Monday, November 21, 2005

Academic Studies of crypto-utopias posing as dystopias

Boing Boing has a post today about utopias hidden in dystopian novels. They pulled some interesting paragraphs from the Boston Globe Ideas column about Fredric Jameson's new book on utopian ideas hidden in dystopias. During the Cold War when it was unpopular to write about future utopias in science fiction because you might be perceived as a radical, writers like Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Samuel R. Delany put utopian themes in their otherwise dystopian novels. The contention is that these others tried to describe utopia by what it is not and provided the object lessons in their literary work.

I of course have a great love of dystopian (distopian?) futures especially the scary one we currently inhabit (see for instance "Our new Spoke-Robot Overlords", a lack of flying cars rant, and the Rifter series review). The article in the Boston Globe reviewing Fredric Jameson's Archaeologies of the Future points out Jameson's premise that these science fiction novels allow us to explore different alternative future utopian ideas even if they are hidden in this literature. There also seems to be some discussion about communism vs. capitalism and to finding an alternative economic system that is neither. It sound like some of the ideas that Ken MacLeod explores in his fiction.

How does all of this tie in to the current science fiction trend of writing about the Singularity, I don't know, but I plan to read the book and maybe find out.

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