Global Discourse
An interdisciplinary journal of current affairs

Science fiction, reconfigured social theory and the Anthropocene Age: exploring and thinking about planetary futures through fictional imaginaries

View author details View Less
  • 1 Université de Nice, France
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

Should humanity prepare for life on a less habitable planet? The magnitude of human activities indeed makes it necessary to think about their consequences and to consider tackling them with renewed imaginative foundations. From this point of view, science fiction may have the advantage of having anticipated the movement. By initiating and accumulating thought experiments, its narrative combinations offer a cognitive reservoir and a reflexive medium for interpreting the world. Science fiction, and its imaginary constructions, provide a rare representation of how ‘future generations’ live, act and organise themselves. Faced with the need for new intellectual resources and frameworks fuelled by the notion of the Anthropocene, this contribution will first show that imaginary productions of science fiction are also of interest as a distinctive way to represent and problematise (in the sense of Michel Foucault) the relation of thinking species to their habitat, and therefore to cast the Earth’s habitability, its state and becoming as collective issues. It will then specify the intellectual operations (exploration, framing, and experimentation in particular) that can be engaged on these bases, and thus the type of participation that science fiction can offer to build an ethics of the future.

  • Abbott, C. (2016) Imagining Urban Futures: Cities in Science Fiction and What We Might Learn from Them, Middletown, CN: Wesleyan University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Anders, G. (1972) Endzeit und Zeitende, Munich: C.H. Beck.

  • Arsel, M. and Büscher, B. (2012) Nature™ Inc.: changes and continuities in neoliberal conservation and Market-based environmental policy, Development and Change, 43(1): 5378.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Asimov, I. (1954) The Caves of Steel, Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

  • Asimov, I. (1982) Foundation’s Edge, Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

  • Atwood, M. (2003) Oryx and Crake, London: Bloomsbury.

  • Atwood, M. (2010) The Year of the Flood, London: Virago.

  • Atwood, M. (2013) MaddAddam, London: Bloomsbury.

  • Bacigalupi, P. (2009) The Windup Girl, New York: Night Shade Books.

  • Bear, E. (2006) Carnival, New York: Bantam Dell.

  • Beer, D. (2016) Fiction and social theory: E-special introduction, Theory, Culture & Society, 33(7–8): 40919.

  • Berkhout, F. (2014) Anthropocene futures, The Anthropocene Review, 1(2): 15459.

  • Berque, A. (1996) Être Humains Sur la Terre. Principes d’éthique de l’écoumène, Paris: le débat / Gallimard.

  • Bonneuil, C. and Fressoz, J.B. (2016) The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History and Us, London: Verso.

  • Bould, M. (2005) Cyberpunk, in D. Seed (ed) A Companion to Science Fiction, Malden, MA: Blackwell, pp 21731.

  • Bouson, J.B. (2011) ‘We’re using up the Earth. it’s almost gone’: a return to the Post-apocalyptic future in Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 46(1): 2011, 926.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brunner, J. (1968) Stand on Zanzibar, Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

  • Brunner, J. (1972) The Sheep Look Up, New York: Harper & Row.

  • Buell, F. (2003) From Apocalypse to Way of Life: Environmental Crisis in the American Century, London: Routledge.

  • Burns, W.C.G. and Strauss, A.L. (eds) (2015) Climate Change Geoengineering: Philosophical Perspectives, Legal Issues, and Governance Frameworks, New York: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Canavan, G. (2014) Retrofutures and petrofutures, oil, scarcity, limit, in R. Barrett and D. Worden (eds) Oil Culture, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, pp 33149.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Catellin, S. (2009) The nanoworld between science and fiction. What visions of the future?, Journal of Inclusion Phenomena and Macrocyclic Chemistry, 65(1–2): 197204.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chertow, M.R. (2000) The IPAT equation and its variants, Journal of Industrial Ecology, 4(4): 1329.

  • Clarke, A.C. (1957) The Deep Range, New York: Harcourt, Brace.

  • Cohen, S. (2014) The ethics of de-extinction, NanoEthics, 8(2): 16578.

  • Cornea, C. (2005) Figurations of the cyborg in contemporary science fiction novels and film, in D. Seed (ed) A Companion to Science Fiction, Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crichton, M. (1990) Jurassic Park, New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

  • Crichton, M. (2002) Prey, New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

  • Dickens, P. (2015) Leaving the world instead of saving it, Capitalism Nature Socialism, 26(4): 24952.

  • DiTommaso, L. (2009) At the edge of tomorrow: apocalypticism and science fiction, in K. Kinane and M.A. Ryan (eds) End of Days: Essays on the Apocalypse from Antiquity to Modernity, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, pp 22141.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Domingo, A. (2008) ‘Demodystopias’: prospects of demographic hell, Population and Development Review, 34(4): 72545.

  • Donnelly, S. (2014) Peak oil imagining in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, English Academy Review, 31(2): 15669.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Donges, J.F., Lucht, W., Müller-Hansen, F. and Steffen, W. (2017) The technosphere in Earth System analysis: a coevolutionary perspective, The Anthropocene Review, 4(1): 2333.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Elysium (2013), film, directed by Neill Blomkamp, TriStar Pictures.

  • Flynn, A. (2014) Solarpunk: notes toward a manifesto, Hieroglyph, 4 September, http://hieroglyph.asu.edu/2014/09/solarpunk-notes-toward-a-manifesto/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Foucault, M. (1988) Entretien avec Michel Foucault, Les Cahiers du GRIF, 37(37–38): 820.

  • Foucault, M. (1998) Polemics, politics, and problematization, in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth (Essential Works of Foucault, 1954–1984, Vol. 1), New York: The New Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gandy, M. (2005) Cyborg urbanization: complexity and monstrosity in the contemporary city, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29(1): 2649.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • de Geus, M. (2002) Ecotopia, sustainability and vision, Organization & Environment, 15(2): 187201.

  • Granjou, C., Walker, J. and Salazar, J.F. (2017) The politics of anticipation: on knowing and governing environmental futures, Futures, 92: 511.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hageman, A. (2012) The challenge of imagining ecological futures: Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, Science Fiction Studies, 39(2): 283303.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hambrick, K. (2012) Destroying imagination to save reality: environmental apocalypse in science fiction, in C. Baratta (ed) Environmentalism in the Realm of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp 12942.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Heise, U.K. (2012) Reduced ecologies: science fiction and the meanings of biological scarcity, European Journal of English Studies, 16(2): 99112.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Herbert, F. (1965) Dune, Philadelphia: Chilton Books.

  • Interstellar (2014), film, directed by Christopher Nolan, Paramount Pictures.

  • Jonas, H. (1997) Pour Une éthique du Futur, Paris: Rivages.

  • Jurassic Park (1993), film, directed by Steven Spielberg, Universal Pictures.

  • Langmuir, C.H. and Broecker, W. (2012) How to Build a Habitable Planet: The Story of Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Latour, B. (2004) Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Latour, B. (2018) Down to Earth. Politics in the New Climatic Regime, London: Polity.

  • Liao, S.M., Sandberg, A. and Roache, R. (2012) Human engineering and climate change, Ethics, Policy & Environment, 15(2): 20621.

  • Logan’s Run (1976), film, directed by Michael Anderson, MGM.

  • Lovelock, J. (1979) Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Maestrutti, M. (2008) Prendre au sérieux la fiction: la mise en débat des nanotechnologies, Alliage, (62): 3547.

  • Macdonald, G. (2014) Improbability Drives: The Energy of SF, Paradoxa, (26): 11144.

  • McAuley, P.J. (2004) White Devils, New York: Tor Books.

  • McKibben, B. (1989) The End of Nature, New York: Random House.

  • Meadows, D.H., Meadows, D.L., Randers, J. and Behrens III, W.W. (1972) The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind, New York: Universe Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Milkoreit, M. (2016) The promise of climate fiction: imagination, storytelling and the politics of the future, in P. Wapner and H. Elver (eds) Reimagining Climate Change, Abingdon: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Miller, C.A. and Bennett, I. (2008) Thinking longer term about technology: is there value in science fiction-inspired approaches to constructing futures?, Science and Public Policy, 35(8): 597606.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moore, B.L. (2017) Ecological Literature and the Critique of Anthropocentrism, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Murphy, P.D. (2001) The non-alibi of alien scapes: SF and ecocriticism, in K. Armbruster and K.R. Wallace (eds) Beyond Nature Writing: Expanding the Boundaries of Ecocriticism, Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nolan, W.F. and Johnson, G.C. (1967) Logan’s Run, New York: Dial Press.

  • Oldfield, F. and Steffen, W. (2014) Anthropogenic climate change and the nature of Earth System science, The Anthropocene Review, 1(1): 7075.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ogden, L.E. (2014) Extinction is forever… or is it?, BioScience, 64(6): 46975.

  • O’Neill, K. (2018) The sheep look forward: counterfactuals, dystopias, and ecological science fiction as a social science enterprise, Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, 6(1): Art. 44, www.elementascience.org/articles/10.1525/elementa.303/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Otto, E.C. (2012) Green Speculations: Science Fiction and Transformative Environmentalism, Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press.

  • Pak, C. (2016) Terraforming: Ecopolitical Transformations and Environmentalism in Science Fiction, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Purdy, J. (2015) After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Retzinger, J.P. (2008) Speculative visions and imaginary meals. food and the environment in (post-apocalyptic) science fiction films, Cultural Studies, 22(3–4): 36990.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Robinson, K.S. (2004) Forty Signs of Rain, New York: Bantam Books.

  • Robinson, K.S. (2005) Fifty Degrees Below, New York: Bantam Books.

  • Robinson, K.S. (2007) Sixty Days and Counting, New York: Bantam Books.

  • Robinson, K.S. (2012) 2312, New York: Orbit.

  • Rose, A. (2016) The unknowable now: passionate science and transformative politics in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital trilogy, Science Fiction Studies, 43(2): 26086.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rose, D.B., van Dooren, T., Chrulew, M., Cooke, S., Kearnes, M. and O’Gorman, E. (2012) Thinking through the environment, unsettling the humanities, Environmental Humanities, 1(1): 15.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schmeink, L. (2016) Biopunk Dystopias: Genetic Engineering, Society and Science Fiction, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

  • Selisker, S. (2015) ‘Stutter-stop Flash-bulb strange’: GMOs and the aesthetics of scale in Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, Science Fiction Studies, 42(3): 50018.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Silverberg, R. (1994) Hot Sky at Midnight, New York: Bantam Books.

  • Simak, C.D. (1952) City, New York: Gnome Press.

  • Snowpiercer (2013), film, directed by Bong Joon-ho, Moho Film/Opus Pictures.

  • Spinrad, N. (1999) Greenhouse Summer, New York: Tor.

  • Stableford, B. (2005) Science fiction and ecology, in D. Seed (ed) A Companion to Science Fiction, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

  • Stableford, B. (2010) Ecology and dystopia, in G. Claeys (ed) The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 25980.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stephenson, N. (1995) The Diamond Age, New York: Bantam Spectra.

  • Suvin, D. (1979) Metamorphoses of Science Fiction. On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre, New Haven, CN: Yale University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Transcendence (2014), film, directed by Wally Pfister, Alcon Entertainment.

  • Urry, J. (2016) What is the Future?, Cambridge: Polity, 2016.

  • van der Vleuten, E. (2004) Infrastructures and societal change. a view from the large technical systems field, Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 16(3): 395414.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WALL-E (2008), film, directed by Andrew Stanton, Pixar/Disney.

  • Weaver, R. (2014) ’The shadow of the end’: the appeal of apocalypse in literary science fiction, in J. Walliss and K.G.C. Newport (eds) The End All Around Us: Apocalyptic Texts and Popular Culture, Abingdon: Routledge, pp 17397.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilson, R.C. (2009) Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, New York: Tor.

  • Wolf Mark, J.P. (2012) Building Imaginary Worlds: The Theory and History of Subcreation, New York: Routledge.

  • Yanarella, E.J. (2001) The Cross, the Plow and the Skyline. Contemporary Science Fiction and the Ecological Imagination, Parkland, KN: Brown Walker Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 1 Université de Nice, France

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 113 113 22
Full Text Views 22 22 0
PDF Downloads 19 19 0

Altmetrics

Dimensions