (2017) / Indigi-futurism and the Reality of the Imaginary
    Allanah Hunt
  1. Waubgeshig Rice, Moon of the Crusted Snow (2018) / Wâhkôhtowin Survivance
    Sean Guynes
  1. Liu Cixin (2000) and Frank Gwo (2019), The Wandering Earth / De-Imperializing Empire
    Nathaniel Isaacson

INTERLUDE

Science Fiction Studies 3.0
Ida Yoshinaga

III. TRANSFORMATION

This section focuses on speculative texts that offer and/or model community solutions within crisis-ridden systems, highlighting among other things strategies of harm reduction, re-connection, re-formation, and the building of alliances/coalitions across systemic differences towards deep structural change.

  1. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (1915) / Our Mothers’ Utopia and the Gaps in Our Knowledge
    Jaymee Goh
  1. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed (1974) / Subtitle TBD
    Kim Stanley Robinson
  1. Joanna Russ, We Who Are About to… (1976) / Connectivity in the Ahuman Extinction
    Farah Mendlesohn
  1. Eleanor Arnason, Ring of Swords (1993) / Queer-Feminist Peace Work
    Veronica Hollinger
  1. Margaret Atwood, MaddAddam Trilogy (2003-2013) / Interspecies Coalition-Building
    Alison Sperling
  1. Avery Alder, The Quiet Year (2013) / Mechanics of Conflict Resolution
    Brent Ryan Bellamy
  1. Undead Labs’s State of Decay (2013) / Crafting Community in Apocalypse
    Cameron Kunzelman
  1. Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe (2013-) / Queer Pedagogies for the End of the World
    Stina Attebery
  1. Louisa Hall, Speak (2015) / Humane Artificial Intelligence
    Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad
  1. Hideo Kojima, Death Stranding (2019) / Reconnecting in the Time of Climate Change
    Darshana Jayemanne
  1. Toshi Reagan and Berenice Johnson Reagan, Parable of the Sower Opera (2020) / Liberation through Congregational Performance
    Ayana Jamieson

IV. REVOLUTION

Our final section highlights the ideological and material revolutions of speculative fiction, whether the subaltern rising against the elite or a new way of imagining solidarity and boldly re-organizing the very nature of communities, in the face of harsh political and economic divisiveness. 

  1. Pauline Hopkins, Of One Blood (1902) / Resistance and the Black Fantastic
    Phenderson Djéli Clark
  1. Alan Moore and David Gibbons, Watchmen #11 (1987) / Autonomous Collectivity against the State
    Gerry Canavan
  1. Tobias Buckel, Sly Mongoose (2008) / Inhabiting the Hostile
    Nicola Hunte
  1. Beatrice Pita and Rosaura Sanchez, Lunar Braceros: 2125-2148 (2009) / Everything Against Capitalism
    Lysa Rivera
  1. Boualem Sansal, 2084: The End of the World (2015) / Resisting Dictatorial Censorship
    Ouissal Harize
  1. The Russo Brothers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and Captain America: Civil War (2016) / The Patriotism of Raising Hell
    Sarah Marrs
  1. Princess Nokia, “Brujas” (2016) / Santería’s Decolonial Futurisms
    Taryne Taylor
  1. Lehua Parker, One Truth, No Lie (2016) / Youth against State and Corporate Injustice
    Caryn Lesuma
  1. Kim Stanley Robinson, New York 2140 (2017) / The Logistic Utopia
    Fábio Fernandes
  1. Kū Kiʻai Mauna, Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu at the Mauna Kea Access Road (2019) / Tarps, Tents, and Porta-Potties
    Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada